I have to put my energy into working to do what I believe Jesus instructs his followers, which is to care for the weakest, the least of his people, which includes prisoners and the poorest of the poor and the oldest and most exhausted. And then to do the work that I feel called to do spiritually, which is to help this country be a nation of laws again, where one law insists on the separation of church and state that has been grievously chipped away at. I'm also someone who's passionately involved in women's rights and abortion rights and gay rights. I do a lot of benefits and appearances for gay, lesbian, and transgender churches, and I do a lot of benefits for left-wing causes and environmental causes I believe in. We can't continue to have the people in power and still save this precious, precious Mother Earth. For me, I have to try to keep it pretty simple theologically and at the same time do the work I feel called to do.

Has this ever put you at odds with your own particular church?

No, never. It's a church open to liberals. And when I go there, I'm just the water boy, I'm just really a member of the family and sometimes families have people that mouth off a little too much or air the dirty laundry. But I'm just one of the children of God there in this one very small community. There's rarely more than 50 or 60 people there.

Not a megachurch.

Not a megachurch. Just a simple cloth-coat church that's very passionate about social justice issues.

There are a lot of people who want to write about spirituality. Do you have any advice for them?

I think writing about spiritual themes is not really different from writing about secular or matters of family and loss and love and the ties that bind. Probably everything I know is in "Bird by Bird," so all I could add is it really holds true for me that old book with its banged up not-very-technological tool what I know is that when it is time to write again, which I hope will be next week, I'll use the one-inch picture frame on my desk and only try to see as much as I can through that, whether I'm writing about God and/or politics and I'll try to practice the spiritual principles of being firm but friendly, like Dr. Spock urged us to be with two-year-olds, and I'll let myself do a bad job. I'll speak to myself the way I'd like to be spoken to, I'll practice the Golden Rule as I'm working with myself to get some new material begun.

With spiritual stuff it's very easy to feel very shamed and very fussy and sentimental or desperate but I love love love coming upon other people's spiritual take on things, so that's what I urge people to keep writing and to find their voice. They can't tell their own spiritual truth in my voice or Jack Kornfield's voice or Natalie Goldberg's voice, or any other voice but their own. It's some of the hardest work we do, but it's also got that great payoff that when we find our voice and when we hone it and when we sing it, it puts us in touch with our human spirit in a way that almost nothing else can.

And is God there?

God's everywhere. God's in the effort, God's in the struggle, whether that's for civil rights or creative expression. God's always in the struggle with us.

So after the ecstasy, you're going to do the laundry.

Actually, to celebrate the last day of the tour, I was thinking I might take our laundry to the wash-and-fold and really go wild.