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Stop by L. L. Barkat's website and you'll learn that she is or has been an author, editor, poet, blogger, speaker, consultant, designer, and artist. Try to pin her down by asking, "Okay, what are you?" and Barkat—whose writing Scot McKnight compares to Eugene Peterson's—is momentarily stumped. Finally, she answers, "Participant."

"At various times I have taken on different titles depending on how I'm currently participating in life in a meaningful way," says the New York native. "There was a time when I took on the title of artist. Now you could call me an author, a managing editor, a poet. But none of those things singly define me, because as soon as I reach a plateau in my growth, I tend to turn and participate in life in a new way."

Lately Barkat is participating as an author (with her new book, God in the Yard); a managing editor (of the High Callings Blogs, an online "retreat center" for Christian writers to discuss faith, work, and culture); and a poet (her book of poems, InsideOut, has received warm reviews; she also hangs out online with other poets, composing "improv poetry" on Twitter). But usually Barkat goes back to participant, saying that she likes to connect people to one another—mostly in the online world—and to "help them embrace their gifts and call them to personal growth."

Question & Answer

What is God in the Yard about?

The power of solitude in nature. I sat outdoors in my backyard every day for an entire year for at least 15 minutes, rain or shine. It was an extraordinarily powerful experience.

What did you learn from it?

The book's subtitle is "Spiritual Practice for the Rest of Us." The word practice implies a reaching toward some kind of perfection; oddly, I feel it's ultimately ...

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Participant First
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September 2010

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