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Archive for the ‘Rants’ Category

I’ve found myself feeling irritated lately. I don’t usually get irritated and when I do, it’s usually blown over easily. Yet for some reason, lately there seems to be a “pandemic of stupid” if you will.

The decision to re-open our buildings, timing, etc. is delicate. And the Parish sent out a questionnaire to find out what people are feeling as far as re-opening. Tomorrow I have a meeting where a final decision will be made by our Joint Church Committee. We will be looking at the feedback from the questionnaire as the decisions are made.

Lately some people have been telling me that what we’re doing, no, sorry, what I’M doing is wrong. That I’m going about this whole thing the wrong way. I was raised to be respectful, especially of my elders, and so I usually listen carefully, I acknowledge that I’m listening and then I try and find a way to further engage the dialogue.

But you know what? There’s no cure for stupid. Ignorance can be lifted through education, but there ain’t no cure for stupid.

The “armchair quarterbacks” are minimal, but they are out in force. Their voice, they believe, is the most important voice. And I know that there is no way I will make everyone happy. I know that. Yet I despair that someone may feel their voice is not heard.

My grandson needed emergency surgery a week and a bit ago. His appendix became inflamed and he was rushed into surgery. He was recovering well, then, over the weekend he started feeling worse. He was taken back to hospital and after a six hour wait in which he was told he was not a priority, his Dad took him to a hospital in another city who’s emergency room had very little wait.

He’s now awaiting emergency surgery because there is an infection by his spinal column that needs to be removed. I ran into a person in the community who asked me why I was so “down in the mouth” and I told her I was worried for my grandson. She dismissed my worry which was aggravating, THEN she questioned the strength of my faith because, and I quote, if I truly “had faith, I would not need to worry, I simply need to give it over to God.” When she said this I saw red.

“I have great faith in God, and I also have great faith in the surgeons and medical team caring for my grandson.” Yet I can and will still worry. Anaesthetic is a big deal. A young man in excruciating pain is a very big deal. She looked at me blankly and I turned and walked away. In my heart I know he will be okay. The surgery will be a success because he is a strong young man. I have faith in the surgeons to do their job well. And the rest of the medical team; techs, nurses, etc., will ensure he recovers well. BUT I CAN AND WILL STILL WORRY.

Words matter. Some people suck. And now I’m going to get some ice cream and go to bed early.

I would greatly appreciate prayers, good vibes, healing energy for my grandson and his medical team. Please and thank you.

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I am having difficulty wrapping my head around the news of the remains of 215 children being found behind a former Indian Residential School in Kamloops. Yesterday, after I finished my sermon for Trinity Sunday I went for a walk in one of my favourite places and listened for the sound of the wind.

As a settler and a priest in the Church I feel deep shame that there were children taken from their parents and forced to speak a language they did not understand. They lost their culture, their language and their traditions. Many families were devastated. And that trauma has proven to be generational. Addiction, suicide, depression, a myriad of other symptoms and illness related to trauma.

I cannot find the words to express how I am feeling, other than profound shame.

I cannot figure out how to shut off my brain so I can rest.

I do not know what to do to make amends and to express my outrage and grief.

215 children.

430 parents who were told God knows what about their child’s death? Were they told at all?

860 grandparents who were denied the opportunity to share their language and culture. To impart the stories of their families to ensure those children would become knowledge and language keepers.

Countless siblings and relations who were unable to grieve.

And so, what do we do?

What can we do?

I feel heartsick, but I do not know if I have the right to feel that way, as a settler.

I received a letter from the Reverend Murray Pruden, the National Executive Minister for Indigenous Ministries and Justice with the United Church of Canada. In it was a prayer he wrote.

We give thanks for this day and each day you grant us life to walk on this great land, our Mother.
Give us the heart and strength to come together in prayer in time of mourning, reflection and peace.
The news we have heard these last few days of our relations, families, the children who have been
physically taken away from us and have now been found.
And with this news, we grieve for their memory, for their struggle, for their spirit.
We pray for good understanding, guidance and love for all our families and communities who will need the direction and resolution at this time.
And we come together in prayer and ask for your light to guide us to be a part of that needed peace, support and resolve for everyone who is reacting to this great tragedy in our Indigenous Nations of this great land.
Creator be with us, allow us to be brave. Allow us to be strong. Allow us to be gentle to one another.
Allow us to be humble. But most of all, allow us to be like the Creator’s love.
Peace be with us, we lift up our prayers to you. In love, trust and truth, peace be with us all. In Jesus name. Amen.

Reverend Murray Pruden, National Executive Minister for Indigenous Ministries and Justice, United Church of Canada

We now know of the 215 lost children. I struggle to grasp that there may be more children that we do not yet know found in mass graves behind other former Indian Residential Schools.

Why, dear God, why?

215 children

I need to re-read the recommendations of the Truth and Reconciliation Commission. There is more that I can do. I want to engage my Parish and teach about the horror of residential schools, as I suspect, there are many who do not know the history of the I.R.S. and the Church’s roll in that atrocity.

A few years ago I watched “Children of God”, a musical written about a Residential School in Northern Ontario. Corey Payette was the driving force behind Children of God, in writing both the music and dialogue for “Children of God”. At the beginning of the evening, before the show officially started, several school-aged children came up and introduced themselves in English and in Ktunaxa…a language which was on the verge of being lost, but thanks to the language keepers, it has been preserved and is being taught once again.

