Thursday, January 31, 2008

My Theme Song for the Day ...

It has been a long couple of years ... I've had moments when it has hurt just draw the next breath ... I've been betrayed and hurt deeply by people I regarded as friends ... I've felt let down and abandoned ... I've hit the dirt more than I care to think about ... and I've been battered and bloodied (figuratively speaking) more than once ... but like the song below says - "I'm still standing."

I've been picked up innumerable times by friends who have dusted me off, helped me mend my wounds and sent me out the door with a hug to face another round ...

Along the way I've learned A LOT about myself ... I've grown ... I've matured ... I've shed weight, both physical and spiritual and I've come to realize that as bad as it gets - TOMORROW IS ONLY A FEW HOURS AWAY!!!

And tomorrow can be better than today if we dare to live, to breath and believe ...

So ... as I take this breath and BELIEVE that tomorrow WILL be better than today and my life will journey upwards, onwards and into the future ... I offer a song that has been rolling through me today for some reason ... Sir Elton is flamboyant, outrageous and one helluva entertainer ... I've loved this song since I first heard it years and years ago in High School ... it was a favourite for me when it popped up on Much Music ... it is STILL a fav ...

Turn up the volume and enjoy ... oh yeah ... by TUESDAY - ALL will be revealed about the bold new adventure I've embarked upon ...

For now - like the Man says - "I'm still standing, better than I EVER DID, looking like a true survivor, feeling like a little kid !!!!" - THAT'S ME!!!!

Amen !!!

Wednesday, January 30, 2008

Keys to ...

... a new path !!

Sixty Years Ago Today ...

The Mahatma's Earthly Journey came to an abrupt end,
and his journey as legend began ...
... maybe one day the world will shift from violence
to the Ahimsa-Satyagrha path
this amazing soul envisioned.

Currently in Minnedosa:

A standing temp of -34C (That's -29F!!!)
with a windchill of -51C (-60F!!)
Stay warm everybody !!!

A Year ago today


The Premier of Manitoba stopped by for a Coffee and a Chat at Chipperfield Coffee Company ... His visit was unplanned, unexpected and appreciated by all ... well, almost all ... a few of those on the other side of the political fence got their knickers knotted up over it ...

.

But wouldn't you rather have a leader who keeps in touch with folks around the coffee shops and cafes???

.

Even more than that, Premier Doer's visit serves as an example of what should be happening in small towns with places like Chipperfield Coffee Company, The Ski Hill, Main Street Cafe, Sun Sun's, Burgess Quality Fine Foods, The Golf Course, and a dozen other small businesses worth telling folks about ... instead of trying to find the goose that will lay the golden egg and save us from oblivion, let's remember what WE ALREADY HAVE and find ways of drawing people to visit and to live here ...

.

Let's encourage people to come on into town and check us out - it's the model that has proven MOST successful for small rural communities everywhere. Highlight the things about the community that WILL appeal to the travelling public - good restaurants, quirky & unique shoppes, and things worth stopping to see!! One town I can think of in Ontario revived itself when a REALLY GOOD restaurant opened and its reputation spread.

.

Minnedosa has restaurants and cafes worthy of such reputation ... but I am mindful of a Connie Caldor concert last year in Brandon where she noted the "welcome" small town Saskatchewan folks give the out-of-towner when they happen into the cafes and coffee shops. She noted the dead pan look and a half dozen baleful glares are far from welcoming ... then if the person is undaunted, the question of whether they will actually be welcomed in comes into play - too often small towns are defined by their long standing generational relationships that EXCLUDE the outsider and the newcomer. No town will prosper if new comers are made to feel welcome on a conditional basis.

.

The first step is by laying out the mat that says 'WELCOME' and THEN living that simple word.

.

I know too many people in Minnedosa who have lived here for decades, but are STILL treated like outsiders to believe that the "WELCOME" signs we put up are actually being followed through upon ...

.

This is a great little community that could be even better if we would stop being so cliquey. This ain't high school - we should stop acting like it is !!!!

Tuesday, January 29, 2008

Today I went for a walk ...

The wind is blowing strongly out of the NW,
the thermometer says it is a balmy -27C!!!!
With gusts of wind the windchill is down to -47C (-53F).

After an hour and a half out walking
my beard was iced up, my cheeks were numb
and my Arctic Parka was fringed with frost.

ALL in ALL it was a BEAUTIFUL DAY!!!





Monday, January 28, 2008

Like a phoenix rising ...

It has been a tough weekend for me on an emotional level ... without going into the why ... or the what ... I will leave it that I had a bit of crash for a number of varied and diverse reasons ...

Yesterday was a bit better, and today got better still ... today I've been thinking about the Mythic Phoenix who offers the image of resurrection in action ... consumed by fire the Phoenix recreates itself from the ashes and flies again ... life will ALWAYS triumph ...

I've realized that it has been a very long two years of turmoil and trauma ... but slowly, one step at a time ... one moment after another ... sometimes even one breath at a time .... I've made my way through it ... the journey hasn't ended yet ... but today over a handshake and with the reciept of a big pile of paper, I found myself standing before a door that has opened in recent days behind which lies an exciting new adventure full of possibility and potential ...

I'm not sure what lies ahead ... but in one area of my life possibilities and potentials seemingly abounds with some excitement from all sides ...

I wish I could say more ... in time all will be revealed ... for the moment, with a sheaf of papers in hand - this phoenix is definitely rising from the ashes !!!

Life goes on ... and today it is looking a helluva lot better than it has in a VERY long time ...

My Theme Song for the Day

The quality of the video isn't so great ... but the song is vintage Van Morrison ... I played this song this afternoon and found the words resonating with my mood ... THIS is the kind of music we should have a church !!!

Turn up the volume and enjoy ... and let God's Light Shine on you too !!!

Twenty Years ago today ...

Love him or Hate him, you can't over look the simple fact that Dr Henry Morgentaler has changed the face of Canadian Law and society by battling for the right of women to choose and access safe abortions ... his battle for access isn't quite over, and at 83 years of age he continues to challenge the status quo to provide safe and equal access for ALL Canadian women to abortion.

Personally I don't favour abortion AT ALL ... but I am fierce in defending my belief that ALL women should have the RIGHT to choose for themselves whether or not to undergo the procedure ... not having a uterus myself, I have never felt compelled to tell others tht they CAN'T access abortions ... I may not personally believe in the usage of abortion - but it is NOT my place to impose my views on others - EVER.

Having said that - it was 20 years ago today, that Dr Morgentaler heard from the Supreme Court of Canada that they found Section 251 of the Criminal Code of Canada - the law under which he was arrested - to be UNCONSTITUTIONAL and Morgentaler and his co-defendents had their convictions overturned ...

Agree or disagree with the findings, Morgentaler et al vs Her Majesty the Queen, changed the face of Canadian law and turned us into a Pro-Choice nation (more or less) and that is NOT a bad thing.

A MUCH needed pick me up ...

----
Today I was flaked out on the couch after the kids
headed off to school ... I didn't have a whole lot of energy
to do very much, so I started channel surfing ...
Eventually I found a cable station airing "The Jeffersons"
followed by episodes of "Sanford and Son".
-----
--

------

There is something about 70's sit-coms ...

maybe it is because the characters are familiar and comfortable,

maybe it is the combination of innocence and edge

that many of them embodied,

or maybe it was the talented folks who portrayed

characters like George Jefferson and Fred Sanford.

But whatever it was, today it was just the tonic I needed

to get back on a level footing ...

Laughter TRULY is the best medicine.

Sunday, January 27, 2008

An inspiring conversation ...

Last night in the midst of everything else I was feeling I had a conversation with a friend ... they shared with me their frustrations over their job ... they work in an office doing something that no longer offers the same appeal it once did ...

