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Posts Tagged ‘forgiveness’

All my life I’ve had a love/hate relationship with food.  I am a self-described food addict.  When I eat, I tend to eat a lot and when I crave, it’s never for healthy food.

Something that I’ve been seeing a lot of lately is articles about foods you should “never” eat.  Foods that are “poison” and foods that can kill.  Seriously?  Toast is evil?  Give me a break.

I should eat better than I do.  And I will admit that on occasion supper is a bag of Smartfood.  Which really isn’t all that smart.  I know what I need to do to eat healthier and better.  The problem is being motivated enough to actually do it.

In just over two weeks I’m heading to southeastern British Columbia.  A whole new way of life.  A new culture, a new geography, new grocery stores, and a whole new level of panic and anxiety.  I know my local grocery store.  And I’m sure it won’t take me long to learn my new grocery store.  But the fear is real.

I am not moving with any food.  I’m taking some of my favourite tea with me, the rest I will buy when I get there.  Stocking a pantry, buying spices and condiments is both exciting and terrifying.  I’m taking reusable bags with me to never use a plastic shopping bag again.

I will buy cookwear when I get there.  And bakeware.  I’d like to stay I’ll plant a little garden, but the reality is, I likely won’t.

I’d love to homestead where I grow my own food.  But the reality is I don’t have the knowledge, experience or motivation to do any of these things.  And that’s okay.

I am recommitting myself to a pescatarian lifestyle.  A pescatarian is a person who is a vegetarian but eats fish.  I have the proper supplements so I will be healthier in myself and in my diet.

Yes, I’m fat.  Yes, I shop in fat girl stores.  I’d like to lose weight but I don’t think my body is ready to let go of a lot of the stress it’s been holding.  If I was a betting person I’d say that my cortisol levels are extremely high, due mostly to the stress with which I am surrounded.

Once I get moved I will re-establish a healthy routine that will include exercise, yoga, meditation, prayer and silence.  I will eat healthier than I am right now.  Because I will be ready.  The weather here has been mild but also slippery.  I’ve fallen a couple of times in the last two weeks, and while the injuries were minor, it’s scared me, to the point where I don’t want to venture outside.

This morning it was raining.  Rain in January scares me because when it changes it’s almost always to ice first, then snow.  Sure enough a winter storm whipped up, and there’s a thin layer of ice beneath the snow outside.

I’m not sure why I’m so scared.  I suspect, in part, it’s because I don’t want to arrive in my new pastoral charge physically damaged.  They hired someone with all appendages intact, I’d like to arrive that way.

I’ve started bookmarking recipes again, especially ones that replace pasta noodles with veggies.  That kind of thing makes me very happy.  I’m looking forward to buying a soup pot and I have two special soup bowls that are coming with me.

My goal as I pack and prepare to move is to downsize and simplify my life.  I don’t need much to be happy.  Open space, uncluttered, is good.

I think I will be writing more regularly as I prepare to move.  I may even blog at the end of each travel day.  Only time and wifi will tell.

 

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When I was a little girl I used to stroll. I would hum to myself while playing, usually something I had heard on the radio, or a tune I made up. When I became a teenager I stopped humming and started rushing. I was always in a hurry, I walked quickly or ran wherever I was going. I took up cross-country running because it was a solitary sport. There was no team to worry about, it was me mesmerized by the sound of my feet pounding in rhythm on the hard soil trail. I wasn’t the fastest runner, but likely I was the most focussed.

When I attended University I was a nervous soul, always tapping or twitching, I wasn’t able to stand still. I was continually anxious and it was then that I was first diagnosed as anxious/depressed and given medication, which really didn’t do much. I felt like I was continually playing catch up, continually late. I would joke that I was born 3 days late and had been trying to make up the time since.

In reality I was in a perpetual state of anxiety. I was nervous all the time. I felt like I didn’t add up to anyone’s expectations. I felt like a failure and a fraud and kept waiting for someone to walk in the lecture hall, point at me and say “She is a fraud, she has no right to be here”.

When I graduated with my undergraduate degree and began working, I continued to run at a frantic pace. I would not leave my desk until all the tasks for the day were completed. I would leave myself a note so I would know where to begin the next day. Having to leave a file out and not re-filed would fill me with a sense of dread, of failure. No-one had ever said that everything must be finished, but I believed it to be so. And if I didn’t finish everything, and leave a spotless desk at the end of day, I felt like I had to play catch-up when I started work again the next day.

Eventually I ended up in hospital with the frantic pace that couldn’t be maintained. I realised that I would not finish everything that had to be done; that there would always be something not finished. Some projects would never be finished, and some would have to wait for other information, or for other people to complete. It bothered me, but it didn’t control me.

