Metaphors for Meaning-Making is a container crafted by Elizabeth Lain Schell for some meanderings on metaphor. Schell fondly remembers learning about metaphor in elementary school back in Los Angeles, California, and a whole world being opened up. She revelled in being given permission to write “I am a Rock” versus “I am like a Rock.” It felt a whole lot different. And being able to concretely identify things, even seemingly contrary things, with one another, opened up her imagination.
Schell attended Boston University’s Theater Design program in the early 1990s and especially appreciated learning a lot of very concrete skills including sewing, welding, carpentry, and using all kinds of mostly carcinogenic materials to make fake things look real. Not liking all the chemicals, nor the focus more on big tech special effects onstage versus storytelling through artful stagecraft, Schell left the theater program for the College of Arts where she pursued an oh-so-useful B.A. in English Lit with minors in theater and medieval studies. She began producing her own plays at Marsh Chapel, including several original plays that began to explore spiritual questions.
Later at Union Theological Seminary in New York, Schell further explored the line between worship and theater through her senior thesis project, Thresholds. While at Union, Schell created Big Woman–a 12 foot soft sculpture of the Unnamed Woman from a story in Judges–which was the center of a ritual/service towards the end of her time in seminary. Big Woman became a physical manifestation of the text, the need to heal the text, and an avenue by which participants in worship could transform the story through their own actions. You can read more about Big Woman here.
Schell still loves to write, and craft and lead worship/ritual. For more than 10 years now she and her husband have been running a small local yarn shop in Asheville, NC where they have focused on crafting in, for, and with community. Schell hopes the voices and visions shared on this blog/website thingy will be of use to someone somewhere in making some meaning.