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How the Light Gets In: Writing as a Spiritual Practice

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Overview

"When I begin to write, I open myself and wait. And when I turn toward an inner spiritual awareness, I open myself and wait." With that insight, Pat Schneider invites readers to contemplate their lives and deepest questions through writing. In seventeen concise thematic chapters that include meditations on topics such as fear, freedom, tradition in writing and in religions, forgiveness, joy, social justice, and death, How the Light Gets In gracefully guides readers through the artistic and spiritual questions ...

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How the Light Gets In: Writing as a Spiritual Practice

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Overview

"When I begin to write, I open myself and wait. And when I turn toward an inner spiritual awareness, I open myself and wait." With that insight, Pat Schneider invites readers to contemplate their lives and deepest questions through writing. In seventeen concise thematic chapters that include meditations on topics such as fear, freedom, tradition in writing and in religions, forgiveness, joy, social justice, and death, How the Light Gets In gracefully guides readers through the artistic and spiritual questions that life offers to everyone.

Praised as a "fuse lighter" by author Julia Cameron and "the wisest teacher of writing I know" by the celebrated writing guru Peter Elbow, Pat Schneider has lived a life of writing and teaching, passion and compassion. With How the Light Gets In, she delves beyond the typical "how-to's" of writing to offer an extended rumination on two inner paths, and how they can run as one. Schneider's book is distinct from the many others in the popular spirituality and creative writing genre by virtue of its approach, using one's lived experience—including the experience of writing—as a springboard for expressing the often ineffable events that define everyday life. Her belief that writing about one's own life leads to greater consciousness, satisfaction, and wisdom energizes the book and carries the reader elegantly through difficult topics.

As Schneider writes, "All of us live in relation to mystery, and becoming conscious of that relationship can be a beginning point for a spiritual practice—whether we experience mystery in nature, in ecstatic love, in the eyes of our children, our friends, the animals we love, or in more strange experiences of intuition, synchronicity, or prescience."

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Editorial Reviews

From the Publisher
"How the Light Gets In is among the most inspiring personal stories I have ever read. Not only is this book beautifully written, but I felt the authenticity of the author's poignant spiritual journey in every word. Take time to read this book." —Caroline Myss, author of Sacred Contracts: Awakening Your Divine Potential

"Pat Schneider is one of America's premier writing instructors. Her genius lies as much in her tenacity as in her talent, and in a wild incredible belief that there is a force in the universe, a 'light' if you will, that we—'cracked' though we may be—can emit if we work hard enough. How the Light Gets In effortlessly shows us how to do that often difficult work. If there is one book on writing or writers you can read this year, I emphatically recommend this one." —Sapphire, author of Push and The Kid

"How the Light Gets In is a moving blend of memoir and reflections on creative writing through the lens of spiritual practice that leaves the reader comforted and challenged. This is an instructive, marvelous read." —Emilie M. Townes, Andrew W. Mellon Professor of African American Religion and Theology, Yale Divinity School

"Will have wide appeal to both amateur and seasoned writers and spiritual seekers whether or not tied to any tradition. The book is also useful as a tool for growth through reflection and writing. Highly recommended." —Library Journal

"Will captivate writers who are looking for an alternative to the typical "how-to" book—who are looking for a book both practical and reverential." —Image

Library Journal
Schneider (Writing Alone and with Others) is a versatile writer across several genres including poetry, nonfiction, drama, and libretti, and leader of creative writing workshops. She addresses readers here from many such angles, as she considers the act of writing as spiritual practice, for psychological and spiritual growth, and for its own sake, all fruitfully developed in these 17 chapters, including "There Is a Spirit," "Tradition: Religion," and "Tradition: Writing." She admirably fulfills her goal of making her book address current struggles involving writing and growth, rather than reporting on her own past growth, and confronts many paradoxes, e.g., the need to share personal experience countered with the need to be self-protective, and the encompassing of both light and dark in one's writing. VERDICT Her book will have wide appeal to both amateur and seasoned writers and spiritual seekers whether or not tied to any tradition. The book is also useful as a tool for growth through reflection and writing. Highly recommended.—Carolyn Craft, formerly with Longwood Univ. Lib., Farmville, VA
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780199933983
  • Publisher: Oxford University Press, USA
  • Publication date: 4/10/2013
  • Pages: 320
  • Sales rank: 286,240
  • Product dimensions: 5.50 (w) x 8.10 (h) x 1.00 (d)

Meet the Author

A renowned teacher of writing, Pat Schneider is the author of ten works of poetry and nonfiction, including Writing Alone and With Others. Founder of Amherst Writers & Artists, she travels frequently to teach and has been leading workshops in creative writing at the Pacific School of Religion for almost thirty years. Garrison Keillor has read her poems sixteen times on "Writers Almanac."

