Something healing

March 3rd, 2008

She calls herself a professional blogger, but those of us who attend regular services at her sanctuary know that description hardly captures the dimension of her spirit. I asked writer and artist Jen Lemen to reflect on her life and work during a week in which I’ll introduce you to a few of my very favorite mothers of mercy in the order of soul sisterhood.

You are from a family of sisters. How intrinsic is sisterhood to your art and writing?

Sisterhood is so major for me, I almost don’t know how to talk about it. I can say this – if my work as an artist or a writer has any hint of the spirit of connectedness or deep trust in the Universe, it’s largely because of the love I’ve experienced from my sisters. We don’t always get along, and there are times when our differences feel personal and painful. But no matter what, my sisters are sewn into the fabric of my heart; it’s hard to think of myself outside of the circle of their love and support.

Do you have the sense of a calling in life?

Since I was a little girl, I’ve had a deep desire to write and also to change the world. It’s impossible for me to think of one without the other. Even now nearing forty, I still want to tell stories that change you and me forever and I want to do it in such a way that you feel inspired to action and filled with hope and love for the world around you.

What is your faith tradition?

I grew up in a Christian family of the low church, born-again variety, but all those labels really don’t do my religious heritage justice. My parents embodied a theology of kindness that didn’t have much patience for rules or dogma. They taught us how to care for the elderly, love the poor, cook for crowds, talk to strangers, show up in a crisis and have fun as a strategy for healthy living. Even though I long ago left the church, I’m still deeply invested in this particular brand of openhearted generosity.

How would you describe your spiritual practice?

My spiritual practice is mostly homemade and borrowed from various traditions. I keep a tiny gratitude journal and set up little altars in my house to mark the travels of my soul, but my real practice is to love strangers and allow the poorest of the poor to be my sage guides and teachers.

There’s more from Jen tomorrow, and more sister inspiration all week.

Here’s your chance to enter the sisterhood. Leave a comment, any comment, many comments this week and you could find a sudden gust of Jen Lemen’s inspiration on your doorstep. Enter your name or enter the name of one of your own sisters who could use some spontaneous soul support. (And hey: the sister could be a mister too.) Prize winners drawn after 6 p.m. PST this Friday and announced on Saturday. Keep entering to win, and make sure you leave me a way to find your email address so I can reach you with the good news.


  1. “if my work as an artist or a writer has any hint of the spirit of connectedness or deep trust in the Universe, it’s largely because of the love I’ve experienced from my sisters”…
    I loved this!
    thank you

    Comment by Sandra — March 3, 2008 @ 6:44 am

  2. It’s Jen Lemen’s no-matter-what-ness I love.

    Comment by Jena Strong — March 3, 2008 @ 11:26 am

  3. karen,

    your blog and jen’s blog were such treats to me this morning. off to the trenches (aka- indoor playground…cringe!). thanks for being you.

    nina beana

    Comment by The Whole Self — March 3, 2008 @ 1:16 pm

  4. I can’t wait to meet them all!

    Comment by Mama Zen — March 3, 2008 @ 1:58 pm

  5. My spiritual practice is mostly homemade…

    I really needed to hear this. Just this weekend, I realized that I miss the practice of thanksgiving as practiced by the evangelical Christian church I attended in college, before I practiced Zen. I love Zen’s emphasis on moment-by-moment awareness, but sometimes I miss being around folks who make it a conscious part of their spiritual practice to SAY (through shared prayer) what they’re grateful for. I’m sure other Zennies feel grateful…we just don’t talk about it much.

    Anyhow, I suspect the timing of this “soul sister series” isn’t accidental, so thank you (there, I’m saying it!) for sharing it.

    Comment by Lorianne — March 3, 2008 @ 4:39 pm

  6. i knew this about jen lemen…this influence of sisterhood that runs through her soul. i have four sisters (and many more souls sisters)…so i have a whole lot of understanding with this.
    love my visits to your beautiful space.

    Comment by jessamyn — March 3, 2008 @ 5:20 pm

  7. I grew up in a family of sisters (the brother didn’t come until I was 16). I know sisters, I understand sisters. That is precisely why I have birthed 2 boys. 🙂

    Love reading the interviews…both her interview here, and your interview at her blog!

    Comment by denise — March 3, 2008 @ 6:54 pm

  8. I love this line too: “My spiritual practice is mostly homemade and borrowed from various traditions.” That’s how I feel about myself. What a lovely person. I look forward to reading more about her. Thanks.

    Comment by Shelli — March 3, 2008 @ 8:54 pm

  9. I sometimes think that the “homemade and borrowed” spirituality is the most authentic to who we are.

    I’m glad I’m not alone.

    Comment by Busymomma66 — March 3, 2008 @ 9:39 pm

  10. Lorianne,
    What this Zennie feels is an unspeakable gratitude. An awe, delight, a rapture. Nothing contrived, and “for” nothing in particular but for life as it is. (The glass of Pinot Grigio at hand helps achieve this state of mind.)


    Comment by Karen — March 4, 2008 @ 3:03 am

  11. Thanks for these positive bouquets of happiness today – love the interviews!

    Comment by Jessica — March 4, 2008 @ 3:34 am

  12. I love this. And I love that you and Jen are sisters. So perfect! Does that make her my aunt? Ha.

    Comment by Girl con Queso — March 4, 2008 @ 3:42 am

  13. Great interview. I also enjoyed reading her interview of you. Somewhere on her blog she quoted you as saying that you can just be new. I love that idea. I’m ready to be new. And still me.

    Comment by Moanna — March 4, 2008 @ 3:51 am

  14. Oh how sweet Quesita (little cheese girl to you northerners). This means you still see me as your mama!

    Comment by Karen — March 4, 2008 @ 3:54 am

  15. I’m falling in love with her all over again.
    thank-you for this wonderful interview.
    Like many, I was struck by the homegrown spirituality.
    My own comes from so many places and traditions. Like everything and yet nothing all at once.
    Soul sisterhood.
    this is what I’m needing now.

    Comment by bella — March 4, 2008 @ 3:55 am

  16. this is a great post. i also am a jen lemen fan and i love reading her simple and soulful answers to your questions! can’t wait to read more…

    Comment by Phyllis Sommer — March 4, 2008 @ 4:04 am

  17. Thank you for introducing me to Jen! I look forward to this week.

    Comment by kathryn — March 4, 2008 @ 3:27 pm

  18. A mix of Lemen and Miller in a week like this one, for me, is spiritual in itself. Wish I didn’t have two sick girls to tend to or else I might make it here earlier …

    Comment by Shawn — March 5, 2008 @ 12:27 pm

  19. “attend regular services at her sanctuary”
    yes, that’s exactly the right description for Jen’s site!

    Comment by nyjlm — March 6, 2008 @ 7:11 pm

  20. Oh that Jen Lemen is such a doll!!!

    Comment by Jennifer — March 7, 2008 @ 3:35 am

  21. I love how you and Jen have paired up this week for these inspiring interviews…I think I’m all caught up now 😉

    Comment by Kirsten Michelle — March 8, 2008 @ 1:18 am

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