Sunday, December 6, 2015

Gospel Challenge, Make Straight the Way

Prepare the way of the Lord
make his paths straight.
Luke 3:4b

Prepare a straight path for God to come
or go?
which is it?
the Mystery moves?

Assemble the crew and
draw up the plans,
roll up your sleeves
this work won't be easy,
nor cheap. Don't forget to
consider the cost.

Clear the land.
Chop down the trees,
remove the brush and boulders.
Bring in the bulldozers and the wrecking ball.
Get it all organized, like ants hauling those huge hunks of leaves
on the floor of that forest you saw last winter.

Work up a sweat,
break blisters,
get thirsty and hungry
wear those bruises and calluses
like your finest party dress.

This work is dirty and hard
but someone has to do it.

Monday, November 23, 2015

Gospel Challenge, For This I Was Born

For this I was born, 
and for this I came into the world…

He told Pilate he was born to testify to the truth.
Pilate asked him, “What is truth?”
In the face of violence, he answered.

He choose a cross,
and a grave.

He testified to it again yesterday:

Gospel Challenge
John 18:33-37

Sunday, November 15, 2015

Gospel Challenge, Week 3, In Those Days

In those days,
after that suffering, 
the sun will be darkened, 
and the moon will not give its light,
and the stars will be falling from heaven,
the powers in the heavens will be shaken…

when you see these things taking place
you will know that he is near, at the very gates.
Mark 13:24-32

So, where are you?

Paris is burning
128 are dead
her borders are tightened
She quakes
like Japan, again
under a tsunami warning.

High speed trains derail in Echwersheim
killing at least 10
while millions of homeless refugees
seek asylum and are turned away.
Not here! We must keep ourselves safe.

O, and what about those 147 murdered by Islamic extremists
at Garissa University College in Kenya back on April 2
barely a blip on our radar
the news media failed to report.
“Black lives matter”, too.

We’ve seen the sign of the fig tree
generation after generation after generation,
twenty-one now, and
still you don’t come.

So perhaps we’ve misunderstood the Scripture?
Who is this Son of Man coming in clouds?
Are we looking for the historical Jesus
riding on his white horse?
or should we be looking for our own enlightened conscious Selves,
humankind evolving into a greater force of love.

the sun is still dark,
the moon still fails to give its light
stars still fall
and no one comes to the rescue.

by Sheila Conner
Gospel Series

Sunday, November 8, 2015

Gospel Challenge, Week Two - The Treasury

The Treasury

“...contributing to the treasury…
she out of her poverty
has put in everything she had…”
Mark 12:43-44

I see him standing there in his long black coat and hat,
his prolific gray beard having never been trimmed,
the feathers of his sidelocks
at the corners of his bobbing head
catching flight in the morning breeze.
He mumbles his prayers from the treasury of his heart
and places scraps of paper in the crags of the stone wall.

Gray matter her wailing wall and prayer book,
she reaches in and pulls out
tattered and faded souvenirs
of times and places her heart has been broken.
She recites those memories back to her God
and reminds him of promises he may have forgotten.

For some unexplained reason,
my thoughts go back to our Gulf Coast
beaches last summer
when sand and sea lay hidden
beneath several feet of thick, brown sargassum,
rank and decaying.
It had washed onto the shores from the heart of the ocean.
The tourist industry wanted to sweep it away so its trade would flourish,
but ecologists ask us to let it stay.
As it piles up and rots,
it not only holds tiny and fiercely biting mosquitos,
but also holds the sands
and allows dunes to build
preventing the beaches from eroding.

His scraps of paper,
her faded memories,
rank seaweed from the ocean depths
all prayer.

Monday, November 2, 2015

Gospel Challenge, Week 1

I've kind of given myself a challenge (we'll see how long that lasts!) to write at least one poem a week, using the Gospel for that Sunday as a jumping off place. That will keep me writing AND perhaps get me back in Scripture in a different/new way. I'll post them on Monday mornings.

