Bright Shoots of Everlastingness: Essays on Faith and the American Wild

In that moment of coming through the door I walked into a presence that had been there, I was quite sure, all along. It was quiet, powerful, good, and deep. It was presence that included me, and all things around me. The clock at the back of the sanctuary, the miserably worn rug in the aisle, the chipped wooden balcony seats, the faded red curtains behind them—all things were permeated by whatever this quiet, ongoing presence was. They were not different, but more themselves, more what they had been all along, richly sustained, transfigured in their everyday best.
—from the title essay, “Bright Shoots of Everlastingness”

Bright Shoots of Everlastingness Essays on Faith and the American Wild Book CoverPublished by WordFarm in 2005, Bright Shoots of Everlastingness: Essays on Faith and the American Wild was selected by ForeWord magazine as the best of the year from an independent press. Some of the most compelling pieces reflect upon an expedition to Mt. McKinley in Alaska that ended, as so many do, in tragedy.

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Reviews & Responses

Equal parts John Muir and John the Baptist, author Paul Willis offers us winsome tales and thought-provoking essays. A former mountain guide, now a professor of English, his life in writing as well as the wild means he’s equally at home scaling a peak or evoking a peak experience. This is transparent work, and his willingness to turn on himself—“We’re all lost … but if you happen to get there, that’s called leadership”—compels and disarms.
Laurie Klein, Amazon Review
Though Willis gives due treatment to Wordsworth and Spenser, these stories aren’t necessarily what you’d expect from an English professor. He shares a lifetime of diverse snapshots—the time he met his future wife, his taboo first dance, a bout with depression. The bright shoots in these stories emerge from Willis’s personal encounters with the two dominating figures in his life: the God of his evangelical youth and the mountainous American West.