Academy for Spiritual Formation Council

A ministry of The Upper Room sponsored by the Desert Southwest Conference

November 13-14, 2020

Finding Your Voice: A Contemplative Writing Retreat

Save the Date, 2021

Arizona 5 Day Academy 2021 will be held October 22-27, 2021 at the Redemptorist Renewal Center in Tucson, Arizona.

Save the Date, 2023

The 2023 Arizona 5 Day  Academy will be held October 23-28 at the Redemptorist Renewal Center.

Finding Your Voice

Click Here to Register

Arizona Spiritual Formation Council

Finding Your Voice

Registration for the November 13-14, 2020 online writing retreat “Finding Your Voice” will remain open until November 12, 2020, at midnight. This event is offered by the Arizona Academy Council and The Upper Room. International guests are welcome. We begin on Friday, November 13 at 7:00 PM Mountain Standard Time and end on Saturday, November 14 at 3:00 PM MST. Click on the list items below to download the schedule and list of resources. Registrants will receive a brief video around November 7 introducing them to this retreat experience.


About Robin Pippin

Ms. Pippin has been active in the religious publishing world for almost forty years. When she was on the staff of The Upper Room, she served as founding editor of Devo’Zine, a magazine for young people; as editorial consultant and contract editor for Weavings Journal; and as editorial director of Upper Room Books. Through writing workshops and retreats, including numerous visits to Africa, she has encouraged thousands of lay and clergy of all ages and cultures, beginning writers as well as published authors. In 2012, she and Jerry Haas led a series of writing retreats for young pastoral leaders, funded by the Lilly Endowment. Prior to her retirement in December 2019, Robin worked with Bishop Bob Hoshibata in developing a prayer resource for the now-delayed General Conference of the United Methodist Church. Robin is herself a writer as well as an editor; she is a trained spiritual director and good friend to everyone seeking a closer relationship with God. She and her husband Tim live in Nashville, Tennessee. They have three children, now grown and living in other parts of the U.S.


Finding Your Voice: A Contemplative Writing Retreat

An online offering by the Arizona Academy Council and The Upper Room


This list of resources was prepared by Robin Pippin, the presenter for our retreat. They are intended as suggestions to help you in your writing journey.

» Click here to download the list of recommended books and online resources. 


Writing for Your Life: Resources for Spiritual Writers



Spiritual Memoir Resources from Elizabeth Jarrett Andrew



Wild Writing eCourses and online prompts with Laurie Wagner



The Artist’s Way: A Spiritual Path to Higher Creativity by Julia Cameron

More like a course than just a book, The Artist’s Way is not only about writing, it is about “practicing the art of creative living.” This book has transformative power for the person who wants to pay attention to her life. Writing “morning pages” has been a lasting habit for me. These morning pages will not only unblock your writing, they will unblock you.


Dancing on the Head of a Pen: The Practice of a Writing Life by Robert Benson

Benson describes his own practices of writing in such a winsome, readable, and relatable way. I have used metaphors from this book many times over the years to help writers write.


Bird by Bird: Some Instructions on Writing and Life by Anne Lamott

With her trademark humor, Lamott tells us that first and foremost, “good writing is about telling the truth” and that writing “shitty first drafts” is how good writing happens. Taking one’s writing “bird by bird”—or in short pieces, helps the writer reach the finish line. You will both learn a lot about writing and be entertained at the same time by reading this book.


Writing Down the Bones: Freeing the Writer Within by Natalie Goldberg

This was one of the first books I read, long ago, that helped me to “just write.” Several editions later, it is still a book that is helping writers get down to the writing.


If You Want to Write: A Book about Art, Independence, and Spirit by Brenda Ueland

If for no other reason, I recommend this book for the chapter entitled, “Why women who do too much housework should neglect it for their writing”! First published in 1938, this book has some older-sounding language/thoughts, but it is nonetheless inspiring and encouraging.