At the end of the show the actors are singing Gimikwenden Ina “Do you remember” a haunting song. During the show a young girl is raped and is forced to endure an abortion. The shame she feels for the dishonour brought to her family forces her to take her life. In singing Gimikwenden Ina, this young woman is sung to the next life. She appears at the edge of the stage, dressed in red and as the song is sung, she moves towards the front of the stage and out the side stage door. By this point the entire audience is standing, holding hands and singing the chorus of the song repeatedly. Tears unabashedly streaming down our faces – emotions mixed and raw.

The past two days I’ve been listening to music from Children of God. And I break open. I want to cry, to release the emotions I cannot quite express, but as of yet I am unable.

I encourage you to watch this and let the raw emotion wash over you.

Think of those 215 children with whom the Creator has remained.

Those 215 children who can now rest in peace.

The families of these 215 children who will never know why.

The Vancouver Art Gallery had a display of 215 pairs of children’s shoes as a memorial for the 215 children found. Other makeshift memorials have been set up across Canada. Flags have been lowered to half-mast.

It is something. But is it enough?

Blessed and Wise Creator, ignite the anger in me, to act. Help me to learn what to do and how to do it to keep the message of the cultural genocide known, so those atrocities will never again be repeated. Teach me what to do with my shame and my guilt.

Gimikwenden Ina – I will remember.

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I’m sure most of you are familiar with the African proverb, “it takes a village to raise a child”. In making changes, both small and significant, I have realised that it takes a team to keep me sane, and upright…well, unless gravity intervenes.

A couple of weeks ago I was at the chiropractor for my bi-weekly visit. At that visit he was going through diagnostic tests that are done twice a year. They measure my biochemistry among other things, and can show cause and effect to how I’m doing. I’m not sure exactly what it measures, but he can read my stress, and life balance, in the results. Needless to say, given how the last couple of months have gone, the results weren’t great.

So we talked about it. About what’s been happening in my life. About how I need to make changes within myself before I can expect anything else to change.

My physiotherapist is also an amazing resource. And she’s a parishioner. She, her husband and their lovely dog join us by Zoom for Worship some Sunday mornings. And it’s great. She and I also talk about how my body responds to stress and what I can do to help with physical and joint issues, which right now, are many.

I have the best family doctor. She is much younger than I am and we have a very open relationship. She knows I will advocate for myself and she will call me out when I’m not doing what I should be doing. A couple of weeks ago I was not doing well at all. And she called me on it. So, now I’m taking a pill to help relax me enough to sleep. The pill works well…when I remember to take it at the best time, not four hours later. Ugh.

My Spiritual Advisor is a former mentor and current close and trusted friend. She lives in Ontario and will also challenge me when I’m not at my best, and will call me out, on what I need to do to be at my best. The other night we spent a couple of hours crying together over the phone, as I realised that I need to make myself a priority. I need to be as much of a priority as my Parish. Now where you, kind reader may be saying “Well, duh”; to me, this was an extraordinary realisation.

I also realise how fortunate I am to live in Canada, with universal health care and a great set of medical and dental benefits from my employer; to enable me to visit the chiropractor, and physiotherapist without going bankrupt. To be able to talk to my family doctor, or go to the emergency room and not need a loan to do so.

Each year I am required to write up a set of Goals and Objectives, for myself and to measure my parish leadership. At the end of the year I go through them with a committee, whose sole focus is ensuring I feel supported. When I sat down to go through the goals for 2019-2020, I was certain I had not achieved most of them, because of medical leave early in 2020 and because of COVID-19. When I stepped back to look at what we did accomplish I was astounded. Which is fodder for another blog post…

I came up with just two goals for 2021-2022. The first is to maintain status quo with respect to my workload. Focusing on Worship, Liturgical and Homiletic Preparation, crisis Pastoral care and other life milestones, such as baptism, weddings and funerals. In other words: hatch, match and dispatch. The second goal is to be more mindful with how I care for myself so I don’t end up on the knife’s edge again. Both goals were received enthusiastically.

I’m learning that I need to follow a routine if I’m going to be at my best. I need to wake up and go to sleep at the same time each day, regardless of what day it is. I can nap in the middle of the day, but I need to observe the same waking and sleeping times.

I’m learning that my body is unreliable in triggering hunger. In the morning I tend to feel nauseous, a side effect of medication and M.E. On days when I’m at the office, I don’t pack myself lunch or snacks or anything. And sometimes I find myself walking through the door at 4:00 pm feeling unsteady and somewhat lightheaded. Well, duh.

SO, the plan is that when I am going to be working at the office, I will pack (mostly) healthy snacks in my work bag as well as some water. I will endeavour to eat in the morning, and will aim for two meals a day. On days when I’m working from home or enjoying the Sabbath, I will again aim for two meals a day, plus snacks.

Every day I will go outside. Even if it is to smell the air and walk around the block, I will get outside and move my body.

I will take breaks when working, rather than pushing through, then realising it’s 9:00 pm and I haven’t eaten or moved in several hours.

Priority one is sleep. Once I have that balance achieved, it should help the other priorities fall into place, such as journaling daily, intentional daily prayer, intentional meditative practice, stretching and breathing exercises. Being gentle and loving with my body. Curbing negative self-talk, and treating myself with the same kindness I treat those I love.