So, yesterday was my first challenge, and TWO poems came from that Gospel.  The first, written before church.

The Blame Game

When Mary came where Jesus was and saw him,
she knelt at his feet and said to him,
“Lord, if you had been here…”
John 11:32

Lord, if you had been here…

if you had only been here when
     Barton’s and Courtney’s lives spun out of control,
if you had only been here when
     Monica determined, “Enough is enough,” left, and took Joe with her,
if you had been here when
     Laura walked out on Mike, broke his heart, and shattered his body…

That’s what I’m tempted to say Lord,
Where were you?
Then I could let the blame rest
at your feet.

But my theology tells me you were here,
and still my family broke,
still my children suffer,
still my heart aches.

Sometimes I wonder what good God is…

Then you turned the table...
     “Did I not tell you that if you believed, you would see the glory of God?”

Shit, Lord, that’s not fair.
I believed, I believed so damn hard,
and it all broke anyway.

So, is this what your glory looks like?
a garment torn to pieces?
from singing to ashes?
If so, it sucks.
If not, then what?
What will your glory look like in the lives of my children
   and my grandchildren?

Do I believe?
I believe Lord, help me in my unbelief.
     where are you Lord?

The second poem, inspired by the Gospel being read at church.


Settled in her quiet space that dreary gray morning,
pen and paper in hand,
she read the Gospel for the day,
     John 11:31-44.

In her own dullness,
eyes blinded by fear and despair,
all she saw was blame:
     Mary’s, “...if you had been there…”
     His own, “...if you believed…”

Her heart a cave*
a stone lying against it.
Bitter tears fell,
hot anger flowed thick black ink on the page.
She wrote, The Blame Game.

The priest read from the same Gospel later that morning
and the stone was rolled away.
“Father, I thank you for having heard me. I know you
always hear me.”

Faith means someone sees.
The leaf continues to float down the river.
She leans into the flow.

(Faith, by Czeslaw Milosz, from the Separate Notebooks: Poems, translated by Renata Gorczynski, Robert Haas and Robert Pinsky, Ecco Press, 1984)

Sunday, November 1, 2015


Rub thumb’s fingernail over
what was once an open wound,
no longer raw, but instead scabbed,
dull, unfeeling.

My heart seems on this day
to be likewise,
dense, scarred and dumb
to Mystery.
Flat, deflated, depressed, empty.

Om namo Bhagadvate vasudevaya…

Rip open my heart Beloved,
soften and lift it.
Cause the petals of this lotus
to open again
that the fragrance of our Love
might fill my senses.

Brighten this day with
Your delight.

Monday, October 26, 2015

Day 3, Poetry as Prayer

Sunday was a very gray day. And our challenge was to write about shadow and light. The weather wasn't conducive to sitting outside, so I pulled my chair over and snuggled down and looked out the window. I wrote and wrote, but this is all I came up with...short and real.


Gloomy, gray and dull
a half-light day.
Shadows linger,
and this house shakes in the storm.

A pin-prick of light
That’s all I need Jesus.
Just a pin-prick.

Sheila Conner
Poetry as Prayer, 2015

4th Challenge

Not long after, this was the view...a pin-prick.

Sunday, October 25, 2015

Day 2 of Poetry As Prayer, 2015

The rain didn't get us down. After playing with metaphors this morning, Richard gave us this photograph of a big leaf maple near his home in Canada. The tree has been partially chewed through by beavers, yet still it stands. We were invited to sink into the photograph and write our own poem. 16 people took 16 different directions. That's what I so appreciate about this time together. Everyone brings their own story and their own gifts.

My Prayer for Healing

Chewed, scarred, wounded,
Still standing,
half in shadow and half in light.
Lord have mercy.

still rooted
grounded in rich soil - your love.
Christ have mercy.

Scant sunlight filters above and all around.
Lift me up.
Fill my limbs with life and energy.
Lord have mercy.

