Posts Tagged ‘support’

Recently I learned that a good friend and mentor of mine was charged with something pretty horrible. He was found guilty and was sentenced to 5 1/2 years in prison. I’m having difficulty wrapping my head around this whole thing.

He was one of the first to recognize a call to ministry in me. He walked the journey through the end of a marriage, to relocation, to leaving work and starting all over again. He and his wife were with me when I was Confirmed. B, his wife, was my Confirmation sponsor. She introduced me to the beauty of a silent retreat.

And soon he will be locked away for crimes committed long before I met him. Does he deserve to be punished? Absolutely. Does he deserve to go to prison? That’s not for me to decide. And I’m glad of that.

It’s easy to pass judgment when you hear a report on the news. The victim and the perpetrator are anonymous. You don’t know who they are. What we forget is that for both victim and perpetrator they are someone’s son, husband, father, grandfather, brother, friend. They are someone’s daughter, wife, mother, grandmother, sister, friend.

The Diocese removed his holy orders, so she is no longer a priest in the Church. The trust he was given was betrayed and so he is no longer considered able or appropriate to use the title.

My emotions have been all over the place. From disbelief, to anger, to rage, to sadness, to emptiness. I suppose, at some point, I will come to acceptance, but that feels a long way from now.

I ache for the victims he hurt. I pray for their healing every day. I also pray for G. For his family, his community, his life. Nothing will ever be the same for him or for his family. He is a new grandfather. That child will have so many milestones that G will miss.

For the victims, they have lost two decades of their lives. I pray they will reach the place of acceptance and will heal. I hope they find solace in the verdict. I pray they can eventually forgive.

I’m shocked at the number of people who know G who have closed the door to him. It’s as though they never knew him. The distance and speed of the refuting has been unbelievable.

His life will not be safe in prison. Because he was a priest in the Church and because of the crimes he committed. I am scared for him. He’s 66 years old. And he’ll never be the same.

Nor will I. Nor will his family.

As I reflect through the swirling emotions I realise that I have lost my innocence through this. I have always been very trusting and often very naive. I’ve never considered this a bad thing. But now I’m not so sure.

I wonder if my own ministry is tainted because of him? Do I trust all he taught me or do I need to re-evaluate? He presented me when I was ordered Deacon and when I was priested. They were two of the proudest moments of my life. He and B were there when my beloved and I got married.

And so now I sit in the uncomfortable tension. I will be here for a while. And I do trust that eventually, it will get better.

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Yesterday was our Annual Meeting. The meeting lasted nearly three hours. This is an inordinate amount of time, but there were some difficult discussions that needed to be made and the congregation present rose to the occasion. By the end of the meeting I was physically and emotionally spent, but spiritually energised.

The Church as an institution is in trouble. It has been for a while. And there are numerous studies that tell us we should do this, try that, change, adapt or die. It’s easy for me, a relative newcomer to the area, to talk about losing our building and starting new. The reality is something very different.

In my life I try to be environmentally conscious. I try to eat organic, buy local, support local business, lessen my carbon footprint, etc. I buy biodegradable laundry and dish soap and don’t have a dishwasher. And yet, I get my hair professionally highlighted. I wear makeup that is for sensitive skin, but is not vegan or organic.

I stopped drinking alcohol and drink much more water than ever, but still drink coffee, mostly decaf, but occasionally high-test.

I try to encourage fair trade coffee and reusable mugs for our coffee hour. The first is a hard sell, the second is a given.

I’m realizing that while I give a 5% household tithe to the Church, I could do more. I give of myself as much as I can, often more than I can, and still; I’m never sure it’s enough.

So over the past couple of days I’ve began to realise that I can’t do it all.

I cannot be everything to everyone.

I cannot single handedly save the world.

But I can do my part.

I can live my life in a more mindful manner. Being fully aware of my surroundings, of what and how I eat. I can show my daughter what I have learned and learn also from her.

I may not always get it right, but I can and will, keep going.

