Chance Encounters: Poems (Paperback)

Chance Encounters: Poems By Sister Sharon Hunter, CJ, Sister Anna-Hope Mitchell (Illustrator) Cover Image

Chance Encounters: Poems (Paperback)


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A new collection from Sister Sharon Hunter, CJ celebrating the people and circumstances who help make us what we are.

"For several months in 2020, I awoke most days at 3:00 a.m. to a mind busily at work; my own, of course. I had a choice to make, ignore it or explore it. Vivid memories, pictures really, of people I once knew climbed from the depth of my subconscious where I’d cleverly assigned them. They captured my attention, and rightfully so, for I owed them. When we reject our heritage, as I did, because it’s not image worthy, we cancel as well those who enhanced our lives. Good people, brave people, wise people, sometimes shady and crooked people, all contribute to our circle of life. To fully understand me, I must include them. Chance Encounters is my thank you to those I carelessly tossed away in quest of shallow acceptability. They’re alive once again on the pages of this book. And I’m forever grateful for their vibrant beauty, courage, ingenuity, and fascinating eccentricities. They paid the world the high compliment of being themselves." —Sister Sharon Hunter, CJ

Sister Sharon Hunter, CJ, is a professed religious of thirty-five years at the Community of Jesus, Cape Cod, Massachusetts. Born in 1947 in the farming region of Western Pennsylvania, Sister Sharon was raised a country girl. Her writing, infused with practical, sometimes stark reality, compliments her desire to offer hope in extreme circumstances, beauty in our sufferings, and assurance that light is always with us.  

Sister Anna-Hope Mitchell, CJ, is a religious sister at the Community of Jesus, Cape Cod, Massachusetts. A graduate of the Philadelphia College of Art, she has enjoyed many book design and illustration projects over the years.
Product Details ISBN: 9781640608467
ISBN-10: 164060846X
Publisher: Iron Pen
Publication Date: October 3rd, 2023
Pages: 112
Language: English
Praise for Chance Encounters
“With a facility for rhymed verse, honesty born of intense self-scrutiny and a restless, eager heart, Sister Sharon Hunter, CJ invites readers to share her journey. While the journey is rendered in colorful personal narratives replete with intimate moments of insight, it is ultimately a universal one—the need to see oneself and others clearly, to forgive and, most importantly, to understand Jesus as the center of all strivings.” —Maryanne Hannan, author of Rocking Like It’s All Intermezzo: 21st Century Psalm Responsorials
“Sister Sharon Hunter writes of ‘stone polishers: patient folk who buff away the cragged corners of wayward minds and careless deeds.’This is the very act of attention and kindness Hunter accomplishes in her tender work. She invites us to see how community completes us and through her deep connection to Jesus, she gives clarity to pains of the past with forgiveness.” —Shemaiah Gonzalez, essayist and storyteller
“Plainspoken, honest, candid and clear-eyed, the poems in Sister Sharon Hunter’s Chance Encounters grapple with wounded memories and rejoice in graced moments from a childhood among the last century’s rural poor and a life spent looking for God.” —Maryann Corbett, author of In Code: Poems and other collections

Praise for Sister Sharon Hunter, CJ's To Shatter Glass: Poems
"Hunter is a longtime professed religious in the Community of Jesus on Cape Cod, a community that...has proved a powerhouse of artistic expression, including ventures in choral music, theater, and publishing as the Paraclete Press, of which Iron Pen is an imprint. This collection is truly a collaboration, as the verses are punctuated throughout by the vivid nonrepresentational paintings of Sister Faith Riccio. Hunter’s poems in aggregate make up a loose memoir, in which the poet struggles with the implications of childhood in a home marked by alcohol addiction and other losses and sorrows, at last finding a way to “walk among the daffodils/ inhaling boundless mystery.” VERDICT Despite its recounting of the author’s early troubles, this volume is a pleasure to read, with its marriage of verse and painting; many readers, especially survivors of alcohol-addicted families, will respond to Hunter’s direct approach." —Library Journal

