Learn how Annis Henson, contributor in the July/August issue, “Rest,” has experienced the call to spiritual writing. Her article, “Field Guide to Sabbath” appears on page 30. To get a copy of this issue or to order a subscription to Alive Now, call 1.800.972.0433 or order online.
My writing grew from an interest in social justice. I visited Nicaragua in 1982 with a United Methodist visitation team. The Nicaraguan Baptists we met loved us into speaking out for their sovereignty. Upon our return, we six were committed to change United States foreign policy. I began writing “Letters to the Editor.” My first submission of this sort was sent to the Christian Science Monitor. I wrote about my position of being against U.S. Contra Aid to the insurgents in Nicaragua. It was published!
My interest in social justice issues soon became a passion. On occasion I have felt called to speak out. Since I am most comfortable working in the background, this was difficult at first. But I have found that when I believe strongly enough in something, courage summons itself and I am able to say what needs to be said.
Once I experienced the benefits of speaking my mind, it became easier. During my time at Seattle University working on a Masters in Religious Education, professors were expected to use inclusive language. The Hebrew Scriptures professor irritated me with his masculine references to God. His PhD/priest/teacher status was intimidating, but eventually I found the nerve to tactfully challenged him during class. Afterward, a fellow student introduced herself and invited me to her church where inclusive language was second nature. One thing leads to another. I would never have found Wallingford Avenue UMC without her hearing my convictions.
These days, I continue to write “Letters to the Editor” and longer opinion pieces. After years of experience it’s become easy for me. I dash them off in less than an hour and each is published, mostly in local newspapers. I also speak about finding your calling. My best advise is to discover what you really love doing and volunteer using that gift. Someone once told me that my suggestion worked. She began singing in the church choir because she loved to sing. From there her involvement grew into leadership roles and she is now a Parish Nurse.
Since retirement, my writing has become more spiritually focused. My spiritual writing began with litanies, prayers, and experiential workshop material. I enjoy writing faith-based personal essays and have a variety of stories to share. I trust that we learn from each other, that God’s influence in my life may help someone else. Participating in a bi-weekly writer’s group improves my writing discipline and I recommend this to other writers.
Annis Henson is a Deacon in the Oregon/Idaho United Methodist Annual Conference. She enjoys facilitating retreats, nature photography, traveling with husband Jim, swimming, hiking, birding, and reading. Immigration reform is an ongoing social justice commitment. Her four grandchildren call her Bella.