Still Writing: The Perils and Pleasures of a Creative Life by Dani Shapiro

Shapiro gives a glimpse into the dailiness of what it’s like to be a writer, with many gems of what being a writer can do for a person: “the page is where we come to meet ourselves”; and, “Writing saved my life. Writing has been my window—flung wide open to this magnificent, chaotic existence—my way of interpreting everything within my grasp.”


The Pen and the Bell: Mindful Writing in a Busy World by Brenda Miller and Holly J. Hughes

This book makes the clear connection between contemplation and writing and the urgent need for more people to have “unproductive” time for gestation and quiet musing. With 20 short readings, each accompanied by contemplative and writing prompts, the book guides you on a pilgrimage toward understanding your authentic self and awakening your creative soul through contemplation and writing.


The African-American Guide to Writing and Publishing Nonfiction by Jewell Parker Rhodes

Practical guide to finding your voice and getting to know your literary ancestors with writing exercises and excerpts from great Black writers such as Maya Angelou, Brent Staples, and Houston Baker.


The African American Writers Handbook by Robert Fleming

This book focuses more on the publishing phase when one has finished writing. Tips for sending in proposals to traditional publishers as well as navigating self-publishing.


The Word: Black Writers Talk about the Transformative Power of Reading and Writing, edited by Marita Golden

Critically acclaimed Black writers reveal how books have shaped their personal lives—in often unexpected ways. Includes interviews with Chimamanda N. Adichie, Nikki Giovanni, Edwidge Danticat, and others.


A Poetry Handbook: A Prose Guide to Understanding and Writing Poetry by Mary Oliver

With passion, wit, and good common sense, the celebrated poet Mary Oliver tells of the basic ways a poem is built—meter and rhyme, form and diction, sound and sense.


Writing the Sacred Journey: The Art and Practice of Spiritual Memoir by Elizabeth Jarrett Andrew

Having read Andrew’s memoir Swinging on the Garden Gate and been nourished by her resources and newsletters from elizabethjarrettandrew.com, I commend this book and the next one to those particularly interested in spiritual memoir.


Living Revision: A Writer’s Craft as Spiritual Practice by Elizabeth Jarrett Andrew

Barbara Brown Taylor says “Elizabeth Jarrett Andrew is not only an author you should read but a teacher you can trust.  She knows how the tides run between the writing life and the life of the world and she will guide you in a way that frees your soul.” In this book, Andrew instructs writers on the next step after writing—revising the work.


Remembering Your Story: Creating Your Own Spiritual Autobiography, revised edition, by Richard L. Morgan

Author Richard Morgan was inspired to write this book after listening to residents of nursing homes tell their stories to him and seeing their yearning to preserve their stories for younger generations. This book, set up as a 10-week study, will help you write/create your own spiritual autobiography and can be used by individuals or groups.


One Day I Wrote Back: Interacting with Scripture through Creative Writing by Jane Herring

Chaplain and pastor Jane Herring describes how to carry on a conversation with scripture through a practice called scriptio divina. Each chapter includes Bible passages, reflection questions, and writing exercises.

Countdown to Finding Your Voice

A Contemplative Writing Retreat

November 13-14, 2020








Finding Your Voice Schedule

An online offering by the Arizona Academy Council and The Upper Room

This is a Zoom video conference event. Log in information will be provided to all participants after they have registered. Click here to download the schedule.

Friday Evening Gathering and Releasing
6:45-7:00 Musical prelude as people log-in

Welcome & Orientation – Jerry Haas, retreat leader

Opening contemplative worship

Presentation #1 – Robin Pippin, presenter

Moments for Writing

Small-group sharing in Zoom breakout rooms

Night Prayer

Saturday Morning Remembering and Creating

Morning Prayer

Presentation #2 – Robin Pippin, presenter

Moments for Writing

Small-group sharing in Zoom breakout rooms

Midday Prayer

Saturday Afternoon Sharing and Celebrating

Welcoming music

Small-group sharing in Zoom breakout rooms

Moments for Writing

Plenary sharing – Robin Pippin, presenter

Closing worship with Holy Communion

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