Sunday, August 26, 2007

Congratulations !!

You just never know where your path may lead you ...

... It's funny how some of the most important moments of your life simply happen without fanfare, and even without being noticed in that moment. But looking back you can see that it was one of those pivotal moments that altered your trajectory and sent you in a direction, or to a place that you never expected ...

Twenty Four Years ago I had one of those moments that at the time I didn't think of it as life altering ... but today looking back I realize how incredibly important it truly was:

It was a cold December evening. I parked my car and went into a three story walk up apartment building on the south side of Stratford. I knocked on the door and met for the first time a young six year old boy and his mom. That night I was introduced to my "Little Brother" Wayne for the first time.

The meeting was anything but grandiose. He introduced me to his hamster and it promptly peed in my hand, leaving Wayne rolling with laughter ... and setting the tone for what would follow ...

Yesterday afternoon that young boy, now an adult, was married in a ceremony before a few hundred family and friends ... I was to preside at the wedding, but because of my suspension and because "rules are rules" and they MUST be obeyed, four weeks ago we began the scramble to find someone to preside ... Two weeks ago we succeeded and the ceremony was able to get back on track.

For me as I sat watching a young man who I have watched grow up and whom I have proudly called a friend for over 24 years, get married to a beautiful young woman who caught his eye and his heart, I thought back over the many memories Wayne and I share as Big and Little Brother, but more importantly as friend ... I was able to share some of them last night at the dinner as I returned thanks ... a concession to the denial of being able to preside at the ceremony that we had anticipated for 18 months only have it snatched away because of "the rules". Everyone there knew I was supposed to do the service but couldn't, and they also knew who I was: Wayne's Big Brother and friend ...

I've been a firm believer that God will ALWAYS turn things around ... Last night is proof. Because I couldn't participate as Minister in the day, I instead stood as Wayne's friend and Mentor and shared my words - words spoken from the heart - words that required the fighting of tears - words that I was honoured to share ...

I looked back on our friendship ... and I looked forward to a new friendship with both Wayne and Amy as they continue their journey together. It was perhaps the most meaningful moment I have had in the 24 years I've known Wayne. I've always been proud of him. But last night instead of presiding over the service itself, I was invited by the family to share my thoughts and feeling about how much Wayne's friendship has meant to me ... and for that I will be forever thankful.

So, today I am, with tears in my eyes writing this to say a heartfelt - "Congratulations!!" to two friends - one old and one new, as they continue their life together ... and I am also smiling with the realization that in spite of my suspension I heard over and over and over last night the affirmation: "If there were MORE "ministers" like YOU in the Church, I would come back ... you rock !!"

In moments like this, far beyond the stroke to my ego (something I do appreciate once in awhile), lies the challenge for the Church to find the courage to hear those voices and the open-ness to find ways of inviting and welcoming back those folks back ... We talk a good talk ... it's time for us to walk the words and become true evangelists of our faith !!

For me I can only smile as I think back upon the moment when a hamster peed in my hand and a quirky, delightful and profoundly meaningful friendship began ... I only wish I would have appreciated what a powerful moment that night was ... BUT, like they say - hindsight is always 20/20 !!

I'm going to keep my eyes open a bit more as I move forward ... and I'm going to take time to appreciate the small moments, because you just never know what they will mean !!!

L'Chaim !!

It's ALL Good ...

Last week I was told by the Doctor overseeing my time at South Down that I possess a "superior Intelligence" that is difficult to assign a number to on the scale because - well, to be honest I kind of over shot the test they gave me !!!

This is a reality that I find hilariously funny because I have never felt particularly smart nor intelligent EVER. I've always thought I was pretty mundane and average and have always balked when folks say I'm otherwise. But ... whatever ...

The other piece of this that has been interesting for me was the assessment that I may suffer from a form of ADD. The Dr recommended checking out some resources on Adult ADD and seeing what I thought of it ... I picked up a couple of books on Thursday and over the weekend have been perusing them ... it was startling to see the very real possibility (and likelihood) that I do suffer from some form of ADD. But what was particularly startling was the realization that many of the behaviour modifications that they suggests are things I have, over the last three or four years been doing !!!

For the first time in a long time I'm not actually apprehensive about the future. It will be what it will be. I am more than a label and a diagnosis. I like me, and I I like what I am about in life and in ministry.

One of my friends and colleagues said recently - "you are like a Rottweiler. On first glance you're a big, tough, ferocious and mean dog ... but when people get to know you they find someone who is fiercely loyal, hard working, devoted, loving and even lovable family pet ... the problem is in THEM not you !!"

This week for the first time I can agree with him. I'm not perfect. I never claimed to be. But I like who I am and where I'm going in this life ... The rest is in the hands of God, and that's a good place for it to be !!!

Tomorrow is a new day ... I'll worry about it when I open my eyes in the morning and not a moment before !!

Dayenu !!! Dayenu !!

Thursday, August 23, 2007

Psst ...


I just wanted to let you know ...
... I found my sanctuary !!!
I was just looking in ALL the wrong places !!

A Gift From the Hand of a New Friend ...


Last night I sat in the coffee shop in the basement of South Down,

and had a visit with a new friend ...

over the previous couple of days we'd shared meals at the table together

and had talked a bit ...

Last night we had a long chat and as it ended she shared with me

a quotation she had found earlier in the day. The quotation was:

To know means
to record in one's memory,

But to understand is
to make it part of one's self.

It JUST Can't be good ...

Over the last few months I have been more intentional about exercising. I have been out riding my bike, I have been out walking and recently I have started running (something I haven't done in almost 20 years). In my sojourn at South Down, I was limited to walking and running around the beautiful fields and meadows that surround the centre.

The only disconcerting part of the experience was looking up on the first afternoon and seeing two large Turkey Vultures slowly circling over me as I moved around the bottom fields ... they stayed with me for most of my run/walk !!!!

I can't imagine any interpretation of THIS that is at all positive ... though I'm open to suggestions ...

68 ... 69 ...

Lest We Forget ...

NOT any more ...


My nick name as a kid used to be
"Dumb Dumb"
For a long time,
despite the contention to the contrary by others,
I've thought it was an apt
description of me and my intelligence,
Today I was presented with
incontrovertible,
and
irrefutable
PROOF
that I
WAS
WRONG !!!!!!!!!!!!!!
It feels pretty good!!
-----------------------------
So today at last I finally say:
"Good Bye Dumb Dumb !!"

