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Conversation with Jacqui Lewis March 2022

Topic: We talk about bringing a quality of fierce love to our life, as a person and as an agent of change. See video at

The Rev. Jacqui Lewis, Ph.D. is Senior Minister for Public Theology and Transformation at Middle Church in New York City. She uses her gifts as author, activist, preacher, public theologian toward creating an antiracist, just, fully welcoming society in which everyone has enough. After graduating with an M.Div. from Princeton Theological Seminary in 1992, Jacqui fell in love with urban ministry, leading two churches in Trenton, New Jersey. Fascinated with how faith heals the soul—so we can heal the world—she returned to graduate school, for a Ph.D. in Psychology and Religion from Drew University (2004). Jacqui is the author of several books, including the newly released Fierce Love: A Bold Path to Ferocious Courage and Rule-Breaking Kindness That Can Heal the World.

Note from the interviewer, Serge Prengel, about this interview. If you are familiar with the Conversations series, you might notice that this interview breaks the pattern of interviewing people who are active members of the Focusing community. Serge shares how this interview came to be and why, although it isn't explicitly about Focusing, this interview is included in this series.

The choice to interview someone outside the Focusing community for the Conversations series has to do with the Felt Sense conference which took place in December 2021. The theme was oppression, and how Focusing can bring about liberation. It was a wonderfully stimulating event, full of very powerful and heartwarming moments.

It made me even more aware than I ever was that we have kindred spirits. The Revolutionary Pause that Mary Hendricks-Gendlin talked about is not just an invention of the Focusing world. It is also a vibrant reality for many people outside the Focusing world, people who are taking an active role in making the world a better place. They may not call it a pause, or know about Focusing, but we are kindred spirits.

For many years, the Focusing Conversations series has been about exploring the rich variety of approaches in the world of Focusing. As this series is coming to an end, the ultimate variety is to discover how the spirit of Focusing lives outside of our community as well. I want to invite you to look outside of our community to find kindred spirits and connect with them. And, to encourage you to do so, I want to give you an example.

When I started talking to people about this, a name came up, Jacqui Lewis. She is a minister in Manhattan, an anti-racist activist, and the author of a book, Fierce Love. She is not a Focuser, and yet she embodies the values we admire, as you can see for yourself in the conversation we recorded.

If I just stop there, it would be plenty. But I also want to share with you something that we don’t cover in the conversation itself. When I was reading Jacqui’s book, I saw that she was encouraging people to have meaningful conversations with each other. And she had a beautiful phrase to describe this kind of conversation: to be the Doula of each other’s story.

Now, if that is not a great way to describe the kind of listening attitude that Focusing values, I wonder what it is. As a listener, I help give birth to your story. And, as we take turns, we are the Doula of each other’s stories.

Please share with us your ideas and experience on this topic through the Focusing Institute Facebook page, or the contact form.

This is part of the "Conversations" series. Click this link to see the list of all the conversations.
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