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Posts Tagged ‘peace’

I was born in the year of Canada’s Centennial…1967. I’m a first generation Canadian born of English parents. I love the country in which I live and I am unabashedly proud to be Canadian as we celebrate the Sesquicentennial of this majestic country.

However…there is a darker side to this place I have called home all my life and the place that my parents chose as their home and to where they chose citizenship.

Canada is 150 years old…Turtle Island is thousands of years old…likely as old as all Creation. And while I think it’s wonderful to see red and white festooning communities and flags going up all over the place…special red and white tulips bred for our Sesquicentennial, we must remember the damamge that our citizens, settlers, all of them, have inflicted on our First Nations peoples.

I am honoured to live on the land of the Ktunaha in Southeastern British Columbia. There is a rich heritage of Indigenous history that surrounds our community…including an ancient curse that was finally lifted about 40 years ago…

Canadians built this country on the backs of those who were here before us…generations and generations before us…and we didn’t do it fairly, or appropriately. And yes, for much of that history we should be ashamed. The Church rounded up Indigenous children in conjunction with the federal government to “civilize” them by taking away their Indigenous names, culture, language, songs and dances. We committed cultural genocide. This was done in the name of God…

It’s a dark part of our history and there are other dark parts of our history…Interment camps in this region that began prior to and ended long after the First World War. The list goes on…

I’m not saying that we should celebrate 150 years of Confederation…I’m not saying that Canada isn’t the best country in the world, because I truly believe that. I believe that now, more than ever, because we are working to make amends with our brothers and sisters in the Indigenous community. We are learning from and working alongside to preserve First Nations languages that are in danger of extinction. Same with dances and songs, of traditional dress and food. We’re making amends, we’re beginning to understand that we weren’t here first…that we are guests on this land.

Last Sunday we recognized National Aboriginal Day of Prayer and it was a very powerful service where we prayed in the four directions, giving thanks to the sacred medicines of tobacco, cedar, sage and sweetgrass. We prayed with the four colours of yellow, red, black and white in the directions of East, South, West and North. We heard of the Creation of Turtle Island from the Great Creator and how those stories resonate so strongly with us even today.

This Sunday we will recognize 150 years of Confederation. We will sing God Save the Queen as well as O Canada and we will hear of how God is working through us as Canadians. We have every right to recognize our heritage as Canadians…but not on the strength of another culture and community. We have the right to wave our flag proudly, remembering on whose land we stand.

I have wrestled with how to celebrate the Sesquicentennial of Canada…similarly I have wrestled with how to celebrate my half-century birthday later in the year. This year I am presiding a memorial service and rose planting for the mother of a friend who died a month or so ago. I won’t be taking in fireworks because I don’t really like fireworks. But I will wander around the community, in an I Love Canada t-shirt and wave my national flag.

But I will also give thanks to the First Nations who were here first and who continue to bless the land on which I live. And so, I say O Canada…Migweech.

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Memories of my Dad

The last few weeks I’ve been dreaming a lot of my Dad and stories he used to share with me when I was a child.  Quite often on a Saturday morning my Mam would wake me and strip my bed.  She’d put me into bed with my Dad and he’d snuggle me in and tell me stories.  I think he was hoping I’d go back to sleep, but it never worked out that way.

My Dad was born and raised in a city…Manchester.  There was a canal that some people fished in…my Dad fished in it for bicycle parts as that is what he saw dumped in it most often.  His first bike was a Frankenbike made up of about a half dozen different bike parts.  He and his buddy Charlie got up to all sorts of mischief in their youth.

My Dad was an introvert and craved alone time.  As my brother and I grew up Dad got less time to himself.  At one point he bought an inflatable dinghy from a garage sale and used to take it out to Minnow Lake.  He also bought a fishing rod because, in his words, “if a man is seen alone out on a boat he’s a weirdo, but if he’s fishing, he’s okay”.  So he used to inflate the boat at a gas station, shove it in the backseat of the car and head out to Minnow Lake.

He’d put the dinghy out and he’d jump in with the fishing rod, then float for awhile, set the rod out (note, no bait) and lay back and relax.  He never had a paddle with him.  When I asked him this he said “eventually I’ll blow close to shore” and he must have because he always came home.  In the city where we lived, there was a roving news reporter who would capture footage of local landmarks and places of interest that would be used as a backdrop to the nightly weather forecast.

One Saturday night, after supper, we were watching the evening news when the weather shot came on.  The weather announcer said “and here we have footage of a solitary fisherman out enjoying the sun on this beautiful summer’s day”.  And you could see it, the yellow dinghy, the sole of my Dad’s shoe propped up on the edge of the dinghy and the fishing rod bobbing in the water.

