Anything is Possible!

With Love, Hope, and Perseverance


Sister Cecilia, I Can’t Help But Wonder…

“The clouds of prejudice and misunderstanding which have so long enshrouded this whole subject of sisterhood in the church seems to be gradually vanishing as the light to experience dawns upon those willing to be taught.”

— Sisterhood of the Good Shepherd Annual Report, 1876.

Sister Cecelia gavesite


One can only imagine

Why an enslaved man would kill

Your father who “owned” him out-right,

Making you an orphan at the age of  8.

The notion that you became a nun

To atone for the sins of your father

Might be an unfair assumption.

Or did you wish to atone for the sins

Of the whole damn war your side lost?

Maybe it wasn’t your side at all.

I’d like to think you hated the war.

But still, you volunteered for the clean up crew,

Rolled up your sleeves, and answered the call.

Helping widows and orphans,

You could easily relate

having lost your father and husband.

Your mission was to help the poor

the sick, the homeless, the outcasts.

I can’t help but wonder

if that included black folks, too.

I want to believe it did,

Even unofficially

As God would have it,

Because that’s how you were.

You didn’t think of yourself.

You planted seeds of hope

that over the years grew into a church,

A church that welcomes everyone,

So inclusive, even this rebel

Has found a home.

Thank you, sister.

Rest in Peace.

Sister Cecelia cross

Gravestone close up

Sister Cecilia Lawrence was born in 1836 and died in 1894. She went to New York in the 1870s to become an Episcopal nun and returned to North Carolina in 1879 to start the Sisterhood of the Good Shepherd with two other sisters. They helped widows and orphans, the poor, and the homeless. They taught school at night since the children worked in the cotton mill during the day. In 1892, the Chapel of the Good Shepherd was erected and later became the Church of the Good Shepherd. In 1980 that church started a soup kitchen which eventually grew into a homeless shelter.  It was the soup kitchen, along with the blessing of the animals, that drew me to this church in 1985. Last Sunday, we had our first annual service in memory of Sister Cecilia at her grave.

Good Shepherd Window (2)



God Has a Plan!

bird alone at sunset

Lone Bird, by JoAnne Silvia

Psalm 13:

“How long, O Lord? Will you forget me forever? How long will you hide your face from me?

How long shall I have perplexity in my mind and grief in my heart, day after day? How long shall my enemy triumph over me?

Look upon me and answer me, O Lord my God. Give light to my eyes, lest I sleep in death.

Lest my enemy say, “I have prevailed over him.” and my foes rejoice that I have fallen.

But I put my trust in your mercy; my heart is joyful because of your saving help.

I will sing to the Lord, for he has dealt with me richly. I will praise the Name of the Lord Most High.”

This psalm takes me back to the grief…the pain of separation after being married for 20 years, followed by an unexpected divorce. I believed that my husband and I would grow old together, that when the kids were grown, we would travel across country in an RV like my parents did.

The grief was most intense on August 18th, the anniversary of my first marriage – the one I believed would last until death parted us. I could not understand how God could have let this happen. I felt deserted and confused.

Even I didn’t know what a wreck I was after the divorce, until I woke up from the nightmare of a sick rebound relationship.

In the years that followed, I wondered what was wrong with me, that I couldn’t find anyone right for me to date, let alone, marry. It seemed like I was alone for a long time, but in retrospect, it wasn’t that long, and I was never alone.

Good Shepherf Window

It was love at fist sight when I walked into my church and saw him over two decades ago.

God was with me the whole time. My guardian angel walked beside me, shaking her head in exasperation. And Jesus, the Good Shepherd, was always there, lighting the path of love, that led back to the fold.

Jeremiah 29:11 was my life preserver.

“For I know the plans I have for you,” declares the Lord, “plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give your hope and a future.”

Maybe God wanted me to be single so I could accomplish more, because relationships do take time and effort, even the good ones.  And the unhealthy relationships, well, they can be insanely distracting, taking us way off course…

(Or maybe not off course, but learning what we need to change to be ready for the gift.)

What I know now is that I had to work on me, and be a better parent, and draw closer to God.  I had to love myself and do what was right for me as a single person.  I kept going to the church where I felt accepted and cherished. I kept working and learning, singing and enjoying creation.  I kept putting one foot in front of the other, loving the family and friends who walked beside me.

And God did have a plan!

Now, August 18th is just another summer day with the love of my life. God has dealt with me richly, with many blessings, including bringing my soul mate to me when the time was perfect.

In times of uncertainty, I must remember God’s mercy and let my heart be joyful!

cloud heart

Heart Cloud, by JoAnne Silvia