Wednesday, April 24, 2013
My colleague/friend and former class mate Rev. Audrey offered a reflection this morning on her blog 'Am I The Rev in black?" about the recent sacrifices experienced by First Responders in West Texas when a fertilizer plant exploded, and even when we consider the First Responders who were part of the tragic events in Boston ... as I read her words my mind wandered to the Memorials dedicated to Fallen Peace Officers that I have visited - Memorials where I find the name Constable S.E. Ankenmann, etched in the stone or glass ... The fallen First Responder, whether they are Police, Fire or EMT - reminds me of the sacrifice my family made when Dad died on duty with the OPP.
I still remember a 'good' church member in Manitoba telling me after the shooting of four RCMP officers in Alberta, that "you really need to get over it, it was a long time ago that your dad died ..."
It was a long time ago ... but it is something I am reminded of every time I read or hear of another First Responder who dies doing what they are trained and called to do.
The firefighters who died when the fire at the fertilizer plant exploded reminded me ... Audrey's words today reminded me ... watching the footage of the funeral in Boston for a fallen officer reminded me ...
I take solace that despite the every increasing number of names on memorials scattered across the country that acknowledge the sacrifice of the few, there are many officers who put on the uniform and step out the door each day willing to do what they do, and willing to face what ever danger or risk may be inherent in the job.
We can make fun of our police, fire and EMTs, and poke fun at the stereotypes that they often embody - but at the end of the day, we can't escape the simple undeniable FACT, that when there is danger, it is the First Responders who are rushing in while others are running out.
If there is an accident, a bombing, a fire or any other happening that shatters lives, it is the men and women in uniform who are the first one scene, and who try to bring order out of chaos and ensure the safety of all involved - and for that I remain grateful.
My prayer today is that perhaps fewer names will be etched and carved on the memorials as we begin to value not only our first responders, but each other, and we move away from a predilection for violence, and chose instead a desire for respect and peace ...
... maybe one day ... in the meantime, I offer grateful prayers of thanksgiving, and continue to pray for our First Responders and their families ...
Tuesday, April 23, 2013
Okay, I'm gonna just say it: THE MORE TIME I SPEND WITH PEOPLE THE MORE I APPRECIATE AND LOVE MY DOGS!!!!!!!
Mind you, it's not ALL people ... just some ... but increasingly that latter category is fast outstripping the former!! More and more people I met strike me as more than slightly challenged!!
My observations of late have caused me to conclude that the word "NO" is truly an anathema to some people. They can't bear saying it, and they never want to hear it - yet, if we learn to say it properly and appropriately, we could spare ourselves many irritating and aggravating moments.
I've also noted in the Church circles that too often we want to avoid even the slightest hint of having to hurt someone's feeling. The pendulum has swung too an extreme where we've become so warm pink and fuzzy that we can't bear the thought of offending or hurting people ... this is connected with our unwillingness to offer a firm "NO!" ... When I consider this I ponder the whole "What Would Jesus Do?" thing and wonder if he would just shake his head in bewilderment at the wishy washiness that has embraced his church.
Why have we lost the ability to stand on firm and solid theology, while living the radical inclusivity that is inherent in the Gospel??
Yesterday I spent some time with my Great Aunt and Great Uncle who live not far from here and as I left Uncle F's words resonated in my ears - he said "People are SO selfish today ..."
I think that is the heart of the dilemma that brings such cynicism to my heart. People are increasingly selfish. They have grown fearful of change and the rapid change by which it seems to be happening, and so they look inwards and focus more and more on them selves ... Fortunately, I continue to stumble upon people who are not selfish, but wonderfully and lovingly self-less.
Thus far in the Church, and in the circles where I live and move, the self-less still out number the selfish ... but my bumping into the stupidly selfish when I move beyond my circles causes me great concern.
BUT, that concern thus far, doesn't drive me to despair, but instead inspires me to hang out with my dogs, and then head back into the world more determined to be the change we seek!!
I'm far from perfect, but today, like yesterday and like the days before that, I will continue to do the best job I can living out the idea that together we can make the world a better place, one step, one breath, one small action at time!!
And when my cynicism increases, I'll spend some time with my dogs and regain a much needed perspective!!
Friday, April 19, 2013
I have always liked the oratory and writings of Martin Luther King Jr.
In high school I remember discovering the book "A Testament of Hope: The essential writings of MLK" and devouring his words. My introduction to King came earlier, when in the basement of Centennial United Church in Stratford, our then minister Rev. Ross Cumming played a vinyl album of King's Christmas Sermon on Peace, that was recorded then broadcast, as part of the Massey Lectures on CBC.
I can still remember listening to the slightly hissy sound of King addressing his congregation in Georgia on Christmas Eve in 1967, and offering profound words that touched on so many topics, and offered an message of HOPE.
I was hooked. Ross opened the door, and since then much of what I've offered in my preaching, my reflections and my writing has been deeply grounded in the teachings and theology of King and his Gospel of Non-Violence, his Gospel of Justice, and most of all his Gospel of Hope.