As we spoke I sensed that their heart just wasn't in thier work ... between the commute, time away from a young family, and a time and place at work that is simply NOT rewarding they are feeling the itch of wanting more ...

I know they are a gifted photographer ... and have been using computers since the days of Commodore Pets ... and enjoy being outside ...

We talked about taking a chance and trying something new as a hobby and maybe developing it into something MORE ... I suggested they take some of their pictures and make some note cards and framed prints that they could carry to some funky art and gift shoppes near them and see if they will take them on consignment ... or hang up their shingle and take photos ...

As we talked further he confessed that he likes taking photos for weddings of friends and family, but couldn't handle the pressure of doing it for strangers ... he then said what he would love to do is take people on photography expeditions - and show people how to see the landscape through the lens of a camera ...

"You leave near the Niagara Escarpment ..." I said, "start with afternoon trips through a local photography group ... get the word out and see what happens ..."

Then we talked about his enjoyment of putting together photo presentatiobs for birthdays, weddings and retirements ...

"Try doing it as a more than a hobby ..."

He then shared his enjoyment of taking old damaged photographs and pixel by pixel restoring them digitally for friends ...

"Hang your shingle ..." I suggested, "let people know you're interested in doing digital restoration and presentations and see what happens ..."

We then talked about being in a place where we enjoy ourselves and what we're doing ... he shared with me the hopes and dreams of his 8 year old daughter who recently told him she wanted to be a Doctor, an author, an artist, a mummy, and a couple of other professions ...

Father and daughter had talked about the mechanics of such a diverse and far-reaching dream ... she was undaunted by his adult cynicism ...

"Daddy," she thought, "I could be a Doctor on Mondays, an author on Tuesdays, an artist on Wednesday ..." and do on through the week, as she continued, "I could have time to be home on the weekend with my kids and you and mummy, and I could buy a house and ..." and on went the vision of what COULD be ...

"How do I tell her to be realistic without crushing her hopes?" he asked.

"WHY?" I countered, "WHY do you have to tell her to be realistic when she may be on to something that SHOWS the rest of US that we are being TOO staid and set in our ways ???"

Who says it isn't possible to live a life with a variety professions and careers ... particularly when we are following our heart and feeding our soul in the process ????

Maybe the key is to listen to the openness of a child and see the world without limits and boundaries that are formed by the cynicism of adulthood ...

Maybe we need to hear the voice of a child who can't see any good reason why she can't be five or six different things simultaneously ...

We tell our children to dream ... maybe we need to challenge ourselves to never lose sight of the "anything is possible" approach children bring to life ...

Like I've said - the world needs more dreamers ... thankfully, we have an unending store of them in our communities ... we just need to listen a little more !!!!

Goodbye General

General Suharto, former Dictator of Indonesia.
Dead at 86.
The shame is that he was never held to account
for his Iron-fisted rule and the corruption and abuse
that was very much part of his regime.
May his many victims find some peace ...

Learning how Icarus felt ...

This week started with potential and possibility ... doors that had been closed were replaced by newly opening windows and discovered passageways that offered a glimmer of light to guide me forward from a cold and lonely, dark place ... The positive happenings all around me stroked my devestated soul and gave me the foolish courage to test my wings ...

Like the mythic Icarus ... I dared to let my self get swept up in the moments and to try to fly ... to feel free and alive ... it was a glorious week ... potentials and possibilities abounded and my spirit, for the first time in MONTHS began to soar ... I dared to really dream of a tomorrow that was different from the many yesterdays that have left me bruised and wounded ... for the first time I began to feel positive about EVERYTHING ...

But like the mythic Icarus, I flew too high, too fast and too near the sun ... in the twinkling of an eye the wax in my wings began to melt and the feathers came unfixed ... and in that moment I began the plunge back to the hard reality of earth ...

My life still abounds with possibilities and potentials ... my dreams are still there ... my soul longs to fly ... but in the darkness of this moment my emotions are bruised and battered ... and my heart feels utterly bereft ... tomorrow will be better ... but I've come to realize that my tomorrow is seldom connected with the chronology of time and calendar ... and my journey out of the dark and lonely place may be longer than expected ...

Tomorrow will come ... some day ... right now I just feel very alone in the darkness ... and I'm very tired of being in this place ... I thought I had left it ...

I was wrong ... on so many levels ... I was wrong ...

Tonight the circle of friends, and the love of family just doesn't offer a balm for this hurt ...

Saturday, January 26, 2008

Whispers of Truth from a Master:

----
Understanding is the ground of love.
---
Love relieves suffering.
---
True love is a love without possessiveness.
You love and still are free, and the other person is also free.
The kind of love that has no joy is not true love.
There must be joy and freedom
and understanding in love.
---
by Thich Nhat Hanh
from
Taming the Tiger Within

Friday, January 25, 2008

Lots to Learn ...

Lately I've been helping out at my favourite coffee shoppe ... in addition to doing some of the foot work behind possibly expanding the Fair Trade items available at Chipperfields, I have also been doing some day to day work filling in where there have been gaps in the schedule with the regular full and part-timers ... the training has been INTENSE and more than a little intimidating!!

In the last couple of weeks I have, while standing BEHIND the counter LEARNED A LOT ... I've realized just how damned hard the job of "pouring coffee" can really be ... with the diversity of menu items, the speciality beverages, the loose teas, and EVERYTHING else customer related you keep BUSY ... and that's not too mention the many, many, many OTHER duties that happen behind the scenes ...

I am IMPRESSED with the ability of those who serve us in cafes, coffee shops, restaurants and other service venues - and the next time I think about whether or not to leave a tip, I'll think about my experiences at Chipperfields and ALL the work it involves and tip accordingly !!!

Makes me appreciate my morning coffee a little bit more !!


Good Bye Girls ...

The mention of them as pets in our household raised more than a few eyebrows ... grain farmers looked at us with looks of bemused horror ... but regardless, Coco and Olivia, were for the last two years very much part of the family.

Known collectively as "The Girls" they had distinctive personalities like EVERYONE else ... at night as I was checking everyone and turning off radios and stereos before calling it a night, The Girls and I had a routine ... when they heard me on the stairs they would climb the bars of their cage and wait until I came into Noahkila's room. Then little pink clawed hands stretched out through the bars wiggling and impatiently waiting for their nightly "treat" (hard nutritional chew blocks).

Lately, much to THEIR delight, I've sometimes substituted the chew blocks with chunks of fresh apple, raisins or even chunks of carrots (raisins were THIER absolute favourites) !!! Even as it became apparent that their eye sight was failing, they still heard and smelled the treats as they were offered ...

BUT, along the way these two golden blonde rats taught us much about perspective and being open to the unexpected.

They were vermin - creatures regarded by much of the world as pests - but in our home they were pets and leave us some delightful memories of their two years with us ...

- early on they spent Sunday afternoons running free on the couch while we relaxed and watched tv - Olivia's favourite spot for a nap was in the front breast pocket of my clerical collar shirt as I napped on the couch. Until she grew big, the sight of a long thin pink tail poking out of the pocket and curled across my chest was not unusual.

- when they were out and the cats were about The Girls would start to sway like grass in the wind ... we always wondered if they were sending out the ESP signal - "YOU can't see ME!!! YOU can't see ME!!!" ... suffice to say, the cats came to ignore the rats and seemingly accept them in the family - although Chloe was never really pleased to have The Girls crawl on her while she was napping ...

