Feeds:
Posts
Comments

Buddy

A week ago my cat died.  He was 11, diabetic, cranky and generally a cantankerous old guy.  But he was MY cantankerous old guy.  He was the first cat I’d ever been staff to, and as much as I didn’t think I’d fall in love with him, I did.

Two weeks ago I took him for his annual check-up and he was diagnosed with diabetes.  The vet asked if I wanted to treat Buddy’s diabetes.  I was still processing my shock with the diagnosis.  And that damn cat, who usually did not cuddle or even like sitting near me put his paw on my leg and looked up at me.  How could I say no?

So, I asked the questions I thought needed asking…how long do we try this?  What do I need to watch for?  How much will this cost?  Is he in pain?  Armed with insulin and needles I brought Buddy home and explained what was happening.  He looked at me with his usual disdain and proceeded to hide behind his chair and groom himself.

He started his insulin that night and received it every day.  Thursday, Friday, Saturday, Sunday, no change in him.  He was still thirsty, still hungry, still cranky.  Monday and Tuesday he started slowing down.  Not as thirsty, not as hungry, still cranky, and moving less.  Wednesday he didn’t get up from his favourite place under the kitchen table.  When I got home Wednesday afternoon he had lost control of his back end and his breathing was shallow and laboured.

I called the Vet to see if I could take him in and be put down but they were unable to take him in as they’d had two emergencies just arrive at the clinic.  So, I wrapped him in a towel, cuddled him and talked to him.  He didn’t want to eat, he didn’t want to drink.  He didn’t want to live.

All through the night I cradled him and stroked his head.  He was doze and wake.  He seemed confused and had seizures.  And about 11:30 pm he died in my arms.

I thought it ironic that he died on All Hallows Eve.  The night the curtain between this life and the next is the thinnest.  As much as I couldn’t imagine having a cat, I had one.  And the experience, while painful and sometimes frustrating, was worth it.

Thursday morning I brought him, bundled in a towel, to the Vet.  I answered a few questions, filled out a form and after spending a few last minutes with him he was taken to be cremated.  All Saint’s Day.  Don’t get me wrong.  Buddy was no saint, but I thought it, again, ironic, that he was being cremated on a Holy Day.

I came home and got to work cleaning.  Scrubbing the bathroom floor, kitchen floor, bedding.  Vacuuming, cleaning all this “stuff” and giving it away.

I have a photograph of him taken just after I brought him home.  I put a feather beside it with which I used to tease him, and lit a candle.  I opened the windows and welcomed in the fresh air.  And I cried.  And I cried.  And I cried.

In my heart I know that there will never be another Buddy.  I intentionally adopted a 10 year old cat because I couldn’t stand the idea of an elderly cat living his last days in a cage.  We lived together mostly in harmony, and I appreciated the company.  But not the mess.

I don’t want another cat.  I don’t want another pet.  Right now I need to let my heart heal and to live with the loss.  Eventually it will heal.  I cannot imagine having another pet.  Not now, and possibly not ever.

I look for him when I come home.  I remember most vividly every morning when I am once again allowed to perform my morning ablutions without supervision.  And I keep stepping in cat litter.  Thanks for the memories Buddy.  Follow the rainbow bridge to everlasting laser pointers and more snacks that you can imagine.  But no belly rubs.  Definitely no belly rubs.

Labels

Sorry I’ve not been writing much lately.  I’ve been mulling over blog posts for months, I simply haven’t taken time to put thought to paper.  So here I am.  Didja miss me?

Three weeks ago I was called by a local reporter who wanted to write an interest story on me.  What on earth for, I was thinking.  Yet, I was intrigued, so I said yes.

We met at the Blessing of the Animals service and afterwards we went over to the Church to have a conversation.  Watching him walk into the beautiful space that is the Church was wonderful.  His eyes opened wide, like a child at Christmas as he took in the beautiful wooden beams and stained glass windows.

We sat in a pew, he in the Presider Chair, and I beside him.  He turned on his recording device and asked a few questions.  Most we about the Church, my call to ministry, my theology and my background.  How I came to choose this small corner of creation.  He then took some photos of me in the space, commented about how beautiful the natural light is through the windows and was on his way.

A week later I was coming back from Clergy Conference and received a text that the article was in the paper.  It was published online and had a sensational headline.  Now to be clear, I don’t mean sensational as in FANTASTIC, rather sensational as in WTF?

The article is here if you’d like to read it… https://www.thefreepress.ca/life/gay-minister-challenges-preconceptions/

The article itself is great.  A few incorrect details.  One large incorrect label…GAY.

I’m not Gay, I’m Queer and while that may not be a big deal, to me it is.  I wrote a letter to the editor and made the corrections and exhaled.

