Dancing from the Inside Out

Grace-Filled Reflections on Growing Older

Westina Matthews

Oct/2019, 224 Pages, PAPER, 5.5 x 8.5

ISBN-13: 9781640651586



Relatable essays focused primarily on being at a "certain stage of life" from a renowned speaker and author.

This collection of essays about ordinary events invites the reader to reflect on how God can be found throughout life. Matthews offers a personal and authentic voice that resonates with a wide audience—particularly women—in an easily accessible and understandable manner. These timely reflections are in keeping with the Most Rev. Michael B. Curry’s call to “live into being the Jesus Movement by committing to evangelism and the work of reconciliation—beginning with racial reconciliation . . . across the borders and boundaries that divide the human family of God.”

Through thoughtful, poignant, humorous, and authentic reflections—shared from her journal and weekly email blogs—Matthews invites the reader to redefine themselves. This book is a wonderful resource for personal reflection, and a great gift for colleagues, friends, and family members.

Read an excerpt

WESTINA MATTHEWS is a spiritual director, author, professor, and contemplative workshop/retreat leader who served for twelve years as an adjunct professor at General Theological Seminary in the Center for Christian Spirituality. Today, Westina sits on the boards of the Shalem Institute, Spiritual Directors International, and the Gathering of Leaders, and is a trustee of Berkeley Divinity School at Yale. Her latest book is This Band of SisterhoodBlack Women Bishops on Race, Faith, and the Church. She lives with her husband in Savannah, Georgia.

"This book is so much fun to read. Everything: the stories, the people, the history — it's a rooted, generous wisdom, willing to share itself."
––Barbara Cawthorne Crafton, author of The Courage to Grow Old

"Dancing from the Inside Out is quintessential Westina Matthews -- unsparingly honest, deep-down wise, and refreshingly trenchant...Though I'm a practicing Jew and Westina writes from her profound Christian faith, I gleaned many gifts from this book, not just inspiring advice about aging wisely but the pure pleasure of a story well told."
––Letty Cottin Pogrebin, co-founding editor of Ms. Magazine, author of eleven books, including Deborah, Golda, and Me: Being Female and Jewish in America

"Matthews provides a candidly honest outline of life's lessons in these reflections as she lovingly weaves her engaged readers from beginning to end."
––David N. Dinkins, 106th Mayor, City of New York

"Westina's courses at General are magnetic to students and others who are wise enough to study with her. There is no doubt that Dancing from the Inside Out will be equally attractive. A huge gift to the church."
—The Very Rev. Kurt H. Dunkle, Dean and President, General Theological Seminary

Dancing from the Inside Out

1. Dancing to Every Other Beat
Getting from Here to There
This Is What 60 or 70 or 80 Looks Like
Trust Me
It’s a Little Difficult, But We Must Learn
The Better to Hear You, My Dear
Calluses and Lip Gloss
Where’s Joseph?
One Leg at a Time

2. The Storms of Life
Let It Be Kind to You
Spanx or Squirrels?
Fences, Borders, and Walls
No More Bad News
Transitions Yet to Come
Stay Safe
The News May Not Be Full of Joyful Tidings, But Merry Christmas Anyway

3. Fighting a Hard Battle
The Gift That Cannot Be Regifted
Groundhog Day
Remember to Love
An Act of Kindness
Detergent, Mouthwash, and a Place to Lay One’s Head
The Risk to Love
The Simplicity of Choice
If You’ve Lost, Give Up

4. The Arc of Justice
The New Underground Railroad
Staring Down the Bull
Truth, Lies, and Consequences
When Pigs Fly
You People
Coulda, Woulda, Shoulda
How Should I Think about This?
A Return to Decency

5. I Miss Who I Was
Five Little Words
I Want to Be Ready
Kleenex, Toilet Paper, and Independence
Until It’s Time
With This Ring
Waiting Faithfully
The Decision

6. Stranger, Wanderer, or Friend
First You Need a Bowl
Somebody’s Mama’s Recipe
Healed in the Presence of a Child
Let Them Eat Cake
Broken Pieces
Two Cents’ Worth

7. The Thin Place
Not by Sight
God Rest ’Em
To Forget or to Be Forgotten?
Running Out of Time
Between Two Worlds
A Better Question
Gubby’s Shirt
Full Moon Alert

8. One Step Closer to God
The Potter’s House
The Kiss
One Step Closer to God
Holy Greens
You Just Might Need This
Something Greater Than You and I
Finding God at Starbucks

9. Treasured Memories
Those Were the Days
Nana, Grandmother, and Big Momma
One Stitch at a Time
Now I Lay Me
Sunday Ironing
The Way We Were
Here’s Grandma
Airports, Santa, and Christmas

10. Remember to Breathe
Spaces between the Lines
This Is My Body
Stop, Look Both Ways, Then Go
Be Flexible, Celebrate the Journey, Remember to Breathe
Family Reunion
One Breath at a Time, One Moment at a Time
And Now Our Minds Are One
One Hundred Words
What’s Next?


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  • Aging
  • retirement
  • diversity and inclusivity
  • spirituality
  • prayer

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