Friday, November 30, 2007

The Dark Knight ...

I liked the campy tv version of Batman, but it was as a adult that I discovered the full depth and breadth of him as a character ... I read Frank Miller's Batman graphic novel in the late 80's, then began reading the new issues of the Batman titles that showed the fullness of his dark brooding nature ...

The other day over at Aerophant, blogger Tai mused about her love of Aquaman back when she was a child ... I have to confess that I always like Aquaman best until I discovered the caped crusader in my teens ... but it wasn't until I read the adult Batman material that I came to fully appreciate him ...

One of my personal favourites remains a graphic novel entitled "Arkham Asylum" wherein the various villans that Batman had locked away for psychiatric help take over Gotham's Institution and call for The Dark Knight to come for a visit ...

The scene that stands out for me is when one of the characters says - "we're in here because we dress up and have visions of grandeur while we're running around outside and they've told us that WE'RE crazy ..." he then asks Batman what makes him so special ... "why shouldn't you be in here with the rest of us?"

It's a hard question for the tortured soul in the black suit ... it's a struggle for him not to simply step into a cell and shut the door ...

Batman wrestles a truth that lies within all of us ... he externalizes his fights with his personal demons by chasing them through the streets of Gotham ... his villans typify and embrace the very things that dog each of us ...

Batman reminds us that the line between madness and sanity is sometimes razor thin ... and the line between Villan and Hero is sometimes hard to discern until we step back and take in the big picture ... I've always like Batman, but lately as I've been struggling with some big issues in my life he keeps reminding me to fight for justice and good above all else, and let people judge you as they see fit.

Batman, and ultimately all the superheroes remind us that sometimes they are just wrong ... and it will be OUR actions and our hearts that carry us through and leave as our legacy ...

Hear Ye!! Hear Ye!!

I will no longer be afraid of the politics and the structure of the United Church of Canada, and I will not stay silent about its failings and shortcomings ...

I will no longer be ashamed of being an intellectual in an institution that is non-intellectual and tries to dimiss us for who we are ...

I will no longer be embarassed about being fired from my position of minister in this United Church of ours ... I'm kinda proud of THAT fact - even though it may be happening again ...

I will no longer apologize for challenging the status quo and rocking the boat ... in truth this needs to happen a little more often in the United Church if it is truly to be the Church it thinks it is ...

I will no longer quietly and silently tolerate deception, incompetence, and viciousness in the Body of Christ that is the Church whether it comes from lay or order of ministry people ...

I will no longer sit quietly waiting for things to get better - instead I will speak out loudly, clearly and boldly to challenge all of us, especially myself to be more and better than we are, especially when it comes to living our faith ...

Today I will accept that the Spirit is calling and I will begin to listen and follow where ever that journey may lead ...

So, who's with me????

Pssssst !!!!!

I haven't bitten, chewed on, or even had ANY of my finger nails near my mouth since I made the confession a while back that I bite my finger nails ...

Friend and fellow blogger Jaydee challenged me to a friendly wager, and thus far it would appear that I'm gonna win !!!!

Maybe all it took was the right motivation like she said ...

Whatever it was - my nails are STILL unbitten !!!

I always thought he was Immortal ...

I was shocked today to hear of his death at the age of 69 ... part of me kind of assumed he would never die ... he hadn't been able to kill himself yet ...

Guess his number finally came up though ... He left a helluva legacy though ...

I can't even begin to count the number of hours spent in my childhood watching his jumps and stunts on tv. He was the hero of our neighbourhood ... even after he wiped out, the next month was spent on Burritt street with ramps and bikes emulating his stunt riding on a smaller scale.

In fact I still have the scar on my lower lip where my teeth split it wide open doing my own down scale version of jumping the Snake River Canyon ... In my case it was a ditch, and I was about as successful as The Man himself was: My lime green CCM Mustang with the banana seat failed me and at full speed it ploughed into the ditch, and I ploughed into it ... it wasn't pretty!! But like Evel - I survived to jump another day !!

Oh the memories !!! He lived life with the throttle wide open, and left us many memories of his death defying antics ... unfortunately, like the rest of us it turns our Evel Knievel was merely a mortal and could only cheat death for so long ... but OH what a ride he took us on in his prime.

Rest in Peace Evel!!

Thursday, November 29, 2007

Prophet or Problem ...

In recent conversations I have had innumerable people express only surprise about the news that my Pastoral Relationship may be drawing to a close ... many of the voices come from within the community and are people loosely associated with the church who have heard nothing about the pending vote ...

Their reactions underscore for me the deep divide that exists between the "power" in the church and the real world that it exists within. The Church is unable to face and adapt to change, particularly in small town settings ... and so they react viscerally to what is percieved as threats or change ...

But over arching all of this is a simply point of view distinction that few are able to own, and fewer are able to even express in a healthy way ...

That distinction came to me the other day while I was reading some material for my thesis ... I had the realization that there is a very fine line between a prophet and a problem.

In the church those voices that claim the prophetic mantel and speak out about issues everyone else is happily trying to sweep under the rug, are seldom dubbed prophetic, but instead are called vociferously and loudly - "A PROBLEM !!"

Today one of the leaders of the course I'm taking shared with me that from where she sits, too often there is a rush to dub those voices that speak with a wisdom beyond their years and with experience that frightens others A PROBLEM, and to label them with some disorder or failing.

"They'll slap a label on them so they can push them to the side and in the process all it does is f&%^s up your mind when you dare to speak the truth ..."

