Shawna Atteberry

Baker, Writer, Teacher

More Reflections on Mary

This is from Anne Fontaine writing at The Daily Episcopalian:

The current stage of my life with Mary began when I was teaching a class on the creeds. We were using Joan Chittister’s In Search of Belief as a basis for the study. I was facilitating the discussion and reading along with the class when we came to the chapter on “virgin birth.” Rather than explore the modern science or pre-scientific ideas about conception, Chittister spoke about the amazing story the creed tells about who are worthy to bear Christ into the world.

As I understand what she is saying, the fact that Mary was a young woman, a virgin when God called her to bear Jesus shows us the nature of God’s relationship to us. In Mary’s day she was seen as property. She was vulnerable in a culture that did not value women and especially not girls. Their value came from their connection to a man, first to their fathers and then to their husbands and their ability to bear sons. Today young girls are still at risk in many countries to be sold or bartered away. Even in the United States they are easily dismissed as less than anyone else. Although changes have been made – movies, popular music and media off all sorts views females as objects and not agents of their own lives.

This is why the creed’s affirmation of Mary is so amazing. God chooses the least in the social hierarchy to be the one to bear God into the world. It is a statement by the church of the worth of the individual in the face of cultures who say “not worthy.”

She ends with this incredible poem by Sylvia Kantaris.

It seems I must have been more fertile than most
to have taken that wind-blown
thistledown softly-spoken word
into my body and grown big-bellied with it.
Nor was I the first: there had been
rumours of such goings-on before my turn
came – tales of swansdown. Mine
had no wings or feathers actually
but it was hopeless trying to convince them.
They like to think it was a mystical
encounter, although they must know
I am not of that fibre – and to say I was
‘troubled’ is laughable.
What I do remember is a great rejoicing,
my body’s arch and flow, the awe,
and the ringing and singing in my ears –
and then the world stopped for a little while.
But still they will keep on about the Word,
which is their name for it, even though I’ve
told them that is definitely
not how I would put it.
I should have known they’d try to take
possession of my ecstasy and
swaddle it in their portentous terminology.
I should have kept it hidden in the dark
web of my veins…
Though this child grows in me –
not unwanted certainly, but
not intended on my part; the risk
did not concern me at the time, naturally.
I must be simple to have told them anything.
Just because I stressed the miracle of it
they’ve rumoured it about the place that I’m
immaculate – but then they always were afraid
of female sexuality.
I’ve pondered these things lately in my mind.
If they should canonise me
(setting me up as chaste and meek and mild)
God only knows what nonsense
they’ll visit on the child.

Sylvia Kantaris From Dirty Washing, Bloodaxe 1989. ©Sylvia Kantaris

The Annunciation of the Lord

Today is the day the Church remembers the angel Gabriel’s visit to Mary. The is from Contemplative Horizon:

Excerpt from “Annunciation”
by Denise Levertov

…The engendering Spirit
did not enter her without consent.
God waited.
She was free to accept or to refuse, choice
integral to humanness.
This was the minute no one speaks of,
when she could still refuse.
A breath unbreathed,
She did not cry, “I cannot, I am unworthy,”
Nor, “I have not the strength.”
She did not submit with gritted teeth, raging, coerced.
Bravest of all humans,
consent illumined her.
The room filled with its light,
the lily glowed in it,
and the iridescent wings.
courage unparalleled,
opened her utterly.

Pour your grace into our hearts, O Lord, that we who have known the incarnation of your Son Jesus Christ, announced by an angel to the Virgin Mary, may by his cross and passion be brought to the glory of his resurrection; who lives and reigns with you, in the unity of the Holy Spirit, one God, now and for ever. Amen (The Book of Common Prayer).

International Women's Day Synchroblog: Daughter of Mary Magdalene

“Daughter of Mary Magdalene”

I want to be a bearer of the gospel.

It doesn’t matter if I bear children.

I want to fulfill my vows to God,

And not have my calling dependent on a man.

As Mary (who had no man) I want to proclaim

I want to shout and shine with love–

The love of a risen Savior

Who has called me as a person in my own right.

I hear the voice of my risen Savior:

“Come follow Me.

Follow Me away from the expectations

Follow Me away from those who limit you

Follow Me into glorious possibilities

Beyond your imagination.

I called you because I wanted you

Not a package deal.

Come, follow Me, and I will be your desire.”

As Mary I come to You

My risen Lord

My risen Lover.

I cast off the images of what I should be

And revel in the truth of who I am:

A bearer of Your good news.