The feedback about the article has been extremely positive.  The community has been overwhelmingly encouraging.  Yet I know there are detractors who will not be happy with what was written.

Why am I so worked up about a label?  Most of my life I’ve pushed against labels and shrugged against being placed in a box.  I like being on the outside of most everything.  I like tossing assumptions against the wall.  One of my favourite compliments is when I hear “you’re not like any minister/priest I’ve ever met”.

Labels have assumptions and those assumptions should be challenged, whenever possible.

There are many labels I’ve owned in my time, Female, Follower of Jesus, Pescatarian, Celibate, Daughter, Sister, Nana, Wife, Ex-Wife, Partner, Ex-Partner, Friend, Lover, Queer, Comic, Pastor, Priest, Prophet, Keeper of Secrets, Child of God.

Guess which one is my favourite?

Child of God

 

I like to travel and experience new things.  I like to check things out and when I go to a new place I like to use public transportation and walk wherever possible.

One of the challenges of hearing impairment is I often cannot hear airport and transit announcements.  They all sound like Charlie Brown’s teacher, if you know what I mean.

Last summer I heard about a wonderful conference called Spirit Pride and it looked like an awesome opportunity to connect with folks in the LGBTQ+ community who are people of faith.  Sometimes we hear that being a Queer Christian is an oxymoron.  Well, it’s not.

On Friday, what would have been my Dad’s 86th birthday I drove to the next community over to fly from their airport to Vancouver.  I don’t like to fly.  I’m not sure what it is, but I’m not a huge fan of airplanes, which is ironic as my brother is a pilot.  It is what it is.

While I’m at the airport very early I hear that the flight is delayed an hour.  Instant panic.  My carefully scheduled plan of how to get from the South Terminal to the Main Terminal to the Canada Line to the hotel and to the Church for the Conference is now scuppered.  Heart starts racing, breathing is shallow and I find myself getting lightheaded.

I walked to the closest window and looked outside at the mountains.  And concentrated on my breathing…and then I started to relax.  I sat down and read my book.  I negotiated with myself…”okay, if we arrive on time, I can get to the Shuttle to the Main Terminal and then find the station to get on the SkyTrain.  I can check in, freshen up and take in the opening and the film screening tonight”.

As we flew I kept checking schedules and making notes.  Maybe I’d have to skip checking into the hotel, could do that after the film screening.  Ugh.

We landed, I got off the plane, found the exit to the terminal and there was a shuttle bus waiting.  I climbed on and we drove to the main terminal.  Traffic was heavy and slow.  I watched the time ticking along feeling more and more anxious.  Concentrated on my breathing.  “you got this, you got this”.

Arrived at the main terminal.  The shuttle driver pointed to where I needed to go to catch the SkyTrain and I started to relax a little.  Waked to the SkyTrain terminal, bought a ticket and waited 2 minutes for the train to arrive.  By my calculations I had 20 minutes to get to the Church before the opening ceremonies and the film screening.

Then I remembered it was my dad’s birthday.  He’d have been 86.  He was never in a hurry and seldom on time.  He didn’t fight time, he flowed with it.  So I made a decision, not to worry about the time, to look around and breathe.  So I did.

I got off the train and started walking, realising after about 5 minutes, it was the wrong way.  I laughed and asked to pet a dog.  Asked directions to the hotel, and was told politely, how to get there.  I looked around, smiled and asked to pet many more dogs.

Got to the hotel and the check in time was excruciating.  And it was now 10 minutes after the opening had started.  I gave myself permission to not attend the opening and screening.  I began to focus on my breathing.  And then it was my turn to check in.  I found my room, turned on the air conditioner, freshened up and went for a walk to check out the neighbourhood.

I found a dog park and petted many, many dogs and chatted with many people.

Eventually I found the Church and by this time it was 8:30.  I didn’t go in.  I walked around that neighbourhood, found another dog part and petted many more dogs.  Felt my blood pressure lessen and my heart rate drop.  Felt myself relax and enjoy my surroundings.

Went for a walk back to the hotel and saw several people with needles preparing to shoot up.  Said silent prayers for them, and found another way back to the hotel.  Stopped at the hotel restaurant, a sports bar, and realised I was the only woman in the place.  Took a seat at the bar, ordered a beer for my dad and asked for a menu.  Had supper, a second beer and took another walk in a different direction.  Saw the Yaletown Roundhouse platform.

Went back to my hotel room and settled in for the night.

The conference was wonderful and I enjoyed all of it.  I walked whenever there was a break, to check out the neighbourhood and gave thanks that I don’t live in a big city.  I don’t have to worry about heavy traffic, street lights, and too many people.