My hope, is that in six months, I will be feeling and looking much better. Right now I’m weary and look as though I’ve been “dragged through hedge, backwards” as my Mam is fond of saying. In other words, I look as lousy as I feel.

But hey, I’m grieving after suppressing that grief. Grieving takes time, and so does healing. And because it’s written down and shared with several people, you included, dear reader, I will now be more accountable, to myself and to you.

So, you can expect more frequent posts, I won’t commit to how frequent, but definitely more than once a month.

And now I will wash my face, brush my teeth and head to bed where I will journal and listen to a daily meditation. And then hopefully fall asleep to the sound of my cat purring.

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The Reverend David Arthur Traies Fuller

28 February 1960 – 21 November 2020

David Arthur Traies Fuller was a flawed man. He was the first to tell you that, and yet he cared deeply, often too deeply, about how he was seen. His reputation was important to him. He believed in the Book of Judgment, and would often lament that he was certain, at the end of his life, God would examine him, and he’d be found wanting. The past two years have not been good for him – health-wise; both physically and mentally.

I met David Fuller at my first Clergy Conference in 2007. I made the mistake of wandering into the hospitality room, and didn’t know a single person there. I looked around the room for a friendly face and was feeling more and more anxious. I went to the bar and bought a beer, then found a place to stand along a wall. I heard a baritone voice “Excuse me, would you like to sit here?” And there he was, larger than life, gesturing to the opposite end of the couch on which he sat. I gratefully accepted, he stood as I approached and he waited for me to sit before he did so as well. He offered to buy me a drink, which I politely declined, as I’d just bought one, and we then talked for what turned out to be hours. And so a friendship was born.

I intentionally chose the reading from Isaiah. The heavenly banquet, “a feast of rich food, a feast of well-matured wines, of rich food filled with marrow, of well-matured wines strained clear”. (Isaiah 25.6, NRSV) David loved to eat. Watching him prepare to eat a steak was an adventure. He’d ask for a steak cooked medium, baked potato and cremated onions. He didn’t want them just grilled, he wanted them black. Not once, in all the meals we had together, did he ever get cremated onions, they were always returned to the table before they were fully blackened.

They way he ate reflected how he lived. With gusto. He would cut a small piece of steak, then carefully add the onions, some potato, a bit of steak sauce, and pop it in his mouth. His eyes would roll back in his head, he’d place his utensils at attention and he’d groan with ecstasy, unless the steak wasn’t cooked properly, then the wait staff would receive a gesture and things would be put right.

He loved being a priest and he was an excellent priest. He also loved being a teacher, and when he left the classroom and returned to Parish Ministry, the time he spent on the Postulancy Board, with the exception of the last couple of years, was time he truly enjoyed. He relished in the task of walking with candidates for Ordination. He enjoyed challenging them. He would tell every student, at the beginning of their summer, that he was trusting them with his flock. If they messed with his flock, he would mess with them. But with stronger language. To him Parish Ministry was all about establishing and maintaining relationships.

Every Christmas, after his last service, he would come home, open a bag of Lay’s ridged chips, some French Onion dip, a bottle of Pepsi, and watch “It’s a Wonderful Life”. His favourite scene was when Zuzu saw a bell ringing on the Christmas tree. “Teacher says, every time a bell rings, an angel gets it’s wings”. I quoted that once to him, complete with Zuzu’s voice and he said “don’t ever do that again.”

David Fuller could swear, especially when he was worked up. He and I once got into an argument about something theological and both ended up red-faced, cursing and about an inch away from each other’s nose. Then he started laughing. “You’re cute when you’re angry” he said. I said bad words.

He would often tell me of his children Sarah and Matthew and how, when they were born, it was important to him that they both receive the name Traies as well as Fuller.

He was proud of his heritage, he was proud of his family. He was awed by his father Doug’s gifts of ministry, and yet would often question his motivation, particularly when it came to being ornery with Bishops. How ironic that in the last two to three, okay, dozen years, he’s become ornery with his Bishops.

He talked of visits to London to visit with his brother’s Keith and Terry or “The Guys” and how they’d eat dinner together, then doze off in front of the TV with the game still playing. He loved reminiscing about “the good old days”, of times gone by, when the world seemed a simpler and kinder place.

He would talk about his childhood, growing up on military bases and how he intended to go into the military, not the priesthood. God had other ideas. It was on the top of a hill in Chilliwack, BC, during his basic training, when he watched a sunrise so spectacular, it caused him physical pain. He knew it was a call from God, but he wasn’t yet ready to answer that call. When he finally did answer that call, he talked to his C.O., then called his parents from a payphone and told them he was coming home…and going into the other family business – the priesthood.

In the last couple of years David would talk about his children with such love. Sarah Christine Traies Fuller, he was so impressed with your gumption. Your dad loved watching you eat. I see you as embodying your Dad’s best traits. You won’t be silent in the face of injustice. You speak up, even if you’re the only one speaking. You give with all you have, and you can swear like a trucker.

Matthew Christopher Traies Fuller is the creative one in the family. Your dad loved watching you on stage. He admired your fearlessness. Your desire to travel, to see the world, and when you met and married Marco, he was so very pleased that you found your true love. While I haven’t heard it because I haven’t spent a lot of time with Matthew, I expect he can swear when the occasion calls for it.

