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Posts Tagged ‘gratitude’

I’ve been trying to write a blog post for awhile…apparently a few months.  From the last time I blogged time has flown.  There’s been a wonderful community event called Chautauqua, the adoption of an 11 year old Domestic Shorthair cat called Buddy, the Ordination of our Deacon, a terrible tragedy that claimed the lives of three men, a Memorial Service for those men, and a surprise birthday party for my 50th.

Chautauqua took on a life of it’s own this year in a new format that had all events taking place in the historic downtown core.  The Fall Fair took place the same weekend and the grounds at City Hall were filled with animals of all shapes and sizes, vendors showing their wares, artists and crafters showing their trades and a community out to enjoy a beautiful Autumn celebration.  My little parish hosted the Community Ecumenical Service and it was an absolute success.  Folks started coming in just before the official event time and kept coming in for the first 20 minutes.  It was glorious.  We finished the service in time to get to the Senior’s Centre that was hosting a High English Tea.  A Harvest Supper at the Catholic Church rounded out a weekend filled with activity, history, wonder and joy.

Buddy is a cranky black cat, missing one canine tooth who was looking for a forever home.  The other cats on the SPCA website were all cuddly and adorable.  Buddy looked at the photographer like he could care less…or if he had pose-able digits would have raised his middle finger.  He’s cranky, he hisses a lot, has a mean meow and reminds me of my late father.  So of course, I was hooked.  He doesn’t like being picked up…or touched…I am allowed to pet him within very strict parameters that I have not yet learned.  He’s not particularly patient with me, hence the hissing.  He likes to hide under the dining room table.  He likes to be in the same room as me, but not too close.  He’s afraid of the mop and the vacuum and doesn’t climb.  So far so good…but I’m unsure of his assessment of me as his staff.  After all, they say dogs have owners and cats have staff.

Ordination is one of the great celebrations of the Church.  A faithful woman of God was Ordained in Christ’s Holy catholic Church and we gathered to celebrate.  We sang her favourite hymns, surprised her with an Anthem.  She was feted and celebrated and the parish commissioned a red Deacon’s stole for her which she helped to design.  An absolutely gorgeous design featuring flames and doves in shades of red, blue and white.  Absolutely spectacular for an absolutely spectacular child of God.

On the 17th of October my brother was returning to Calgary after visiting me overnight.  I took him to see the Church and he signed the Guest Book.  I went to a meeting at a Retirement home across the street from the local Arena.  Little did I know that our community would be rocked to it’s very core that day.  The winds were high and sky was a strange colour.  The atmosphere around town was eerie.  Hurricane force winds blew the power out twice and we were in the dark for a couple of hours the second time.  I was checking my Facebook feed and saw that there had been an accident at the Arena and the surrounding neighbourhood had been evacuated…including the residents I had visited earlier that day.  I went to the evacuation centre and tried to provide some comfort, some humour and a few hugs.  Three men died that day.  They went to work and didn’t come home.  And even now, months later, there is still a void in the community.  The residents returned home within a week, but there is still a sense of unease.  However, this community did what it does best and came together in a show of support.  We will always remember those who died, but too will we remember the community that showed support and love to one another.  The road is long before us but we will get there…together.

A Community Memorial Service was held on the 12th of November on the grounds of the high school.  It was damp, overcast, chilly day but there was an air of hope.  The community choir sang, my United Church colleague and I offered prayer at the beginning and ending of the service.  Three eulogies were shared, many tears were shed and a group of strangers gathered as family.

I don’t like surprise parties…especially when I’m the one being surprised…but that’s exactly what happened on the 25th of November, the day before my 50th birthday.  My congregation decided that I needed to celebrate this milestone and so I was duped into leaving town for the day with a friend who needed to run errands and I was there to be company in the car, navigate and carry stuff.  We got back at 5:30 and the street was lined with cars.  I thought my Roman colleague was having a larger than average attendance at Mass.  And then I saw a parishioners car parked where it usually isn’t.  Then I looked at the lawn of the Rectory and saw 50 pink flamingos…and a sign notifying all and sundry that is was my 50th.  I walked into the Church, down to the parish hall and opening the door heard “SURPRISE!”  I was shaking and smiling and unable to remember my name at that point as I saw friends, neighbours, parishioners and colleagues gathered to celebrate a half-century.  I was presented with a “birthday girl” pink sash, pink star sunglasses and a birthday tiara.  Many of the guests wore pink.  And everyone knew I was surprised…  We feasted on potluck fare, a birthday cake that read “Happy Birthday Princess Flamingo”  I took many photographs and opened many cards and gifts, one of the most special being a painting a parishioner and friend painted with birch trees and a winter sun…it is spectacular.  There was a trivia game with 50 questions related to my life…and those assembling the game had help from my brother, my spiritual advisor and friend.  It was great fun…and while I still don’t like surprises, it was a blessing to celebrate with so many wonderful people.