Having a Mennonite background, her voice carries a different weight than one from within the Mainstream traditions ... her's is one that is steeped heavily in the tradition of non-conformity ... her's is one that appreciates the lone voice calling ...

Today I realized that I have been trying to become a square peg to fit in a sanctioned square peg ... yet in my soul I remain a round peg ... one connected with the Universe and one willing to get messy take chances and stand up for what I beleive in, and most of all to not only ask the tough questions, but to speak the words that may cause others discomfort, not to be mean nor nasty, but to shine the light into the dark corners in the pursuit of truth.

I am proud to claim the mantel of prophet ... and if others want to dub me a problem, so be it - until they've existed in my skin they don't know ME ... This isn't ego ... it is resigning my self to the reality in which I live - a reality I seek to better by my faith, my hopes, my care, my compassion, my love and my presence.

Today I stop apologizing for being me ...

The Face of Fear ...

Today in the course I'm enrolled in in Winnipeg we were discussing trying to coach people through conflict, and what you say, do and act when you are posited between two "warring" factions and seeking a peaceful solution ...

There was conversation in class and outside about the forms conflict take in our lives - interpersonal conflict in homes, at work and in just about any setting where human beings are to be found ... One of the points raised was how, in the heat of the moment, people begin to react impulsively and the argument intensifies rather than resolves ...

I reflected on conflicts where common sense and calm are non-existent. I thought about encounters I've had in my life where those I am in conflict with cease to act in what can be regarded as sane and rational ... their anger gets the better of them. There have been moments when I have failed to act in sane and rational ways ... But as I considered this, and the effect such irrationality has not only on the conflict, but on the people who are touched and contacted by this conflict, I thought about our old female cat Chloe (the calicoe above).

Back when we lived in Bella Coola and Chloe was a couple of years old she was mauled in the backyard by a dog that had gotten inside the fence. While he didn't really do much damage to her physically, by the time I got him outside of the fence and went to rescue Chloe and carry her inside she was over the moon ... I reached out to pick her up - a gesture I had done a hundred or more times - a gesture I have done a thousand times since ...

BUT, in that moment Chloe attacked my arm and tore my hand, wrist and lower arm to shreds ... she was literally a WILD CAT ... her fear had taken over and she not only bit the hand that feeds her - she tore into it at a frenzied level!!

In that moment Chloe was acting entirely on some deep hidden instinct ... she was reacting from primeval fear ...

It occurred to me this afternoon that often people react in the same way - their reptilian brain takes over and they move to a place of screaming and attacking both verbally and physically when they feel threatened ... it is something that happens over ad over ... it happens in personal relationships ... it happens in the work place ... it happens almost everywhere humanity bumps into each other ...

The challenge for us is to move to a place where we are able to keep our impulses in check and keep the little conflicts little ... Unfortunately fear too often prevents that from simply happening ... instead fear kicks in, and like our dear old matriarch cat Chloe, we end up flailing at those around us, hurting them, innocent by bystanders and even ourselves ... when in truth what we are trying to run away from is what lurks deep within us ...

Maybe one day we'll begin to figure this out ... hopefully before it was too late ...

A sign of the times ...

The other afternoon a wise voice said simply - "we live in a time of great fear ..."

She went on to illustrate her point by saying our society, our communities and even our church is filled with and even driven by fear ... fear of change ... fear of the unknown ... fear of decline ... fear of uncertainty ... fear of losing ... fear of ... well, that's just it - with the kinds of fear we are confronting, there is seemingly no end to the list of what it is that we fear ...

In the church the fall back position has been to entrench the powers and principalities and adhere religiously to the "Law" ...

I remember sitting in a meeting on the west coast listening to a native man who HAD been abused in a Residential School - his story still brings tears to my eyes ... he said softly - "through all of the court proceedings the only thing I wanted was to hear the words - 'I'm sorry' but they never came ..."

A National Staff person stood up and said - "I wish I could say those words but ..." and he went on to cite the Church's legal standing and the lawyer's recommendation that we can't say "I'm sorry" without culpability, legal, financial, moral and otherwise ...

It struck me then that such a stance by a CHURCH of all institutions was simply cowardly ...

Then this fall I sought an apology for the mis-steps of people who should have known better, and in response I was told that I could use a legal remedy within the church rather than those who had erred simply saying the two words - "I'm sorry!"

Such is the state of the modern church ...

When our fear so paralyzes us that we no longer can say "I'm sorry," for mistakes and misdeeds and what we have done wrong, there is a problem ... and when that paralysis is found in the one place where fear should have no place our problem may be momumental ...

There should be no room in the church for fear, yet too often it is fear that stands front and centre and colours everything we are about ... If the lesson of Residential Schools have taught us nothing else, it should have taught us that me MUST start doing the right thing and STOP being afraid ...

Tuesday, November 27, 2007

Look OUT You're Gonna Crash ...

This is one of my favourite scenes in the movie ... might be the biking, or it might be the music ... but whatever it is - it cracks me up, and I wanted to share it ...

It may not be a cinematic masterpiece, but it's entertaining!!

Tonight ...

YES !!!!
Sorry, won't be blogging much tonight -
- gotta watch a new dvd:

Be back later, after we make it to Cannes !!!

This morning ...

The sky was cloudy,
the sunrise breathtaking,
the air a sultry -20C (-4F),
the roads were clear,
and for two hours,
Coltrane played as I drove in to Winnipeg.
Tonight driving home to Coltrane,
it was snowing ... but the roads were good.
I came home refreshed and reflective,
and I brought a PILE of stuff
for the crew at Chipperfield Coffee Company.
Today was a good day.