In the last couple of days, I find myself revisiting King and his teachings. And I have noticed on Facebook that I am NOT alone in that - over and over since the bombing in Boston, quotations from MLK Jr have popped up on memes and postings, as people strive to make sense of the fear that has settled in.
King reminded us and continues to remind us that Love IS stronger than hate, compassion is stronger than apathy, and peace is stronger than anger ... we, like we did in the late 1960's, stand in a bewlidering place. The news is full of grim and horrendous happenings that leave communities and lives shattered. Our screens are full of bloodshed and suffering on a scale that is staggering. It is too easy to become fearfilled and lock ourselves behind closed doors ...
But, in that moment we have a Biblical example ... the first disciples locked themselves away behind closed doors for fear of the violence that could be directed at them and the harm they could experience ... they sat shivering in fear when suddenly the Risen One appeared before them and said the simple yet profound words: PEACE BE WITH YOU!! Shalom alakium!!
And in that moment the world changed!
We are no longer prisoners to fear. We are no longer people without hope.
We are the ones called, commissioned and sent out into the world to proclaim that gift of peace and to embody that hope.
We are the ones who go out into the corners of the world where fear is so thick that people lurk behind closed windows and locked doors, and we LIVE the HOPE that people like Martin Luther King so eloquently spoke and lived.
We are the ones who turn off the screens and fold up the newspapers when they are overflowing with terrible stories and happenings, and celebrate that our world is awash in goodness, revelling in the smiles and the community around us, and daring to proclaim that ONE DAY THE WORLD WILL CHANGE.
It is too easy to give into fear. But as people of faith - whether you are part of an organized faith, or just in touch with your own spirituality, our job is to go into the world and not let the darkness overwhelm us. We are to go into the world and BE THE HOPE and THE CHANGE we seek!!!
By sharing our care, our compassion, our understanding and our love, we will wear down the anger and fear and hatred that seems so prevelant. AND more importantly, by not giving into our fears, we will show others that the GOOD people out number the bad, and that as we fumble along in the darkness we will find more and more people yearning for the same thing, and soon the two or three that started the journey will be ten then twenty, then fifty, then a thousand ... and the strength of GOOD will grow, and those who preach messages of hate and try to beat us down with acts of terror will find themselves not only out numbered, but overwhelmed with the power of LIFE, LOVE and PEACE offered in HOPE.
As the British government said in the deep dark days of World War Two - "Keep Calm and Carry On!!" Today we Keep Calm, Carry On and embrace Hope rather then give in to fear.!!!
If our leaders can't offer that message, then we need to offer it ourselves!!!
We need to LIVE IT!!
We are a Hope-filled people - let's go and embody, embrace and share it !!!
Thursday, April 18, 2013
I will start this with a thank you ...
Thank you to Pastor Blake, to Katie, to CandyGirlFlies, to Rev Audrey, Tia and to the other bloggers that I read regularly and who today offered a much needed and much appreciated breath of fresh and hopefilled air into my world ...
I feel like I've just thrown open the windows after a LONG and DREARY winter, and have had a refreshing breeze roll through ... I did THAT physically in my home a few days ago, and I suppose today I did it in my heart and mind as well ...
I can't put my finger on it, but today I feel a profound sadness ... it may be the headlines filled with the suffering and carnage of Boston, the Middle East, Texas and elsewhere where lives have been so tragically and so needlessly shattered ... it could be the constant stream of raw emotions I seem to be encountering lately ... or it could just be the stress of going in too many directions all at once ... Whatever it is, it is tiring and it has worn away at my optimism to the point where I truly wonder if being hopeful is nothing more then a foolish undertaking in the face of what seems to be an increasingly mean and nasty world ...
But then, I visited my blogger friends ... Blake and his poetic words of beauty ... Katie and her sharp NYC observations of life ... CandyGirlFlies (one of my long standing friends) and her humourous and pointed reflections of life's fullness ... and Rev Audrey a former classmate and colleague who inspires me with her candor and her questions ... my list goes on ... I have several favourite blogs - but this will suffice ... As I read their words, and reflect on their observations and journeys I feel the dreariness lifting ... I find myself smiling, even amid tears from time to time ... and my heart reclaims its hope.
Hope is a precious thing ... even when we think we've lost it ... it comes back stronger than ever.
Today, despite the sadness and the heaviness in my heart ... I have found the glimmer of hope I needed and yearned for ... and it came (like this should surprise me) from the hands (or more appropriately the keyboards) of my friends!!
Onward and upward as they say ... Hope is not only alive - it is what motivates us to face challenges and to engineer and experience TRANSFORMATION!!!
I have watched it countless times ... I have a collection of memorabilia, books, and collectibles about it ... I have multiple copies of it on VHS, dvd, and blu-ray ... I know it almost by heart ... and I LOVE this movie.
