I’ve been very busy as of late, having conceived of a new project: a half-day retreat, eventually to be amplified into an 8-week workshop, in which I will tell people how to think, act, and live!

Doesn’t that sound fun?

I am going to get a logo, a banner, a video, a business plan, a “download sheet” (whatever that is), and a flyer. Yes! Business cards, for ancient as I am, I still like a piece of paper with a little picture on it that you can stick in your wallet.

I mean to gather all the many strands of my experience, strength, hope and obsessions. Addiction, food, money, gardening, Film noir. BOOKS. PILGRIMAGE. VOCATION. NATURE. ART. The thin line between passion and pathology.

All underlain by my pre-Vatican II, over-emoting, curmudgeonly temperament, and I pray to the Lord above, a SENSE OF HUMOR.

Mainly I would like to get across that Catholicism, which to me is another way of saying life, is INTERESTING. It’s not sitting (or rather not only sitting) in some air-conditioned gated community discussing the relative merits of Benedict and Francis. It’s not ivory-tower poets scraping and fawning for a place in mover-and-shaker academia, nor “public intellectuals” who beautifully articulate the sanctity of the family but can’t deign to say hello when you meet them in person, nor, for us lesser souls, sitting in front of our laptops spying upon and hurling insults at each other with the supposed motive of “evangelizing.”

It’s van Gogh saying, “I love my studio in the same way that a sailor loves his ship.” It’s Maria Callas saying, “I prepare myself for rehearsals the way I would for marriage.” It’s daring to respond to the call of the deepest desires of our hearts.

Instead…have you ever been to a Catholic conference of any kind, for example? Everyone takes an uber from the airport to an air-conditioned corporate hotel, eats bad hotel food, drinks at the hotel bar while gossiping about the various factions in the Church, stays inside for three solid days, then takes an uber back to the airport.

What about a WALK? Have we no curiosity? Do our hearts not long to venture out into the streets and see how people live in this strange city we’re visiting? This is not worthy of our Savior. Have we so little imagination that we no longer yearn to see the sky, a river, a dicey neighborhood, a hidden garden, a mom-and-pop bakery, a fistfight?

I say this of course as a member of the Ardently Faithful for whom the Church is the only real home I have or ever will have. And of course failing to venture outside of a carefully-defined bubble of comfort and security is hardly peculiar to Catholics.

I do feel, however, that we of all people–pulsatingly aware of the mystery and the glory of the Incarnation, our endlessly fascinating brothers and sisters, and the world outside our doors–should be adventurers, pilgrims and wanderers.

Speaking of which, I discovered Chaim Soutine (1893-1943) on a little trip to Philadelphia a few years ago on which I “happened” upon the world-famous Barnes Foundation. Mr. Barnes, a mega-rich collector whose statues if there are any will probably soon be ripped down, went over to Europe and basically bought up practically every painting of Soutine’s who was Jewish and at the time crabby and starving in some low Parisian garret.

He, Soutine, painted many tormented-looking women like the one above, often clutching their hands together and looking like they forgot to take their Klonopin, then died near Montparnasse of a perforated ulcer while fleeing the Gestapo.

Anyway, I hope everyone is holding steady in these unprecedented times, and being upheld by art of various kinds that reveals the complexity, depth and paradoxes of the human condition.

19 Replies to “AS THE WORLD TURNS”

  1. mahilliard2017 says: Reply

    I’m in.

  2. Sara Buscher says: Reply

    I can’t wait!

  3. stephensparrownz says: Reply

    I’ve been tempted to do likewise but find indolence a difficult hurdle – looking forward to your new venture though.

  4. Teresa Kleber says: Reply

    Sign me up.

  5. Hello Heather, Waw! That sounds fantastic!!
    Just to let you know I am reading for the second time Ravished: Notes on Womanhood, and its absolutely fantastic.
    Please keep doing what you do!

  6. Ingrid Christensen says: Reply

    You touch on the greatest commandment that we love each other. Gotta get out and actually talk to people if we are to love them. Sitting in out huddles will not heal the world.

  7. Waiting with baited breath!

  8. Lawrence McDonald says: Reply

    Wow . The idea itself has a feeling of both inevitability and astonishment, as salient ingredients. Wow again. Hmmm. How to shape this “amplifiable” (love it!) project ! Hmmm. How to bring a Heather King workshop to a close. Two models come to mind: a moebius strip and a certain film by Luis Bunel. Have fun, Heather.
    You’re the best !!!