David played his cards close to his chest. He didn’t let many people in, and when he let you in, you knew you were in the presence of the sacred. Whenever we would attend a Clergy Education Day, he and I would arrange to gather afterwards, for dinner and a chat to discuss whatever it was we learned that day, and then how we would never get that time back…sorry Bishop.

He didn’t trust many people. He had many acquaintances, yet not many friends. And to be his friend was to feel special. When I would visit, especially before I moved West, we would walk by the waterfront, always with him on the outside, and with my arm tucked firmly under his. Always a gentleman, he would open the door, hold my seat and insist on sitting where he could see the door.

He is one of the few people with whom I always felt completely safe.

David took his mother Phyllis’s death in 2015, very hard. It was unexpected as his father Doug had been in and out of hospital. He and I talked about his Mum’s funeral, and whether he should preside. My Dad had died three years earlier and I had presided his funeral. David understood that I was the only one that would do it correctly – that would be able to do what my Dad wanted. So it was no question, he would preside Phyllis’s funeral. It nearly broke him, but he did it.

When I lived in Dorchester, I used to pick my mother up from the care home where she lived and still lives in Innisfil. David offered to drive with me so he could visit with Sarah. My mother adored David. And funnily enough, could never remember his name, even though her only son has he same name – David. When we would stop for smoke breaks, David would stand outside with my Mam, as she lit a cigarette, while I would go and fetch coffee. On one such smoke break I could see his face turning crimson. I came over in time to hear my Mam say “I like you, she should have married you.” It was the first and only time I saw him speechless.

When I made the decision to move West he was angry with me, but didn’t tell me until about a week before I left. We met for dinner and he told me not to go…plans had already been made, I’d accepted a post with Christ Church in Fernie and I’d left St. Peter’s, Dorchester. “You’re my best friend”, he said. I told him I’d still be his best friend, even on the other side of the country. I promised whenever I came back to Ontario, I would visit him. And I did. Every August I would venture back to Ontario, except this year.

In August of 2019 I was waiting on cancer test results, and he knew I was worried. I asked if I could come to Church and he picked me up at the hotel where I was staying in Chatham and took me to all three services. At the second service in Blenheim, he asked me to stand up and asked the congregation to surround me. He and they, laid their hands on me and he prayed for me. I don’t remember much of what was said, but I do remember feeling as though I was being enveloped in love. That was the first and only time he saw me speechless.

David was loved by many parishioners over his 32 years of parish ministry. He loved his flock in the Parish of Rondeau Bay. The folks from Trinity Blenheim, St. Paul’s Erieau, and Grace Church at Rondeau Park. He was fond of boasting that it was the only Anglican Church inside a provincial park. He and the congregation at Grace Church, helped in the formation of many good priests in the Diocese of Huron. He was quite proud of the cherry pie baking ladies, and enjoyed the Christmas bazaars and Parish suppers.

The last time I saw David was in November of 2019 when we spent a week together on retreat. He had come through a hospital stay about three weeks before and wasn’t well while we were together. We talked about the end of life. I asked him how he wanted to be remembered, and his reply surprised me. He didn’t want to be remembered as a fabulous preacher or incredible liturgist. He wanted to be remembered as someone who was generous. And whether it was giving advice, going out for a meal, or spending time with you, he was always incredibly generous.

We discussed our wishes for our funerals. He told me what he wanted, who he wanted, and where he wanted it. And he asked me, as he had done in 2010, if I would preach at his funeral. I agreed. I simply never imagined it would be this soon. When he dropped me off at the airport to fly back home, I hugged him and said “I’m not ready to stop loving you.” And he said “Oh come on now, knock it off.”

The gospel today is one David and I discussed often, as we both carry burdens that we don’t need to. It’s an occupational hazard as a Priest and as an Empath. The last two years and especially, the last nine months David struggled. He struggled with his priest-craft. He continually doubted that he was doing enough during the pandemic. He loved and worried so much for his people, that he gave himself away, often to his own physical and mental detriment.

From Matthew’s Gospel we hear Jesus say, ‘Come to me, all you that are weary and are carrying heavy burdens, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you, and learn from me; for I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. For my yoke is easy, and my burden is light.’ (Matthew 11.29-30, NRSV)

David carried massive burdens, which were compounded with some parishioners questioning if he should be receiving a full stipend, because the Church was closed and how much was he really working? When he shared that with me, I was angry and disappointed. He believed that he was doing an adequate job, but it wasn’t enough. He called through the parish list, one at a time, over and over again. He was checking on his people, ensuring they had his support and prayers.

He prayed for his flock, and after lock-down began, every Sunday, with the exception of two, he went to Church and did the three services, alone, save for the presence of the Divine. He would use the Great Litany. He would sometimes chant “O Gracious Light”. He would pray. And often, he would cry. He missed weekly worship, he missed his flock, and he missed the Eucharist.

David started a weekly email reflection in July, and every Saturday night he would call and we would compare notes. He’d read me his reflection and I’d read him my sermon. Sometimes we were in lock-step and other times we wondered if one of us had the wrong readings for that Sunday.

Friday the 20th of November we talked through the day. He wasn’t feeling well. He said he was going to go to bed early, and he’d call me the following day. It was the next day, Saturday the 21st of November that he died.

At 9:10 am on Sunday 22nd November, his Archdeacon and my friend Kristen Aikman called me. I must have asked her to repeat herself a half dozen times. And then I said bad words.