But until last night, I had never seen it way it was produced to see - ON THE BIG SCREEN!!
Thanks to a special "Classic Movie" screening in Owen Sound I can finally say I've seen The Wizard of Oz on the big screen the way it meant to be seen.
It may not be a glitzy or glamorous as the latest CGI driven offerings from Hollywood, but this simple story of a journey through a strange and wondrous land full of memorable characters, and timeless scenes is and remains one of my favourite films, and I thoroughly enjoyed seeing it on the Big Screen for the first time.
... Just had to share this ...
Tuesday, April 16, 2013
Work in Highland Grounds future homes continues in fits and starts. Last week the wiring and the plumbing was transforming the former Hardware Store (it has been a hardware store since Mr Duncan first turned the key in the 1930's), into a community place to gather, enjoy a coffee or tea, and just hang out ...
At times it seems infuriatingly slow, while other times I feel breathless trying to catch up to what is happening. This morning my cell phone rang to tell me, via a phone tag relay, that a semi was sitting out front wanting to drop something off ... I returned home to find a Facebook update about the truck blocking downtown Flesherton (for those who haven't been here - a semi parked awkwardly on the road in downtown Flesherton pretty much blocks about 1/3 of the downtown!!!) The joy of Small Town Life!!!
In time, we'll look back on this busy, chaotic, hectic, frustrating and bizarre chapter with fondness. When the key officially turns on the grand opening of this long awaited coffee shop, it will be with great joy that we embark on this new chapter ... In the meantime, I find myself periodically overwhelmed with the events happening around me, and so I have to pause and seek a quiet place to find my centre again.
Last week one afternoon I went into the shop and surveyed all that was happening and sat down with a notebook and a pen and wrote the following reflection on where things are at, and what is happening. Amidst the new roughed in walls, the piles of furnishings, equipment and other assorted assundry, and with exposed bricks that have not seen the light of day in 80 years, I thought about what was unfolding and penned these words that I would like to now share:
Ah, the smell of freshly cut timber, the twang of new plumbing, and the chemical scent of wiring and other assorted stuff that goes along with renovations ...
All around me are the very obvious signs of something new coming into being.
Piles of furniture awaiting their final placement. Vanities, sinks, toilets and assorted assundry waiting for their installation.
Paint, rollers, brushes and tarps, bare stud walls, exposed wiring and new plumbing.
Simultaneously, this venture that will be Highland Grounds is both exciting and terrifying. I've only dreamt of such an undertaking, I've never truly envisioned doing it. Yet here we are in the middle of making it happy.
Like a mythic phoenix rising from the ashes of what once was, this simple coffee shop (Highland Grounds) is emerging from the last 36 months of transition, loss, grief and struggle. It will not replace what has been, but will open a new chapter of what WILL be.
After a half a dozen long years of life bouncing from place to place, and wondering where I fit in with my life and ministry, I feel blessed and privileged to find myself in a place that feels right, and that has supported and encouraged me in dreaming beyond the mundane of this moment.
As I stand, or rather sit on a wooden stool, in the middle of this work space - the renos begun - the bones of what will be in place - I realize that this Tent Making (to use a Biblical Allusion) is more than just a new job or a new business venture.
It is a new expression of ministry, it is a form of outreach that embraces many of the values people of faith and people with a deep spirituality hold but have failed to find in the confines of Traditional Church.
The very nature of Fair Trade, is about JUSTICE and helping people realize their full potential economically and socially. On a more local scale, the very act of pouring a cup of coffee, and offering the gift of hospitality is the very foundation on which our culture and our faith rests.
The centrality of the kitchen table began with the hearth of the First People, continued in the settlers cabins with the rough hewn boards slapped together and standing before the warm wood stove, and it continues to the islands, tables and and counters around which much of the life within our homes focuses.
The kitchen is the very heartbeat of our homes, and the kitchen table is where our family sits in fellowship, and offers hospitality to friends, strangers and even foes without hesitation.
In recent days, I've come to realize how deeply imprinted the actions of my Great-Grandmother (a resident of Grey County) are impressed in my being. Our visits to the farm house just outside of Desboro were marked with an abundance of coffee, tea, juice and an INCREDIBLE assortment of baked goodies that seemed ENDLESS.
Looking back, I remember the barn, and the outbuildings, the apple orchard and the path out to the woodlot, but I have NO MEMORY of the house itself beyond the kitchen!!!
We visited in the kitchen with its table and chairs and Uncle Newt's couch under the window looking out to the road.
The kitchen was the very heart of the home, and it was where Grandma Cain offered her hospitality in ABUNDANCE!!!
It is my hope, and dream that Highland Grounds will become the kitchen table for Flesherton, Eugenia, Ceylon, Maxwell, Priceville, Feversham, Proton Station, and beyond.
Like the many kitchen tables, and the table that sits central in the life and ministry of every Church, our tables will be where friendships are nurtured and forged, where life is discussed and shared, where the world's problems are solved with some simple common sense, and conversations about everything imaginable are exchanged and encouraged. Highland Grounds is about building community and seeking justice, and caring for one another ONE CUP OF COFFEE AT A TIME!!!
I hold no illusions that this will be easy. But I know in the core of my being, that like everything in ministry, it will - looking back - be rewarding and joyous.
Soon the coffee will be ready, and the mugs will be filled in the name of Community, and ALL will be WELCOME !!!!
Join us !!!
Monday, March 25, 2013
The rush of Palm Sunday has come and gone ... my day started early on Saturday with getting things ready for a number of happenings in the building at St John's ... then mid-morning the puck dropped on the final hockey tournament of the year for Ms H's hockey team ... when the final buzzer ended, I dashed out the door to prep and preside at a celebration of life for one of our community saints who had their earthly life draw to a close ... when the service and tea had ended, it was back to the arena for the next tournament game ...
Saturday ended early with me crawling into bed long before my normal time ... then Sunday began just as the sun was rising over the horizon and was another scurry of activity and busy-ness ... prep for worship, breakfast and out the door for our Palm Sunday Communion services followed too closely by the third and final game for Ms H's team ...
Now, in the quiet of a new week, like the streets of Jerusalem in the days following the triumphant entry into the city, I find myself in a place of quiet ... but am very aware of the echo of busy-ness and the grind of the world resonating up and down the streets and laneways ... I yearn to have a place of solitude, but the world keeps breaking in and overwhelming me with 'must do' tasks and chores ... I know what lies ahead and what needs to be done, but there is so much that must be addressed first ...
The moniker of HOLY Weeks is apt ... the Holy is found in the unexpected places, and it is the Holy that carries us through when our feet weaken and our steps falter and we stumble under the weight of all we may be foolishly carrying ... in the coming hours and days, the journey leads into some dark shadowy places, where life seems undervalued and violence and suffering dominant ... the Holy reminds us in those moments when our breath is taken, that the Spirit moves in and through us, and we are given strength and courage to keep moving forward ...
Holy Week is about having the faith to keep moving forward and knowing that no matter what may be happening God is with us ... As Jesus stood on the hill overlooking Jerusalem as the triumphant procession began to move forward he know doubt drew a deep breath and said a prayer of thanks that God would be with him no matter what ...
... it's THAT simple ...
Wednesday, March 20, 2013
There are days when I question my sanity right now ... I'm in my mid-40's, working full time, and within the next five years I will have the proverbial empty nest ... and here I am about to start a new business venture that will no doubt absorb huge amounts of time and energy to get it up and running ...
In an average week I flip from scared silly to excited when I consider the bits and pieces we are pulling together under the banner of Highland Grounds.
On the upside, I've pulled together a talented team of people who have been helping me move forward from the pie in the sky dream of opening a Fair Trade Coffee shop, to actually making this dream a reality.
Ms H and her circle of friends have been a big part of the creativity and energy that has helped envision the space, and the concept that Highland Grounds will be. They even helped craft the name that will soon emblazon the historic Duncan Block in downtown Flesherton!
Wayne and Linda have entered my life as friends, and their creativity and vision have given me so much ... colleague and friend Mark has been enlisted to harness his wood working skills to provide disctinctive one-of-a-kind furnishings that will give our Shop character and flavour ...
Graham has come on board with his trademark giggle and a willingness to see this dream to reality ...
There have been moments when I've been ready to thrown in the towel and just admit that I'm in way over my head ... but in those moments a faint glimmer of hope has broken through and the right person has offered the right advice, guidance and inspiration to get me out of the 'blahs' I may find myself in, and moving forward.
There is still A LOT of work to be done, and despite more then a few set backs and mis-steps, I feel more confident today about what lies ahead then I have in a very very very long time.
I don't think this will suddenly be an easy carefree endeavour. But I feel blessed and fortunate to have assembled a team of people who have shared their talents, their enthusiasm and their support in moving this dream into reality. Looking ahead, I have a talented and capable team of folks (adults and teens) who have expressed an interest in stepping up and backing the Highland Grounds logo when the door finally opens. They share the dream and want to be part of it, and I feel deeply blessed for their willingness and ability to join in the fray.
No one knows what the future will hold, and I can't even offer a firm date on when we will turn the key on our new venture, but I know it WILL happen, and when it does, it will offer Flesherton and the Grey Highlands a great place to gather and enjoy a quality beverage surrounded by people who share the knowledge that our world can be made a better place ONE CUP OF COFFEE AT A TIME!!!!
Stay tuned ... more updates WILL follow!!!
In recent months I've moved from being an obsessive blogger to being an occassional blogger to spending weeks not blogging at all ... it's not that I don't have things to reflect and muse on, it's just I've been feeling SO overwhelmed by life, the universe and everything that I have opted to spend my downtime playing pointless online and computer games rather then reading, writing or blogging ...
Gearing up for the opening of my dream of a Fair Trade Coffee Shop and retail outlet in Flesherton called Highland Grounds, and ALL of the work that has entailed has absorbed enormous amounts of my already precious spare time ... along the way a full time job, being a parent, traveling to and fro for hockey, and just trying to keep up with life has kept me too busy. Many days I want to be left alone. I don't want to talk on the phone, I don't want to answer emails, I just want to lie in my bed and simply be.
Looking back, I understand what has been going on ... since January 2011 when Mom died, followed too quickly by Mr Baumbach, Scott and Indigo, I have been left reeling ... I barely had time to catch my breath and wipe away my tears before another significant person in my life died ... as as I grieved, so too did my children ... and they needed me for support, while I struggled just to keep moving forward ...
My habit of stubbornly putting my head down and simply ploughing forward helped get through the mess I found myself in, but did little to address the burdens I was carrying, or the sorrow I was experiencing ... "I'm fine" became my defensive position and I kept more to myself then I care to admit to ...
Looking back, I can say clearly I was far from fine.
There is much I wish I could unwind and re-do ... but life seldom gives us that opportunity.
Instead we keep moving forward, ask for forgiveness where we can, and learn from our bruises with the hope (sometimes in vain) that we'll learn from our mistakes and perhaps avoid the same actions in the future.
This past two weeks, my health crashed in a way I haven't experienced since the deep dark days in Bella Coola that helped me see then, that it was time to seek a change in Pastoral Relations before the ebbs and flows consumed me and did more damage to people and a place I valued ... This time around my crash has been purely and totally about exhaustion,
I've gone too long doing too much and not looking after myself, all the while saying "I'm fine."
Last week whatever bug that hit me, managed to prove the falseness of that claim.
Now after nine LONG days of being sick, I am feeling better. I am far from 100%, but I'm feeling much better then I have in the last week.
I am on the verge of Holy Week - the most exhausting and exhilarating week in our Church calender - and I am not sure where my energy levels will be. But, from where I stand right now, I know that as I have 20 times previously, (with one notable year I was sidelined!!), I will get through the events and happenings. Over the last three years the dark shadowy corners we speak of in Holy Week have been deeply personal places where my grief and sorrow has been real and sharp ... thankfully though, the intent of our Easter Journey is not to sit forever in those dark shadowy corners, but to continue from the suffering and dying to a place where we stand blinking in the sun of a new morning proclaiming the power of the Resurrection.
If I were to describe where I sit today, I would say it is like sitting on the hillside on Easter Saturday as the sun is setting ... I've come to grips with the suffering and the dying ... I've lingered in the quietness of the graveyard ... I've know the depth of loss that has unfolded and overwhelmed us ... and yet, in the quiet setting of the sun I also KNOW that something extraordinary is about to unfold ... something transformative is about to be revealed ...
Easter is about daring to journey into the dark and shadowy places knowing that God is with us and that together we WILL stand blinking in the sun feeling the power and warmth of the Resurrection ...
It's a journey made one step at a time ... we will always have mis-steps and moments when we want to sit and weep ... but in time we will be able to look back at our travels through the deep, dark valleys and realize how much brighter and better things are getting ...
... this is the path of faith we are called to follow ... a path of life, love and laughter!
Thursday, January 24, 2013
They are not special nor are they remarkable. They are just two little pennies that I found in September while we were getting mom's house ready for the Auction sale that cleaned out the final items in the house.
The two pennies had been sitting on a shelf above Dad's workbench in the basement, likely since he put them there 45 years ago ... They were tucked back against the cement wall with items that I don't ever remember moving or touching ... given the dates, I would imagine Dad took them out of his pocket and put them on the shelf while he was puttering around the workbench, and there they sat until I found them 45 years later and put them in my pocket and carried them home ...
They have no monetary value beyond the 2 cents they are worth. But the value they carry because I can place them in Dad's hand sometime before he died, makes them precious ... I've tucked them in a simple wooden box I bought for mom when I was touring the Middle East during my University years, and that she used to store mementoes I had given her over the years ... in the box along with the pennies are a cheap wooden and plastic crucifix I bought for a shekel from a Coptic Priest sitting at the back of the 'Tomb of Jesus' in the Church of the Holy Sepluchre in Jerusalem, a mother-of-pearl brooch I bought her in Cairo, and other assorted odds and ends I had given her over the years ... like the pennies, none of the items are valuable in and of themselves, but because now, two years after her death, I can open the box and remember her and the moments in time when I gave her those trinkets, they are precious.
They are precious because Mom put them aside in a special box that in turn sat on her dresser amid the other items that were important touchstones to her ... every once in awhile when it is quiet, I open the box and let my finger run over the assorted items contained within it, and I smile ... they may not be valuable, but they are important ...
... my two cents'!!!
I can hear my mother saying "What are you doing??"
Yet, despite moving from excited to terrified and back again with regularlity, I am moving forward slowly and intentionally on my new dream ...