Sunday, August 19, 2007

Claiming BACK my Sanctuary ...

(I Just liked the picture ... no connection to today's entry ...)

Last night I arrvied at my mom's after a 36 hour period of time in which I drove 2425.2 Kms !!(that's 1506.9 MILES !!) After a late supper I went for a walk ... at first I wandered around the streets near her house, then I headed off (in the dark) to explore the Golf Course where I used to work ...

One of my favourite memories of my time working at the Stratford Golf and Country Club is the time I spent doing the Night Watering ... I would work from 7 or 8 o'clock at night till 3 or 4 in the morning ... as the job descriptions suggests - I watered the golf course through the night ...

I loved the job - it was peaceful, there were no distractions, I could read, listen to music, drive around - so long as the tees and greens were watered by morning, my boss didn't care ... It was a great job ...

Last night as I walked across the golf course in the dark I reconnected with that time and space in my life, but more importantly, I reconnected with a place of Sanctuary in my life ... I could feel my spirits life ... I could feel my batteries begin to recharge ... I felt peaceful and centred for the first time in quite awhile ... I know part of it is the place, part of it was the wash of memories, and part of it has been the experiences over the last few days as I got ready to come to Ontario and as I made the drive ... in concert these things came together to feed my soul ... something that had not happened for quite a while ...

I was a good night ... it is good to begin to feel recharged ...

Tonight I'm off to begin the assessment programme ... the road ahead is anything but clear ... I can only trust in God, and stand by my ministry and my faith ... and leave the rest in the hands of the cosmos ...

Talk to you soon ... Peace and Prayers Please !!

67

In Remembrance of
Private Simon Longtin,
of the Royal 22nd Regiment of the Van Doos
Aged: 23
.
We Will Remember.
Lest We Forget.

Saturday, August 18, 2007

It's the small things ...

Have you ever met someone who has
a smile that can light up a room??
Have you ever met someone who
by their presence leaves a indelible impression?
Have you ever met someone who is
a breath of fresh air in your world?
I hope you have
and
I hope you do.
People like THAT make the world a
much better place by
just being themselves.
And for that,
I'm very, very thankful.

Friday, August 17, 2007

Blogging from the side of the highway ...

I'm writing this sitting outside on the sidewalk in front of my motel room in Schreiber Ontario ... a couple hours east of Thunder Bay ... I'm en route to my mom's house in Stratford and to my Psychological/Vocational Assessment in Aurora ...

Beyond next Thursday my life is big question mark ...

It's funny - having time to think and reflect I thought about ALL the people who have expressed their support and encouragement and appreciation of me as minister - a minister who is not a fuddy-duddy ... and yet, here I am facing the uncertainty before me because I have been found "unfit" and "ineffective."

It's a "HUH?" moment for me ... I wonder if it is true ... or if I have been in a situation where other factors, not least of which was the effective poisoning of the waters of the community and the pastoral relationship which in turn profoundly altered peoples' opinions of me and thier opinions of my ministry... no matter ... it's all out of my hands now ...

We'll see what tomorrow and next week brings and we'll deal with it as it comes ...

In the meantime - I'm spending tomorrow travelling ... still have about 1250 kms to go ...

Thursday, August 16, 2007

This Made Me Smile ...

Today is
International
Disturbed People's Day.
(Please send an encouraging message to a disturbed friend... just as I've done.)
-
I don't care if you lick windows,
see dead people,
or occasionally pee yourself...
-
You hang in there sunshine,
you're Bloody special.
-
(it's nice not to be alone!!) -
--
And to the friend who sent this to me:
Thanks. ... I think ... !!!

This JUST DEFIES comment ...


The Geeks and Dorks have all the luck ...
----------------------------------------------------
Damned !! Maybe I shouldn't have given up my
Star Wars Collection ... Damned !!

30 Years Ago Today:

Elvis Aaron Presley
January 8th 1935
to
August 16th 1977
.
.
The King is Dead.
Long Live the King !!


Wednesday, August 15, 2007

Today's Epiphany ...

My affinity for wearing black not-with-standing, it would seem that despite the fact that I continue to consume garlic, and to the best of my knowledge I haven't bitten anyone's neck lately, I'm becoming more and more vampire-like in my day to day life ...

In an attempt abide by the conditions of my suspension, I have had to withdraw from the community and people around me, I spend long hours inside during the day, and I've begun to venture out only at night!!

I guess the next step is to practise my Bela Lugosi imitation ...

.

Good to the Last Drop ...

Last Saturday in a vain attempt to settle my tumultuous guts and lessen the debilitating migraine that had settled in following the wedding ceremony I had just attended, I grabbed what would appear to be my last take out coffee from the local coffee shop I once frequented ...

The physical symptoms of stress that settled in as I realized that I couldn't attend the remainder of the nuptials rendered that final cup of coffee a beverage that was simply consumed rather than enjoyed ... Had I realized it was to be my last cup, I would have savoured it a little bit more ...

In the short days since, I've recovered from the ailments that settled in that night, and I've geared my day to no longer include the darkening of the door of a place that had been an important part of my life and my journey ... I have learned to adapt my coffee consumption at home, and I doubt my absence has been noted ... It's worth noting though, that often the significant loses simply break upon us and we have little time to prepare, and can only scurry to pick up the pieces and continue on ...

I didn't realize how much I missed the setting, the people and the coffee until this afternoon when I dashed into a similar enterprise in Brandon ...

As I stepped up to the counter today and uttered the words, "The largest size of your darkest blend with a touch of cream please ..." I realized that it has been months since I've had to ask for a coffee, much less the roast blend that I wanted ... it made me somewhat sad ... I began to realize what I've been forced to give up ...

But in the sum total of life ... I'm merely saying "adieu" to a place that has of late caused me far too much discomfort to make it a worthwhile presence in my life ... my one regret is that I didn't realize it was to be my last coffee when I stepped out the door ... I would have lingered over the moment a little more ...

Reflections on our ending ...

Yesterday I sat with my fellow Rotarians as we said farewell to one of our friends and honoured brothers in Rotary ... It was a celebration of wonderful life ...