It still doesn’t feel real. Writing this has been one of the most difficult things I’ve ever done, and yet it is a labour of love. It is keeping a promise I made my best friend. Someone I loved, and from whom, was honoured to receive love. I miss his laughter. I miss his hugs. When David Fuller hugged you, you knew you had been hugged.

David Fuller was a flawed man. He didn’t properly care for himself, and was too proud and private to let anyone else care for him. His diabetes and depression had been escalating. He told me in March that he didn’t expect to survive the pandemic; not that he was afraid of contracting COVID-19. Whether it was foreshadowing or a self-fulfilling prophecy, we’ll never know. He was right. He didn’t survive the pandemic.

He may have died feeling he had not done his best, yet I am certain, when he arrived before his God, and the Book of Judgment was opened; the gates of heaven opened wide and he heard “Well done, good and faithful servant.” From Isaiah “And he will destroy on this mountain the shroud that is cast over all peoples, the sheet that is spread over all nations; he will swallow up death for ever.” “Then the Lord God will wipe away the tears from all faces, and the disgrace of his people he will take away from all the earth,
for the Lord has spoken”. (Isaiah 25.7-8, NRSV)

We now have a job. To remember our David. At his best, of course. Each of us has a thread, a thread of different colours. And as we share our stories of him, and in doing so remember him, we weave together a tapestry that will resemble him; not in a portrait, but as a rendering of him and the things that were important to him.

His children, his family, his flock, his friends. Winning a cap badge at auction on e-bay. Finding a special something that reminded him of someone and gifting it to them. Meeting a friend for a meal, or a cup of coffee, and setting the world to rights. Debating theology, U.S. Politics or Church History.

Walking with a grieving family and ensuring that they felt supported in their grief. Now it is time for us to grieve him. And this grief will last for the rest of our lives. It won’t always feel this strong, with time it will fade, but it will always be there. You see, when someone you love dies, the pain you feel is matched only by the love you shared.

And as we don’t ever want to stop loving him, we will never stop feeling this pain. It will lessen, then all of a sudden we will remember him; watching a murmuration of birds, hearing the waves lapping the shore, watching a funny YouTube clip, going for a drive on a perfect Spring afternoon, or hearing a song by the Alan Parsons Project. It will feel like a shot to the solar plexus and we will be transported back to the day we found out he had died.

David asked that “Old and Wise” by the Alan Parsons Project, be played at this funeral. To quote some of the lyrics, “And to those I leave behind/I want you all to know/You’ve always shared my darkest hours/I’ll miss you when I go” and “When they ask you if you knew me/Remember that you were a friend of mine” (Old and Wise, Written by Parsons/Woolfson)

The Reverend David Arthur Traies Fuller, or “Dave” as he preferred to be called. To a select few he was David. Beloved son, father, nephew, uncle, priest, prophet, lover, friend. You will be remembered. Rest well beloved David. You have earned it.

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Today is the 11th of November. It’s Remembrance Day. I woke up this morning with bright sun shining off the snow that fell yesterday, and I felt numb. That’s been a common sensation lately. There’s part of me that wants to rage and weep, to cry and scream, to shout and curse, and yet I’m unable to do any of those things.

I got dressed very warm to go to the Cemetery Cenotaph today. Usually I’m in full Legion Uniform with a black wool funeral cope, a black beret and black gloves. Today I dressed in long underwear, a pair of black tights, a long sleeved white top, cassock and surplice, two pairs of socks, funeral cope, beret and gloves. Poppy and mask.

My friend and neighbour drove me to the Cemetery and we arrived to see a swath of snow removed to make a walk-way for those who would be laying wreaths. The Communications person for the local Legion branch was there with her iPad and iPhone ready to record and broadcast the service. A reporter from our weekly paper was also there.

I chatted with the lady who was giving a speech this year. She does every year and she is truly gifted in her ability to write. We saw flashing lights from the corner of our eyes and the motorcade had begun. Firefighters in the first two vehicles, then about a dozen vehicles, with the RCMP bringing up the rear, also with lights flashing. It was a mesmerizing sight.

People exited their vehicles, everyone was masked, most in uniforms of various descriptions. A veteran from each branch of the service stood at the head or foot of a soldier’s grave. Once we were all in place, our soloist began with O Canada, his baritone voice clear and rich. He sang our national anthem the way I have become accustomed, half in English and half in French. There was a moment of silence then the bugle recording sounded the last post. We observed two minutes of silence, a recording of a piper played a lament, then reveille was sounded.

In the distance the Church bell rung, indicating it was 11:00 a.m. We began a little early, but I don’t think anyone noticed. I heard my name called and I went to the podium and read from Micah 4.1-5 and a prayer I wrote yesterday. Then I put my mask back on and walked back to where I had been standing.

Jennifer read her speech and it was awesome. She had researched some of the soldiers buried in the veteran’s section of the cemetery. She reflected on what their funerals would have resembled, with a horse-drawn hearse. She spoke of the brave, the survivors, those who returned injured and broken. She named PTSD and the respect all of our soldiers deserve, from yesterday, today and into tomorrow.

Then it was time for the wreaths to be laid. As the names were being read out a flock of birds began to sing and fly. I don’t know what kind of birds they were, but they were beautiful framed against the grey sky. It was overcast so we couldn’t see the Three Sisters (mountains) but they had been described in Jennifer’s speech and those of us who have lived in this valley for awhile have all seen them.

