Russell Shares "Scripture of Snail and Fern" at 2012 Writing Colloquium

“I’m the kind of person who started writing at eight years old, and from that moment on always wanted to be a writer,” began Sharman Apt Russell, keynote speaker for the 2012 ESR Ministry of Writing Colloquium. Russell, a nature and science writer from New Mexico, shared her message, The Scripture of Snail and Fern, with a full audience in the ESR Center gathering area on November 3rd.

“Why is the desire to write so strong in all of us?” she asked the audience. “As writers we try to create pieces of work in which all of the parts are interdependent, interconnected, organically linked,” she shared. “We seek wholeness. The all in one. And this sets up an extraordinary precedent with the world, in which scientists say is also all in one. Which the mystics say also is all in one.” Russell continued with nature photos to complement her message, which she excitedly shared was her first PowerPoint presentation. Attendees were charmed by her humble nature, and inspired by her ability to connect every part of the world with nature through her writing.

“Nature writing first is about being aware, and that means being self-aware, being still, observant of the inner life, the domestic life, as well as aware and observant of the world 'outside' the self,” she said. "Nature writing is about who we are, what we think, what we feel and how alive we are. Nature writing serves as a bridge between the human and non human.” Sharman closed with this beautiful insight: “Nature writing can be, for both the writer and the reader, a prayer."

Thanks to Russell and our wonderful group of workshop presenters, this year’s colloquium was a great success. Attendees learned about writing and publishing from published authors, a storyteller, book editor and social media expert. The energy among participants was palpable, as they shared their stories and hopes for their individual writing journeys. Many thanks to all who attended, and especially for the help of Amy Lyles Wilson, who not only served as a workshop presenter this year, but also as our host.

At the closing of the Colloquium, Wilson announced the recipient of the 2012-13 Mullen Ministry of Writing Fellowship, Marcelle Martin. Marcelle is currently an ESR student, and will use her time as the Mullen Fellow to revise and submit for publication her book titled In the Life and Power of God: Learning from the Spiritual Journey of Early Friends.

"As a spiritual director, teacher, and retreat leader, I have spent decades helping others to reflect on their spiritual journeys," Martin stated in her fellowship application. "My hope is that this book will be read by Quakers and non-Quakers, and not only by individuals, but also by meetings and congregations. Glimpsing God at work during the first flowering of Quakerism reveals how we can more fully cooperate with the work of the Spirit in our own day." We look forward to seeing Marcelle finish this book and for her to share it with both the ESR community and the wider world of Friends. Congratulations Marcelle!

We hope you can join us on November 1-2, 2013 when our keynote speaker will be Jana Riess, author of Flunking Sainthood: A Year of Breaking the Sabbath, Forgetting to Pray, and Still Loving my Neighbor.