Today was a snow day for my daughter. The buses were cancelled. The snow was drifted badly and it was really cold. So I stayed in my pjs for the morning and watched Netflix. There was a great deal of stuff that needed doing. But I didn’t do it. And shockingly, the world did not stop turning.

I shut off my cell phone. I did not check email. And at 2:00 pm I turned on my cell phone and I did check my email. I made a list of things to do this week, and then I meditated for 45 minutes. It felt great.

You know that I am not a fan of resolutions. I prefer intentionality. My intentions are to take my medication and supplements properly every single day. My intentions are to exercise my body, heart, mind and soul every single day. My intentions are to be mindful in everything I say, so and buy. I reckon with time it will be easier to be mindful and I won’t have to work so hard at it.

I may be wrong, but that’s a chance I am willing to take.

I am learning to identify my emotions. One that is most difficult for me to identify is anger. It was recently pointed out to me that I am angry. At first I resisted. And then as I began to identify physical posture, general feelings, etc., I realised that I am angry. At many people. For many things. And I’m working through it as best I can. I am also seeking professional help, which I believe will be the most helpful thing I can do for myself.

A year ago I would have been in a state because the package of information from the Annual Meeting wasn’t ready to go immediately following the meeting. This year it’s not ready to go, but will be by the end of the week. I will drop it off in the City next Monday. And the world will not stop turning.

I am not perfect…nowhere near it. I am human. I am flawed. And as a good friend of mine says often…I am keeping it real.

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I am a Type A personality. I own it, I love it, I live it. I like things to be in order. Granted, I have two dogs, one of whom sheds profusely. The floor is constantly in need of sweeping. I have relaxed my tight standards into something I can live with, and I suspect, my family can as well.

On Sunday afternoon/evening, my beloved and I spent a good part of the day cleaning. He vacuumed and I swept. We washed, polished, put away and returned chaos to order. When we were finished it felt good. It wasn’t completely done, but we were both spent, so it was enough for the day.

There was a time, not that long ago, that I’d have continued to push myself until I was ill. I can’t afford to do that anymore. I can’t afford to have, what I call a ‘dead day’, where all I do is sleep. Those days frighten me and yet, also seem a luxury, if that makes any sense at all.

The end of the month is our annual vestry meeting where the entire congregation comes together and hears the budget, the good news, the challenges and we put steps in place for the new year. We elect and affirm our Council, saying goodbye to some members who are moving to other challenges, and saying hello to new members.

As we don’t have a parish administrator, the gathering of information for the Vestry book falls to me. And I love it. I have to admit, there is a great sense of pride in putting the reports together and dropping the booklet off at the printer. We are not yet advanced enough in our data gathering that all reports are electronic and some of the formats are not compatible with each other, but I make it work.

Today and tomorrow I will spend compiling information and working on the Narrative Budget piece. This is a watershed year for our parish and we will decide the future. We are capable of very many things, but the decision needs to be made if it is worth the effort. Only time and God will tell.

I know that there is very little in which I am in control. We are having a dinner party on Sunday night to celebrate my Beloved’s birthday. The dining room needs work, but it won’t happen today. It likely won’t happen tomorrow. But it may happen on Thursday.

My Mam is coming for the weekend. I am going to get her Thursday night, staying over and coming back first thing Friday morning. So my compulsion for list writing is at an all-time apex. And it’s okay.

So I am going to head off to the Church office to put together the Vestry book and, for a little while, enjoy the illusion of control.

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There’s always just one more thing…to buy, to bake, to eat, to send, to make, to write, to mail.

I remember being a student minister in a very challenging multi-point parish and my supervisor piling more and more on my plate. About a month into the summer I pushed back, saying I couldn’t do any more than I was doing. And for the first time all summer he smiled. He said he had been pushing me because he wanted to teach me a lesson…you will never get it all done.

I struggle with the separation of Advent and Christmas. With Christmas and Epiphany. It seems every year, no matter how well organised I am, the Seasonal letter doesn’t get out until Advent III. It should be out Advent II. I’m working on the letter this week, getting them printed, folded, envelopes addressed, etc. Sunday is Advent III “Joy”.

