opening ourselves with the hinging daylight hours

Monday, October 14, 2013

Bury The Dead: Book Release and Retreat

I am very excited to announce the release of the anthology Bury the Dead : Stories of Death and Dying, Resistance and Discipleship.  You can buy a copy of the book from the publisher, or you can wait until you see me (which I prefer). E-mail me at if you are interested in a copy.

This is the second writing project Laurel Dykstra activist-pastor- writer-mother-editor brought me into.  I wrote Chapter 12--  and named it "Digging."  It was the last piece of writing that I wrote before I chose to transition out of Camden. In fact quite a few of the contributing authors made major life decisions after writing their pieces. Now as I read through the book for the first time I understand much more of the human condition.  I have journeyed through a lot of thoughts and feelings and deeply rooted experiences this past year; the death of some very close people to me since the piece was submitted, leaving America's most dangerous city after nine years, the journey of Jorge who I wrote about, and my own near death experience this summer. Perhaps only when we dig and lament, process through the human state of vulnerability and suffering do we understand the limitless beauty. This is a book that has helped me to catch my breath in a world of violence, a crack in the pavement, dancing in the face of death.

"Digging" is focused at the intersection of the healing of the body as intimately yoked with the healing of the earth. For nearly all of the history of humanity, people have met with their loved ones with shovel in hand to dig a grave as a sacred act for the people closest in their lives when they pass. A physical act, moving the earth, as muscle memory, as embodied suffering in the soil, layered over time as geological formations. One part eco-anthropological this story is grounded in the planting of fruit tree orchards at murder sites, and the hope of a ten year old boy.

For all Souls Day and All Saints Day we will be holding a Bury the Dead Retreat in Tacoma, Washington. Register here through Word and World- I am one of the facilitators

At this time of the year, we gather to grieve for those who have passed over. This retreat will offer a space to share our stories, say their names out loud, find silence and solitude, build altars for those we love, walk the land, and honor the cloud of witnesses that has gone before us. It will be a time of sharing and learning as we reclaim our traditions around death and dying as part of the work of discipleship.
The retreat will also be a chance to honor the release of the new book Bury the Dead: Stories of Death and Dying, Resistance and Discipleship.  Bury the Dead is a collection of personal encounters with death, stories of alzheimers, AIDS,cancer, hospice, suicide, murder, systemic violence, genocide, and war. A teenager tenderly washes her mother’s body; a community organizer cries outrage over his blood-soaked comrade; a father builds a coffin for his infant son; martyrs are honored by a former political prisoner; experiences in Palestine impact a young scholar’s reading of Exodus; a community of gardeners plant trees at urban core murder sites. From Chile to Camden New Jersy, New Orleans to Vancouver Canada drawing from sources such as the Catholic Worker, the Peace Movement, and Occupy, these stories make connections between medicine delivery  PICC-lines and labour picket lines, jazz funeral second lines and countless struggles’ front lines. Part pastoral theology, part movement history, this book powerfully demonstrates that resisting the Power of Death is at the heart of Christian discipleship, and that in a culture that fears death—we will only find resurrection in facing it.


I just got word that Sojourners Magazine is interested in featuring a long excerpt from my chapter, much gratitude to the advocates and editors at Sojourners as they continue to help me develop my voice.

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