Sheila Conner
Poetry as Prayer Retreat
October 24, 2015
2nd Challenge

After lunch, Richard challenged us again...this time, pick out a Bible passage, enter it, and write from inside the story, lectio divina style. I took a short nap, sat down, and wrote again.

On The Road To Nain
Luke 7:12-15
As he approached the town gate, a dead person was being carried out -- the only son of his mother, and she was a widow. And a large crowd from the town was with her. When the Lord saw her, his heart went out to her and he said, "Don't cry."

Then he went up and touched the coffin, and those carrying it stood still. He said, "Young man, I say to you, get up!" The dead man sat up and began to talk, and Jesus gave him back to his mother.

You saw her Lord.
Do you see me?
Do you see other mothers like me?
Do you see our children and their lost lives?
Look at me Lord. Look at us and see us.
Let your heart go out to us, Lord.
Do you see their coffins, Lord?
You touched his coffin that day.
What about our children’s coffins, Lord?
Coffins of physical pain and suffering,
addiction, loneliness, silence.
Coffins of hopelessness and fear,
resentment, and despair.
Touch those coffins, Lord.
Speak to our children and tell them, “Get up!”
Tell them, “Wake up!”
We want to hear our children talk, Lord,
to talk to you, to talk to us, to talk to each other,
to gain their voices, to speak their truth,
to share their stories.
Healing and relationships begin again
when we are seen and heard.
See them. Hear them.
See us. Hear us.
Give me back my sons, Lord.
See my tears, and hear my prayers.

Sheila Conner
Poetry as Prayer, 2015
3rd Writing Challenge

It always amazes me the depth of the poetry that comes on this weekend. Richard has a way of inviting us deep inside ourselves, and the results is some really good poetry from a beautiful group of people. Seven years of writing together has resulted in some pretty sweet friendships, some pretty intimate knowing.

Today (Sunday), will be our last writing adventure for another year. We meet for Eucharist at 11, then write and share until later this evening. And I'm praying the rain and wind lets up. This has been the only year we've had rain like this, so I think we've been very blessed. Fortunately, the rain has messed with the poetry.

Saturday, October 24, 2015

Day 1, Poetry as Prayer, Hamsa's Return

Hamsa's Return

Hamsa*, the great wild Canadian goose,
has returned.

She appears about this time every Fall.
This is her 7th year.

She has a large clutch here on the Coast of Texas, 
having hatched out 16 this season. 
Her task is a formidable once, which she carries out swiftly, 
with not too little noise.

Her voice is not gentle dove-like cooing, 
but rather a loud disturbing honk! 
A sound which challenges 
(and consoles)
strong, not weak, even disquieting.

She swoops in, gathers us around her, and guides us 
through a weekend of creative grace, 
then off she flies, back to her native Canadian tundra.

And we wait, another year, for Hamsa to return.

Hamsa* is a Sanskrit word for a migratory bird, usually pictured as a swan or a wild goose. An “animal mask” of both the universal creative impulse and the self-realized saint. It “symbolizes the divine essence, which, though embodied in and abiding with the individual, yet remains forever free from, and unconcerned with the events of the individual life.” (Heinrich Zimmer), from The Yoga of Breath, by Richard Rosen.

And Hamsa, in this poem, is our own Richard Osler, flying in from Canada each Fall to lead us through a wonderful weekend filled with grace, a poetry-writing weekend, poetry as prayer.

This weekend we had a pre-writing assignment, and we shared our first poems last night. Here is mine.

Marking My World

(“What kept you alive
all those years keeps you from living.”
Li-Young Le

Remember the Marks-A-Lot?
the marker “whose ink stood the test of time”
permanent, resistent, never fading,
with its chisel tip on one end and bold point on the other?

The marker used to draw all kinds of shapes:
triangles, squares, rectangles, and parallelograms,
all boxes and containers that,

That marker could be used to write words in big, bold letters,
clearly visible,
rules that could not be broken,
lines that could not be crossed,
veiled threats meant to put us in our place,
to keep us from venturing too far:

“Curiosity killed the cat.”
“Children should be seen and not heard.”
“Nice girls wait to be invited.”
“Ladies don’t go without an escort.”
“A woman’s place is in the home.”
“A woman’s work is never done.”
“Better safe than sorry.”

