California management consultant and minister Susan Daris Pohl writes her first book, a spiritual memoir.
Pohl grew up in a Southern Baptist community in Michigan where she witnessed tent revivals, parishioners talking in tongues and the ecstatic Brother Dew grabbing a deadly snake from a box. Revealing her story in flashforwards and flashbacks, Pohl has traveled an unusual road that has taken her from the corporate offices of Apple, where she worked in the early days of the company, to the Upaya Zen Center, where she meditated with Zen teacher Joan Hallifax, and then on to divinity studies and her work as a chaplain intern at FCI Dublin, a federal women’s prison. Throughout her life’s wanderings, she has been plagued by metaphysical questions: “Why was I here? Is there really an entity that we refer to as God? How much of religion is a myth…?" One of the most emotionally involving parts of this autobiography shows Pohl’s encounter with a magnetic but doomed adolescent girl, a cancer patient to whom she became a surrogate mother. At the crucial juncture when the author first meets the magical yet ill-fated Marisa, a critical text error takes away from the moment: “I saw a young girl who stuck her head around the door…and so began one of the s of my life.” Glitches aside, Pohl’s engaging memoir makes the reader grapple with age-old questions. The author’s clear, caring writing about her experiences with female convicts reveals their humanity. The sinuous, irritating former heroin addict Eileen continually reminded Pohl of her cruel and insane mother, and she evoked in the author the sense of inadequacy that had once cast a shadow across the author’s life. Pohl overcame her aversion, though, and saw how Eileen and her mother both ultimately elicited profound compassion. Faith, courage, kindness, service and love—these are the five stones that stand for the values upon which Pohl has based her life.
A spiritual journey told by a thoughtful, questioning author who has experienced worldly success.