I’m looking at magazines and websites for healthier Christmas baking alternatives. And I have to say, my heart isn’t in it. That may also be because I’ve been struggling with a chest cold for nearly a week. I don’t handle being sick very well. I’m incredibly impatient with what I want to do, and what I need to do. Then there’s what I feel I have time to do, etc.

My Beloved and I made a decision a few months ago to give up our lines of credit and credit cards. We both know the tendency we share to overspend this time of year. We simply cannot afford it. Recently I was invited to partake in a Mission Trip in April 2014 to Haiti to visit our Parish Prayer Partner. I would love to go, the experience would be life changing, but the reality of it, is that we cannot afford it.

We are on a repayment plan through a consolidation loan so that we are actively paying down debt without incurring any new debt. Bottom line. If we don’t have the money, we can’t buy it. Simple solution, eh?

We have a Visa Debit card, so if we need to make a purchase on-line for something i.e train tickets, we can do that with our Visa Debit card. Yay! A good friend of mine got rid of her credit card years ago and it was the best thing she ever did. All purchases are made from what is available in her bank account. If there isn’t enough money, she simply cannot buy it. IMAGINE!

I’ve done some decorating and I’m pleased with what has been done. I still need to finish up outside, but it’s been too cold to do much of anything. Hopefully Thursday the weather will be a bit milder so I can finish hanging the green. I don’t put up lights because I don’t think it’s environmentally responsible for us to do so. And with the age of the house its a fire hazard as well.

We burn lots of candles this time of year, celebrating Advent and the shorter days. By the end of this week I plan to have our Christmas cards made and mailed. It’s a very short list this year. Most people will be receiving Christmas cards via email. Some folks get a physical card. It’s not fair, but that’s simply the way it is.

I plan to have the dining room table, once again used as a dining room table, by the end of this week.

Slowly but surely, I’m seeing the changes in myself as we move through the season of Advent, a season of anticipation, of waiting, of wonder and of awe.

There will always be pressures of the season, with every season. But I don’t have to succumb to them.

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Lately I feel as though I’ve had the weight of the world on my shoulders. I’m struggling with what it is to be a person as well as a priest and IF it is possible to separate the two. I knowingly signed up for this lifestyle, this vocation, knowing that I would always be on-call and I would always be working, in one way or another.

Most days I can separate my administrative duties from my household duties as I keep regular office hours. But now that we are in summer, my daughter is home with me every other week, which makes office hours a challenge. I still get the work done, but it’s from the kitchen table as opposed to the desk at the office. And in between tasks, I take a break to get more coffee or water, and then throw in another load of laundry, sweep the floor, change the bedding, etc.

Is the multi-tasking healthy? I’d like to think there are times for it and benefits for it. Laundry, for example, mostly does itself. So I can throw in a load, work on something, take a break for fabric softener, work on something, take a break to hang it out or throw it in the dryer in inclement weather, and so on.

I have been trying to grow my hair out. And I really shouldn’t. I decided a few months back that I’d like to be able to put my hair up on really hot days. My hair is also quite thick. And so in the hottest days of the season (so far) I had my hair stuck out at all angles, because it was too short to put up but too long to lay flat. Argh.

I had a baptism on Saturday and afterwards I was feeling quite good, but also in need of a significant change, so I went to the hairdresser where I have been going since I returned to the city (about 9 years). Two of my favourite stylists were working. They had similar hairstyles and I wanted what they had, plus a hit of colour – red and I mean red. So I am now sporting what is called an “undercut” whereby I have a mop of hair on my head which is streaked with brown, blonde and red. The hair has movement and on the sides and back it is shaved close to the skin. LOTS of versatility and apparently if it show one side of the shaving, it makes me “badass”. Something I never realised I wanted to be…lol.

Last night my beloved and I went to the Pride Church service where the banners were blessed. It was quite warm in the sanctuary, but we endured and enjoyed ourselves. My beloved and I both sing in the choir and the choir presented “Climb E’vry Mountain” which was quite well received. We have a new musical director and he is awesome. The entire service was fantastic.

