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Posts Tagged ‘home’

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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I am blessed to receive four weeks of vacation every year.  Some of my colleagues take all four weeks at once.  I can’t do that.  I’m too much a creature of habit; of routine.

I usually take my vacation in blocks of two weeks…this year was no exception.

The first week I stayed with a friend and we did some day trips and worked around his house, getting some outdoor stuff done.  The weather was grand and we enjoyed exploring somewhat close to home.  The focus of that week was relaxing, unwinding and practicing Sabbath.

The second week I came home and challenged myself with a couple of hikes that were more difficult then I thought they’d be but learned a great deal about myself…I don’t have to walk all the way to the end to finish the hike.  I can turn around when I’m ready and I’ve still accomplished something.  I also did something I’ve been wanting to do for years, but was never able…I got two tattoos.  I’ll write more about them in another post.

I was back to work for a week, which wasn’t quite enough time to get things back organized, cleaned out my home office and it’s now quite efficient, clean and bright.  I love the space in there and working in it makes me very happy.  It also means I can relax in the living space of the rectory to try and separate work and home.

The third and fourth weeks of vacation I flew to Ontario and drove a lot.  I didn’t get to see everyone I wanted to see.  Some of the trip felt like I was attending Old Home Week as I drove across parts of Ontario I’d not seen in two decades.  I visited graves, places in which I’ve lived.  Hiked trails that I’d hiked before and explored new areas that I’d always wanted to but never made time.  The weather didn’t cooperate as much as I’d have liked it to, but it was still a good time away.

In reflecting on my vacation it was incredible.  I spent a great deal of time in prayer and have re-established meditative prayer.  I do this while walking and had forgotten how it makes my soul sing to pray while I walk or hike.

I’m practicing mindfulness in what I eat and in how I eat.  I’m walking every single day without exception and walking to places in the community when I can.

I very much missed my standard transmission car when I was away as I was driving an automatic transmission for the first time in years.  I kept forgetting to put it in park before I shut off the engine.  Ugh.

I learned that home is where I am.  It is not a far off destination.  It is not a house, a parent, a partner.  It is me.  And that makes me very happy.

The mountains are home to me.  I felt, at times, terribly homesick when I was back East.  I wasn’t sure if it was homesickness for a place I once knew, but eventually I realised that I was homesick for Fernie.  For the beautiful part of creation in which I now live.

As I drove home from Calgary I was giddy with the anticipation of seeing the mountains. Once I reached the Crowsnest Pass the smile on my face was broad and bright.  Climbing into my own bed made me deliriously happy and having a shower in my own bathroom meant all was right with the small world in which I live.

It was wonderful to visit places and see people I’d not seen in a long time.  And it was equally wonderful to put the key in lock and come home to my house.  A place I’ve not lived for that long and yet I can’t imagine leaving.  The Elk Valley is my home.  The mountains are my home.  They are a part of me as much as the air I breathe.  May it always be so.

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This is a first for me…the small town where I live is hosting an even that hasn’t been hosted in a long time.  Chautauqua.

It’s a cool word to say…say it with me SHAW-TA-KWA.  Neat, eh?

It’s an Iroquois word that literally means, bag tied in the middle or two moccasins tied together.  It also means “fish removed from here”.  Neat, eh?

Chautauqua became an early 20th century movement of adult education with traveling shows with actors, soothsayers, revival tent meetings, traveling around North America.

Our beloved small town is going to hearken to history and enjoy an incredible presentation of local artists, writers, historians.  The downtown buildings will be open to the public, including downtown Churches.  We will have volunteers on hand to share the history of our beloved Church, including it’s survival after two fires.

Sunday there is a special Chautauqua service with all local churches participating.  I’ve been asked to provide the Children’s story which I’m really excited about.  More and more I realise that this little community owns my heart…this place has become my home.

I’m loving being part of this community and all the joys of living here.  I can walk most of the places I need to go to.  When I walk I can see familiar faces.