The hardest part of the day for me, aside from having to sit and watch a memorial service, rather than lead it, was having no choice but to rocket out the front door before the tea started. Rather than un the risk of violating the terms of my suspension, I had to flee the building while everyone else had the opportunity to sit and enjoy a light lunch while they shared their stories and celebrated a life. Instead of joining in the fray, I had to content myself with heading home to remember a departed friend on my own ...

Such is my life right now ...

During the service though, as we listening to the grandchildren remember their grandparent and friend in such a personal way, I became mindful of what could be said about me when my life draws to a close ...

More than that, I began to consider the "how" of my eventual demise ... Today as I thought more about the "how" of my ending, I realized that what I fear more than simply being forgotten as life ends, is undergoing a trivial death - you know the one's that turn up in the column for strange and whacky news items ... being forever remembered as "the guy you died by ... " That would be BAD!

If I had my choice I'd like to follow the lead of an old family friend who always said - "I want to die on my 92nd Birthday, the victim of a shooting by a jealous husband ..."

The day before his 92nd Birthday I called him to say farewell ... he laughed and replied - "I don't think it's gonna happen. The women who are interested in an old goat like me don't have husbands who would get jealous, and the women who have husbands aren't interested in someone my age 'cause I have no money to entice them ..."

We laughed ... and a little over two years later he passed away after what he described over the phone moments early as an "absolutely delicious lunch ..." He sat in his easy chair for a nap and never woke up ...

It was a good ending to a good life.

Or, I'd like to go like the man I buried in BC who had just marked his 42nd Birthday with a huge surprise party that included his best friend who he hadn't seen face to face in 20 years. He looked down the table at his life-partner and anounced that "If I died in this moment I would die the happiest I have ever been ..." He then asked who wanted another beer and when he stood up he suffered a massive and deadly heart attack ... and died where he stood ... It was, to describe the words of his best friend, "an exclamation point on a full, albeit short life !"

Life is too fragile and too short ...

We need to drink deeply of life's cup ...

and we need to surround ourselves with kindness, love and care ...

To do otherwise would dishonour our life ... and undermine its meaning and fullness ...

as our Jewish sisters and brothers say so aptly:
L'Chaim !! To life !!

Tuesday, August 14, 2007

9 Million more reasons to stop buying CRAP from China ...


UPDATE:
Tonight the news story changed the number
of toys under recall to a MERE 18.2 MILLION.
18.2 MILLION TOYS !!!!
I wonder if tomorrow it will hit 36.4 Million !!!
Today Mattel announces yet another recall of toys that are potentially hazardous to our children ... this time a mere NINE million (hear that: NINE MILLION) toys are involved ...

This is the second major recall in less than a month ... can we not connect the dots here???

The Made in China label is becoming increasingly risky to consumers ... we need to do something about this ...

Admittedly for most people, the concept of NOT buying CRAP made in China is not one they would even consider ... they are more interested in the bottom line - how much it costs?? And how convenient is it to get??

They care not a whit about the safety of the product or in this case - TOY. They are more concerned about their pocket book and their upcoming trip down to sunny climes in the south. They could care less that the toy their neighbour's kid is sucking on has toxic paints and dangerous levels of lead ...

COME ON PEOPLE !!! Let's grab a brain here ... there is a direct connection between the loss of manufacturing jobs in North America, the rise of monoliths like Mal-Mart, and the increase in the number of recalls for dangerous products sold to all of us. Cheaper doesn't mean better it just means safety is compromised, North American jobs are lost and the profits of these Trans-national corporations continue to climb ...

Who is paying the price for all of this???

You and I ultimately ... we pay the price in the risk to our safety ... we pay the price in the loss of good paying jobs to overseas sweat shops ... we pay the price in the loss of our communities ... and the loss of economic potential as the rich continue to get richer and the poor are left to play with lead painted toys ...

It's time to send a clear message to companies like Mall-Mart ... NO MORE CRAP FROM CHINA !!!!! Make it at home here in North America, or DON'T sell it ... it's that freakin' simple people ... aren't our kids worth it ????

I know mine are ...

Sorry to disappoint you all ...

I believe in truth and honesty.
I tolerate no deception, nor lies.
I am fiercely loyal to my friends and family, and expect the same in return.

I may get a few steps ahead of the flock I have been called to lead, but I never lose sight of truth, justice, integrity and honesty in anything that I do.

I may have made mistakes in my life, but I will own them, and I will face the consequences of them.

I may not be as strong as the mask I've learned to wear, or the persona I've been forced to embrace by my career, but I am strong enough to withstand the worst anyone can throw at me.

At the end of the day, I can still look myself in the eye with integrity and the certainty that I am a good person and I live my life looking out for others, and without compromising my principles or my faith ...

I have been falsely accused of many things ... I could inventory them here, but to what end? Too many who come here are not interested in the the truth anyway. They are waiting to see me implode or crash and burn. They are more interested in watching the destruction of a human life, than standing on values of truth, integrity and faith. They've heard the gossip and held it as Gospel, and aren't going to hear anything else ...

So ... in time the truth of those false accusations WILL be revealed ... but today isn't that day. Those who await for my demise will be disappointed today ...

I won't give them that satisfaction. They've done their worse, and I might be bloodied and battered, but I'm not beaten.

I'm better than that.

It may take me awhile to regain my feet and find my pace ... but I WILL ...

In this moment, the rubber hits the road ... If you're here waiting to see my demise, I'm sorry to disappoint you. I'm not going anywhere ...

I WILL speak the truth.

I will openly and honesty share with people has gone on over the last two years. I'm even willing to name names, provide dates and offer the documentation to back it up ... my actions are a matter of public record ... others have not been so open nor honest ... and THEY have something to fear ...

I WILL defend myself, my reputation, my family and what I value.

Today I dig in my heels ... silence in the face of untruth and toxicity is not an option ...

Today I begin my journey back ... I'm not going anywhere. I've not leaving.

Oh and for the record - I've NOT been fired. I'm on a suspension !!!!

Jeff Foxworthy (the comedian) once mused about being a Southerner - "why do the most illiterate and ignorant among us always manage to be the one's interviewed when a disaster happens?"

Well, today I can't help but wonder why in the Church the most ignorant and illiterate among us are the ones who manage to set the agenda and direct the conversation when a crisis hits??

Today it stops.

Today the truth begins to roll forth like a stream ... and there will be some who get washed away ... I've stood silently for too long trusting in "the system" and it's gotten me no where ... today I begin to trust in myself ...

I'm still standing ... and that WON'T change ... the storms can rage - but I will stand fast!!!!

The only thing that changes today is that those who claim to be a friend and act otherwise have no place in my life anymore ... I don't have the energy to waste any more ... today I put myself first ...

Monday, August 13, 2007

One of the Reasons I LOVE Canada:

Though I've never met the man - MP Scott Brison has rocketed to the top of my list for favourite Canadian Politician.

He started out as a Conservative, became a Liberal ran for leader, and now he is being bold enough to take a stand of commitment and love ... Gotta love the guy !!!

I am absolutely thrilled by the fact that a politician in Canada is able to marry his same sex partner. It tells me that the rednecks and pin heads might win the odd battle, but that they are, thankfully, losing the war ...

Could any of us even imagine a member of the United States Political establishment venturing on such a step??? Not a chance ... YET, here in Canada the news of this announcement barely made a ripple because this isn't about a gay politician, this is about a politician who happens to be GAY!! And he is doing something that is not only legal in Canada, it is just and right !!!!

In spite of many things, today I'm still proud to be a Canadian, and it is because of people like Scott and his partner Maxime and Ontario's George Smitherman and his parner Christopher who were married last week. News like this makes me proud, and tells me that we are on the way to becoming fully the Just Society that Trudeau once envisioned.

I can only wish both couples all the best on their nuptuals ... and Bonne Chance on their life together, both in and out of politics !!!

To read more click here!!

I Guess I Got Off Lucky ...

I read about this yesterday ... at the time I thought it was just another strange and sad story about violence in a church ... now with more details emerging, including the shooting and killing of the pastor and two others. I guess I can offer thanks that the worse I'm facing is a suspension ...

We can only offer our profound thoughts and prayers for all involved ... And this just underscores the need of the Church to be a place of Grace, Care, Compassion, and Faith in the midst of a world mad with violence and deception ...
.
It's also a stark reminder that we MUST live our faith, not just speak it ...

Argument led to church shooting
By MARCUS KABEL

NEOSHO, Mo. (AP) - A gunman ordered children out of the sanctuary before opening fire, killing three people and wounding at least five in the middle of a service for Micronesian worshippers.

Police said the shooting Sunday was fuelled by an altercation Saturday night between the suspect and a family that belonged to the congregation. It was not clear if the suspect was part of the congregation.
The suspect, a man in his 40s who was from the Pacific islands, was being held in the Newton County jail pending charges expected to be announced on Monday.

One of those killed was Kernal Rehobson, 44, of Goodman, who led the congregation, which was holding a service at the First Congregational Church, police said.

The other two victims were male members of the congregation, who were "what we would call deacons," said Dave McCracken, Neosho police chief. Their names were not released because relatives were still being notified.

He said police were told the five wounded people, all adults, would recover.

The church rents out its sanctuary for a service for people from the Micronesian islands in the Pacific. McCracken said Micronesians began arriving in Neosho 20 or 25 years ago to work in the poultry industry and about 200 live in the Neosho area.

The gunman had two small-calibre handguns and one 9-mm semi-automatic machine-pistol with a large magazine, McCracken said. The shooting came during the 1 p.m. service, which was attended by about 50 people ranging in age from children to the elderly.

"This was a tragedy as far as those killed and injured but it could have been a lot worse," McCracken said.

The gunman surrendered to authorities after about 10 minutes of negotiation.
Calls to the church went unanswered.

Rehobson led the group of Micronesians for about 15 years and ran a Micronesian store out of his house in Goodman, said Larry Zuniga, 42, who worked with Rehobson at Wal-Mart.

The congregants used to meet at Rehobson's house and were using the First Congregational Church for worship while they searched for a permanent home, Zuniga said.

"This is a terrible tragedy which was made worse by the fact that it happened in a peaceful place of faith and worship," Gov. Matt Blunt said in a press release issued Sunday evening.

I wish I could simply blame Monty ...

While I wish I could simply blame my current state of mind on a depression and chalk it up to Monty, my little black dog, But over the last few hours I've realized that I can't blame depression for where I'm at. I can't blame any one, I can merely own the reality in which I live and continue to move forward one step, one breath, one moment at a time ...
.
The last two years of ongoing abuse, gossip, and lies by too many people in the community have finally taken their toll ... my reserves are depleted ... I have no where to go to recharge ... and I'm tired ... and lately it has caused me to be physically ill too ...
.
I know one day it will start to get better ... but after telling myself that for two long years and watching over and over as the offered help has hurt and hindered ... it's getting harder to believe that day will come ...
.
But I know it will ... I have to trust in that ... otherwise, I really have no reason to get up in the morning ...
.
Right now, I'm not even sure where Monty is ... I haven't seen him in quite awhile ...

Sunday, August 12, 2007

Lessons from my laptop ...

Last summer, my laptop taught me a lesson I hadn't considered until today ... just as the one year warantee was running out, the recharger cord for the computer packed it in.

While I waited for the replacement to arrive, I was forced to use my laptop sparingly. Thankfully, I had access to another cord for part of that time due to the generosity and care of the local computer shop. In the late afternoons I could recharge the battery for limited use in the evening ... but for four long days my computer use was hampered severely ... I had no way to recharge the battery on board my laptop.

Today I realized the profound lesson in that experience ...

It is vital to find places and ways and the means to recharge our batteries, be them in a computer, a cell phone, or in ourselves.

How many stories do we hear about people lost in the wilderness, and with the last flicker of battery power make contact with someone and summon help on thier cell phones?? (I've read many) ...

What I realized today is that not only are my spiritual batteries run down to the point of being flat ... but more ominously I have lost means and the places to recharge my soul ...

My suspension from ministry has taken from me access to my library and my office - my safe harbours in any storm ...

I have no where to truly call home any more ...

Even the simple act of walking into the local coffee shop, a gesture I looked forward to a couple of times each day has become impossible for me for more reasons than I can count ... and with this loss goes the loss of contact with people I need present in my life ...

