I am a writer, author, spiritual director, and Episcopal priest. I call myself a “part-time hermit,” because a part of my vocation is to be a spiritual solitary – to be alone with God, to think, to pray.
Some things I think a lot about: everyday theology, the incarnate nature of words, the physicality of a sacred life, what makes a good story, the spirituality of place, sin and evil, solitude and community. I share some of those thoughts in a monthly, reflective newsletter called Letters from a Part-time Hermit. (Click through to read and subscribe!)
For more information on hermits, check out Raven’s Bread, a newsletter edited by full-time hermits Paul and Karyn Fredette. I was honored to be quoted in an article about them in The New York Times, “What We Can Learn from Solitude” in November 2020.
My first two books grew out of things I love – Advent in Narnia from my love, as a child and an adult, of the near-perfect storytelling of C.S. Lewis’s The Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe, as well as its spiritual interconnections with the season of Advent. Holy Solitude came out of my love of spiritual solitude, and my fascination with “saints, prophets, hermits and rebels” who have explored or been tested by solitude. I wanted to write a serious devotional for anyone who, like me, wants to really grapple with the season of Lent and its traditions of fasting, almsgiving, and prayer.
I grew up on the Near South Side of Chicago, in Hyde Park. I went to St. Thomas the Apostle Elementary School, even though my family attended a Protestant congregation, Hyde Park Union Church. I went to Catholic girls high school: first, Academy of the Sacred Heart, where my mother was a teacher, then, after it closed when I was a junior, its sister school, Woodlands Academy. I majored in English at the College of Wooster in Wooster, Ohio. After college, I worked on organic farms, alongside adults with mental illness, as pastor of a rural congregation in New England, and in a Chicago corporate law office.
When I moved back home to Hyde Park, I found myself in the pews of St. Paul and the Redeemer and felt a real welcome and call to leadership there. I was received as an Episcopalian, I earned my Master of Divinity next door, at the University of Chicago Divinity School in 2006, and finished a Certificate in Anglican Studies in 2007 at Seabury Western Theological Seminary, now part of the Bexley-Seabury Federation. I was ordained an Episcopal deacon, then a priest, in 2007 in the Diocese of Chicago.
My first call was as the vicar of a small congregation in the southwestern suburbs. I spent nine years with the people of St. Benedict (Bolingbrook), which shaped me in many ways as a priest, a Christian, and a writer. For more of that part of my story, you can explore the blog I kept from 2012-2016, The Vicar of Bolingbrook, chasing after a spiritual geography of strip malls and cornfields. My 2014 sabbatical blog, “Stranger, Guest, Pilgrim”, is also linked there: following my travels on a Lilly Sabbatical Grant first by Amtrak to San Francisco, Yosemite, and Seattle, then a month at a hermitage in Wisconsin, and then Jerusalem, Jordan, and Rome.
I started writing in earnest in 2012, after being encouraged by friends and by a writers’ workshop at the Collegeville Institute in Minnesota, a great place for pastor-writers. Writing became a part of my ministry with the support of my congregation and helped me grow and thrive in my parish work. I started writing for religious magazines. I published two books with Westminster John Knox Press while working full-time in parish ministry.
In 2016, just a few weeks after I moved to become the Senior Associate Rector at St. Chrysostom’s (Chicago), my mother died unexpectedly during cancer treatments. This changed many things in my life and a year later, in 2017, I decided to leave parish ministry and pursue writing full-time. My husband and I moved to DeKalb, Illinois, where he could finish coursework on his Ph.D. at Northern Illinois University and bought a little fixer-upper house (while working full-time – we went a little insane). We stayed for three years, out on the prairie.
This year, we moved to Indianapolis, to be near a growing cluster of our good friends (even hermits need friends!), and for a bunch more reasons too long to list here. I’ve been working on a new book series, called Everyday Connections: a year-long devotional for each of the three lectionary years (A, B, C) which will come out in Fall 2021, 2022, and 2023, which you can learn more about here.
I’m also now working as a spiritual director, meeting with folks to puzzle through their spiritual questions, struggles, and wonderings. I completed a spiritual direction internship with the Claret Center in Chicago, in 2019-2020. I meet with directees by video call or in person. Contact me if you’d like more information.
I also like to read, make dinner, grow vegetables and flowers, take pictures, and do yoga. I’ve been married to minister, geographer, programmer, photographer, and fellow part-time hermit, Adam Frieberg since 2008.