Whale Spouts
April 2019
Nurturing Spiritual Vitality in
Everyday Living
Dearest friends,

To everything there is a season and a time for every purpose under heaven... a time to be born, a time to die... a time to weep, a time to laugh... a time to mourn, a time to dance. (excerpts from Ecclesiastes 3:1-4)

A year ago today, my dad died. His body had finished the work it had been born to do and his soul flew home into God's warm embrace. We have wept. We have laughed. We have reminisced. And we are slowly moving on into this new season of our lives. Amidst the mourning, there is indeed time for dancing!

For each of us, our experiences of grief and loss is profoundly unique. Sometimes death is sudden. Sometimes it is violent. Sometimes it is agonizing. Sometimes it is tender. But always - always - death is not the end of the story. The agony of Good Friday is followed by the miracle of Easter Sunday. New life, hope, rebirth... that is the promise that awaits us all.

We are each walking through very different seasons of our lives, so let us be tender with one another as we weep together, laugh together, mourn together and dance together. It is my hope and prayer that perhaps some of the resources in this month's edition of Whale Spouts will offer some soul food and encouragement for you along the way...
  • Silent Retreat (July 7-10, 2019)
  • The Gift of Prayer
  • Prayer Mandala Wall
  • Becoming Reconciling Ministry
  • Easter Poem

Whatever season you find yourself in, remember that God is with you. God is with you. God is with you.

Peace and hope,

P.S. If you are having problems receiving images on your email browser, you can find a copy of the email on-line by clicking HERE.

Rev. Sharon Seyfarth Garner
Spiritual Director & Founder of Belly of the Whale Ministries
"Come all ye who are weary and heavy laden
and I will give you rest." Mt. 11:28

We need rest - body, mind and soul. Rest is not a sign of weakness. Rest is not optional. Rest is essential - the need for rest is part of our sacred DNA. We are created in the image of God and even God needed rest! If God rested at least one out of seven days, what makes us think that we need any less?

Faced with enormous cultural temptations toward perpetual motion I encourage you to make the counter-cultural decision to stop, slow down and enter into sacred stillness. You won't regret it!

Join us for our very first Belly of the Whale 3 day/3 night Silent Retreat and experience the deep blessings of prayer, rest and reconnection with God.

"Come all ye who are weary and heavy laden
and I will give you rest." Mt. 11:28
Easter, Mother's Day, Confirmation, Graduation,
Bridal/Baby Showers, Teacher Appreciation, and more...  
I'm always on the lookout for gifts that are creative, fun and meaningful. Color-your-own prayer mandala cards cover all the bases (a little baseball analogy in honor of the Cleveland Indians!). 

Flowers and chocolates are lovely, but they only provide a few days of joy (well, with chocolates it's more like a few hours, but who's counting!). Prayerful coloring brings joy and spiritual renewal that can transform someone for a lifetime! 

For the month of April , the NEW Praying with Mandalas Gift Set is 15% off so for only $23.80 you get a copy of Praying with Mandalas, the Classic Notecard Set, colored eco-pencils, a sharpener, niblet of chocolate and decorative gift bag/tag for easy gifting. Message me for details about local pick up (to save on shipping) and quantity discounts.

Coloring and praying with mandalas has been a breath of fresh air that has transformed my own spiritual life. I pray that it might do the same for others. 
The Prayer Mandala Wall at this year's Spiritual Director's International conference (March 14 - 17) was a beautiful reflection of our collective prayers. Now that the conference is over, these prayer cards will be an ongoing testament to the power of prayer as they are distributed with The Upper Room Daily Devotional to inmates through the Upper Room Prison Chaplain's Ministry.

It is my dream that communities of faithful people across the world will come together to prayer, color and create their own Prayer Mandala Walls as beautiful reflections of collective prayer. The prayer cards created can also be shared in solidarity and hope with those who are in prison.

If you would like to learn how your community can create your own Prayer Mandala Wall, please reach out to me and let's have a conversation. (Sharon at spiritualdirection@att.net)
Belly of the Whale Ministries has begun the process of becoming an officially reconciling min istry. I will share more next month, but in brief, being a reconciling ministry means that amidst our human brokenness I believe we are called to be reconciled with one another regardless of race, gender, sexual orientation, class, religion, country of origin, age, ability and more. I pray that the United Methodist Church will find a way forward that blends the Wesleyan principles of personal piety and social holiness so that together we honor the way of Christ and draw deeper into relationship with God and one another.

by Leonard Seyfarth

I included this poem by my dad in last Easter's Whale Spouts and felt it would be meaningful to include it again today. I recorded this video of my dad reading his poem a few weeks before his death last April. It has been a year now and his absence still leaves a huge hole in our lives, but the hole is not empty..."it is filled by the futures, taking place." 

This is likely my last Easter here, with you all.

Timothy's on his way back to the conservatory in Cincinnati,
with Jordan and her parents, leaving a brother-sized hole
for Deborah to grow into.

She's driving already, and going to Liberia with Sharon,
if they, indeed, get there, on beyond the mandalas and spiritual growth.

They'll leave Andy with a hole, larger than the size of a Bear, 
to fill for a while.

Luke and Joshua, Chris and Debbie,
may be going to a new home,

eating with old and new friends, working in new places,
playing basketball, taking care of snakes and science,
roaring with laughter.

I have many holes, too,
a cerebral-vascular accident, mild aphasia, right-sided weakness,
high blood-pressure,
permanent pacemaker for bradycardia,
indwelling Foley catheter,
sleep apnea,
stage four prostate cancer, bone metastasis, stabilized with Lupron.

I cry a little.

Practicing on little holes,
I'm getting ready for bigger ones to come.
But they are not empty.
They are being filled by the futures, taking place. 

Leonard H. Seyfarth 
Belly of the Whale Spiritual Direction & Retreat Ministries | Website