Don’t just stand there and knock, Jesus.
Batter my heart*.
Break all the boxes.
Spill all the contents.
Life is messy.
I want to risk and live.

*from Holy Sonnets: Batter my heart, three-person’d God, by John Donne

Sheila Conner
October 23, 2015
Poetry As Prayer, Surfside
1st Challenge

Thursday, October 15, 2015

Words to My Son

I woke up this morning thinking of you and this place you're in. It seems to me that you may be experiencing what I have in the past called, "an invitation too sweet to refuse". Son, a person doesn't just decide to walk away from unhealthy relationships and their drama, to quit smoking, to stop taking their "drugs", to determine to even quit coffee, and to be "stimulant free" - well, he doesn't just make that kind of choice on his own. Something deep inside him determines it's time for a "new birth", and issues an invitation to a "new life". And it sounds so delicious, we just can't refuse it.

And dear old Fr. Richard Rohr was the first one to tell me, "You can't be born again until you die first." Who knew?

Anyway, I woke up very early this morning remembering a poem (an epic!) I wrote a number of years ago, entitled Born Again. I want to share the poem with you - it's long, but so too is the journey of new birth. As I wrote this poem, I became the baby being born, feeling the difficulty of being born. I don't think I had ever thought about what it felt like to be born. I knew what it felt like to give birth, and believe me, that's not easy, but the morning I wrote this poem, I was experiencing "transition" as the baby in the womb, instead of the mother giving birth, and I think, from the baby's point of view, it has to feel like death.

As I wrote the poem, I think I came to the conclusion, that you and I don't "choose" to be born again. That doesn't fit my old evangelical understanding, but babies don't make the choice to begin the journey from womb to birth. That choice is made for them because they outgrow the space they are in. You've outgrown your old space son. You don't have any choice but to be born again - or to die, because that's what will happen if you stay where you are too long. Now, I don't have a clue how long "too long" is - it's metaphorically speaking, of course.

So, before this letter gets so darn long that even a blog post won't hold it, this is the poem I wrote. I think it must have been about 2010? I think I wrote it before I went to Arizona (2011), which is when I think I "broke through that damn door" and was actually "born again". At any rate, this is MY experience of being "born again".  I told Scott McKay MANY years ago that I had been born again and born again and born again, many times...but this new birth was probably the most excruciating new birth of this lifetime. I think maybe it's the only time I truly "died" first. OK, so here's the poem...

Born – Again

Part 1, In Utero

Inside this small Evangelical Worldview womb,
With its safe, hard, well-defined parameters -
And The Book,
literal, factual, true,
66 books within The Book,
answers for life on every page,
and the God-Man, my ticket “home”,
There is no room for question or mystery,
story or growth.

If one doesn’t grow,
The womb that’s meant to give life
brings death, and
the Baby dies.

She chooses instead to grow,
and begins kicking against the
too-small, too-tight womb.

Her limbs tangle, wadding into a tight, little ball.
There is no room.

Her back is bent, her body is wound tight,
her head is too big for this small space.
Her fists doubled, ready to punch.
She kicks, hits, fights.

She can’t breath, and the
food no longer nourishes or satisfies.

There must be more.

Part 2, Transition

Violent Force begins the upheaval.
Her journey into the dark night begins.

The womb that once seemed so small,
now seems large compared to this “birthing tunnel”,
this  place of seeming death.
It is total blackness.  There is no room at all.
She is suffocating, yet
she is still being pushed by Violent Force.

This Baby would stop the journey if she could.
She would choose death if she could.

But Violent Force continues to push her
through this all-too-tight underground passageway.
The earth quakes and walls close in and bear down.
Violent Force relentlessly pushes her forward,
upside down,
scrunched tight, her arms pinned so close she can’t move,
legs extended, and her head pressed against a wall.

