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2010 Creative Careers Interviews : Penny MacPherson Interview

Creative Careers in the Arts Interviews

Spiritual Writing Coach
Penny MacPherson

By Molly Anderson-Childers

Penny MacPhersonHold on to your hats, readers! This month, I'm interviewing Penny MacPherson, an amazing and inspiring woman who works as a Spiritual Writing Coach with a Scribal Anointing. In Penny's own words, "I offer seminars and retreats in individualized and congregational settings that show others how to turn the trash and treasure of their lives into precious jewels through journaling and poetry." Let's find out more…

Q: How did you first decide you wanted to be a poet? Was there a defining "aha! "moment when you suddenly knew what you wanted to be when you grew up?

A: Without even realizing I was doing it, I banished my lover, StoryWriting from my regal courts and installed Poetry in his place some time in my ninth grade year. At first, Poetry and I glanced across the room at one another, wildly flirting with each other. I would cast him sidelong glances every once in a while. And when he thought I wasn't looking, he would surreptitiously look my way, letting his eyes linger at the curves of my mind. It was as if we feasted on each other without uttering a single word.

Eventually, when the words did come, they were awkward, clumsy, inexperienced, and stilted — bumbling efforts of an amateur poet who was clueless about form or function. They were nothing more than foolhardy attempts to force various rhyming patterns to lie down and mate in the dust of youthful ignorance. They were tied to what I thought my ninth grade English teacher wanted to see.

Looking back on my early poetic pieces, I'd rather be swarmed and stung by a colony of killer bees than to show any of these early flirtations with language to anyone. Unfortunately, a few artifacts still exist in old high school anthologies that my mom has sitting on her bookshelf in our family room.

Poetry became a coping mechanism for me, the new blind student: the only blind student at my high school. As an awkward teen, I lost my voice among my peers because of a change in surroundings and environment. That's how I fumbled my way into writing poetry. But in the throes of adulthood, Poetry was demanding an increasingly intimate relationship with me. He found his way into the bed of my thoughts and teased and coaxed me into letting him be with me as I found myself face-to-face with emotional and spiritual skeletons and ghosts who refused to keep silent any longer. They were determined to be felt and heard and they prowled and moaned, haunting the halls of my first three books of poetry. There was Poetry, ruthlessly and relentlessly chronicling every painful step. He chased and pursued me, at times pinning me to the walls of honesty until I gave in and let it all come out...

One day, the fire of a question was kindled in my mind: Why not turn this passion for poetry, this desire for teaching, this fervor for healing through writing into a spiritual vocation? As I began digging into the soil of personal experience, it was as if the sweet breath of Yah was scattering the seeds of my dreams and visions into the rich moist soil of my heart and mind, where they quickly began to take root. Watering opportunities came when I started unveiling this new garden to my close friend, Dolly Ziegler and to my Rabbi, Steven Weiler. Their enthusiasm and encouragement were just the sunshine my reveries needed in order to sprout and blossom. The next thing I knew, I was on the synagogue's October calendar, slated to facilitate an Enticed to Even Greater Intimacy with Yeshua Clinic Intensive.

For years I wanted to teach, train, and pour myself into other's lives and be a balm to them. Now I had my chance.

Poetry was no longer a solitary pursuit. It became a vehicle for bringing wounded sisters into safe settings where they could transform their silence into artistic mindscapes. The Enticed Intensives are a chance for women to draw aside, look inside, and let their inner selves step out, maybe for the first time. Helping women to bring out their inner journeys is my way of lavishing my love on them. Offering them a well of empowerment equips them to flow into new unsettled territories within them. Writing becomes the river flowing from each woman's private garden, watering their wasted, wilted places — making them green and fertile in time. If I can't find ways to arouse longings to sink their roots deeper into the Divine, then I haven't done my job. My Enticed Intensives are designed to be spiritual aphrodisiacs, designed to awaken hungers for connection with Yah. I stir women from slumber. My purpose: Clear and Simple — Be the breath causing words to gush forth...Hold and love the inner giftings — nurturing them until there is no more room for women to remain unheard and forgotten.

When I started to write and read what I'd been writing, people told me that my writing touched spots in their hearts and lives that had not been touched before. My intense desire to be balm for hurting people propelled me to keep on writing. It has become a challenge to keep digging deeper to find my voice. Enticing women to even greater intimacy with Yah was birthed at last. My passion to give their pain a voice intensified as the months passed.

Q: Can you talk about the aspect of a scribal anointing, and what that means to your work as a writer and teacher? How did you receive this training/anointing?

A: Although I earned a Master's degree in elementary education from the University of Virginia, it actually had little to do with the emergence of this new spiritual vocation. However, I employ many of the teaching techniques and strategies acquired in graduate school in my clinic intensives. But it was a gradual realization that I had something to say about Yah's passion for me and where I fit into His overall plan. It was the task of exchanging my rags of silence for royal vestments of written and spoken word. It became my way of giving Yah another voice in the earth. It evolved from cultivating my own garden of inner healing to helping other women to reap and sow their own fruits of healing.

This past September, I attended a Voices of Christ conference on Scribal Anointing led by Theresa Harvard Johnson, the founder. I already had the blood of my work flowing within me — this four-day intensive served as the skeletal system and vital organs that brought the fragments of my vision into one fully-functioning body.

The clinic intensives are all about learning how to figure out our identity, to leverage it to be just who we were intended to be. It's all about helping women to turn the emotional and spiritual crags of their lives into desert-gardens. It's about the Presence meeting us where we are, taking us where we're going, and showing us what to do. it's a process of gaining the courage to speak, being brave, and rising up and saying a resounding "Yes" to being a chosen vessel in the world. We have the fire of love burning somewhere inside each of us and the passion to make a difference. It's having the courage to let our hearts and minds be surrendered and yielded to the process. We are brave enough to feel. It's all about the fight to hold fast to Yeshua and to learn to feast on His love letter. We bring others with us as we give Him everything. Recently, I've been learning that it's an extremely steep learning curve to lay it all down, take Him to myself, let Him be king and be faithful to pour myself out. But in squeezing the pulp out through writing, it releases every drop of fragrant oil out of my life. He takes me just like I am and transforms me into someone I scarcely recognize. Everything I endure becomes fruit for Enticed. Nothing is wasted.

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