Posts Tagged ‘storm’

I am not a huge fan of retaliation. In fact, most often, it has been my experience that when one retaliates from a hurtful situation, it usually escalates. However, in this case, I believe retaliation is necessary.

Yesterday, after a particularly uplifting Church Service, I was standing in the Gathering Space chatting with one of my parishioners when another approached and asked if he could “have a word” with me. We moved to a quieter part of the Gathering Space and he said “Is it true?” I asked what he was talking about. He said “I’ve been deluged with emails that you’ve joined a gay choir. Is this true?”

My knee-jerk reaction was to get up in his face and teach him a thing or two. I did not do that. I guess that means my meds are working. ­čÖé Instead, what I said was “Who has been causing this deluge?” He did not reply. I told him that it is no secret that I belong to a CHURCH CHOIR in the City that happens to have some gay members. Why is this a problem? He quickly backpedalled and said “You know I love you and it’s fine with me, but – ” “But what?” I asked, somewhat angrily. I did not give him a chance to reply. I reminded him that I have always been affirming of everyone.

I have invited the congregation to join the same choir I am in, and have invited them to come and hear the choir perform. I have never hidden that I am an ally. I told him that the Wardens are fully aware that I am a proud member of PFLAG, then I had to explain what PFLAG is.

Eventually, this parishioner said he thought I should be aware of “what people are saying”. I replied that I would prefer to know who these people are and that I would appreciate it if he would either forward me the emails OR respond to the people who were sending them, that they should speak to me directly.

Personally, I can’t stand he said/she said conversations. It is the same as leaving an unsigned note on my desk. I won’t respond to the criticism or the suggestion. I was furious after our conversation and I came home to calm down, to pray and reflect on it. And in the process of this, I decided to change the Church sign.

I usually change it every week or two and decided to change it yesterday. Every sign has contained the word “love” since the end of May. The sign now says “We do not need to think alike to love alike”.

Take THAT haters.
Here endeth the lesson.

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Here in the small Southwestern Ontario community in which I reside, there have been thunderstorm warnings all week. And yet, aside from a brief 10 minute shower yesterday, we have not had one clap of thunder; one bolt of lightning; one stiff breeze.

I have been “blessed” with headaches since puberty. Most recently they were pinpointed as primarily stress-related headaches due to clenching my jaw and grinding my teeth. I wear a guard at night (which is INCREDIBLY sexy) so I don’t clench while I sleep, and yet there are times, especially when I am driving, that I catch myself clenching my teeth. Then I end up with jaw pain and headache.

Also, I was recently diagnosed with barometric pressure-related migraines. Nothing will make them stop until the storm comes. So for five days I’ve been in increasing amounts of pain and for five days I’ve been disappointed. I just stopped typing to stretch my arms and jaw and realised I’d been clenching. Again.

There is a lot of work to be done on the outside of the rectory. Two dogs have more or less killed the lawn by the front porch. The pup has decided he likes to eat flowers, so we have to be careful where, and if, they are planted. I’ve decided to move the gravel path we have in the front, which is not particularly usable, and replace the gravel with organic mulch. It will still have cement stones, sort of “stepping-stones” but there will be a softer place to walk, and it will be much better for the dogs.

Our female has decided she doesn’t like gravel, and she will do a complicated dance to step around the gravel and onto the hard packed dirt rather than step easily from the gravel to the steps. She’s also had a couple of infections in the pads of her front paws, so we need to make the path more dog friendly. The pup seems to have stopped eating the gravel, which is also good.

So the past few days, in the middle of the night, actually; while I’ve been waiting for the storm to come that doesn’t; I’ve been thinking of what I want to do to change the appearance of the outside of the rectory, using the resources we have (repurposing them) and purchasing a minimum of new resources.

It’s one of those projects that will awesome when its done, but will take some time to get there; as one thing depends on another to get finished. While I want the rain to come, I also want to get the projects started, but I don’t really have the time to start them until Friday.

SO, with my luck the rain will come as my spade hits the ground, and providing there’s no lightning, I may solider on. I’ve worked in the rain before, why not now?

I pray for the rains to come, the earth to cool and the humidity to leave. I also pray for the people of Alberta; who have had the rains come and forget to stop. We live in a world filled with oxymoron and while we may get frustrated we still soldier on.