One of my favourite parts of attending church at MCC is how communion is done. You come forward; by yourself, with your partner, your family, or friends. A wafer is dipped in grape juice and placed in your mouth, then the Eucharistic minister blesses you and prays with you. Last night’s blessing and prayer brought tears to my eyes…hearing how much I am loved, how our union is blessed by God, how we are never alone…all things I really needed to hear. I say them often enough to other people, but it had been a long time since someone said them to me.

So now I find myself happy but weary. My two-week vacation begins in just under two weeks. I have two more Sunday services and I’m on the train to “elsewhere”. I am really, really ready to be away.

I am ready to disengage from the frenetic pace that is parish life, and really and truly be away. I have lists to make, instructions to send, pastoral visits to follow-up on and then I’m well and truly on vacation.

I am ready.

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Recently there seems to have been a lot of negative energy spent towards the LGBT+ community. As an ally to the community it saddens me to read articles where people are being cruel, mean and horrible with one another.

Recently a friend of mine who is a member of the trans* community, mentioned that she was having a difficult time, due in part to some hateful words and jealousy that was rearing up and taking over. I have only ever her known her as female and cannot understand why anyone would see her as something other than female. I guess I’m naive as I tend to take people as they come; and I tend to treat everyone the same.

Today I had breakfast with four of my friends, two of which are part of the trans* community. One of them has been so upset at the slow process and information shortage that she was contemplating hurting herself. Thanks be to God her fiance was able to help her through, but how horrible that she felt so marginalised that she couldn’t find a way forward?

I cry bitter tears of anger when I think of my friends being mistreated because of something as innocuous as sexuality and gender. What people need to remember is that sexuality is not about what is between your legs, but between your ears.

One of the greatest gifts that God has given us is Love. No greater gift has ever been given then when Jesus knowingly and lovingly died for us. To tell one person that they don’t deserve that love is fallacy, is wrong and is infuriating.

it is time for the hatred to end. It is time for us to come together as the human race and accept everyone just as they are.

We are all God’s children; created in the image and likeness of God. For some of us that means we look in the mirror and see that shining face of God looking back at us. For others it means looking in the mirror and seeing something or someone else reflected. And in order for us to feel that we truly are God’s Children we need to have surgery in order that our outer bodies reflect our inner selves.

God doesn’t make mistakes. God creates from Love and we are all born from Love. Some of us know who we are meant to be, and others of us spend our lives trying to figure that out. I have been blessed in knowing that the gender I was born is the one I was meant to have. I don’t know how it would feel to be born in the opposite gender to what I am now.

My trans* friends who have found the support and strength to make their transition often describe a peace that comes to them once the decision is made to transition. It’s not something that is ever done lightly, but with much thought, prayer, tears and consideration. Every one of the trans* friends I have has come into themselves once they’ve begun the transition. It’s not easy. But it is what is necessary to live an authentic life and be an authentic presence.

I truly believe that the only way to rise above the hate that, at times, seems overwhelming, is to choose to love. It’s one of the two commandments Jesus gave us. Love God, and love your neighbour as yourself. Why do we have to complicate so simple an idea?

Rise above the hate with Love. Choose to live in a place where love governs your actions. Teach your children and your grandchildren to live in Love.

And most importantly, speak out when there is hatred and prejudice. Gay rights are human rights. And we are all the same in our humanity; are we not?

It’s time for us to get up, get out, and get lost in the abounding love of God. For God’s sake, and for each other’s sake.

It’s time. Let’s do it. Together.

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It seems that over the past year I’ve been in a process of change. It seems that everything around me is changing. And while some of the changes are difficult and some are downright awful, there are some that are uplifting in nature.

Our congregation has been in a great state of change for the past year. We have had four significant losses to the community and there’s another one that will be happening sooner, rather than later. To be completely honest, hospital visiting is not something I enjoy. I am grateful for a long walk from the parking lot to the hospital room as it gives me a chance to psych myself up for conversation. I don’t do small talk very well.