The building pictured above is mine. The final sale went through last week, and we're in the process of getting it ready to be a Local Coffee Shop specializing in Fair Trade Products and local food, craft and artisan products as well.
Highland Grounds will have an echo of Chipperfield Coffee Company in Minnedosa and Forbidden Flavours in Brandon - but it will be it's own distinctive Flesherton creation ... I know what I want it to be, and I've heard what the local folks have said they are looking for, and right now we are working to bring those two streams together, and create a community hub for the Flesherton and Grey Highlands area.
The goal is to be open sometime in mid to late March, with an official 'Grand Opening' after Easter, but for now I will be uncommittal around dates - there is a lot of work to be done, and as we move forward there is little doubt plans will have to change and alter as we learn more about the building, and more about the business we've proposed.
The bottom line, as of today is Highland Grounds will be a coffee shop specializing in the provision of high quality Fair Trade products, while providing a place for people to come and sit and enjoy the ambience of a building that has been an integral part of 'Downtown' Flesherton for three generations as a Hardware Store. That legacy will be honoured and continued, and Highland Grounds will strive to be an active and unrepentent promotor of the other local businesses, and the many wonderful things that are happening in and around Flesherton throughout the year.
When the door is finally opened for business, I look forward to welcoming you all into this exciting (and slightly terrifying) undertaking - and I will be proud to pour you a cup of Fair Trade Coffee and share this dream with you ...
See you soon !!!
Friday, January 11, 2013
Two years ago this morning I answered the phone and my world dramatically changed ...
Scott said "Um, ... yeah ... mom died this morning ..."
The morning that followed was a blur ... and much of the next 24 months remains a blur ...
Mom died. We prepared for her service and began cleaning up around the house and getting ready to clean it out once and for all ... then our neighbour, mentor, friend and father figure Laverne died and I was asked to deliver the eulogy for his service ...
On the way back from the funeral, Scott gave me what I will forever cherish as the most important compliment I've ever received. While driving he said, "you know you're pretty good at doing that ..."
"Funerals. I mean you planned Mom's with Kathy and it was great. And Laverne's was really good. You got us laughing, then almost to tears and back to laughing, all by telling the stories of who he was and what he meant to us. You're good."
I choked out a thank you, then after a quiet moment he said: "I want you to do my eulogy."
"I want you to do my eulogy." he repeated.
"I thought you were going to out live me so you can dance on my grave?" I offered in return.
"Oh yeah," Scott laughed, "I am. But you know you can never be sure. It's good to have a plan in place just in case you know!"
After we laughed our conversation turned to other more mundane things like the meeting we had with the lawyer and the storm that hit that afternoon and kept me in Stratford til the next morning.
Two weeks later, I would make a very long cold drive on a February night to find Scott lying dead in his bed, and a week later I would fulfil that request and deliver the eulogy at his memorial ...
Looking back it has been a LONG two years ... after Mom, Mr Baumbach and Scott I went to BC to say farewell to our friend Indigo, then spend endless hours cleaning, sorting and pitching the 50 plus years of stuff gathered in the house we called home ... along the way I've settled their affairs and estate, sorted and cleaned and sold off much of the stuff, had two break ins at the bush, and have filled my house with mementos and remembrances of my life ...
Looking forward, I'm on the verge of opening a new business in Flesherton to offer Fair Trade coffee and a place for the community to come and gather and celebrate all things LOCAL, and my children are standing on the verge of adulthood, having grown considerably in the last couple of years with all of life's ups and downs and twists and turns.
There is much I would do differently if given a chance, and there are things I wish I could unwind. But in life you can only keep moving forward and trusting in the simple reality that with each step you heal and learn and grow ...
It's been a long two years ... there is not a day that passes that I don't miss Mom and Scott and wonder how different things would be if they were still here ... I miss Mom's phone calls ... I miss the occasional conversation Scott and I were able to have ... and I miss the expressions and comments he could and would always offer ... I miss them, but I'm glad I had that last six months to get reacquainted and reconnected with them.
Today, all through my house I am reminded of them ... and that makes me able to smile more then weep ...
Monday, December 17, 2012
To state the blindingly obvious - I haven't been blogging much lately.
The reasons are diverse and wide ranging ... my day job has been busy ... I have had no less then three cold/flu bugs since October ... I am busy planning to open a Fair Trade Coffee shop ... Ms H has hockey two or three nights a week ALL over Southern Ontario ... I haven't felt motivated nor inspired ... I've been otherwise preoccupied ... the list goes on and on ...
The bottom line is - I haven't been posting here in almost three months!! Yikes!!
I have thought about sharing some of the musing that have come with the final cleaning up and sale of our family home in Stratford, but have struggled to put the many emotions into words.
I've tried to share some of the experiences and happenings, but felt inadequate to the task.
