Poems of pain and forgiveness, for those who struggle to find healing from a childhood marked by addiction
To Shatter Glass is essentially a memoir in poetic form, tracing seventy years of struggle and experience. In her early thirties, at the end of an abusive and childless marriage, Sister Sharon Hunter entered a modern convent. Neither sheltered nor immune from reality, she confronted demons of the past and trauma brought with her, unresolved and in need of healing. Her collection obliterates a common belief that men and women enter religious orders to escape life. Its fifty-six poems vary in style and capture the heart and imagination of those searching for straight answers to difficult questions. It touches on the need to know ourselves, to accept our humanity as defined by God, and to strive toward reconciliation through self-examination and forgiveness.
To Shatter Glass is an invitation to wholeness for those scarred by family alcoholism. It is written for the quiet and sensitive buried by depression, and for those who may be too afraid to expose their wounds. It is for anyone who has experienced betrayal or the loss of a loved one through tragic circumstances.
This is the first book in Paraclete's Iron Pen imprint. In the book of Job, a suffering man pours out his anguish to his Maker. From the depths of his pain, he reveals a trust in God's goodness that is stronger than his despair, giving humanity some of the most beautiful and poetic verses of all time. Paraclete's Iron Pen imprint is inspired by this spirit of unvarnished honesty and tenacious hope.
About the Author
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 Faith Riccio, CJ, is an artist and a religious sister at the Community of Jesus, Cape Cod, Massachusetts. Her work can be seen in private collections and exhibits, both nationally and internationally, and at the Church of the Transfiguration in Orleans, MA. Sister Faith is also the author of Icons: The Essential Collection.
“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