Our hope at The Seattle School is to be led by our alumni and their stories–how they labor to live out their calling among the people and communities they serve. Author and professor Cynthia Beach received her Certificate of Spiritual Direction in 2002 from what was then known as Western Seminary-Seattle (later to be renamed The Seattle School). Next month her novel The Surface of Water will be published by InterVarsity Press. Read below to understand more of Cynthia’s journey including how her studies at The Seattle School shaped her lifelong vocation serving writers and writing.

What year/degree program were you?

I was “just” the sidekick spouse when hubby Dr. Dave Beach (MAC ’02) began his Master in Counseling program in May 1999. Early policy invited spouses to attend lectures, so I relished learning under Dan and others. Soon, though, Dr. Heather Webb introduced the Certificate in Spiritual Direction. The notion arrested me. I loved spiritual direction’s quiet listening—and what it offered the toolbox of soul care.

Tell us about your journey to The Seattle School and your life now.

Two thousand miles. That’s what we traveled from our West Michigan home. I also left a tenure-track position as an English professor. Dave, a widower, had returned to finish his B.A. when we met. His graduation was on a Friday and that Sunday we flew to Washington. It was our grand adventure.

In a miracle equal to the Red Sea parting, the college contacted me in 2002–yes, precisely as Dave finished—and invited me back to full-time teaching. In December 2023, I completed my thirtieth year as a professor of Creative Writing.

Any favorite memories from The Seattle School you’d like to share?

Even the simple word “fine”—among other things—took on new meaning.

What shape has your vocation taken?

Serving writers and writing defines my vocation. Creative soul glitches and craft glitches fascinate me. To collect more soul and craft tools, I studied creativity under Dr. Eric Maisel and later completed an MFA in fiction writing. Before The Seattle School, I freelanced as a journalist and, in the years since, have continued to write articles and novels. Writer’s Digest, an industry mag, will run my article, “Editing the Sulks” this September.

How has your vocation been shaped by the work you did at The Seattle School?

The quiet listening. The discernment. These key notions in spiritual direction have guided my shepherding of students and conference participants. Dan (Allender)’s early integration grid of Faith, Hope, and Love widened my notions of “Christian fiction” beyond what conservative Christian publishing houses emphasized. The psychological truth of a character matters to me.

What new focuses/interests did you develop and pursue after graduation?

I co-founded two writing conferences: Breathe (2006-2021) and now Scriptoria Workshop with the wonderful Newbery-winner Gary D. Schmidt. Scriptoria is a Protestant-Catholic effort that’s held at Calvin University.

Do you have any updates you’d like to share with your alumni family?

InterVarsity Press launches The Surface of Water, a contemporary novel about a Chicagoland megachurch pastor who refused to do his soul work. It deconstructs celebrity church and reminds us how easy it is to forget this tenet: “Love your neighbor as yourself.”