© 2003 by Shawna Renee Bound

Related Posts
Made in the Image of God: Female
Most Blessed of Women: Jael
Everyone Has a Story (Deborah)
Career Women of the Bible: Phoebe

International Women’s Day Syncroblog

Julie Clawson on the God who sees
Steve Hayes on St. Theodora the Iconodule
Sonja Andrews on Aunt Jemima
Sensuous Wife on a single mom in the Bible
Minnowspeaks on celebrating women
Michelle Van Loon on the persistant widow
Lyn Hallewell on women who walked with God
Heather on the strength of biblical women
Shawna Atteberry on the Daughter of Mary Magdalene
Christine Sine on women who impacted her life
Susan Barnes on Tamar, Ruth, and Mary
Kathy Escobar on standing up for nameless and voiceless women
Ellen Haroutunian on out from under the veil
Liz Dyer on Mary and Martha
Bethany Stedman on Shiphrah and Puah
Dan Brennan on Mary Magdalene
Jessica Schafer on Bathsheba
Eugene Cho on Lydia
Laura sorts through what she knows about women in the Bible
Miz Melly preached on the woman at the well
AJ Schwanz on women’s work
Pam Hogeweide on teenage girls changing the world
Teresa on the women Paul didn’t hate
Helen on Esther
Happy on Abigail
Mark Baker-Wright on telling stories
Robin M. on Eve
Lainie Petersen on The Unnamed Women in Judges

Poetry: The Clarity of Darkness

The fog rolled in, heavy and damp
It blanketed the city in its mist
It was the thick, pea soup kind
Where was the hand in front of your face?
Then the booms echoed, and the mist lit up
As the rain poured down
I wondered all day when
I would see the buildings across the street
Now all it quiet
The fog has lifted and rolled away
I see the lights on Columbus and Lake Shore Drive
And the itty-bitty red lights dotting Balboa
I revel in the wee hours
When all is dark and silent
There is a clarity in the darkness
Where I can think
And dream

© 2009 by Shawna R. B. Atteberry

My Story: An 8 year kinda, sorta courtship

Earlier this year, I talked about telling my story, but it got lost in the midst of working on other things, a major life change, and just the sheer busyness of life. I’ve been looking through my journals to look for something to get the juices flowing. Right about this time 10 years ago, I met my husband. I didn’t know it then. I liked him immediately because was smart, sarcastic, and could zing other people. He was very thoughtful and intelligent! I always had a thing for smart boys. We became good friends. And I began to want more. But at that time I thought I would be returning to Spain to work for my former church there. A few months later he transferred with his company to Chicago. We were in Kansas City. He moved and we stayed in touch. We emailed, and I would fly to Chicago to see him, and he would come to Kansas City to see me and other friends. I always wanted more, but I wanted this man in my life, so I was content to be friends. I found this entry in a journal dated September 2004–two years before we got together:

Yes, I am thinking of him again.Sometimes it really bites to be in love with one of your best friends. Been in love with him for years. Not long after we became friends. I chuckle as I remember how hard I fell for him. When I could be honest with myself, I would admit that I never fully recovered, didn’t know if I would.We both knew it would never be. Neither of us would never do the compromising it would take to make it work. [HA! How wrong was I!] We were friends–good friends. And with all of the reasons and the reality of why it couldn’t be rattling around inside my head–I loved him.

I’d only recently admitted to myself that yes, I did love him. And that I wanted to be more than friends. I always said I could fall in love with him. But I think that happened a long time ago. It was a bittersweet feeling. This knowledge of love and the knowledge it would never be more.

But I had decided having him in my life as a friend was much more important than him not being in my life at all because of all the little fantasies playing in my head that I knew would never pay out. Some days it was hard to live. Like today. Today when I got a wonderful email from him with his characteristic sarcasm and humor. He always made me smile.

But it was in the opening of the letter–his compliments. He liked my poem. The poem I wrote for him. The poem where I finally admitted to myself I loved him. I don’t remember him complementing any of my other writing so highly. He like it. He praised it. And once again I felt that old familiar ache in my heart.

And here is the poem that started this sentimental journal entry:

“I love thee with a love I seemed to lose
With my lost saints.”–Elizabeth Barrett Browning

“My Lost Saint”
It is odd
Finally, admitting to myself
How I feel.
I’ve kept it hidden
In the back of my heart
For a very long time.
So many reasons
Why I shouldn’t:
Like it will never be.
But that just hasn’t
Changed these feelings.
The depth of my emotion
Reveals itself at the smallest thing:
A sarcastic remark,
Affirmation that you see
Who I really am.
I do love you.
I am in love with you,
My lost saint.

©2006 Shawna Renee Bound

I’m not sure how I’m going to tell my story, but I am going to tell it. It will probably be more topical than chronological. But I do want to tell who I was, where I’ve been, who I am, and where I want to go. Two years after I wrote this poem and this journal entry, Tracy and I had our first date in January 2006, we we’re engaged in March, and married on May 26, 2006. We did make the compromises, and it did work out. There are some things it’s nice to be wrong about.