    Lawrence M

    1. HEATHER KING says: Reply

      Los Olvidados? (The Forgotten Ones?)…No, YOU’RE the best, Lawrence…my heart was in my throat when I hit “Publish” yesterday…I knew once I’d put it out to the world, I’d feel duty-bound to at least try to follow up…I don’t know anything else but to continue creeping to daily Mass, and praying…

  9. HEATHER KING says: Reply

    Oh thank you people, this is all very heartening! I see the world moving ever more toward ideology…a kind of binary existential world view that aims to excise all nuance, complexity, depth, richness, paradox, emotion, conscience, heart, personal choice and responsibility, individuality, imagination, art, creativity, and thus in the end the human person. This cannot be! And what if it is up to us?–in fact it IS up to us–to resist that movement with all our strength…

    I am thinking of calling my project Desire Lines: (Arts. Divine Intoxication. Faith or something like that as a subtitle). Desire lines or paths are the names given by urban planners to what happens when one person’s impulsive shortcut encourages others to follow, creating informal, unmapped channels through a city.

    Desire lines have been called “free-will ways,” “cow paths, pirate paths, social trails, kemonomichi (beast trails), chemins de l’âne (donkey paths), Olifantenpad (elephant trails),” “Paths that have Made Themselves,” “a record of civil disobedience,” and “beautiful, poetic marks of democracy.” They “indicate [the] yearning” of those wishing to walk…of giving feedback with our feet.”

    Christ’s walk to Calvary is of course the uber Desire Line…both a “shortcut” and the road to infinity…

  10. HEATHER KING says: Reply

    Chris, that lifts my heart! I’m so glad RAVISHED has found its way to your library and heart! Pass it on…Thrilled to have you as a reader. Many thanks–

  11. I love the concept of Desire Lines. I’ve followed a few and made a few. Great idea for a project title.

  12. HEATHER KING says: Reply

    I think so, too, Ann–many layers of meaning and possible directions….thanks and I will keep you all posted!

  13. Mary Beth says: Reply

    Heather, I have two things to say upon first reading: 1. Cherishing having taken you to our bog more than ever. (I was trying to repost that great photo of you here but couldn’t) and 2. Chaim Soutine might have well just named that painting “Portrait of Heather King”. How could he have known? I keep looking at your photo right next to hers, and the resemblance to your photo next to it is undeniable. And after a second reading: You really do manage to voice the kind of restlessness I feel about everything these days, but haven’t been able to define it. I think maybe messy and unknowable is about as close as I am going to get. I am thankful for having a practice of walking as often as possible. It makes an enormous difference.
    I look forward to hearing your more about your retreat and what is to follow. XXOO

    1. HEATHER KING says: Reply

      Mary Beth, I noticed the same thing and cracked up–right down to the blue shirt, Chaim Soutine’s lady and me were separated at birth…I have the famous bog photo as my profile pic on instagram. Def one of my all-time favorites, at the Glacial Kettle…Yes, restlessness is the word. I have launched into a semi-manic phase trying to give this project a shape…at this late-ish stage of the game, I am finally maybe getting it together to find a clearer way of identifying myself and my work…clearly, we members of the faithful have never needed more to give our all. The question is how? Or how do we gather, two or three together, and support each other in avoiding the ghastly ideologies from both sides that threaten to weigh us down…I sincerely think walking is at least 50% of the solution to EVERYTHING–the whole notion of “desire lines” is of course BUILT on walking…I will post more on how my ideas are evolving but rest assured, my brain and heart are working overtime. Much love to you and have a coffee for me at Fox in the Snow!

  14. Judy Mate says: Reply

    Your sober life, that’s walked out free from addictions is appreciated by ‘friends of Bill’s’. My hope, as an ole gal, sober 50 years, is that you’ll give gracious gratitude to the 12 Steps in your new writings/pursuits. Blessings on your life and ministry, Heather.

    1. HEATHER KING says: Reply

      Hi Judy, my book Holy Desperation: Praying As If Your Life Depends On It is full of 12-step spirituality and won 2018 BOOK OF THE YEAR from the National Assoc of Catholic Publishers, as well as a bunch of other awards…of course my first book, PARCHED, was ALL ABOUT alcoholism, specifically my own, as spiritual thirst…it’s more or less the story of my childhood and early adulthood–ends in rehab…but I didn’t write it till I was 18 years sober, so the recovery/resurrection is implicit in the way I tell the story…anyway, many thanks and blessings back to ya!

  15. As soon as I saw the Soutine painting, I said to myself, “Heather sees herself in that picture.” Paintings like that stay alive and fresh.

    1. HEATHER KING says: Reply

      It’s so true, Lin! I have this favorite blue shirt with pockets in front that I wear constantly and I think that was part of it!

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