The damned door will not open.
and her head, too big, hurts as it presses
against the wall that won’t give.

Violent Force doesn’t relent, but instead
chooses to continue convulsing this baby
against that damned wall.

Surely the next contraction will result in blessed death,
and she waits for stillness to finally come.

Part 3, New Birth

The wall finally gives way,
and an opening appears.
Faster than lightning,
in the twinkling of an eye,
the Baby is born.
The unsettled disturbance is over.
The earthquake ends.

She has been born
into a new place,
a new space.

I am out! 
I am free! 
I can breathe!

Part 4, Adjustment
and Mother

New birth has brought her freedom
and room to grow—
but there is nothing familiar now.
And this place seems scary, too.

There is so much light she cannot see
and so much room, she no longer feels the edges.

Her legs flail and her arms grope.       
She reaches and grasps
for something familiar to hold onto.

Her old Evangelical Womb, with all its boundaries,
its Book, with all the answers
it’s God/Man, who is “the Way” -

Where has it all gone?
She can’t find her way “home”,
and this new place seems too big
too open, too free, too bright,
with so much light she cannot see.

Mother Mystery comes and wraps her warm blanket of Love
tightly around this little one
until she feel safe again.

And this place?
This new space?
Is it home?

She is so small, and
this new place is so big,
so unfamiliar.

The only language she speaks now is tears.
She wails for the safety of her old home,
for familiar food, for familiar boundaries,
to be held, to be understood

But wait, there is something now holding her.
She feels the arms of Mother Mystery
encircle her.

At last, for just a moment, peace comes
as she rests in her Mothers arms.

I don’t know where I am.
I have no ideas yet formed.
I am not comfortable here
but I have a feeling this new place is now “home”.
There is room to grow.
Eventually my eyes will become accustomed to this new light,
and I have a Mother who holds and carries me.

This new place is now home, albeit unfamiliar,
it is home.
And I suspect it’s at least as safe
as my old Evangelical womb.

Ok, so see, it is long. You only took 4 hours to be born, my quickest delivery, but Joe took 23 hours, so consider this a 23-hour birthing poem. 

I have no clue how long this process will take for you. I think mine took about 7 years before I felt the break through. Saints of old called it "the dark night". No matter what you call it, it's a death to an old way and a birth into something new. I am praying for you - for a safe delivery through this "transition" period. I love you. I believe in you, and I believe in God IN you. Transition is the most difficult part of giving birth. And in THIS process, you are both mother and baby, so, no, it's not going to be easy. It will be the most difficult thing you've ever done, but you will be born into a spacious new place, and a spacious new way of living your life. I have no clue what it will look like, or how it will feel for you, except there will be a place inside you that knows you've done it.  You've done the work, and you are a new person indeed.

Saturday, April 4, 2015

Hell and Holy Saturday

Sheila, do you believe in hell? Do you believe in eternal damnation?

So what is "hell".  If hell is defined as a lake of fire in which damned souls burn forever and ever throughout all eternity, no, I don't believe in that "place." And at this point in my life, no, I don't believe in eternal damnation.  What I believe is that Love never fails. God is Love; Love is God, and Love never fails. Period.

I do believe in hell as a state of being unable to receive Love. This thought came to me a number of years ago, probably around 2002, because the thought included Sadeem Hussain, our modern-day Hitler. In prayer one morning as I was contemplating hell and eternal damnation of the wicked, I thought about this wicked man and all he had done. But I also considered the culture he was raised in and his own possible childhood of abuse, and I considered Julian of Norwich's revelations of Love, that God never blames, but looks on humanity with pity.

As my mind wandered through various thoughts, I considered life after death. I don't know anything for sure about all that anymore, except I believe in life after death, but I have no clue what it looks, what if after I die, I find myself right next to Sadeem Hussain, and the only thing that divides us is that around us everywhere as far as we can see and feel is Love, and I can receive that Love, but he can't. That would be hell. And it seems we can be in hell while we're still alive, here, in this state of being.