When I returned to school to begin my MDiv I developed a different work ethic. I would often come to class having not finished the required reading ahead of time. Sometimes my notes would not be complete. I always started projects and essays early so I could finish them in advance of the deadline, but often everything was due at the same time. So I would create artificial deadlines to get things in early.

I began to notice my environment, see the leaves in the trees, hear the birds singing. I still worked as hard, but not as frantic. When I was a Chaplain at our Diocesan Church Camp I would often stop in the middle of my day, go down to the lookout and pray. Or stand in awe at the majesty before me.

As I have entered middle age, I am still as busy as ever. But I find myself, on occasion, arriving on time or a few minutes late. Before, I would always be obscenely early and have to park a distance from where I was going and fret until it was time to go to the appointment/home visit, etc. Now I do my best to leave in time to reach my destination, but if I get held up, I don’t take it as a personal failure.

In the last month or so life has slowed down for me. I am as busy as ever, but I now leave things undone. I leave my desk untidy. And interestingly enough, I’ve started to hum again. Especially when I’m home alone and I’m finishing a task. Also in my car. I’ll hum along to the radio or turn it off and hum while I drive.

I believe I have finally reached that balance. I can leave things unfinished. I can move things on my list to another day, or to someone else. I am comfortable in imperfection. I am getting more and more comfortable with “good enough” as opposed to perfection.

Life is filled with surprises. And while, currently I am still completely exhausted, I am beginning to find the work/life balance.

I’m going to clean the fans before they installed for the summer. It’s a dirty job, but I will hum as I work. All work is God’s work.

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A few months ago I connected with a young woman through social media. At first we seemed to have so much in common, that we were soon finishing each other’s thoughts and sentences. She was seeking some spiritual direction and guidance and soon she was coming to Church. We connected a couple of months before Easter and she was interested in learning about how we do Holy Week.

She is legally blind and as such does not drive. I volunteered to drive into the city to pick her up during Holy Week. Most nights after service I drove her home, a couple of times my beloved did. Her daughter tagged along for a couple of services as well and it was amazing watching the two of them take in what they were seeing.

A few weeks ago my friend started having recurrent health problems that required her to go to emergency. She would call an ambulance and let me know what was happening. I would get there to see her if I could. Two weeks ago she called and told me she thought she was having a stroke. I advised her to call an ambulance and asked her to call me back. She was certainly undergoing some distress. The night she took ill I had driven to and from where my Mam lives and was quite tired. My ankle was badly swollen, I was exhausted and having some difficulty seeing (because of the fatigue).

I told my friend I could not come to emergency but asked her to call me when she was either admitted or discharged. She said she would. The next morning I received an email that said she felt hurt I had not been there for her and that she was walking away from God and therefore was walking away from me.

I was shocked and hurt but am not the type of person to beg someone to stay. If they want to leave I will do everything I can to get out of their way. I think my hurt was mostly because she had made it seem that if she rejected God she had to reject me as she saw me as a part of her Spiritual being.

My reply was that I was sorry to have hurt her and that I would not stand in her way. I wished her well and told her I would continue to pray for her.

The reply was met with hurt and angry words. It was filled with rage and blame. I did not reply to it, deleting it instead.

The first day of not hearing from her was strange, but also strangely liberating. She would often text and email all day and if I didn’t reply immediately would send another text or email. I had told her that I cannot always reply immediately and she said she understood, but in reality, I don’t think she did.

Three days passed without hearing a word. Yesterday I received an email through the church website from someone claiming to be a friend and spiritual teacher of hers. He indicated that she was in great distress and urged me to mend our spiritual friendship. He said he had not heard from her in years but God had told him to plead with me for her safety.

I felt bullied and curious at the same time. Emotional blackmail would be a good term to use. I waited a full day before I replied, politely, that the decision to end our friendship had come from her and I was respecting that decision. The email he supplied bounced back. I deleted the message and thought no more about it.

This morning I received a text and an email from my friend, attempting contact again, saying how she had forgiven me.

I asked her who this man was that contacted me. She claimed to not have had contact with him in two years. When I shared the email he sent me, her reply was that he had gathered his information from God. As much as I believe in God, I don’t think this is the work of God.

So I told her I was sorry she felt hurt. I told her that her words hurt me and that I needed time to myself. I told her I thought a break in our communication would be best.

She replied that she has forgiven me and wants me to forgive her, as God has forgiven both of us. Now I am angry and feeling manipulated, so I didn’t respond to her last two emails.

After spending time in prayer, I have decided to let this friendship lay fallow for a while. I don’t know if I want to be involved with her as a friend or as her spiritual guide. I feel as though she has manipulated me and wants things on her terms only. I don’t operate that way.

So I have decided that it is time to let go. I’m leaving this one with God.

In fact, I need to do more of that…but that’s a musing for another day.

