Archive for September, 2012

Today was our Harvest Home and Back to Church Sunday. It was awesome to see so many children, each of whom brought a friend to Church today. We sang, we danced, and we donated many, many pounds of produce to the local foodbank.

The homily today was on forgiveness and I was amazed at the positive feedback that followed the service. It seems there are many people who are having difficulty forgiving a past hurt.

In my humble opinion, forgiveness is a gift we give to ourselves. There is much pain and hurt to be held and if we cannot or will not examine it, it threatens to overtake us. I have seen too many people caught up in the struggle to forgive, wearing the pain like a badge of honour.

I don’t say these things lightly. I have been hurt and abused in my life, some of which goes back to being a small child. The choice to forgive is something that frees me to live. Because in chosing to forgive a past hurt is setting yourself free. To hold on to a past hurt keeps you a prisoner and the person who wronged you continues to have power over you, that they do not deserve.

To forgive does not mean to forget. Rather, it is a choice to stand up, speak up, and let go. I know it’s not easy. But it is most definitely worth it.

Give yourself a gift this thanksgiving…forgive someone who wronged you, whether they have ever apologised or not. In chosing to forgive them, you set yourself free. You deserve that freedom.

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The past week has been a crazy, busy week with appointments, meetings and pastoral calls. Add to that the usual busy-ness of a household, laundry, cooking, cleaning, etc., and there’s just not enough time to get it all done.

I struggle with a condition called CFS or Chronic Fatigue Syndrome. It’s a rather mysterious and mis-understood illness that affects the immune system. I’m fortunate that my type of CFS is considered mild. To give you an example of what it feels like to have CFS, think of how you feel when you have the ‘flu…the aching, tight chest, dragging feeling. That’s how I feel on most “good” days.

But being the type of person I am, I push though it, I “ignore” the pain and get on with doing what needs to be done.

And on occasion, when I’ve overdone it for too long, and under-appreciated my body I get a stern warning, usually in the form of overwhelming exhaustion that makes my body shut down until it gets itself rested. On Wednesday night, this happened. I had “just one more” thing to do and I went upstairs to put some laundry away. Suddenly the horizon vanished and I had no idea if I was right side up or upside down. I don’t LIKE that feeling.

I called for my husband and he helped me find the way to right myself, and get me into bed. Yesterday, after a particularly grueling morning I left the unfinished things at the office and came home to lie down. I slept most of the afternoon away.

Today I feel like I’ve been put in a bag and beaten, but at least with epsom salt baths and early bedtimes, I’m beginning to return to some semblance of better. I wish I didn’t have this disorder and yet it helps me (as strange as this sounds) to better care for myself. Because when I ignore the longings of my body for rest for too long, my body fights back.

So, if you’ll excuse me, I’m going to make a cup of sleepytime tea, and retire early tonight.

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Cottage Days

A friend of mine has coined a great term…”cottage days”. Those are the days where one cottages at home. Easy meals, no housework, taking the day slowly…like one does at the cottage.

I have a lovely front porch and an awesome back deck. Both of these areas can function well as cottage places, where I can curl up with a cup of tea, a blanket and a good book or my journal.

Taking time to focus on breath, to seek peace and simply slow down is desperately needed these days. When the urge comes to clean up, or do a load of laundry or other such “chore” during a cottage day, one simply needs to say “Cottage Day” and then the balance of simplicity is restored.

My wish is you all enjoy a Cottage Day every now and then. With the recently dropping temperatures, perhaps a blanket or two would be handy.

Enjoy your peace.

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Tonight is one of those nights when I can’t get my brain to shut off. A friend of mine once said he wanted to buy me a dimmer switch for my birthday. When I looked strangely at him he remarked that sometimes he just needed a little less me.

I am a person who, by nature, internalises stuff. The last couple of weeks have been incredibly hectic with emergency pastoral stuff arising all over the place. Most of it has been dealt with, some of it is ongoing and regardless of my “day off” there’s always something that seeps in.

Tonight I was supposed to go to an Induction service in the city next to where I live. I had full intention of going and then when I woke up this morning I felt like I’d been run over. So I decided that today was a day to be gentle with myself.

Worship was awesome, two amazing services and four visitors at the second service. The energy was electric, the music was fantastic and at the end of it, I was really ready for a nap. Instead of the nap my husband and I rearranged the living room and dining room, as well as sweeping and mopping the floors.

Once that was all done we made an easy dinner and then settled in to watch a movie. I was dozing off during the movie so I went to bed…but then I couldn’t sleep.

So I got up.

My To Do list for this week has been updated. I’m making myself a cup of Tranquilitea as I write this, and I hope when that’s finished, I’ll be able to go back upstairs and drift off.

And if not, I’ll likely get up again and read something mindless. And while I know tomorrow is going to be a busy day, I can only do what I can do. If I don’t get enough sleep tonight, I can try again tomorrow night.

G’night all.

