When do you feel most present to God? When does God seem most transcendent?
When I’m in nature, particularly near water–a stream, lake, the ocean. When I’m quietly holding one of my little ones, breathing them in, feeling their soft skin. When I’m reading something and it convicts me, hits on something I am needing to hear. When I surf.
Beth, have you ever thought about writing a book?
As a matter of fact, Yes! I am working on a book on grief and spirituality. I have published some articles recently on the topic. I have long noticed that our culture (both church culture and broader culture) minimizes loss, giving us no real means to deal with a major part of life. Yet loss touches our lives all the time, when we move or marry, change jobs, loose jobs, when people leave, our bodies fail us, expectations shatter, dreams aren’t realized, people hurt us, we hurt others, the list, of course, goes on and on. I want to rediscover the lost art of grieving and find the practices and traveling companions that can help us open up to and fully live ALL our experiences. I want to help people find creative ways to acknowledge and work with grief instead of choose the various ways to numb out to the pain.
My desire is professionally driven, in that I have met with hundreds of people for spiritual direction and more often than not, the conversation works its way around to some kind of loss that has not been grieved.
My desire to write in this field is also personally driven, as I am currently journeying with my brother who is dying of brain cancer. I know that grief can either close us off to God, ourselves and others or draw us closer to God, ourselves and others. I’m hoping this conversation can help lead us into the more abundant kind of life we were all created to live.
Could you tell me about this idea of getting people together to read the Bible and taste craft beer?
You had something to do with this. I have greatly enjoyed your beer pilgrimages, having rich conversation with interesting people while tasting some really good beer. I decided in January that I wanted to read through the entire Bible this year and about a month in it dawned on me that a few others might be interested also. The timing happened to coincide with my discovering the vast amount of craft breweries in my fine town of San Diego (mostly while doing “research” trips with you for upcoming pilgrimages). So I decided to put the two loves together and found seven other people who share in these loves. So, we get together at various breweries around town, talk about all the Bible’s craziness and beauty, and encourage one another as we taste some of the finest beer the world has to offer. We call ourselves the Good Book/Good Beer group.
You live in San Diego. How did you get to San Diego? So, you like the Chargers and the Padres?
I’m a native San Diegan, actually second generation, which is hard to find in this city where everyone is from someplace else. I grew up in Ventura and did my schooling in Santa Barbara, Claremont and Pasadena, and moved back to SD in my twenties.
I’m a Padres fan. Mostly I love taking my family to Padre games. No matter who is currently on our ever-changing team or how they are doing, we have a great time at the fantastic downtown ballpark.
In addition to your husband and two children, I have read that you are passionate about surf monkeys. What is that all about?
The Surf Monkey is an endangered species of Tijuana border-crossing kitch. It has lived at the border ready to be adopted by gringo tourists returning from Mexico for the past 40+ years. It is literally a 12 inch tall, plaster-of-paris, irregularly painted chimpanzee riding a surfboard that has become something of a surf icon.
I started a surf company and on-line community for people who love the Surf Monkey. We sell the monkeys, our line of surf monkey t-shirts, and surf stickers to various surf shops around Southern California and on-line at www.SurfMonkeyFellowship.com. The monkey has a FB page: Surf Monkey, and I’m pretty sure he’s the ONLY tweeting Surf Monkey: @RealSurfMonkey.
Is there anything you would like to ask me?
What are you reading these days and what is your current favorite brew?
I am reading a few books right now, including The Active Life by Parker Palmer, The God of Intimacy & Action by Tony Campolo & Mary Albert Darling, and Click 2 Save by Keith Anderson & Elizabeth Drescher.
My favorite brews are still in the darker end of the pool, porters and stouts, though I am coming to appreciate Belgian trippels and quadrupels. I think we probably need to do more research to make sure.
Thank you, Beth.
[Image by Beth Slecvove]