"Falling Through the Ice"

Falling Through the Ice by J.D. Hiestand

A review by Gwendolyn Drake

John Hiestand was the Minister of Music at Hillsboro United Methodist Church when I was the senior pastor. He directed the choir, the bell choir, sang special music, played the guitar, and occasionally preached. All this he did very well!  He left Hillsboro in 2008 to attend seminary at Iliff, in Denver, Colorado. Recently, I received a book he wrote in the mail, titled Falling Through the Ice and the question, “Would you write a review?”  Sure, I can do that, I said, not that a lot of people would read my review. (I am not that famous and I have less than 500 Facebook friends.) So, I picked up the book and started reading.
It’s fascinating to read a book by someone you know, Or it is for me, I could hear his voice, I could imagine him thinking, I remembered bits and pieces of some of his story he shared while he was part of my staff.
Falling Through the Ice is about John Hiestand’s personal and spiritual journey through many stages of his life, “the path of a Zen Methodist.”  It’s a story told through a long conversation with a friend who is a skeptic about most everything, especially religion and particularly his friend, John’s choice to become an ordained clergy of the United Methodist Church, The conversation starts in Portland, Oregon. Woven into the story and in between the dialogue is the beautiful description of the diverse geography of the land. This play between the physical and spiritual landscape is delightful and powerful, as John and his friend dive deep into the question of call through the mountains and valleys of discovering a meaningful and profound path. The road trip concludes with the parting of the friends and the integration of all of John’s life that culminates with the laying on of the Bishop’s hands in ordination in Denver, Colorado.
I highly recommend this book to those who are on a spiritual journey, whatever it is, It is beautifully and artfully written, It will cause you to think and laugh and wonder, And you will learn something about the American Zen movement, Celtic Christianity, Methodism, and how one person brought many paths into one.

Gwendolyn Drake
Rev. Gwen Drake is District Superintendent of the Crater Lake District in the Oregon-Idaho Conference.