It was the fall of 1999. I'd just moved from the West Coast to Calgary and was grieving the part of my heart I'd left behind. I was anxious about my new ministry in a big city church. I was lonely among my new clergy colleagues. And just beneath the surface of my awareness, my marriage was pulling apart at the seams.
I was ripe for a mid-life crisis. But I didn't know it yet and, in truth, I was resisting knowing it. I was trying to hold things together the way I always had, by avoiding what was happening on the inside and increasing my productivity on the outside. So, in the evenings and on my days-off, I began writing a novel. As one does.
Passiontide was about Father David, a fictional Anglican priest who emerged from my short story collection, How the Light Gets In. He was approaching his middle years and the world he'd carefully woven for himself was unravelling. I gave him a three-fold personal crisis: spiritual, ecclesiastical, and matrimonial. I kicked him out of his comfortable life and sent him on a hero's journey across the country. There, in the wilds of the West Coast, among the eccentric people who lived there, I gave him his task: to find himself anew.
When the book came out in 2002, published by Path Books (a subsidiary of The Anglican Book Centre), it made people wonder what was going on in my personal life. Nothing, I told them. A novel is a work of fiction, I said, and Father David was made up. Yeah, right. Not until my marriage fell apart, and I began doubting my vocation, and I found myself on a quest to discover the depths of my own soul, did the connections between Father David’s story and my own become clear. It was about me, after all, every word of it.
Some deep truths revealed themselves in Passiontide, truths of which I was barely conscious as the storyteller: the meaning of Christ's Passion; our soulful relationship with the natural world; what is required of us to know who we really are. Amazingly, looking back, I was in possession of all the resources I would need for a hero's journey myself, though it took the disintegration of my own carefully woven world for me to recognize it.
The book was, in that way, prescient. But prescient, as well, in my growing misgivings about the church. It took another twenty years for my actions to catch up with my apprehensions, my outer life with my inner. I would eventually leave the church. But at the time, I had meaningful work to do, a ministry that I loved, and people with whom I shared a vision of what the church could be. Passiontide takes me back to the hopefulness that fuelled my sense of vocation and that sustained me through the dark days that were to come. In a way, it's still there, that hopefulness.
I'm now offering Passiontide as an audiobook for you to enjoy over the summer months. I'll be rolling it out this week on The Mystic Cave podcast, a chapter a day, so you'll have it in its entirety by July 1st. There's a teaser below, comprising the first two parts of Chapter 1. To hear the rest, you can find The Mystic Cave on Apple Podcasts, Google, Spotify, Amazon, or any of the other podcast platforms. I won't be posting the chapters here on the blog. You can also visit my site on Buzzsprout, my podcast host, where you‘ll find all my other episodes as well. I’ll put that link at the bottom of the page.
Reading the novel again, and re-entering the story in order to prepare it as an audiobook, I felt proud, all over again, of Passiontide. I'm writing better now, so I couldn't help but make revisions as I went along. But it’s a good yarn. I even found myself strangely moved by its cliff-hanging climax. I cared about Father David! I hope this will be your experience as well. He awaits your company on the Unknown Path that is our search for soul.
And with this, I'll leave you for the summer. Thank you so much for your interest and support. My blogs will return in the fall, along with a new season of The Mystic Cave podcast, where I plan to explore the elements of "A Church of One’s Own." This is all an unpaid labour of love; reaching people is my reward. So, if you enjoy this blog, or the podcast itself, please tell others about it, and invite them to subscribe to my mailing list, which can be found on the home page of my website, at: https://www.brianepearson.ca.
Happy summer journeying!
To hear the first two parts of Chapter 1 of Passiontide, just click on the Play buttons below:
Chapter 1, Part I:
Chapter 1, Part II:
To hear the rest of the episodes, you can follow this link to my site on Buzzsprout: