Shawna Atteberry

Writer, Teacher, Baker

Short Hops: MLK, Immigration, and a Poem

Sally has a beautiful, haunting poem about The Samaritan Woman up on her site.

Instead of simply celebrating Martin Luther King Day, Dustin Wax at Lifehack has a list of things we can do to continue making King’s dream a reality in 12 Ways to Make MLK’s Dream a Reality. Here are a couple of them:

Re-examine what you “know”: It turns out our minds are full of racist stereotypes, even among the most saintly people. We act every day on things we “know” are true, without realizing that those “facts” are grounded only in stereotypes, not reality. Consider:

  • The lowest violent crime rates in the US are found in Hispanic neighborhoods.
  • White teens are more likely to use and sell drugs than any other teenagers — even drugs like crack that we associate with minorities.
  • Almost all school shootings have been carried out by white students.

None of these facts conforms to our expectations, which are shaped more by the stereotypes we’ve internalized and the sensationalist media than by actual experience.

Think community: Kant’s Categorical Imperative states: “Act only according to that maxim whereby you can at the same time will that it should become a universal law”. What he meant in a nutshell was that you should act the way you wish everyone would act. Don’t just ask yourself if your behavior is in your own best interest, but if it also makes your community better (which, if you think about it, is also in your best interest).

In The Outrage of Outsiders: Why So Many People Dislike Christians (Hat tip to Gord), Journey with Jesus has an article about a three year study that resulted in David Kinnaman’s book unChristian: What a New Generation Really Thinks about Christianity… and Why It Matters. He found that an overwhelming majority of young adults view Christianity with quite a bit of hostility. They see us as judgmental, bigoted, and extremely critical and unaccepting. All I can say is can you blame them? When you have people constantly telling you (or yelling at you) that you’re going to hell for one reason or another, I’d have to say you wouldn’t like them. May be the church (particularly the evangelical church) needs to take its cue from Jesus and the Christians in the New Testament instead of the “hellfire and brimstone” preachers of the 30s and 40s revivials.

Following the example of Jesus, the first Christians broke down social barriers. They disregarded religious taboos that judged people as ritually clean or unclean, worthy or unworthy, respectable or disrespectable. They subverted normal social hierarchies of wealth, ethnicity, religion, and gender in favor of a radical egalitarianism before God and with each other: “There is neither Jew nor Greek, slave nor free, male nor female, for you are all one in Christ Jesus” (Galatians 3:28).

In a word, the first believers were generous. They demonstrated authentic transparency, not moral superiority or ulterior motives. Like their Lord, they exuded compassion rather than condemnation. They lived out of gratitude not fear, and had a reputation for empathy rather than fault-finding. The first followers of Jesus were people of self-sacrifice, not self-interest. They insisted that God was like a tender father, not a vindictive tyrant, and encouraged every person without exception to believe what the psalmist said: “This I know, that God is for me” (Psalm 56:9).

Pastor Dan over at Street Prophets reminds the right-wing, anti-immigration crew that they Can’t Fool the Faithful: Immigration is a Moral Issue, Not a Political Football. American Christians are going to have to decide are we going to be Americans first or Christian?

Pastors and people in the pews know that inhumane raids, deportations, local anti-immigration ordinances, and racist sentiment against various groups of immigrants fly in the face of the Lord’s admonitions to not “oppress the stranger” (Ex. 23:9) or “pervert the judgment of the stranger” (Deut. 24:17). Instead, the Lord taught us to “love the stranger as ourselves” (Lev. 19:34), and “allow the stranger to live among us” (Lev. 25:35). Christ’s teachings in the New Testament reaffirm the Lord’s commandments of inclusion by urging us to welcome the stranger. He promises that as we provide for the stranger (or “alien,” NIV), we are serving Him (Matt. 25:35-40). How many of these politicians really want to deport Jesus?

And may be those anti-immigration people need to remember who the illegal immigrants of 300 years ago were. Bet the Native Americans wished they had built a big, honking wall right after we started showing up. (I saw a great cartoon of this, but I don’t remember where. If you know, leave a link in the comments, and I’ll update this post.)

Advent Poetry: In the Kitchen

“In the Kitchen”
Father Kilian McDonnell, O. S. B.

Bellini was wrong.
I was not kneeling
on my satin cushion
quietly at prayer,
head slightly bent.

Painters always
skew the scene,
as though my life
were wrapped in silks,
in temple smells.

Actually I had just
come back from the well,
placing the pitcher on the table
I bumped against the edge,
spilling water on the floor.

As I bent to wipe
it up, there was a light
against the kitchen wall
as though someone had opened
the door to the sun.

Rag in hand,
hair across my face,
I turned to see
who was entering,
unannounced, unasked.

All I saw was light, white
against the timbers.
I heard a voice
I had never heard.

I heard a greeting,
I was elected,
the Lord was with me,
I pushed back my hair,
stood afraid.

Someone closed the door.
And I dropped the rag.

Jay Cormier says this in response to “In the Kitchen”:

And so Mary’s Child comes to us, often unannounced, into our kitches and living rooms, our offices and plants, our classrooms and playgrounds. He comes to transform not only human history but also our own personal histories. In him, the compassion of God takes on a human face; in him, our everyday struggles and confusions are transformed in the peace of the Father (Daily Reflections for Advent and Christmas: Waiting in Joyful Hope, 2007-8, 43).