I have had the lyrics to a song that the counsellors at the Diocesan Church Camp sing during communion. “Let it rain, let it rain, open the floodgates of heaven, and let it rain”. Its hypnotic when the song starts and often someone will rap “Jesus loves me” over top of the chorus. I am due to be there next week and am very much looking forward to hearing that song…

And in the meantime, I’ll get some more sparkling water, and draw yet another diagram of the proposed “after” picture of the side yard.

“Open the floodgates of heaven, and LET IT RAIN!!!”

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Today I presided at a Celebration of Life for a feisty, spirited 84 year old woman. She was a member of the local Legion for decades and was a hardworking member of the Ladies Auxiliary. I had never met her, but her reputation was fierce. I think, had we met, we’d have hit it off.

I met with most of her six children earlier this week and talked about what they wanted/needed from the service. We discussed scripture, prayers, eulogies, reflections and then I sat and listened as the stories began. Many were humorous, some were poignant, and the image that began to develop became quite clear.

Today I met with the family prior to the visitation and I was overwhelmed with the number of children, from newborn to a dozen years old, they were out in force. It was a brilliant collection of noise and excitement, with children playing tag, hide and seek and generally avoiding their parents. A little girl and I chatted about the best shoes (sparkly of course) and whether or not her grandpa should wear hair do-dads like she was (we decided he’d have to grow out his hair first).

About half an hour before the service was to begin, a little boy, about 7 or 8 years old was sitting in the chapel looking at a stained glass image of Jesus as the Good Shepherd. I knelt down next to him and asked him if he knew who the man was in the picture. He shook his head. I introduced him to Jesus and he asked question after question about the picture. “Where does he live?” “How do you get to be a shepherd?” “Did he get to take his staff with him?” “Is Grandma with him now?”

When we had finished the chat, and I had answered his questions as best as I could I turned around and there were two dozen people standing there, listening to our conversation. I smiled and went to check in with the funeral director and organist. It was time to get on with my “job”.

The youngest daughter sought me out and gave me a big hug. “Thank you” she said. “I wanted to hug you the other day, but lost my nerve”. I smiled and said I’m always ready for a hug…to give or to receive. She said to me “Mum would have loved you.” The comment threw me off a bit, but I smiled again and thanked her.

The service was very well attended, with many familiar faces in the congregation. I chatted with a group of three ladies who are at most all community functions together. And they will be at the Celebration of Life for a parishioner who passed away last night. His celebration will be on Monday morning.

We finished the service and I led the family outside. The weather had changed from sunny and cool to downright miserable with rain. The temperature continued to drop and the rain continued to fall as we headed to the cemetery. By the time we got there, the heavens had opened fully and we were all soaked to the skin.

Umbrellas were turning inside out, and there seemed no escape from the cold, the wind, and the rain. My service book was sodden so I had to wing some of the prayers as I couldn’t see through my fogged up eyeglasses.

I had gathered the great grandchildren around me and asked if they wanted to place a handful of earth in the grave. They did and we huddled together as their great uncle lowered the box of his mother’s ashes into the grave. The wind picked up and howled as I said “earth to earth, ashes to ashes, dust to dust”. The children and I dropped our handfuls of soggy muck into the grave and then it was time to go.

I hitched a ride back to the funeral home, then took off my soggy vestments, put on my suit jacket and headed to the Legion to check in with the family. As I pulled into the parking lot the sun broke through the clouds and the temperature began to rise. And I started to laugh.

The oldest son of the woman who died arrived at the same time I did. He got out of the car and started to laugh as well. Well played Elva, well played!

Inside the Legion I said the blessing over the food and the crowd began to eat. I chatted with the children, as they showed me their video games and said they liked the part with the dirt. So did I.

I checked in with each of the children and their spouses and they are all doing quite well. Each of the three daughters said to me, “Mum would have loved you. You are just like her”.


That has to be one of the greatest compliments I have ever received. And when the days become long and challenging, I try to hold on to these moments. To remind myself of what God has called me to. To be present in the moment. And above all, to never lose my sense of humour.

Tomorrow is my traditional day off. Far too often I’ve been doing “just one little thing” on my day off which ends up being half or all of the day. Not tomorrow. I have a list of things that will wait for Saturday. I have an appointment in the city at 8:00 a.m. and will spend time after that doing things for me. Some shopping, maybe get my hair done. And then lunch with a good friend. After that an afternoon nap.

And then wait for my daughter at the bus stop before lurching headlong into the weekend.

Today was a day of journey and blessing. And tomorrow will be a day of rest and rejuvenation. Because I have to say, this vessel is dangerously empty, and needs very much to be refilled.

