• Meet the Author – Lory Widmer Hess

    by  • 29 February 2024 • Author Interview, The Christian Community • 0 Comments

    In her candid and courageous book, When Fragments Make a Whole, Lory Widmer Hess describes her experience of inner transformation through her exploration of the healing stories in the gospels. In a unique blend of poetry, commentary and autobiography, she describes how she engaged with and drew inspiration from these stories. Her approach will inspire readers on their own journey of spiritual growth.

    We spoke to author Lory about the process of the writing the book, the inspiration behind it and what she hopes it will bring to other people.

    Why did you write this book? Is there any back story” that inspired it?

    I wrote the poems first. I hadn’t written poetry for many years, and was feeling quite creatively blocked, but then the idea to study the three stories of Christ raising people from the dead occurred to me during an Advent season when I was facing the possible end of my marriage. I ended up writing poems from their point of view, and these felt like a gift from some living source that helped me keep going through a dark time. The rest of the poems were written later, while I was recovering from gallbladder surgery and pondering issues that came up in the wake of my father’s death. When the poems were done, I thought others might benefit from them too, and  wondered if I could make them into a book.

    At the same time, I had written a book-length memoir exploring my spiritual and healing journey, but I didn’t feel able to submit it for publication, because of the need to protect other people’s privacy. However, when I looked at the poems and put them in order, I could see how parts of my own story could complement them. I also had discovered some interesting information in the course of studying the healing stories. I decided to add these elements to the poems, following a “lectio divina”-like format.

    The project remained vague in my mind, something I’d do someday when I had time, until I happened to join an online writing workshop in November, 2022. November is “National Novel Writing Month” and there are many events structured around it – aiming to get writers to make significant progress on a long project. Although I wasn’t writing a novel, the energy and encouragement of others in the group helped motivate me for my own work. Within a month I had written my introduction and commentary, and sketched out the biographical portions. This push proved to be very essential! I finished the full draft a month or two later.

    The Seminary of the Christian Community in North America was also an influence on my writing – I did two of their Open Courses, numerous webinars, and the first year of the Distance Learning Program, a part-time spiritual formation/discernment program. I learned so much from all of these offerings, and much of that made its way into the book, if only as a kind of background or foundation.

    Whats your favourite moment or character in the book and why?

    My favorite character is Peter’s mother-in-law, because her story is so brief and cryptic in the Bible, but as I wondered what lay behind her story and did a bit of digging she really came to life for me. I think the story I came up with is unlikely to be factually true, but it makes a kind of narrative sense that is satisfying. To me she represents all the women’s voices that are latent in the written Gospel, suppressed by a patriarchal culture, not often able to speak out, yet bearing that subversive element which broke through on Golgotha, and which our minds still have a hard time grasping today.

    In a world that wants to deaden and institutionalize everything, we need the connection with living, organic reality that Christ brought to earth, and that women also carry unspoken in their bodies. That’s why Christ had a special, and often quite shocking, relationship to women. This woman with a rather shocking background, and a special insight into Christ’s mission, came to encapsulate that for me.

    She also has a sense of humor, unlike many of the others, which makes me fond of her too.

    What are some interesting messages or conversational points your book inspires?

    Above all, I hope that readers will be inspired to connect their own life journeys with the healing stories in the gospels. When have they felt themselves to be blind or deaf, or to have a withered limb, or to be racked by fever — not literally, but in their soul or life forces? How has Christ touched them in those moments, or what unmet needs were brought to light that they wish he could address? He asks, in these stories, “Do you want to be healed?” and “What do you want me to do for you?” and I think these questions are for all of us. They’re not necessarily easy to answer!

    Another topic of discussion could be the interpretation of the healing stories, or of other passages in the Bible, looking at different translations and, as far as possible, the original texts. When I did this, even in a very amateurish fashion, it brought up many surprising connections and new insights. I don’t expect readers to agree with me, necessarily, rather that they become inspired to find their own relationship to the Bible. How can this book come alive for them, too, as it did for me in the process of writing? 

    Building bridges between anthroposophy and other Christian streams would be wonderful. I personally can’t imagine understanding the gospels at all without anthroposophy, yet many people come to Christ through other means. How can we meet and understand each other? What can we learn and share, out of our common experience of the Healing One? I’d love to know if the book inspires any of those conversations.

    About the author

    Lory Widmer Hess grew up near Seattle, Washington, USA. Encountering anthroposophy at the age of 26 set her on a long journey of exploration and discovery that included studies at Sunbridge College, Eurythmy Spring Valley, and the Seminary of The Christian Community in North America.

    Lory has been a book editor for the Waldorf Early Childhood Association of North America and has worked for a number of anthroposophical organisations, most recently in communities serving adults with developmental disabilities. She currently lives with her family in Switzerland and is in training as a spiritual director. Visit her website and blog at enterenchanted.com.

    If you’d like to learn more about When Fragments Make a Whole, why not try it out first by reading a free sample? Find an extract from the book here.


    Leave a Reply

    Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *