Tuesday, July 31, 2007

You're SO full of it ...

You know you live in a rural area when the manure spreaders are busy doing their work and spreading their odoriferous load across the farm fields ...

Today I've become aware of a variety of non-agricultural manure spreaders that are at work currently in and around Minnedosa flinging all manner of equally obnoxious manure ... I would try to refute the lies, gossip and nonsense being said about me (again) - but I have better things to do with my time than trying to refute such moronic, petty and juvenile behaviour.

So today, I trust in the intelligence of people in Minnedosa (and beyond) to be able to ascertain for themselves the truth from the horrendous manure that too many are taking delight rolling and revelling in ... I trust in my readers' intelligence to separate the people from the pigs so too speak.

After two years of this nonsense and abuse it is getting tiresome ... but then again, maybe ALL of this is just telling me that I must be a helluva guy to inspire so many people to waste so much of their time, energy and breath trying to tear me down.

So to all of you engaging in the rumours and gossip and lies - I can only say: "Keep it up. You just make yourself look smaller and more petty ... BECAUSE I know the truth and I hold to it !!"

Those manure spreaders in town know not of what they are speaking ... they think they "know" the truth, they claim to know "the real" me, they think they know ALL about me - but they are simply fools with far too much time on thier hands after Springer and Oprah are over ... they know NOTHING!!!

To my way of thinking - ALL of this just proves the old saying we've passed around my family. The one that says - "you're so full of it, your eyes are brown."

Today it would seem that there are an AWFUL LOT of very brown eyed people in this town !!!

As for ME - I can keep moving around town with my head held high, because I've done none of the things people are claiming, malacious, petty lies will not tear me down, and I've done nothing I need to be ashamed of ... fling your worst - from here on in:

I DON'T CARE !!!!
(if you care to know the truth - ask me, otherwise - please shut up!!)

Yummy !!!

Tonight after an afternoon at the beach, I fired up the barbeque for hamburgers and hot dogs ... complimented with homemade cole slaw and five bean salad. As I was cooking the patties and the weiners, I tossed a chunk of red pepper and and some zucchini on the grill.

I don't know why, but I slapped a hunk of the grilled red pepper and zucchini on my burger ... and - OH MY GAWD, it was delicious ... I would even forgo the meat patty next time!!

It was a yummy culinary discovery ... I recommend it highly ... absolutely amazing!!

Monday, July 30, 2007

The Seventh Seal Falls Silent ... (farewell to a legend):

Writer, Actor, Producer and Director ...
July 14th 1918
to
July 30th 2007
How do you even begin to
chronicle the career of a Legend??
Rest in Peace Mr Bergman.
Film buffs won't soon forget you
or your canon of cinema.
Thanks.

The WORST Canadian ???

According to the Canadian Magazine "The Beaver", former Prime Minister Pierre Elliot Trudeau is the "WORST" Canadian in history !!

I think NOT !!

Yet, how did they arrive at this conclusion?

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On on-line poll ... the height of scientific and statistical accuracy no doubt ...

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Thankfully the experts in the print edition of the Magazine didn't share the cyber-clods opinions on the former Prime Minister whose vision of a Just Society is better than the neo-Conservative Globalized economy mess we have now ...

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Personally there are more than a couple of names on the online list that I would place above Trudeau as the "worst" Canadian ... I'd put #6 higher ...

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In fact I would put Trudeau on the "Best Canadian" list where he belongs along with the likes of Tommy Douglas, Terry Fox and folks like Romeo Dallaire ...

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We need more leaders like Trudeau, as evidenced by this poll ... we've forgotten what a intelligent visionary the man was ...

A Conundrum

As Arsenio Hall used to say, this is one of those "things to make you go hmmmm ..."

A few short weeks ago, the act of sitting having coffee at the local coffee shop was defined by some as "NOT working" and was never regarded as an act of ministry.

Now that I'm on a suspension from ministry, the same simple gesture of sitting in the local coffee shop and having a coffee and a conversation with a community member runs the risk of violating that suspension because it is to be regarded as "an act of ministry."

Confusing?

It is to me too ...

It's a double standard ... but rather than risk further repercussions I guess I'll just have to enjoy coffee at home for the next few months ...

Sunday, July 29, 2007

The gift of music ...

When I was a teenager working on the Greens Crew at the local golf course, I drove my boss to absolute distraction by insisting on wearing my Sony Walkman (the yellow sports version) ALL the time.

Dave wouldn't have minded except for ... losing a trailer and not discovering its absence until I was at the OTHER side of the golf course ... leaking oil across several fairways before noticing the streak ... and the ever popular: mowing the rough while golfers are trying to play through.
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Dave decreed - "no walk mans" and we got sneakier ... we rigged them in our hard hats, hid them in our clothing, and tucked them into the tool boxes on the machinery ... In short: We needed our music, and we kept wearing them ... We defied him because music kept our brains from being dulled by the monotony of many of the tasks we had before us ... The music kept us from losing our minds ...
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I had forgotten how important music is to me until recently ... midnight drives in the van with the music blaring ... riding my bike with my mp3 player playing ... sitting at my computer with a coffee in hand listening to the latest offering of "sitting at the sidebar" on "At The Half Note" ... where ever it is, and whatever kind of music it is ... I've remembered how important music is when your life begins to take unexpected twists, turns and downward spirals ...
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Over and over I find myself drawn to pieces of music that speak to my soul ... my tastes range from Folk to Jazz to Classical and almost anything in between ... I could be chillin to Coltrane, Marley or even something from today's top 40 ...
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It's the connectedness that is important - a feeling that in the midst of EVERYTHING, there is more than this moment ... there is still light and life and beauty ... and there is MORE than the muck I find myself enveloped in ...
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Music, like the scene in The Shawshank Redemption reminds us, can lift the soul far beyond the grey drab walls of any prison cell, and for a moment set us free to soar ... I remembered that this morning as I listened to Katie's latest offering "At the Half Note" ... and I need to remind myself of this more often as I move through my day ...

Saturday, July 28, 2007

Some sensible advice ...

In recent days I've heard many of the same old adages about keeping your chin up, hanging in there and so on ... in the last few hours I've had two people offer me advice that would seem to be tempered by a strong dose of reality ...

1) Remember: Every silver lining has its dark cloud ...

and

2) Don't forget there's always a light at the end of the tunnel ... just make sure it's not an approaching train!!

With advice like this, you can't help but smile, even in the face of the worst life might toss at you ... with friends like this, I'm in good shape ...




I believe inspite of the evidence ...

I have always believed that the Good Guys (the white hats) will always win ... Hollywood promotes it ... our Faith proclaims it ... and even our politicians try to pontificate on it ...

Increasingly though, it seems that the good guys only win in the movies any more ... and even there, in the name of multi-million dollar sequels, sometimes they lose so another film can be put in the proverbial can.

I've lost count of who may times I've heard people say - "You have to accept it. That's just the way it is, and we can't change it ..." when confronted with bad behaviour or systemic injustice.

To that I say - Bull@#%!!!!!!"

We need to move beyond cowardice and complacency.

I cite Rosa Parks who with great courage and at profound risk to herself and her well being stayed in her seat on the bus because SHE KNEW that the only way for things to change was for people of courage and faith to take a stand (or in her case a seat!!).

