Interview with Contributor R. Elaine Westphal

authorimageplaceholderAuthor Name: R. Elaine Westphal

Contribution to Image and Likeness: “My Pot of Gold”

Bio: R. Elaine Westphal holds a BA degree in English Education, is retired from a career in supervisory management and is currently an active community volunteer. She enjoys quilting, singing, classic movies, and relaxing to classical music. Nature walks are her inspiration for her creative writing. Along with writing poetry, she also enjoys writing articles about local history and nature subjects.

How did you find yourself inspired to write this piece?

One of my favorite ways to be inspired to write is to commune with nature. My daily walks give me solitude and peace to reflect on and/or create new ideas.  Everything has been created by God and since mankind is made in God’s image and likeness, one not only relates to the “seen” but also the emotions of the heart—the “unseen.”

There is a lot of nonfiction out there on TOB, but the amount of fiction and poetry on the subject is certainly on the rise.  What is it, do you think, about fiction and poetry that lend themselves to illustrating the tenets of the Theology of the Body?

Fiction and poetry often reveal and express the emotional side of a person.  Nonfiction gives us the theory, but fiction and poetry plays out this theory in daily living circumstances and feelings that make the whole notion a three-dimensional experience.

Some TOB stories and poems can be evangelization tools, and some can be messages of encouragement to those of us doing the evangelizing.  Which do you think yours is, and why do you think that’s valuable to its audience?

I believe my poem is an evangelization tool.  In the search for “rainbows” in our lives, their beauty can be found in nature in any season, but the real and only place to find “rainbows’ a promise of hope, is in our hearts.  There we experience all our emotions and from that, grow in gratitude for God’s care, blessings and goodness we have all received.

In your poem “My Pot of Gold,” you illustrate the role human suffering plays in personal growth.  What part does the value of suffering play in how we live the Theology of the Body?

“My Pot of Gold” also has a more subtle approach to value of suffering and searching for inner peace.  In our youth, we try to find all our happiness externally of ourselves. As we grow more mature, we see that the real peace comes from within.  Instead of self-fulfilled enjoyment, we see more value in the love we have in our hearts that we can share with others.  Then we find that because we’ve searched inside ourselves, we can love one another with the dignity God has endowed each of us with.

What’s another story or poem in this anthology that spoke to you?  What in particular in that piece reached out to you?

Being a cancer survivor, the struggles portrayed in “Victorious” by Kathy Huth Jones really touched me.  She so aptly portrayed the human suffering experience of facing your own mortality and finally coming to grips with the way suffering can bring one to a deeper level of the bond of love that already existed.


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