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Archive for November, 2015

As a rule I don’t make a big deal of my age, or of my birthday.  Yesterday I turned 48.  Never, in my life, did I imagine I would live to this age.  For many reasons, most of which do not bear repeating.

I spent most of the day with my Mam and brother.  We had lunch together, chatting amicably and late afternoon I headed home.  What was wonderful was being together.  Not necessarily having to DO anything together; simply being together was enough.  I liked that.

When I was on the way home my house-mates invited me to meet them close to home for supper.  I happily agreed and we met in a city towards where we live.  It was small child night, or so it seemed.  Lots of laughter, pasta saucy smiles, eating with fingers and enjoying a meal out.  After dinner we headed home and my Beloved was here.  We enjoyed home-baked cake – peanut butter chocolate and it was divine!

Even the Alien joined in.  She paused her video game to join us!

And then an early night because that’s how I roll these days.  Had a relatively good sleep.  Woke at the usual time then decided I wanted to stay in bed, so I did.  Today is going to be a long day as it is our Festival of Lights for the Community.

I have the honour of acting at MC this year and I suspect it’s going to be a lot of fun.  I’m excited about it!  Right now it’s mild but raining.  I hope the rain stops and the weather stays mild…because if not, the program will be truncated…and that’s okay.

Another trip around the sun…relatively painless this year.  I like that.

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Atheism and Aliens

I wasn’t sure how to begin this blog post…you see, I have a 14 year old (a daughter-by-marriage) who resides in my home.  She used to be a beautiful, polite, funny little girl who grew into a lovely young lady.  But since she’s turned 13 1/2 she’s been abducted and an Alien has taken over.

I’ve been told this is “normal” behaviour for teens, especially teen girls.  I know I was a teenager in the dark ages, but I don’t remember being disrespectful.  I’m quite sure I tried it, but only once.  I still feel the smack I received for showing that disrespect.

She was raised in the Church, this Alien with whom I reside.

Her mother and father separated for keeps when she was just over a year old.  Her dad and I got together when she was 6 1/2.  Every other Sunday she came to Church and for the most part, she enjoyed it.  When she was 10 she was baptised in the Church, after two years of preparation.  I wanted her to be sure she was ready and not feeling coerced by her dad, her grandparents, or me.  She said she was sure.

She became a server and acolyte when she was 12 and loved it.  Then at 13 she started losing interest in all but her iPod and laptop.  Church was boring and she’d rather sleep in on Sunday mornings.  She started shirking her responsibilities when she was rostered.  So we had a chat and she decided she no longer wanted to be in service.  And that was okay.

She stopped going to Church, other than on High Holy Days, and that was harder, but it was okay.

Last weekend she had a sleepover with her dad’s parents, her Oma and Opa.  And when Oma invited her to come to Church for a baptism she said, snottily “I don’t DO Church anymore, like, I’m an ATHEIST, and like, we don’t DO Church.” then tossed her head and flounced off.  She used to LOVE baptisms.

Remember I said she was 14?  She’s REALLY good at it.

Tonight I heard her chatting with her “friends” online and every other phrase was “like, OH MY GAWD”.  I asked her not to say that.  She looked at my blankly.  I said “If you’re an Atheist, you don’t believe in God.  Therefore you don’t HAVE a God.  Thus, you cannot say Oh MY God.”

I’m sure you could hear her eye roll from across the village where we live.  She was not amused.  And neither am I.

I have friends who are Atheists.  And they’re lovely, caring people.

I fear the Alien is not an Atheist, she’s simply an Asshole.  And there’s a big damn difference.  Don’t get me wrong, there are Christians who are assholes.  There’s Atheists who are assholes.  But being an asshole, doesn’t make you an Atheist.  Being an asshole makes you an asshole.

Make sense?  Calling yourself an Atheist doesn’t mean you can treat everyone around you like an asshole.

I know she’s at an age where she is pushing against all she was raised with,  so she can find her own way; her own identity.  And I get that.

I suspect she’s an Atheist because her friends are and it’s the “cool” thing to be.  She also wants to be counter-cultural.  In this day and age being a Christian is being counter-cultural; and of course, I did NOT say this to her.

We used to talk for hours about all kinds of things.  Now it’s glottal stops and eye rolls.  I asked her the other day if she needed a drink of water as she kept clearing her throat.  She looked blankly at me and I asked her if she had a hairball.  She made that sound again, tossed her hair and walked away.  It was definitely a walk and not a flounce.  I checked.

I’ve been told the real girl may re-emerge when she turns 20.  I don’t know I can wait that long.

But in the mean time, I’m going to go hang out with some Atheists.  They’re lovely.  And generally converse with actual words, not glottal stops and eye rolls.  I like that.

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TDoR

On the 20th of November, many major cities in North America and the World, recognize Trans*Day of Remembrance. It’s not a celebration. It’s a somber and solemn occasion when the Trans* Community and their Allies gather to remember those men and women who were killed because of their choice to identify as their true self.

My friend J came to share her story with us last Sunday and while her story, at times, was difficult to hear, it was necessary for her to share it. She spoke eloquently of her knowing she was not male, although she was assigned male at birth. She shared her journey of “coming out” to her family and friends. Some reactions were better than expected; some were worse. Through it all she retained her sense of self and her affection for her creator.

Her son A came with her to Church and there were a few of her friends from the Trans* Community who came to provide moral support. There were a couple of members in the congregation who were uncomfortable and unhappy at what J was sharing with us. One member of the Congregation refused to share the Peace with her, while another nearly knocked her over in their urge to share their joy at her bravery and interest in her story.

Two families with children were present and both sets of parents commented how grateful they were that their children heard what J said. A seven year old thought she was “cool”. High praise indeed!