- I remember watching Noahkila eating a bowl of Cheerios one morning with help - The Girls were exploring the kitchen table while he ate and read a comic book. Then Olivia discovered the Cheerios and delicately lifted a single Cheerio from the bowl with one tiny hand, and dashed to the far end of the table to savour her prize. Coco, noting her sister copied her action. The girls repeated their expeditions until they AND Noahkila emptied the bowl ... Noahkila was oblivious to The Girls'!!!

They were, for thier short lives sweet pets ... and yesterday their journeys with us ended when we made the decision to euthanize them ... they had been living with cancer for the last few months and recently the cancers had gotten too large and had begun to bleed ... It is never an easy decision to make, even if it is RATS!!

But ... today we have two less members of our household ... they may have been vermin - but dammit, they were cute, smart, personable and they wereVERY much part of the family. And they will be missed.

Thursday, January 24, 2008

78 ...


No name yet ...
... only the heart felt prayers
for the wounded, the comrades,
and the families left grieving.
Lest We Forget...

I'm NOT just a Dreamer ...

I ALSO believe I can change my world ...

To accompany this - a little ditty by Francis Dunnery a singer whose music I've come to appreciate MORE and MORE ... (thanks Katie) ...

This one says EVERYTHING I feel like saying tonight:

Wednesday, January 23, 2008

What the world needs MORE of ...

We need MORE dreamers in our world ...

We need people willing to think outside the box and not simply settle for the status quo ...

We need MORE people who can envision a different reality than we find ourselves emeshed in ...

We need MORE people who will not only rock the boat, but who will challenge ALL of us to see and REALIZE a tomorrow that is DIFFERENT from today ...

We need them in our churches, we need them in our governments, we need them in our businesses, we need them standing up for what they believe in, sharing their vision and speaking boldly about WHAT IS POSSIBLE rather than rubbing our hands together lamenting over what is before us in this moment ...

Today over at Meditative Moments I've posted a link to the ultimate expression of daring to live a Dream of a better tomorrow - The "I have a Dream" Speech by Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.

I've always like that sermon/speech ... he expresses clearly the struggle he and the blacks of the United States are facing - he names the crises and problems they are facing and then with faith and courage and a boldness that embodies the Yiddish quality of Chutzpah, proclaims that not only does HE have a dream- but that THE DREAM is attainable !!!

We need voices like that to speak up about a mulitude of issues throughout our society ...

Today over coffee I shared in a conversation about the need for economic renewal in our town - the response was a shrug - "what are you gonna do? we're too close to Brandon ..."

I suggested that we need to look around ourselves and INVENTORY what this town has to offer and begin to encourage a boutique retail market that could aim at catering to folks who come to the area to enjoy the ski hill, the beach, the cottages, the golf course, or who stop in as they pass by on the TWO Major highways that pass by - we could highlight the many handi-crafters who are ALL around us - we could encourage AND BACK small business ventures that provide SERVICES and retail outlets aimed squarely at the tourist market -AND we could ACTIVELY promote those businesses AND the existing businesses as a destination point in Western Manitoba ...

The response was a shrug and a non-commital nod of the head ...

"Yeah, but who's gonna do it ???"

"Should be the Economic Development Officer," I answered, "but they have to be willing to think and dream outside the box that is the status quo ..."

The world simply needs MORE dreamers who won't take "NO" for an answer ... otherwise, we will perish together as fools ...

I'd like to see Minnedosa:

- embrace the Ethanol Plant in town by encouraging and actively CREATING spin off industries

- create a Truck stop ON the HIGHWAY with services for the trucks pulling off to bring product and commodity in and out of the plant .

- create a tourist information site with current information on what Minnedosa offers to visitors and MOST importantly - folks MOVING here ...

- create a QUALITY hotel complex in the heart of town that provides quality accomodation, services and a REASON for people to WANT to come and STAY in town

- develop a HEALTHY down town strip with retail outlets that not only pull traffic off the road, turn around the economic seepage that sucks money to Brandon rather than spending it locally

- establish a DAY CARE that offers much needed services to the children and families in this area, and along with services like the Library, helps in the promotion of Minnedosa as a place for young families to consider re-locating to ...

- speak of the hopes and dreams and aspirations of those who want to see Minnedosa not only simply survive - but GROW and become a tourist and business hub in the west man area ...

All it takes is some dreamers who won't settle for the status quo and who earestly believe that we can be and have more ...

Let the dreams begin !!!!!
And let's turn those dreams into REALITY !!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

Today in Dosa ...


Today's temp is hovering around -32C (-27F),
and there is extreme windchill warnings for
almost ALL of Manitoba.
Windchills between -40 and -46 C!!!
That's a balmy -40 to-50 F!!!!!
Anyone for a walk outside ???
I'll be throwing on my parka and toque
and heading out shortly ...
I JUST LOVE THIS WEATHER !!!

You just never know ...

It is said in many, many ways ...

But lately I've come to really appreciate that when a door closes, sometimes an unexpected window opens ...

When things look their bleakest - just in that moment of darkness when all seems lost, suddenly the light begins to break over the horizon and a new dawn begins to break ...

But my personal favourite is the adage that tells us that to discover new lands we need to have the courage to lose sight of the shore for a very long time ... (I first posted it here)

This week some exciting new windows have opened ... some light has poured into the darkness and in daring to head out into open sea, I have suddenly found myself encountering an unexpected new shoreline ...

It's a journey just begun ... and it WILL be a fascinating expedition ... stay tuned - I'll fill you in later ...

Wait for it ...

Last week we opened a parcel from our dear friend and winner of the Poetry Contest over at Nunavut Nonsense, WinterBeach (aka Indigo) - inside was four packages of the wasabi peas pictured above ...

I opened one of them an gave them a try ... They ARE definitely SPICY ...

Given that we are fans of Japanese cuisine, particularly sushi, the flavour of wasabi appeals to me - so I thoroughly enjoyed my first sample of the peas.

I then decided to pull Noahkila into my proverbial web ... he was crashed out on the couch watching tv. I approached him with three or four of the peas in hand and said:

"Here, try these..." offering my hand to him.

"What are they ??" he asked reaching out and taking the peas.

"A new snack food from Auntie Indigo,"

Sniffing the peas he asked,"What flavour are they?"

"Just try them..."

Noahkila shrugs and pops the peas in his mouth and starts chewing.
"Mmmmmm," he hums, "not bad."

"WAIT for it,"I say smiling.

Suddenly his eyes open VERY wide and he jumps from the couch and runs to the kitchen to gulp back several glasses of water followed by a glass of milk.

Standing at the sink, eyes watering and sputtering he smiled through the burning and says proudly - "Those are REALLY good!!"

Since then he and I have polished off the first bag ...

Thanks Indigo - as the tiger used to say: "They're Grrrreat !!!"

Unexpected contacts ...

The other morning the phone rang just as the kids were charging out the door ... the voice on the other end began by saying - "hey, it's R-----, from Langley. Do you remember me?"

I laughed ... I remembered him ... he had been a member of the Youth Group I was involved with while I served there ... he was one of the group of older teens that I spent many an hour with hanging out at the local coffee shop after Youth Group hearing about their lives and hopes and dreams ...

Hearing his voice after eight years was a treat ...

He and his family have relocated to Winnipeg, and now as a father, he's driving truck ... turns out his route in February will bring him through Minnedosa periodically ... we exchanged numbers and made the commitment to get caught up over a long over due coffee sometime ... The whole conversation was peppered with laughter and him expressing appreciation for my presence in his life "way back when" ... I hung up feeling better about my day ...

Later my text feature on my cell phone revealed a message from a sunburnt friend from Ontario who just returned from Cuba and just wanted to rub it in ...

Along the way, the technology we have surrounded ourselves with - phones, cells, text messaging, emails - have helped to make the world we live in a village ... connections are made, old friends found, new friendships formed and relationships made, strengthened and maintained ... all at the press of a button ... it's a wonderful thing.

