This is not the first time that I have interviewed Ms. Scoville, but I thought it would be interesting to follow-up with her since one of the topics we discussed in the previous Sedentarialist interview has birthed a new path for this young San Franciscan.
At the time she had just begun volunteering for ReImagine, which she has described as “a center for the integration of the self (mind, body, and spirit) with the teachings of Jesus Christ in daily living”. The idea is to strip away the subcultural (American Church-going Christian) context that can be conducive to rote answers, and lead groups through questions of a more interior nature. With this specific approach, their workshops attempt to nurture a truthful dialogue around the implications of faith in relation to the human experience. They accomplish this goal by sharing first-person accounts and learning from one another’s successes as well as failures rather than formal ideologies. As a group they hold to 7 “vows”: love, obedience, prayer, simplicity, creativity, service, and community.
One key point of engagement for Dani has been their storytelling workshops. Although Scoville’s role with ReImagine has become more administrative, these workshops tie in her creative medium of narrative. Scoville has a degree in Literature from U.C. Santa Cruz and prior experience working for a Bay Area publishing house (where she also worked administratively). For these events ReImagine invites folks from within and outside of formal church networks. Attendees are asked to tell their stories and listen to the stories of others, strictly without interruption. Scoville has observed surprising honesty and gender diversity to be among the trends as they discuss the complexity of topics ranging from sexuality to the management of personal finances. They have also held workshops for the purpose of Art Therapy (with clay and other media) and forums on social justice and abolition.
While they promote their program tactics to members of churches across the U.S., what drew Dani (and many others) to the program was that, while rooted in a faith in God, it did not require her to enter a traditional church landscape. For many Americans the formal structures of church buildings and the whole sociology that goes with them are often a hurdle to spiritual investigation, having little to do with the teachings at their core.
Partly grown out of her experience volunteering for this organization, Dani is now joining the staff of ReImagine as the Program Director “Responsible for developing, organizing and promoting local/Regional ReImagine Learning Labs, Conversations and other events.” While circumstantially this position parallells her personal interests and professional qualifications, the real impetus for accepting the position was rooted a severe bike accident just months before.
The accident left her injured in the places it hurt her most – the hand she writes with, and her jaw, broken in multiple places. Without the ability to speak or to journal her thoughts in the ways to which she was accustomed, she was left alone in an internal landscape, in which she was only able to wait. During this time she relied on the generosity of others, often other members of the ReImagine “Tribe”. This experience affirmed her appreciation for the empowering process of giving voice to the unspoken interior experiences we struggle through. With the accident, a new phase presented itself – an opportunity to take a “timely risk” by working in a dedicated ministry-type position. As it turns out, this trajectory not only blends her spiritual pursuits but also her interest in creative treatise to non-fiction writing.
As a woman on her own journey toward self awareness and realizing community, I asked her if she had anything specific to share with my readership. She mentioned the following poem and suggests we risk making beauty with our whole lives.
She who reconciles the ill-matched threads of her life,
and weaves them gratefully into a single cloth-
it’s she who drives the loudmouths from the hall
and clears it for a different celebration
where the one guest is you.
In the softness of the evening
it’s you she receives.
You are the partner of her loneliness,
the unspeaking center of her monologues.
With each disclosure you encompass more
and she stretches beyond what limits her,
to hold you.
– Rilke 1, 17 (From The Book of Hours)
You can find Dani’s own reflections posted regularly on her blog, Through the Roof Beams
…And more information about ReImagine on their Facebook page, here.