A Word from DS Teresa Welborn – 11/12/2020

In the last few years I have discovered the writing of Irish poet and theologian Pádraig O Tuama. Whenever I hear him speak, I learn something I never knew before about the meaning of or history of some word. For example, one of his books is entitled In the Shelter: Finding a Home in the World. The word “shelter” in the English translation loses some of its meaning when translated from Irish. This is because in Irish, the same word for ‘shelter’ can also mean ‘shadow.’ Pádraig then goes on to speak of how we both provide shelter for one another and also live in one another’s shadows. Pádraig has experienced this over and over again through his work in Belfast as a conflict mediator. “Words have meaning. Words have power”, he writes. “Words shape the tents we live in and the places we depart from. They contain and they constrain”(From “Shelters and Shadows in Belfast” in Perspectives).

We are all on a journey when it comes to using words in ways that do good and do no harm. I know I have my own continued work and learning and growth to do when it comes to the language I use and the words I speak. Especially as Jesus’ followers, we take seriously the work of living in community. It involves relationship-building and, of course, the language we use. This work is not always easy. Pádraig O Tuama says that when English is not your first language, the word “with” is one of the hardest English words to learn. It is difficult to pronounce and the connotations are not always easy to grasp. When I heard that I thought – what an insight! Indeed, the work of “being with” is difficult work. But it is also holy work. And worthy work. And rewarding work. May we take up this work – in our families and in our churches, in our  neighborhoods and in our country.

Be encouraged!


“Let your gentleness be evident to all. The Lord is near. Do not be anxious about anything, but in every situation, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God. And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus. Finally, brothers and sisters, whatever is true, whatever is noble, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is admirable – if anything is excellent or praiseworthy – think about such things. Whatever you have learned or received or heard from me, or seen in me – put it into practice. And the God of peace will be with you.” 

– Philippians 4:5-8

A Prayer for Reconciliation by Padraig O Tuama

Where there is separation,

there is pain.

And where there is pain,

there is a story.

And where there is a story,

there is understanding, 

and misunderstanding, 


and not listening.

May we – separated peoples, estranged strangers, 

unfriended families, divided communities – 

turn toward each other, 

and turn toward our stories, 

with understanding and listening, 

with argument and acceptance, 

with challenge, change 

and consolation.

Because if God is to be found,

God will be found 

in the space