And lately I can't help but feel deeply appreciative of the many unexpected contacts I have found myself encountering lately ... each one has brightened up my day considerably ...

Monday, January 21, 2008

We tend to forget ...

And even worse that THAT ... he was killed for stirring things up ...
The political and religious authorities HATED the guy ... they plotted to have him arrested, tried and convicted ... and thenTHEY HAD HIM KILLED !!!!
Thankfully God wasn't done with him ...
Unfortunately, the church seems to have forgotten the reality that lies behind the myth ... we've recreated Jesus into a two dimensional figure who lacks depth and who is removed fromhis background and context to such a degree that our image of him would be unrecognizable to Jesus himself ...
Maybe one day we'll reclaim the fullness of our founder and return to being the movement he inadvertently founded ...

Made me wonder ...

Today I had to trek into Winnipeg for an appointment ... I did the drive to and fro chillin' to Trane and thinking about stuff ...

Along the way I noticed (NOT even sure why) that many of the Used Car dealerships I drove past had one or more Hummers sitting in their vehicle rows ... With news of a down turn in the US economy and a recession unfolding around us, I couldn't help but wonder if Hummers have proven themselves to be expesive high maintenance toys that prove to be more costly than drivers may realize when signing on the dotted line ...

I for one wouldn't mourn thier passing if they prove to be simply a passing fad ... though I doubt that is even remotely likely ... I fear the gas guzzling beasts their cousins will be wreaking havoc for many years to come ...

Saturday, January 19, 2008

Oops ... I almost missed it !!!

I was having a cup of tea tonight at Chipperfields and reading the newspaper when I noticed the date - January 19th !!!

"O Crap," I said, "I almost forgot - today Prairie Preacher marks its 2nd Anniversary!!!"

The place was empty, and the staff were busy elsewhere, so my soliloquy went unmocked ...

So ... almost two years after the journey began, I find myself sitting down at my lap top authoring the 1366th posting to be placed here ... It's been in an interesting journey.

Two years ago I was happily working in a Pastoral Charge of the United Church of Canada struggling to overcome the lingering effects of a nasty fight I had foolishly engaged in ... then less than a month later our community would awaken to the sight of the 105 year old sanctuary engulfed in the flames of arson ...

Since then I've encountered some new friends around the globe, reconnected with some old ones, and reinforced some friendships that remain valuable to me ...

My words have at times been silly and irreverent, reflective and playful, and sometimes even sharp and critical ... some people have take offense to what I've written around here, while many many more have spoken words of appreciation and gratitude for the open and frank postings that have appeared here ... As a pilgrim of faith, I don't write to maintain the status quo, but rather, to help express the longings of the seekers who want MORE ...

Along the way friends have been compelled and inspired to find their voices in their own blogs ... I've dabbled in writing fiction ... taking photos ... and sharing my reflections on life ...

The journey has had its ups and its downs ... there have been terrible dark moments when I was ready to throw in the towel not only on the blog, but on other aspects of my life ... and there have been moments when I have found myself crushed under the criticism of my words, thoughts, blog and even my ministry when on the streets of Minnedosa or Brandon, or through the mail, or even by email I have encountered someone who says - "I was so glad when you wrote ..." and they share with me what a particular posting, or even what the tone of my blog means to them ... and they not only say "Thank You" but encourage me to continue Blogging ...

So, to those who grit their teeth when they read my postings here - ALL 1366 of them !!!! - and to those who harshly ask the question - "WHY DO YOU BLOG??"

I can honestly say that in recent days I have found my answer: Because I enjoy the creative process, and I enjoy sharing the reflections and questions that are a part of my life's journey ... I don't see a problem with my words rubbing people the wrong way, or offending them- afterall, we in the Church are supposedly followers of the One who did just that regularly and paid for it with his life!!!! I don't write for my critics anyway ... I write like I preach - seeking:

To comfort the afflicted,
and to afflict the comfortable !!!

Looking back over the last two years it has been an amazing trip ... If I would have known then what I know NOW about the path that lies ahead I may not have put up the first posting ... But looking back at all the highs and lows I've been through, I can only say - I'm glad I DID.

It's been a helluva journey ... and it ain't over yet !!!!

Thanks for accompanying me!!!
And rest assured ... it's a journey that will be continuing forward !!!

What if ...

Today I went for a couple of long walks around town in the teeth of a bitter, biting cold ...The sun was shining, the sky was a vivid blue and despite the savagery of the cold air - it was a picture perfect prairie winter afternoon ...

My one regret was having NOT taken my camera with me ... I missed so many beautiful pictures that could have been taken ... a tree laden with berries attacked en masse by an enormous flock of waxwings !!! ... the shape and colour of the ice formations on the river shimmering in the bright sun light ... the wisps of smoke and steam that float out over town from buildings, businesses, and industry ... The list of magnificent scenes that are now just images in my minds' eye is lengthy ...

Next time I WILL take the camera ...

But having to entrust so many beautiful vistas to my imaginings got me thinking about the necessity of using our imagination ... Einstein once quipped that "imagination is more important than knowledge ..."
This weekend our cousins to the south are marking Martin Luther King Jr Day with a civic holiday on Monday ... of late I've been rereading many of his pieces ... and I've been thinking a lot about imagination and how central it is to the human experience.

As children we dream big ... we will grow up to be an astronaut, Prime Minister, a world famous athlete, or a rich and powerful leader ... as youth we still hold to those dreams as we set our goals - they may lack the breath-taking grandiosity of a 5 year old announcing with certainty that they WILL become an astronaut or an NHL goaltender - but they still possess the hopefulness that says "ANYTHING IS POSSIBLE."

ANYTHING IS POSSIBLE ... now there is the key to imagination !!!

I remember former United Church Moderator Peter Short telling a group of people that there was a time when he was a world famous explorer, a world class athlete, the world's best opera singer and the world's fastest runner ... he paused and said something to the effect of - "when I was five, I believed those truths in my heart because I KNEW they were true ..."

He then went on to muse about how we change our opinions about ourselves as we age and mature ... Somewhere along the line we begin to be defined by our limits and shortcomings rather than by the potentials and possibilities that exist all around us ...

As adults we confine ourselves to safe little boxes and squelch our dreams, instead contenting ourselves with the status quo ... we no longer dare to risk or take chances ...

The first question this raises for me is - WHY ?????

Why are we content with the status quo, when if we are really honest, the status quo isn't cutting it any more???

Why are we so reluctant to dream and hope for things to change???

BUT most compelling - WHY do we continue to tell our children to follow their dreams and to express their hopes - even the kids' programme The Magic School Bus underlines THIS lesson when Ms. Frizzle says in EACH episode: "Take Chances, make mistakes, get messy !!!"

If we don't want our children to USE THIER IMAGINATION, then why do we so actively encourage them to do JUST THAT????

I have come to believe that our imaginations are JUST WHAT MAKES US FULLY HUMAN.

Without an imagination, we would have NO way of envisioning a better way of doing something ...

Without an imagination, we would have none of the innovations and inventions that have so dramatically improved our lives and our world ...

Without an imaginations, humanity would still be poking in the mud around the marge of lakes and rivers and NONE of our accomplishments and achievements would have EVER happened ...

Without an imagination, we would simply cease to exist ...

Yet, too often we actively stifle imagination ... we silence the dreamers ... and we scoff at those who ask the big questions about how things can be made better ...

How many times do we hear - "OH, be realistic!" when someone speaks freely of a bold vision of what MIGHT be ...

