Leslie Leyland Fields graciously granted me an interview about Crossing the Waters, and I’m excited to share it it with you.
I quoted this book in my previous post, when I talked about how powerful the image of water has been to me this year. Crossing the Waters was really a gift at the end of a storm.
Leyland’s life as an Alaskan fisherwoman allows her to come at scripture from a unique perspective. And her story-telling brings new life to well-loved passages of the Bible.
Enjoy this short conversation with Leslie Leyland Fields, and then go buy her book. 🙂
1.Tell me briefly about yourself. (Your family, profession, hobbies…)
Here’s my rundown: I’ve got 6 kids, a daughter and 5 sons, from ages 28 down to 13! I’ve been married longer than I want to tell you all—because I still want you to think I’m young. I don’t want my last two teenage boys to hear a rumor that their mother isn’t so young anymore! I’m living my own dream—I’m working full time as a writer, teacher and editor. In my spare time, I love to hike and kayak.
2.You have been a commercial fisherwoman for four decades. That life experience has given you insight into scripture stories many of us couldn’t have seen without your guiding words. How did this book idea come about? Did it brew inside your head for years? Or did it just hit you one day that it needed to be written?
I did indeed brew and stew over this for some time, years actually, before I committed to writing it. I knew it would be tough to write, and yet I was so anxious for that crucible of finding words for the life I had experienced and sending it on to others.
3.You spent time at the Sea of Galilee in preparation for this book. How did being in the place where Jesus and his disciples spent so much time affect your perspective on the scriptural texts that take place on and around the sea?
You know, here’s what struck me most—how utterly ordinary that place that Jesus chose. I had been there three times before over the years, but this time, hiking the trail around the Sea and going out with commercial fisherman really engaged me in a deeper way. And I saw—the mud on my boots there was like the mud on my boots here. I wasn’t blown away by the beauty there. It’s really quite ordinary looking. It struck me how from the beginning God chose the ordinary, the weak, the foolish, (the fishermen!) to display his own magnificence and power.
4. One of my favorite quotes from your book is “I have found over the years that the gospel does not always simplify my life or the lives of any of his followers. If we are listening well, it rends us first. It shatters us. This new life with the Holy Spirit pummels my heart as much as it soothes it.” You share some examples of this in the book, but can you give an example here for the readers?
When we hear about people suffering, whether it’s our neighbor or Christians overseas fleeing for their lives, because we ARE the body of Christ, connected and jointed together, when one suffers, we all suffer. This is the weight we bear as Christians, that we cannot turn away. But it also means in our times of need, we are surrounded by brothers and sisters lifting us up. We are rent, shattered and healed together. We live a thousand lives instead of just one. There is no better way to live.
5. What is your favorite part of the Alaskan fishing life?
Living out in the lap of creation, surrounded by whales, sea lions, sea otters, deer and the ocean, which beats on our island like God’s own heart.
When the waters are stormy and the nets are full of kelp, which means hours and hours of nausea in a pitching skiff bent over picking out every piece of kelp. Yuck. Hate it.
7. When your reader finishes the last page of this book, what is one thing you hope sticks in their mind?
That Jesus is calling you to this incredible life of following after him, living like him. And if you think you can’t do it, that you’re too weak, too imperfect, listen. Your love is enough. Your tiny limited human love is enough to accomplish all that God asks of you. Peter’s love was enough. This is Peter, who abandoned his dearest Jesus in his greatest hour of need! But his small human love for Jesus was enough for God to establish his church on earth. Your love is enough for Jesus to do mighty things through you. Go, follow Him! Do not be afraid!
Purchase the book on Amazon – Crossing the Waters: Following Jesus Through the Storms, the Fish, the Doubt, and the Seas