Shades of Becoming: Poems of Faith Transition

Book cover for "Shades of Becoming: Poems of Faith Transition" edited by Nancy Ross and Kristen R. Shill

From the Introduction, Shades of Becoming: Poems of Transition, ed. by Nancy Ross and Kristen R. Shill. For sale at Amazon.

When I experienced the most painful part of my faith transition and started attending a new church, I initially found set prayers and poems in the service to be unnerving. That discomfort was part of my religious baggage. My former faith community discouraged scripted prayers except for rituals performed by male members. Many thought that liturgy prevented a speaker from communicating divine will in the moment. My unfamiliarity with the candles, prayers, and hymns of my new church often made me question what I was doing in this strange new space. Over time, I found that the opportunity to borrow someone else’s words was a relief when I had none.  

On further investigation, I found poems that described grief and others that described faith. I couldn’t find any collections that spoke to the painful processes of losing, mourning, and rebuilding a different kind of spiritual life. My hope for this collection is that it resonates with others who are also in this unfamiliar space of losing belief, certainty, and faith community—all those who experience rapid shift in worldview and the accompanying fallout.

The poems are divided into three stages of this journey: the early recognition of loss (“in the shallows”), the more developed feelings of grief and anger (”the deep end”), and emerging emotional resolution (“finding ground.”). 

Kristen R. Shill and I offer them to you as a reassuring mirror: an affirmation of this particular kind of bereavement, with its many shades of loss and unsought but hard-won gifts of insight.

Nancy Ross
A blessing for those who begin

You awake to discover
The fragility of your treasures
Held as precious by generations
Of revered foremothers
Who have nurtured you with their stories
Broken in the night
The shards of dead words scattered on the floor.

I bless you to sit
In the wreckage of this moment
Mourn the loss of this inheritance
Bid farewell, when you are ready,
To the heirlooms 
No longer in your possession.
Sort through the remaining clutter
Of ideas and beliefs you’ve been gathering
Saving only that which is enduring
The anchors of a new collection
A fresh existence
It is a grievous but blessed beginning.


Nancy Ross

Nancy Ross is an art history professor by day and a sociologist of religion by night. She lives in St. George, Utah with her husband and two daughters and co-hosts the Faith Transitions podcast.

You may also like...

1 Response

  1. Wendy says:

    Thank you for this, Nancy. Your poem really spoke to me. Looking forward to reading the rest of your book. ❤️

Leave a Reply

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