Contemporary Scripture Reflections for Spiritual Seekers
Dr. Elizabeth-Anne Stewart, BCC, PCC
June 20th, 2021

Extraordinary Time, 1988

With beast's fury,
the gregale bursts
through starless nights
and sunless days,
rolling pitch clouds,
tempestuous waves,
littering the beach
with debris
dragged from fathoms far.
Strewn across sand,
remnants of storm
mingle with stings
of knotted weed --
bone-whitened wood,
frayed rope,
an anchor clad in barnacles;
here, too, lie bottle tops,
styrofoam trash
left by careless picnickers,
here, where in the fire's glow
Paul charmed vipers,
changed hearts,
after shipwreck washed him ashore.

Turning my back
on tourists' flats
and the concrete dome
of St. Paul's Church, I gaze across the turbulent bay,
imagining wind lashing sails,
stripping oars, splitting masts,
while the ship,
far from Fair Havens,
groans, strains
against sea-stress,
spewing cargo into
foaming maelstrom...

St. Paul's Bay, Malta, 1986


  • What storms have you experienced recently and to what extent were you responsible for them?

  • What changes in attitude might spare you from future storms?

  • What must the institutional church do to move into a future of harmony and spiritual leadership?

Greetings, SBT Readers!

The early church often saw itself as a storm-tossed boat with Jesus at the helm. Today, the storms threatening the church are not so much external as internal, caused by "in-house" bickering, politicization, and unspeakable forms of abuse against the most vulnerable. In today's Gospel, Jesus is asleep on a cushion, seemingly oblivious to the danger. Is he sleeping now, as the institutional church heads towards the rocks? Should we poke him and prod him to save us, calling out his name in terror? Or should we call on 73% of American bishops to "wake up" and stop trying to undermine a legitimately appointed president and the wishes/policies of Pope Francis?

Who is their real target -- President Biden or Pope Francis? Why were these bishops silent on the egregious behaviors/ policies of the former president when they are so quick to nail the current president on a single issue? What is their real goal --protecting the Eucharist or something more self-serving and nefarious?

Sleep on, Jesus! You are at the helm of your church but it seems that the American hierarchy -- or 73% of it-- has hi-jacked the Holy Boat!

Many Blessings!

PS Please note my new address at the bottom of this e-letter!


A violent squall came up and waves began
breaking over the boat so that it was already filling up.
Jesus was in the stern, asleep on a cushion.
They woke him, saying,
“Teacher, do you not care that we are perishing?”
He woke up, rebuked the wind, and said to the sea, “Quiet! Be still!”
The wind ceased and there was a great calm.
Then he asked them, “Why are you terrified?
Do you not yet have faith?”
They were filled with great awe and said to one another,
“Who then is this whom even wind and sea obey?”
Mk 4: 35-41

There are two kinds of storms: those we create ourselves and those for which we are not responsible. Storms happen when we make poor choices or act on our worst instincts. Careless words, neglect of responsibilities, the insistence on being right,
living beyond our means, associating with the "wrong" people, telling lies, disrespecting others, holding grudges, refusing to compromise, giving in to fear -- these are just some of the factors that can whip up a violent storm. Storms of our own making gain in intensity when we fuel them with our negativity, with gossip, wild accusations, our sense of victimhood, the desire for revenge, the refusal to let go of perceived insults... Such storms tend to suck others into the vortex, forcing them to take sides and act accordingly; then they, too, influence their own constituents, And so the squall becomes a Category 5 hurricane that causes devastation, even loss of life.

The storm in Mk 4:31-45 is a naturally-occurring storm that arises from "nowhere." Today, of course, there would be a weather alert to indicate severe weather ahead, but 2.000 years ago, there was no such technology. At best, sea-farers would have been able to read signs in the sky or even in the waters to predict changing weather patterns. The disciples, however, are tired from their long day of dealing with crowds while Jesus spun parables. They must be quite relieved when he suggests that they should cross to the other side of the Sea of Galilee, never imagining that the weather is about to turn. Relief, of course, soon turns to terror, but while the boat tosses in the waves, the exhausted Jesus sleeps on a cushion, oblivious to the danger.

"Teacher, do you not care that we are perishing?"

The disciples' cry is appropriate whether we have caused a storm or whether we are caught up in a storm that has arisen from "nowhere." When dark clouds gather and we are powerless to escape the storm's fury, our only recourse is to pray for deliverance. However, there is a caveat here: If our own sinful attitudes and behaviors have spawned the storm, then before we cry out for divine assistance, we must be willing to change our ways, and, more importantly, to change our hearts. The human-made storm is a symptom of disordered thinking and acting and only a truly contrite heart is going to calm the turbulence.

Check out my Resiliency Assessment Tool on the home page of my new website:

Try my Spiritual Self-Assessment Tool! After you take the Quiz, you will auto-matically receive a computer-generated analysis of your strengths and "growing edges."

Please note that I offer Writing Coaching/ Editing, in addition to Life Coaching, Spiritual Direction, and Retreats.
This video explains my approach to this ministry, while my website provides further details as well. During COVID-19, sessions are by phone or on Zoom; I am also available to facilitate "virtual" retreats for groups and individuals.
Dr. Elizabeth-Anne Stewart | |

C. All Photos by Elizabeth-Anne Stewart,