The act of sharing my thoughts and my musings here is no longer safe. Too many pounce on my words and use them against me, or cite them as proof of my lack of fitness for ministry ... They can not open thier minds nor their eyes ...

Being barred from contact with "church" has denied me access to the few friends that I've had in this community in a real and meaningful way ...

The simple act of taking my bike for a ride is robbed of its solace by yahoos who feel it's their duty to curse at me and call me down as they pass ...

And even walking with my children around town to be greeted by one finger salutes from toxic individuals become nothing but tiresome ...

So ... like my computer I lack a place to plug in and recharge ... the kindness and goodness of friends is overshadowed and overwhelmed by the toxicity of others ... and my energy levels plummet ...

I'm counselled by friends to reclaim my energy, and to be better than all of this ... but after two long years of seeking help to counter the lies, the gossip, the untruths and the downright nastiness lobbed at me from many corners, I've gotten tired of hearing over and over - "wait, they'll move ...", "wait, it'll get better ...", and so on ... I've grown tired ... I'm utterly exhausted ... I'm worn out by it all ...

I've asked for help ... only to get stabbed in the back, called down, kicked and abused ...

This past year I made one last appeal for help to get out of the quagmire and have been savagely slapped down while those who have been less than honest have continued on their merry and dare I say "faithful" way ...

So today, I'm not sure I have it in me to get up this time ... I don't have any fight left in me ...

The loss of Sanctuary in my life is simply staggering ... it is an enormous thing ... and I'm not sure where to begin to find new places of sanctuary, because I'm not finding them here ... not right now anyway ... and with the loss of sanctuary in my life goes the ability to recharge myself...

I'll take the risk of sounding weak and pathetic, because after two years of staying silent in the face of toxic hate ... I've gained nothing and have only watched the losses in my life mount. I can't say I have much more to lose ... I've lost much, and there are many present around me who would delight in seeing me lose my self-respect too ...

So, it's time to speak openly and honestly about what has gone on. Too much of what people think of me is NOT based on the truth. Too many of those who speak of me have no idea of what the truth it. And the worst part of this is that too many of those who know the truth and who have not partaken of the lies and slander, have simply remained silent ... the truth has become irrelevant.

Silence needs to be broken, and the truth spoken.

Silence is the best friend of hate ... We can not lack the courage to speak up for the truth ...

The voices that dominate around me are voices dripping with viciousness and hate. The shrillness of thier lies and deception drown out the whispers of hope and love ...

I'm not sure what's ahead for me ... I take each step and each day as it comes ... I keep hoping it will get better ... but so far that hope remains a dream ...

One day it will get better ... just not today ... and until I find the means to recharge ... that will not change ...

For now, I take one step ... one breath ... and live one moment at a time ... because that's all I have the energy for ...

Saturday, August 11, 2007

Another Epiphany ...

I've kind of gotten used to people LYING about me,
that's become standard fare in this town ...
But I have no tolerance for people lying TO me,
and when it is one I thought was a friend,
the wound is deep indeed ...
-------------------------------------------
I trust person in question is very proud of themselves.
It isn't often I get betrayed like this by a "friend".
They have done to my face,
what everyone else did behind my back.
That's nothing if not impressive,
but it does reveal much of what must lie within.
So, now the one I once foolishly called a friend
can happily claim their place at the Sunday dinner table
with the others who merely lied ABOUT me,
they've been out done!!

The Big Day Arrives !!!!

Congratulations
to Triss & Cory Parrott
on their beautiful wedding today !!!
May the two of you always treat
each other with kindness and LOVE !!
And may you remember that
our thoughts and prayers are with you always!!
------------------------------------------------------------------------------

Back in June ... I missed out on their Social ... I was actually looking forward to going to the wedding ... Thier ceremony this afternoon was simply awesome ... The dinner and the dance will be starting shortly ... BUT tonight, like that lovely night in June ... I'm once again just sitting at home ... I simply can't go ... It's not worth it ...

Ironically enough, it's for the same damned reasons ...

.

There is NO WHERE ELSE I wanted to be tonight ... There are no words to describe the disappointment and sorrow I feel in this moment because of this ...

$

And the ultimate down side for me tonight is that I don't even have a cigar to enjoy on the front step ... DAMNED !! DAMNED !! DAMNED !!!
.

Oh well, maybe one day someone else will invite me to their wedding and I may actually get to go ... one can always hope ...

An A-Ha!!! Moment (friendship part 2) ...


I had a realization (and epiphany) as I was
out riding my bike this afternoon ...
As I pedalled, I was thinking about my "friends"
and how I've been treated over the last couple of years,
AND
I suddenly realized that I am simply a
LOUSY JUDGE OF CHARACTER!!
Many whom I've called friends have
been totally undeserving of the honour and
have used, manipulated and hurt me,
AND
those true friends who have have had my back all along,
have too often been overlooked and ignored
when I've felt down and alone ...
-----------------------------
My true friends have always been there for me,
and the ones I've foolishly called friends
never were, and never should have been ...
Silly me ...
maybe I'll learn for the next time!!

Gone, Gone, Gone !!!




They once numbered in the THOUSANDS,
the locals long considered them a Holy animal,
stories were told of them being the spirits of lost Princesses,
they lived for thousands of years in China's Yangtze River,
and today scientists have announced that
THEY ARE EXTINCT
GONE &
VANISHED.
The Yangtze River Dolphin or Baiji
are the first major mammalian species to
disappear in the last 40 years,
and according to scientists,
they will not be the last ...
Today as human beings, we can all be proud.
Dare we think our insatiable appetite for
cheaply made consumer crap is responsible for this
tragedy???
Dare we get a clue and stop the madness???

A friend indeed ...

I've been doing a lot of thinking about friendship lately ... This past week I challenged myself to find the positives in my daily life, and to not only take note of them, but to remember them so that at the end of the day I could compile an inventory of the positive moments that had occurred.

It has actually become quite a list ... But what struck me most was the advice of a dear friend to stop feeling so lonely all the time and to take into consideration the people who could and should and are to be regarded as friends - the people who are there for me as I move through my day ... This week I began to notice the presence in my life of many people I am honoured to call friends ...

Tonight on my midnight bike ride (yes, I was riding around town in the dark - full tilt - thinking, praying, weeping, working through some stuff), I got thinking more about what it means to be and to have a friend ... And I remembered the best compliment I think I've ever been offered ...

