How do you describe love? A heavy blanket? A limitless ocean? A fiery, burning sun?
Metaphor is the key to conveying abstract concepts, such as purpose or meaning, sin or grace, or the ultimate abstraction—God. Last week, a group of pastors, chaplains, pastoral associates, and others met at the Collegeville Institute for The Transformative Power of Metaphor: A Week with Mary Nilsen — our last summer writing workshop of 2016. As a group, these writers explored controlling metaphor, complete metaphor, braided metaphor and extended metaphor under the guidance of Mary Nilsen.
When participants reflected on Mary Nilsen’s facilitation, one remarked: “Mary is terrific! She was “straight” with us about the realities of the writing world and in our workshop times without ever being harsh… I would not hesitate to take a workshop from her again if I had the opportunity.”
A pastor who took the workshop is implementing lessons learned. She wrote: “I already used several insights from this workshop in my weekly meeting with other pastors today as we looked at imagery in lectionary texts together. I shared with them the idea that human beings receive transformational insights in metaphor form; in order to change minds and hearts, we must help people learn new metaphors.”