On the morning that I met with Dr. Marcia McFee and Reverend Karen Foster at Book and Bean in Truckee, the sun shone brightly and snowflakes fell from a clear sky. The flakes were like tiny angels carrying a promise of bluebird days to come. Each one was a gentle portent that the mighty El Niño predicted for this winter will bring the snows of salvation to our resort community in the form of economic abundance and blissful days of fun on the slopes. McFee and Foster are snow angels themselves, with a timely message delivered in the form of a hot-off-the-presses book entitled, ‘Spiritual Adventures in the Snow: Skiing and Snowboarding as Renewal for Your Soul.’
As we talked about their experience writing this book, we kept marveling at the incredible flow of their process. This book wanted to be written. It started with a casual comment to a publisher who had asked McFee to write a book about the spirit of dance, a subject in which she felt thoroughly over-saturated, after having moved on from a former career in dance. She said something to the effect of, ‘Call me when you want that book on skiing and spirituality.’ A few days later she got the call. They wanted the book, and they wanted it out by ski season.
McFee, a skier, thought it would be fun to write the book with a snowboarder, so she got together with her friend Foster, and they sat down for a night of brainstorming. Was there really a book? As they talked, ideas came tumbling out in layers and in laughter. Before they knew it, they had written a proposal – one the publisher loved – and they were ready to sign a contract.
It became a truly collaborative book, with each woman writing four chapters, each helping the other with editing and development. It was a lot of work, but it was fun rather than labored. It was written on soggy paper on the slopes, or immediately after a day in the snow, board boots still tied, ideas fresh from a day of witnessing spirit in action.
Both Foster and McFee are theologians with backgrounds in Progressive Christianity, which seeks to embody Jesus’s teachings of radical inclusivity and justice for all people, but this book is about eclectic spirituality. ‘It is inclusive of many spiritual paths,’ said Foster. ‘We want people to see themselves in the book.’ Specifically, it addresses those souls who love playing in the snow. Fun, adventure, excitement, and humor are the qualities espoused in the message. Spirituality is about cultivating joy, tapping into passion. ‘What makes your soul sing is steeped in the things of Spirit,’ said McFee. I am willing to bet that anyone reading this who has ever flown through the air only to land in a silent white pillow of powder knows what Foster and McFee are talking about. Anyone who catches their breath when they wake to a sparking blanket of snow outside, and feels the need to be the first to leave tracks knows. Children with shiny, red, runny noses and soaking mittens, who insist on making just one more snowball understand. Foster and McFee have found a way to get people thinking about the often unarticulated feeling that is bigger than ‘fun.’
The following is a quote from the first chapter, entitled ‘Woo-Hoo! Who Said Fun Isn’t Spiritual?’ ‘Spiritual adventures involve plugging into our passion and joy. When we allow something to take root in us as a burning desire and then honor it by following that bliss, we also give a gift to the world. How so? Because people who are plugged into their passion are able to tap into an invaluable resource of energy and love for creating joy in the world. I have found that local ski and snowboard communities are filled with people who have a joy and passion that are contagious. Their common love of snow sports strengthens and builds the bonds of community.’
The book is written for mountain dwellers as well as vacationers. It is for snow lovers of all skill levels and styles. Foster is all about her ‘need for speed,’ and McFee is more into the grace of her ‘S’ turns. There is a bit on snowshoeing and cross-country skiing, too. Each chapter ends in a conversation with a renowned adventurer or spiritual teacher passionate about snow sports, from Anne Lamott, author and exuberant novice, to Tina Basich, U.S. snowboarding champion. The forward was written by Paul Arthur, Squaw Valley resident, Junior Olympic coach, and the first man to summit and ski Mount Whitney. At the end of the book are seven meditations based on themes from the book: practical ways to incorporate what you’ve read into your experiences in the snow. They also include a great glossary: ‘How to Talk Cool on the Mountain: A Guide to Slope Slang.’
There are several upcoming opportunities to meet the authors and have them sign your copy of the book. On Saturday, Dec. 5, they will be at Mind Play Books and Games, in the Village at Squaw, from 2 to 5 p.m., 530-584-6133. Thursday, Dec. 10 they are at Book and Bean, in Truckee, from 5 to 7 p.m., 530-582-0515. And on Friday, Dec. 18, they’ll be at The Bookshelf, in Truckee, from 5:30 to 7 p.m., 530-582-8302. ‘Spiritual Adventures in the Snow: Skiing and Snowboarding as Renewal for Your Soul’ is now available at the above locations as well as at Sports Exchange, Gratitudes, and For Goodness Sake in Truckee. This book is the perfect holiday gift. Published by SkyLight Paths, $16.99 in paperback.