Friendship, Shared Values and Common Goals — Terri Stewart

I can’t even remember what year it was that Jamie and I connected via online poetry sharing parties. They were those challenges inviting you to post your own poem and then to go and visit the sites of others. It was a way of creating community and connection among a loosely knit group of people who appreciated the unique artistic efforts we each made [1].

Eventually, Jamie dreamed of the website Into the Bardo while I was steeped in “CloakedMonk.” CloakedMonk was my online persona as I navigated seminary and wasn’t really sure I wanted the powers that would approve my ordination to know the full depth of my thoughts. I considered myself a “monk in disguise.” Jamie invited me to join the effort of Into the Bardo as the Sunday Chaplain in 2013. I would make weekly posts about spirituality and spiritual practices.

Simultaneously, I expanded my online presence from simply CloakedMonk to BeguineAgain, a website with spiritual practices and writing based on the ancient model inherited from the Beguines communities of the Flanders area in Western Europe, whose origins are to be found in the early part of the second millennium, becoming established in the 13th-16th centuries. The Beguines were a community that was formed from adversity and were organized and run by the community—not the church, city, or nobility—and they supported each other as long as they were needed. 

As Jamie and I grew closer together, we dreamed of transforming Into the Bardo and BeguineAgain into a cohesive community that worked together. By 2016, Into the Bardo became the BeZine, and BeguineAgain expanded its practices to be more interfaith, ecumenical, and social-justice oriented. Well, to be honest, for both Jamie and I, it wasn’t a stretch to step into social justice! Connecting with 100 Thousand Poets for Change [2] firmly cemented our transition. 

Eventually, BeguineAgain lived out its purpose, just as the ancient Beguine communities lived out their purpose, and we stopped writing for it. However, the BeZine was firmly launched and grew to become a force for peace, with justice, in our world.

When Jamie passed, it was and still is, hard for me to imagine the BeZine without her. Sometimes, it is even hard to imagine my own efforts without her gaze on my words. But one thing I do know is that she wanted the BeZine to live beyond her and for it to continue being a force for peace with justice. She dreamed of collecting voices from around the world and actively working to bring poets into safe relationships when they are from threat-filled environments. She dreamed of actions that brought the poetic vision to life. She dreamed of a connected life that honored the bumblebee, the tree, and the human. Her dream is my dream. I hope that it can be our dream. 

Peace,

Rev. Terri Jane Stewart
(they/them/their)


Terri Stewart is a pastor in the United Methodist tradition and is the Steward of Connection at Circle Faith Future (CFF).  The vision of CFF is building hope in a fractured world.  Terri’s primary ways of connecting is with incarcerated youth and in building resilient communities.  Terri has an MDIV from Seattle University and is in progress towards a PhD in leadership studies. 


©2021 Terri Stewart
All rights reserved


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Ed. Notes: 


[1] This makes reference to the ‘dVerse – Poets Pub’ Open Link night. Back to text.


[2] 100 Thousand Poets for Change or 100TPC is an activist movement that was founded in March 2011 by Michael Rothenberg and Terri Carrion to promote peace, social justice, and sustainability by actively organising creative events around the World. It focuses on an annual event at the end of September, which coincides with the September edition of the BeZine and a special BeZine Virtual 100TPC (see a short history written by Jamie Dedes here). Back to text.


One thought on “Friendship, Shared Values and Common Goals — Terri Stewart

  1. Terri, this is such an important contribution to our memories of Jamie and be it known that you shouldn’t underestimate the impact of your own values and contribution that you brought to the BeZine. Thank you very much for writing this for us.

    Liked by 1 person

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