After the last session on Saturday I walked to Gastown and checked it out.  Then I walked back to my hotel, taking a long way around.  Enjoying the sights and sounds of the city, knowing that the next day I’d be heading home.

Sunday I got up early and checked out.  Walked a different way to the Church and visited with the folks who were setting up for worship.  Checked out the hymns and order of service and waited, in prayer and silence for worship to begin.  It was wonderful and lasted nearly two hours.

Then I said goodbye to the organizers and Church Minister.  I walked down to the sea wall, backpack on my back and made the long trip home.  I arrived very early to the SkyTrain, and very early to catch the shuttle between terminals.  I didn’t stress or fret because I had lots of time and a good book to read.

I walked around the outside of the terminal and petted some dogs.  I walked around inside the terminal and looked at the artwork, and read some of the history of the airport.

Then I cleared security and waited to board the aircraft.  I explained to the customer service rep that I don’t hear the announcements very well and he promised he’d let me know when it was coming time to board.  And he did.

My car was where I left it, and I drove home as the day began to fade to night.  It was a wonderful conference.  I learned a lot and made some contacts.  I also learned to trust myself and to let some stuff go.  I’m still a nervous traveller and always will be.

I learned that I can be afraid and still do something.  After all, isn’t that the definition of courage?

On Monday night I attended a Veteran’s and First Responders Dinner as Chaplain to the local Legion.  The dinner was a catered event and well attended.  I was surprised to see so many men and women in uniform and also saddened that each year there are fewer and fewer veterans that attend.

It’s quite sad to see our Veteran’s dying.  They are ageing; some of them are ageing well and others, well, life has not been as kind.  I remember my Dad, who was not a Veteran of WWII, he was too young.  But he was a Veteran of the Royal Air Force.  He served in Cyprus and Egypt, and was part of the last group to leave the Suez Canal when it was returned to their government in the late 1950’s.  He didn’t speak much of his time in the forces, other than to comment on how lousy the food rations were.

For me, I like to hear stories of where different servicemen and servicewomen served, whether at home or overseas.  Whether they served through combat or not.  And I’m always curious about medals, faraway places travelled and what memories they are willing to share with me.

It’s important to us to encourage these stories, as they are the foundation of who we are.  One day we will leave this physical place and what will be left is our legacy.

I’d like to investigate through the local museum, a way to record stories of our Veterans and First Responders, not to glorify war, but to remember the soldiers are service people who put their country and their first.

At every Legion gathering there is the act of remembrance, “Lord God of Host, be with us yet, Lest we Forget, Lest we Forget.

Amen.

I’ve not been here for awhile.  It’s not that I haven’t had anything to say…I simply wasn’t sure how to say it.  Much has happened.  I moved from the Rectory where I was living into a one-bedroom flat.  It seemed so silly for myself, a middle-aged single woman and a geriatric cat to live in a four-bedroom house.  Now we live in a flat that we both love.  He likes to go into the hallway and pace.  He’ll get about half way down the hallway and then lay down.  Sometimes he’ll snooze there, and as soon as I shake the treat bag he’ll come back.

My commute to work used to be roughly 100 steps.  Now it’s a 3 minute drive.  And that’s okay.  Eventually I’ll walk to work, once I get into a better routine.  I live on the top of a hill, in a ground-floor flat where I can see mountains.  Walking to work is marvellous, the views are spectacular!  Walking home, uphill…takes a little longer.  But I get there.

My flat came partially furnished, which was perfect.  I work on my dining room table, and I moved my bedroom furniture in.  I’ve got only two more boxes to sort through, which I will do by the end of summer.  Right now I’m learning new paths and exploring a new part of the village where I live.

I have a wall in my new flat that has my university degrees, a photo of myself in uniform, my letters of Orders and my license to be at the parish were I am.  It also has a hand-drawn picture of me and God, drawn by a young friend.  And finally, it also contains my dad’s university degree.

Another smaller wall has a series of icons of St. Peter, Jesus and St. Jude.

Just after I moved in I was gifted with a beautiful painting from my family at an Independent Living facility.  Every resident painted a part of the picture and it hangs in a place of honour in my home.  It is something I will treasure forever.

I thought long and hard before I made the decision to move from the Rectory.  It’s not that I didn’t enjoy living there, it was more that I was longing for a place that was uniquely mine.  The Rectory is a church building, meaning it belongs to the Church, and while it was my home, there were times when I didn’t feel that I had a lot of privacy.

I was always mindful of whether I was dressed every day, even on my days off.  I would feel guilty for napping even when I was up half the night working or if I wasn’t feeling well.