This weekend we would do well to consider the RESPONSES that folks like Martin Luther King encountered as they shared a vision - A DREAM - of what Racial, Economic ad Social equality COULD look like ... using source documents like the words of the Hebrew Prophets, the Gospel teachings of Jesus, and the theories of Gandhi, King and countless others articulated, shared, and lived a dream of a better community - a better nation - and ultimately a better world.

Not content with waiting for things to improve ... they marched, they spoke, they wrote, they protested ... and THEY HELPED make it happen.

They en masse took their dream and boldy "took chances, made mistakes and GOT MESSY!!", and along the way they were the catalyst of enormous social change that continues to reverberate through out the world ...

BUT, too often we regard these moment - these events as something that happened "somewhere over there" by people who are some how different from us - somehow removed from us ... We forget that the people like King, Rosa Parks, Gandhi, Tutu, and the others who have lead the waves of social change, really ARE people just like us, who together with many other people JUST LIKE US, managed to do something absolutely breath-taking.

The key in ALL of this, is for us (YOU & I - ALL of us TOGETHER) to never lose sight of our imagination, and more importantly, to never give in to the nay-sayers who would mock us as dreamers and tell us to "get realistic."

The world needs more dreamers. (Please quote me on THAT statement!!)

The world needs people who are willing to take chances, make mistakes and get messy.

The world needs lots more of those kinds of people.

And the place to find THOSE people is right here ... in YOU and I.

WE ARE those people - those dreamers - those activists - those fools who honestly believe the world can become a better and different place if we only try ...

This is not some pollyanna plea to save the life of Tinkerbell by shouting - "I DO BELIEVE!! I DO BELIEVE!!!" Rather it is a call to faithful action by the dreamers and visionaries that live and move among us ...

It's simply an invitation to step outside the box, and leave the safety and security of our collective comfort zones and not only ask and face, but begin to answer the tough questions about whether we are capable of doing things differently.

What if ???? The substance of the quesiton is entirely up to each one of us ... the important gesture is to be open to the potential and possibilities that WILL arise when we begin to ask repeatedly - "What if ...??" as we move through our day ...

Today as I walked past empty store front after empty store front along our Main St here in Minnedosa, I wondered to my self: "What if, enough of us stopped accepting things the way they are, and started actively, aggressively and OPENLY agitating for change??? What if, enough citizens wrote letters, forwarded emails, and made phone calls to businesses about relocating here?? What if, enough of us said - "WE WANT A BETTER TOWN!!!!" and began promoting all the great things about Minnedosa rather than waiting for "someone" to do it??"

I realized today that there is much in Minnedosa to be proud of - and there are many worth while things that deserve to be boldly proclaimed promoted ... and ALL it takes is a some time, a few dreamers and some courage to say (and live) the question - "WHAT IF?????"

And all it requires is a imagination ... and WE ALL HAVE THAT !!!

Who's with me ?????

Make Tracks to See More of our Town:

With so many vacancies on our Main St, and rumours of more to come, it is easy to get disheartened about the state of our Valley home ... but thankfully there are many who have called Minnedosa home, who are refusing to throw in the towel ...

There is MUCH in Minnedosa to be proud of ... and there is much here to celebrate if you have some time check out some of the links below and learn MORE about our community ...

From the Ski Hill - Click here to visit Ski Valley

To the Minnedosa Golf & Country Club - Click here to visit Minnedosa Golf

Chipperfield Coffee Company,

Tilson Place B&B,

Laws Way B&B,

The Gateway Motel,

The Minnedosa Tribune,

The Valley Motor Lodge,

and on through businesses, service clubs and other community organizations, there is MUCH in Minnedosa to do, to go to, and to enhance living or visiting our fair valley community.

Other sites DEFINITELY worth visiting to find out more about Minnedosa include:

The Minnedosa Library,

Minnedosa Daily Photo Blog

The last sight is a place where someone is posting images from around Minnedosa (like the one at the top of the posting - I'm NOT above borrowing where necessary), that help to show us what a BEAUTIFUL place Minnedosa really is ...

What better way to spent a bitterly cold winter afternoon than checking out the valley from warmth of your computer terminal????


Have you Driven a Ford Lately ???

Somebody in the Ford Headquarters missed the ball on this one ...

In Friday's edition of the Winnipeg Free Press there were not one - BUT several stories about the result of car thefts in the Winnipeg area ... one story chronicled the death of a man who was run down by two idiots joy riding in a stolen SUV ... and now Ford, with the sub-title "Built for life in Manitoba" advertises in the SAME edition of the newspaper in the city that is fast becoming one of the car theft capitals of Canada with an featuring the words "Drive it like you STOLE IT !!!"

Have the ad execs for Ford LOST THIER FLIPPIN' MINDS ????

This is way beyond offensive ... it runs hard into just plain stupid !!

Nice one Ford!! Makes me kinda glad we traded our old Aerostar in on a Toyota ... atleast common sense prevailed in Oakville today and the ad has been pulled ... but not before the damage was done:

Click here to read the CBC Manitoba story.

Friday, January 18, 2008

Hmmm ... wisdom from unexpected places ...

I KNOW even admitting to having watched Benny Hill's tv programme is not regarded as politically correct ... but I have to admit to not only watching the show, but actually enjoying it. Now, before ASSUMING something - I will say it was never the appearance of bikini clad models in the skits that drew me to the programme - I loved the slap-stick comedy that Hill was so clearly a master of. The interchange between he and the little guy who appeared as his foil cracked me up ... and his spoken bits often left me laughing while also reflecting on the profound truth he offered through the comic shtick ... afterall, isn't that the strength of comedy???

But what I remember MOST of Benny Hill was the sketch that had him offer a profoundly TRUE musing on the danger of ASSUMING too much ...

Benny would, in character come out and announce - "one should NEVER ASSUME." He would then write the word A-S-S-U-M-E, on the black board behind him as he continued:

"For when one assumes, one makes an ASS out of U and of ME !!!" As he spoke he circled the "ASS" the "U" and the "ME" in turn ...

Over and over in life the truth of Hill's statement has rang true ...

The other night Ms H and I were talking about what happens when you ASSUME something and when you engage in GOSSIP, and we began talking about how those two concepts often fall hand in hand ... Ms H fell silent for a moment then observed:

"Do you realize both words have 'ss' in them?"

"Um, yeah ..." said I, "what does that mean?"

"ss ss ss ss is the sound snakes make ..." she said with a sly smile, "and people who ASSUME and gossip are snakes ..."

"Hhhhmmmm," was all I could offer ... there's some truth there too.

Sometimes wisdom breaks through from the most unlikely of places ...

A Creative Solution to Help a Young Woman ...

A judge in the US has perhaps come up with a very frank and creative way to offer a profound message to a young woman who seeminly needs some help making better choices ... Lindsay Lohan, age 21, who has grabbed headlines lately for running amock of the law through drinking and driving has NOW been sentenced to work in a Morgue and in a Hospital Emergency Ward!!

As I read the story today, I couldn't help but think - "what a cool response to the situation!"

It's a form of tough love akin to the "scared straight" phenomena that rolled through society a few years back - take young people and let them see where the path they are treading COULD lead if they don't make wiser choices ... I think the judge has the best interest of Ms. Lohan at heart in this - instead of letting her celebrity status and wealth coddle her, instead she will have
to confront a very brutal aspect of life and with help reflect on what she could do differently.

Perhaps this will help Ms. Lohan gain a different perspective on her life and help her get her drinking under control ... One can only hope ... I hope it works.

The Truth will ALWAYS win out ...

Remember back on Christmas Day the news broke that a tiger had broken free of its enclosure at the San Francisco Zoo and attacked three young men leaving two injured and one dead from the mauling??

The tiger was "destroyed" (KILLED) by zoo security staff almost immediately ...

