Lisa Colón DeLay is the author of The Wild Land Within: Cultivating Wholeness through Spiritual Practice. We asked Lisa a few questions to learn about the inspiration behind her book and what she hopes you’ll gain from your journey with into the wild land of your own heart.
Give us a quick glance inside The Wild Land Within. What would you say are some of the main themes?
Four things come to mind right away.
First, this book sheds light on the influences that deeply shape our spiritual lives and lived-out actions—and usually influence us without our knowledge. The main influences are history, culture, and family. There are many more influences covered in the book, and each one affects the internal and external climates in which we live and interrelate.
Second, this book helps us move toward healing and have a better understanding of the wounds within us. Each one of us is deeply affected by three core wounds that hinder us in a multitude of ways. By learning these, we find courage to encounter ourselves more deeply and have compassion for our fellow wounded family members, friends, and strangers who are dealing with the same common wounds.
Third, it offers unique opportunities to listen to people and perspectives that fall outside the dominant culture, but that go a long way to teach us about the human condition, how to persevere, and how to better understand God’s love.
Finally, The Wild Land Within gives us useful ways to engage with spiritual practices that allow us to center on God and quiet ourselves before this Loving One so we may find salvation and abundant life.
Photo by Lisa Colón DeLay
In the chapter called “Predators and Prey,” you tell us how stillness and silence can help us find healing and rest; and that we often misunderstand the silence of God. Can you say more about this?
Too often we sense God’s silence as a form of abandonment or disregard. Sometimes we may perceive it as the answer “No” to a prayer. These are not helpful ways to view silence, because silence is one of the languages of God. It is a language of presence and intimacy. In the book, I expand on this in the chapter “Still Waters.” Learning this aspect of God can richly add to our life of faith and our sense of peace and rejuvenation.
Photo by Gabrielle DeLay
Based on the work of experts, you mention in the book that trauma, stress, and fear live out in the body. Can you explain?
The field of neuroscience has made some startling breakthroughs. Studies reveal the enormous amount of communication that goes from the body to the brain. These messages of sensory input are not part of our conscious language areas in our brain; they exist in language-less places. These are places without a chronological understanding of time that God wants to heal. People who need healing and connection often have bodies that stay on high alert. These people may feel disconnected from their bodily organism or may feel unsafe or uncomfortable in their own bodies. The good news is that healing is possible—I’ve learned this firsthand.
Photo by Lisa Colón DeLay
In the chapter called “Fire Bogs,” you tackle topics we all have to endure in life: grief, suffering, loss, and long-term difficulties. What can you tell us about this chapter?
The book explains six types of loss and how to understand the confounding territory of ambiguous loss and disenfranchised loss. These issues happen not just on personal levels, but on community levels, in certain populations, and in societies too. Though hard territory, learning this wisdom is invaluable.
You also mention that healing and wholeness are things that must be embodied. You say that Western culture perpetuates false dichotomies such as mind and body, head and heart, material and spiritual. These hinder having integrated lives, loving actions, and wholeness in healing. Is that right?
Yes, I do say this.
The worst problems we face in our lives, and in our society, trace back to false notions of autonomy and self-reliance. In truth, we are dependent firstly and fully on God. God designed us to be interdependent. Sadly, in places of affluence, too often we act as independent agents striving to be self-actualized, and we go solo. This book helps us to transition to the biological and spiritual reality that we are integrated beings directly connected to the network of many other integrated beings.
Some ancient Christian spiritual practices, a few of which I introduce in the book, help us reach deep within, where God resides. When we reach deeply within, we can find the vital and intimate healing needed to be made whole on every level of life and interaction.
Click here to learn more about The Wild Land Within by Lisa Colón DeLay.