Last night I attended a pasta supper at the Church next door.  I had such fun seeing people I’ve not seen over the summer as well as those I’ve seen periodically.  While I’m not of Italian heritage, I learned a lot about the Italian heritage and history of Fernie.

The struggle for me, will be taking time for myself to be quiet.  While I enjoyed the dinner party, I was exhausted by the time I got home.  I feel as though I am juggling many balls right now and while I love what I do, I have a tendency to overdo.  Hopefully, not this weekend.

I’m planning to pace myself, go to bed early and eat well.  I’ve taken two short walks today and I think as the day goes on I will take a couple more.  It’s been awesome watching the tents go up, the tables and chairs set up, the bleachers built.  For the next 3 days this place will be a bustle of activity.  It’s going to be awesome.  And memorable.

And I suspect as soon as the chairs and tables are put away, the bleachers taken down and tents disbursed, the community will take a deep breath and start planning for next year.

Chautauqua.  What a fun word…

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One of the challenges with moving provinces is re-establishing health care.  The first health care provider I procured was a Chiropractor, followed by a Registered Massage Therapist.  Next was the Pharmacist, and today I saw my new Family Doctor.  I had a list nearly as long as my arm with things to discuss with her.  She listened and acknowledged; she’s young and has a wonderfully warm demeanor.  I enjoyed sharing my list of concerns with her and she has started the referral process for many of the ailments I now have.  For the record; aging is NOT for the faint of heart…

One of the questions she asked was my form of birth control, to which I answered “my face”.  She blinked and looked blankly at me, then started laughing uncontrollably.  I think Dr. B and I will be getting along well.  She gave me a requisition for blood work, a number to call to schedule a mammogram, a referral in process for a gynecologist, a renewal for my prescription antidepressants and I see her again in a month for a physical.  Phew.  All that was discussed in 10 minutes.

Another of the things on my “to do” list is putting together the paperwork for separation and divorce.  I spoke recently with A and we agreed on a separation date and we’ve already separated our assets and liabilities.  For all intents and purposes, it should be an “easy” divorce…well, as far as administration goes.  Emotionally, it is an ending.  And although we both agreed that this was “for the best”, there is still a process of grieving.  The end of something that we once promised would last forever.

As I reflect on the end of our marriage and the rebirth of myself, I realise, once again, that sometimes love is not enough.  I love him as a person.  I love him as a friend.  But I am no longer in love with him, and if I were honest, I haven’t been for a long time.  Too many things unsaid, too many broken promises.  Too many times when one thing was said and another done.  Too many times when it was simply too much effort to work at our relationship.  The precedent scares me…unfortunately I’ve been down this road before.

And while I have said that I will never love another again…is it really fair of me to close my heart off from the world?  I don’t know…I suspect God does…

For now, the wall around my heart remains firmly in place.  I will mourn and grieve the loss of something that once meant the world to me.  I will survive.  I will come through the other side stronger then ever…knowing myself more than I ever have…and learning to love again.  Beginning with myself.  As a wise friend recently said “I’m worth it”.

And you know what?  I believe that to be true.

So while I mourn the ending of a marriage/relationship/partnership, I rejoice in the knowledge that I am coming back to life…I am experiencing my own re-birth.  I revel in the sounds of birdsong, of the gentle and often not-so-gentle winds that blow through my life.  I revel in the smells of Spring flowers, of walking around the village where I live and breathing in the fresh mountain air.  As I reflected to a parishioner at the induction service last week “I am home”.  In so many ways, British Columbia has become my home.

And in this home I find my heart, my soul and my life.  Thanks be to God.

 

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I’m down to the final four boxes of stuff to unpack.  The pottery survived the shipping and every piece was in tact.  Same with the oil lamps and lantern.  I was quite pleased.

My traveling companion told me once I started putting art on the walls and my own things on the shelves this house would begin to feel like home.  And she’s right.