As the story unfolded from headline to headline it was revealed that the enclosure was sub-standard, and the presentation was that the young men were simply there ...

Today a story on the web (I have to wonder WHERE the bold headlines are for THIS news item) reveals that the young men had been drinking and smoking pot prior to heading into the Zoo, AND witnesses have come forward with the contention that three young men were seen taunting the tiger just prior to the attack. (Click here to read the story)

This is not to deny the tragedy of this incident. A family is clearly left grieving and a young life has been cut short ... not too mention the destruction of a majestic animal that was simply acting on instinct ... and it in no way exonerates the Zoo for inadequate enclosures ... BUT somewhere along the line it has been forgotten that the TIGER was (as are ALL animals in Zoos) a WILD animal.

A tiger is designed by nature as an efficient hunter ... THEY eat meat, and human beings, despite our veneer of civility remain nothing more than a walking take out meal in the eyes of felines the size and scale of lions and tigers.

It is a tragedy that the young man died and his friends were grievously wounded ... but let's be willing to hold them to account for being stupid enough to taunt a tiger while we hold the zoo to account for not ensuring such tragedies CAN'T happen ... it's ALL about responsibility ... and these three young men were being tragically irresponsible with horrid consequences.

Check and Mate ...

Undeniably a genius ...
... world chess champ at 14 ...
... a troubled and tormented soul ...
... now dead at 64.
Let's remember Bobby Fischer for
his brilliance and his accomplishments,
and leave the other stuff in the dust bin of history
where it rightly belongs.
May Mr. Fischer finally find the peace that eluded him in life.
Rest in Peace Bobby.

Wednesday, January 16, 2008

A letter ...

It began with a letter sent from eight well intentioned, intelligent and no doubt caring clergy members who looked at events in their community and reacted with what can only be described as aprehension and fear ... They urged the minority members of thier community to reject the agitation of outsiders, and to wait as the issues causing concern were addressed in a timely and orderly fashion ...

I remember the first time I saw the picture above ... it struck me that any minister who ended up behind bars for taking a stand motivated by faith had to be radical and very cool ... THEN I began a journey of reading, reflecting over, and seeking to honour (by living their values) those words ... The first written piece of King's I ever read was his "Letter from a Birmingham Jail" that was, as the title indicates, written from a jail cell in reply to a letter written by eight fellow clergy people who had taken exception to Rev. King's acts of civil disobedience.

Today for the first time I read that original letter that prompted one of Rev. King's greatest offerings to humanity ... what stood out for me was the phrase: "we are convinced that these demonstrations are unwise and untimely."

I couldn't help but wonder how many times such a phrase has rolled from the lips of well intentioned church leaders who earnestly believe that one of the flock have begun to acted rashly, unwisely and out of turn ... But as I once again read Rev. King's letter I couldn't help but wonder how words written 45 years ago could remain so fresh and pertinent about the condition of the Church in the 21st Millenium ...

Today the words Rev. King has spoken reminds us ALL that there is MUCH work yet to be done ...

I invite you to either read the ENTIRE letter via the link above, or head over to Meditative Moments for some excerpts that speak to the Modern Church ... either way, it's a voice worth hearing and if we dare - HEEDING!!

Day by Day ...

Tonight as I was working on a bit of writing, I mis-clicked the tv remote and ended up on the Much Music Retro programme ... and the video below was playing ...

Beyond taking me back to my highschool days ... the words by Doug and the Slugs (admit it folks - YOU listened to them TOO !!!) spoke to the moment I find my self in ...

Bad news don't ruin my appetite,
Don"t let the papers tell me if it's wrong or right,
I just do what I do and I do it day by day by day by day ...

Day by day I'm feeling stronger ...
Day by day I'm lasting longer ...
Day by day ya help me make it ...
Day by day by day by day by day ...

Day by Day by Doug and the Slugs ... my theme song for the moment:

A Poet needs your Vote!!

The other day I got an email from my friend Indigo who is currently hanging out somewhere North of 60 doing her nursing vocation in amongst the good folks of the Arctic ... She invited me to head over to Nunavut Nonsense to vote in the Poetry Contest being held there.

Now, I won't ask my readers to vote for Indigo ... but after reading the poems posted there I would strongly HINT that my readers could vote for Indigo's fine poetic offerings ...

You have five days left to vote ... head over, read the postings and cast a vote ...

Nunavut Nonsense

oh yeah, and a hearty thanks to Indigo and congrats to ALL the poets ... it was a fun break in the mid-winter blahs ....

Tuesday, January 15, 2008

77...

Canadian Trooper Richard Renaud,
age 26,
from Alma, Que.,
a member of the 12e Regiment blinde du Canada
--------
LEST WE FORGET

Just for Fun ...

Robin Williams on Jesus and Gandhi ...


WARNING !!!!!


NOT for everyone ... the easily offended shouldn't bother clicking:



Sunday, January 13, 2008

Where would YOU stand ???

It's funny ... the issue of hospitality and welcoming in the stranger has been one that has been front and centre in much of my reflections on life, ministry and the Church lately ... it may because I am vainly trying to stress not only the importance of living those concepts in the Church, but also trying to show and remind ALL of us that we have much room for improvement when it comes to embodying those ideals ...

I consciously chose to use the words "in vain" because my words are simply falling on deaf ears who have already determined the source of "the Problem" and aren't willing to entertain other options nor engage in a constructive conversation or dialogue about the crises gripping a variety of persons, places and things ...

It is also interesting to me, that when I reflect on such issues by using the source materials I am most familiar with - Scripture, Church Tradition, and Theology and cite the life examples of the GREAT Saints like Luther, King, Gandhi, Jim Wallis and others, I am accused of grandiosity and narcissistic actions that envision me and my life on a par with those greats ...

It all just leaves me shaking my head ... especially when I read the works of folks like Jim Wallis, Bishop Spong, Diana Butler Bass and others who see the urgent need for the Church to step beyond this moment and embrace some of the change that is swirling around us ... these writers offer a glimpse of WHAT IS POSSIBLE IF WE OPEN OURSELVES TO THE SPIRIT.

Instead though, too often the church confronts the changes around us by defending the status quo, insisting on conformity and seeing its way as THE ONLY WAY. Thanks be to God however - the Spirit has never been thwarted by such intransigence, and has continued to work through people who are NOT standing outside of The Body, but rather are taking note of the human limits and boundaries that too often constitute the definition of "The Body and that are NOT reflective of God's purpose or goal for the human faith community.

In short, those voices that are often dubbed "a problem" and asked to conform are not outside the body, but are pushing the envelope and challenging all of us to revision ourselves and our faith journey accordingly ...

Today as I stepped out of the shower, a thought occurred to me ... I have been recalling with some friends and colleagues a conversation I had many years ago in Prince Rupert BC over breakfast one morning ... the table companions that day included the First Nations gentleman who took the United Church to task for the physical, sexual, emotional, spiritual and mental abuse he had experienced at Residential School.

This day, he was reflecting on how much he had yearned to hear the simple words - "I'm sorry" as he journeyed through the Court Proceedings that ultimately found the perpetrator guilty of the abuse ... They were words that hadn't come because the lawyers had said they would render the church responsible financially, legally, morally and so on for the abuse ...

But what stood out for me even more than this failure of The Church to DO THE RIGHT THING, was the story this man told of how hard it was to get ANYONE to listen when he finally found the courage to speak out about the abuse he suffered ... He spoke quietly of minister after minister who dismissed what he courageously shared by saying - "That couldn't have happened..." or something similar. He talked about the conversations in Church Courts that never addressed the very things he was saying ... and most condemning of all, he talked about the number of times he and other First Nations people finally had the courage to say - "This happened to me ..." only to have their words fall on deaf ears ...

