Posted in Spiritual Practice, Terri Stewart, Uncategorized

Locked Away

Locked Away

I read a brief article about potential, gifts, talents, and how we can use those things to actually make a living! Embedded in the exercise that they walked the reader through is a wonderful contemplative exercise. So here we go!

Need:  Paper and writing utensil, timer

Often, as an ice-breaker, when I first meet youth in detention, I ask them to tell me the three best things about themselves. They always come up with one thing. Then most come up with a second thing. The third one is always a struggle. It is often a struggle to recognize the greatness in ourselves…in our own story. We so often lock our gifts away and don’t let other people see the precious gift that we are. We hide our greatness under a bushel, so to speak!

Recently, NBA player, Jason Collins, came out and told the world he was gay. Some would say that is a great act of heroism. I think it is especially interesting that he came out so recently after the Jackie Robinson movie, 42, released. Both are great efforts put forth by African-American men to combat hatred. I also find greatness in the gay youth that shows up to school every day to face bullying or ridicule. One is greatness on a national scale. The other is greatness measured in every day strides.

Now, get comfortable, create a space where your feet are grounded. Put your paper before you and hold your preferred writing utensil(s) in your hand. Hold in your mind a comfortable sense of yourself. Where is your greatness today? Where has it been in the past? What is your yardstick that measures greatness? How will you claim your greatness and let it shine?

Take 5 minutes and write down things that you think are great about yourself! Talents, gifts, actions. Even going back to childhood. Yes, 5 minutes.

Now, take that paper and fold it up. Tuck it away in an accessible location–a purse or a wallet would be great. From now until next Sunday, keep a greatness log! I wonder if we can recognize the greatness in the everyday acts of living. Like yesterday, maybe it was “great” that I gave a homeless man all my change so he could get food. Some days greatness, for me, can be measured by the ability to get out of bed! Perhaps the trick is not to compare your greatness to other people.

Have a great week!


Chaplain Terri

© 2013, post and photos, Terri Stewart, All rights reserved

Terri StewartTERRI STEWART is Into the Bardo’s  Sunday chaplain, Senior Content Editor and Site Co-Administrator.  She comes from an eclectic background and considers herself to be grounded in contemplation and justice. She is the Director and Founder of the Youth Chaplaincy Coalition that serves youth affected by the justice system. As a recent graduate of Seattle University’s School of Theology and Ministry, she earned her Master’s of Divinity and a Post-Master’s Certificate in Spiritual Direction with honors and is a rare United Methodist student in the Jesuit Honor Society, Alpha Sigma Nu. She is a contributing author to the Abingdon Worship Annual.

Her online presence is “Cloaked Monk.” This speaks to her grounding in contemplative arts (photography, mandala, poetry) and the need to live it out in the world. The cloak is the disguise of normalcy as she advocates for justice and peace. You can find her at,, and  To reach her for conversation, send a note to


As a chaplain to chaplains, I find myself in the deep listening work of attending to the dreams of hope-filled people whose true calling is to serve and uplift incarcerated youth.

4 thoughts on “Locked Away

Kindly phrased comments welcome here.

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.