Monday, November 26, 2007

Guess WHAT I'm Buying TOMORROW ????

Tomorrow I head into Winnipeg for a couple of appointments in the morning and the early afternoon:
After my appointments I'll be heading to the nearest store carrying the NEW RELEASES and I will hopefully lay my hands on a copy of Mr Beans Holiday!!!!
I may start celebrating right in the store:


THEN I'll be "racing" home to Minnedosa to spend the night in front of the TV enjoying AGAIN and AGAIN and AGAIN, one of my new favourite movies ...


A Dinner Worth Dancing Over:

Our Dinner Menu:
Beef and Veggie Curry,
vegetable pakoras,
Basmati rice,
cucumber and yoghurt dip,
major grey chutney,
oven baked Naan Bread!!!
The Naan Bread started as dough
in the bread machine,
and turned out
the rest you'll have to stop by to get ...
I added all the wet ingredients, followed by the dry
just like the instructions for the machine suggests.
I followed the recipe and used a greased pan in the oven.
Watch the first pan for time ...
and ENJOY !!!
It all adds up to a feast that WOULD make Ganesh Dance!!

Today ...

Ms H. Got her braces on her lower jaw today.
Tonight she's complaining her teeth ache - I don't doubt it.
Oh, and the gap between the front teeth is new ...
... it' s been caused by the expansion rack on the top.

A Musical Interlude ...

This is one of my favourite songs by Van ...

Sunday, November 25, 2007

Wandering in the Snow ...

Wandering in the Snow ... part 2

On the agenda for tonight ...

Supper is finished,
the dishes are done,
a batch of fresh baked muffins are cooling,
Coltrane is playing,
and Ms H and I are playing Pay Day.
It's a good night.

Whose Voice Will We Listen To ??????

Last night I watched the movie "Cinema Paradiso", which is the story of a little boy named Salvadore (Toto) who has a deep love of all things cinema and film. Toto begins by hanging around the projectionist Alfredo, who works at the Cinema Paradiso in a small mountain Village in Italy.
Following a fire, Toto replaces a blinded Alfredo as projectionist and begins to grow into a fine young man who finds and loses love, and who when the moment comes for him to leave for military service in Rome is TOLD by Alfredo to "GO and NEVER COME back ..." Alfredo tells Toto that he is tired of hearing the young man talking, but instead wants him to go and leave and have the people talking about him instead.
Alfredo sees HUGE potential in Toto, and wants Toto to see AND live that potential. He tells him to get out of the little village and see the world - to expand his horizons and to realize that change is not only inevitable it can and must be healthy and it will never really come to the little town stuck in a deep rut ...
There is a lesson in this film for rural communities and rural churches everywhere ... we need to step out into the world and embrace the winds of change AND allow them to guide us to new possibilities and potentials ... we need to step OUTSIDE of our comfortable, familiar villages and embrace the REAL WORLD and live boldly and courageously.
In the church particularly, we need to have the courage to hear the voices not of the gate keepers and the old guard who zealously guard the way things are, but the voices of those who have stepped away and who stand on the margins ... there are REASONS why these people are outside of the Church looking back in. The leadership of the Church (and the communities of faith) MUST have the courage to hear those voices and act on the stories they tell.
Numerically, I have met more people who were ONCE in the United Church, than there are still active. There are good reasons for that transition. Those outside still look to us for spiritual nurture and feeding - YET - they won't come back because the same things that drove them away remain present, active and worst of ALL central.
They are gone for a reason. If we want the Church to grow we need to listen to them.
The Emerging Spirit Campaign is NICE, but it won't work if we fail to address what drove that generation OUT in the first place. Petty politicking, griping about money, positioning for power, and being blatant hypocrites helps NO ONE. Yet, too often in Congregations this reality is central and it is why we are continuing to close congregations at a frightening rate ...
MY GENERATION want more ...
I hear it over and over in the emails and comments that I receive here - I have lost count of the people in Minnedosa and across Internet, who say to me - "I used to go to church but ..." OR "THIS is WHY, I don't go to Church any more ..." and who connect with my words in a positive way ... Unfortunately their voices are continued to be ignored and drowned out by other voices interested ONLY in power and politicking ....
Yet, the reality is - I'm being driven out of the Church. I'm being told to conform or be cast out (THAT is borrowed from a song by RUSH !!). I'm frustrated by the simple reality that NO ONE wants to move beyond the scape-goating that says - "He is THE problem ..." treating one of the symptoms rather than engaging the disease, a disease that many, many voices say repeatedly has been longstanding and deeply entrenched ...
A Mennonite friend, and a neo-pagan friend have both counselled me to start my own congregation to minister to those voices both within and outside the church who are NOT being listened to, NOR ministered to ... I would, but my heart, even as broken as it is over this, wants to stay in the fold of the United Church ...
So, I struggle ... I hear the voices from the margin crying out in the darkness and the wilderness and I simply ask - when will the powers that be begin to listen to THOSE voices rather than the voices of the gatekeepers who have driven them out in the first place????
Or more importantly - when will the powers that be even acknowledge that there are GateKeepers interested in keeping those voices OUT ???
It may be inevitable that one day very soon I will be part of a new Congregation that not only speaks to, but converses with those marginal voices that no one in the United Church want to heed ...
In Cinema Paradiso, Toto came back as an adult to find his beloved theatre in ruins, his village aged and dying, and his old friend nothing more than a phantom ... In the Church if we fail to hear the voices of our Totos we will find ourselves standing watching our own Cinema Paradisos dynamites into oblivion because of our neglect and abandonment ... There is potential for survival and growth, but it demands a rethinking of who we are, and what we are about - relabelling simply won't work!!

Saturday, November 24, 2007

The Kiss ...

The simple act of kissing is an important gesture in human cultures ... it transcends time and place, and connects us as people with one another, as well as with our common humanity ... I remember many kisses in my life ...

There are the bed time kisses I give and get from my babies ... the nightly tucking in isn't complete until kisses are exchanged ... it's a gift from parent to child and back again.

There are the kisses given and recieved in love and passion ... etched in our body memory, some of them linger long after the relationship may have faded and the passion has passed ...

There are kisses of betrayal - Judas' Kisses - that mark the breaking of relationship and bring only pain and suffering ... I remember a Judas Kiss in my life well ... I trusted them as friends, I went to bat for them, I risked everything at their REQUEST, only to be stabbed in the back repeatedly, while they lied to my face and feigned their innocence ... it is still a bitter moment in my life, I wish I could be gracious like Jesus was to the original Judas, but I'm NOT there yet ...

There are the kisses of greeting and departure offered between friends ...

There are kisses that are deeply emeshed in the culture - kisses of greetings on both cheeks ... the kiss of peace ... a kiss on the back of a hand ... a kiss on the forehead ... each one carries love and care and builds a relationship ...

Kisses can be commonplace or memorable ... it's all in the attitude of the giver and the reciever ...

For me one memorable kiss came several years ago in a care home in Waterloo ... we had travelled back to visit my maternal Grandmother in the weeks before her death ... I had never said "Good Bye" to Grandma in all the years I visited with her as an adult. Instead we would opt for a kiss and a casual "see you later," rather than "good bye." I wonder in retrospect if it was a way of denying Grandma's increasing chronological age, and avoiding the reality that one day she would die.

This time though, it was different. It was obvious to all that her life was ebbing away. She wasn't afraid, but was ready for whatever lies beyond this life. We had come home to say our good byes before she passed.

So that afternoon as we headed to Toronto to hop on a flight back home, I lingered in her room, offered her a gentle hug and a kiss on the cheek, then with tears in my eyes and hers, I said - "Well, Grandma maybe this time it really will be Good Bye."

She nodded, and a tear fell from my eye, as I said simply, "I love you, and I will miss you ..."

She nodded and said, "Be good to my babies ..." as she smiled at Beetle who was perched on her bed smiling back at her, and she patted Beetle's hand.

"I will," I said, as I offered one last kiss and said another "Good Bye."

In the elevator to the main floor and as I walked to the car holding Beetle's hand, I wept like a baby ... it was my last Good Bye to a woman I continue to love and miss terribly. But I take solace in the memory of a simple kiss and the chance to say "Good Bye."

The kiss is a gift ... a gift to be savoured and remembered and celebrated!! A gift that comes in many forms and should never be treated lightly, though it SHOULD be partaken with a light and loving heart !!

In this Moment ...

The sun has set,
the snow is falling,
ALL three kids are at sleepovers,
Coltrane is playing,
the wine is poured,
the house is mine,
I think I'll wash the dishes to Coltrane
(disc 4 of Interplay)
and then settle in for the night ...
... it's a good night to just "follow the Yellow Brick Road"!!


The house is mine, and mine alone, so it's time for

Popcorn, wine, and my favourite movie!!

A Belated Birthday Present:

This came in the mail yesterday, It's a HILARIOUS Tee-shirt ... I assume from the Halloween Flip-flops enclosed within that it was a Belated Birthday present from my friend Indigo who shares the same Scorpio B-day as me !!!.$

All I can say is - AWESOME !!!!!

And of course - THANKS !!!!!

I wonder if he spotted my tv remote while he was back there ??!!

A Stroll Down Memory Lane ...

In an attempt to provide my readers a more balanced view of Childhood, both theirs and MINE ... I will offer the following clips I found on YouTube. After revisiting the trauma of the creepy Child Catcher of Chitty Chitty Bang Bang, I had to find some happier memories ... and I did in these clips ...
This may be incomprehensible to my American Readers, but Bob Homme WAS, along with Ernie Coombs (Mr Dressup) a Canadian Television Institution not unlike Mr Rogers, Captain Kangaroo or even Howdy Doody. WE grew up watching both programmes - they are gentle programmes filled with story, music, and delightful characters. Mr Dressup had Casey and Finegan, while Friendly had Jerome the Giraffe and Rusty the Rooster (we won't talk about a rooster living in a sack hanging on the wall!!??) ...
Yesterday playing on YouTube I found clips of both programmes ... and so here I offer a reminder of The Friendly Giant ... and below a clip of Mr Dressup !!
Two programmes that carry me to a deeply serene and peaceful place ... Tonight I think a viewing of The Wizard of Oz (the original) is in order !!!!
The first one begins with promos for TWO other Canadian TV Institutions: Fraggle Rock and The Beachcombers !!!

A Continuing Stroll Down Memory Lane ...

I'm not even sure HOW you can begin to describe the impact this man and his programme had on GENERATIONS of Canadians ... Mr Dressup was a friend and a contemporary of Mr. Rogers, and they began together back in the US ...
Fred stayed in the States and became a Cultural Icon, while Ernie moved North and became a Canadian Icon and Institution ... It takes about three plunks of the piano notes of the opening theme music to carry EVERY child raised in Canada over the last 40 years back to a place where we were can remember ourselves plunked in front of a flickering tv screen watching Mr Dressup, Casey, Finegan, The Tickle Trunk, and the other assorted characters that came and went. Thousands upon thousands of us spent a half an hour being entertained, informed and educated in the shadow of the Treehouse ...
Personally though, I LOVED Finegan (the Dog), but found Casey a tad annoying ... I still miss them ALL though:

Friday, November 23, 2007

Even Thinking About This Guy STILL Freaks Me OUT!!

