The Glimmer Before ‘The Light Shines Through’: An Interview with the Rev. Carole Wageman
By Maurice L. Harris
We followed the sign that was clearly marked “Parking 1 mi.” at the fork in the hiking trail. So, how we ended up more than 2 miles west of our car I’ll never know. What I do know, however, is that the journey we took, albeit longer than expected, was as beautiful as the view from Stowe Pinnacle that was still so fresh in our minds. Perhaps that’s what it’s like when the Light shines through.
No one knows this better than the Rev. Carole Wageman, currently a certified interim priest in congregations who find themselves in the wilderness of leadership transition as well as a co-chaplain to retired clergy in the Diocese of Vermont. Wageman’s first book, The Light Shines Through: Our Stories Are God’s Story, offers scripturally-based reflections of people in the Bible who did not know how their own stories would turn out, much like our own life stories.
The book, to be released in March 2017, is now available for pre-order through Church Publishing. As the Rev. Wageman explained in a recent interview with the Mountain, “There’s always that thread that you must follow when you’re on a journey with God.”
Harris: You’ve preached on so many topics over the years. What led you to develop this specific subject into a book?
Wageman: The inspiration for the book was the work I was doing as a half-time interim at St. Luke’s Episcopal Church in Chester, Vermont. I liked doing transition work with the congregation, and I found that it began coming out in my preaching as well. People in scripture didn’t know how their stories would turn out, and neither did we during that time of transition, but God was there then, and God is here now.
Harris: Had you always wanted to be an author or were there others nudging you along the way?
Wageman: A parishioner/priest who began to attend St. Luke’s encouraged me to publish my sermons, and I was certainly interested in doing that. My interest originally surfaced when I was at a CREDO conference for clergy a couple of years ago. As part of the CREDO conference, you have to develop a plan. Mine was: I’d retire, write a book, travel around to promote the book, and the bio would read, “Carole is a retired priest who lives with her husband in Vermont.” God had a more immediate plan.
Harris: So, it sounds like this is more than just a personal goal. It’s a calling.
Wageman: Yes. Have you ever had the experience of feeling called to a new idea but before you get around to doing anything about it, someone else does? From time to time I have had that sense of God’s prodding. When it came to the book, I had a sense that if I did not write it, someone else was going to. So, this time, it was really important to me to launch into the effort.
Harris: What was it like, getting that first publishing deal?
Wageman: I had poked around about publishing, even had my work critiqued by someone who advised me to “take advantage of writing groups.” That’s not the advice I had in mind. So, after doing some research into how to write book proposals, I submitted one to Church Publishing. Iit was the first book proposal I’ve ever written. I’m sure I made a lot of mistakes along the way, but it led to a book contract last December and I was totally blown away with surprise.
Harris: Are there any other books on the horizon?
Wageman: Ultimately, I’d like to publish a series. I feel very blessed this whole thing has come about. Money has not been a motivator; that hadn’t even occurred to me, I just feel like I have to tell these stories. It feels that I’m following a spiritual thread. As a priest, or anybody for that matter, there’s always that thread that you must follow when you’re on a journey with God. Sometimes it leads to places you never expected. The Light Shines Through is a spiritual thread for me and I’ll continue to follow that as long as it makes sense. Part of my plan is continue developing retreat and workshop material dealing with the leadership and transition themes that I explore in my book. I have already done one retreat for the vestry at St. Luke’s the Beloved Physician in Saranac Lake and look forward to doing more.
The Light Shines Through: Our Stories Are God’s Stories is now available for preorder at https://www.churchpublishing.org/lightshinesthrough