Rosa Parks said the black hats weren't going to win, not that day ... and even though there is still much work to be done, her simple action of saying "no" when asked to give up her seat, set in motion a sequence of events that forever altered the world ...

If we complacency accept things the way they are, then the bad guys will win ... OR - if we decide things can be different and better - we must become, as Gandhi said, the change we seek.

The bad guys may win the odd battle - but they WILL NOT WIN THE WAR !!!

Like the old adage says - "if not me? Then who? If not now? Then when?"

Why I've Never Opted for Anomymity ...

My struggle today is with sharing openly and honestly what I'm feeling and the tension that presents because - well, to be frank and blunt - it presents a tension BECAUSE there are those out there in cyber space who pounce on my every word and mis-step and use it to bolster their dislike of me and what I am about ... They read this blog not to be challenged nor inspired, but to pick fault with me and what I am about. They are quick to point out what they regard as errors, and they are quicker still to judge me and what I say and do, and find me lacking ...

So, I face a conundrum - I can remain silent and say nothing (the wisest route) ... I can speak my mind and run the risk of offending those who are easily offended anyway (my usual route) ... or I could move to another anonymous blog and begin to spill my guts there under an assumed name, or a nom-d'plume ...

Silence is not an option. I've stood silently for two years as people spoke ABOUT me and around me, but never asked me about the very things they were talking about ... I'm tired of being silent and waiting for justice to prevail. Justice can only prevail when the parties seeking it are honest, open and courageous ... When only one party is being such, justice is not only denied it dies a painful death ...

And anonymity is never an option for me. I wasn't raised that way, and anonymity runs counter to my values as a person. If I'm going to say it, I'm going to own it. If I think it, I'll say it and I'll accept the consequences. When I speak my mind, I've thought about what I'm going to say and I'll take responsibility for my words.

So I'm left to speak my mind openly and to once again run the risk of offending the malicious and the thin skinned who lurk in the shadows waiting to pounce ... so be it.

I will speak my mind and share my thoughts and my struggles and my celebrations and I will not let petty small minded people prevail. Because to be frank - we give them way too much power anyway.

I have no use for the person who will be friendly to my face, but who will then turn around and bad mouth me over coffee, or amongst their friends ... I was raised with a value system that says - "if you're gonna say it behind my back, you better be willing to say it to my face too !!" Even when I've known about the bad-mouthing and the aboherent behaviour of others, I've not reciprocated - EVER!!

Thankfully though, the majority of people who come to this blog and read these words appreciate what I've tried to do here. They value my thoughts and musings and many of them have repeatedly expresses appreciation for my openess and my frankness. Those voices far outweigh the critics.

I've lost count of the number of times I've been stopped both here in Minnedosa and Brandon and elsewhere by people who say (often complete strangers) "I read your blog and it is fabulous ..." Many have shared with me an appreciation that as a minister and as a person I am offering an open and frank opinion of faith and matters of church - there is no "warm pink fuzzy" to be found here and that is what the majority of people are looking for.

SO, as of this moment:

Yes, I struggle with my faith and my calling. I know I'm called to ministry, and I know I've been called to ministry amongst the people of Minnedosa. Despite those who want me gone, over the last few months I have repeatedly been affirmed in my ministry and affirmed in what it is that I do.

I know I have a faith that is moving from traditional Christian teachings to something more Universal and less dogmatic. I live and express a faith that is outside the Institution of the Church, but that is consistent with many of those with whom I am in Covenant within the Institution that is The Church ... it's funny dicotomy ... we live and work in the Church, but our faith is SO MUCH BROADER ... such is the joy of the Spirit!!

I also know that I am far from perfect and I rub people the wrong way. I know my words often offend and outrage - but then I look to the likes of Luther, Gandhi, King, and even Jesus himself as my role models and see in them an offensive faith that revisioned the world as a better place than it currently is - and I follow their lead.

I also know that I am passionate about what I do and what I believe. My passion extends to all aspects of my life and I am un-apologetic for that ... the world needs more passion and less politicking ...

I know that I am well read, well studied and that I remember much of what I read and THAT simple fact intimidates many ...

I know that I am regarded as young and by some as immature ... well, that's one opinion ... often we label that which we fear ...

I know that I am also profoundly lonely ... my path to ministry demanded leaving much behind, including the connectedness with family and community ... along the way I have tried to craft new friend and new relationships, but they are forever hindered by the "you're the minister" bias that too many bring with them. As my marriage has begun to fail, I have found myself abandoned by what few friends we've had in common, and so in my neediness I made a mistake and trusted people as friends who were unworthy of such an honour ...

I know that I am not the person I was a year ago ... despite two years of repeated hard knocks form work, from life and from other corners, I am a strong person and I will survive this. I have too many bruises to count, and I am feeling bloodied and battered right now - BUT - I WILL SURVIVE. I am better than all of this. I am a good person. I am a good minister. I am a good father. And I am a good friend. The rumours and gossip that have been lobbed against me over the last two years - well, I would urge those of you who want to engage such stories to consider the source. I know where many of them started - and they aren't worth the spit that formed them ...

I know that we live in a time of profound change and transition, and that has had its effect on people ... anger and fear abound, and instead of owning those feelings and expressing them in a healthy way it is easier to mis-direct them and to attack the vulnerable and the easy targets ... In the wake of the fire I can't help but wonder if the attacks on me were fueled (pardon the pun) by the fire itself, and are less to do with truth and honesty ...

I also know that I am proud of who I am, what I believe and what I've accomplished. If you want to pick fault with me - then say it directly to me - sign your name - own it. Stop running around behind my back and muttering in the shadows ...

I hide behind no masks. I am a real person. I have hopes and dreams like everyone. I also get hurt too ... I might live in a glass bowl where all my actions, words and thoughts are for public consumption - but I have never placed myself on a pedestal and claimed to be perfect - nor do I want to be put there ... I am a person ... I make mistakes ... I say the wrong things ... I am like everyone else ...

Where I differ is in my ability to own my actions and stand up good or bad for it ...

I'll take my stand. I'll bear the consequences (I already have ... I can show you bruises and wounds galore). And I will stand up for what I believe ... and for that I WILL NOT APOLOGIZE!!

Friday, July 27, 2007

Deida's advice for a balance of life, spirituality and sexuality:

David Deida writes:

You will settle for doing enough to get by, to be comfortable, but you will find that you would rather watch TV than write your novel, meditate, or make that important phone call. You will have enough motivation to live a decent life ... Your gift will remain largely ungiven.

A superior man dissolves into the mystery and re-emerges full of love to give, again and again, without petering out, in his sexual relationship with his woman, and in his creative relationship with the world ...


How about HONESTY in advertising ??

I remember years ago on the CBC programme Morningside, when Stuart Maclean and Peter Gzowski had an exchange about how much you could buy for a small amount of money. Stuart trumped the segment by using the pocket change he had left over to buy gallons and gallons and gallons of Toronto Tap water ... echoing CBC host Vicki Gabereau's trademark line - "still a bargain at twice the price", he noted that tap water is an incredible bargain throughout Canada ...

This of course was before places like Walkerton, Battleford and First Nations Reserves scared us in to erroneous believing that our tap water is unsafe ...

Instead of risking the unknown pathegens and toxins that drip from our tap, we instead turned to consuming thousands and thousands of litres of bottled water every single day ... the effect hundreds of millions of plastic bottles has on the environment can wait for another day and another rant ... instead I would cite today's announcement from Pepsi Co, confirming that their trademark water line Aquafina is purified TAP WATER.

After I stopped laughing, I said a hearty "THANK GOD" for the simple fact that as a household we've never bought into the bottled water frenzy that has gripped our society ... For starters I couldn't justify paying more per litre for water than I pay for the gas for my van ... But the environmental concerns also played a part ... Those bottles are NOT benign - they are useless, unnecessary wastage.

BUT even more importantly for me personally, is the simple fact that we in Canada are blessed with almost limitless quantities of fresh, healthy tap water ... it's not perfect ... but you can travel almost anywhere in Canada and turn the tap and drink what comes out without hesitation or fear - so why should I buy bottled water that came from a tap in a factory somewhere??

It simply makes no sense ...

But today one of the Trans-National Corporations has finally clued in to this idiocy of this, and have begun to tell the truth ... Thank God !!! I lift a glass of tap water in salute !!



Sometimes a lemon is still a lemon ...

In conversation today a friend said - "when life tosses you some lemons, you need to make some lemonade ..."

I replied: "That's a tired old adage ... I've heard it too many times ..."

"Yeah, but they need to stop squeezing the lemons in their eyes, and start making lemonade instead."

I can't help but think that no matter how much sugar we add, and no matter how sweet we make the lemonade, a lemon is still just a lemon ...

I'll try making lemonade today ... but ... I'm not expecting miracles ... a lemon is sometimes just a lemon ...

Loss of Sanctuary ...

I've mused here recently on the loss of sanctuary and how those mounting losses have affected me ... In recent days the reality of that has begun to sink in ...

I'm hesitant and reluctant to speak openly of what is in my heart right now because my past experiences here have taught me that my words WILL come back to haunt me ... The things I've said here have been used malaciously against me ... openly sharing my thoughts and my musings have allowed them to be used in less than positive and affirming ways by those who are waiting to pounce on anything I say that is NOT to their liking ... So, to speak frankly and openly runs the risk of further undermining my ministry and my ability to be in community in Minneodosa after the 363 review recommendations are completed ... In short - If I speak my mind and my heart and share my doubts, my burdens, my reflections and my hurts - there are those who read these words and then take them to be used later to further poison the waters in which we are struggling ...

I can't help but wonder ALOUD - what motivates the heart and faith of one like that ... but that is a musing for another day ...

For the moment I can name the risk, but I can also name the reality that to say nothing is to deny the struggle I am experiencing and will serve only feed the cycle we have been locked in since toxicity and complacency became the norm ... A cycle that can only be broken with honesty and openess ...

So, in the name of honesty - I'll own this ...

Being physically unable to just hop on my bike, turn on my mp3 player and head off into the country side for a while has intensified the feeling of disconnectedness that has come from the loss of too many sanctuaries in my life ...

My loses over the last 24 months have been relentless and ongoing ... they include spaces ... people ... relationships ... and a sense of security ... each of these sanctuaries, sanctuaries that have fed and strengthened my soul, have fallen away with a rapidity that is simply breath taking ...

And now as my disciplinary suspension begins the isolation that it brings has served only to deepen as I must consciously try to live in a small town without having contact with members of the church in ways that could be construed as "ministerial" ... With the malicious presence both here and in the community of those who want me gone, my paranoia is not misplaced ...

With the loss of sanctuary space ... with the loss of sanctuary as I move through the community ... with the loss of the sanctuary that friends and relationships once offered ... I'm left feeling very much like Job ...

Voices rightly counsel me to trust in this time as a time of discernment and a time of reflection ... trust in God to be present as a source of strength and healing ...

But sometimes ... like now ... the loss of sanctuary and the loneliness it represents are simply too overwhelming ... and after 15 years, for the first time in my life I feel totally and utterly bereft ... all that I have held dear has eroded away ... and that is perhaps the most bitter realization of all ... after devoting 23 years of my life to being in ministry in this United Church of Canada, I am once again on the outside looking in ...

I know hope will once again come ... but today its absence is notable ...

Thursday, July 26, 2007

On a Journey Just Begun ...

She has been on a journey that began in the early morning
hours of July 26th 1963 in New York City ...
... along the way she has touched many lives,
and brought into being many wondrous things,
not least of which is the Annie Kosh Experience,
aged 9 and counting.
She can be sweet and sarcastic,
she can be understanding and bold as brass,
she can be tough as nails and as fragile as crystal,
she is wise beyond her years,
she is sensitive beyond her life time,
she is creative, luminous, and witty ...
She is one of the creators of the film Cold Tea,
and is best known around here as the
blogger of At the Half Note fame ...
Today, I wish my friend Katie,
a VERY, VERY Happy Birthday
as she continues on her journey of life,
love, discovery and growth ...
You Go Girl !!!
And have a happy one !!!

Wednesday, July 25, 2007

From Bohemian Rhapsody to Zodiacal Dust Clouds ...


Every once in a while a story comes across the internet that catches my attention and to which I can only say: "COOL !!!"
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Today I encountered just such a story when I read the article about Queen guitarist Brian May going back to college to complete his PhD in Astrophysics with a thesis entitled: "Radial Velocities in the Zodiacal Dust Cloud."
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Some 30 plus years after abandoning his University studies to form the Iconic Rock Band Queen with Freddie Mercury and Roger Taylor, May is going back to his roots and completing the unfinished business that was set aside when Queen launched their careers ...
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I can only say with admiration - "way to go !!!" and wish May well in his studies.
In a way, he shows us that there can be more to being a celebrity than salacious headlines ...
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Musings long after midnight ...

Friendships are funny things ...

Some people (not me) have many, many friends ... others have a few close friends ... some friendships last a lifetime ... other friendships glow fiercely then burnout quickly ... some friendships are healthy and affirming ... while at times other friendships are toxic and anything BUT affirming ...

In my life I can almost count on one hand the number of close friends I have had and have remained in touch with ... the path of my life has lead me away from dear, cherished old friends, and has at times brought me wondrous new friends ... and every once in a while, there is a turn or a twist in my life journey that brings an old friend back ... I feel very blessed when that happens ...

The nice thing about friendship is that it is a living, breathing things where two lives come together and build a relationship. I feel blessed and honoured even to have less than a dozen people I can call true, close friends in my life because they are good people and they each bring something wonderful to my existence, and I am blessed to know them.

To be honest, I weep when a friendship ebbs or even ends ... I miss those lives who have moved out of touch and from whom I hear nothing ... I forsake no friend lightly nor easily ... they are all like precious jewels to me. But I trust in the cosmos that when, for whatever reason a friend moves away from me and we fall out of touch, that they will know that I am only a note, a call, or a visit away ... if they need me, I will always be there ...

There may be distance, but the friendship remains ...

So, to all my friends, both past and present I can only say to them - "Speak the word and I will be there for you ... call me, and I will always be there ..." I am only as far away as you want me to be ...

My friends are too precious to simply give up ... I never forget a friend, and I hope they know and remember that if they need me, I will ALWAYS be there for them ...

Tuesday, July 24, 2007

Today's adventures at the lake and beyond ...