When the tragedy took place in October I realised just how much this community has become home for me…and how the folks that live here are my family.  Seeing such a large collection of people at the birthday party reinforced this to me.  I am loved very much here and I love this place very much.

If the rest of my 50th year is anywhere near as awesome as the first few weeks, I’m in for an absolutely AWESOME year!

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As you may have figured out by now, the surgery was a success.  The pain was as expected and I ended up with a secondary infection that has since cleared.  I will be taking probiotics for the next few months to balance my stomach after two rounds of antibiotics.

So much has happened since I last wrote.  I won’t go into the details here.  After the surgery I slipped into a deep depression.  It was hard work to care for myself once I was home again, and I wanted to be home so I could be back at work…and yet I struggled to do the things I need to do to be healthy.

I slept a lot because my body needed it.  I ate when I was supposed to, but didn’t always make healthy choices.  I didn’t get out to move as much as I should have because I was sore and depressed.  Thank God that has passed and I am back to my usual goofy self.  I’ve made some decisions about myself and my life…

I have stopped colouring my hair.  I’m going to let the silver come through, or Executive Blonde as I’ve heard it called.  I have bought some new clothes and thinned through  my closet again.  I’m enjoying my body coming back to life after anaesthetic.  I’m using my yoga mat again and while it’s very slow, it’s coming back.

During post-surgical recovery I rediscovered Pinterest.  I’ve now got great ideas for how to decorate the mantle, I began an easy makeover of the laundry room/powder room and am making over my bedroom.  I’m not sure if I’m “nesting” before winter or where the burst of energy has come from, but I’m beginning to feel more like myself.  And I like that.

I’ve made a commitment and promise to myself to get outside every day and walk.  It may be for kilometers and may be for meters, but every day I will get outside.  When you live in the beautiful corner of creation where I do, how can you not get outside?

I’m working with a budgeting program to help keep my expenses in check, my budget balanced and, as of January, begin saving a little bit each month.  I’m truly feeling as though I’m gaining control again over the things I can control and that makes me very happy.

This is my first year in ministry in British Columbia.  The folks here have not seen some of what I do.  And thus far, the feedback has all been positive.  We have recognized All Saints and All Soul’s.  All Soul’s had it’s own service last Wednesday and it was well received.  On Sunday we recognized Remembrance Sunday and it was also very well received.

This week I have a Remembrance Service at the Cenotaph with one of the local schools on Thursday, a Cenotaph Service on Friday morning at 11:00, then another one following at the local Legion, a nursing home gathering at 2:00 pm and that will wrap up Remembrance Day.  Whew!

I’m loving this community and learning more about it.  Meeting people who have introduced me to the arts community, the museum, and other such wonders has been incredible.  I’m enjoying the arts community locally and in the next city over, where I have season tickets to the Symphony of the Kootenays and the Community Theatre.

My work/life balance is the best it’s ever been.  And for that I am thankful.

 

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When I was Chaplain at Diocesan Church Camp nearly 10 years ago, there was a favourite hymn we sang during communion…very simple tune, very simple words…

Let it rain, let it rain, open the floodgates of heaven and let it rain…

I had the honour, for several years, of being invited back during Staff Training Week to celebrate Eucharist and inevitably the song “Let it Rain” would be shared.  It was awesome.  Occasionally, one of the staff would rap the words to Jesus Loves Me over the melody and while it may sound strange, it was actually very powerful…

Jesus loves me, when I’m good, when I do the things I should

Jesus loves me, when I’m bad, even though it makes Him sad.

Let it rain, let it rain, open the floodgates of heaven and let it rain…

It’s been raining here for more than a day.  It started raining last night and has continued.  Usually I walk to the nursing home for the service on the 4th Sunday, but today I decided to drive because it was raining hard, was cold and I was simply feeling lazy…

I’m not sure what’s up, but my get up and go has got up and gone…I’m feeling lethargic, tired and somewhat cranky.

Let it rain…let it rain…open the floodgates of heaven and let it rain…

Today is also Trinity Sunday, one of, if not THE most difficult homily to preach.

How do you describe something that is indescribable?  One person who is three persons?  One being who his three beings?  Huh, what?  Father, Son and Holy Spirit?  Creator, Redeemer, Sanctifier?

I pulled out an ancient source the Creed attributed to St. Athanasius.  It has 42 petitions that attempts to describe and define the Trinity.  It’s wordy, and awkward, and frustrating. I started reading it in Church today and at the half-way point, dropped the service book on the floor, threw my hands up and said “I give up”.