It went something like this:

I was sitting having a beer with my best friend since childhood. We were both back from University for a short period before the next season of classes started. D was sharing with me a conversation he had had with P (a mutual friend who I had had a recent falling out with).

D said - "Yeah, P. thinks you're a real asshole."

I shrugged. He had good reason to think that, I couldn't argue the point.

D continued, "So the other day P said 'Shawn's a real asshole and wouldn't do anything for anybody.' and I said to him - 'Now that's not true! He might act like an asshole from time to time, but if I was ever in trouble, or needed help, or just needed someone to come and lend a hand, I know that it wouldn't matter what time it was, it wouldn't matter where I was, it wouldn't matter where he was - if I phoned Shawn and said - 'help me,' he would be there as soon as he could be ... cause that's the kind of friend he is. He might be an ass at times, but the chips are down, he'll never let you down ..."

I was blown away ... it's been over 20 years since I heard those words ... and I've tried in every relationship I've had to live the truth of that compliment ... I am proud to be a person who would do just about anything for a friend. I would lay it on the line for them ... and I have regularly ...

Unfortunately, the naivete of that propensity has also been savagely abused by those who falsely claimed to be a friend and had no interest in friendship at all ... but I won't revisit past hurts ... The sting of betrayal is enough ...

Tonight, as I rode my bike I thought about the people around me who I regard as friend ... and I know I would be willing to do just about anything for them ... and I'm glad that many of them would quickly and quietly reciprocate ... and some of them have ... and the one's that don't - well, in their inaction, they illustrate the value of our so-called friendship ...

There is much to be thankful for ... Tonight, I can say with certainty that I DO have many good friends - both in this community and beyond, friends who will be, and have been there for me ... and the rest ? ... well, I leave that where it belongs - in the gutter and the muck ...

My true friends will always have my back, and I will ALWAYS have theirs ... and that is more than enough !!! L'chaim !!

NO Camera ... Day Two !!!

.
I MISS my Digital Camera !!!

Friday, August 10, 2007

Yummy ...

I'm not sure what it is - maybe it's eating less and feeling hungry all the time - maybe it's the loss of weight that's causing my brain to wander - maybe it's just appreciating the food that I eat when I actually eat it ... whatever it is, I've been thinking about food A LOT Lately ...

I'm not thinking about eating, but rather, I'm thinking back on memorable foods and meals that I've had in my life and how tasty they were ...

Today as I prepared a batch of waffles for Ms H and Beetle and their friends who slept over last night, I got thinking about breakfasts I had enjoyed ... and one that came to mind was the simple toasted pita bread we enjoyed every morning at Tantur Ecumenical Institute outside of Bethlehem during a study tour I took back in the late 80's.

It was nothing spectacular - but the very act of popping a pita bread in the toaster then applying honey, jam or my personal favourite: Peanut Butter (and not the processed stuff - REAL crushed peanut PB) was wonderful ... I've done it periodically since, but it has NEVER captured the flavour of that experience ... It must have been something in the pita ... couldn't be the setting, the company, or any other factor could it ??!!

I think Jesus got it right when he posited the holiest action of the Christian Church in the midst of a meal ... when we sit down and really break bread with one another, we share something truly extra-ordinary ... it might be a simple toasted pita ... it could be a waffle ... or it could be a couple of cookies with a cup of tea ... whatever it is, if we are mindful of our actions and the company we are with - it becomes an act of Holy Communion ...

another food story ...

A favourite meal memory of mine is of a night we went to an East Indian Restaurant in Vancouver with Noahkila's God Father A.

We settled in around the table and began reading the menu. Quickly we all settled on a selection and when the waiter arrived we were ready to order.

"I'll have the goat curry," said A, "and I'll have the hot."

The waiter shook his head.

"I'll have the hot please," said A.

Again the waiter shook his head.

"I'll have the hot please," said A., a little more insistent.

"It's too hot," came the reply from the waiter, "I'll give you the medium."

"I would like the hot, please," said A., his frustration level rising, "if I wanted medium I'd order the medium. I've ordered the hot, I'd like the hot."

"Too hot," replied the waiter yet again.

"I want the hot," insisted A.

The waiter shook his head with a smile of distain, "Okay, if that's what you want ..."

Later when the meals came, A. tucked into his plate of curry with great delight. But quickly beads of sweat formed on his brow, which turned to rivulets, which developed into streams, and finally into a torrent that poured down his face. With each mouthful of curry he wiped his brow and took a long sip of his water. Finally with a sheepish grin A. said, "Man, the waiter WAS RIGHT, this is too hot ..."

But valiantly A. made his way through his entire meal and when his plate was clean, it was with a sense of triumph that he set his knife and fork down and pushed his plate away. As he once again wiped his dripping brow he commented, "THAT was too hot." And he gasped as he took a long drink of water.

A few moments later the waiter returned, "How was everything?" he asked.

"Oh you were right," commented A., "the hot WAS too hot."

The waiter snorted as he laughed and replied, "That WASN'T the hot, I gave you the medium ..."

A whisper ...


A long time ago a grandmother told a granddaughter that when someone they loved died, they went to the spirit world ...

"What's the Spirit World?" asked the Granddaughter, wanting to know more.

The Grandmother answered the child saying, "It's where the spirits of those we've loved go when they die. It's as far away as the next breath and as near as the wind on your cheek. Those we've lost are never really gone, they are just in a different place, somewhere very near. And when we need them, they will be there for us ..."

In time that granddaughter saw her Grandmother enter the spirit world, and in time that Granddaughter herself became a Grandmother. And one day she told her granddaughter what the old woman had said ...

In time that Granddaughter told her granddaughter, and that granddaughter told her's and so on ... the story passed from one generation to another across the vast expanse of time ...

Then one night over tea in the hall of the Church in Bella Coola, a grandmother told me the story she heard from her grandmother, who had heard it from her grandmother ... it was a timeless story about a truth, and a way of seeing the world with new eyes ...

Tonight I took a walk in the Spirit World ... I called on those who have gone before me who have taught me wisdom to guide me on the path I am trodding ... I asked for their counsel, their advice and their help ... And it came ...

In time ... my story from tonight will be told ... and retold ...

Like Shooting Fish in a Barrel ...