With the humidex pushing to the mid to high 40'sC (that's 110 to 116 F !!!!), it was a good day to head to the lake for a dip in the water ... So, supper was readied and popped into the oven to cook over a low heat all afternoon, the inner tube was strapped to the roof of the car, and everyone was slathered in sun screen and off we went ... But as the man said - "life is what happens when you are busy making other plans ..."

We arrived at the lake and the girls dashed into the water to frolick on the massive inner tube we bought last year ... after awhile I could resist the temptation of water and coolness no longer and I swam out to join them ... Together we played for awhile trying to tosse each other off ... Then Noahkila arrived to join in - the problem from the outset was and is - he is too rough and doesn't know when to stop ...

(so now we switch to the time frame:)
2:50 pm - playing on the inner tube with Ms H, Beetle, Noahkila and one of Ms H's friends.

2:52 pm - Noahkila, after being told to stop - dumps the inner tube and sends ME to the bottom where my head and the hard sand bottom of the lake collide with a "CRACK" in the back of my neck as I feel my weight try to drive my forehead into an unforgiving lake bottom ... the shooting pain up my arm and in my neck convinced me something was amiss ...

2:53 pm - I come up out of the water with both hands clamped tightly on my neck to minimize movement, and to ensure I don't jar something lose ... The fact my feet were moving and my arms, even with a slight tingling were still moving was a good sign ... I started making my way for shore ...

2:55pm - I call a paramedic friend on my cell and ask him to walk me through whether I should go to the hospital ... Neck injury ... some tinging ... dull pain ... "not a bad idea to just go," he says, "then they can x-ray and make sure ..."

2:56 pm - I call another friend and ask if he could come to the lake and look after the kids while i take myself to the hospital ... "Absolutely" comes the reply, "be right there ..."

3:00 pm - The friend arrives and takes over watching the kids while I drive myself to the hospital ... not an easy thing to do ... but I got there ...

3:05 pm - I arrive at the front desk of the nursing station and am immediately greeted by a flurry of nurses and nurse aides who want to make sure I'm looked after ... Even with good natured teasing and few threats of painful, yet unnecessary medical interventions, I know I am good hands and I will be cared for and cared about through whatever follows ...

3:10 pm - The nurse begins her assessment and intake ... within 10 minutes I'm slated for an series of x-rays and the doctor has been called.

3:55 pm - I'm wheeled (they stopped letting me walk from place to place and put me in a wheelchair ... not that I minded either way) down to the Xray lab where I am xrayed a number of ways ...

4:30 pm - x-rays are complete and they are regarded by the Dr as inconclusive. He suggests that I need to get a CT scan in Brandon. "When?" I ask. "Tonight of course," he offers in his indomitable way. "Okay," I reply, "but I need to make some arrangements for kids and cars and M's work ..." "Whatever," he says as the nurse begins to take me back to X-ray, only to be turned around when the Dr announces that they have a 5:30 appointment available in Brandon if I can get someone to drive me there ... I was talking to M on my cell phone at that point and asked if she could drive me ... she agreed and said she'd be right up ...

4:40 pm - M arrvies to take me to Brandon. She had been feeling crappy all day and had called in sick, only to be hauled out in the heat to take me to Brandon in a hurry ...

5:32 pm - We arrive in Brandon and I get to the CT Desk about two minutes later. I sit for about three minutes before being taken in and placed on the CT bed.

5:50 pm - CT scan is complete. The radiologist tells us he only sees soft tissue damage, but that he can't tell whether there is ligaments involved or not. We then begin heading back to the hospital in Minnedosa for one last look by the Doctor here.

6:30 pm - The Doc checks me out again and suggests that I leave the hard collar on for a few days - I balk. He then suggests a soft collar until I can get in to see him Thursday or Friday. I accept the soft collar suggestion and am quickly fitted with one. As his exam of me ends he says - "oh by the way, can you give me a ride home ?" - "Sure," I say laughing, "you gotta love small towns ..." "Absolutely," says the Doc.

6:40 pm - I'm home with my neck incased in a "whiplash" collar ... and my day in the sun and water by the lake got a little re-routed ...

Now, as I look back over my day I can appreciate many things ... one is the prompt response of friends when you need them ... two is the incredible care we recieve in our local hospital (that can't be said enough) ... three is the speed at which we DO get care in emergent situations - we can complain about wait lists and having to wait to see someone - but often we are dealt with in a timely and speedy fashion ... four is the care that comes when humour and friendship inter-mingle. Even being the threat of an enema, was softened with the smile of genuine, caring and very capable nursing staff ...

Throughout my day I also took time to focus on being present in the moment and to use that point in time as a place and a time of refreshment ... using Buddhist techniques, I closed my eyes and focused not on the pain, discomfort or the turmoil I was experiencing, but rather I focused intentionally on the peace and serenity that came in that moment when I focused only on my breath and the act of breathing in, and breathing out ... It brought a serenity that I have been lacking lately ...

So, today has not turned out anything like I expected nor planned, but it turned out far better than I could have imagined ... It's all good ...

House Hippos ... the proof ...

Last night, a tragedy unfolded behind our fridge ... Our resident house hippo couldn't over come his prediliction for peanut butter and nosed dangerously close to the trap set for the unwanted and unwelcomed rodents who have taken up residence in our home ...

Unfortunately and tragically, Herman met his fate behind the fridge with a sudden and devestating "thwack" ...

Services are pending the notification of next of kin ...

Monday, July 23, 2007

My theme song for the moment:

The temperature today with the humidex was in the low 40's C. In spite of the heat and the breath-taking humidity, I took my bike out and went for an hour long bike ride ...

Along the way I listened to my MP3 player and the various pieces of music that it has on it ... One that played as I rode out the highway north-east of town, alone in my thoughts was the song "A River So Wide" by the Canadian Celtic Band The Tiller's Folly. (I've written about them previously - they are a favourite since I first encountered them at a wedding reception in BC back in the day ...)

There is something about both the words and the melody of the song that have always spoken to me. Today as it played while I pedaled along the highway it resonated more deeply within me. I decided to post the lyrics here to share, but when I found them on the web site for The Tiller's Folly, I read the introduction and understood WHY I felt connected to this song ...

The introduction reads:

The title track of our upcoming CD, "A River So Wide" is a song drawn from personal experience. The law of Karma dictates that what goes around will eventually come back around. It's also a song about getting #%*# over and coming out the other side. Eric offers some exquisite slide work which plays nicely off Nolan's mandolin.

Hmmm ... I don't know if I can relate to this song too well right now ...

So, now for the lyrics of the song:

Well the water is deep and the river is wide
Never seen it boil & churn'til I was swept deep inside
So what you gonna do when it's all sinks in?
No one's there to thrown you a line
And now it's sink or swim in that river so wide
Well I'd never been lost in the forest so deep
Never stepped such a treacherous path
Or seen a fall so steep
Standing alone when the wolves closed in
If you ever wanna get outta this
You better see you don't slip in the forest so deep

And time will grind down the hardest heel
And when every dog has had it's day
you're gonna know how it feels

Well I never once dreamed that I would see a day
When the people I called my friends
Would just turn & walk away
You can go on believing the worst until it's all you see
You can spread your rumours around
And point the fat finger at me, you know it's alright
I'm staring at the clear blue sky

And time will grind down the hardest heel
When every dog has had it's day
You're gonna know how it feels

Well I swear I've never seen that river so high
Never seen such a turbulent tide 'til I was swept up inside
It's whacha gonna do when the walls close in
Before you hit rock bottom boy
You better know how to swim
The river's so wide
The river so wide
(music and lyrics by Bruce Coughlan (SOCAN))

If you want to hear a snippet of the song, and learn more about The Tiller's Folly then click here (then click on the side bar "lyrics A-B" and find A River Runs Wide ... and you'll be magically transported to their website ... Take some extra time looking around and learning more about a relatively unknown Canadian band ...

As for me ... tomorrow will be a new day ... I'll embrace it as it comes ... and create it to be a good one ...

YES !!!!

I got on the scale after my shower today,
and with some trepidation read the numbers
that twirled into view ...
... as they did, all I could say was:
YES !!!!!!!
The scale read:
215 !!!
Clearly the bike rides are paying off !!


A Quotation to Consider...

Last June, I began a journey - it was NOT a journey I wanted to be on, but it is a journey that was forced upon me. I went on a three month leave from my duties as minister, and spent time in the wilderness. There are those voices (some of whom will be pouncing on these words looking to cackle - "a-ha!! see, this is what he's really like ..." and further sully my reputation and undermine my credibility - something they've grown quite effective at), who say I just went off on a holiday ... They couldn't be more wrong.

I spent my ninety days in an emotional and spiritual wilderness. With the help of a friend and a colleague, I dug deeply into myself and began to critically examine all aspects of my life ... I experienced Epiphany after Epiphany as much of myself was laid bare and I struggled with my sense of call and my sense of ministry and my sense of who I really am ...

I came back from the wilderness profoundly changed ... Unfortunately, too many of those with whom I was covenanted to be in ministry had done little to address the issues that lead to my burn out and my leave, but more notably, they were unwilling to alter their views and see any change in me ... Their vision was set and their minds made up.

So the journey I have been on - one of evolving from where I was to where I want to be, has been far from easy. I came home and found myself homeless ... my marital status became what you would identify on Facebook as "complicated" as M and I struggled with a seperation of sorts - one that continues to this day ... My place in the Church I have loved and served for seven years remained tenous and difficult ... and my emotional life ran a roller coaster as my reputation continued to be the target of mailicious gossip and vivid untruths ... Through it all, I sought out and found a couple of close friends who have remained steadfast supports amidst these storms ...

Unfortunately, as the storms raged, many of the places that offered me solace and sanctuary were simply washed away ... this week I lost two more of those sanctuaries ...

I know I will survive ... I know I will emerge from this stronger than I have been ... and I know that I will one day look back on this time and see it as the place where my re-birth as a person began ... I do not however, know where my path will lead, and I don't know what lies ahead ... but I have my faith ... I have a couple of good friends with whom I can share everything ... and I have a desire to break free and to continue the process of evolving as a person that began some months ago ...

On Friday I took the advice of a fellow blogger and sought out the book The Way of the Superior Man by David Deida.

I'm only half way through my first read of it - so I can only say: "thanks Katie for the recommendation."

It is an absolutely incredible book. It speaks of the need to balance our spiritual and sexual selves and in that harmony to find completeness in ourselves and in our relationships with the world and with the women in our lives. Over and over he stresses the importance of being true to ourselves and to our journeys - journeys of evolution.

The bottom line is simply this: we can quietly live out our lives filled with desperation and compromise and concession, or we can embrace our true and full self and live life fully and live life not only with passion, but live by (to use Deida's term) by seeking to ravish fully that which is before us.

In short it is a great book ... and it is well worth reading and putting into practise ...
So, this is ALL by way of introduction to share the following quotation from the book:

Most postponements are excuses for a lack of creative discipline. ... In addition to the myth that one day your life will be fundamentally different, you may believe, and hope, that one day your partner will be fundamentally different. Don't wait. Assume they're going to be however they are forever. If your partner's behavior or mood is truly intolerable to you, you should leave and don't look back (since you cannot change them).

To be pointed and blunt, there is one life that I hope one day will see the truth of these words and will resume their own personal journey of evolution ... right now out of fear they've fled to the safety of what they know ... it's not a place where wholeness and healing can ever happen ... I hope one day she will be courageous enough to see that and to believe she is worthy of more ...
but it will only happen when she sets herself free and claims her worth ...

For now I can only pray ... and focus on my personal journey ... and as of Wednesday morning I have six months of time to focus on that ... with a suspension from ministry ... on Wednesday my sojourn into the wilderness resumed ... my evolution as a person, as a minister, as a father, as a lover, as a friend, as male continues ... I don't want this exile either - but I'll embrace it and trust in the cosmos to see me through ...

As our Jewish family say - "L'chaim !!!"

A quotation to consider:

I've had computer issues today ... as a result, I've removed the text here and reposted it in an easier to read format ... but the comment here was worth keeping, so rather than deleting the post, I've deleted the text ...

You can lead the horse to water ...

... but you can not make it drink.

I remember doing a ride along with a member of an urban police force while I was a student. That night we saw parts of urban life most people NEVER see, and we encountered situations that were absolutely terrifying.

In conversation with the officer, a 20 year veteran coming up on retirement, he spoke openly of his absolute contempt for domestic violence calls. His solution would be to save the victim, usually a woman from the cycle of "oh, he's a good man, and I love him ... I need to give him another chance ... he's a good man ..." A plea that this officer, through his 20 years of answering domestic violence calls, waved off.

"They don't change," he said, "give it a couple of months and we'll be back to the house, and the woman will be saying the same thing with the same injuries ..." But what he noted was worse was the violence that leaves no marks - the violence to the soul that comes from control and abuse that is verbal and non-physical.

He noted that "these men never change," it's a learned behaviour. They learned it from their parents and what was saddest of all - they WILL pass it on to their children and to the children who see them in action.

Since that night as we stood in the living room of a home taking down the details of a domestic call that left children terrified, a woman battered both physically and emotionally, and a man saying - "It's not my fault ..." I've had zero tolerance for men who treat their partners as possessions ... Such men are simply beyond reproach.

Sadly though, too often the women will run back to these so-called men and justify it by saying: "he's changed ...", "we'll work it out ...", "he promised ..." and other empty words ...

In those moment I can only wish them luck. But the reality is ... a pattern is being lived out and it is a pattern that can only be broken by walking away and with clarity of vision and spirit be identified and broken ... Too often though that time away is scary because the fear of being alone is too great to face ...

Being alone is a funny thing ... we savour those moments when we can claim them in a busy life, or a hectic day. But when we really need it, when we need to be alone to heal and to regain our wholeness we feel vulnerable and we are too ready and eager to run back to the safety of what we know, rather than face the uncertainty of what lies ahead. It's the only adage - "the devil we know rather than the devil we don't ..."

In the case of abused women, they WILL justify their return with all the "right" words because the fear that lies inside of them is too great ... they will sacrifice themselves and their strength because of fear ...

And so from fear of being alone sends the victim runing back, convincing themselves it's okay, and convincing themselves that they shouldn't have left in the first place, and in the process they merely begin to repeat the cycle once again ...

It's too bad ... too many lives are simply thrown away that way ...

