Feeds:
Posts
Comments

Posts Tagged ‘joy’

Christ is Risen!  The Clergy are Dead!! So goes the tongue in cheek phrase to which most clergy can relate.  Holy Week is a glorious week, a long week…and a hard week.  There’s services to plan, bulletins to check, props to gather, homilies to write, prayers to say, visits to make, so many things that must be done in order for worship to come together…and yet, every year it does.

Yesterday was Easter Sunday.  A completely stranger walked in off the street for our first service and worshipped with us.  He exchanged handshakes with everyone when service was over, nodded to me and replied “Happy Easter” when I wished him “Happy Easter” and went back out into his day.

Our second service was joyous and vibrant and while many of our regular parishioners were not in attendance, it was a glorious celebration!  I have a beautiful rainbow tie dye dress that I bought last summer and I decided to wear that on Easter Day.  After worship and coffee hour I went to the grocery store and had some lunch.  Then I walked to the Nursing Home for another service.  It’s a lovely walk there and I carried a basket with palm crosses, white stones, my cell phone and house keys.  Along the way I waved to every car I saw and said “Happy Easter” to everyone I met.

Most waved back or exchanged the greeting.  One little boy asked if I was the Easter Bunny.  I told him I wasn’t but I was delighted he thought I could be.  I asked his parents if I could ask him for a hug.  His Mum asked if he wanted to hug me and he did.  It was precious.

Along the way there I met three sets of dogs and with permission, I got to pet all of them!  It was a highlight.  Especially a huge black lab/shepherd who was a strong leaner and gave me kisses.

I got to the Nursing Home and chatted with a couple of guys who don’t come to worship but like to sit outside the room and hear the preaching and singing.  One of them told me I look like an Easter egg…which made me smile.  We had a huge turn out of residents and we sang out hearts out.  I brought palm crosses to remind them of the journey of Holy Week and white stones to remind them that even in our brokenness we are children of God, created in love and created to live in love.

On the way home I saw more dogs and chatted with a man who had been cleaning his lawn up from the winter gravel.  We talked about the joys of working “only one day a week” and laughed at how quickly the community changes when ski season is over.  I pet his dog on the way to the Nursing Home and again on the way home.

When I got home I called a friend and went to visit her.  We watched the video of her dad’s funeral service and then went to the cemetery to pray together with him.  The gates for the cemetery were locked, much to our annoyance.  We walked in to where the grave is and sat at a rock for awhile.  There was laughter and some tears and then I dropped her off at home.

I came home, got changed and made a simple supper.  Then I relaxed, chatted with a friend online and thought about how incredibly blessed I am to live in this corner of God’s creation.  Everywhere I walked yesterday I could see mountains.  Yes, I was a walking billboard, but I have noticed quite often that when I walk and smile at folks they either smile back or are already smiling.

God is very much alive in this place.  And even though our Easter Day service wasn’t bursting at the seams, we gathered and shared Alleluias, thoughts about the Easter Bunny, why church bells have to ring so long…and how very blessed we are with the gift of Jesus.  We gathered and shared in Communion.  We exchanged the peace together in ways we have for quite some time…and yet there was something different in the air…something innately hopeful and hope filled.

Alleluia!  The Lord is Risen! The Lord is Risen indeed, Alleluia!

Read Full Post »

I have Chronic Fatigue Syndrome.  It is not who I am .  It does not define me.  And yet there are days when I really feel it.  Since moving west I’ve moved my body more than ever and I’m loving how my body is responding.  My skin is glowing, I’m drinking lots of water, eating fresh foods wherever possible, getting outside into the sun or rain and walking most everywhere.

When I first got here I was absolutely exhausted.  The Archbishop asked if my soul had caught up with my body from all the traveling, and when I stopped to ponder his words I realised that it had not.  And that was sad.  So I rested myself more than usual, took things slower and generally listened to my body.

One of the challenges with CFS is chronic pain.  It’s manageable…I’ve lived with it for 18 years.  Most days, once I get moving, it’s barely noticeable and so, I’ll admit, I get a bit cocky…and then that’s when my old friend returns.

