By Miriam Gabriel
November and December: months of hibernation (we wish!), taking stock (while pressured to overspend!), and sound reflection… if only holiday traffic didn't take up so much free time. I grew up at the intersection of three major world religions; the study of religious and spiritual traditions across the years only multiplied my senses of awe, joy, and confusion, especially during these two adorned, celebrated months. Of course life's tragedies continue, political/communal tensions reveal the unmourned and unhealed, and even family dinners may pry open tears and eye rolls along with the smiles and crack-ups. But, for most people I know, from multiple lineages and paths in life, they grew up with some structured time for experiencing everyday magic and carried-down wisdom at some point during those deep winter months.
I spent those two months planning-intuiting the launch of TLA Talks, an interview series for this very online hub of transformative writers, speakers, scholars, singers, actors, activists, healers and performers. This is such a long list of vocations, hearkenings and social positionings. It sounds like a big challenge. But it is a challenge made so easy by the phenomenal lives that have agreed to the interview series. It is especially easy to have a sense of self-imposed expectation of presenting a very inspiring life utterly shattered yet gently graced when the first person you are abou to interview is Chris Dierkes.
An exceptional healer and wrier at the intersections of culture and spiritual practice, Chris comes from a multitudinous background that integrates seminary work at a socially pregressive church, a private practice of soul-honoring readings, a writing career that covers healing from a theological and socially engaged perspective, experience with reiki, a continuing journey of learning from shamanic ways of knowing, and – very recently – being a father. What I find to be most integrative about speaking with Chris is the overwhelmingly loving, encompassing presence and perspective he carries through his reflections and engagements, even if he is addressing some of the most uncomfortable (transitioning careers, for example) or unjust of enacted energetic patterns (marketing tricks used in some spiritually-oriented media that may further contirbute to social inequalities). I wish you will be able to experience some of this through the podcast I am leaving below of our conversation. It is easy to witness the fine-tuned empathy and communally aware sensibility he brings to what he knows, what he experiences, and what he recounts to me, to those present around him.
During the months of November and December, I corresponded with this brilliant writer and balm of a healer… and quite a silly, good-natured correspondent. During these correspondences, there was always a word or two about the incipient life brewing the womb of his wife Chloe. There was also an increasing curiosity on my part to know how a Soul reading goes like, and what it may tell me about my responsiveness and responsibility to the world and to my communities. Shortly after the conversation documented above, I received a soul reading from Chris, and I feel the fragility of my finger bones typing the coming words. I was raised either mystic or activist, and the two worlds required of me to give up one for the other since childhood. I am eternally grateful for Chris' reading in addressing this riff in an imaginative, deeply listening way I did not know was possible. Not too long after the reading, I smiled and shook my head with joy at Facebook pictures of Chris' first born child, a beautiful daughter named Sage.
My interviewee and I got some loaded gifts this holiday season: giving overwhelming love, evoking response and responsiblity. The time to hibernate is coming to a close. The bells ring gently with the patter of rain, fall of snow, crackle of sun. Wherever you are, I hope that you join the babbles and giggles, even the couple groans and grunts, recorded above, keeping you gritty company for this season.
To contact Chris and delve into his writing, feel free to check out his blog here at www.ChrisDierkes.com. You may also read his provocative, even occasionally hillarious, pieces at the online magazine Beams and Struts here. Happy, honoring, warm, welcomed and transforming holidays to you. And for those celebrating tomorrow: merry, merry Christmas! And for the day after: have a festive, fulfilling Kwanzaa!
To review the galvanizing people featured in the TLA Talks of early 2014, please check out the profiles of Detroit-based environmental activist, youth educator, and Hip Hop Renaissance artist William Copeland; up-and-coming cultural critic, poet, educator and globally-consciousing Canadian activist Vanessa Fisher, joining us from Seoul; and author, scholar, esotericist, founder of the Phoenix Rising Academy, and exceptionally evocative painter Sasha Chaitow, speaking with us all the way from Greece. Till next time!