We all have books that become milestones in this life’s journey. Crossing The Waters just became my latest marker.
Leslie Leyland Fields led me through the hard parts of faith so I could more honestly examine my own life as a Christ-follower. Fields tackles the difficult issues of suffering, the existence of hell, broken relationships, unrealized promises of Scripture, and so much more. Through her vulnerability, she drew me along (nodding my head as I too have struggled) and softened my heart so I could hear the hard lessons.
With each page I waded deeper into the biblical truths. Fields illustrated profound theological truths with action-filled stories from her decades in a commercial fishing family as well as exploration of the fisherman’s life on the Sea of Galilee. I promise you will never be bored! As I became more intimately familiar with the profession shared by many of the first disciples, familiar Bible passages took on new meaning. Jesus calming the storm, Peter walking on water, feeding the 5000, and calming the storm at sea feel now more like experiences than distant, unrelatable stories.
I recently had the opportunity to hang out with Leslie in Alaska. We chatted about her book and her research…
How much research went into Crossing The Waters?
Leslie: I did a ton of research! Going to Israel, of course and hiking the Gospel Trail solo was the most fun “research,” and going out on a couple of fishing boats with real commercial fishermen. That was exciting and illuminating. Then—researching my own life, so to speak. I’ve kept journals out at fish camp for years. Those have proved vital. I can’t believe how much I forget without that record! We really can’t fully trust our own memories.Then just good old fashioned crack-the-book kind of research about the Jewish culture of Jesus’ day, about the gospels themselves. Whenever I start a new writing project, I buy probably 25 – 40 books. It’s one of the things I love about writing—that I get to keep studying and learning, and occasionally I even get paid for it!
What was the hardest thing about writing Crossing The Waters?
Leslie: I wanted to quit at times while writing this book. I gave myself a ridiculously hard assignment: to weave three narratives and experiences together into a single narrative that would pull the reader all the way through the book.The first chapters came easily, the last half was a huge challenge. I kept thinking, Leslie, why did you do this to yourself? But there was a reason, of course. I believed that these narratives were essentially bound together through Jesus. Jesus does “hold all things together,” as it says in Colossians. It’s been very rewarding to hear from readers that “they couldn’t put the book down.” I think in all forms of creative nonfiction, our books should have that narrative drive, that sense of, “What’s going to happen next?”
Do you view writing as a spiritual practice?
Leslie: Writing is indeed a spiritual practice for me. I feel closest to God when I’m out exploring his world with my camera and my senses, and when I’m exploring his world on the page, through language. Both are attempts to see through dark glasses and past foggy mirrors into the light that illuminates everything, the light of Christ. But I can’t find that light simply through my own words alone. I have to draw from a larger vocabulary—from the lexicon of God’s own Word. Those words, planted deep through reading and prayer, then, I hope, clear my vision.
How can readers best connect with you?
Leslie: The best place to find me is on my blog, where I post photo-essays from my life here on two Alaskan islands. And Facebook is a great place to stay connected!
Back to me: Pick up Leslie’s book on Amazon. How do you like my artsy picture of her book (to the right) on the shores of Harvester Island in Alaska? The day was perfect for photos and the book behaved nicely wherever placed. :)
Posted by Sharon R Hoover