Late nights, early morning, poor nutrition choices, overloaded work schedule, stress, etc. etc. etc. and soon the dance of fatigue becomes more complicated.

Last night was one of those nights.  I found my body getting heavy.  I found my ability to concentrate diminished. I fought to stay alert and when I started to lose my horizon I lay down.  It took me a little while to figure out which way was down, but once I did, gravity did the rest.  I slept deeply, heavily for a couple of hours.  Woke up refreshed and needing the bathroom.  Returned to bed and slept deeply again…glorious, restful sleep.

So today as I look at my schedule for the week, I’m going to be a bit more gentle with myself.  I’m still going to walk, but not push myself…life is a marathon, not a sprint.  I’m going to eat food I enjoy, and savour it.  I’m going to begin to journal again, noting the joy and challenge in my life.  And I’m going to live.

Slowly, I’m learning to reframe my language into something that is positive.  A wise friend recently commented that language and words define our power…define our reality.  And it’s so true.  “Sticks and stones will break my bones, but names will never hurt me” is a fallacy and a damaging one at that.

My biggest critic is the negative self-talk that permeates my being.  Instead of building walls to keep people out, I’m going to build walls to surround the negative self-talk.  I will acknowledge it, dismiss it, and move on with my life.

A challenge?  Most definitely.

Do-able?  Absolutely.

Because I choose to be happy.  The only actions I control are my own.  And so I will choose to come from a place of love — always.  I will choose to come from a place of peace, of hope and of joy.

Oh there will be bad days…but they will not define me.  Like my CFS does not define me.  Right now we’re dancing the CFS is leading, but not for long.  And when that dance concludes, I’ll send him home.  Then I’ll continue to dance the dance of unbridled joy…perhaps even dancing in the rain.

Read Full Post »

In the parish where I serve there are stained glass windows in a triptych behind the altar.  There is also one in the large window of the Gathering Space.  There are large windows at the back/front of the church where the morning sun pours through, bathing the sanctuary in light.

Some Sundays the sun is so bright you can’t quite see.  Makes negotiating the chancel steps a challenge.

Yesterday we had the young grand-daughter of parishioners visiting.  N is absolutely adorable, a little blonde angel.  Through the service she sat at the back with Nana and played, chatting happily about everything around her.  It was a joyful noise.  The happy sound of a child at play brings such joy to a world-weary heart.  I noticed many parishioners nodding and smiling as she was playing…not a worry or care in the world.

When it was time to sing the Eucharistic prayer she hopped off her Nana’s lap and came towards the sound of the singing.  Her blonde pigtails glowing with the vast sunlight, making everything seem bathed in gold.  She looked up at me, at one point, and while I continued singing, I gestured for her to come forward.  She did.  She spotted her Papa and climbed the chancel stairs gleefully to be scooped into his arms while the congregation sang.

Once the Eucharistic prayer was finished she wiggled down and ran back to Nana at full speed, her tiny feet thumping against the carpet and wooden floor.  It was a moment of absolute joy and absolute bliss.  I felt honoured to be in the place where I could see something so innocent and lovely.

In many ways, her approach to the table was very much like life.  She was drawn to something uncertain, the unknown, and she came towards it, tentatively at first, then with more curiosity.  Finally seeing the one she loves and she’s embraced into a safe and joyous place.

When her curiosity is sated she is happy to run back to report what she had seen, much like the women who gathered at the empty tomb on that first Easter Day.

May we always remember the joy and purity of innocence.  May we embrace our own joy and wonder at that which surrounds us.  Life is about discovery.  May we always embrace that absolute joy.

Read Full Post »

That’s the name of the season of the Church – Advent.  We await the birth of the Christ Child, the one who will set us free.

This time of year it’s supposed to be about slowing down.  Of anticipating – dare I say, savouring the season.  And yet, every year I find myself overwhelmed with duties.  Parishioners I must visit.  Reports I must write.  Meetings I must attend.  Social engagements at which I must make an appearance.  It’s crazy.