Sometimes you find a story that is
JUST TOO DAMNED good to pass up.
I think this is one of those stories:
-
-
According to the media today, it would seem that
US First Lady Laura Bush
and
daughter Jenna
are co-authoring a childrens' book.
A childrens' BOOK ???
Now, aside from the obligatory rant about celebrities and
the hyping of books that they write and people buy
simply because they are recognizable names,
but have little to no literary merit or talent,
there are a couple of dots that need to be connected here:
First off - daughter Jenna,
Now am I wrong, or wasn't she the Bush daughter
who was partying hardy while at College?
Do we really want her to write books for kids??
Moreover, what kind of life experience does the
daughter and Grand-daughter of US Presidents,
who has lived a pretty pampered & sheltered life
have to offer the rest of the unwashed masses?
AND, what has she done beyond being born into
the "right" family, to merit a publishing contract??

Can't really say anything bad about Mrs. Bush though,
the handlers have kept her out of trouble
and there's always a smart one in the family !!
-
I guess if there is an upside all of this
it is that Mr President may finally have a book he's able to read:
-

Then again maybe not ...

Oh well, both Laura and Jenna are teachers,

I guess one of them will just have to read it to him!!

-----------------------------------------

In the meantime - I say we begin boycotting

any book that is written by a celebrity.

Just cause your name has recognition

doesn't mean it's literature!!!

Withdrawal Symptoms ...

Yesterday was a good day ...
I did my 30 km bike ride including
a jaunt to the town of Clanwilliam and back,
I went to Riding Mountain National Park
with the kids and we walked around the Marsh at the townsite,
and then we went out to find the Buffalo at Lake Audie.
AND that's where things took a dramatic turn ...
Since I got it at Christmas I have used,
I mean really, really, really used my
digital camera.
I often carry it with me,
and generally not a day goes by
that I'm not taking a picture of something.
(the photos of the dragonflies being an example)
So ... what follows was somewhat dramatic for me ...
I tripped over something heading back to the car
at the Buffalo Enclosure look-out,
and not only did I bash both knees and an elbow,
but my digital camera flew out of my hand and
hit the gravel - HARD !!!
As I face planted in the gravel watching my
camera suddenly become several detached pieces,
I said the F-WORD !!
LOUDLY!!
Then I wanted to cry ...
That night when we returned to Minnedosa,
Ms. H and I headed to Brandon to take the
what remains of my camera in to see if it can be fixed ...
... and I'm left waiting ...
-
Oh well, I know it could have been worse,
and I know it's only a camera,
but that one word summed it up well,
and it was totally appropriate for the context.
As they say - C'est la vie !!

Thursday, August 09, 2007

I Don't Think I Ever Told Him ...

He was the oldest of the seven children in my mom's family.
On the surface he was
rude, opinionated, proudly curmudgeonly, mouthy,
crusty, ornery, and a right pain in the ass.
He was a royal tease.
With a twinkle in his one good eye, and a cockeyed grin,
you never knew what he was going to do or say ...
and he didn't care ... he would laugh anyway.
He was the quintessential red-neck,
and proud of it.
He was not without his problems.
But deep down - where it counted,
he had a tender heart made of the purest gold,
he would do just about anything for anyone,
he called many friend, and acted accordingly.
Along the way he taught me a few things:
to be honest,
to be truthful,
to never quench the hunger to read and learn,
to be willing to argue (sometimes just for the argument),
to be good to other people,
to never take life TOO seriously,
to laugh - A LOT,
to be consistent:
if you say, it do it,
if you believe it, live it.
BUT most of all, he taught me to judge people
not by their outward surface and appearance,
but by the heart that beats within them,
and by the way they live their lives
and treat other people.
To many he was an enormous ass--le,
but to me and my family he was simply:
Uncle Drake
and I can honestly say,
not a day goes by that I don't miss him ...
... I wish he was around right now:
he would help set some people straight!!

Wednesday, August 08, 2007

I wish ...

.
I wish there was a way to blog WHILE I'm out biking ...
I wish I could describe the agonizing pain in my thighs
as I climb yet another hill on the road ...
I wish I could put into words for you the power
of the wind as it blows into my face and pushes me aside ...
I wish I could give voice to the sheer exhilaration
that comes with reaching the crest of a hill
and coasting down the other side ...
I wish I could verbalize the cool sweetness of the water
as it pours over my tongue when I pause to rest ...
I wish I could share with you the stunning vistas that
surround me as I ride across the rolling prairies ...
I wish I could stop along the way and just type,
so you can share in the journey
and understand why I do some of my
best praying, meditating and reflecting
as I pedal my bike through a glorious Prairie afternoon ...
.
I wish I could describe it all in real time ... but for now,
you'll just have to take my word for it:
It's AWESOME !!!!


My NEW Favourite Numbers:

Yesterday I confessed to being fond of the number
28.
Well, today I have become rather fond of a new number:
.

.
That's the distance I biked this afternoon,
around town,
then out to Clanwilliam and BACK !!!
Although,
now that I think about it,
after yesterday AND today,
I guess I'm kind of like another number too:
.

Happy Biking !!!

My Top Ten Influences in Ministry:

I've been spending time lately reflecting back on the journey of my life (a little navel gazing is always a good thing ...), and I got thinking about the radical bunch of personalities who have been the anvil on which my life and ministry have been forged ...

So, today I present the list of my top ten influences on my ministry and why it is the way it is ... with no shame and even fewer regrets, I offer those "church" voices that have helped form my thoughts and my world view. Some I've met, and some I've just read of, but all of them have left indelible impressions on me and my life and most importantly my ministry:

The Rev. Ross Cumming - Ross was the minister at my home church when I was a lad. Words fail me to describe him - he was a humble and unique phenomena. He was the kind of minister I've strived to be - just with fewer corners ... Timbits, apple juice and coffee come to mind when I think of him ... He was a living saint.

Dr. Ben Meyer - Ben, was my thesis advisor during my third year at McMaster as I struggled with a theory on the Life and Ministry of Jesus. We laughed, we chatted, we argued, and we even disagreed - but through it all, his office was ALWAYS open, and a big chair was always available. One of my most cherished possessions is a paper I submitted to him that had the comment at the end in red ink - "I disagree with every word you wrote, but your argument is so compelling that I have choice but to give you an: A+"

Rev. Desmond Tutu - I've never met the man, but I've read voraciously much of what he's said and written. His smile, his humour, and his steadfast determination to stand for justice no matter what is utterly breath-taking. How can you NOT like the guy ???

