Polarization occurring in the United States today is not only a social concern, it's also a spiritual condition of the heart. How can we connect with others in the midst of our differences when deep in our hearts we might harbor shadows such as judgment or fear? In Common Spaces Between Us, Melynne Rust explores this question by inviting readers into the diverse college campus community where she served as chaplain and where, much to her surprise and chagrin, she found herself struggling at times to connect with students amid differences. She was skeptical of Muslim students requesting bidets in the chapel bathrooms. She balked at visiting a student in the hospital psychiatric unit. She was afraid to publicly stand up for LGBTQ students. She butted heads with students who shared her religion but not her beliefs. She had presumed she inherently would live out her values to honor the dignity and equality of all, yet in her interactions with others she kept bumping into her own shadows, stifling connection. Ultimately, she discovered that true connection happens when we embody practices that recognize, honor, and nurture the good--in both ourselves and others--in the common spaces between us.
Melynne Rust, a United Methodist minister, served as a university chaplain and a police chaplain prior to pursuing creative writing as a ministerial vocation. In her work, she explores the deep ethical and spiritual connections that live within our stories and have the potential to breathe new life into us. Melynne lives on a barrier island off the east coast of Florida, where she enjoys watching the full moon rise over the ocean.