Most often I sit in silence if it’s the parishioner and me. If there is family present I will chat with them. And then turn my attention to the parishioner. There is always prayer, and the family as well as medical team are invited to participate. Sometimes there is anointing or communion. And at the very centre of it is God.

Lately there has been a great deal of pastoral care needed in the congregation. On Tuesday alone I did four pastoral calls, usually I do one or at the most two in a day. But Tuesday it ended up being four. By the end of the day I was absolutely wiped out. And I have been having difficulty sleeping since then, most likely because I’m not decompressing properly. I know I need to focus more on my yoga. And as soon as I get busy, my self-care takes a back seat. And that has to stop.

I am determined, this summer, to make healthier choices for myself. Healthier choices in what I eat, what I do, how I move my body, how I care for my body. And it will be awesome. I need to move myself up on the list, because right now, I sit on the bottom of the list.

The struggle I often have is whether or not I “deserve” to take the time for a massage, a pedicure or highlighting my hair. And while I know it’s appropriate and necessary to do those things, there are times when I think I should be spending that time caring for others.

*sigh* Just when I think I’ve got my perspective back, it changes. And it means that I need to change and be gentler with myself.

It is true that I am my own worst enemy and harshest critic. And that’s okay, I guess? I think what I need to do is to silence the criticism, and stop beating on myself. I am in a process of reinvention of myself, my home, and my life.

This afternoon I’m going to spend some time outside, doing some clearing up, moving some planters, filling them with soil and getting ready to do some planting, which I plan to do tomorrow afternoon.

I work hard and I am good at what I do. God has given me strength that I never knew existed, to care for people, to love them (even the difficult ones) and to connect with them.

There will always be one more email to send, one more phone call to make, one more floor to sweep, one more person to visit. So I need to be militant with myself, that I deserve to have this time as much as anyone else.

And I need to give myself permission to say no to things that are not life-giving or necessary. I need time for me. And that’s okay.

It’s almost time to tidy up my desk, put things away for my next office day and get ready to have lunch with a colleague. Today is going to be an easier day then the first part of the week. And that is truly awesome.

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There’s something I’ve been needing to get off my chest for awhile now. Labels. I don’t like them.

Now, please understand, I’m not talking about tape labels or file folder labels. I LOVE them. They help me organise my world and I like that very much. But as far as society’s labels…I don’t like them at all.

Some of the labels that society pins on me. Hetersexual, straight, female, human, Christian, Anglican, middle-aged, vision impaired, hearing impaired, mentally ill, food addict, religious, spiritual, overweight, fat, outspoken, opinionated, passionate, down-to-earth, etc.

Some of the labels I understand and have even attached them to myself. There is one label that makes me absolutely crazy. Straight. What on earth does that mean? If you’re not straight you’re crooked? If you’re not straight you’re wavy? Hair is straight, sexuality is not. I slightly more comfortable with heterosexual. Because I am attracted to the opposite gender, although I can truly appreciate a beautiful female.

I am an ally of the “not straight” movement. I have transgender friends, homosexual friends, lesbian friends, queer friends, two-spirited friends, gay friends. And what do each of these friends call me? They call me by name. Not a label. What do I call them? I call them by their name. Now, in the case of a transgender friend, I will usually ask their preferred name and pronoun if I’m not sure. And every single time, this request has been received graciously and lovingly.

To be perfectly honest, I don’t care what anyone does in the privacy of their bedroom, as long as both are adults, consentual and nobody gets hurt. We, as a society, spend far too much time talking about sex, and not nearly enough time engaging in it. Those of us who chose to do so. Not everyone wants to have a sexual relationship, and that, too, is a private matter that should not be open to discussion or criticism.

A late prime minister of Canada one said “the government has no business in the bedrooms of the nation”. I’m thinking its time we reminded the authorities of that. And, occasionally, each other.

I’m certain I will blog more about this at a later time, but for now, I needed to get this off my chest.