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I have realised, far too slowly, that everyone needs support, in one way or ther. I am honoured to be a part of many family’s support systems and it’s been through working with them, that I have finally understood how important it is for me to have a support system. I strongly encourage everyone to have a support system. What works for me, may not work for you, but this list may be a place for you to start…in no particular order…

Medical Team – we are very blessed to be registered with a multi-physician, multi-disciplinary team. We have two family doctors who share a practice, as well as a nutritionist, a nurse practitioner and a social worker.

Chiropractor – our Chiropractor sees us once a week and he has been part of my improving health.

Massage Therapist – Only recently have I been going to a Massage Therapist regularly (every three weeks). She’s been working on my neck and back as I struggle with headaches, tension and stress. The hour I spend with her is well worth the cost.

Therapist – She is part of the inter-disciplinary team at my physician’s office, but she has really led me on the path to discovering who I am. Believe it or not, before I started seeing her, I could not identify my emotions. There are still days when the answer to “how are you” is “I don’t know”, but at least I can name two or three emotions that may be conflicting. And that’s something.

Dentist – My dentist is awesome. She listens when she sees me and after my last appointment recommended a soft food diet and gave me a worksheet to follow of exercises for jaw health. I clench my jaw when I sleep, so I have a night guard, but I also clench my teeth during the day, which causes often debilitating headaches. Depending on how the appointment with the neurologist goes, my dentist will be referring me to a jaw specialist.

Husband – There are many things that my Beloved can do for me. But there are also many things that he can’t do or can’t be for me. And I think that’s awesome. He thinks I’m the best priest in the world. He thinks I’m the most beautiful woman ever. There are times when I wish I could see me through his eyes, because he sees something very different than I do.

Best Friend – She lives in a different community than I do and we get along really well. We’ve known each other for at least a decade and we always tell the truth to each other…even if it’s not what the other one wants to hear. We get together once a month (more often if we can) and there’s no talk about husbands or family allowed. Those take place through email or phone calls. Our face to face meetings are about us, and having fun.

Spiritual Advisor – He lives in a different community than I do and we don’t get together as often as we should. He has been my SA since I arrived in this community and has seen me through good and bad. He is a sage, is very wise and has an awesome sense of humour.

There are other friends who know part of my story, but not all of them. And that’s okay. I am, like you are, a multifaceted gem that is seen many different ways, depending on how the light or shadow plays off each facet. That’s not to say that I act differently with certain people then others, I treat everyone the way I wish to be treated. But not everyone is invited to puddle jump with me…

There are likely people I’ve missed from this list and if/when I think of them, I’ll add them and let you know. But for now, this is the team of people who help me be me. For that I thank God, and am very, very grateful.

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Some weeks I have very few meetings and then they all tend to bunch up…which can make for emotional whiplash and occasional frustration.

The last couple of days have been filled with appointments, both at the church and elsewhere and while they were not all of the same nature, they all touched on being in the presence of the sacred.

Yesterday afternoon I had tea with a parishioner whose husband died a couple of months ago. She feels no need to remain the community (they moved here for his medical treatments) and so she’s decided to move “home” to the community where she lived before moving here.

It’s a big step, and she’s afraid and yet she believes this is what is best for her. So as we had tea and reflected on the five years we’ve known each other there were tears, laughter and hugs. We shared prayers together and communion. And in the silence, there was the blessing of the Holy One, helping us both feel that all would be well, and all would be revealed at the right time…not necessarily in our time.

I also met with a couple who are struggling with a difficult family situation. At some point there will be a meeting at which I will mediate and as they were expressing upset, frustration and fear, something incredible happened. We joined hands, prayed aloud and a great sense of peace enveloped us. We don’t know the outcome, but we do trust that all will be revealed at the right time.

Last night I visited with a couple who are both struggling with health related issues. One has developed mobility issues and the other is awaiting a procedure for cancer. They shared openly their concerns and hopes. We prayed together and shared communion and in that silence, in that stillness there was hope. Whatever the outcome, there will be peace in the waiting. Sitting in their living room on a rainy Tuesday night I was reminded of why I do what I do.

This afternoon I will visit a lady who is in hospital with some serious medical issues. She’s been in for a couple of weeks while the medical team decides whether or not she can return home. She’s in her 80’s and not happy at the prospect of reduced mobility or a nursing home. And yet, when we sit after prayer, in the comfortable silence of each other, we feel the presence of the sacred. We know that God is with us and in time all will be revealed.

There is also a parishioner who was rushed into surgery Monday night. I was able to see him briefly before he was transferred to a room and he’s in very good spirits. His family and I prayed for the skill of the surgeons hands, as well as healing, patience and peace. And those prayers were heard. The next journey is still unknown for him and his family, but whatever the outcome there is a sense of peace.

Standing in the presence of the sacred is awe-inspiring and such an incredible honour. When little things get under my skin I remember those small, seemingly insignificant moments and breathe deeply. Knowing that this too will pass, and all things are in God’s time…not necessarily in our time.

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Sundays are generally busy days in Church Land. For some reason or other, I don’t ever seem to sleep well Saturday night, no matter how well, or poorly I’m prepared for Sunday. Today was no exception. I woke with the alarm, but didn’t get out of bed for half an hour.