I have a picture of Holy Saturday that has stayed with me for 23 years now. On the night before Jim and I married, our soon to be joint family sat around a little table made for 4, Jim and his two girls, me and my 3 sons, his mom and day, and my mother, 9 of us around a very little table meant for 4. And Jim's youngest got mad about something. Her favorite word at that time, at the age of 3, was asshole, and she knew exactly how to use it. In retrospect, I'm quite sure she was afraid about losing her daddy and all the hubub of all that was happening was shaking her little world, but at that moment, she was just mad, and she proceeded to yell her little heart out, calling everyone around the table an asshole. It was not a pretty sight, and me, being the disciplinarian I was demanded that Jim do something about her, or I would. Finally Jim sent her to her room. He condemned her to her hell. She marched straight there screaming and crying and continuing to hurl the word asshole over her shoulder back at us. She got to her room, went in and slammed the door.

I was so embarrassed. That's what their sin does to us. It embarrasses us. So we condemn them to hell. You and I do that - Love doesn't do that. We do.

And the screaming and shouting continued until I leveled with Jim about how important it was to take charge of this situation - "Either you make her stop and control her, or I will!"

So Jim dutifully descended into her hell - but the shouting continued, so I marched myself down the hall to correct the situation and to practice parental discipline. Thanks be to God, I didn't barge in, but quietly opened the door and I saw Jim, sitting in the middle of the floor holding this 3 year old banchee indian who was still kicking and screaming and flinging insults. He was rocking her and whispering into her ear, "It's ok, Daddy loves you." Over and over he would smooth her little flailing arms and legs and seek to calm her down, rocking and whispering his love to her, until at last, she rested and slept.

That's the picture I have of hell, and Jesus' descent into hell. In all our pain and screaming and hurling insults at the life we've been give, even in all our anger and rage toward others, he sits with us, holds us, rocks us. Hell is the inability to receive Love. But Love never fails. Love is stronger than death. And Love will finally and fully win.

Have a blessed Holy Saturday.

Friday, March 27, 2015

So, Who is Jesus to Me?

Well, my goodness, it seems I'm going to India in January 2016! Will wonders never cease?

And I find myself pondering Jesus again. I started a new book this morning, The Mystic Way of Evangelism. In the Introduction, author Elaine Heath defines evangelism: "Evangelism rightly understood is the holistic invitation of people into the reign of God as revealed in Jesus Christ."

That phrase, " revealed in Jesus Christ," got me to thinking about Fr. Bede Griffiths' and Mother Theresa's "evangelism" of India, their witness of Jesus as compared to the colonization evangelism of India, which required Russill Paul's dad to give up his Hindu name to become a Christian.

As I pondered for just a moment the difference between the two styles of evangelism, once more I heard a Voice (Jesus?) asking me, "Who do YOU say that I am Sheila? Forget your fears of whether or not I'm God's 'only begotten Son' (whatever that means). Forget about right or wrong expression. Forget about your question, 'Was that really Jesus, or just my Essence speaking?' Forget all that, and right here, right now, tell me about your experience of me. Who am I to you?"

I met Jesus "face-to-face" so to speak when I was 40. Already some of my spiritual foundations were beginning to crumble and my physical life was a mess. My oldest son was away from home in the Army with the first Gulf War brewing. My middle son was in the hospital in Houston. My dad died, and my husband left us. I was no longer my Daddy's daughter, or my husband's wife, and I was quickly becoming a mother to grown children. All of my identifiers were on their last leg, but I didn't know that yet.  All I knew was the thing I wanted the most was to have a husband, a real partner who would love me and not leave me, someone who would help me make decisions and someone who would love my children as much as I did and who would "be there" for them as they became young men - someone who wouldn't leave them, either. I needed someone who wouldn't walk out on us, someone who wouldn't desert us, but instead would love us. That's what I needed from Jesus. And his answer to me was, "Here I am. I won't leave you or desert you or your sons. I will be a husband to you, your life partner."