I will be back eventually, just not sure when ... I have some ideas rolling around within me, but as I've made the journey from losing Mom and Scott in early 2011, and trying to pick up the many pieces that were scattered all over the place, I've realized that sometimes silence is a good option. Sometimes just being present to the sorrow and sadness is the necessary act. It has been a long and winding road ... and I will share some of the reflections and observations I've had along the way ...
For the moment ... all the best of the season, and prayers as we struggle with the deep darkness that breaks over us from our headlines and happenings ... this season of Advent is a reminder that God is with us, and that even in the deepest darkness, the Light WILL break thru ... in this we trust!
Thursday, November 01, 2012
All in all, it was a good night, with lots of adorable costumes, excited children, and more than a few chuckles.
It was a good ending to my birthday ...
I began the day not expecting much - I seldom due ... long ago I developed an Eeyore like approach to my birthday because it never seemed to be a big deal to anyone, and I formed a wall of self-defense that minimized my disappointment ...
But yesterday turned out ok. Not great, but definitely not bad.
I got unexpected phone calls from friends near and far. I had visits and coversations with folks I hadn't expected to bump into. And I was humbly surprised by gestures of kindness and care offered by folks in my circle of family and friends.
Noahkila created a marvelous dinner of homemade pasta in an alfredo sauce. Ms H tried her hands at a spooktacular cake that didn't turn out quite as planned, but was nonetheless delicious in a wonderfully monstrous way. And others offered gestures and words of kindness that helped dispell the dreary mood I was in ... as I've said, it WAS a good day, and for that I am thankful and appreciative.
I have a good circle of family and friends - and for that I am humbly grateful!!
Shalom to one and all ...
Friday, October 19, 2012
Every day when I look in the mirror I am reminded of the scars of bullying. My nose was broken no less then twice by bullies who thought it was fun and okay to punch me in the face.
I remember many long nights as a teen weeping in fear at the prospects of going back to school and facing the torment and the violence to my person. Some of it was physical, but much was verbal and emotional.
Can you imagine making fun of a child because their father was dead, and they lived in a single parent home?
I still remember the afternoon that happened for the first time ...
I still remember being picked on because my clothes were hand-me-downs, and my jeans were patched and a bit ratty (this was before THAT was the style) ...
I still remember being picked LAST, or in some case not at all for games in the school yard and in my neighbourhood ... and then if I showed ANY emotion, or the slightest tear being mercilessly teased ...
I still remember the hurt that was constant and seemingly endless ...
I survived ... but I still remember ...
And today, I weep not for the Amanda Todd's of the world - there are more than enough people weeping for the pretty photogenic victims of bullying - but I weep for the hundreds of thousands of faceless victims who never have that moment in the limelight that says "YOU ARE VALUABLE AND LOVED AND WORTH MORE THEN THE B-LLS--T!!!!"
I have found it disturbing to read online over and over postings by people asking "What about ----?" and they cite a friend, a family member or another young person who has been bullied to the point of suicide.
As horrible as the story of Amanda Todd is, the lesson we NEED to know and remember and act on - is that bullying in ANY and ALL forms is wrong, and there are hundreds of thousands of kids being bullied for any number of reasons today, and they don't get the media attention Ms Todd and her family are getting.
Those kids need to be remembered TOO!!!
The other longer life lesson we need to be mindful of, is that Bullying is not limited only to the playground or the school class room. It happens in a myriad of ways and continues well into adulthood.
I wish I could say I left Bullying behind in my childhood, but I can look back in my journey as an adult and as a minister and see shining examples of Bullies and bullying behaviour in almost every corner of my life.
Slashing my tires and shooting at my house are extreme examples of bullying ... false reports to the Childrens' Aid and traumatizing my children are definitely a form of bullying ... spreading false rumours and listening to them is a form of bullying ... failing to stand up for someone being pummelled and harassed is a form of bullying ... and claiming to be a 'good Christian' while avoiding someone in a mall or on the street is a form of bullying ...
My list could go on ... but I don't need to revisit the past - most of the examples are cited previously throughout the past posts here at Prairie Preacher, so I will leave the list as it is and offer the hopeful prayer that one day the Church will see that it can do more and be better at walking the talk, and that it will take seriously the need to address bullying in its own courts and circles ...
Bullying leaves life long scars, but fortunately we know that there is a strange twist in the old adage: "Sticks and stones may break my bones, but names will never hurt me ..."
Names do hurt. But when the names and the sticks and the stones break our bones (our spirit, our heart), we are made stronger at the place where that breakage occurs. The scar that forms will often make the bone stronger and that is what victims of bullying rely on - the strength that comes from surviving, healing and attaining wholeness!!
Looking back, I know I was often the victim of relentless and horrible abuse and bullying ... but the healing that followed has help forge me into the adult I am today. I'm far from perfect, and I've needed to work through some stuff along the way, but I know now, 40 years later, that victims can survive and prosper.
AND that my friends is the message we need to get out there to every victim of Bullying: They can survive and become stronger people because they've overcome the fearfilled abuse weaklings attempted to inflict on them.