“In this new collection of poems, rising as they do out of past turmoil and brokenness, Sister Sharon Hunter's meditations speak in redemptive ways, inviting us into the old wounds and scars and presenting to God, and to us as readers, fresh understandings of what it takes to heal.” —Luci Shaw, author, The Generosity and Eye of the Beholder, Writer in Residence, Regent College
“Sister Sharon’s poetry leads her reader seamlessly through several chapters of life’s most fearsome and heart-wrenching struggles to a place of redemption. The imagery that makes her poetry a visual experience keeps the reader hungry for the next scene, allowing just long enough to share her angst, while in the background a cadence pushes forward, promising the hope of redemption. The fact is, she may just be the most honest poet I have ever encountered.” —Rev. Dr. Bradford D. Lussier, pastoral counselor, author of How Does He Love Me? A Collection of Love Sonnets
“In words of courage, conviction, and terrible beauty, Sister Sharon Hunter dispels the myth of escaping life in the real world for the shelter of the cloister. She confronts the lingering demons of the past—a legacy of family alcoholism, abuse, violence, and depression—holding them up to the light of her daily encounters with the mysterious, often incomprehensible, love of God. By reading these poems, we are privileged to join her on the path to hope and healing.” —Sister Helen Prejean, author of Dead Man Walking and River of Fire: My Spiritual Journey
“Sister Sharon Hunter never forces us to swallow the ‘wool pulled so far over our own eyes it’s in our mouths,’ yet she enables us to see the pain and hear the shattered glass that is our collective experience of loss. Her words respect this truth, but also give grace and hope to our individual hearts as we make pilgrimage together. Her courage expressed toward triumph through tears inspires us to keep going, believing in the goodness of God.” —Margaret Philbrick, Redbud Writers Guild, Contributing editor of Everbloom: Stories of Living Deeply Rooted and Transformed Lives
“Unabashed is the first word that comes to mind to describe this debut poetry collection. Courageous is the second. With unflinching candor Hunter here lays bare the despair, destruction and shattering loss she experienced growing up in an alcoholic home. But this recounting is far more than a chronicle of personal loss and pain. Rather it is the beginning of a pilgrimage of hope and restoration to which she bids readers join her, poem by poem, and step by step.” —Margaret B. Ingraham, author of Exploring this Terrain
“There’s not an ounce of affectation or pretentiousness in these poems. They have a ‘Mary Oliver’ directness. One poem, ‘The Listener,’ thanks the person who hears a broken heart and finds the unshed tears in our nervous laughter. These poems do exactly that, they hear your broken heart and help you name your unshed tears. Poems give clear expression to unclear feelings. These poems do that. Wonderfully.” —Ronald Rolheiser, OMI, author of Bruised and Wounded, The Fire Within, and Domestic Monastery
To Shatter Glass not only breaks literal doors, but also trauma-related silences. A memoir in verse, To Shatter Glass honors the holy mystery of its subject matter by avoiding superfluous details. Instead, Sister Sharon offers ‘life’s fragments,…/ like ice floes from a half-frozen river.’ One of these fragments is the miracle that ‘Any day now, a bird will lift its tiny head and sing.’ Sister Sharon Hunter is that bird, and her song enriches all who hear it.” —Melanie Weldon-Soiset, poet, former pastor, and #ChurchToo spiritual abuse survivor

“Who of us reading Sister Sharon Hunter’s To Shatter Glass can ever forget the image in the title poem of her as a little girl deliberately plunging headlong into a glass door, “Hands and knees on shattered rain / my head slipped through the broken pane / Around my neck a jagged crown / I didn’t move or make a sound.” The poet’s shocking recollection drives us deep into the heart of her traumatic life, a life so painful as the daughter of alcoholic parents and the victim of other abuses that she gives herself names like “Invisible,” “zero,” “the glass half-empty.”  She does “a comb-over / to hide the baldness” of her soul, and “slap[s] on a smile / to cover every avenue of sadness.” And though she concealed her inner life from the world, she also felt the motions of grace, so beautifully conveyed in “Perhaps.” Here, she considers the mystery of God revealed perhaps in darkness, “a pinpoint of light that woos and beckons. / Interior light / expanded through suffering.” The shattered glass is restored, but it is more than what it was, more like a stained glass window letting in the light.” —Suzanne Underwood Rhodes, author of Flying Yellow