Q & A with Sharon Seyfarth Garner

A Little About the Author

Mandala with No Color

Tell us a little bit about yourself. What brings you joy? What keeps you up at night?

It is so hard to know how to describe oneself so that others might know a bit of my story beyond the usual “graduated from” and “has worked at” sort of biographical highlights. I currently live just outside of Cleveland, Ohio, with my husband, two children, and dog, Bear, but I have been blessed to call many places in the world home.

I was born and raised in Oregon (Portland and Corvallis) and have lived in southern Ohio, Philadelphia, France, Atlanta, northeast Ohio, and West Africa. I feel an especially deep connection with Africa and have loved the opportunity to translate for French-speaking delegates from Africa at the past five General Conferences (of the UMC). I also treasure ecumenical and interfaith connections that broaden my view of God’s presence in our world while grounding me ever more deeply in my own tradition.

Family is very important to me, and I consider myself richly blessed to have grown up in a family that nurtured me and encouraged me to become whoever God had created me to be. I pray that in some small measure I have passed on this faith-filled, positive, and empowered attitude to my own children.

I am probably happiest when I am outside (backpacking, kayaking, hiking, biking), reading novels (but only if I can finish one in a one- or two-day reading binge!), traveling (especially to Africa), singing in local community theater musical productions (Hairspray was my favorite), throwing pottery on a wheel, or playing cards with family or friends.

What keeps me up at night is the worry that our world seems to be moving toward a place that is more self-centered rather than God-centered. I pray that as a human race we will somehow figure out how to embrace the call of Christ to love God, love our neighbor as our self, and even to love our enemy. Maybe, just maybe, enhancing our ability to live boldly from a place of contemplative centeredness can help us do this. If Praying with Mandalas can even move us just a smidgen in this direction, I will be forever grateful.