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Table of Contents

TABLE OF CONTENTS

PREFACE

INTRODUCTION
POEM: SOMETIMES WRITING
I. THERE IS A SPIRIT
POEM: TO BREAK SILENCE
II. PRAYER
POEM: ABOUT, AMONG OTHER THINGS, GOD
III. RANSOM
POEM: INSTRUCTIONS FOR THE JOURNEY
IV. FEAR
POEM: THIS IS A RIVER
V. DARK NIGHT OF THE SOUL
POEM: PERSONAL ADDRESS
VI. TRADITION: RELIGION
POEM: YOUR BOAT, YOUR WORDS
VII. TRADITION: WRITING
POEM: BRAIDED RUG
VIII. FORGIVING
POEM: PENN STATION, NEW YORK CITY
IX. RECEIVING FORGIVENESS
PLAY EXCERPT: THE UNDERTAKING
X. DOING GOOD
POEM: TWO THOUSAND DEATHS
XI. CHANGING THE WORLD
POEM: THIS FLIGHT
XII. THE BODY
XIII. DEATH
JOURNAL ENTRY: BURNING THE TOBACCO
XIV. STRANGENESS
POEM: THE FISH
XV. BELOVED COMMUNITY
POEM: THAT ONE
XVI. FREEDOM
POEM: CONFESSION
XVII. JOY
POEM: BLESSING FOR A WRITER
NOTES FOR TEACHERS, WORKSHOP OR RETREAT LEADERS AND COUNSELORS
INDEX

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  • Anonymous

    Posted June 2, 2013

    Review of Pat Schneider¿s How the Light Gets In The first summ

    Review of Pat Schneider’s How the Light Gets In

    The first summer I taught at a university in China, drained from the heat and the long teaching hours and wondering what was wrong with me, I finally ventured--with a translator and a colleague--across the dusty campus to the doctor’s office. The person I saw sitting behind a big desk there was a fairly stout woman wearing a stethoscope. When she beckoned to me, she looked directly into my face, and I into hers; and in her eyes I saw with a sense of shock a woman of infinite wisdom.  You have only to read Pat Schneider’s latest book, How the Light Gets In, to know that she, too, is a woman of infinite wisdom. While in her preface she says that unlike in her poetry books and [in her previous book, Writing Alone and with Others], she is “not after poems this time” and is “not out to teach, either,” in the stories she shares here that delve deeply and with almost brutal honesty into her past searches and painful experiences, she does open the minds and hearts of her readers into her deeply felt truths. Each chapter relates stories of some major aspect of our spiritual and human searches for meaning and the divine Presence who is, above all, love. Also, each chapter contains her exquisite poetry. This, then, is really two books in one—a book of memoirs and their meaning and a book of 33 of her poems, which are like paintings with music. Even her prose is full of strong metaphors. Once, describing a morning out West, she wrote, “California sun heats this semi-desert soil, pulls a blanket of heat up to the chin of the day.” Later, about a deeply painful experience, she wrote, “I have learned that everything we lose opens us to more than we could ever have imagined if we can only open the clenched fists of our fear, to receive what the mystery will offer.” Pat is also widely read as her references throughout her chapters attest, as well as do her “Acknowledgments,” “Permissions,” and “Index.”  As enormously gifted as she is as a writer and as Sapphire has described, “one of America’s premier writing instructors,” she does not see herself as a lone voice. Instead, she clearly values all she has received from her wide reading,  large and international circle of friends, colleagues, students in her workshops, other writers, teachers, and her family.I often give away the books I buy after I read them.  Not this one. This is a book to continue to reread and cherish. This is a keeper. 

    1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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