If we want to honour victims like Amanda Todd, we have to do more than just stop bullying - we have to help ALL the victims survive and transform our world with the amazing strength they have to share!!!
Sunday, September 02, 2012
Yesterday, Ms H and I picked 13 pints of cherry tomatoes from our little garden plot - the plants were the left overs from the Father's Day give away at St John's and their production has been nothing short of prolific ... the 13 pints of tiny red fruit were taken to both services and put on the back table to be shared.
And shared they were!!
I came home with an empty tray and a few dollars gathered for the coffers of the church!!
In the next few days more baskets of tomatoes will be gathered, and I'll likely drop them off at the doors of some of our Church members. The zucchini and the peppers will find a temporary home in our kitchen before being enjoyed in some culinary delight.
The lesson in this is the simple joy of gardening can and will produce a bounty that MUST be shared, and along the way that bounty will be celebrated and savoured - and that is the way it is supposed to be!!
Thursday, August 30, 2012
Just some random shots of my summer:
Creative advertising using Dad's vintage John Deere 110
Beetle and L outside of the Much Music Studios
in downtown Toronto on a rainy afternoon!!
Noahkila, S and L outside the Much Music Studios
(yes, they ARE filming in the background!!)
The absolutely spectacular stained glass dome
in the Grand Hall at the
Hockey Hall of Fame!!!
The hallowed Lord Stanley's Cup (the REAL one)
complete with some one's name!!!
Beetle and I with Lord Stanley's Cup
(or at least one of them!!??)
Beetle outside something almost as tall as she!!!
(The CN Tower)
Noahkila and Beetle standing on the glass floor,
a mere 342 metres over Toronto!!!
L seems a little worried about the glass under her feet ...
... at 342 metres to the bottom,
she has good reason to be worried!!!
Joey breaks out of my office
and takes a quick tour of the Flesherton Farmer's Market
on the classic (and ancient) JD pedal tractor!!!
Ms H and Beetle on the CNE Midway!!
Beetle doning the gear and ready for 'battle'?!?!
Merry Go Rounds are the BEST!!!
Ms H, Beetle and Ms H's friends
on the CNE carousel!
The end to a very good day
at The Ex !!!!
(Ms H & Beetle after photo-bombing someone else's pictures!!)
(and last, but certaintly not least:)
A visit to the Memorial for Fallen Police Officers
across from Queens' Park
in downtown Toronto.
My summer started with a break-in at the bush, and the loss of an atv, some tools and few other items ... after a couple of days of work, Noahkila and I got things back in order, and moved some things home rather than risk further losses ...
The Beetle arrived for an extended holiday ... meanwhile, my Dr had put me on some new meds because of concern about tests I had had previously, the meds threw me and my system for a loop, so I spent the first bit of the summer feeling like I had been hit by a truck ...
I can't say my energy level has gotten back to where it has been previously, but it has regained some ground, and more importantly, I've come to appreciate the need to balance my time and be more intentional looking after my self - something I've seldom done well.
Looking back in the waning days of summer, I can say that it has been a fun, rewarding, exhausting and very busy summer ... along the way we set the date and started working towards the auction sale for Mom's house, stuff and other assorted items ... I've been to T.O. several times and visited the CN Tower, the Hockey Hall of Fame, Much Music, China Town and the Police Memorial ... I've made a dozen trips to Stratford and hauled stuff to the dump, and I've been able to relax at home with the important people in my circle of family and friends around me ... all in all it's been a good summer.
As the fall unfolds and we move into the busy-ness that the season entails, I have no doubt I will find myself rushing about trying to keep up, but if I learned nothing else this summer, I've learned that at the end of the day the stuff is less important than the relationships we have with those we care about.
This past week Ms. H and a couple of her friends wanted to go to Keady Market just south of Owen Sound ... I drove them there, then accompanied them as we walked up and down and up and down the seemingly endless rows of STUFF !!!! Aside from the crowds I found myself marvelling in a less than positive way, at the sheer quantity of STUFF that was available ... I couldn't help but wonder WHY???
WHY?? are we so enamoured as a culture with STUFF, that we keep buying and buying and buying, then renting places to store the stuff that we never use, and never look at??
WHY is shopping so ALL important in our culture??
WHY ... we left Keady Market and went to Stratford and I looked critically at all the STUFF that still crowds Mom's house and I rolled up my sleeves and set to work ... I filled a dozen or more trash bags, I sorted and sifted mountains of detritus, and on Wednesday we loaded every inch of my truck for TWO dump runs that go ride of a MOUNTAIN of garbage ... then I pulled the last of the mementos I wanted from the house and set to work readying the place for the pending auction ... and today I'm left, still wondering why we've put so much emphasis on the "STUFF" in life, rather than on life itself ...
I'm glad my summer was relaxed and I had time to spend with the people I value ... I think my priorities are getting back to where they should be ... hopefully this summer will continue on this path!!