Dominican Sister of Hope Connie Kelly, OP is a published poet who’s written over 250 poems and is currently working on publishing an anthology. Today, Sister Connie shares with us the history behind her creative genius, the inspiration behind her writing, and one of her favorite poems.

When Sister Connie got an A++ on a poem she wrote in her senior year of high school, she was shocked.

“I didn’t think I was good,” Sister Connie says. “Seriously, I was seventeen or eighteen years old at this point, and I was talking about spring and how it brings new birth and people gathering. I look at it now and I think, ‘You were much wiser than you thought you were.’”

Sister Connie wrote a few poems after that, but her passion didn’t take off until decades later, when she was recuperating from an illness. In solitude and relaxation, she found her voice in writing.

“I spent a lot of time writing poetry,” Sister Connie says. “One day, I was sitting on the porch and I heard a tree branch fall. Well, the next thing I know I’m writing a poem about that tree branch falling and what it felt like to fall.”

For Sister Connie, poetry blends a creative and religious experience. She says that all of her written words –including those that were chosen in 2004 to be read at Disney World— are from God. For Sister Connie, poetry “actually became part of prayer.”

Above, Sister Connie shares her 2014 poem “Ashes Must Be Stirred.”

According to Sister Connie, this poem is significant not only because it’s her most recent work, but also because it largely represents what religious life “comes down to.”

“Because we love God,” Sister Connie says, “that’s why we do what we do.”

Ashes Must Be Stirred

So often in life
it is easy to stay content
to live out of routine
to ignore the niggling
that speaks of need
that wants to stir things up
that desires escape of what is old
It is a shift to the unknown
a road that
can be a frightening place
yet, we do not walk this journey alone
we have been gifted with one another
and each has a gift to give away

Within each one of us
is a flame
one that could be extinguished
if we forget
or ignore the fact
that amidst the ashes
are embers
waiting to be stirred
to be given another chance
a piece of our light

Bearing the flame of truth
is a blessing to another
This stirring
brings the flames into a dance
where the many
can be as one
Where our connections
bring unity
and we speak
for all

In stirring the ashes
we let the world know
that the silence that has killed
the spirits of many
will no longer be so
There is hope in each flame
There is hope in the ashes
so in one voice
through one flame
through oneness
we proclaim this truth
because we love God

Connie Kelly, OP