But like they say - "you can lead a horse to water, but you can not make them drink ..." Even when they are killing themselves ... one day maybe they will finally see it ... and one day maybe they will be strong enough to stand on their own and be their own person ... one can always hope ... until then, I can only hope their daughters and sons will see what's going on and break the cycle themselves ... before the next generation of victims and victimizers arises ...


Sunday, July 22, 2007

Kitty Powers Don't Fail Me NOW ...

Chloe:
"I really want that toy over there ... but I don't want to go and get it ... "
"Maybe my kitty super-powers will work ... 'I want the toy' ... 'I want the toy' ... 'I want the toy.' ... "
"Drat !!"


Painting with Broad Brush Strokes:


A Family of Flickers

We have a family of Northern Flickers
living in and around our yard right now,
the other evening they were feeding together:
----------------------------------------------


Wednesday, July 18, 2007

My Goal ...

Last Thursday I stepped out of the shower and after drying myself stepped on the scale ...

I didn't like the number that twirled into view ... 220 !!!!!!

TOO MUCH !!!!

I decided right then and there that I HAD to lose no less than 20 pounds before the end of the summer ... and I got on my bike and rode and rode and rode ...

Today, I've decided to set my target at a minimum of 25 but a preference of 30 pounds gone by the end of the summer ... two minutes ago I stepped on the scale and it read:

218 !!!!!!

YES !!!! Only 23 to go !!!!

NOW, I'll be spending LOTS of time on my bike !!

Carpathia Here We Come ...

The United Church of Canada has been spending enormous amounts of energy, money and time in an attempt to attract the 25 to 40 year old generation back to the Church. They've set up the WonderCafe site, they've poured money into beautiful glossy advertisements in magazines, and they've offered training for congregationl leadership to embrace and welcome in this "Emerging Spirit" generation ...

Sadly though - the reality on the ground is that nothing has changed ... Congregations lumber along wondering why they are getting greyer and greyer, and why they are dwindling ... Periodically leadership arises that not only embraces the ideas behind the Emerging Spirit Campaign, but who work diligently and tirelessly to welcome those folks in to the circle that is Church on THEIR terms ...

It is prophetic work. It is hard work. But it is rewarding.

But it is also NOT wanted by those interested in preserving the status quo, and those who want to see the Institution that is The Church as a bloated out of touch bureacracy to continue as it has ad infinitum ... or perhaps ad nauseam would be more appropriate ... Whatever.

The reality is The United Church of Canada talks a good game ... but they want the Emerging Spirit for their monetary resources and little else. They can come and drop cash on the plate, but what they are looking for in the Church and what they want out of the ministry of the Church doesn't fit with the current ethos ... The Old Guard SHALL always prevail.

Back in the day, the Late Gordon Pokorny, a loyal and crusty figure in the United Church in British Columbia used to often shake his head at the decisions of the Church courts and say - "All we're doing here is shuffling the deck chairs on the Titanic!!!"

I never fully understood what he meant ... Today I do.

Today, the band is happily playing, the lights are on, food is still being served, and everyone is strolling around tossing blocks of ice as though it is some sort of game ... but the ship - this Titanic we call The United Church of Canada is sinking ... and it is not sinking slowly, she is taking on water and getting ready for her final plunge into the abyss ... and in the midst of all of that, we blithely continue to shuffle the deck chairs in a vain attempt to improve our view of the lovely iceberg that suddenly appeared off our side ...

Today I completely understand what Gordon meant ... I see it ... The deck chairs are being shuffled and people are vying for position, closing their eyes, ears, hearts and souls to the simple reality that we are standing on a crippled and doomed vessel ...

Personally, I say we start swimming for the Carpathia ... Maybe by bring news of this disaster back to port we can prevent it from happening again ...

I may not have always agreed with Gordon, but he was an astute man, and he never really let the ministers serving in his Presbytery down ... w emight not have felt it at the time - but he ALWAYS had your back ... in retrospect, we need more like him ...

In the meantime - Bon Voyage !!!

Sunday, July 15, 2007

IRCA - Sharing the Good News !!!

The following is the press release I recieved today from the IRCA summarizing the Conference we held in Brandon. It is a nice wrap up of a fabulous opportunity:

Gathering has Concern for Rural Communities July 13, 2007

written by Joyce Sasse

A deep awareness of world community quickly formed as 81 people visiting from 12 nations gathered for the International Rural Church Association’s (IRCA) fourth quadrennial conference.

Members of the Canadian Rural Church Network hosted these visitors at Brandon University (July 3-9, 2007). Participants, from South Korea, New Zealand, Australia, Switzerland / Romania, Germany, England, Tonga, Indonesia, India, Czech Republic, Iceland and USA, were rural people (clergy and lay) and church leaders who shared concerns effecting rural communities, and sought to develop a deeper understanding about how churches might respond to these “Cries From and Heart” (which was the theme of the Conference).

Enroute to Brandon, twenty-five people enjoyed a week’s hospitality in different communities across Canada.

Keynote speaker John Ikerd, Economics Professor Emeritus from the University of Missouri, a strong advocate for the future of small sustainable farms, spoke about how “under the guise of economic development, our rural communities are being colonized“ by giant multinational corporations who have no commitment to the future of rural people nor their resources. He pleaded for delegates to name the evil and find alternative ways to carry on.

After speaking eloquently about the responsibility Christians have to conserve and sustain the earth’s resources, Roman Yuriga described the alternative energy initiatives his Orthodox Academy is making in the Czech Republic.

Reflecting on the Biblical story where Christ killed the fig tree growing on the edge of the Jerusalem Temple grounds, Cameron Harder (from Lutheran Seminary, Saskatoon, Canada) connected this imagery with “blood-stained food”. Authorities inside the Temple were ripping the poorest people off by forcing them to buy inflated Temple Money before they could make their offerings. When inside the Temple area, Jesus over-turned the tables and cursed the vendors for their corrupt activities. What of our food is similarly leached at unreasonable cost?

Some conference delegates shared stories about deteriorating water supplies, and discussed possibilities for intervention. Experiments are being done in New Zealand, for example, to fix nitrogen in the cold season and released it in the growing season. This makes the best use of nitrogen while slowing algae build-up in water-ways.

Others discussed ways which rural people are devalued. Stories of healthy rural communities are dismissed as unimportant. Language is manipulated to equate “big” with “good”, and “technology” with “resolving all problems”.

“Leadership” was the topic of the third Issues Group. Shared leadership and cooperative decision-making is an essential factor in building vibrant communities.

Churches have opportunity to offer support, healing and hope in rural communities that have been made to feel devalued and ignored, according to the fourth Issues Group. But it takes time to build trust and help the community work toward a vision of what they believe they can become. It is work that requires long-term commitment, and is often enhanced by surprising interventions of the Almighty.

There is a “Cry From the Heart” of rural people around the world. But through story-telling, prayer and song it was affirmed that there are many visions of hope in the rural landscape.

Incoming IRCA Chairperson is Lothar Schullarus, a rural parish minister in Switzerland and Romania. Incoming Secretary is Gary Hardingham, a parish minister who travels by plane to service his churches in out-back Australia. The fifth such gathering will be convened within four years at a place to be announced.

