Hand by Miriam Zora Potter Engel



The imagination is not, as its etymology suggests, the faculty for forming the images of reality; it is the faculty for forming images which go beyond reality, which sing reality. It is a superhuman faculty. The imagination invents more than objects and dramas—it invents a new life, a new spirit; it opens eyes which hold new types of visions.

Gaston Bachelard, Water and Dreams, 16

Current Work and Passions

Current Work


Potter recently completed a book-length spiritual autobiography on conversion, the spiritual challenges of family life, God, and mysticism entitled Seeking God and Losing the Way: A Story of Love and Conversions.

She is currently working her way into a new novel and writing a creative nonfiction essay on dancing.


Questions, Prophets, Mystics, and Stories


The question is not What do you love? The question is Whom do you love? Saint Augustine

What is the work of a mystic, a friend of God? To become fully human. The work of a lover of God is also to bring people to God and God to people.

Like the prophet, the mystic serves as a messenger and mediator, shuttling back and forth across the divides. For both the prophet and the mystic, the path is toward HaMakom, The Place, the place where lovingkindness and truth meet, where righteousness and shalom kiss.

Yet there is this difference: The tone of the prophet, in all communications back and forth, is one of truth and righteousness; the tone of the mystic is lovingkindness and shalom. The prophet walks a fierce way, living a life jealous for the glory of the One that bends wanderers back to the straight path and God’s memory back to God’s own compassion. The mystic practices a sweet way, living a life so fragrant with love for the One that it makes people fall in love with God and God fall in love with people. Like a wooden lattice entwined with roses, the mystic way draws people near to peer at the Beloved intoxicated with joy, and God near to peer at the beloved—whose beauty may be hidden by tarnish or filth--scented with love.

You could say it this way: a mystic is one who persuades human beings to fall in love with God and God to fall in love with human beings.

Stories can do this work, too. Elie Wiesel says, “God made man because he loves stories.” Stories can reveal the One to human beings; they can also reveal the beauty and fragility of human beings so that God--as well as others--comes to love them.

The lover of God who writes lives toward this direction: to write stories that help people find and fall in love with God and God fall in love with people.

Selected Works

Novel
A gripping and lyrical story of a woman struggling with God, her mother, her body, and her self.
Story Collection
A rich gathering of distinctive southern voices, each revealing a depth of spirit and longing.
Essays
An exploration of the meaning of dancing through reflections on growing up in a religious tradition that forbade dancing and the experience of dancing as a spiritual act.
A meditation on God, the self, Alzheimer's, love, prayer, and Kabbalah
Articles
Classic exploration of sin and evil from a feminist perspective.
A new and moving approach to understanding conversion from Christianity to Judaism.
Theology, Religion, and Spirituality
An inspirational spiritual autobiography that weaves together dramatic family history, healing from trauma, the anatomy of conversion (from Christian to Jew and from believer to mystic), vocational struggle, spiritual experience, and mystic stories and poems from the Jewish, Christian, and Islamic traditions.
Classic liberation theology textbook incorporating voices from around the world and creative understandings of Christian doctrines.

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