Reaching Into Mystery: The Art of Spiritual Memoir

Reaching Into Mystery: The Art of Spiritual Memoir

Sep 30, 202312:30 midnight

Oct 01, 202307:00 pm(GMT+0)


In-Person at Mercy Center Burlingame

Event details


When Deep Calls to Deep...

Writing about our spiritual and religious lives can be a powerful way to delve into the mystery of the sacred. But how do we practice this kind of writing without lapsing into cliché, or sounding sentimental, preachy, and trite? How can we shape our personal experiences of the numinous, the painful, the mysterious, and the transcendent into beautiful and meaningful pieces of writing?


The Art...

Together we will explore what makes for compelling spiritual memoir – writing that opens up possibility, and helps us explore, challenge, and deepen our lives of faith. We will read and discuss some masterful examples of the genre, and we will do a LOT of writing ourselves, guided by “free-writing” exercises and prompts, meditations on Scripture, poetry, and art, and plenty of nourishing conversation.

The Practice...

We will talk about how to launch and sustain a writing life, how to think about technique and revision, and how to shape our personal devotional and spiritual writing for a broader audience. Attendees who wish to share a brief piece of their creative work from the weekend will be welcome to do so during an “open mic” reading during our closing session.


The Inspiration...

This retreat is for anyone who has ever wanted to write about their spiritual lives, but needs some support and inspiration to get started, as well as for practicing writers who want to deepen their craft, and benefit from the company of fellow writers as they delve deeper into their memoir writing.


The Tools...

Attendees who like to write longhand should bring a notebook (or plenty of loose-leaf paper) and their favorite pens/pencils. Those who prefer to compose on laptops or other electronic devices should bring those.


Debie Thomas is the author of Into the Mess and Other Jesus Stories (2022), and A Faith of Many Rooms (forthcoming, 2024)She is also a columnist and contributing editor for The Christian Century. She serves as the Minister for Lifelong Formation at St. Mark's Episcopal Church in Palo Alto, and lives in Scotts Valley.


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Mercy Center requires notice of cancellation in writing (email to 1 week prior to the event for a full refund by check or 50% of the total program cost if the notice is received 3 days or less prior to the event.

No refund will be given if a retreatant leaves early or arrives late during a retreat. Out of consideration for others on the waiting list, please make a commitment to attend the entire retreat.