Dale Harris is pastor of The Corner Church, a Free Methodist/Nazarene church in Oshawa, ON. He is also a prolific songwriter, avid blogger, and now author. Ancient archeology, Greek mythology, World War II, and love and loss are all part of Dale’s first novel Though I Walk.
Growing up, Dale was very interested in the arts and passionate about writing and creative expression. “Back in the early days, what I most wanted to do with my life was to be a writer. It was my passion. I taught English literature for seven years before going into full time ministry. Teaching was a way to pay the bills while I pursued writing. When I went into ministry I felt like that dream or desire of my heart wasn’t going to happen. Twenty years later, the Lord opened up a new opportunity.”
The idea for Though I Walk came to Dale during a 1996 backpacking trip to Greece with his wife Dani. He completed the first version of the novel in 2002. “I still have that early draft in a shoebox somewhere. I don’t want it to see the light of day. It was poorly written but it didn’t have any redeeming value spiritually speaking.”
In 2014, Dale took a three month medical leave from the post at his church. “About half way through my leave during a prayer time, God brought my mind back to this novel. He asked me, “Why don’t you go back and see what you can do with it?” I dug it out, and I could barely stand to read some of it, but the idea, the shell of the story was good. I felt God saying, “Let Me into the story and at every point where a character needs to make a decision see what I do with it.””
Dale rewrote the novel from the beginning. “I would ask God, “What would You do with character or how would You direct this?” and God showed up. The novel isn’t explicitly Christian in that no character asks Jesus into their heart, but each of the characters have profound experiences of God’s presence. It is clear that God is at work in the story right from the beginning to end, but you have to watch for God in the story.”
Over the next few years, Dale completed rewriting the rest of the novel and he sent a draft of the novel to his friend Mary Elsie Wolfe, Free Methodist pastor and author Becoming His Story. “She was so encouraging and enthusiastic about the novel. As I was looking for a publisher, she sent me information about the Braun Book Awards.” Dale won the 2020 Braun Book Award for Fiction and a publishing contract with Word Alive Press.
Dale felt God ministering to him through his writing process, and he is passionate about encouraging more artistic and creative expression in the church. “Really good art and creative expression always has a layer of ambiguity that invites the person experiencing it to plug in their own experience and have it speak in many layers. I have a sense that often the church is uncomfortable with ambiguity. If we are not crystal clear about what we are saying about God at this moment, it can’t be done because ambiguity is tough, but really good art needs to live in that space.”
Word Alive Press wrote a great Author Spotlight on Dale, and the official book launch for Though I Walk is happening on Saturday, April 17th at 8pm EST and will be live streamed on Zoom at www.tiny.cc/thoughiwalklaunch
By Alison McKinnon