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I’ve not been blogging much because I’ve felt mired down in crap. I was feeling good, but tired, when I was diagnosed with adrenal fatigue. Since learning what it is I’m feeling overwhelmed. I had to have a mammogram last week, which is an annual event for me as I have an extensive family history. The doctor’s office called to say that the screen is irregular and I need to have more investigative tests. That’s got me somewhat concerned.

It doesn’t help that I’ve not been mindful of my self-care. I’ve not eaten properly. I’ve not exercised. I’ve slept. Ate. Slept. Worked. Slept. Not good for me at all.

I was having lunch with a friend the other day who could see I was struggling and he said to me that I looked “blah”. I realised that I’ve been waiting for the bounce. I know I’m on a downward trajectory, waiting for more test results, and knowing that it’s going to get darker before it gets light again. At some point I will hit my low point and bounce back up again.

The hardest part of a depressive episode, for me, is waiting for the bounce. I recognise that now is not a good time. I recognise that there will be light again, but before that, there will be a great darkness. And that, simply, sucks.

Today I self-medicated with food. And man did it feel good. There was no guilt…only enjoyment. I think maybe I need to loosen the “rules” I have in place for my eating habits. Listen to my body and if it wants something unhealthy, then have it. At the end of the day, does it make that much of a difference, if I fall off the wagon for a little while? Who knows?

I am going to take a walk with a friend of mine. We were going to go to the mall and walk around, but decided instead to walk the local indoor track. Healthier and less expensive than going to the mall.

One small step at a time. One small decision at a time. Waiting for the phone to ring. Waiting for the test to be scheduled. And knowing that no matter what else happens, I am, and will always be, a servant of the Lord. Patience may not be my strong suit, but I can try it for a while.

Saturday will be a very interesting day. I have a memorial service at 9:30 a.m. Another one at 11:30, a marriage counselling session at 3:00 and a 50th birthday party at 7:00. I should sleep very well Saturday night.

So between now and then, I wait. For the phone to ring…for the next food craving to hit…for the bounce to indicate that things will get better. Because they always do.

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Today is Shrove Tuesday, Mardi Gras, Fat Tuesday, or whatever you want to call it. It is the day where we use up all the fat and whatnot before we enter the 40 days plus Sundays of Lent. A time of fasting, of almsgiving, of turning our attention inward.

This year I have challenged my congregation to keep one word at the forefront of Lent: mindfulness. So often we go about our days in autopilot and we forget about the joy and pleasure that surrounds us. We don’t listen when people are talking; instead we are formulating our response. Lent is a time of year when we need to slow down and look around.

I have challenged my congregation to deepen their relationship with God. In whatever that looks like for them; be it daily bible reading, meditation, prayer, sitting in silence. It’s about shutting out the sounds, embracing the silence and being at peace with the sacred.

Today I burned last years palm crosses for ashes and they are ready at the Church. The silver has been put away and the pottery brought out. We have veiled all the brass, veiled the crosses and now begin the time of contemplation, the vivid and shocking realisation that we are dust, and to dust we shall return.

Lent is about turning yourself inside out and examining everything about yourself; even the dark and scary corners that you usually avoid. This is the place to sit in the stillness and anxiety; to allow yourself to look at failure and doubt, knowing that you rest in the arms of a God who loves you completely and honestly: always has, and always will.

I have decided to give up processed food and to embrace juicing every single day. For my spiritual discipline I am committed to spending 20 minutes of uninterrupted silence for meditation and/or prayer.

I encourage you to keep a holy Lent and to rest in the arms of the One who created you, who loves you, who sustains you.

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I have just come home from an 8 day retreat in the eastern part of the province where I live. The weather was extremely cold. We had an ice storm that kept us indoors for an entire day and that was alright. While I was away I did a lot of resting, praying, meditating, some journalling, some cooking and generally, trying to rid myself of the anxiety and stress of the past few months.

I came home to a disaster area of a house. The kitchen was a mess, laundry in the dryer, bedroom floor covered in detritus, bathrooms a mess. I was not a happy camper. I am frustrated that I work to keep the house clean and tidy. I cook healthy meals as often as I can and I care for my family. When I go away all that goes out the window. Nothing gets put away, there’s a trail of crumbs and flour on every surface.

I know I should be grateful for a family at home and food in the fridge. And I am. But to me, it’s disrespectful to not clean up after yourself…especially when you know that the person coming home will clean it up.

I know I should leave the mess for the ones who created it, but I can’t stand the mess. So far today, although struggling with a migraine, I have swept the bedroom floor and made the bed. Have done two sinks full of dishes and cleaned up half the kitchen. I still need to finish the kitchen, then the dining room and the bathrooms will wait for tomorrow afternoon.

