Blessed Transgression, along with the sequel I am currently writing, are the closest to my heart of all my stories because they are set in a Mennonite community. I am the child of a Mennonite minister, and have a centuries-long Mennonite heritage on both sides of my family. I didn’t necessarily enjoy being raised Mennonite, as I perceived the church’s rules to be restrictive. As I grew older, I began differentiating my beliefs from those of the Mennonite tradition, an emotionally and spiritually excruciating process. About 29 years ago, I separated myself from the Mennonite church and embarked upon an independent spiritual exploration, sampling many different belief systems.
When I began writing about the troubled Mennonite family in Blessed Transgression, I was surprised by its impact on me. The story required that I delve deeply into the hearts and minds of my characters. In doing so, I delved deeply into my own heart and mind. I not only unearthed a lot of pain, but also a great deal of love for the tradition that played a crucial role in shaping me into who I am today. I was able to recognize the many strengths in my religious heritage. In the end, my respect and appreciation for the Mennonite church far outweighs any lingering anger.
Writing this story also forced me to face what I gave up when I left the Mennonite church: the love and support of a caring community, the endearing customs of the Mennonite culture. I had to grieve those losses.
There was a point in my life where I felt embarrassed to divulge that I came from a Mennonite background. Today, even though I am no longer affiliated with a Mennonite church, I proudly claim my Mennonite heritage as part of who I am.
Thus, the process of writing Blessed Transgression healed a great deal of pain within me. I believe that any story I write heals some wounded aspect of my being.