Now I’m in a place where I find myself coming and going a lot.  I enjoy living here, learning new ways to get here and finding side-streets and trails to explore.  It feels like home.

I haven’t got all my pictures up yet.  I will soon.  I’m figuring out where things need to be and I’m finding places for all my stuff.  I did a lot of purging before I moved, which was awesome.  I couldn’t believe how much stuff I’d accumulated in the time I’ve been here.  There were several trips to the charity shop and a ton of paper for recycling.  I purged clothes, kitchen stuff, electronics and assorted bric-a-brac.

So for now, I’m looking forward to settling into my new home.  I’m still figuring out where my drop zone is.  Right now it’s the dining room table, but I’ll get there.

A room of one’s own.

CAMH or Centre for Addiction and Mental Health is hosting an event called “One Brave Night”.  The idea behind it is  between now and Friday 6th April as an individual or a team you promote CAMH and their mental health services.  As an individual I’m going to use that night to keep silent, mediate and pray.  I will journal, remember and likely, also cry.

This coming Monday, the 2nd of April I will enter five days of silence.  I will be travelling to a retreat house and spending time there in silence.  During that time I will do many of the same things I intend to do during One Brave Night.

Silence is not difficult for me.  Although I do talk a lot, when I make the decision to not speak, I can do it.  The first few hours are difficult because my ears are ringing.  My mind starts racing and I feel strange, but once I relax into silence it’s beautiful.

Things appear sharper.  Sounds are clearer.  My mind thinks clearer.  It’s difficult to explain if you’ve never spent time in silence.  I don’t mean a couple of hours at home, but days out in the world.

It’s interesting how little talking you need to do to function in the world.  With technology today you can pump gas, buy groceries, and use a bank machine without speaking.  Facial expressions, gestures, all easy to replace conversation.  And with it being more and more difficult to make eye contact with people, verbal conversation is not as necessary as it once was.

One Brave Night will be, for me, the end of a week of silence. It will be an opportunity to do some deep reflection…to truly listen for the voice of the Divine.  So often, when I’m in prayer I’m speaking without listening.  I hurry through my petitions, thinking of what I’m going to do or say next.  I don’t usually allow myself to take the time to deeply listen.  But next week that will all change.

I intend to journal, to breathe deeply, to see more clearly, to listen intently and to “recalibrate” myself.  And I can’t wait.

V-Day

in this case V is not for Valentine but for vagina.

Twenty years ago Eve Ensler wrote a series of monologues after interviewing women from all over the world.  She talked to young women, elderly women, shy women, bold women.  She talked to survivors of genital mutilation, rape camps, First Nations Women who had experienced Domestic Violence, and other horrific experiences.  In 2014 she interviewed a group of Trans* Women and wrote a new monologue sharing a new kind of discrimination and experience.

This weekend is V-Day in Fernie.  The Vagina Monologues are showing at the Arts Station on Friday at 7:00 pm, Saturday at 1:00 and 7:00 pm.  I have the honour of sharing a monologue about a Trans* Woman.  Her story is poignant, heart-breaking and just a little bit sassy.  Every woman who is part of the Monologues is sharing a bit of herself through the sharing of her monologue.

Unfortunately, my Church is also having their Annual Valentines Supper on Saturday evening, so I won’t be able to attend as I’ll be back-stage preparing for the evening performance.  As we’ve prepared for the show, in hearing the diverse number of stories it’s made me think of my own story.  It’s made me curious of the stories of the women who are in the show.  We are a diverse crowd of women from various backgrounds.  We are gay, straight, bisexual.  We are mothers, daughters, single, divorced, married.  We are stay at home moms, students, entrepreneurs, artists, retired, self-employed and under-employed.

What we share in common is the desire to make a stand about the rights of women.  We stand shoulder to shoulder and share a piece at the end called “My Revolution”.  It’s a very powerful piece that unites the sisterhood of women from all over the globe.  Some of the monologues will make you laugh.  Others will make you cry.  Others will make you gasp in horror. Others will make you reflect.

Valentines Day has always been a day of over-commercialized, over-wrought, insidious measurement of how well-regarded one is…but maybe that’s just me.

Eve Ensler has shown me a new way to celebrate V-Day.  It’s not about excluding or hating men.  It’s about embracing what it is to be female, in all it’s glory and strangeness. And as a special quirk, this year Ash Wednesday falls on the 14th of February.  How completely awesome is that?

I give thanks to God for the women I have met in preparation of this production of The Vagina Monologues.  We have laughed together and cried together.  We have supported each other and with our community’s support, we will be supporting the Fernie Women’s Resource Centre.

Oh and there may, or may not be Doritos.

Happy V-Day!