Pat Schneider attended the Pacific School of Religion when she was 21 and at 71 she has returned to teach there. She is the author of ten works of poetry and nonfiction. As Founder of Amherst Writers and Teachers, she travels frequently to lead workshops on creative writing. At the heart of her vision of life is a relationship with mystery: she sees it as a starting point for spiritual practice whether with love, nature, friends, animals, or the marvels of intuition, synchronicity, and everyday happenings.

Schneider is convinced that to start a writing project is to embark with the Spirit and to invite an experience of "the deep." She suggests that writing is a lot like prayer; we must take a leap into the dark and trust that even though we might stumble around a bit, we will come out on the other side with plenty of spiritual teachings to share with others — those close to us and those far away.

After 32 years of teaching writing workshops and probing her childhood, the author sheds light on fear, the dark night of the soul, religious tradition, forgiving, doing good, changing the world, and death. Schneider smoothly integrates her own poems and reminiscences as substantive illustrative material. This gives even more heft to her opening words on mystery and its pivotal role in the spiritual life and in sacred writing.

She quotes Samuel Coleridge: "There can be no great art without a certain strangeness." What wonderful news! Strangeness fits right in with Schneider's tributes to the beloved community, freedom, and joy. We are grateful for this author's ardent imagination and her invaluable insights into the spiritual practice of mystery.