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The Soulmaking Room

The Soulmaking Room

by Dee Dee Risher
Discipleship Hospitality Women

In this personal story, Dee Dee Risher weaves experiences from her life with the biblical story of the prophet Elisha and the Shunammite woman. Risher is captivated by this spiritually attuned, generous, hospitable, honest, and bold woman. The woman from Shunem extends radical hospitality to the prophet, expecting no reward. But when disaster strikes, she does not hesitate to hold Elisha accountable or talk back.

Hidden in the story, Risher believes, are the questions that lead to a more authentic life:

  • What does it mean to build a holy room in our lives?
  • How honestly do we confront our inevitable losses and griefs? As we work to transform our world, how do we grapple with failure?
  • Do we have the kind of faith that can ask bold questions in the face of death?
  • What openings does radical hospitality create in our lives?

"Every human being goes through so much," Risher reflects, "and there is some heartbreakingly beautiful fruit we are to shape from that. That is our own unique, authentic gift to the world." Her book encourages each of us to find a holy room in which we are in community with others and where we can shape our souls into their unique dimensions. We each need a space for this work-a soulmaking room.

"If we cannot deal with failure, if we do not know how to put our deepest losses in our holy room, and if we do not know who our people are, we can never fully join the joy and power of God's story," Dee Dee Risher asserts. Embark with her on the adventure of creating and discovering the joys of The Soulmaking Room.

Dee Dee Risher is associate communications director for Project HOME, a nonprofit working to end homelessness in Philadelphia. Risher has published over 200 articles in such magazines as Sojourners, Progressive Christian, The Utne Reader, and Grid magazine and blogs for The Huffington Post, Theological Curves, and other venues. Risher is a longtime resident of Philadelphia's southwest Germantown neighborhood, a poor and working-class community, where she helped launch a faith-based, intentional cooperative housing community.


Praise for The Soulmaking Room

Few books on spiritual issues cover as much ground and offer the brilliant insights that are essential for the strengthening of our faith as The Soulmaking Room. A marvelous read, it urges us to be contemplative believers. Risher offers us radically new ways to think about justice, about what it means to love, about making a life centered on service.
—bell hooks, Author of Ain’t I a Woman, educator, activist

Dee Dee Risher’s inaugural book is beautiful, personal, and filled with spiritually grounded wisdom. She draws from her story to share how the difficult passages in our lives—the failures and losses—shape us into our best and most truthful selves.
—Shane Claiborne, Author, social activist, founding member of The Simple Way

What do you get when you cross an Anabaptist, a Pentecostal, and a mainline Protestant? The answer to that question is reason enough to read this book. Then add powerful meditations on failure, midlife, and building a woodshed out of the lumber of youthful dreams, and you have a book that warrants a term like treasure. I have long been a fan of Dee Dee Risher’s work as an editor, first at The Other Side and then at
Conspire, but now in The Soulmaking Room, her own voice as a writer is being offered to the world—a gift and treasure indeed. This is truly beautiful writing and rich wisdom.
—Brian McLaren, Author and theologian

The bargain God offers the soul is simple but demanding: The price of enlightenment is that you are thus obligated to pass it on! Dee Dee Risher does that quite well—and she does it again here.
—Richard Rohr, Author of Falling Upward and other books;
founder of Center for Contemplation and Action

Once in a great while, you come across a book that authentically reflects the very personal journey of its author, yet also offers profound insights to a wide variety of readers. Dee Dee Risher has accomplished this feat with lyricism, grace, deep pathos, and unexpected joy. The humble wisdom Dee Dee offers in this book is something I would recommend to anyone who seeks to live more authentically and intentionally in our wonderful, mysterious, broken world so loved by God.
—Jim Wallis, New York Times bestselling author of The UnCommon Good
and editor-in-chief of Sojourners magazine

Dee Dee Risher has spent her life engaged in the struggle for justice—as a poet, a singer, an editor, a mother, a friend. Deeply rooted in the biblical narrative, she has honed her craft of weaving together critical issues of race, class, oppression, the struggle to remain faithful, rich and personal stories from her life with her husband and two children, the great story of faith, and life in all its beauty and tragedy. Dee Dee has created a work of art to help us see more clearly the path toward integrity.
—Murphy Davis, Author, pastor, activist, founder of The Open Door

I consider Dee Dee Risher one of our radical discipleship movement’s most trustworthy, thoughtful, and compassionate spirits. Her journalism, prose,and poetry bear an authenticity and transparency that honors the dignity beneath our blemishes and finds faith amidst struggle. I commend her as an emerging elder helping us to embrace both Word and world.
—Ched Myers, Theologian, author of Binding the Strong Man and
other books, founder of Bartimaeus Institute

Dee Dee Risher brings to this book her usual combination of courage and eloquence. She moves back and forth between the witness of scripture and the truth she finds in her own life. The outcome of such interpretive work is that she can readily identify her life purpose and a force much larger than her own, the sort of thing that comes under the heading of “providence.” Readers are invited by her book to reflect on their own lives in light of scripture. Her book is a welcome opportunity for thinking and praying again.
—Walter Brueggemann, Theologian, author of The Prophetic
Imagination and other books, Professor Emeritus of Old Testament,
Columbia Theological Seminary

The things Dee Dee Risher said about gratitude—and said so well—brought my spirit back into focus. This is the kind of wisdom that we lose and have to rediscover at many points in life’s journey. We can all be grateful for her faithful witness.
—David Janzen, Author and elder of Reba Place Fellowship

Dee Dee’s book is cathartic for me: so honest, so refreshing, so helpful to have her articulate many of my experiences. It is incredibly well written—poetic and moving. I am astounded that she knows my interior life and doubts so well! She succeeded in something I didn’t think was possible: capturing the intimate and honest feel of a letter to me, about me.
—Elizabeth Killough, Director, Untours Foundation

In The Soulmaking Room, Risher writes beautifully, and her content is wise and profound. I am deeply grateful for her extended reflections on the story of the Shunammite woman, with its wonderful shamanic qualities.
—Robert Ellsberg, Author and publisher, Orbis Books

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