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Over the past couple of weeks I’ve experienced a great deal of firsts. I attended my first protest march in many, many years. I received fashion advice from a Drag Queen (which was really kind of awesome). I received a drawing from a little boy and because of him I now know what God looks like. I have sworn off artificial sweeteners and being more mindful of what, when and how I eat. I’ve started taking vitamins to help promote better health. And I’ve begun an exercise program.

Tonight there is a special event in the City with 25% of funds raised from participating restaurants go to HIV/AIDS in the community. My beloved and I are going out with a very fun couple and looking forward to it. As as I prepare for this night out, I follow generally, the same routine. Have a bath, exfoliate, do my hair, deep clean my face, apply makeup, perfume and get dressed. I have this fabulous dress that I don’t get to wear very often. It’s hanging proudly in my room, waiting to be worn.

But I’m afraid it won’t fit.

You see, I’ve been backsliding quite a bit in the past couple of days. I’m still drinking water, but not as much as I should. I’m spending too much time on my laptop doing, well, not much of anything, really. And I’ve been eating. Girl Guide cookies. By the box. And as I eat them, I hear, loud and clear “Put the cookie down! You KNOW that’s not good for you. You KNOW you won’t stop with a couple of cookies. PUT THE DAMN COOKIE DOWN”. And then there’s the other voice that says “you’ve had a really crappy couple of weeks. You’re overtired, you’re doing all the housework. You deserve to have a cookie. It’s not going to hurt you. Go on. YOU DESERVE IT.

I have a lot of trouble with the word “deserve”. When I was growing up that word was thrown around in a very hurtful way. I thought I deserved to be punished. I believed that I deserved to be disregarded. And when something awful would happen, I’d hear “you deserved that”. For me “deserve” has a very negative connotation. And that concerns me. I’m still not sure how to deal with that word. Maybe I will not be able to reconcile it to a good meaning. But maybe I will. At this point, I don’t know. Truly I don’t.

I’ve been struggling with a migraine on and off for about two weeks now. It’s left me exhausted and somewhat short-tempered. I pushed back an appointment I had this morning to tomorrow morning, and went to lie down before I was to meet a friend that I’ve not seen in way too long.

I overslept. My cell phone ringing woke me up and it was my friend. Thankfully everything is close at hand where I live, so I was able to splash water on my face, get dressed and meet him in ten minutes. We had coffee and chatted. We made arrangements to meet again. And I came home. And finished a box of Girl Guide cookies.

Right now I feel disgusting. And if it wasn’t a special event tonight, I would cancel going. The reality is I’ve blown any good I could have in my diet for the next week. And I have to face that.

So I’m going to go upstairs and see if my dress fits. If it does I will be surprised and a bit shocked too. And if it doesn’t, there’s an outfit I reserve for just such occasions. I’m hoping I won’t need it tonight, but if I do, I know where it is.

Tonight is producing a great deal of anxiety already. And maybe that’s why I overate again today. I don’t think anyone is going to care what I eat or don’t eat tonight. And so I should relax, breathe, enjoy the company and the fabulous new restaurant. Eat slowly, chew, swallow, breathe, chat, smile and enjoy.

And now I have to go and rinse myself off as the dogs were just outside and came in covered in mud. I’m so glad I’m not yet fully dressed for tonight. The floors will need cleaning again too, but that will wait for tomorrow.

For now, I’m going to march upstairs and get ready for an awesome night out…

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True friends are those with whom you can hunker down in a storm. ┬áRecently I’ve had, what feels like, too much garbage and not enough joy in my life. ┬áI find myself wondering if things will get better. ┬áI liken times like this to cave-dwelling. ┬áI’ve always had an affinity for smaller spaces, feeling comfortable in cubby-holes, cozy chairs and dark or shadowed spaces.

There are those overcast days when it feels like it would be good to stay in bed and sleep the days away. ┬áAnd yet we can’t do that as we have jobs, families, responsibilities. ┬áLately I’ve been praying for rain, for overcast days that won’t end. ┬áI know that the sun will rise again, but sometimes I don’t want it to. ┬áI want to stay in the dark, covers over my head, listening to the rain, waiting for the shelter in the storm.

Where is that shelter?  It can be in many places, but none of those places feels accessible to me right now.  I know with time, the sun will shine again.  The storm will pass and life will go on.

But for right now I will wait out this storm in the comfort of my cave.

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