On Thursday, August 6, with her mesmerizing storytelling narrative, Sarah Snyder was with us. She presented an illuminating and vivid depiction of her journey, which started at a retreat center in Scotland, followed by a succession of unforgettable memories.

Her presentation of the humorous memoir Plant Trees, Carry Sheep: A Woman’s Spiritual Journey Among the Sufis of Scotland included the following segments.

When Sarah Snyder left her home in Montana to volunteer to plant trees at a private estate in Scotland, she expected a pleasurable six-month break from her humdrum life. When she arrived, however, she learned she would also be caring for a menagerie of poultry, doing rigorous household chores, and shepherding a flock of truant sheep. Her experience turned out to be a soul-forging adventure that changed her entire relationship with life—and with God—forever.

Six months turned into two years and resulted in her memoir Plant Trees, Carry Sheep: A Woman’s Spiritual Journey Among the Sufis of Scotland. With self-deprecating humor, the memoir chronicles her time at the spiritual retreat, where people from all over the world came to study Ibn Arabi and Rumi.

Among the backdrop of relentless cold and rain, unruly livestock and never-ending chores, she navigates peculiar rituals, the challenges of communal living, and spiritual teachings that, at first, appeared at odds with her own Christian upbringing. Here, Sarah’s exposure to Islam helped her better understand the religion and see God, as well as herself, in a different light.

Sarah discussed the retreat, told a few stories, and answered questions.