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Posts Tagged ‘peace’

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 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.

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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.

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Before I moved west I was a basket case.  There were specific reasons for this, mostly involving my home life, but I was also struck by how incredibly tired I was.  Perpetually weary, I dreaded mornings and longed for my bed…sweet escape of sleep.

I still served my congregation and I was still pretty good at it…but I felt overwhelmingly empty.  I would work, and work, and work.  And never seem to finish anything.  I’d be filled with guilt if I didn’t return a phone call or respond immediately to an email.  It was frustrating and soul-rendering.  And I could not, for the life of me, figure out why.

I made a promise to myself when I made the decision to move parishes, that I would establish good boundaries, good life balance and try to be better at this whole life thing.  That began with the drive.  My traveling companion and I stopped every day, at some point during the trip, to discover something…and usually to laugh.  We stopped as close to dark as we could and explored wherever we were.  We would take a swim, find something for dinner, and otherwise decompress from the day.

When I got here I was conscious of my time.  And so was the rest of the congregation and community.  When I met with my Regional Dean he offered to be part of my self-care team.  He would hold me accountable to taking day(s) off and caring for myself as much as I care for the community.  I readily agreed.  And, for the record, he does make sure I take my days off.  And that at least once a week, I do something fun, just for myself.

In all fairness, the respect in this is mutual and I encourage the same from him.

Usually Easter Monday I’m exhausted.  I take to my bed and stay there, completely worn out from over-extending myself during Holy Week.  This year that didn’t happen.  I was intentional in taking time during Holy Week to focus on what was most important and didn’t fill my calendar with “should do” events.  Everything on my calendar was “must do”.  And that made a huge difference.

Easter Monday I had an opportunity to take a day trip south of the border…somewhere I had never been before.  I went and the experience was amazing.  There was a great deal of sightseeing.  There was laughter, conversation, music, prayer, absolute joy.  When I got home from that near perfect day I felt relaxed, refreshed, peaceful.  I felt peace-filled!  I felt unadulterated joy.  BALANCE!

If you’ve looked at the word cloud, one of the largest words is Balance.  It is something I seek and something for which I am very mindful.  I don’t always achieve balance.  I do my best.  Lately, I’m getting better with it.  And that makes me feel like I’m on top of the world.

For me, one of the biggest lessons learned is that I don’t have to do it all *gasp*.  And it will still be okay.  Another of the lessons is that if I don’t take care of myself, I cannot take care of others. *shock*  Taking time for me, sets a good example for the congregation.  Taking time for me means I can be happy in myself and therefore of higher service to my congregation, friends and family.  And especially in right relationship with my God.

My routine lately is to wake a bit early, give thanks for the day, say morning devotions and prayers.  Get up, dressed, and walk, sometimes to the chiropractor, sometimes to the post office.  As part of every day I get outside, whether it’s raining, sunny, windy.  Even if just for 20 minutes I get outside.  I’m drinking more water.  I’m consuming less caffeine.  I’m moving my body more.  I’m slowing down and savouring everything around me.  I’m aware, I’m mindful.  I’m happy…I’m peaceful.  I’ve found balance!

Everything around me looks brighter, clearer, more awesome, every single day.  And for that I am eternally grateful.

Thanks be to God.

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In many parts of the Church, the second Sunday after Easter is filled with “Holy Humour”.  I have a colleague who writes a short sermon and intersperses it with jokes, quips and aphorisms.

I think it’s wonderful to laugh…and especially in Church.  Don’t get me wrong, what I do, I do with great love and affection.  With great respect and devotion.  And with absolute mindfulness.  Where I currently serve, I have two services on Sunday mornings.  The first service is from the Book of Common Prayer, written in 17th century vernacular.  Kind of Shakespearean in language, but we don’t speak like that anymore.  And yet, there is a beauty to the rhythm of the language.

At the second service we use the more contemporary Book of Alternative Services.  Both books are incredible in their own ways.  The services are moving and beautiful.  And there are times when laughter can be introduced intentionally…or even unintentionally.

Today, the gospel reading was about Thomas, who is also known as the Doubter.  “Don’t be a Doubting Thomas” kind of thing.  A great story that, I believe, is often misunderstood.  Thomas is accused of doubting Jesus, but in fact, I believe he is doubting his friends.  They had just been through the most frightening time of their lives and they are gathered again in the upper room to regroup and figure out what happened and what to do next.