Let it rain…let it rain…open the floodgates of heaven and let it rain…

Then I started talking about relationships.  For Lent I challenged the congregation to deepen their relationship with God…yes, the Triune God.  I suggested that when we strive to identify or label something, sometimes it diminishes the significance of that relationship.  So perhaps we are better to not label it, but simply to explore and enjoy it.

Was it a cop out?  Possibly.  Did I cheat the congregation?  I don’t think so.

Will I preach the Trinity next year?  Um, not likely.  But then again, I do love a good challenge.

I am supposed to go out of town tomorrow to do some exploring.  The weather forecast is the same for tomorrow as it is for today…generally I like doing things in the rain…I love to dance in the summer rain…but this rain is definitely not dancing rain…it’s ch-ch-ch-chilly.

So I may instead spend the day relaxing.  Maybe a few chores around the house, yoga, writing, meditation, soak in the tub, movie watching, perhaps a short walk…I have provisions in the house so I don’t have to go out.

Regardless, tomorrow is a day off.  A day relaxation.  A day to unplug and simply be.  Perhaps part of my day will be spent staring out the window, watching the rains fall…

Let it rain…let it rain…open the floodgates of heaven, and let it rain…

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It’s now official…the announcements have been made, emails sent and articles written.  I am leaving my current post to travel across four provinces, over 3,000 kms to a new posting in a small town in southeastern British Columbia.

I’ve never lived outside of Ontario.  I’m excited and terrified all at the same time.  Information on how to change my license plates from Ontario to British Columbia, changing my health card, registering for health insurance as well as employee benefits, payroll, etc.

As a rule, I’m not big on farewells.  I don’t like a fuss.  However, I know there will be many folks I will likely never see again.  And that makes me sad. So that means there needs to be a gathering, or two.  The local Legion is providing a beautiful Going away party at the end of the month, the Saturday before I depart West.

My friends in the LGBTQ+ community is going to throw me a Bon Voyage party in the city on the Monday before I leave.  It’s going to be lovely to see everyone, but it’s going to be hard to say goodbye.  Yeesh.

So while I’m service planning here, I’m service planning there.  While I’m scheduling visits here, I’m thinking of who I should start with once I get there.

I know I have a lot to do, a great, huge to-d0 list and there will be some things on that list that don’t get done.  Some people I don’t get to see and that has to be okay.

To top it off, I slipped and fell the other day, wrenching my shoulder.  It’s quite painful and my range of mobility is limited.  I can’t lift, I can’t carry.  I can type and write for limited amounts of time.  I should be looking at this as God’s way of telling me to slow down.  But in reality it’s a pain the ass…or shoulder as the case may be.

So I suck it up, do my best and push through the pain.  Since I announced my departure there’s been a great burden lifted.  And in reassigning things to folks so they can take them over in my absence is quite liberating as well.  Writing up a list of passwords, that sort of thing.

This transition may turn out okay after all.

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I must say that surgery is an interesting thing.  I don’t like being the centre of attention, which I know is weird, given what I do for a living.  Having the doctors, nurses, techs and whatnot ensuring I was cared for was strange.  I’m used to doing the caring, not being cared for.  My friend drove me to the city where I was having surgery, 45 minutes away.  He was allowed to wait with me before I went in and he prayed with and for me, and the doctors, nurses, techs, and everyone involved at the hospital.  I felt remarkable when he had finished.

The nurse who was preparing me for surgery heard the prayer and cried.  We told the doctor he had been prayed for and he was delighted.  The entire team did an amazing job, even the anaesthetist with no sense of humour.  I commented that the table in the operating room looked like it could be used for crucifixion and he stared blankly.  Which was okay.

I remember the lights in the operating theatre, I remember the IV in my arm.  I remember a mask going over my mouth and being told to breathe deeply.  And then I remember being asked if I was thirsty…and was I ever.  I had a sip of ginger ale and it tasted like the greatest thing ever.  I was parched for 3 days.  Gatorade and water with some tea fixed that.  I felt numb for a couple of days, other than when I stood up or sat down.  Then I cursed.

I am now 8 days since surgery and I’m feeling okay.  I still use pain meds in the day time.  I am standing for longer periods of time.  I am making progress and feeling better.  And tomorrow I go back to work.  Which I am very excited about.  I know it will knock me sideways, but at least I will have done it.  Moving back into the work world and Church land slowly is what I need to do, and am doing.

I am thankful for the surgeon and the doctors.  I am thankful for the nurses and staff who cared for me as a person, not only as a patient.  And I am especially thankful for my friends who rallied around with food, prayers, gentle hugs and care. I never realised how much I am cared for.  Now I have a better idea.  And it warms the cockles of my heart.

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