Thursday, June 21, 2012

AROHO Speaks, Writer to Writer: Interview with Mary Johnson

Photo by Jamie Clifford
I've had the continued fun and luxury of interviewing the women of AROHO (specifically from the group attending last year's summer 2011 retreat). Here's a look at the intense but rewarding journey Mary Johnson has taken not only with AROHO (as Creative Director), but with the publication of her book, An Unquenchable Thirst: Following Mother Teresa in Search of Love, Service, and an Authentic Life.  I've pulled out a couple of questions midstream, hoping to entice you to check out the rest.

Do you feel Unquenchable Thirst has given you a greater ability to leverage influence on behalf of sisters inside the church system, for example, in terms of the current conflict facing the Leadership Conference of Women Religious (LCWR) you outline in the article published at the Huffington Post (sisters “underfire for radical feminism” for issues regarding birth control and marriage)?

Certainly my experience as a sister for twenty years gives me an insider perspective that allows me to understand what’s going on behind all the jargon. And my position now as an outsider means that I can say what I think without fear of retaliation. As I’ve watched the drama unfold, I feel very closely involved. When I was a sister I couldn’t speak my mind and hope that anyone would hear.

An influential sister--someone who had read my book and loved it--recently told me that sisters have been heartened by my articles, and that makes me feel good. Another told me that it’s important that the Vatican not be allowed to continue to operate in the dark, and I’m happy to shed what light I can. These sisters are being attacked for thinking seriously about important issues and sometimes coming to conclusions that differ from those expressed by the hierarchy. I think they ought to be applauded for their commitment and courage.

Thinking back to the 2011 AROHO retreat, can you tell us about an idea, exercise or conversation that had either an identifiable impact upon your writing habits or became a finished piece of writing or one in process?

Bhanu Kapil’s question, “What is the cause of the suffering of your mother?” continues to resonate with me. What is the cause of the suffering of my sister, my mother, that woman behind the counter, that character in a novel? What can we do to accompany and alleviate that suffering? When is my sister’s suffering oppression and when is it opportunity? Read more here at AROHO Speaks.
Further Reading:

Here's an additional reverie I wrote about the experience of personally connecting with Mary's book:

The Salve of Secrets

And a post about a poetry intersection between Mother Teresa and Lady Diana I share with one of my writing buddies, Liz Brennan:

Mother Teresa meets Lady Di

Friday, June 8, 2012

Perhaps, Maybe: The End and The Search with Liz Brennan

Our latest collaboration, The End, appears on Elizabeth's Perhaps, Maybe blog. I hope you'll enjoy it, the text version, and that you'll enjoy it again as the three-d version, here, as a live micro-reading (recorded still very much under siege of mosquitoes, and beneath the canopy of the family redwoods, on my back deck). 

Since we are both poets, of course, the end doubles as a beginning (for nothing incites, invigorates, or inspires a poet more than a shut door).

Earlier this month, I failed to post a link to The Search, another one of our collaborations. Are you in search of  ideas? Love? Both? ...Neither? Let me know...

Photo by Robyn Beattie.