Okay, I have NOTHING against Robert Helpmann who played the part ... but the character of The Child Catcher he played in the Movie "Chitty Chitty Bang Bang", STILL JUST FREAKS ME OUT !!!!
Click below to see the scene that still haunts me ...

A Quotation to Ponder ...


Tonight I had the following posted as a comment down stream a bit ... it caused me pause and I decided it was worth pulling out and posting on its own. So, with my thanks to Jaydee of "Things I've Learned Fame" I offer her comment and a quotation from George Bernard Shaw that is both complimentary and profoundly challenging:
I found this quote on my homepage and when I read it, I thought of you, so just thought I'd share it:
"The man who writes about himself and his own time is the only man who writes about all people and all time." - George Bernard Shaw
Thanks Jaydee - you've made me smile today !!

Thursday, November 22, 2007

Happy Thanksgiving Cousins!!!!!

To my American Readers both occassional and regular - I pause to wish all of you a Happy Thanksgiving as you push back from your tables and offer your own personal thanks for the many blessings that come to us through our circle of friends and family.
All of you by your stops here, your comments, your emails, and your presence in my life have enriched mine, and so Today I am very, very Thankful for each and every one of you !!!
I hope today has been a day filled with love, laughter and a true celebration of what is most important:
LIFE !!!!

Wednesday, November 21, 2007

Seven Random Facts about Meme ...

On Sunday over at "I Can Fly, Just Not Up", CandyGirlFlies threw down the challenge for several of her readers to share some random facts about themselves ... I have been fighting the urge today while I was waiting for a slashed tire to be repaired on my van ... I was reading and doing some writing (non-Thesis on both fronts today!!) and I came up with my list ... So, here is goes - 7 random facts about me - pour some strong coffee and hang on:

1) I bite my nails !!!! THIS drives me crazy - I have been trying to stop for 25 years ... BUT ... I still do it ... MAYBE admitting it here will help me stop !?!? Hmmmm, it can't hurt ...

2) My favourite job of all time was Night-watering at the Stratford Golf and Country Club. I went into work at 7pm (when it wasn't raining), set up the sprinklers, laid out the various houses and at about 8:15 turned on the pump and began a cycle of watering tees, greens and some vulnerable fairway area through the night. I LOVED the job - it was only me on the entire 18 hole course, and I could listen to music or read between shifting sprinkler heads and checking on things ... and occasionally I was able to rush off to rescue damsels in distress (remember the two V.I.C's and the visiting Bat CGF ????)

3) My absolute favourite movie of ALL time is The Wizard of Oz!!! I have loved that film since I was a wee little kid scared silly of the wicked witch (and the candy guy from Chitty-Chitty Bang Bang too (that guy still freaks me out!!)). In University I began collecting Wizard of Oz collectibles ... I have the COMPLETE set of Hallmark Oz Christmas Ornaments, a pile of books, and a bunch of other Yellow Brick Road stuff ... My second favourite movie is the sublime Cinema Paradiso.

4) I AM and will ALWAYS be a Lego Maniac !!! My mom used to work at the Lego division of Samsonite back in Stratford when I was young, and I blame her ... I still buy Lego sets for me and for Noahkila ... from time to time I haul out the zip-loc bags holding my various castle, pirate, space and Star Wars sets and set them up as a means to relax. As a kid my friend D and I had a 4'x8' table in the basement with a Lego City complete with matchbox, hot wheels, corgi and other small cars, planes, trucks, and from time to time my model train set too!! Wanna make me happy - buy me lego !!!

5) I am a BOOK Collector and an avid Reader. I have a HUGE Library of books ranging from Canadian Literature to Comics (mainly Bat-man ... but that's another fact for another day) to things religious and spiritual. My library grows by the year, with volumes being discarded, given away, donated and simply lost ... I'm proud of my library - it has my favourite authors and books that I turn to time and time again ... it helps me in life, in work and in leisure ... I simply can not imagine a world without books.

6) My favourite food is Sushi. I was turned on to sushi by a friend in BC back in late 1999 ... and I haven't looked back since. He and I used to hit the All-You-Can Eat Sushi places in Vancouver and the waitresses would marvel (not in a good way) at how MUCH sushi we could pack back ... One night the kitchen staff actually came out and LOOK at us !!! Okay it was a glare, but the three foot long receipt itemizing EVERYTHING the two of us had consumed WAS impressive. We even mused about framing it ... Since then though, I've tapered my consumption, and I've learned to appreciate the zen-like approach to sushi as a meal experience to be savoured and enjoyed rather than a time and place to glut.

7) Even though I'm working on my third University degree, I have ALWAYS gotten exceptional marks, AND this summer was told after testing that my IQ is at the 99.9 percentile ... I still don't feel either intelligent nor smart ... Any of my friends I told the story of the IQ test results to said - "Yeah, tell us something WE didn't know??" As for me, I'm still that dorky little kid in the vest above - I have a really hard time believing I have a extremely high IQ beyond seeing it as a punch line in a joke ... but whatever ...