Love who you are, and share that love, with whomever you choose, however you choose. Don’t label or demean what you don’t understand. Live by the golden rule. And if you still find it necessary to slap a label on a perfect stranger…get over your bad self.

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There is always “one more thing” to do. There is always one more phone call to make. The work is never done. These are all things I know intellectually and yet, emotionally, I feel terrible if I don’t finish my “to do” list.

Recently I’ve been very run down and got quite sick. Nothing too serious, but a terrible cold, that started in my throat, moved to my sinuses and is now settling in my chest. Bleh. I don’t like being sick. I don’t look forward to days when I can stay in bed and sleep. And yet, that’s about all I’ve been good for most of this week.

I have a parishioner who is beginning the journey to the next life. His wife is now staying at this bedside twenty-four hours a day. Another parishioner was admitted to hospital yesterday with congestive heart failure. My instinct is to drop what I’m doing and go to be with them. But the reality is that, with this cold, I will be doing more harm than good. I’m also facing a day filled with appointments to get me ready to go on retreat on Sunday evening, for five days.

I’m anxious that something may happen to one or both of these parishioners. T may die while I am away. S may need surgery while I am away. And yet, intellectually, I know that there is always “one more thing” to do. This morning I was able to get a phone number for S’s room in hospital, so I can call her at a civilised hour and chat with her. Provide her some comfort over the phone.

I will call T’s wife on her cell phone and offer comfort in that way. I may not be there in person, but I can certainly be there in spirit. And if T should die while I’m away, we will figure something out. It is not selfish to have this time away. If I don’t have this time away I will get very sick and not be able to help anyone with anything.

One of the hardest lessons for me is learning that self care is necessary. It’s not selfish, or self-serving. It is warranted, deserved, and necessary.

I’m going to make a couple of phone calls, offer words of support, and then head out on my day.

It will be enough. It will be good enough. And most importantly, it’s NOT about me.

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Yesterday the community gathered to say farewell to a lovely man who had lived a very good life. The last couple of years were not good ones, his health was fragile and he lived in constant pain. About three weeks ago he told his wife he was ready to die…not in a morbid way, but because he felt he didn’t want to live in pain anymore.

We used to get together for coffee about three times a year. We went to the local coffee shop and his friends would be there, watching every move he made. I enjoyed talking with him as he often shared stories of his family, beaming with pride at his three children, six grandchildren and three great-grandchildren. He was proud of each and every one of them, and made each and every one of them feel like they were special.

The church was overflowing with people. We ran out of bulletins, and worship space, so chairs had to be brought in and set up. A friend and colleague who is in a wheelchair co-presided the service with me and he was a tremendous source of strength during the service. As the eulogies were offered, I sat on the chancel steps to be closer to my friend. Two of the great-grandchildren, ages 2 and 4 came and played on the chancel steps. I got to play too. It was awesome.

As the grandchildren and children got up to speak they each spoke of the legacy their grandfather/father left them. The legacy of stories. The legacy of practical jokes. The legacy of witty sayings and pithy statements. The legacy of family. The legacy of service. The legacy of love.

When I was preaching I made a plea for someone to pick up the ministry of service that my parishioner had done. He had volunteered at a soup kitchen in the city and that is how he met my colleague and friend. At the graveside his brother and sister-in-law tapped me on the shoulder and said they wanted to pick up the mantel of legacy – the legacy of service.

And so, as we interred the remains of one of the kindest and gentlest men who lived, his brother picked up the mantel of service. The shoes he will fill are quite large. But he will do it, his way.

The longer I say in this community, the closer I become to the people. The more our stories intertwine, the greater the honour of the journey. I have been present as couples exchange vows, as children and adults are baptised, and as a soul leaves this life for the next one. We have celebrated lives, cried bitter tears of loss, laughed at silly jokes, and known through it all that we are richer for lessons we have learned. Lessons of legacy.

Rest in peace my dear friend. May you feel the arms of Jesus surround you. May you enter into the heavenly choirs of angels and be amongst the saints in heaven who watch out for us mere mortals, here on earth.

Thank you for the legacies you have left for us. We will do you proud.

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