From where I stood I saw young veterans whose memories of Afghanistan are still fresh. I saw old veterans whose memories of peace keeping and of active service were just beneath the surface of their eyes. There were firefighters, both professional and volunteer. Conservation officers and regional and local personnel. The Silver Cross Mother laid her wreath first and when she removed the poppy from her lapel, kissed it through her mask and pinned it to the wreath, I counted 8 other poppies.

In all about 18 wreaths were laid, and then it was time to sing God Save the Queen and depart. Our soloist, Karl, sang two verses of the song. We sang along with verse one, but he lost us in the second verse. I hummed beneath my mask. He turned suddenly when he’d finished the second verse and Jennifer smiled, thanked everyone for coming then Oscar told everyone to return to their cars, and follow one another out of the cemetery. Apparently Karl had forgotten the third verse of God Save the Queen and was upset about that. I told him I didn’t realize there WAS a third verse to God Save the Queen. He head learned it for today.

A couple of veterans came over to say hello as we headed back to our vehicles. We lamented that we couldn’t go to Rocky Mountain Village for the brief service we do each year, but we all understand why. Hopefully next year.

As the wreaths were being laid, I thought back on the days when I was in my 20’s and I’d take the day off work to be in the Colour Party for the Legion, then go back to the branch and bartend for a few hours. None of the men and women I marched with are still alive, as they were in their 60’s and 70’s back then. I’m in my 50’s now.

Jennifer and her husband drove me home and I came in, got out of my formal clothes, pulled on my favourite house socks and did some work. About 3:00 pm I decided my work day was over and I found the movie Passchendaele. I had not watched it before. I’m glad I watched it today.

This was a Remembrance Day unlike any other I’ve experienced. And one I will remember forever.

They shall grow not old, as we that are left grow old.

Age shall not weary them, nor the year’s condemn.

At the going down of the sun, and in the morning,

We will remember them. We WILL remember them.

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I’m having the kind of week where it seems I’ve forgotten to recharge my brain and the battery is in the red zone. Every time I leave my flat I make at least one visit back because I’ve forgotten my keys, my purse, my mask or the list of things I need because without it, I’ll invariably forget. Ugh.

We have entered the season of Remembrance. On Sunday we celebrated All Saints Day. At the conclusion of service I switched on a battery powered candle and wrote down the names of those who have died since November 2019. That candle continued to “burn” until this morning.

Last night we had our first “virtual” All Soul’s Service for those who have sustained a death or are simply needing a place to come together and grieve. I lit 30 candles, as that was the number of names I had for those who died recently, and those for whom we had been asked to remember.

The service usually contains a time for individual prayer with anointing and Eucharist. We could not have the full service in Church because it would be longer than the recommended 40 minutes. We are not allowed to touch, so anointing would be out of the question. And online Eucharist is not yet been approved in the Anglican Diocese where I practice my ministry.

So the online service ended up being about 20 minutes, but it also gave us an opportunity to speak to each other.

I’m feeling irritated today, like I can’t focus on the work I need to get done. Part of it, I’m certain, relates to being an empath and feeling other people’s grief and sorrow.

But I suspect part of it is feeling folk’s anxiety about the U.S. Presidential election. I’ve intentionally not listened to any news outlets today. I’ve received multiple emails from different sources reminding me I can “tune in live” to hear the results of the Presidential election. But I’m not going to.

I am going to relight the candles I used last night and sit with them, reading, perhaps journaling, until they extinguish, then I’ll likely go to bed.

The reality is, I’m weary, as I was in my last posting. I slept a lot yesterday and it helped, but I need more.

My flat is a mess, my housework is accumulating, but honestly, I can’t be arsed. I know I’ll get the gumption back up at some point to get it all done. But likely, it won’t be today. And it may not be tomorrow.

I’m going to make a list of things that must be done, as far as worship, the baptism on Saturday, meetings that I must attend this week. And the rest will wait so I can rest.

I have a feeling I’m going to feel irritated until I return my home to order, but right now, sleep and rest is more important than irritation.

I feel that right now I should come with a warning sign “Beware, she’s irritable. Approach with caution”. Or something like that.

But I’ll get there. I always do. (shrug)

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My body is angry. I ache everywhere. I feel like I physically, from the neck down, have the ‘flu. My ankles are “clicking” more than usual. Same with my wrists. I was walking the other day and my ankle seized up. It simply stopped working and hurt a lot.

I stopped walking, rotated my ankle and was eventually able to weight bear. It scared me. I carefully walked back to my car, got home, elevated, medicated, applied heat and cold alternately and eventually dozed off.

I realised for the past two months I’ve been clenching everything. My jaw, my hands, my body and it’s unsustainable. We are living in a world most of us have never seen before. It’s scary. It’s frustrating. It’s unbelievable. And yet, it is our reality.

When I am at my best I eat three healthy meals a day. I cook at home, I drink lots of water, some decaffeinated tea, a little diet pop, and eat treats sparingly. I can get 8 hours of sleep and awaken feeling refreshed. I have few food cravings. My eyes are clear, my skin is dewy and I feel good.

Not these days, though.

My skin is sallow. I look haggard. I can’t sleep more than a couple of hours at a time. I wake before my alarm and when I decide to try and sleep more, I fall into a deep sleep and have difficulty rousing to my alarm.

I am craving foods I’ve not craved in months, if not years. I’m drinking mostly tea, lots of diet pop and a moderate amount of water. My skin is alternately dry and oily. Everything hurts. Well, except my hair. It’s just growing…fast…and a lot.