And as a bonus:

8) My favourite animal on the planet is the DUCK ... I have always loved ducks ... It doesn't matter if it is the ubiquitous Mallard, or the exquisitely coloured Wood ... I love ducks. One of my favourite ways to relax is by feeding ducks and geese at a local park or conservation area ... my photo albums are FULL of pictures of ducks and geese ... SOMEWHERE I EVEN HAVE AN ASSORTMENT OF PHOTOS OF A TEENAGED CANDYGIRLFLIES FEED DUCKS AT THE RIVER IN STRATFORD ... they could appear here under the right circumstances !!??

But my main reason for loving ducks is that long ago I learned a few valuable life lessons from them ... those lessons include (but are not limited to):

- let it ALL roll off your back!!
- look calm and relaxed even when you little yellow feet are pedalling like mad under the surface
- sometimes you just have to float with the current and see where you end up
- if you just hang out in the same place long enough, someone will come along and feed you
- being surrounded by your family and friends is NEVER a bad thing
- there is NOTHING that can't be made better with a Quack
- AND when ALL else fails - Just Flock Off !!!

Makes you think ...

If the history of humanity were the clinical case history of a single human being, the diagnosis would HAVE to be: chronic paranoid delusions, a pathological propensity to commit murder and extreme acts of violence and cruelty against his perceived "enemies" - his own unconsciousness projected outward. Criminally insane, with a few brief lucid intervals.

Fear, greed, and the desire for power are the psychological motivating forces not only behind warfare and violence between nations, tribes, religions, and ideologies, but also the cause of incessant conflict in personal relationships. They bring about a distortion in your perception of other people and yourself. Through them, you misinterpret every situation, leading to misguided action designed to rid you of fear and satisfy your need for more, a bottomless hole that can never be filled.

- quoted from "A New Earth" by Eckart Tolle

Tuesday, November 20, 2007

YES !!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

Today I spent some time at the University in Brandon.
By lunchtime I had managed to get my studies for
a Masters in Rural Development back on track,
I restarted my Thesis.
We filled out the forms,
agreed to a topic,
laid out a rough outline,
and a time line for completion.
Starting today I will be spending a portion
of my time engaged in the 3'Rs of a Masters Thesis:
'Riting !!

Getting Tonight's Supper Ready:

Tonight we decided to use some left over mashed potatoes to enjoy a feast of gnocchi (a yummy Italian Potatoe pasta).

Usually the preparation of gnocchi is a MAJOR undertaking and consumes HOURS and HOURS, leaving me too tired to enjoy the meal when it is done. Today my day was a tad busier than planned, and I couldn't get home before 5pm ... So, at about 4:30 I called home and asked Ms H. to start by mixing the potatoes and flour at a 3/4 cup of each to one egg ratio and start mixing the dough ...

When I got home at 5, everyone washed their hands, rolled up their sleeves and got busy:

Noahkila and I rolled out the dough into balls and then out into snake like ribbons. Beetle armed with a ulu (a Inuit knife) cut the dough into tiny pieces, which Ms. H. took and flicked on the Gnocchi board making the "noodles" pictured below:

Instead of taking hours to create enough gnocchi pasta to feed us all, we managed to have everything done, cooked and consumed in less than an hour and a half ... and along the way we had a yummy meal, lots of laughs, and EVEN MORE FUN!!!

Reply to a Comment ...

This morning I found this in my "moderate comments' section:

In my experience, a singled out leader who is not being thanked is a leader with issues.Either the relationship is so damaged that thanks will not come, or their will be a catharsis when the truth will come out.

The one thing I do not see on your blog, (maybe I haven't looked deeply enough) is the humility and self questioning of where you may be at fault for this attitude.

Deep self learning is often uncomfortable as we face our less than perfect record and choices.

Without the search, we continue to live half lives in lies never finding out truth and growing.

Are you strong and committed enough Shawn?

Things I think about...Sallie

I read this comment this morning, and for a moment thought about NOT allowing it to be posted, but then I realized that to do so would be enact a censorship that I am NOT comfortable with. I hit the appropriate buttons and let the comment through, then I went and read the Blog offered by the poster.

