Why Sheila Marie chose to participate in the Living Into Inclusivity dialogues
I grew up in rural Minnesota with the understanding that each of us is called to give freely and fully of the gifts we are given. For me, that translated to 30 years as a medical professional in the suburbs of Chicago, followed by a decade of construction with Habitat for Humanity in the PNW and overseas, and for the last decade, ministry as a hospice chaplain and United Methodist pastor.
Within those life experiences I continue to grow in my understanding of where my story ends and another’s begins, where I rise up, where I do not, and the when, where, why and how of that. I believe authentic change begins in this way in each of us and opens a way to be present to one another where we are as a way forward.
Episcopal Elder and Choctaw native Steven Charleston offers these words as part of that ‘way’: “One day the last wall will be taken down. This fear of other human beings is a learned behavior. It is a wall constructed one brick at a time. Walls in our legal system, in education and housing, walls in employment and health care. And just as some people continue to try to build these walls of difference between us, others are about the task of taking them down…that is something we can all work on because wherever we live, whatever we do, there is a wall somewhere in sight. We can work at it each day, one fear after another, until the good work is finally done, and the last wall is taken down.”
It will take time. We are equally blessed with the choice, the privilege, and the responsibility of determining how to use that time. I believe we shape our destiny in that determination, in the ways we choose to live and relate to one another and our earth. May we consider peace, hope, faith, and love. May we consider one another. May our shared listening, hearing, respect, and actions inspired by each another’s stories move us to celebrate our diversity and pave the way to a sustainable and wholly equitable future. Such is my dreaming, and my purpose.
From the heart,
Sheila Marie, Associate Pastor,
Wenatchee First United Methodist Church