Stephen Muse receives letters from around the world from people who have read and been moved by his books.
“Writing a book is like putting a message in a bottle and tossing it out into the ocean. You never know who is going to find it,” the Columbus writer said.
Some who find this author “pour their hearts out” to him.
Muse is director of pastoral counselor training at the Pastoral Institute in Columbus. There, he leads Clergy–in-Kairos, a stress and wellness program for clergy and spouses.
Formerly a Presbyterian pastor, he is founder of the Holy Transfiguration Greek Orthodox Church in Columbus where he serves as deacon.
Recently, Muse had his eighth book published.
It is called “Treasure in Earthen Vessels.”
Published by St. Tikhon’s Monastery Press, the work has been honored by being featured on the cover of the publishing house’s catalog. Three of Muse’s other books are highlighted inside.
“Four of my books are among their biggest sellers,” Muse said.
Other works by Muse have been published by other companies.
His books include “Besides Still Waters: Restoring the Souls of Shepherds in the Market Place,” “Raising Lazarus: Integral Healing in Orthodox Christianity,” “When Hearts Become Flame: An Eastern Orthodox Approach to the Dia-Logos of Pastoral Counseling,” “Being Bread,” “The Peddler and the Disenchanted Mirror,” “Be Yourself: Amin’s Great Discovery” and “Caregivers as Confessors & Healers.”
They can be found online at Amazon.
Muse has contributed chapters in numerous other books and is author of some 60 articles and book reviews for various professional and trade magazines. The author’s work has been translated into Russian, Greek, Swedish and Serbian.
Some of his books are used in college classrooms.
He also does a religious blog at http://orthodoxcolumbus.org/blog/.
While he has written academic works appealing more to adults, he has also written two works of fiction aimed at a younger audience, books based on stories he invented for his children when they were young.
Muse said a fictional story or cartoon often can be more revealing than a nonfiction work.
“Both have their place,” he said.
Asked about his Treasure in Earthen Vessels, Muse said, “My latest book is about prayer and the embodied life, the mysterious connection between the unseen God and the ordinary events of our life on a daily basis.”
In the book Muse writes “A heart that can’t break in grief is a heart that can’t love. It is a heart that will never know real joy, because grief and joy both flow from the same depth. A heart of stone cannot give itself in love. If I want to take what God gives without God, I am swallowing the fatal poison the devil offers, which is to seek perfection without receiving it as a gift from the Only Lover of Humankind.”
Bishop John, the Antiochian Orthodox Bishop of Worcester and New England, wrote in his review of the book, “While reading this book I felt as though I was eavesdropping on a prayer. The book is a work of art, expressing the beauty, wisdom, and healing of our Orthodox tradition, a modern spiritual gem.”
Muse said he knew at age 16 he would be a writer.
At that time his parents were both very ill. He said he “got angry at Jesus” for not healing them and wrote a paper in school about those feelings. His teacher was moved.
“She heard me through my writing,” he said .
Muse learned then “when you write about something that matters it helps.”
Now, he writes about whatever touches his heart.
“My writing reflects the love of my life which has been my Christian faith, the connection with God and our love for one another,” he said.
He calls writing a “discovery process.”
“I learn a lot when I am writing,” Muse said.
Much of his work is done while sitting for three or four hours at Starbucks.
During those times at the coffee shop he has interesting encounters with people.
Muse is appreciative of encounters as well as the response he gets from readers, calling it all “a real blessing.”