I'm glad I did.
It inspired me to reply - not as a posted comment, but as a post unto itself, because Sallie's
queries are at the very heart of the issues I feel right now on my journey ... So here is my reply.
DO I have issues?? Absolutely. And I'm in the process not only of owning them, but of also working with and through them where appropriate.
I last night's posting I spoke of my vulnerability in that moment when a Thank You wasn't offered. I know where some of that arises from:
- low self-esteem
- being under attack from within the church
- being undermined by a toxic co-worker
- having foolishly embarked on a battle to win and alcoholic his job back when he was undeserving
- a systemic problem in the workplace that was NOT theological but practical
- the thread of alcoholism running through the dysfunction of ALL of this
- a breaking of covenant on the part of others as well as me
- a tendency by me to overwork to earn approval
- undiagnosed ADD
I could go on ... but suffice to say, I am not only aware of many of my issues, I find that with each passing week I find myself confronted with more, and am seeking out the help I need to grow through and with them ...
So yes Sallie, I am a leader with issues and with a deep self-esteem issue. I know that in that time, when the fire hit because of the internal siege I was experiencing through the toxic behaviour of a co-worker I NEEDED desperately to feel valued and appreciated. What I failed to realize and appreciate was the breadth of lies and untruths being perpetuated by this person, and the willingness of members of the church, the Board AND the community to hold such words as Gospel. I had become an outsider because others wouldn't own the problems in their life, and found it easier to blame others like me ...
Humility?? Well, this is the interesting bit ... it's all in one's point of view. I am intelligent, well read, and able to process things at lightning speed. I am sought out by many within and outside the church for my counsel and my knowledge. When I read something I not only remember it, I am able to connect it to other resources, readings and materials I have encountered before. I also take what I read seriously ...
So I am usually and often regarded as arrogant and a egotistical. The truth is - and I have known this all along - I don't feel it ... inside ME is a yawning maw of low self-esteem. Do I over compensate?? Yes, I do, and that's an issue I'm working on.
Am I arrogant and egotistical?? No I am not. What I KNOW that I do is stand my ground. My way of processing is to go and think about things and come back with my ideas, reflections and opinions formed, and looking for the chance to have the conversation or even argument to hone or alter them. Coming back with my "mind made up" to use the term often tossed my way, intimidates people and causes them to regard me as arrogant, because I seem to "KNOW" what
I'm thinking and can argue or debate it accordingly.
I feel great humility, and great fear as a result of my low self esteem. BUT, I also exist in a time and place where to show any of that vulnerability allows the carrion feeders to pounce. Every word I write here is weighed by people with ulterior motives and toxic agendas. What I write here now, is the fodder of the gossip passing around the table tomorrow. So, I don't openly express my vulnerabilities, my fears and my doubts any more - I can't afford to - not here.
That conversation comes over tea with my friends who have been able to hold up a mirror before me and FORCE me to reflect on my self and my path. I have friends I've come to cherish and value for THAT part of my journey. The counsel I value most of all is that which comes from those who have taken a HEALTHY journey from dependency on alcohol. They have ALWAYS been able to ask the tough questions. And they have been able to help me see the role that alcohol has been playing in much of this on the parts of other parties - I can do nothing about it, but I will never condone it either ...
I'm not afraid of the journey. I'm not afraid of what I'm discovering within myself. I have spent the last three years (probably way beyond that - but my awareness of this is for the last 3 years) on an inward journey of discovery.
Am I a poor innocent victim in any of this?? NO - absolutely not. I'm an active participant.
My issue right now is the scape goating process that is unfolding. The notion that "everything was fine before Shawn arrived" is not only erroneous, it is symptomatic of the dysfunction. I am working on me and my issues every day ... my call now is for SOMEONE in the greater church to unstop their ears and name and perhaps even deal with the systemic problems not only in the Congregation but in the community around us. (Slashed tires, anonymous calls to Children & Family Services with claims of abusing my children, and spreading lies about me are just some of the things engaged in by folks here)
Now is the time to name the LONG-STANDING dysfunction that has been part of Minnedosa United Church. Yet over and over I hear the "if he went, everything would be fine ..." mantra being offered. Instead of dealing with the mess, the desire is to sweep EVERYTHING under the rug again ... Sorry, but the rug is full ... it's time for a major cleaning.
It's time for ALL of us to OWN the TRUTH in its fullness!!!
Now is the time for the Catharsis you mention. For some the relationship is irreparable and broken, but for many it is time to name the dysfunction that pre-existed my arrival here and that has once again reared its ugly head. I'm not looking for an Thank you so much as seeking an engaging of the work that NEEDS to be done. The voices that are being ignored in all of this are those who have walked away because this thing I'm experiencing is NOT NEW to Minnedosa. I meet those people EVERY DAY and they say - "just go, THEY won't change." It is something I reflect deeply on, but right now the Spirit is still urging me to stay and face this ...
I AM part of the problem. I was a fool and an ass. I have spent the last 18 months of my life watching my reputation destroyed, not through my own actions, but through the malicious and toxic machinations of OTHERS. I will own my mistakes and like the 12 step programme suggests, make apologies and amends where it is feasible. BUT right now my issue, and I KNOW it's my issue and I'm dealing with it, is the lack of reciprocity in all of this.
Those members of the Board who have undermined and back stabbed me (and I know when and where it has happened), those members of the church who have continued to perpetuate lies and gossip about me, and those who have taken at face value the lies of a former co-worker - have NEVER been called to task for ANY OF IT. And my question simply is - HOW IS THIS JUST??? Where is the fairness here???
Where is the TRUTH being held to in THIS ????
I know, I hear the voices already - it may not happen. I know that. But it doesn't mean I won't keep raising the question ...
So Sallie, and those taking note to use these words against me later (and I know they lurk here), this is a tiny glimpse of my journey of self-discovery ... it has been incredibly uncomfortable and it has been profoundly painful. I know that I'm not all better - that place may be years away ...
I've dug deeply into myself, my actions, my mistakes ... ALL OF IT!!! ... I, like you, am on a journey ... it has been one needed for quite awhile. I will own the simple fact that I chaff at being the scape goat here ... I have no desire to be driven out into the wilderness so that a group of people who are unwilling to face their lack of this same journey - one you've begun sharing in YOUR blog - can then say "we're all better now!!" The problems in Minnedosa (and in other communities) are seldom so simple ... Driving me out, something wanted deeply by more than a couple of people here will solve absolutely NOTHING.
I'm up for the challenge ... I've been treading this road for many months. I have learned much about my self, and I know I have much to learn, and I'm not trying to get it all done today ... I'll let the spirit continue to guide me where she will ... In the meantime, I seek only a consistency in the Greater Church when it comes to LIVING out its values and its faith.
So, thank you Sallie for your words. I appreciate them. Words of challenge act like a mirror - they make us think, and they make us reflect on things we may otherwise overlook. So, blessings on your journey of healing and wholeness - remember the value of the simple phrase - "one day at a time". I have a friend who tells me that EVERYDAY, and I am blessed by their presence and their challenging wisdom ... I wish you only the same.
Like you, I seek the truth. And every step of the journey I am blessed and humbled by the things I learn and experience within myself ... I'm a better person for it ... BUT ... I won't stop raising the uncomfortable questions, either those within me, or those within the community of faith in which I live ... they are important questions, and like I said - "the rug is full" - both mine and theirs ... it's time to name, own and deal with the truth, and that process begins with ME !!!
And I'm doing the best that I can with the help I need ... The rest in in the hands of my higher power ... where it belongs!!

