Liz Byrd As I walked into Candler on November 6 for the Annual Women’s Forum, I did not know what to expect. Well, I knew someone would give a presentation, we would eat lunch, and I would attend a writing workshop. But what happened was much, much more. It was a day of transformation, a day I would have never thought I needed – but needed greatly.

The morning was filled with fun and fellowship as Candler alumni, students, and others with a love for writing gathered to hear poet and author Pat Schneider share. We listened to Pat’s thoughts on writing and pieces from her recent book How The Light Gets In: Writing as a Spiritual Practice. Pat gave a great overview about writing and the spiritual practice of writing. She discussed writing from your heart, and stressed the importance of writing in your “original voice.” She also shared that anyone can write, stating, “Not being able to write is a learned disability.” Wow! Those words were comforting, yet so challenging. As a student in seminary, I write academic papers that I feel need to be as perfect as possible, but rarely do I take the time to write whatever it is I feel and let it flow from my heart.

We shifted to the afternoon session, where Pat led a writing workshop for students structured like the workshop she founded, Amherst Writers & Artists. There, I was able to practice what she had discussed earlier. This was a place of transformation, as we sat, wrote, and shared spontaneous writings from the heart. Though most of us in attendance had seen one another, very few of us were more than just acquaintances. We all learned more about each other and our stories in that afternoon than I think I would have ever known otherwise about the women in that room (pictured above).

It was an incredible experience to see how writing can soothe, make you cry and laugh, and, through sharing, how it can shape and help others. Thanks be to God for the gift of writing and the transformation it can bring! 

Thank you to Pat Schneider, The Rev. Ellen Shepard, Candler’s Women, Theology and Ministry program, The Rev. Ellen Echols Purdum, Candler’s Office of Student Programming, and all who helped make this event happen.