Today I was supposed to be heading to Gambier, Ohio for a very quick visit. Gambier is a town of about 2300 people and is home to Kenyon College. Kenyon College, in turn, hosts the Kenyon Institute where I will be teaching next summer. I was meant to go there for a night and a morning to engage in a brief but intensive process of planning for the Beyond Walls Spiritual Writing Institute.
This is what I expected to see in Gambier.
(It's also more or less what I'd be leaving back home: snow and college buildings.)
I was looking forward to getting an advance glimpse of Gambier (though surely its January face is different from the face it wears in July!) and to spending a night and part of a day with the rest of the faculty planning our workshops and sessions and brainstorming about how we want the week to unfold. We were going to plan curricula, plenary sessions, and opportunities for spiritual practice.
Then a nor'easter made itself known. (See Potentially Historic Blizzard Taking Aim On New England.) The storm has a few repercussions for me. Ethan's having a tougher-than-expected time getting home from Cebu, where he's been for the Global Voices Summit on Protecting the Open Internet. Our son's preschool is likely to close. And there is absolutely no way I'm flying to Ohio today.
That said, so far I've been really impressed with how this program is coming together. The organizers are thoughtful, engaged, and genuinely passionate about providing an amazing week of spiritual writing instruction to clergy and spiritual directors of all stripes. Based on our emails and phone conversations thus far, I'm expecting our time in Ohio in July to be thought-provoking and rich.
Need a refresher on the Beyond Walls Spiritual Writing Institute? Here you go:
You already feel confident writing to those you know in your church or synagogue. Yet clergy of all faiths tell us that there’s another conversation that matters, outside their institution’s walls, among those who aren’t there for services, but are reading, thinking, caring about living a moral and spiritual life. This is your chance to learn the best ways to join that conversation.
This one-week writing intensive program teaches you how to be a more expressive, authentic, and skilled writer, honing what you have to say and becoming more proficient and current in how to say it in media as diverse as op-eds, blogs, the personal essay, and social media. Our multi-faith approach is founded on the belief that our writing traditions have something to teach one another. Seminars and lectures by some of the most prolific and respected spiritual writers today will help develop your personal voice as a spiritual exponent in your community.
The list of faculty and speakers is fantastic. If you are a spiritual director or clergyperson (of whatever stripe), I hope you'll consider joining us. Enrollment is limited and I know we're already getting some terrific applicants, so if this sounds up your alley, please apply soon.
And if you're in the path of this potentially-historic nor'easter, stay warm and dry, y'all.