Monday, November 19, 2007

Wisdom from a friend ...

I was raised in a family where we were not just taught, but were expected to use words like Please and Thank you as a regular part of our conversation.

For example, I still, even as a parent will ask to be excused from the table by saying, "May I please leave the table?"

When I make a phone call I will say to the one who answers the phone: "May I please speak to ..."

I will ask for something to be passed at the table by saying, "Please pass the ..." and respond to the action by saying "Thank you."

I say "thank you" when I am in a store, and we have taught our children to use the same words ... I will never be convinced that it is a bad thing.

Yesterday when I read the posting over at The Laughing Pastor reflecting on the importance of the two simple words - "Thank you" I realized how true his words are. He reflects on the need for churches to say those words as part of their ethos and ministry. It's a posting that caused me to say - "AMEN!!!"

But today as I spent time in reflection over LP's words, I realized that even though I agree with EVERYTHING written there, I don't think he went far enough ...

Thank you can't just be spoken - it must be lived, and in the modern church we have become pathetic at saying much less living those words ...

I know in the core of my being the yearning to hear those two simple words spoken.

I can remember the devastation of NOT hearing those words when there was a fund raising concert held in town in the wake of the fire and everyone else was thanked ... The next day I was phoned with a sort of apology that only rubbed salt in my deep wounds ... the lack of those two simple words left me a wreck.

Looking back I know that my vulnerability was my own creation, but it does not justify NOT saying "thank you" when it was deserved:

Following the fire 16 to 20 hour days were common for WEEKS after ... phone calls, emails, interviews, visits, moving office stuff, cleaning, just being present - the list of tasks was ENORMOUS and seemingly unending - and yet I wasn't even given any extra time off - in truth I was getting NO TIME OFF. The weeks subsequent to the fire ranged between 80 and 100 hours of work, while the part time office staff was being paid OVER-TIME for every minute of work done over the regular hours ... Then at the concert lavish thanks were doled out to many people, including the office staff and my name was left off the list ...

The reply when I asked later was - "OH, you're paid staff. We shouldn't have to thank you!!"

If that had been a one off incident I could have handled it better. But two years previously following a sizable basement renovation the same thanks were missed ... The plumbers, electricians, contractors, architect AND volunteers were rightly thanked at a dinner celebrating the reopening of the newly renovated hall, the paid staff were forgotten ...

The sad thing in hindsight is that at THAT time, the same excuse was offered - "Oh you're paid staff. We shouldn't have to thank you ..."

"Hmmm," I mused then, AND now, "so were the plumbers, the electricians, contractors, architect, AND the "project manager". Yet YOU thanked them, AND gave them free tickets to the dinner ..."

I never did get an answer, or an apology for THAT ... and last year I have yet to hear an apology for the insults that came when I pointed out the neglect I had experienced ... The "you're paid staff" excuse lost all credibility when the summer supply for my leave was thanked, AND paid ... and it was pointed out in the review document as a glaring short-coming.

Reading LP's words yesterday brought me back to the realization of how important hearing the words "thank you" periodically can be ... I hear them all the time from people around me - the people I worked with ... Last night at Co-op I had one of my former soccer boys stop me and apologize for what is happening to me and then putting his arm around me gave me a hug and said the words: "I just want to say 'thank you' for everything you've done for me ... I have really appreciated it!!"

In that moment I heard words that my heart has yearned to hear ... words I have heard from many corners - but words that have been lacking from the places they NEED to be uttered ...

So, my thanks to Laughing Pastor for raising a matter that is anything but a laughing one ... This is a serious issue ... the words of our lips are a reflection of our hearts and our souls. If we fail to utter the simple words - "thank you" when they deserve to be spoken, our hearts and our souls are not living in a place of gratitude ... and in the Church that is NEVER acceptable.

Now is the time to speak and live the words ... and the best place to begin is here ...

To those who have touched my life with kindness, love and care I can only offer two words that should have been shared long ago - THANK YOU!!!!

Maybe the people who need to hear this will finally listen and begin by offering two other words that are almost as important: "I'M SORRY!" and then will step up to the plate and begin speaking and living those other two words that are NOT an optional part of our faith journey ...

I have faith enough to believe that one day it WILL happen ... until then, I will keep saying the words "Thank you" when they are due ... It does the heart good to see the face of a clerk at a grocery store lighten in response ...

Sunday, November 18, 2007

From Sun to Snow ...

Scenes from around the yard this morning ...

... we awoke to cloud and dreary, that gave way to SNOW!!!!

Kind of a shock after the beautiful blue sky and sun of yesterday ...

A 4H Hike with Beetle:

Yesterday as part of her 4H group, Beetle and a half dozen other participants had a beautiful hike and exploration around a parcel of land set aside by a local family as a permanent legacy of land and nature for future generations ...

With a slough, a dug out, beaver, countless birds and the evidence of deer, foxes, elk and sightings of bear, it is an incredible place to spend a cold and sunny afternoon. The kids had fun, and as one of the adult leaders/helpers, so did I.

4H Hike ... things under foot:

Elk Print frozen in the mud

Bubbles and a snail shell frozen in time (and water)

Fox tracks in the snow