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

Eastertide blessings one and all!

It is spring in the northern hemisphere and fall in the southern hemisphere. Some are entering into a season of bursting buds and others are entering into a season of falling leaves. Regardless of the season - spring, summer, fall, winter.... we celebrate that Christ is Risen and we live in the assurance that death is no longer the final word. Faith, hope and love boldly rise up out of the empty tombs of our lives and breath new life into our spirits.

Regardless of the season you find yourself in, I pray that these resources might offer you hope amidst the trials and dancing amidst the celebrations of your life.

  • Contemplate This: Spiritual Bucket List
  • Silent Renewal Retreat (July 7-10, 2019)
  • Mother's Day Gift Idea
  • Reconciling Ministry
  • Easter Blessing by Thomas Merton

What a blessing to be held in God's warm embrace regardless of the season of our lives. Christ is Risen, indeed! Alleluia and amen!

Peace and hope,
Rev. Sharon Seyfarth Garner
Spiritual Director & Founder of Belly of the Whale Ministries

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.
Spiritual Bucket List
What's on your bucket list? Often this question elicits big dreams of where we long to travel and what we long to do before we die. My own bucket list includes grandiose hopes like hiking the Appalachian Trail, seeing a whale in the wild, and returning to Africa.

When my mother-in-law was diagnosed with ovarian cancer last year she mentioned that one thing on her bucket list was to return to a particularly beautiful sunrise service in Marin County, CA that we had attended years ago. This Easter we made it back to that sunrise service (see the picture) and were able to cross that special moment off her bucket list. We celebrate that she has responded remarkably well to her cancer treatments and for now is in remission. However, we grieve that she was recently diagnosed with Alzheimer's and is now facing the very real challenges that dementia brings in day to day living. I am grateful we seized a bucket list moment when we could.

The seasons of life are in a constant state of flux. Every day is precious and we are never promised a tomorrow. So, what if instead of creating a bucket list filled with big moments for the future we imagined a bucket list filled with little moments that open our eyes to see God among us today? A sort of "spiritual bucket list" for everyday living.

What might be on your spiritual bucket list? My list might look something like this: tell someone I love them, do a random act of kindness, forgive, learn something new, say thank you, get lost on purpose and see where the road takes me, read the Bible, pray, color, sit silently in the hammock and breath, pet the puppy, listen to the birds, sing like no one is listening and dance like no one is watching.

Let's not wait for the end of life. Let's embrace the gift of the present - regardless of the season of our lives. I invite you to consider what might be on your spiritual bucket list and then choose one thing to do today. Thanks be to God for every moment we have breath to breathe and love to give.
3 days & 3 nights
in the belly of the whale

"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 this summer (July 7-10, 2019) and experience the deep blessings of prayer, rest and reconnection with God.
Mother's Day, Graduation,
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 , get a FREE GIFT BAG with the purchase of any Classic Set of prayer mandala notecards ($10/set of four cards) through my Etsy Shop (IntheBellyoftheWhale) . As you can tell by the picture, this offer is endorsed by my trusty assistant, Bear!

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 you! 
I am pleased to share that Belly of the Whale Ministries has begun the process of becoming an officially reconciling min istry which means that amidst our human brokenness we are called to be reconciled with one another regardless of race, gender, sexual orientation, class, religion, country of origin, age, ability and more.

As you may know, the United Methodist Church has been in quite a bit of turmoil as to how to move forward as the body of Christ - particularly with regards to issues of human sexuality. I certainly don't pretend to have all the answers, but as a result of many conversations I have gained some important clarity about my own faith journey.

So, I humbly share these beliefs with you - not as a be all and end all - but as an honest reflection of where I am today along this ever deepening journey of faith.
  • I believe that the Holy Scripture is the Word of God full of truth for all people - the essence of which is contained in the two commandments from Jesus that we are to love the Lord our God with all our heart, mind and strength AND to love our neighbor as ourself.
  • I believe that we best understand how to live out these sacred commandments by listening for guidance from the Holy Spirit as revealed throughout history as well as through our own lived experience.
  • I believe that being a disciple of Christ means encouraging people to live a life saturated with love. This is the perfect fulfillment of the law as revealed through Christ's life and ministry.
  • I believe that we are called to choose love over scriptural literalism and that is why we have been able to see the wisdom in making the following critically important advances...
  • Women preachers are to be encouraged and celebrated. (in contrast to 1 Cor. 14:34)
  • Slavery is NEVER acceptable. (in contrast to 1 Peter 2:18-20)
  • Divorce is no longer considered to be adultery. (in contrast to Mark 10:11-12)

As it was with women's ordination, slavery and divorce, I believe that it is time to move beyond the literal interpretation of a handful of scriptures and welcome same sex couples fully into the life of the church. Loving, stable relationships nurtured and supported by a community of faith are a blessing to us all.

My deepest prayer is that by the grace of God the United Methodist Church will become a place of healing, hope and reconciliation that fully welcomes all of God's people all of the time.
by Thomas Merton
The dynamism of the Easter mystery is at the heart of our Christian faith.
True encounter with Christ liberates something in us,
a power that we did not know we had, a hope, a capacity for life, resilience,
an ability to bounce back when we thought we were completely defeated,
a capacity to grow and change, a power of creative transformation...
the dynamism of Love.

Love comes out of God and gathers us to God
in order to pour itself back into God through all of us...
we all become doors and windows
through which God shines...
Belly of the Whale Spiritual Direction & Retreat Ministries | Website