My whole life I’ve lived by the rules. I’ve changed myself to be who people want me to be. I am tired of always being the one to bend and stretch. I want to have my needs respected and honoured. And a clean house, in my humble opinion, is not that big a deal. To me, it would be a lovely way to welcome me home. A clean kitchen, the bed made, laundry put away. That would make me happy.

My beloved teases me that I’m the only person he knows who insists on cleaning the house before I go away. When I was single, I would leave the house clean and tidy so when I came home it was the same way. It’s more difficult to do when you’re married, but really, does it have to be?

So now that I’ve had a chance to vent, I will make myself a cup of tea and clean off the dining room table. It will be grand once it’s done, but it does bug me that it has to be me that’s doing it.

I feel like stamping my feet and shouting “It’s not fair”. But of course, I can’t do that…can I?

The good news is my homily is nearly ready for tomorrow. It’s the Baptism of the Lord. One of my favourite holy days in the Church. The message will be simple, but hopefully profound.

And after Church I will bring my house back in order. it might not be fair, but it’s life.

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The 5th of December is a date that will remain with me forever. It has for the past 25 years. All day I’ve been irritable, uneasy, scattered, and generally miserable. Oh, and I think I have a chest cold.

On the 5th of December 1988 my husband of 99 days left me. It’s true. Twenty-five years ago I was adjusting to being newly married, only to switch to newly separated and finally to newly divorced. I had spent the day with my sister-in-law and had left feeling much better than when I arrived. She was married to my husband’s brother, so I asked her advice. She gave it and I was positive and excited about how things were going to be between K and myself.

I walked through the door to the apartment with a huge smile on my face. Then I saw two suitcases packed. “Where are we going?” I asked.

“Not we. Just me” he said.

“Pardon?” said I.

“I’ve decided this isn’t working for me, so I’m leaving”.

“Scuze me?”

“Yep, this isn’t what I thought it was going to be”.

“We’ve been married five minutes”.

“No, it’s been longer than that. But I made a mistake. I should have married you. Can I have the car keys please? I’ll be back in a couple of days to pick up the rest of my stuff. I called the landlord and you have to be out of the apartment by the end of December”.

And with that, he was gone.

At roughly 4:30 pm on the 5th of December 1988 my world was turned upside down.

Every year since, on the 5th of December, I have a physical memory of that day.

This year, 2013, just after 6:00 pm, I learned that Nelson Mandela had died.

A great man who leaves an amazing legacy. Nelson Mandela changed the world. And the majority of the planning and teaching for that change happened within the walls of his cell on Robben Island. Prisoner 46664 was initially tormented and humiliated. He rose above this and forgave. Through the Truth and Reconciliation Commission (overseen by Archbishop Desmond Tutu) he was able to put a face on the inhumanity to which he had been subject.

He is a man of tremendous integrity, faith and grace. There is someone in my life that I need to forgive for abuse that was suffered from the ages of 3 – 6. I am closer now then I have ever been to forgiving him. And I believe that due to Madiba’s teaching, I may be able to actually forgive. Not this minute. Not this day. But soon. I may finally able to let go of that to which I cling. I cannot describe what “that” is, but cling to it I must. For now.

Over the past few days I’ve been cleaning and arranging rooms in the rectory. I have reclaimed a room upstairs as my Sanctuary, where I can meditate, stretch, pray, read, write, etc. It is a peaceful and lovely room.

I scoured the upstairs bathroom last night after both dogs had baths. Today I took down the curtains and washed them. I washed the curtains on all main floor windows, washed the windows and sills, and put the curtains back up. The house feels cleaner. It certainly smells cleaner. And my calm is returning.

This morning I reclaimed a small table in the dining room that had papers and other detritus strewn on it. A mess. Chaos. I don’t like that. It is now orderly. I know where everything is and most of the papers from that pile have been recycled or filed away. Order. Calm.

When I heard the news on the radio tonight I stopped what I was doing to listen carefully. Then I sat down and stayed perfectly still. Then I prayed. I gave thanks for Madiba’s life. I gave thanks to G-d for making Apartheid a memory instead of a reality. I promised to be more optimistic and to be more understanding. I prayed for guidance and strength. Then I sat, in silence and stillness for what seemed like a long while.

Then I slowly got up, made some tea and continued with what I was doing.

This week has been a physically and emotionally productive week. I’ve not slept nearly enough and I suspect that, combined with the dust and grime that’s been unearthed, is part of the reason I am having respiratory issues.

This weekend will be a very hectic weekend. And it will be draining, emotionally, spiritually and physically. But it will be worth it.

Mr. Mandela, you changed the world. You have inspired generations to learn from you and to do their part to change the world. I pray, one day, to make you proud of the changes that you have inspired in me, in my small corner of the world.

May you rest in peace and rise in glory. Well done, good and faithful servant.

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