Poetry on Forgiveness

Ramara at Street Prophets has posted three beautiful poems on forgiveness.

I am still working on the book proposal. My new deadline is Friday. The actual writing of the sample chapters is coming along fine. It’s the marketing/research “this is why you should publish my book” stuff that is killing me.

RevGals Friday Five: Beach Trip

Mother Junia writes: In honor of summer, please share your own beachy memories, plans, and dreams with a “Beach Trip” Friday Five.

1. Ocean rocks, lake limps? Vice versa? Or “it’s all beautiful in its own way”? I love the ocean–the waves, the buoyant water, everything. But I live right next to Lake Michigan, and a really big freshwater lake is fine by me too.

2. Year round beach living: Heaven…or the Other Place? During warm weather heaven, but during the winter when the wind in coming off the lake brrrrr. Really can’t call it hell: too cold. 😉 Barcelona was the same way.

3. Any beach plans for this summer? Yep, there’s beach nearby, and I plan on getting to it.

4. Best beach memory ever? Swimming in the Mediterranean.

5. Fantasy beach trip? The Great Barrier Reef in Australia.

Bonus: Share a piece of music/poetry/film/book that expresses something about what the beach means to you.

Here’s a poem I wrote about the Mediterranean when I lived in Barcelona.

“Wading in the Sea”

I waded in the Mediterranean as the tide was rising
The blue-green, aquamarine jewels invited me
Off came my shoes and socks as the wind blew from the sea.
As the sun-lit diamonds twinkled very bewitching
Out I waded into the sea.

The cold waters made my feet zing
As I walked on the shore slowly, breathing deeply
The sea air which made my cheeks pink and rosy.
The sheer beauty of the moment made my heart sing
As I waded in the sea.


The sun’s rays brought warmth to my face
A stark contrast to the cold which nipped my toes
I looked out to where the sea ended and the horizon rose.
The snow-capped waves created an endless maze
As I waded in the sea.


My heart was light and I felt care-free
For a few minutes I had no worries
For a moment lost in time there is no hurry
I felt as if the world was at my feet
As I waded in the sea.


© 1997 Shawna Renee Bound

A Conversation with Emily

A couple of friends from the blogosphere have posted Emily Dickinson poetry in the last two days. I sat down to read some of her poems and had a conversation with her. It seemed like a very good conversation considering that March is National Women’s History Month.

It is easy to work when the soul is at play–
But when the soul is in pain–
The hearing him put his playthings up
Makes work difficult–then–

It is simple, to ache in the Bone, or the Rind–
But Gimlets–among the nerve–
Mangle daintier–terribler–
Like a Panter in the Glove–
From The Complete Poems of Emily Dickinson, 244

“Scared Child”
The creative soul
Is a child who loves to play.
But when darkness comes
And depression grows,
The child is scared
Hiding under the sheets.

I’m Nobody! Who are you?
Are you–Nobody–Too?
Then there’s a pair of us!
Don’t tell! they’d advertise–you know!

How dreary–to be–Somebody!
How public–like a Frog–
To tell one’s name–the livelong June–
To an admiring Bog!
From The Complete Poems of Emily Dickinson, 288.

Tell me:
Do you understand
This obsession with
Why desire
Fifteen minutes of fame
At any cost?
Can walk down the street,
And shop in peace.
Are the ones who are free,
And live in peace.

“Scared Child” and “Celebrity?” (c) 2008 by Shawna R. B. Atteberry

Poetry: The Power of Words, Women, and New Life

“Full Figured Beauty”


I see beauty
In full curves,
Wide hips,
Full abdomens.
Givers of life
Are rounded and full.
They have room
To conceive,
To nourish,
To protect.
They give birth
To children.
They give birth
To dreams.
They give birth
To new realities.
Lascivious curves,
Full breasts,
Rounded abdomens
Have room
To conceive,
To nurture,
And to birth:
New Life.



More than letters
On a page
More than the
Dictionary says
Order life
Rearrange life
Create life
Bring new worlds
Into being
And birth new
Universes to explore




All appears cold and dead
But through the icy ground,
Through the snow,
A green stem pushes
Its way to the light.
In the frigid sun
It unfurls its
Fiery crimson flower.
All may appear
Frozen and dead,
But appearances
Deceive. As new life
Breaks through frozen soil.


“Candlelight on the Wall”


Candle flickers in the night;
Twisting and dancing
In the shadows.
Wavering, waving,
Tenacious, it keeps aflame.
providing light in the dark,
And a window into the soul

(c)2008 by Shawna R. B. Atteberry