Last year Stephen Jenkinson and I recorded two podcasts that were the most listened to of anything I have ever recorded.
In their wake, even though I knew he was stepping back, I gathered the courage to invite him to share five Sundays together- a kind of retrospective of his major works.
There are so many one-offs these days. One hour podcasts. One hour interview summits. One hour “master” classes.
What happens if we dare to spend more time together? What happens if we dare to circle back? What happens if we sit next to someone and their body of work and give it time to develop, so that the encounter works on us and in us?
Does our worldview broaden if we have to go beyond first impressions and sound bites and glimpses?
What happens if instead of feeding from a spiritual or inspirational smorgasbord we let ourselves return to the same table and the same company over time? What happens when predigested language and filters and preconceptions get interrupted by being together?
Over 200 people joined us from around the world and potentiated our wonderings.
We allowed the time together to be informed by the questions that flowed in from the group, my own questions and then the great mystery of what arose during an impending holiday season along with a rising tide of another wave of the plague- and many of the festering wounds that have been opened and re-opened in these times.
The result was heartening and heartbreaking and had a kind of depth that was palpable for all who gathered round.
There was me. There was Stephen Jenkinson. There were all who joined- seen and unseen. And there was what happened in the space in between.
At the end of these conversations, and in spite of the homage to endings, this project had more life.
So we spent our winters into spring, and now into summer editing the transcripts of these conversations. I have now read through these conversations at least thirty times. We aimed to honor our respective languages, accents and spellings as well as honoring the evocative spirit of the encounter. I wrote an introduction, and we wrote letters to one another that conclude the book.
We decided that we would write to each other without reading what the other wrote first. With great anticipation, we pressed “send” on our emails to each other at the same time. There was a great tenderness to it all. It was also tenderizing. It compelled me, again and again, and of all my projects and teachings was what I wanted to work on most.
Almost exactly a year later to our first “meeting,” a book is here.
There aren’t too many co-created, co-written dialogue books these days.
We have self-published it, which is quite exhilarating to me, as I have worked with smaller spiritual houses and a big five publishing house. This feels quite renegade.
As I write this, Stephen Jenkinson himself is driving to the printer to pick up and load his car with boxes. He will take the boxes to his house, put them in his book room. If you order a book and are Canadian, then Nathalie or he will take them to the post office. If you order from the U.S., Orphan Wisdom scholar and great champion of this project Matthew Stillman will walk them to his post office in Harlem. If you order from the U.K/ Ireland, countries in Europe, your orders will be sent by Gayano in the U.K.
No, we’re not working with Amazon, so there’s costs and inconveniences involved. There is also perhaps a bit more humanness to be felt.
We came to these meetings governed by the principles of awe and wonder, as well as a dedication to being true to this confounding historical and cultural moment we find ourselves in, to these times troubled long before the plague, and a responsibility to our fellow citizens in them. We attend to the skills of grief, heartbreak, parenting citizenship, elderhood and culture-making.
Should you choose to order a book as a companion, may it be a hand in the dark for you, as it his been for me, many times over, already.
Your book, should you order one, will be touched by one of our hands.
P.S. There is also an audiobook available.