In the end I shipped 12 boxes of books and 8 boxes of “stuff” that wouldn’t fit in my car.  I wasn’t sure what I had shipped, I was in such a state on moving day.  But everything arrived and I’m slowly finding a home for every thing.  There were some things I wanted to bring but didn’t have time or space, so I left them behind.  So far when I’ve looked for something that I thought I brought but didn’t, I’m wistful for a moment and then the moment passes.

I have collected some interesting pieces of art over the years.  A couple of them were gifts, a few I’ve bought myself and others I’ve collected along the way.  Today I spent time hanging things on the walls of the house and making it feel more like home.  I arrived with no furniture of my own, and a fully furnished house.  Even the bedding was provided for me, which was amazing.  A friend and colleague made me a quilt which adorns my bed.  I have a rainbow blanket that was given me by a friend and it also graces my bed.

A snuggly blanket I bought in late November hangs on the back of the chesterfield and I wrap it around myself on chilly evenings.

Today was a rainy, overcast day.  I spent most of the morning at ICBC getting my car registered, arranging for new license plates, and vehicle insurance.  I mailed my Ontario plates back to Service Ontario and am anticipating a cheque which will help offset the cost of registering in British Columbia.  After attaching the BC plates to my car I decided to run a few errands in the village where I now live, then filled the car with gas (the cheapest it’s been since I arrived here) and headed for the next closest community – an hour away.

It is a larger community and thus has a shopping mall filled with stores that we do not have locally.  I had a list and did quite well, and when I got home I started putting my purchases away and clearing off the dining room table.  It is now adorned with a dark brown round tablecloth and grass green round placemats.  My plan is to keep the table clear of “work” and wrangle that in the office.

Feeling motivated I hung my favourite piece of artwork on my bedroom wall, above the dresser, where I can see it every night and every morning.  A stuffed dog I was given as a baby also adorns the dresser as well as a framed print of female saints, given by a friend.

Tonight I framed two Tom Tomson prints I bought this Fall in Owen Sound at the Tom Tomson gallery.  They are in my dining room.  An evocative print given as a gift by a bride and groom graces a wall in the living room.  Everywhere I look now I see pieces that are meaningful to me.  Every piece has a story and I know them all.

As I gaze around this incredible space I am feeling less like a guest and more like I am home.  The walls are looking for familiar and friendly.  And soon all the boxes will be unpacked and this house will truly be my home.

In the Spring there will be a smudging and house blessing where I will invite the congregation to be part of warming and welcoming the space; they will share in the blessing of this house made a home.

Thanks be to God.

 

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Home again, home again jiggedy jig.

I made it.  After six hours of driving today, through wind, snow, rain and sun we finally arrived.  C, my Warden was here with keys and hugs.  There were flowers with a card signed by the congregation.

It’s a beautiful day here…views from mountains from most every window.  The living room window looks out over a brick wall from the building next door.  Otherwise every window has a spectacular view.

Looking around the office, the boxes have arrived.  They just need to be unpacked.  There is food in the fridge, ice cream in the freezer, and tea bags on the counter.

There are two beds in the house that are made and ready to go.  Everything I could need is here.  Bed, dresser, bedside table…amazing.

This afternoon we took a walk around the downtown and need to decide somewhere to go to supper.  Tomorrow will be spent unpacking, buying little things needed like a boot mat and a garbage can.

I can have a bath in my bathtub.  Sleep in my new bed.

In my new home.

I’m home.

I went to the Church and checked out the worship space.  I was overcome with emotion, shed a few tears, feeling like I am where God has called me to be.  I showed my traveling companion the place and she shed a few tears as well.  “This is where you need to be”.  One of the stained glass windows behind the altar says “The Sower”.  That’s what she feels I am called to be; what it is that I am going to do; what I am called to do here.