The Rev. Martin Luther King Jr - Again, a man I've never met - but a man whose writings shook the core of my being and changed my view of the world. I remember the first time I heard his Christmas Sermon on Peace, delivered in 1967 - we were in the basement of Centennial United Church in Stratford and Ross Cumming said - "I think you boys need to hear this ..." King's words caught hold of me and have NEVER let me go ... The world can be a better place if we dare to dream and work at making the dream happen ...

Rabbi Abraham Joshua Heschel - Another man I've never met, but one who's writings have altered my world view ... On the surface he seems crusty and curmudgeonly, but when you plunge into his words and listen to his narrative, you are carried to places where the Holy is SO present reality is forever altered ... One summer a couple of years ago I compiled and read his collected published books - an action and addition to my library I've never regretted. Heschel is utterly amazing ... a true prophetic mystic who gently shows us a better way ...

The Rev. Mervyn Reuber - One of the Saints of the Old Evangelical United Brethren Church that in 1968 folded into the UCC ... Rev. Reuber married my mom and dad, buried my dad, and my grandpa. Rev. Reuber remained "our family minister" throughout his life and mine. And perhaps most meaningful to me was the night before I left for my ordination when he stopped by to wish me well and to tell me to never forget my roots and where I've come from. Later he and I began writing back and forth, and I now have several letters from him tucked away (they are cherished items for me). In the letters he says repeatedly - "Live the Gospel !! The real Gospel, not some namby pamby warm pink fuzzy nonsense, but the Gospel that changes lives and challenges people to grow up !! Be bold, and don't be afraid!!" He did just that till his dying day in his 90's !!

Henri Nouwen - My first encounter with Henri Nouwen was when I picked up a friend in Toronto and he had to deliver a parcel to a man in a place called Daybreak somewhere North of Toronto ... sometimes, fateful days start out that way ... casually. By the end of the day my friend and I had shared communion with the author/activist/priest Henri Nouwen, who was resident in the L'Arche community of Daybreak. From there I began reading his writings and have found his words to be challenging and inspirational - my favourite remains "The Wounded Healer". Nouwen's work, coupled with that of L'Arche founder Jean Vanier, show us how to envision the world as a gentler, more loving place ... if only we could dare to listen.

Rev. Wes Siebert - Another old EUB'er from way back ... Wes was the minister at Centennial when my mom arrived not long after Dad's death. With two little children in tow, he became a minister, a friend and an inspiration to mom and her boys. He was an amazing man who without words showed many of us in a myriad of ways that the Kingdom of God was near at hand - we just need to open our eyes, our hearts and our souls to its presence ...

Mother Teresa - Another celebrity of faith I've never met, but I've followed and read about and read of voraciously. The stories of this gentle woman from Calcutta abound - her humour, determination, toughness and faith are simply amazing. Her commitment to serve and more importantly, love the outcast and the cast offs is an inspiration to EVERYONE. I may not agree with everything she said and did - but I agree with enough to see her as a model for successful and faithful ministry.

Father Oscar Romero - He died lifting the Body of Christ over his head - his body torn by an assassin's bullets ... What does a priest have to do to be murdered during Mass?? Romero showed the way of peace, understanding and faith through a place of violence, politicking and inhumanity, and in the process he paid with his life. His words are eloquent, his prayers are breathtaking and his voice still speaks for those of us who want to see Justice pour down on humanity ... Romero is one I've never met, but one I've never forgotten ...

peace is not the product of terror or fear,
peace is not the silence of cemetaries,
peace is not the silence of violent repression.
Peace is the generous, tranquil contribution of all
to the good of all.
Peace is dynamism.
Peace is generosity.
Peace is right and duty ...
(Oscar Romero)
May it be so - thanks be to God.
There are others who could be on the list, it's longer than just 10, but these will do for today ...

"We are NOT alone ..." - Laughing and sharing and changing the world:


One of the most frustrating things about choosing to blog and NOT hide my identity has been the attacks I've experienced from those who have an axe to grind, an agenda to impose, or who simply disagree with what I think and say, and aren't willing to sit down and discuss it in a reasonable way ... The hate-filled anonymous comments have been legion, and the attacks on me as a person and as a minister have been breath-taking ... Some days I have wondered "WHY?" - Why continue to expose myself to this? Why keep doing this? I've even considered walking away and being done with it ...
.
But I won't. And I don't.
.
I love what I do too much.
.
I love the Church as people and as action too much.
.
I love my life too much to let people like that win.
.
But even in saying that, sometimes it's hard because mine is not a career path that is easy nor comfortable. It is a lonely profession. You are asked to toil in places where few want to go, and fewer still are welcomed. Yet, it is a profession that with the core of my being - I LOVE.
.
And lately, I've begun to realize - I'm NOT alone ...
.
Last week one day a friend suggested I check out a Blog by a Pastor in the states ... I did. It was good. But then I bounced through his links and began to find a cyber-gathering of clergy who share some of the frustrations I've been living the last few years. I felt like I had stepped into Nirvana (the place, not the band!!??) ...
.
So with no further adieu - Check out these links - click with an open mind and you won't be disappointed:
.
The Laughing Pastor (I LOVE this blog - so much of it resonates with me and my blog !!)
,
PT Pastor (a blog where politics, theology and life intermingle)
.
Enjoy.

Tuesday, August 07, 2007

Taking time to notice the small things ...

After supper, the girls wanted to go for a walk ...
I groaned at the thought after the 28 kms I had already biked,
then I thought - what-the-hell, a walk never killed anyone.
So off we went first around the buffalo pen,
then through the marsh walk, and
finally across the dam to head for home.
Along the way we stopped to take some pictures.
.
Enjoy some of the little friends we met as we walked:
..
..


.
The paths below the dam are simply beautiful:
.

My new favourite numbers:




AND


So, why are these my NEW favourite numbers??
28 is the number of kilometres I biked today!!
and
210 is the number that spiralled into view
on the scale following my shower !!!
YES !!
They ARE my new favourite numbers ...
... for now !!??