Cary Umhau, a frequent participant in conferences and workshops through The Allender Center and a fellow in the Leadership in the New Parish Certificate program, has recently published a spiritual memoir, Burning Down the Fireproof Hotel: An Invitation to the Beautiful Life.
Umhau describes the book as “a series of vignettes that tell stories of how God pursued me in a personal and quirky way,” and she explains that many of the ideas in the book were born out of her time at The Seattle School. Burning Down the Fireproof Hotel focuses on a 15-year period of Umhau’s life, during half of which she was regularly engaging with programs and events through The Seattle School and The Allender Center. As she felt like God was stripping away parts of herself, she says, “The Seattle School was putting me back together.”
In recent weeks, Umhau has been touring to promote the book, which took about three and a half years to complete. She has loved the opportunity to see that, as people witness her telling her story, they feel the freedom to engage their own stories. “Someone has to go first,” she says. “That’s something I learned from The Seattle School.”
Burning Down the Fireproof Hotel focuses on moving from a “fireproof” life to one that is more spacious and daring. “I thought that control and safety were where I was going to find life, and that there were formulas and guarantees for how to get to and ensure a happy life,” says Umhau. “But I found that that was not the case—that a fireproof life, like a fireproof building, was probably filled with asbestos or something that wasn’t good for me.”
Umhau says that The Seattle School was a significant piece of her journey of healing, and we believe that the stories she tells and themes she explores complement the ongoing conversations that occur in our classes, programs, and events. In the coming weeks, stay tuned to The Seattle School’s blog to read excerpts from the book.