Jesus appears to them, out of thin air, shows them the wounds on his hands and side and breathes the Holy Spirit on them.  Thomas isn’t present at that moment.  What I think happened is that Thomas came back and they said “Guess who was here?”

Thomas says, “I don’t know, who was here?”

They say “Jesus”.

Thomas says “No way!”

They say “Ya-weh”.

Theologians or Hebrew scholars will be groaning.  Yaweh is another way to pronounce the Holy name of God.

Today I threw this joke out when I was preaching and only one person got it right away.  The overemphasis from me made it humourous to the rest of the congregation.  The joke itself failed.  The attempt to make it was successful.

I don’t tell jokes each week…in fact, I rarely do.  But we live in a time of such angst, anxiety and strife.  We live in a place where we fear for our safety and don’t trust anyone…and that’s not right.  We will lock ourselves away for fear of the stranger, just as the disciples did after Jesus arrest.  And we will lost the innocence and the humour in who we are.

That is devastating.

We were created in God’s image, which is nothing short of perfection.  Not in a societal standard, but in a way of love.  We were loved into being from the Divine, who could not imagine a world without us.  That should be celebrated.  That should be cherished.  That should make us feel incredible.  That should be celebrated!

And so, when you venture into God’s house, please think of it as a place of worship, of fellowship, of humour.  We know God has a sense of humour…otherwise how do you explain the platypus?  An animal made up of leftover parts…beaver’s tail, duck’s bill, etc.

Way to go God!  Thanks for the sense of humour!  Keep up the grand work!

Alleluia!!!  Let’s dance!

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Lent is my favourite season in the Church.  Holy Week is a marathon of services, in my case 10 services in 8 days.  By the end of the week I’m astonished, exhausted, relieved, overwhelmed and just about any other emotion you can imagine.  In short, I am absolutely spent.

Usually I don’t take too much time off after Easter because there’s always the next thing to do; Bible Study, homiletic preparation, study, liturgical preparation.  This year I decided to take 4 days off after Easter, but not all together.  And that was intentional.

Yesterday I took my first day trip south of the border since I moved to the small town in BC where I now reside.  It was wonderful.  Thankfully I had a tour guide who drove so I could oohh and aahh as we drove along.  Every now and then one of us would see something, and exclaim “LOOK”.  Then we’d stop the car, get out and look.

If I had to recreate the trip I likely could, with some consultation from the driver.  It was, all in all, a perfect day off.  I didn’t talk about work.  I didn’t think about work.  I simply was.  We gazed at vistas, mountains, trees, lakes, rocks, plains.  And marveled in the glory of God.

We talked as we traveled…okay I did most of the talking…and also enjoyed listening to music and traveling in silence.

Today I had great plans of things I was going to get done around the house…dusting, laundry, washing the floor…and I’ve decided instead to relax.  The housework will wait.  My dining room table needs cleaning off and the table cloth needs laundering, but it doesn’t need to happen today.

Today is about self-care.  It’s about resting.  Refreshing.  Relaxing.  Tomorrow I’m back at it, happily and Thursday I have Easter home communions, which I enjoy.  Then Friday and Saturday I’m off.  This time brings out my itchy feet…my wanderlust.  And while part of me would love to get in the car and go, my body is telling me to slow down and rest.

And *gasp*, I’m listening.

So I’ve made myself a cup of tea and will head over to the post office later and maybe pick up some bagels, but otherwise, I’m a home body today.

And that’s just grand!

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It is my tradition that on Good Friday black stones are given to the congregation.  They are invited to hold them in their hands and reflect on the last year.  Things we’ve done that we shouldn’t.  Things we should have done but didn’t.  Same for things spoken.  Every year I hold my stone throughout the service, usually holding it in my hand while I preach.  This year I didn’t do that.  I set it down at my seat and left it there.

During the service and the silence I was reflecting on how much has changed in my life over the past year.  Leaving my marriage, my home, my congregation and begin life again in a different place – a different province.

Today before I set my back stone down I kissed it.  And when I set it down I felt a large burden lift.  A burden of guilt, of shame, of self-loathing.  A burden of feeling I’m not good enough, thin enough, smart enough, simply not enough.  I may not an athlete or supermodel.  I may not the beautiful or even pretty. But I am who God made and I live the commandments by which God created me – to love God and to love my neighbour as myself.

I am enough.  I am me.  There’s only one me…and I’m good at that.  I’m a good priest, who is unabashedly in love with the LORD and who wants to be a beacon of light in a dark world.  I’m not anything special or incredible.  But I am me…and that is enough.

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