We are grateful for people like J who have the strength and courage to share their stories. We gather to remember those whose stories may never otherwise be told. Such as an eight year old boy who was certain she was supposed to be a girl. She stopped cutting her hair, began dressing as a girl and asked her family to use a female name for her. Her father was enraged and began to beat her, hoping to show her how it was to be a boy. In his anger and rage he beat her to death. Her father. She was eight.

I have the honour of offering a non-denominational, interfaith prayer at the beginning of the service. And I have been tasked with reading the story of one of the victims of transphobia, one of the many for whom we gather to remember.

It breaks my heart every time I hear of another young Trans* person taking their life rather than endure the taunts and horror that surrounds them, especially early in their transition. Its easy for those of us who are not Trans* to tell them to hang on…to wait…but until we live in their skin, think with their brain, love with their heart, see with their eyes, we will never understand.

What we need is a Revolution of Love. A commitment each of us makes to love without abandon. To love in the face of hatred and fear. To love when it seems there’s nothing useful to say. Because in times of great sorrow there isn’t anything helpful to say. But we can be. Together. In the peaceful quiet. And we can love.

Darkness cannot overcome darkness. Only light can do that. Hatred cannot overcome hatred. Only love can do that.

So when we feel the world has gone insane and there is only violence and hatred, we respond heart-fully, bravely, with love.

It begins with each and every one of us. If we know love we can share love. And in sharing love we overcome the hatred within us. I believe we can, with time, faith, trust and love…change the world.

And on Saturday, when we gather in the City for Trans* Day of Remembrance, our hearts will be filled with grief and pain. And hopefully through words of hope and courage we will begin to replace that grief with hope and that pain with love.

One soul at a time. One heart at a time. One being at a time.

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Today is the 11th of November. In the small town where I live we will gather at 10:50 at the Cenotaph for a service of remembrance and peace. My colleague from the Church across the street is participating for the first time and he will be preaching. A few years ago I wrote some prayers for the service and have adapted them each year. It will be interesting to see the faces in the crowd as my colleague preaches. We traditionally enjoy a vast demographic presence; from the very young to the very old.

Last year, after the Parliament Hill and War Memorial shootings, there was a particularly large crowd. The weather is sunny but cool, with a bit of a wind. The perfect combination for Remembrance Day.

Last Sunday I preached on Remembrance Sunday about peace, remembering and finding a better way to solve conflict. I must admit, I was angry when I was preaching as it doesn’t seem we’ve learned anything in the 4,000 years since the prophet Micah wrote “they shall beat their swords into ploughshares, their sprears into pruning hooks; nation shall not rise again; we will war no more”. Our weaponry is more sophisticated than ever and the art of battle looks more like a video game than hand to hand combat. Yet PTSD and broken souls is still as prevalent as it was in the time of the Boer War. When will we learn a better way?

This Sunday a friend of mine is going to share her story as a transgender woman of faith. I have known her since early in her transition and I have witnesses a beautiful soul blossoming after years of fear and anxiety at being who she was meant to be. She was born male, and struggled all her life to accept who she was truly meant to be. Her transition happened later in life, but today she is strong, she is spirit-filled, she is a beautiful advocate who speaks eloquently. I am in deep admiration for her.

Next Saturday we will gather for the Trans* Day of Remembrance. My friend is the MC for the night and I’m so pleased for her. I have been asked again to provide a blessing and am honoured to do so. November has become, for me, a season of remembrance.

As the Christian year winds down it’s a time of great reflection in looking back at where we have been, looking ahead to where we may dare to be and being present in where we currently are.

It has been said that if we do not remember our past mistakes, we are doomed to repeat them. And yet, how and when do we learn a new way to disagree and manage conflict? War cannot always be the way. There must be a peaceable solution…

I believe in the very depths of my soul that peace is possible. But it has to begin with each and every one of us when we choose love over hate, acceptance over fear, and peace over war.

They shall grow not old, as we that are left grow old;
Age shall not weary them, nor the years condemn;
At the going down of the sun, and in the morning,
We WILL remember them.

Amen

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Is it just me or does it seem the winds are strange this year?

When I was away in Tobermory there was a constant warm wind blowing.  It was especially prevalent on Election Day and in fact, the winds of change blew through Ottawa and beyond.  Most of the time the wind was gentle and soothing, but on occasion it whipped up into something approaching violence.

Since I’ve been home the winds seem to be shifting…making it difficult to point to one direction or another.  The leaves get whipped around, the dogs can’t seem to settle.  I’m having difficulty sleeping, which happens when the seasons change.  I can’t seem to settle…when I walk I feel connected and aware.  I’ve been walking at my usual morning time and again through the day, and I still can’t seem to settle.

My neck, head, face and jaw are in agony.  I’m going to see my RMT tonight and hopefully she can help relieve some of the pressure that is crowding my head.

The temperatures have been significantly above seasonal for this time of year.  I’ve yet to wear a pair of gloves and it’s November…strange.  But wonderful at the same time.

I’ve heard the word “El Nino” described for this winter…while that may mean above seasonal temperatures it can also mean more freezing rain than usual.  And that’s not good.  I’m not a fan of freezing rain.

This Sunday is Remembrance Sunday at the Church and I’m feeling a mixture of anxiety, sadness and pride.  There is so much to be said about the sacrifice of the women and men of the Canadian Armed Forces.  There is much to be said for the sacrifices of the soldiers who fight today.  And there’s the overwhelming need and desire for peace.  At heart I am a pacifist and yet I come from a proud military heritage.  And therein lies the tension.

I pray that God will be with me as I open my heart to preach.  I pray I will find the balance of that which unsettles me.  And I pray I will find the strength to heed the winds of change as they blow through my community, my life and my soul.

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