Wounded Healers – St John of the Cross and St Therese of Lisieux: Surrender, Suffering and Transformation
Rev Maria Shepherdson
Born centuries apart, two souls encountered and fell in love with a God who was immersed with them in the Dark Night of the Soul – but what is it exactly? And how does it differ from depression or sadness brought on by the vicissitudes of life? Through close examination of their stories, and that of Teresa of Avila and her influence on both across the divide of time, culture, class and race, we look at what we might learn of sufferings, surrender and transformation.
Rev Maria has been Rector of the Benefice of the Upper Kennet Churches, 8 villages, 5 parishes for over 10 years and is married to Phil, a New Zealander, whom she met while working in North Africa. While not blessed with children of their own they often joke that their children are aged between 3 months and 96 years of age and are far too many to mention! Their ‘family’ encompasses people of varied races and faiths something that brings both great joy and challenge. Her work in the Benefice has enabled her to grow deep, respectful relationships between people on the pagan paths. A significant part of her ministry before and after ordination has focused on grief, bereavement, death and spiritual wilderness and where signs of hope may be found.
Maria’s first vocation was in teaching and her qualifications include an MBA, Degrees and diplomas in English, History Classics and Theology and she has a passion for Tudor history. Her work in education and ministry has taken her to Africa, Russia, Canada, USA and more recently Gaza, where she is involved in Teacher Training for The Hope Christian Trust. Maria has been a Head Teacher, an Associate Diocesan Advisor, a teacher trainer and mentor for students at university, and ran courses for teachers involved in multicultural and interfaith education. She is a Foundation Governor at 2 primary schools. The Benefice enjoys a rich diversity of worship, traditional and contemporary, and Maria has a deep and abiding interest in the development of creative liturgy, and experiential worship. Her spirituality embraces all things Celtic and Maria has been known to play a ‘mean’ fiddle.
Rev Maria believes God loves us ‘just as we are’ but cares too much for us to leave us unchanged.