Showered, dressed, walked to church and began walking through my homily. You see, when I write my homilies, they take the better part of a week and very little actually gets written down. Starting on Monday morning I review the readings for the week and go back to them at least once a day. I look at commentaries, meditate on the word and see if there’s a common thread or where the Holy Spirit is guiding me.

By the time I get to Sunday morning I’ve said my homily, aloud, at least three times. Sunday morning I try to polish what I have and make sure the phrasing is coherent.

This mornings homily went over really well. Worship as a whole was awesome and I left the church happily exhausted. I got home, and looked at my chores list…it was huge. I got changed, had a cold drink and tackled some of the list. After about an hour and a half I decided I’d done enough and headed out to do some shopping. I know, I know, it’s Sunday.

Came home with my purchases and put them away, pleased with what I’d been able to buy. I sat down to read and hit the wall. My body hurt, my head was ringing, I’d been clenching my jaw and realised that I was one large stress ball.

The phone rang and it involved a meeting that I’d been trying to arrange for months. The only day that all parties involved can attend, is Monday. This is something that needs to be addressed sooner rather than later. So Monday it is. The challenge is that I was supposed to be at a Day of Retreat out of town. But in all fairness, this meeting is important. And I’m not too far away from 10 days of holidays. You win some, you lose some.

So, I went upstairs and had a warm bath, put on clean pajamas and spent the rest of the afternoon doing nothing. I’m not normally good at doing nothing. But today I had to do nothing…my body was telling me so.

The dining room table needs to be cleaned off, and it will get done…but not today. There’s a stack of paperwork that needs to be sorted through, and it will get sorted through…but not today.

Listening to my body is something new for me. And while it seems I wait a little too long to listen, at least I am listening…eventually.

For those of you who are reading and nodding…be gentle with yourself. You know what I mean.

A new adventure awaits me Wednesday night…yoga. I bought a yoga mat today and am excited to learn more about yoga. I plan on bringing my yoga mat with me on vacation so I can practice what I’ve learned.

That adventure will wait for another day. Right now I’ve got a cup of tea to make and dishes to wash…on second thought, the dishes will wait.

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Sabbath Keeping

There has long been a history of Sabbath or literally “stop keeping”, whereby work ceases.  For many of us that means a day off or two, or perhaps more if we work shifts.  As a person in ministry there is often a perception that my main work is Sunday and the rest of the time I visit the hospital and have tea with old ladies.

Now, to be fair, there are times when I do have tea with old ladies, who have taught me more about having fun and living life gracefully than words can express.  But the “work” of clergy happens all the time.  It happens everywhere.  We don’t get breaks legislated to us.  We choose to take them, or in some cases, we don’t take any.  I tend to fall in the latter category where I get up in the morning, have a quick shower, get dressed, make coffee, say a few quick prayers and spend the day staring at a computer screen, reading, writing, organising my calendar, racing out to make a hospital visit, dropping by to provide home communion, grabbing unhealthy food from the drive-thru, then at last arriving home, exhausted and somewhat irritable that the house isn’t clean.  Check in with my spouse, remind my daughter about her homework and to pack her lunch, find something to eat out of the fridge and then off to bed which is restless and not refreshing.  

Needless to say, this is not a healthy way to live.

So I’ve decided to schedule my days and to try and keep by the schedule wherever possible.  Mondays are reserved for Bible Study and planning.  It’s also the day I begin homiletic preparation.  Tuesday, Wednesday and Thursday I keep office hours at the church and use that time to get administrative work done, check in with parishioners and keep myself focused for three hours.  If I have an evening meeting, I keep the afternoon free to do what I choose to do, be it housework, laundry, taking a walk, reading a book, meditating, etc.

Friday is my Day Off.  This is something new to me.  On Friday I don’t check email, unless I’m waiting on something personal.  I take the day slowly.  I may or may not do housework.  I spend quality time with my family.  And I will on occasion, have lunch with a friend.  Some of my friends are clergy and we have a rule…when we meet for lunch, we don’t “talk shop” unless previously agreed.  And if we are meeting on a Friday, the rule is strictly enforced.

Balance is something that has been sorely lacking in my life, and although it’s early days, I’m enjoying the “found time”.  I’m enjoying not feeling rushed, even though my days are as busy as they ever were.  And I’ve kicked guilt to the curb.  I know what I do with my day.  So does God.  And that’s good enough.


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Hello world!

This is hereto unexplored territory for me. A luddite by nature, and slow to catch on to technology and other interweb-type stuff…here I am.

The opinions I express here are mine alone, and do not reflect the opinions of any agency or organisation with which I may be involved.

This blog is an experiment in self-care and self-awareness. I belong to a profession where there is no set schedule, no 9-5 Monday to Friday world. We can, and often do work seven days a week, 365 days a year and most of what we do is not measurable. More about that later.

For now, I’ll write when I have something to say or to share. Feel free to ask questions or comment. I don’t have a smart phone or other portable device that enables me to receive messages instantly, and I like it that way.

So if you sent me a comment and I don’t reply right away, it’s not because I don’t like you. It’s simply because I’m doing something else, or I have turned off technology in order to do something fun.

Be patient with me…this is new territory.

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