My food addiction is bad. I have so much shame about food that I feel humiliated. I am eating 1 – 2 meals a day. I start off with the best of intentions, then end up feeling ravenous, even though I KNOW I’m not hungry. I buy healthy food. Fruit, vegetables, lean meat, multi-grain bread. I don’t bring home a lot of processed food. And yet I crave chips and cookies. And I can’t eat one serving. I eat the whole bag.

I’m aware I’m doing it and I get angry and ashamed. Yet I can’t stop.

I’m currently using two online apps. One is through a wearable device which I really like because it gives advice on what to do as far as exercise in isolation. It’s adapted to the current reality of the world. The other is an online subscription app. I used it a few years ago and it was working well for me, then I stopped. I can’t remember why, but I know it was because I got frustrated with being moved from peer group to peer group.

The program has changed a little in a few years. And not at all since the pandemic. All the “helpful hints” involve getting together with family and friends, of going shopping with your girlfriends. Of going out to dinner, etc. NONE of which we can do right now. So, being the quiet and demure female I am… (you know, there REALLY needs to be a sarcasm font) I sent a message to my personal coach and the Concierge and didn’t receive a satisfactory answer.

I’ve asked questions about dealing with food addiction and been told “in their opinion” that such things don’t exist. Um, what?

I’m debating quitting the online program when my “course” is finished (August). I’m not losing weight, although I am following the course given the restrictions of COVID-19. Ugh.

I was listening to a podcast earlier today and there was woman who was raised by a crack-addicted mother. She was quite judmental with her mother for not having enough self-control. Until she found herself in her mid-twenties eating her feelings…until she weighed over 400 lbs and knew her life was in jeopardy. She joined Overeaters Anonymous and it helped her.

Food addiction is real. It is as valid an addiction as any other. Because I’m in a heightened place of stress, my coping mechanisms are weak…in some cases non-existent. My impulse control seems to be broken.

So, I’ve decided to check out Overeaters Anonymous. There are virtual meetings that I can drop into and drop out of. I think it would help me to talk to people who understand how I feel. Who understand the minefield that food addiction and grocery shopping can be.

Hopefully I can learn, again, to lessen my stress and eat properly so my body will stop being angry with me.

Oh! And then there’s the physical changes with menopause and HRT (Hormone Replacement Therapy). I’ll get there. I know I will.

It will take time. It will take effort. And it will take help. Help which I am determined to get.

Watch this space…

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I’ve taken up walking. I know, I know…walking. I like to walk, I’m fairly skilled unless there’s a hill, it’s windy or the road is uneven. I firmly believe my centre of gravity is between my eyes. I tip over quite easily, in fact, more easily than a cow…or so I’ve been told.

One of my favourite walk/hikes takes place behind a rest area about an hour’s drive from here. I drove there yesterday, a beautiful day, parked my car, got my water bottle and off I headed. I hadn’t hiked this area in more than a year and decided, instead of going the way I usually go, to take the other entrance, where I usually come out at the end. It’s a loop, so it really shouldn’t matter, right?

WRONG!

I started off well, stopping to read the signs about the geography of the area, to read about the Indigenous land and Ktunaxa Creation story. And off I perambulated. It’s a relatively easy hike, fairly flat. The path is wide enough to step off easily if someone is approaching, which I did a few times.

At one point there’s a switchback on the trail, which I completely missed. I would up walking on the Trans Canada Trail for about 1.5 kms. I was going in the WRONG DIRECTION but didn’t figure this out for quite some time. You see, I have a poor sense of direction, but it was a lovely day and I had my water bottle with me. I would stop and take photos, sometimes just stand a breathe, marveling in my surroundings. It was a beautiful day.

I prayed for the survivors of the Nova Scotia massacre and prayed for those who died. I prayed for my dear friends who were burying both their mother and father yesterday. And I walked. And I walked. And I veered off the path I was on, thinking it would get me to where I was supposed to be.

Nope.

Another kilometer out of the way.

But it was a lovely day and I had my water bottle with me. And my ankles were starting to hurt.

You see, I’ve not been walking in long stretches since my surgery. I walk for a kilometer or two, usually around a small lake or paved path. And I was getting very sore.

When I finally pulled out my mobile and took a look at where I was on the map and where I was SUPPOSED to be I started laughing…a bit maniacally. I said a prayer for strength and sanity, did a 180 and started walking back to where I had come off the path. I got back to the path and turned back onto the path, in the direction from which I had come.

While all this was going on I came up a foursome riding their trail bikes. I stepped off the path, we said hello and away I walked. When I was walking back down the trail I saw them again. We nodded hellos again.

I continued walking and eventually got back to the spot where I had gone wrong in the first place. Now keep in mind, I had planned to walk for an hour, perhaps two. At this point I’m 3 hours in and still need to get back to where I started. And my hips are starting to hurt.

Ugh.

I now have a decision to make…am I going to re-trace my steps or am I going to try and finish the original loop. In a moment of abject stupidity I decide to try and finish the loop…only to realise after half an hour of walking that I’m not going in the right direction (again).

As I walk towards the switch-back I see the four cyclists again and we nod and smile again. I’m asked “Are you following us?” and I respond “Yes! I’ll see you at the finish line”.

Ugh.

