When I first opened Phyllis Tickle: A Life and landed on the Chronology page at the beginning of the book, I started to cry. Here was a quick summary of Phyllis Tickle’s bio in three pages. It was a life I had been privileged to be part of for a dozen years.
From Jon Sweeney’s new, official biography of Phyllis, I learned so much more about the complex woman I loved, admired, and respected. Jon tackles the difficult task of organizing and analyzing the life of a woman who cannot be boxed in. There are so many overlapping and contrasting circles that describe her but do not contain her: Christian, spouse, mother, teacher, lecturer, analyzer, visionary, thinker, evangelist, sociologist, writer, poet, mentor, monk, extrovert, friend…. But Jon’s book does not just send out accolades on every page. It is an honest look at an amazing woman who struggled to juggle and balance those demanding and often conflicting and controversial roles. Phyllis Tickle: A Life expands my admiration for the breadth of her professional accomplishment and for the depth and discipline of her personal faith in God.
P.S. Without Phyllis Tickle, Praying in Color might still be just a secret prayer practice in my personal journal. When I met her in 2004 and showed her the way I prayed with doodles and color, Phyllis said “You’re going to write a book!” Being in the South, I said, “Yes, m’am” and went to work. She was my encourager, my mentor, and my writing midwife/doula. Through emails and conversations, Phyllis helped me to birth a book–as she did for dozens, maybe hundreds of other writers. Phyllis Tickle: A Life is not a series of testimonials by grateful friends and authors, like me. That may yet be another book.