Thankfully, he NEVER gave up ... eventually people began to listen ... and we began to move through the process of confronting the history of Residential Schools and cultural assimilation that The Church, The Government and others were very much a part of ...

What occurred to me today was that this man's experience is really no different than the experience of countless others within The Church who speak up and stand up for something they believe in. From the earliest days of the Church, we have had voices that challenge us to move beyond the status quo and allow the Spirit to do her work ... in recent years it has been issues of inclusion by gender, race, sexuality ... and more recently it has been the issues of ecology, economics and political involvement that have moved to the fore. The Church is in a state of constant change ... the challenge is for the Institution to stop being a hindrances to that transformation ...

Looking back in our collective history we can see shining moments where the Church has ADAMANTLY stood in judgement, only to be proven WRONG later ... it is a lesson we in the Modern Church must heed and learn from ...

In the beginning days of the Church were the Gnostics who wanted to expand the way in which we spoke of our experience of God present and real in our world and lives ... much of what they said 19 Centuries ago has now become standard fare in the modern Christian Church (Augustine and the Early Church Fathers would be aghast!)

Later there was Luther and his 95 Theses that challenged the Status Quo and helped fuel a Reformation that created Protestantism. But Luther, condemned as a heretic would later help to radically altered the Holy Catholic Church as well.

Still later came The Witch Hunt of the Puritan American Colonies that saw countless women and some men perish in the zealousness to preserve something that was already in radical decline ... Like the Spanish Inquisition, this time in our collective history has been found wanting - yet, in the day the Institution that was The Church KNEW it was RIGHT ... do we dare consider the implications of THAT ??????

Over and over throughout Church History we find stoney faced people of faith passing judgement on those who don't fit the mould ... The image of the Witch Hunt craze of New England came to mind today as the question - "Where would you stand?" rolled through my brain ...

The bottom line of the witch trials was simply that ordinary women (and some men) died by a variety of means because they didn't conform to the perceived "norms" of the society, and were thus deemed "a witch". They were condemned, tortured and killed accordingly.

Is this really any different that what we witness again and again in the modern Church when we judge people to be OUTSIDE the Body because they're ways and approaches don't appeal to those of us within??? And we subsequently insist that our way prevails because "we're right"??

To pause - let's consider that the Church is a minority institution in our communities - yet, in any community urban or rural, there are countless people who still feel attached to a particular Church. They are the "spiritual not religious" folks who are showing up en masse on census forms and in surveys by folks like Reginald Bibby. They want to be part of the Church but for a variety of reasons have chosen to step away ... The question I ask repeatedly is - "Are these people part of the Body????"

Are they really welcome to come like the signs we proudly post proclaiming "All Welcome" would purport???

In theory, I fear they are welcome ... but practically, they are welcome ONLY if they are willing to conform to the narrow standards of the community. We don't want them coming back with the expectation of change.

These seekers are like the witches of 17th Century New England ... they are NOT interested in conforming to the narrow ideals of "The Church" as envisioned by the proverbial powers that be. Instead these modern seekers want to come home spiritually to a place where they are not only welcomed, but they are encouraged to be themselves ...

But instead of opening our arms fully and be the INCLUSIVE community we claim to be, these seekers encounter a modern witch hunt that demands conformity, and will not abide something that challenges the status quo...

The questions all of us in the Church must constantly ask needs to move beyond the passe "what would Jesus do?" and become more acute in their questioning ... Maybe asking ourselves where we would stand in the Salem Witch Trials would be a good start??

We would like to think that we would NOT be on the side of the stoney faced judges who condemned innocents to death for Non-Conformity ... but if we step back and really look at the HOW of being The Church in the modern era, we may find ourselves sitting at the table with these short sighted Church leaders who believed earnestly in what they were doing ...

Since that morning in Prince Rupert I have ALWAYS taken time to reflect on where I would stand if someone like that gentleman came to me and told me a story like he experienced ... would I listen and hear him, or would I like those he first encountered, condemn him for "spinning a fanciful tale that serves only to bring disharmony to The Body" (these are the EXACT words of a Minister responding to him)????

In a time and place of change, it is hard to let go of what we hold dear ... we want stability and security, so we fight to maintain what we know ... but if Church history has taught us NOTHING else, it has taught us that the only constant in our lives is GOD ... The Church is in constant flux and change ... some of us get a little too far ahead ...

I remember Herbert O'Driscoll once addressing a Conference in BC by saying - "if you moved someone 50 years forwards or backwards in The Church what they would find would be almost totally unrecognizable to them ..." I've always wondered why we are SO DAMNED adamant that we are RIGHT all the time instead of opening ourselves up to the will of the Spirit ???

The other piece that is forgotten in the Modern Church is that our founder was arrested, tried, convicted, sentenced AND KILLED for challenging the religious and political order of the day ... and yet in the Church we DEMAND conformity rather than living our faith as TRUE followers of Christ ...

Kind of spins "what would Jesus do?" in a radical direction doesn't it ???


Six Months Ago Today...


Saturday, January 12, 2008

Are There ANY words we can even offer ??????

I can't even begin to write about the tragic accident outside of Bathurst New Brunswick that claimed the lives of 7 young men from the High School Basketball team, and the life of thier coach's wife, without tears forming in my eyes ...
.
The story is nothing short of horrible ... eight dead with four others were injured including the Coach and his daughter ... all from one small city ...
.
Thoughts and prayers for the injured ... for the grieving families ... for the class mates, teachers and staff ... and for a community that is gasping in sorrow ...
.
There are simply NO words that can fully express the grief of this ... and in that silence we call on the living Presence of God to be present ...

The First Appearance of The Count:

I've been spending WAY TOO MUCH time on YouTube ... today I found the first appearance of The Count (one of my favourite Sesame Street characters - after Oscar and Grover ...) along with the Cookie Monster ... and his first appearance COUNTing ??? Gee - what do you think Cookie would have to count???

Gotta Love the Count ...

The Count meets Kermit ... The Count is an elevator operator, Kermit wants to get to the SEVENTH Floor ... the Count finally comes up with a very "reasonable" solution ...

Enjoy !!!

Thursday, January 10, 2008

Another YouTube Muppet selection ...

This is just for fun ... I LOVE the Swedish Chef, and meeting his "family" is over the top ...

A Classic from YouTube ...

I found this tonight, and it brought back a tonne of memories ... there are three different versions on YouTube of this song, but this one just cracked me up. I love the Mahna Mahna guy ... and the fact the muppet girls are so basic just takes me back ... ENJOY !! (and I DARE you NOT to sing along !!!)

Crank the volume !!!!!


Lessons from a Kids' Movie ...

When the movie Babe came out on Video, the tale of the little pig who thought he was a dog became an INSTANT hit in our home ... it has been watched over and over and over ...

I remember using it in sermons at the time - the theme of Babe becoming a shepherd fit nicely into reflections on the 23rd Psalm, The Lost Sheep and any where the ideal of Shepherd pops up ...

There was very little about the movie that wasn't delightful. Even the cynical Ferdinand the duck's running commentary provided a comic relief worth reflecting upon ...

Since seeing The Waterhorse this past week I've been thinking A LOT about Babe ... both stories roll from the same creative pen ... but more than that, both stories teach us and our children much about remaining open to the majesty and mystery of LIFE. In The Waterhorse, it is about being open to the possibility of mythic creatures inhabiting the world around us (something I DO believe in - but that's a tale for another day). While in Babe it is about being open to possibilities that lift us outside the box, and way, way, way outside our comfort zone ... I personally think that Babe is a good model for ministry - something I may reflect on later over at Meditative Moments ... but for now, I think the lesson of Babe is the one learned by the farmer - to keep our eyes, our ears, and our hearts open to the possibility of something amazing happening around us ...