Your prayer news collector, Robyn, has a story to share from her home. The morning many of us left Brandon I received news of another flood in one of the communities I serve in Northland, New Zealand – Kaeo. You may recall the news and prayer request I sent out in early April. That flood was rated as a 125-year flood. This time the water rose even deeper through the town and it has been very distressing to read and watch TV news clips on the internet and know that my people at home have been hit so badly but be unable to be there with them.

Please pray for us as we cope with a changing environment, as that is how it seems to be.

Updated photos can be seen at http://www.kaeokerikeriunionchurch.org.nz/gallery.php

Shalom - Rangimarie - Peace

Robyn

Robyn McPhail, Chairperson IRCA

The Fun Fest Parade in Dosa

Ms H and Beetle on the Junior Gardener's Club Float.

Beetle looking very happy amid the foliage.


They REALLY were happy to be on the Float !!

Honest !!

A reminder that our Freedom isn't free ...

Friday, July 13, 2007

Fun Fest Begins ...



Today was the Kids'
Decorate Bicycle Parade.
I think they all had a good time.

Happy Friday the 13th !!!

All references to slasher films not with standing, I don't understand what the big deal is about Friday the 13th ... even with my birthday on the 31st of October, I just don't get what the big deal is.

I suppose I'm not superstitious, and so it doesn't matter to me. It's another day on the calendar.

Admittedly Friday the 13th has been co-opted by Hollywood and utilized as THE day to launch the latest spooky slasher films, using the superstition surrounding the day to add to the mystique of what can only be described as a mediocre genre ... Personally, I'd rather watch the old horror films with names like Lugosi, Hitchcock, Karloff and Cheney (not the VP!!) than anything Hollywood has produced in the last 25 years ... blood and gore does not make a good horror film ... suspense and tension does !!!

So, I'll mark the day like I've marked other Friday the 13ths ... by simply going about my day ... Maybe tonight I'll pop on the Karloff Frankenstein, or the Lugosi Dracula, or something by Hitchcock to honour the day ... otherwise ... it's just another date on the calendar !!

This morning out by the dam ...

This morning as I went to work, I decided to take the LONG way in, and instead of biking the three blocks it is from house to office, I would go out around the dam and take some time riding around the trails and paths that lie around the Buffalo compound and the dam ... "Should I take my camera?" I asked myself as I went out the door ... "Nay," came the answer, "You won't see anything ..."

WRONG ANSWER !!!

I rode out to the dam and as I passed over the spill way I noticed not one, but three pelicans quietly paddling in the lake water about 3 metres from where I stood ... moments later two of them lifted off in flight and circled higher and higher until they met up with a small flock of 5 more pelicans that was flying overhead ... MAN !!!! I wish I would have had my camera ...

It never fails though ... the days I pack my camera there is very little to see ... but the days I decide NOT to bring it ... I see all manner of wild life ...

In the last week it's been several sightings of pelicans, a momma deer and her two wee babies walking down Main St, and a deer looking in the passenger window of the car at Ms H. when we stopped at a corner near the golf course ... Each time my camera was elsewhere ...

Oh well ... the images are in my mind's eye ... and that will just have to do ...

Oh My Gawd ...

Today started as a hard day ... I had a tough decision to make ... and it had not been a good night ... I found myself in a place where the hurt and the sorrow had taken over ...

This morning I crawled out of bed with a heavy heart, and a weary soul ... I wanted to be a turtle and pull inside my shell and ignore the world ...

A friend suggested that what I needed to do was take stock of my day and celebrate the good moments, the warm moments, the moments of love and support that came my way, and not only take note of them, but let them define my reality ...

So, I moved through my day mindful of those words, and open to those moments:
supportive words from a community member,
words of thanks for my blog postings,
words of appreciation for a recent funeral,
laughter with my co-worker,
riding my bike instead of walking,
the warmth of the sun,
teasing of my fellow Rotarians
& the laughter that rolled around the tables,
the hug of a friend,
being scared by a pretty cool little kid,
sharing fresh bread with my family,
receiving a text message from a dear friend,
getting a phone call from a friend,
biking out and around the dam,
coffee with my people,
and last in the day
standing underneath a BILLION stars and being awed !!
When I look at it, it's a pretty decent list. There are lots of positives that came in a day that started out hard ... Tomorrow morning I'll start a new list and see what the day brings ...
There's only one way to go and that's up ... and today has started me back on that path ...

Thursday, July 12, 2007

Some days, this would be a good thing:

Some days I wish I could be a turtle ...
and I would pull my head back into my shell
and ignore the world and just hide away.
Today is one of those days ...
I kind of envy turtles in this moment ...

Wednesday, July 11, 2007

Can't Ignore This one ...

It is garrish, it is loud, it is unique and it is distinctive ...
Kind of like the man who founded it ...
and today we say farewell to Honest Ed Mirvish,
a Canadian Institution in his own rights.
How does one describe the impact Ed Mirvish has
had on the world ???
The proprietor of a unique and unusual store on Bloor St,
a patron of the arts with names like
The Royal Alex,
the Old Vic,
and the Princess of Wales
left as his legacy.
A restauranteur,
and a
SO MUCH MORE.
Ed Mirvish, in his 92 years left Toronto very different
from when he found it ... and we're all better for it.
Rest in Peace Ed.
And thanks!

The Loss of Sanctuary ...

An online dictionary defines "Sanctuary" as 1) a consecrated place and 2) a place of refuge and protection ... I would add that a Sanctuary is a place where you find refuge and protection ...

In recent months I have witnessed the loss of the significant sanctuary spaces in my life ... First on February 12th 2006, I watched in horror as the sanctuary space that was Minnedosa United Church (a sanctuary that for me was far more than a building) was consumed by fire ... Then in December of 2006, I ended the year with one last visit to the Building that had for almost 100 years been the home to Centennial United Church ... in hours, they would be handing over the keys to another, non-United Church congregation and the place that WAS Centennial beyond the building would be simply a memory ...

As this year has progressed I've felt the twinge of losing sanctuary after sanctuary ... places that have fed my soul and nurtured my heart ... places that I could retreat to to find solace and comfort and healing ... The loss of each one has diminished me and lays heavily on my soul ...

Today I realized that even the simple act of going to get a coffee, and action that has been a tangible sanctuary in my life, has lately become an extremely stressful chore ... the sanctuary that that simple action once represented has been taken from me ...

Even the very act of writing my thoughts and words here has been weighted heavily by the presence of those who wait to pounce on things they disagree with, or things that aren't to their liking ... Even here, in this place, I find no sanctuary any more ...

So, in this moment, I'm wondering if there are any sanctuary spaces in my life that are left ... the place of in-between where I move from the sanctuaries that once were, to the sanctuaries that will be is not a comfortable place ... and today I feel the many absences more than the potential ... and that is not a good place to be ... it makes the absence of sanctuary that much more poigniant and even painful ...

In time I will find new sanctuaries ... but right now I miss the ones I've lost ...

Tuesday, July 10, 2007

They came ... and now they head home ...