I’m exhausted, exhilarated and ready to go…but first I need to eat and then to sleep.

Life, as they say, is grand.

God is great.

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There has been a lot of news coverage about refugees lately. Nearly every television report, every radio interview has political pundits talking about the impact of refugees. Our new Prime Minster has committed Canada to accepting ten thousand refugees. Given the time of the year, I find myself reflecting on what Joseph, Mary and thousands of other pilgrims must have felt like, being summoned to Bethlehem to be counted.

Scripture doesn’t provide us with much detail of those times, simply that “All the world should be registered” (Luke 2.1, NRSV) and that “Joseph went to the town of Nazareth in Galilee to Judea, to the city of David called Bethlehem, because he was descended from the house and family of David.” (Luke 2.4, NRSV)

Not much is told us of the community in which they lived, Nazareth, or the community to which they traveled, Bethlehem. Over the years Bethlehem has been romanticised into a peaceful, joyous place filled with the love of a newborn baby. Some of that is true, but much more detail is needed to fully understand the picture. We sing “the cattle are lowing” and assume it’s something delicate and lovely. Lowing cattle are loud cattle. They are calling to each other, and considering where the newborn baby was laid, in a food trough, also known as a manger, their lowing cry may have been for food.

The birth of Jesus – as the birth of any baby, was truly miraculous, especially given the place where he was born. The city was filled with people, who were there filled with fear because they had to be registered. There was not enough of anything for everyone who was there: not enough beds, not enough food, not enough room.

In the midst of fear and anxiety, Mary’s baby came. She was surrounded by strangers, and in the barn she had only her husband and animals to hear her cries as the baby Jesus was born. There were no receiving blankets or mobiles for him. He was wrapped in strips of clean cloth and tenderly laid in the manger. He nursed from his mother and in that moment the love of God came down and dwelt among us.

Joseph, Mary and baby Jesus were registered and then Joseph was warned in a dream to leave where they were. Joseph heeded the dream and fled to Egypt where they left one violent regime for another. They were strangers in a strange land; they were refugees seeking shelter and safety.

The Wise Men or magicians arrived at Herod’s door seeking to know where was the baby who was born King of the Jews? They had seen a star in the East and happened across Herod’s palace. This posed a problem for Herod as he was the self-proclaimed King of the Jews – no baby was going to take that from him! So he sent the Magi to Bethlehem to find the baby and pay homage to him. They were to return to the palace so Herod could go and pay homage himself. Herod wanted the baby dead – imagine a newborn with a price on his head!

So Jesus grew up in the shadow of fear. His parents did their best to keep him safe, but he was a very special boy – he was God’s earthly son. He was in danger.

Imagine for a moment, being in Joseph’s position. Your young wife has given birth and you cannot stay in the barn. You must head somewhere – knowing you can’t go back where you came from. So you head for Egypt, to another violent regime that was only marginally safer because Herod was not there.

Imagine not knowing where to go? Not knowing where was safe? Arriving in a country where you didn’t speak the language or know the customs? Everything you have you carry with you and you don’t dare think of what you left back home. Because that land you knew no longer exists…you don’t have a home.

The definition of refugee is this “a person who has been forced to leave their country in order to escape war, persecution or natural disaster”.

For the 10,000 refugees coming to Canada, let us be welcoming and remember that for many of us, Canada is a second home. We, or our families, came from somewhere else. Perhaps, like my parents, you came to Canada for a better life. Perhaps you too were refugees from a war-torn area of the world.

Regardless of where you come from, Canada is now home. I was born here, from Immigrant parents, and have only ever known life in a free country. I’ve taken it for granted all my life. And now this incredible country will be welcoming strangers from a strange land. Spiritually speaking, it makes the story of Mary, Joseph and the Baby Jesus that much more poignant – that much more real.

When we hear hateful and hurtful things about the refugees coming here, let us remember that one we know as sent from God – and his humble beginnings. Let us respond with love.

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