It's All God, Anyway ... by Jennifer (Jinks) Hoffmann

The real story behind the story is not about my book, but about waking up to reality. Early in my training program to become a spiritual director, we were asked "what was your first experience of the Divine?" I had never thought about this. To my surprise, I had an instant response: the first time I heard Tchaikovsky's Swan Lake. I could remember exactly how I felt. About 8 or 9 years old, I was sitting with my friend June, in her home. We were listening to an "LP" on one of those old-fashioned, wind-up record-players. There was a sense of presence that moved me to tears. A lushness, a wonder, an awe. Many, many years later when I found the language to describe what had happened with me, I used word sacred. As I became more conscious in my life, I yearned to experience this awareness of the sacred more and more, to connect with and be guided by it. Little did I know I would become a spiritual director, after my first 2 professions of speech therapist and psychotherapist. But God is insistent, and if you don't do what the wisdom within instructs you to, you may end up suffering in some way. It was only in my late 30's, after the death of my father, and being catapulted into my psychospiritual work, that I became conscious of seeking connection with that sacred aspect of life. By now I had begun to talk about God. The word "God" has a variety of meanings for a variety of people. I mean something like guiding principle of my life, my own divine spark, my guide to my own wholeness ─becoming who I was created to be─ rather than who I think I am. For me God is also everything else, as my book suggests. In other words, there is nothing that is not the divine, or as one of my dreams said "it's all God, anyway." As mystical teachings from most faith traditions offer, reality is God, though because of our limitations, we perceive of ourselves as being separate. There is just a Oneness, a unity. God is for me not only that which is beautiful and wonderful about life. As my book says it's all God, and so God and mystery include life's darkness, difficulties and challenges. There is hardly a day when I do not celebrate the wonders of existence, despite all. Working open-heartedly with life's darkness can awaken us as much as life's beauty does. The darkness in the world, and also the darkness of our own humanity, our messy imperfection. In my late 30's I also began to write poetry. My poems were always some kind of attempt to describe my awareness of life's fullness, richness, complexity. The light and the dark of life. My poems were a way for me to listen to, and talk with, God. My writing is my process of discovery. I also go back, again and again to the wellsprings that call me, and I drink deeply from what I learn in my readings on Jewish Mysticism, Jungian psychology and Buddhism. And as my book It's All God, Anyway: Poetry for the Everyday reveals, over and over, I am on the greatest wild-goose chase of all time − seeking the great Mystery − trying to pin words on the ineffable. About three years ago my youngest son Daniel asked me to create a collection of some of my favourite poems. "So I can have your wisdom when you're gone" he said. As I see it, the Source of Life was using Daniel to noodge me into fulfilling a life-long dream of having a book published. God sometimes talks to us through others. I had had a dream of having a book published since I was a girl. Maybe from around 8 or 9, when I heard Swan Lake. I think God often sows seeds early. I believe deeply that creativity is essential for a successful and fulfilled life. People frequently make the mistake of thinking that creativity needs to be poetry, painting, sculpture. Something praiseworthy. Creativity is much broader and more wonderful for me, and issues from engagement with the wisdom and guidance within us. Living creatively means doing something with the energy that is the source of your life. It can be as simple as spending time in making a salad as beautiful and nutritious as possible. It can rollerblading. Walking in your neighbourhood mindfully and looking for beauty. Taking the time to listen to what comes from within and be guided by it is the way to go. Intentional time to give voice in some way to the spirit of life within. Creating the manuscript of my poetry, writing the prologue, and writing the epilogue were part of my process of continued awakening. There were many times during the three-year process that I felt joyous and ecstatic, and there were at least as many times when I felt confused and despairing. However I never had any desire to quit, for my commitment to birthing this book was absolute. This was how God was helping me awaken now. And as I came to the end of this time, I understood more than ever how profoundly important awakening and consciousness are to me, how indeed I have devoted my life to becoming aware of reality, what is. What I realized was that every tiny joy and every tiny difficulty, every decision I had to make regarding the book, were simply part of me becoming more conscious and more whole. The real story is that the book itself was second in importance to this process.

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