From the four corners of the globe, 86 delegates representing 12 countries, came to Brandon Manitoba for the International Rural Church Association Conference:
Iceland,
New Zealand,
Canada,
England,
Australia,
The Czech Republic,
The United States,
Korea,
Indonesia,
Switzerland,
India,
Germany,
and a favourite in our house:
The Kingdom of Tonga.
Those who helped organize this event have before them a time of well deserved rest, and the thanks and appreciation of all of us who were part of the happenings in and around Brandon University this week.
We've shared stories, compared experiences and talked about the possibility and potential that Rural Churches have not just in Canada, but around the world ... The stories told from the South of India have remarkable similarities to those told in the Mid-western US and southern England. The world over, Rural Communities are facing enormous challenges, but with folks like the 86 who came together for a week in Brandon, there is also enormous potential for not just find but also embodying and living out HOPE in the rural landscape ...
I have in my hands today a pile of paper work to read and re-read as I process all that has gone on, and as I begin to incorporate some of the experiences, lessons and stories into the life and work of my ministry here ...
Today, in a very real way, I am mindful that the rural communities can live out the creedal statement - "we are NOT alone ..."
Hands across borders and oceans show us that in a very real and tangible way ...
My one concern is the willingness of others who weren't there, to hear this lesson ... but then, that's what hope is ... Believing inspite of the evidence and watching (and helping) the evidence change !!!!
May it be so !!!!!!!!!

Wise words from a wise woman ...

Be faithful in small things because it is in them that your strength lies.
-----------------------------------------
Loneliness is the most terrible poverty.
--------------------------------------
Intense love does not measure, it just gives.
------------------------------------
We can do no great things, only small things with great love.
- Mother Teresa

Sunday, July 08, 2007

2:09am Local Minnedosa time:

The laundry is on the line for tomorrow,
the bread is baked,
everyone else is asleep,
and
the house is breathtakingly quiet.
It is amazing how much you can get done
when there are no distractions,
and no one to interupt.
If there is an up-side to sleeplessness,
it has to be getting lots done
in the middle of the night!

I LOVE them ... BUT:

It was the band Steppenwolf who offered the immortal lines:
"Get your motor running. Head out on the highway ..."

After the day I had, the last thing I really needed to do was head out on the highway ... but I needed to clear my mind and get my thoughts in order for my sermon tomorrow ... So, after gathering a variety of things I would need in this evening and tomorrow by zipping back and forth between the office and home - I was ready - with tunes BLASTING to head out on the highway to enjoy the feel of the cool wind blowing through the open van windows (I know, I know - you can only be moderately "Cool" in a toyota van ... ), and to let the tunes and the drive relax me and get me ready for tomorrow ...

My schedule for today was as follows:

7:45 am - wake up ... "no you can't hit snooze - GET UP" yelled the little voice in my head.
7:46 am - put on coffee ...
7:48 am - shower and get dressed ...
8:00am - begin drinking coffee ...
8:30 am - start driving west on Hwy 16 to pick up Beetle from Camp
9:55 am - arrive at Camp
10:30 am - begin driving in a southerly direction to pick up Noahkila from Camp
11:15 am - stop at a Bakery for "lunch" on the run
1 pm - arrive at Camp on North Dakota Border
1:30 pm - watch the Band Concert with Noahkila and his bandmates
2:00 pm - short walking tour of the Peace Gardens in the stifling heat ...
2:45 pm - begin driving north to Brandon
4:00 pm - stop for lunch/dinner in Brandon
5:40 pm - arrive home in Minnedosa
5:55 pm - start scaling the pile of laundry that suddenly materialized in the kitchen
7:00 pm - (not sure where the last hour went ... mighta been the laundry!??) drive BACK to Brandon for the evening events at the IRCA Conference ...
9:00 pm - drive home to Minnedosa ...

SO, on one level, a midnight drive seemed redundant after so many hours spent behind the wheel of the van criss crossing the province ... but because ALL of the above mentioned schedule involved having children in varying numbers by my side - I NEEDED to just clear my head ...
And so it was with the tunes blasting (and I MEAN BLASTING !!!), and the van windows WIDE open that I headed out on the highway ... it was excellent therapy and got me in the groove for tomorrow's worship service ... I highly recommend midnight drives on a summer's eve along the open highways that cross the prairies.
With open apologies to my environmentally sensitive readers (I share your struggle) - I know driving for the sake of driving is not the most eco-friendly things to do, but sometimes you just gotta do it !!! Sorry ...

Like the man said:
Yeah darling gonna make it happen
Take the world in a lovely embrace.
Fire all of your guns at once
and explode into space...

Some learnings from Yesterday ...

In one of his routines, Comedian Bill Hicks talks about his addiction to the TV programme Cops ... He confesses that when it is on he is hooked ... He says bluntly - "I've been to more trailer parks than a tornado ..."

But what came to mind yesterday was his contention that as he watched this "fine" programme, he is struck by the number of domestic calls the Cops respond to where the female partner is battered and bloodied and in obvious distress ... but when it comes time to arrest the male partner for his violence and load him in the squad car and haul him away, the wife will start yelling - "He didn't hit me ! He's a good man! I love him! He didn't hit me! I tripped ..." The promise of safety and freedom from abuse is outweighed by the simple fear of being alone and the abused partner denies any of it ever happened ... I won't offer Hicks' response to that - but I would be willing to loan you the album ... The harsh reality is that sometimes the comedic among us speak a bitter truth that is simply softened by the laughter, but not denied ...

That bit on one of Hicks' CDs came back to me yesterday as I was having a conversation with someone about the issue of abuse and domestic violence and the hair-pulling frustration we feel when we watch an intelligent, capable person go back over and over into an abusive, soul deadening, and potentially dangerous relationship. We had been toured around Brandon and saw what Samaritan House offers to the community, and also saw what the YWCA and the Womens' Centre offer as well. The presenters spoke of the emergency shelter beds, the need for a safe house for victims of violence, and the importance of support and counselling for men and women in bad relationships.

As the day wore on, we began to discuss the impact in a community these service have, both positive and negative. But we also began to describe the absolute gut wrenching frustration that comes with the work these services do. The person I talked with had tears in their eyes as they described examples of women who fled for their safety, only to drift back because "He's changed ..."

It is a cycle that repeats itself over and over and over ... Until the victimized partner finally sees that nothing will ever change until they change themselves ... Others from around the world joined in the conversation and showed us ALL that sadly this is not a unique North American problem, but is one found everywhere ...

As we spoke my mind wandered to a book I've been reading lately about ship wrecks and maritime disasters. I kept thinking of the passages where would be rescuers describe arriving on scene to save those in peril only to have those in the water unable, or unwilling to grab on to the life rings, the life boats and the items being held out to them ... Help was offered, but they either couldn't or most heart-wrenching of all - wouldn't take it and they simply perished.

I have always wondered how many of the victims of the Titanic simply succumbed to the cold because they lacked the willingness and even the strength to take help when it was offered ??

The parallels to domestic abuse and violence in this are staggering ... help is available, but rejected ... YET, instead the familiar is reclaimed and justified ... How can that cycle be broken? And how can strength and courage be offered to men and women who lack the where-with-all to break free and claim the wholeness they deserve, rather than running back and convincing themselves that their abusive partner has miraculously changed??

The conversation I had yesterday made me very very sad for the people who can't or won't break the cycle ... but it made me realize that sometimes the only thing we can do is to offer the help ... and then pray when the "he's a good man ... he's changed ..." mantra begins that one day the Spirit will break through and the chains of the cycle will fall ... and freedom and health will reign ...

And prayer is what many of us do - unceasingly ...
... it just doesn't feel like enough ...