I get back to where I came off the trail initially and follow it back. Just as I’m getting to the mouth of the trail I see the foursome one last time. We smile and wave as I hobble towards my car.

When I got home I headed straight for the Tylenol. Then I had a shower, put on pajamas and relaxed for the rest of the night.

What had started as an easy 2 hour walk became a 5 hour endurance test. I did it. I survived it and other than being sore, I felt pretty good.

I woke up this morning feeling pretty good. Then I tried to get out of bed.

Kyrie Eleison.

More Tylenol. A quick trip to the grocery store. Cleaned up my kitchen and now I’m going for a nap. After more Tylenol.

Moral of the Story…don’t be a dumbass. Perhaps I should carry a compass. And maybe pack a flare gun for emergencies.

Oh, and I did stop on the way home to get some more water.

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There really does need to be a sarcasm font. No, seriously.

Since my surgery in January I have been thrust into menopause. I have been peri-menopausal since I was 21, that’s 30 years in a state of peri-menopause. Some of the symptoms PLUS periods. Yay…not.

Now, I have symptoms. The most common for me are hot flashes, night sweats and insomnia. My doctor, in consultation with my surgeon prescribed me estrogen patches. For a month I was on 37.5 mcg twice a week. Last week then went up to 50 mcg twice a week. So far I’m not noticing much of a difference…which I suspect is okay?

Then there’s the insomnia. Given the heightened state of awareness we are all in, I was having periodic insomnia prior to starting HRT (Hormone Replacement Therapy). Manageable…I guess.

I thought I had a lot more to say about this, but for whatever reason can’t remember.

Wait! Isn’t that another symptom of menopause?

Oh Yay!

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can be really difficult. Growing up I was allowed to be happy and, within reason, sad. Never angry. One of the “fun” side effects of that kind of upbringing is that I never learned how to identify the majority of emotions.

I know happy, sad, angry, sarcastic and frustrated relatively easily. Nuances beyond those are often difficult for me to pick up on. *shrug* It is what it is.

My emotions have been all over the map this past few weeks. I was doing really well…eating well, taking care of myself, working smarter rather than harder. Getting back to full speed after surgery and the subsequent recovery.

And then a virus was discovered in Wuhan, China. Which then made it’s way…well…everywhere. I watched in fear as it seemed unstoppable. Surely it wouldn’t get to Canada, not to my small corner of creation, would it?

Surely we’d be able to continue gathering as Church?!?

Two weeks ago I felt as though I couldn’t breathe. I was inundated with information…on the news…by email…from the denominational head offices, concerned parishioners, family and friends.

There was so much information, but how much was accurate? What was I supposed to share? What was I allowed to share?

And the decisions to be made…are we allowed to gather? If so, under what circumstances? How do we get this information out quickly, appropriately and calmly. Then I got a tension headache that made it difficult to think, never mind do anything.

Then I lost the ability to sleep.

I was feeling as though I was running as fast as I could…but getting nowhere. I was frantic. And I couldn’t figure out the emotions.

Turns out, it was a combination of grief, of anger, of frustration, of sadness. It was churning my insides and making me ill. So I made a decision.

I sat down with my day planner and looked at all the Zoom calls I was expected to attend. I made a list of all the ways I need to communicate with my congregation and community. I unclenched my jaw. I drank more water. I went for a walk. And I took a nap.

Friday I had to run an errand at a local hardware store. Keeping physical distance has made me afraid of crowds – well, that’s not exactly true, I’ve always been uncomfortable in crowds, NOW it’s reinforced. Red lines delineate where to stand while waiting.

I picked up the two items I needed and saw the most beautiful dog and his person. I commented on the beautiful pooch and lamented that I couldn’t say hello. The dog’s person said “Why not?” and gestured for me to walk to the other end of the aisle. Which I did. He then called the dog to sit and took off the lead, telling him to “go say hello”. I knelt down and this magnificent beast walked towards me, wagging his nub of a tail. He put his head against my chest and I gave his neck and ears some loving.

He looked up at me with these huge, beautiful brown eyes and my heart broke into a million pieces. I started to cry. He licked my tears away. Eventually I settled and stood up. I patted his head and back and thanked his person who said “You’re most welcome”, and called his dog to him.

Through tears I made my way to the checkout, paid for my purchases and walked to my car. I let the welled up grief out and cried for what felt like a very long time. When I was finished my head felt much better.

I’m doing the best I can. I am reaching out as I am able to everyone I can. I can’t do it alone and I have a wonderful group of folks who are checking in on each other and checking in on me. There was no course for this at Seminary. Yet I expect there soon may be.

I’m seeing lots of posts on social media about “being happy”. And of “bucking up and making the best of things.” And I’m tired of it.

A friend of mine is going through a really difficult time. She said she needs to stop crying and smile. I told her to feel her feelings for as long as she needs to feel them. Because when you swallow them; when you push them down they will build up until you end up on your knees in a hardware store, with a stranger’s dog licking your face.

I’m making this up as I go. I’m doing the best that I can. This is all uncharted territory. And I need to give myself the grace that most everyone else has offered.

So, I will feel those feelings. I will do my best. I will be the best I can be. And the rest will sort itself out. Priorities will continue to change. People will continue to challenge me. I will continue to hang on and do what I can every day. I will take time for me, every single day. I will take days off.

Without guilt. Without shame.

I’m just going to feel the feelings, and try to figure out exactly what they are.

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