Poetry: Thanksgiving Haikus

“Kitchen Mage”
Creating magic
Waving my spoon over pots
Ingredients become a feast


“Wheat Bread and Pumpkin Cake”
Warm, spicy smells
Wafting from the oven.
The scent of fall.


“Thanksgiving Snow”
Deep gray and steely
The lake echoes the clouds;
Snow swirls and twirls down.


“Holiday (or the day after Thanksgiving)”
A day to be a bum
Sprawled on the bed, watching TV
Guilt nowhere to be found.

All poems ©2007 by Shawna R. B. Atteberry.

Poetry: Mythic Memories

“Mythic Memories”

I have mythic memories.
An arrow let loose.
A foe defeated.
I remember seeing things I can’t see now.
I remember my senses heightened and much more attune.
I remember my heart sending powerful blood rushing through my veins as I tracked and could sense the presence of the enemy.
A warrior born out of time.

I have mythic memories.
Rose petals in water.
Flickering candlelight and rose-scented water.
Hair cascading down my back.
Silk falling off my shoulder, pearls around my throat.
I remember midnight breezes in moonlit gardens.
I remember nymphs dancing in streams and the feeling of grass and moss under my back.

In the place between sleeping and dreaming I remember.
I remember being
A warrior and a lady.
A fighter and a lover.
Strong and beautiful.
I remember a graceful strength I used wisely.
I remember when I held a tenuous balance with elegant poise between the worlds of love and war.

© 2004 Shawna Renee Bound

Poetry: Wading in Mediterranean

I lived in Barcelona, Spain in 1997. This is a poem I wrote after I waded in the Mediterranean for the first time.

“Wading in the Mediterranean”

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

Did You See Jesus Today?

Hipchickmamma goes to seminary had this wonderful poem posted on her blog today, and I decided to copy her. It’s too go good not to share.

I saw Jesus yesterday,
she winked at me and said I looked really cute.

When I blushed
she said for me to smile more
it brings her light to my face.

Later I saw a homeless man,
I waved hello
and when he smiled
he winked at me,
his eyes glimmered too.

I found myself blushing,
not sure what to say or do.

I think I saw Jesus today
but mamma said I
must be crazy
“‘cuz Jesus don’t wear no dirty suit.”

Sister says Jesus only wear white.
When I mentioned daddy’s
pimpin’ white shoes
mamma slapped me
said not to make light.

I won’t tell her
I saw Jesus yesterday,
and Jesus was a girl
dressed in blue,
with pretty brown eyes
and scraggly brown hair
crying as she held her baby tight.

She looked so sad,
until I stopped to say hi.

Have you seen Jesus today? This week?

Poetry: Holy Ground

I am holy ground.
My body is holy ground.
All around me they scream: “Unholy!”
The world cries: “Unholy!”
The church sniffs derisively “Unholy!”
Unholy by virtue of my sex.
Unholy because of my body.
My body can’t be what it is—
No–my body is never too age.
I am to be a perennial adolescent—
never to grow;
never to age.
My body is not to be spoken of:
it’s cycles,
it’s fertility,
it’s sexuality (what girls have that?),
it’s sensuality.
It’s power.
The “M” words are never spoken.
I am forced to hold my mysteries deep in myself.
My body cannot be seen:
it must be covered.
It’s temptation in a skirt.
It’s a sin waiting to happen.
But my body can be exploited:
Isn’t this prostitution?
So what does it mean that I am holy ground?
What does it mean the my body is holy ground?
What does it mean for me—
A Woman—
to be holy ground?

©2007 Shawna R. B. Atteberry

Poetry for Valentine's Day

Happy Valentine’s Day! This is the first poem I wrote after My Hubby and I started talking about getting married, which was around Valentine’s Day last year.

“Yours and Mine, Ours”

Talking of space
Talking of time
Talking of melding
Your life and mine
Talking of chairs
Where to put a desk
A corner for the rocker
A place for my antique chest
Talking about the kitchen
Space for a coffeemaker
For without my morning ritual
I’m quite the bear
Talking of dreams
And I must confess
I dream of sharing a bed
And falling asleep on your chest
Talking of love
Talking of a lifetime
Talking of melding
Your heart with mine.

©2006 Shawna Renee Bound

Poetry: Everyday's Most Quiet Need

“I love thee to the level of everyday’s
Most quiet need” (Elizabeth Barrett Browning)

“Everyday’s Most Quiet Need”

All the things I’ve wanted
Longed for
Dreamed of–
I found in you.
A best friend who
Let’s me be me–
Quirks and all.
I yearned for someone
Who would believe in me;
Share my dreams;
Support my vocation.
And when you said
I’m “intellectually sexy”
I lost my breath
And my heart sang.
I can’t believe I wait
For the phone to ring.
But I do–
Because I long to–
Hear your voice–
Hear you laugh–
Hear you say…
“Hey beautiful.”

©2006 Shawna Renee Bound

Poetry: My Lost Saint

“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.

©2004 Shawna Renee Bound