And that's what Jesus was to me for the next 10 years or so; he was my husband, my Beloved, my partner, lover, friend, encourager; whatever I needed on my journey through my everyday life, Jesus morphed and filled that need. Interesting as I look back, it seems he put ME first. He never made any demands on me, but would instead invite me to make the harder choices, to take the more difficult path, but he never once insisted that I be a "good wife, a good mother, or a good Christian". He just stayed with me.

Then a shift came, and I lost my definition of him. He lost his "shape", and I could no longer find him. Again, in retrospect, it feels as if he said, "I [Jesus] must decrease so that she [Sheila] can increase." He stepped out of my line of vision, left the role of "leader", and pushed me forward with, "Who are YOU Sheila? What do YOU want from life? Who do you want to be? Don't ask me anymore what I want you to be. YOU have a choice."

Then Jesus literally went silent for a number of years. Truthfully, he doesn't talk to me nearly as much as he used to. But I still feel his nearness. Jesus is loyal to me. Jesus supports my heart and my dreams. Jesus defends my right to make my own choices, even about him! He encourages me. HE GIVES ME PERMISSION! He doesn't say "no" to me.  Shoot, when I wanted to go check out the Catholic Church, he said, "GO!" If I want to learn about Buddhism, he puts a book in my hands and a Zen Roshi to teach me. If I want to explore other spiritualities rather than my Christian roots, he beams at me, smiles, and says. "Go for it!"

By this time, Jesus is beginning to look a lot like Jim.

Neither Jesus nor Jim ever doubt me. Jesus never says to me, "No you can't." He TRUSTS me to make my own decisions and my own choices. He blesses me and challenges me with , "Go ahead! You can do it!" Shoot, he even works behind my back lining up little synchronicites that show up later so that I know he's still there, in the background, loving me and supporting me.

So maybe that's why I can't answer like Peter. Maybe that's why I can't figure out "who" Jesus is. He's NOT what I expected. He's different than I was taught. His expectations of me are different from what I had been told they were. He didn't say to me, "Lay down your life," nor did he say, "Pick up your cross and follow me." Instead he said, "Sheila, you have a brain. You have hopes and dreams. You have two legs and two feet. Take up your mat, your own life, and WALK. BE! Become who you were intended to be, not who you were EXPECTED to be! BE YOU, BE SHEILA"

And at times that has been the scariest thing ever. Jesus turned my tables upside down. He sat before me an unmarked path and told me to forge ahead and to make my own way. He told me to explore, to go on an adventure, and to evolve! And that wasn't what I expected at all.

And right now at this moment, I seem to hear him say, "You are all together lovely my Bride." And he chuckles.

Tonight at St. Timothy's, we begin The Daring Way, with the motto, "Show up, be seen, live brave!" And THAT'S what Jesus has done mostly in my life, double-dog dared me to be myself, to live unafraid, to go ahead and be that Dissident Daughter instead of that Proverbs 31 woman. Yes, Jesus looks more like Jim every day.

Thursday, January 1, 2015

Practicing Mindfulness


Hunkered down in a corner,
the apex of an almost triangle,
He lies in a sphere, like Ouroboros, seemingly
tail to mouth, silent
once more sleeping his day away.

I watch, paying attention
to his belly rising and falling as Breath breathes in him.
We have that in common –
no work on our part as Breath moves in through our nostrils,
fills our bellies, then flows out again
in a circular pattern

Black-tipped smoky gray tail twitches,
rises, then falls again,
involuntary reflex.
Who moves his tail?
Certainly not Tom,
but still, tail moves as curiously
as belly rises and falls.

A paw slides, barely shifts,
as the tail continues twitching,
rising and falling with belly
as Breath breathes.

A sly eye slits open and
looks toward me with no recognition.
Eye closes again as head droops a little more.
The gestalt of his day,
paw moving now and again
in that cycle of life pattern,
each moment recreating itself,
the Eternal Return.