“Dad”? I asked.  “Good Jesus” he replied. “I can’t be left alone anywhere!” We all had a good laugh at that.  My Dad’s fishing adventure captured on film for all eternity, or until it was filmed over.  The last time he took the dinghy out he was happily floating around the lake when the wind shifted.  He began to float towards shore but heard a slight hissing sound.  By the time he reached shore the dinghy had taken on water.  He safely dismounted the boat (do you dismount boats?)  rolled up the dinghy and threw it in a nearby garbage can.  I asked him where the boat was and he said he was finished with it.

Perhaps he saw the leak as a sign from God or perhaps he realised he could be solitary in some other way. Regardless, I’ll never know the answer to that.  But thinking about seeing his foot on the evening news does make me smile.  My Dad, the television personality…or at least, his foot was.

 

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You don’t have to look far to stumble across Year in Review articles, posts and memories.

For a lot of the world 2016 was a bad year.  For me, it was a year of new beginnings.  This time last year I knew I was moving to British Columbia, and only about 10 other people did.  A handful from both congregations.  It was not an easy decision to make, to leave my parish, my friends and family behind.

God was beckoning me to something I had never experienced…I had always imagined if I was going to leave Ontario, it would be for the Maritimes, not the Mountains…and here I am.  The province of British Columbia is different.  I live about as East as you can and still be in BC.  I live about a south as you can and still be in BC.  The closest neighbouring “city” is an hour away (West).  I can get to the state of Montana in less than half an hour.

The climate here has reminded me of Northeastern Ontario.  Nearly two weeks of bitter cold, and bright sun.  A part on the furnace at the Church froze and we were without a furnace on Sunday.  So we all snuggled together on the side of the Church that still had heat and it was grand.

I’ve not written as much as I thought I would over this past year.  It’s been a year of firsts and yet my 9th year in ministry.  I’ve reflected on times as a student, a lay pastor, a summer pastor, a Deacon and a Priest.  It’s been wonderful participating in the life of the community; both of the Church and of Fernie itself.  I’m becoming “known” in the community, and in (mostly) good ways.

I am blessed to have made some friends here and one or two very close friends.  I have experienced a deep, abiding love from this congregation.  I’ve heard a few times “we’re so glad you came” and I feel very much the same.  2016 has been a year of transition, a year of anticipation, expectation, participation…moving with what could fit in my car plus another 20 or so boxes across the country to a furnished house.

Slowly, I am making this house a home…personal touches, hanging artwork, acquiring little things for the house.  I am able to keep in touch with my family and friends “back East” thanks to technology and even letter writing.

In speaking with a colleague and friend who was worried about me living so far from family and friends, he asked how I was doing.  I told him I was happy; truly happy for the first time in a very long time.

I am content in who I am.  In who God has called me to be and where God has called me to serve.  I am part of the LGBTQ+ community in Fernie and beyond.  I am part of the Arts community in Fernie and beyond.  I am joining the Symphony of the Kootenays Chorus in January.  I am a patron of the Arts Station, the Library and the Museum.

I have met people who love me and who I love.  And for that I feel incredibly blessed.

My Mam turned 80 in 2016 and I was able to be with her for her birthday in August.  I saw friends I had not seen in decades and it was wonderful.  And yet I found myself pining for the mountains.  When I flew over the Rockies towards home I felt a catch in my chest.  Is this where I was meant to be?  Driving from Cranbrook to Fernie, I saw the mountains again and felt as though I were home.  It was a wonderful feeling.

This winter I am going to learn to snowshoe.  I am going to explore hiking trails.  Some days I will stay inside, wrapped in a blanket and sip tea.  And some days I will laugh until my sides hurt, or cry until I can’t breathe.

Here, in the Elk Valley, is where God called me to be.  I am a child of God, created in God’s image, which is one of perfection.  I am waiting with baited breath for the birth of the one who will set us all free…waiting to receive the perfect gift.

I am nervous about my first Christmas in the West.  But I will continue to put one foot in front of the other and know I am loved.  I will look through the windshield more than the rear view mirror because 2017 will be my best year yet.  I will turn 50, I will savour every moment of every day.  I will continue to love and be loved.  I will continue to work towards the coming of God’s kingdom, knowing that together; heart to heart, hand in hand, we can and we will change the world.

From my heart to yours, I wish you a very Merry Christmas, a Happy and Healthy New Year and a Blessed Epiphany.

 

 

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I tend to apologise, a lot.  Often for things I don’t need to.  I’m sorry… 🙂

Back when I still had a real job (before I answered God’s call to a life of service) I was the Administrative Assistant to one VP and five Managers.  It was a challenging job.  One of the things I learned early on was the VP was very particular about how she wanted things done.  I learned that if she received an apology for something that had gone wrong she would often take the news much better.  So I became the department apologist.

When I left the working world (to enter the vocation of the priesthood) I continued to be an apologist…for the Church, for my denomination, for God, and for the world.  And you know what?  It’s exhausting.

