I’ve been in Arkansas for a month, and today’s my last day here.
I’ve been the writer-in-residence at First Presbyterian Church in Fort Smith, Arkansas, and I’ve also gotten to speak at John Brown University, University of the Ozarks, University of Arkansas -Fort Smith and the Donald Reynolds Cancer Support House.
Arkansas seems like a random state to live in for a month, and I’ve had a lot of people ask me about it. So here’s the deal.
In January 2014 I flew here from Portland to talk about The Invisible Girls on a Sunday. After I left, the pastor started following me on Twitter, and saw that I spent a month as the writer-in-residence at an art school in Germany in October. He wrote and asked if I’d be interested in coming back to the church for a month doing something similar at First Presbyterian.
I’m always up for an adventure, so I said yes!
I did a lot of talking while I was here, teaching adult Sunday School every week, delivering the Maundy Thursday sermon, speaking at chapel services and teaching writing workshops. I even did a little of my own writing.
But more than anything, I did a lot of looking and listening. I watched pastors and college chaplains and professors faithfully live their vocations. I watched university students learn and live life together. I watched parishioners care for each other and walk their faith journey together.
Arkansas is nicknamed “The Natural State” because of the natural beauty of the rivers and the Ozark Mountains. There’s a also a natural beauty in the people here — who accepted me and cooked for me and cared for me like nothing I’ve ever seen before!
When I leave here, I’ll be going to Illinois for a few days to see my family, then to New Mexico to see a friend, then to Pennsylvania to speak at an event, then to North Carolina to speak at a school, then to Oregon to speak at another event (I might squeeze in a trip to the Grand Canyon somewhere in there if I can!)
The first week of June, I’ll be flying to Europe to spend a month at the same art school in Germany where I was in the fall.
So stay tuned — there’s more adventure to come! But for now, on my last day in Arkansas, here are some pictures of the adventures and events I’ve been a part of the past four weeks.