3 Wise Conversations On Creativity, Pilgrimage, and Suffering

3 Wise Conversations On Creativity, Pilgrimage, and Suffering July 25, 2019

About a year and change ago, I started recording episodes of a podcast. The “otherWISE” podcast was (and still is) a passion project for me. I started it because I found myself having wonderful, interesting conversations with all sorts of people.

“Why can’t everyone have these conversations?” I thought.
Oh right, they can.

The podcast was intended to be something fun that opened the door to ideas, books, and people are helpful guides for the spiritual journey. The point of the podcast is to be a place to:

…gather wise conversations on how to live well along the journey with Jesus.

What I’ve learned about podcasting, however, is that while the conversations are beautiful and the end product is lovely to enjoy there is a middle. The editing process is not my cup of tea, and I’m coming to terms with that. Very slowly.

In this post, I wanted to share three of conversations from the last year plus. I list them in random order, just as they came to mid.  Also, this is by no means an exclusion to the other guests. It has been a tremendous blessing to share time with every guest. Truly.

These few however stood out because they deal with journeying, creativity, and lament. Plus, selfishly, they left a lasting impact on me as a person.

Aaron Niequist on Jumping Into a Better Stream

I’m happy to say that Aaron is a friend, and was so before he was a guest on the podcast. My wife and I participated in The Practicea weekly gathering of folks for the purpose of worship and formation. Aaron is an energetic speaker and worship leader, and he is one of the most genuine souls you’ll ever get to know.

In the episode we talked  about Aaron’s book, The Eternal Current: How a Practice-Based Faith Can Save Us From DrowningThe thesis of the book is that we are at a point in Christianity where a return to practice-based faith, rather than performance-based faith, is vital. Aaron taps into church history, contemporary trends in faith and religion, and the need for practices to root us deeply in the stream of living water Jesus promised.

The point is that a practice-based, seasonal, and holistic view of formation is what many of us are truly searching for.

Why listen? My conversation with Aaron creates space for those of us who sit in a weekly worship gathering and think, “Is this really all there is?” Rooted in theology and practice, you will be challenged to think about why it is we do what we do when we gather together. The follow up question is even more important:

Who are we becoming as a RESULT of what we do week in, week out? 

Padraig O’Tuama and the Hunger of the Poet

To say that this episode covers a lot of territory is a massive understatement. After meeting Padraig at the Festival of Faith and Writing in Grand Rapids, MI in 2018, I knew this episode would be incredible.

It does not disappoint.

As a world-renowned poet and former leader of the Corrymeela Community near Belfast, Ireland, Padraig is involved in many discussions all at once. The discussions of justice, faith, and reconciliation as well as those regarding sexuality and faith – all of these topics flow together in his work. As a result, he poetically articulates reality in a way that challenges our ways of seeing God, the world, and each other.

I went into the interview thinking about Padraig’s poem Narrative Theology #2 from his book Readings From the Book of Exile and when I asked him to read the poem as part of our conversation he didn’t hesitate. However, before reading the poem he took me by surprise by asking a question in return. You’ll hear my off-balance reply in the episode.

Why listen? The perspective on life in the North of Ireland is important for us in the U.S. I thought I had a grasp on the social, cultural, and political landscape of my “homeland” but I was sorely mistaken. Plus, the conversation about the “hunger” we all bring to creative work is well worth your time. Whether you are an artist, writer, or other creative actor this episode is a joy.

Aubrey Sampson Hears a Louder Song

I hadn’t met or heard of Aubrey before seeing an email from her publisher regarding her book, The Louder Song: Listening for Hope in the Midst of Lament. After reading the book, and discovering her church is in nearby West Chicago, I felt this conversation was important.

The challenge of including this episode in this post is that I want to give you her story here. I want to entice you to listen to the episode. However, the power of her story of dealing with suffering is so significant I don’t want to ruin it in (digital) print.

My recommendation is based on the fact that many of us who have grown up in church have no idea how to lament. We don’t read the psalms of lament unless we attend a church that uses the Lectionary. When was the last time you heard a sermon (just one) from the book of Lamentations? And no, just mentioning the “mercies are new every morning” verse doesn’t count.

How many songs do we sing in contemporary evangelical churches that are written in a minor key?

Why listen? Aubrey teaches through her own story of pain how we embrace lament. But through lament, we also find the encouragement we need to step into difficult times and move towards hope.

If you’re a regular listener to otherWISE, which episode is your favorite?

If you’ve never listened, consider taking a moment to listen and even subscribe on iTunes.

May these episodes bless you as much as they blessed me. And may you find hope in the wise voices of others along your journey of becoming.

(Photo by Juri Gianfrancesco on Unsplash)

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