Wednesday, November 5, 2014

Slow and Quiet

Well, hello there. It has been a while since I wrote in this space. Then again, I'm the guy who wrote a book about introversion, so when I disappear from public life, it probably isn't all that surprising. My favorite moments are still the ones I experience in solitude, and my favorite thoughts are still the ones that I think and write in the quiet.

There have been lots of life changes since I last wrote, and I handle transitions and adjustments best through slow thoughts, lazy stares, and long walks. Long walks come easily in downtown Santa Barbara, where I now live and work. I walk to work, I walk to coffee shops, I walk to the grocery store, I walk to friends' houses, I walk to wine bars. I may have walked away from professional ministry over a year and a half ago, but I think it took about 18 months for professional ministry to walk away from me. I am now settled in as assistant manager at a reputable winery in Santa Barbara and a wine tour guide in Santa Ynez. But I still think there is more continuity between my old life and my new life than others might think. What I tell people is that as a hospice chaplain I used to listen to medicated people, and now as a wine educator I still listen to medicated people. They're just a lot happier now.

After 3 1/2 years, I did finally finish the manuscript for my second book. Turns out that major life changes are not the best context for fast writing. It turns out my brain is not the best context for fast writing. But I am happy with the book, though while I wait for my editor's feedback I have already come up with another chapter to fit in there. I really love the title, "The Listening Life," and I hoping IVP will agree. We should have an official release date before long, but I anticipate it will be early next fall, the most wonderful time of the year. Book writing is slow, book editing is slow, book publishing is slow. No wonder I thrive in it. If you weren't patient before you got into writing books, you will be by the time they're published.

Here are a couple of announcements. Our favorite introvert, Susan Cain, author of the mega-selling Quiet, (now $2.99 on kindle) is founding a website called "Quiet Revolution," which will feature all kinds of introvert-related material. She asked me to be a regular contributor, and I will be writing a monthly column starting soon. My first article will be about the motivation that led me to write a book about listening. Preview: Listening makes me into a particular kind of person.

Second, in a beautiful collision of all my worlds, I have been asked to lead a seminar on wine at the Glen Workshop in June. The Glens are for writers, artists, and musicians - a workshop and retreat rolled up into one - and they are sponsored by Image Journal, my favorite Christian print publication.

My seminar will be called "Wine and Spirit," and here is the description:

To the ancients the process by which grape juice was transformed into wine was a sacred mystery. Wine was a gift of the gods, a holy offering, lifeblood that unites us to the deep things of the universe, an elixir that makes a hard life just a little bit easier. You see, wine was not invented or created; wine was discovered, an accidental miracle stumbled upon by a gatherer of wild grapes. Even now, when modern science has discovered the building blocks and chemical reactions that catalyze the fermentation process, we put wine at the center of our tables and our altars, a sacramental reminder of invisible realities. In this workshop Adam McHugh, ordained Presbyterian minister, spiritual director, author, and yes, sommelier, will lead us into the mysteries and meaning of wine. Through discussion and wine tasting, we will let wine slow us down and teach us how to pay attention to the everyday miracles in front of us. 

Glen East is June 14-21st at Mt. Holyoke College in Massachusetts. There will be scholarships available, which will be forthcoming soon on their website as they update it for the 2015 editions.

We can all eagerly anticipate my next blog post, which will likely come sometime in the summer of 2015.