June 18, 2020

THEMES OF MY TRIBE - Sheila Webster

I have a tribe it is actually called The Tribal Unit and they affectionately call me “Leader of the Pack.” (At least I’ve never questioned that the title is an affectionate one!) I asked the tribe recently what themes overarched my life.  I was surprised at the robust response.

Some of the categories made me ruefully question the legacy I am leaving, sunburns from rebellious acts being one!

Sunsets and car rides,
Sunburns from rebellious acts;
Campfires and burn barrels;
Grace and redemption;
Searching for my tribe;
Empowering others through poetry and prose;
Characteristic and predictable spontaniety;
Painting as coping;
Loving the unloved
and trusting for provision.

Life, I have found, is to be lived and that would explain the diversity of themes in my life, and I would add one – perseverance through trials. What should we as writers do with the lives we have lived except write and share the triumph in the tragedy, or just the sheer volume of sadness a tragedy dictates? Whether it is in the prose or poetry it is the artists and writers, as well as the inventors that leave a lasting legacy.

Inventions however seem static in comparison to the poetry and prose. In high school I remember the flat statistics about inventions but still mull over things read or said in Social or English classes. The verses to songs from grade ten English float through my mind on occasion and I wonder if we were right about their meaning. 

The joy and horror of having Shakespeare explained and then wondering again if any of us would ever write something that would still be read hundreds of years later.

With the resurgence of music from my high school era amongst my younger children I watch bemused as they tell me I don’t know what it means or see them roll their eyes as they patiently explain what is so great about the beats. Their experience of something so entwined with my graduate year is mind blowing. Do the songs I lived have any connection to them and the culture they exist in?

Recently I read a horrible history fact on a writer and inventor I previously admired. What I read so sickened me I cannot imagine ever reading anything by them again. Should I feel that way? I am not sure as I know we all as humans have a seemlier side whether we admit or not, moments that we perhaps we would prefer not to be identified as a personal life theme.

I remember one sunburn, maybe not rebellious, but on the day of my grade 12 graduation. My best friend was not attending the celebrations and though it both angered and puzzled me I wanted to do something with her. We decided to tube down the river, without any real idea how long it would take. There were no cell phones and I don’t even know if waterproof watches existed except for divers. It was risky perhaps but off we set.

The river was slow; the day was hot as we meandered our way to some rapids just before the last bridge. I suppose no one was more shocked than my date when he arrived spiffy and dressed a couple minutes after I dragged myself out of the river. I opened the door bedraggled, sunburnt, weeds in my hair and obviously in cutoffs and a tank top. Being a handsome and kind pastor’s son, he coughed and said he was sorry he must have the wrong time or day.

"Not!" I said, and informed him I would be a minute and literally was about seven…showered, blow-dried, curled, makeup and dressed. We had a wonderful time and I didn’t regret any of it.

Those moments are as important and life giving to me as grace and redemption. Maybe there should always be diversity in the themes of our life so that we can live life abundantly! What do you think Tribe?


  1. Made me think... :) thanks for sharing your heart.

  2. Sheila,
    I love your heart, how you're always ready for an adventure, the way you make me think, but most of all how you love God and people. Keep being you!

  3. I'm glad we're all in the tribe of Christ. What an astounding thought!

  4. Hi Sheila. I imagined myself floating down the river with you and your friend. I did this many times in my younger years with one of my brothers and our friends. Your post sparked wonderful memories of my all too brief youth and carefree times. Yes, diversity of themes is part of life to be cherished. By the way, Sheila, I enjoy being part of your tribe.

  5. It’s kinda cool how your tribe is listening to the same music you did. Interesting how connected we can be between generations, even if the younger ones think we’re old and out of touch. If they only knew. ๐Ÿ˜‰ I enjoyed your rafting story! Can you still get ready in 7 minutes? ๐Ÿ˜‰๐Ÿ˜‰


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