I am the first to apologise when I’ve done something wrong.  I think it’s important to acknowledge when I’ve done something that may have hurt someone, especially if it was unintentional.  I also think it’s important to acknowledge someone’s hurt, even if I’m not the one that’s hurt them.

A few years ago I had a discussion with a friend of mine that got heated and some very hurtful things were said to me.  I apologised for my friend being upset, but didn’t stand up for myself and challenge how I had been hurt by what was said.   A few days later I did confront them (gently) and their reply was “I’m sorry you’re hurt”.  That statement hurt almost as much as the other statements.  What I wanted to hear was “I’m sorry I hurt you” or “I’m sorry what I said hurt you”.  But instead I’m feeling guilty for sharing my feelings of hurt and in that guilt I almost apologised…I say almost because I didn’t.

Sometimes I wonder why I apologise so much.  There are things for which I have no control…I can’t control my height…my hair colour…my sexuality…my left-handedness.  I can control my hair colour (until I decide to stop colouring it).  I can control what I eat and how much I exercise.

I know I am not society’s “ideal” anything.  And in fact, I take some pride in that.  I am unique in who I am.  There is not another me in the world…and I thank God for that.

I refuse to apologise for my size.  For how I dress.  For what I say (unless it is something hurtful).  For who I love.  For my faith.  For my denomination.

Yesterday I was getting a pedicure and was sitting next to a lady who looked to be about the same age.  We were talking about the freedom that comes with aging.  I’m much less self-conscious about how I dress now then I’ve ever been.  I really don’t care how people look at me.  I temper what I say carefully (most of the time) to not intentionally upset or inflame, yet I don’t apologise for speaking from my heart.

One of the most powerful homilies I preached contained the phrase “If you speak the truth in love, you will always find the strength to speak the truth”.  This phrase was repeated multiple times in the course of the homily.  And I still believe it to be true.

Many of my opinions may not be popular opinions.  Much of what I do may not be perceived as important or necessary  or relevant in society.  And I’m okay with that. I am who God created.  I am my father’s daughter, with my sarcastic humour and ferocious protection of the innocent.  I am my mother’s daughter, with my blunt speech and fierce determination.  But most of all, I am me.

And for that I will not apologise.

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begins a sonnet by William Wordsworth.

There has been so much hatred in the world…so much violence…so much intolerance and I’m struggling under the weight of it all.

Speaking of weight…today I was out and about running errands in the community where I live.  I was at the check-out in a store and two ladies were complaining about the weather.  I said I was glad for the cooler temperatures and one looked at me and said “I can see why”.  Curious, I asked what she meant.  She replied “you have your own built in coverage for warmth, you likely don’t like the heat”.

I opened and closed my mouth trying to find something humorous to say in return, but instead found myself on the verge of tears.  What she said was hurtful and dare I say, cruel.  Yes, I am overweight.  Yes, I don’t like extreme heat.  But I don’t think what I said warranted that kind of response.  I took my purchases and left.  I continued on my errands and came home feeling deflated and defeated.

The Church I love so much, that I have loved all my life, is voting on something incredibly close to my heart.  As a member of the rainbow community, the issue of same-gender marriage is important to me.  As a priest with many friends in the rainbow community, as it stands right now, I am not allowed to marry them in the Church.  The same Church that I love is pushing me, and people like me, aside.

My parish is holding a prayer vigil for the duration of General Synod.  Each day an email goes out and is posted on our Facebook page with prayers for the daily activities.  We are offering prayers for the marriage canon, but also for Indigenous rights, for visiting dignitaries and for audited financial statements.  We are praying for ears to hear, hearts to be open, for mouths to speak the truth in love and in faith.

Tomorrow’s gospel is one of my favourites, the Good Samaritan.  The epistle speaks of praying without ceasing, and that is what I have been doing.

For me, the gospel is about love.  The promises of our Creator, Saviour and Redeemer are all about love.  God never told us who to love.  God gave us the gift of love.  We are commanded to love our neighbour as ourselves and to love God above all else.  There’s no division of who gets more love, we all get the same because, in the eyes of God, we are all the same.

Tomorrow’s homily will be about praying without ceasing and loving your neighbour.  Tomorrow afternoon I am meeting with a couple who are to be married in August.  The day after they are married I have the honour of baptising their infant son, the mother and the Godfather.  It will be my first baptism in BC and, as always, a very emotional moment in the life of the Church.

My fondest hope and prayer for the family is that their child is raised knowing only what love is about.  That he never experience hatred and if he is exposed to it, he will know how to rise above it to show what love is all about.

If only we could focus on that which unites us; as children of God.  If we could focus on that which aligns us, rather than that which divides us, what a wonderful world this would be.  We would know the kingdom of God as we would be living it.

So now I will rest my weary body.  I will tend to my fractured heart.  I will rest in the knowledge that there are those who love me, as I am.  And for the rest, all I can do is love them as Christ loves me.

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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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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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