So ... having said all of that ... I was going to post the clip from Babe (available on YouTube) of Farmer Hoggett (played by James Cromwell) singing and dancing the song "If I had words" for the little pig ... but in searching for the song I came across the original by Scott Fitzgerald and Yvonne Keely and decided to post it instead ... so tonight, for a little bit of encouragement on a grey winter day (around HERE anyway), I offer that video clip (I may still post the other one another day!!)


Wednesday, January 09, 2008

CBC Memories ...

As a long term and habitual listener of CBC radio I have found the recent retrospective programmes to be a refreshing break from a selection of programming that by and large has become tepid ... There are some notable exceptions to that mediocrity such as AfCanada, Q, Vinyl Cafe, Tapestry, and a few others, but regretably too many of the programmes have become self-indulgent tripe hardly worth the broadcasting band they occupy ...

But as the new year began some familiar voices echoed from the past and reminded me (and ALL of the listeners) what a gift CBC really is to the people of Canada.

Former CBC Host Vicki Gabereau once noted that folks listening to CBC in their vehicles are often left in a posture resembling someone who has just been shot in the head: mouth open, head tilted back against the head rest, and eyes closed in laughter (come on CBC listeners - we've all been there !!! Vicki is SOOOOO right !!!)

This past couple of weeks has taken us back to those moments when we linger in the parking lot or the driveway listening to that last two minutes ... or driving as we wipe tears of laughter from our eyes ...

Highlights this past week included hearing Barbara Frum struggling to interview a farmer about "the god-damned cabbage" ... Stuart McLean and Peter Gzowski discussing the "sleeping" cricket ... and of course the Christmas Eve tradition of Alan Maitland reading "The Shepherd."

This past couple of weeks have helped me appreciate how important CBC is to my life ... but it also made me realize how much I miss the voices of people like Barbara Frum, Alan Maitland, Vicki Gabereau, Arthur Black and of course the distinctive gravelly voice of the late GREAT Peter Gzowski ...

Thanks for the meander CBC ... it's been fun

Tuesday, January 08, 2008

A story ...

The story goes something like this:

A rabbi had a gem of great value that he kept tucked safely away in his basement wrapped in a rag. One day as he took it out to examine it, the gem fell from his hands and rattled away in the dark shadows of the basement ... He looked for it for a time, then with a shrug of his shoulders, he went up stairs and poured himself a cup of tea.

When he finished with his tea he walked out the front door of his house and bent down and began searching the grass and flower beds.

"What are you doing Rabbi?" asked a young boy walking past.

"I'm looking for something I've lost," replied the Rabbi on his hands and knees still searching.

"What did you lose?" asked the young boy, intrigued.

"I've lost a gem of enormous value," replied the Rabbi pausing to glance up at the young boy.

"I'll help you search," said the young man as he clambered over the fence.

Soon the young boy was joined by other youngsters from the neighbourhood. Each told in turn what they were searching for, and each climbing over the fence to pick through the grass and bushes.

Finally with a dozen or more children searching for the gem and finding no sign of it the young boy turned to the Rabbi and as he wiped sweat from his forehead looked in the Rabbi's face and asked: "Are you sure you lost your gem here?"

"Oh no," laughed the Rabbi glancing at the young faces gazing at him with a confused look, "I did't lose the gem here. I lost it in the cellar."

The young man stared at the rabbi for a moment before speaking, "BUT, if you lost it in the cellar, why are we looking for it out here?"

"Because it is much better light out here ..." said the Rabbi ...

When I first heard this story it was used to frame a conversation about the Church and our tendancy to stay only in the brightly lit places while avoiding the dark uncomfortable places ... we are searching for a lost gem, but we are searching in the wrong place ...

I'm tired ...

A long time ago a retired Evangelical United Brethren Minister shared some of the wisdom he had gleaned from close to 60 years of ministry, and almost 90 years of life ... what I remember vividly was his contention that our job as minister - our calling - was to promote the Kingdom of God. He went on to describe the Kingdom as the living presence of the Risen Christ, not "some namby pamby warm pink fuzzy social club that gives everyone a hug and says warmly "it's okay" and sends them out into the world. The Body of Christ that is the church is about putting our faith into action..."

He went on to reflect on his ministry and the calling to afflict the comfortable and comfort the affilicted ... and to remain true to our calling and our faith ... Every day since I have begun my day remembering that moment and beginning my day with the prayer:

"God, guide me in my calling to be part of the Church as the living presence of the Risen Christ..."

Tomorrow I'll say that prayer again and I will continue on my journey of ministry ... I'm just not sure where the trail I'm trying to discern before me is going ... maybe tomorrow I'll pray for better light ...

Monday, January 07, 2008

75 ... 76 ...


As our day draws to a close,
half a world away two more of our soldiers
have paid the ulitmate sacrifice
on a rain slick road in Afghanistan.
There are no words,
only sorrow and grief,
as we send our prayers to
their comrades,
to their families,
and to all of us,
They shall not grow old,
as we who remain grow old,
age shall not weary them,
nor the years condemn,
at the going down of the sun,
and in the morning
we will remember them.
Lest We Forget.

Sunday, January 06, 2008

Things I'm thankful for ...

When I get sick with a cold I crave two things - pineapple juice and cranberrry juice cut with ginger ale ... This past week while I was shopping (before I was EVEN sick) I had a craving for cranberry juice ...

Today I woke up to a FULL BLOWN cold ... plugged nose, congested chest, a cough, sore throat, and just feeling crappy ... thank God I have a supply of necessities in the fridge ... today, the last day of Christmas Holidays has me crashed on the couch, and the kids off sledding ... I've been sipping my juice and reading ...

I suppose it could be worse ... it's the first time I've been sick since last winter ... too bad I can't hop on my bike for a spin or two around the lake ...

Merry Christmas - Slaveem Yoho !!!

Merry Christmas to our Eastern Cousins !!
(Today is Christmas for the Churches in the Eastern Rite)
,
Tonight around the world Ukranians and other Slavic families will be celebrating their Christmas. I found the following on the net:
..
"Sviata Vercheria" (Holy Supper) is the most important Family celebration. It consists of twelve lenten dishes to represent the twelve Apostles.
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The table is set beforehand with a handful of hay placed underneath a linen embroidered tablecloth, representing the bed of hay upon which the Christ Child lay.
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The centerpiece consists of Kalachi (a fancy braided bread) with candles on either side.The supper itself represents the produce grown on the land and obtained from the waters.
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The supper ritual begins with the appearance of the first star. With an appropriate traditional greeting, the head of the household ushers in the Diduch (a sheaf of wheat) to the dining room.
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After grace and the greeting "Chrystos Rodyvsia" (Christ is Born) to which everyone replies "Slaveem Yoho" (Let us Glorify Him).
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The meal begins with the indispensable and traditional Kutya, made up of cooked whole wheat, sweetened with honey and flavoured with ground poppy seeds.
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Everyone must partake of it.
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This is followed by a Boracht (beet soup). It can be served as a clear consommé or with tiny mushroom dumplings called "Vushka". The various fish dishes are, jellied pike or carp, baked trout, stuffed salmon and fish cakes in jellied consommé.
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There are two types of Holubtsi (cabbage rolls), with rice and buckwheat fillings. Varenyky (dumplings) with various fillings—potato, sauerkraut or prune; Hryby (mushrooms); vegetables; fruit compote; Pampushky (doughnuts); Mediwnyk (honey cake) and tortes, nuts and candies.
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Families attend evening or midnight Church services.