For Amy McConkey Robbins of Indianapolis, it all began with a cigar box.
The cigar box contained journals written by her father that reflected his daily struggles to balance the needs of his parish and his family, all while trying to maintain energy on a daily basis
Together with her father, retired UMC pastor Clarence McConkey, Robbins co-authored a book released last fall that explores the issues confronting those in "serving" positions and the struggle to maintain energy in fields that are often emotionally draining.
"As I read Dad's journals, I recognized a parallel to my own vocational life that stopped me in my tracks," Robbins said in her article for the Indianapolis Star. "I read back over my own journals and realized how often my spirituality intersected with my vocation - how frequently I had written of my quest to recapture the original calling that brought me to this profession and for the energy to continue this rewarding, yet often heart-breaking, work with special-needs children and their families."
What resulted was a book that combined resources and personal reflections from a faith leader and a working professional. Whirlwinds and Small Voices captures Robbins' experiences as a speech pathologist in comparison to the story of creation. The authors implement anecdotes, personal reflections and quotations from secular and non-secular sources.
In a review of the book, author and educator Parker Palmer wrote, "This book itself is a gift to us all."
Robbins said writing the book was a major breakthrough for her and has allowed her to relate more authentically to her patients and colleagues.
"People are on a quest for jobs that sustain not only their checking accounts, but their deeper need for meaning in life," Robbins said. "In our present economic climate, this quest may be more elusive than ever, yet sustaining one's spirit is surely more critical now than in better times."
Information from The Indianapolis Star was used in writing this story.