I preach about slowing down and taking thing slowly.  The reality is decidedly different.  And it irritates me.  Why don’t I slow down and savour the time I have?  Why can’t I say no to events that beg to exercise excess?

Because I consider it my “duty” as priest and sometimes, yes, my duty as a friend.

There is a tradition in my family of giving pajamas for Christmas.  In fact, my grandchildren call them “Nanajams” and ever since they were born they have received a pair of pjs from me, for Christmas.  I look forward to finding pjs that are similar for C for D and for their Mom and my best friend L.  This years colour combination is shades of blue and white. My Mam also gets new pjs for Christmas.

This year I have no desire to bake, or cook, or do the things I traditionally like to do.  I have no desire to write Christmas cards.  All I want to do is sleep, eat, write homilies (no really) and walk.

Most likely it’s because of the busy-ness of the past few weeks.  Long days, late nights, restless sleep and a busy brain.  Not a great combination for restful sleep.

So, I think today, I will jettison my agenda and do what I want to do.  Right now there is laundry in the dryer.  My beds needs to be changed, laundry put away, housework done and files waiting at the Church.  And I’ll get to it all, but maybe not this morning.  And that’s okay.

If this is the season of anticipation, I can anticipate a nap, right?

 

Read Full Post »

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Read Full Post »

TDoR

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Read Full Post »

Tomorrow is the Reign of Christ.  It is the last Sunday in the liturgical calendar, so for all intents and purposes, it is New Year’s Eve.  Each year I change the sign at the Church to read “Happy New Year” and each year there are folks who don’t get it.  And that’s okay.

Once we enter Advent, it is a time of liturgical whiplash…so many emotions, all hurtling together, colliding and often making things messy.  At the Church where I serve, the tradition is to celebrate a Lessons & Carols service for both Advent and Epiphany, to mark the beginning and the end of the seasons.  They are joyous services, filled with story and music and are a lot of fun to put together.

Advent itself is a time of Anticipation, for the birth of a very special baby.  We light our Advent wreath and the litany we use usually points to social justice concerns around the globe.  The services contain readings imploring us to wait, with great anticipation, as something remarkable is to happen.  They are amazing services.  The third week of Advent we light a pink, rather than a blue candle and can wear rose coloured vestments, if we have them.  I am blessed to have a set of rose vestments that I wear twice a year, for Gaudete and Laetare Sunday.

And in the midst of all of this there is the hyper-caffeinated onslaught of Commercialism relating to Christmas.  Buy me!  Eat me!  Want me!  Drink me! surrounds us at every turn.  For many who have experienced loss, all of this can be simply too much to bear.  The thought of the cooking, cleaning, baking, shopping, wrapping, is simply too much.

So each year the Church hosts a service of Light and Remembrance, inviting the same families who have been invited to the All Soul’s services to come and be in a simple service filled with light.  It is an opportunity for us to come together and refocus ourselves, to remember the original reason for the season.  Nothing is expected of the person, simply to come and be.

We list the names of those we are there to remember.  And at an appropriate time in the service we name them aloud.  We can light a candle for them.  We can gather to be together in a place of pain to support one another.  There are five readings which relate to the season and correspond to a candle in the advent wreath.  The service is simple and meaningful and always leaves me feeling completely exhausted, in a mostly good way.  For a couple of hours we create an environment of complete peace and tranquility.  A safe place where we can gather to feel how we truly feel, not having to paste on a happy face and pretend that it’s all going to be just fine.  Because sometimes it’s not.

I need to remind myself to slow down this season and be careful.  The sidewalks are slippery, today rain is falling and the temperature is supposed to drop.  It will be downright scary tomorrow.

So I fill my body with healthy food.  I fill my soul with hope, peace, joy and love.  And I surround myself with those who understand, who don’t have to be happy in order to celebrate the birth of our Saviour.

I encourage you, whether Christmas is difficult or not, to do the same.  Don’t forget to breathe.

Read Full Post »

Older Posts »