Wednesday, April 30, 2008
As a constituent in her riding ... I am NOT impressed by Ms Rowat's comment ... have we NOT learned from the video tape examples that surfaced recently in Saskatchewan where now esteemed members of the Political Establishment were caught in candid moments saying grossly inappropriate things ON TAPE ????
Now Ms Rowat gets caught saying something that WAS TOTALLY INAPPROPRIATE and even though she offered an "immediate" apology, her leader claims THIS IS PLAYING POLITICS ...
No way Mr McFayden ... this is plain a simple a mis-judgement on Ms Rowat's part, and an apology is NOT ONLY owed but should be IMMEDIATELY given ... then everyone can get back to the business of representing the BEST interests of the people of this Province in the Legislature.
Ms. Rowat DO THE RIGHT THING - just say you're sorry for a stupid comment that was wrong, wrong, wrong !!!
Mind you - I've been waiting for an apology from some folks for quite awhile, and they've justified what they said and what they've done too ... so, maybe the First Nations folks of Manitoba will be waiting awhile for an apology too !!!
CBC's report on the story is:
The grand chief of Manitoba's Southern Chiefs Organization is demanding an official apology from the provincial Conservative party for what he labels a racist remark made by an MLA.
Chief Morris Shannacappo took exception to a comment by Tory aboriginal affairs critic Leanne Rowat during question period in the legislature last Thursday.
Rowat, the MLA for Minnedosa, called out "wine and beer" when a cabinet minister used the word "sustenance" in a debate about aboriginal fishing.
"It sounded like a classroom of maybe — well, I shouldn't say Grade 2 or Grade 3, because those children know how to play well together without any cultural differences," said Shannacappo, who heard a recording of the comment on YouTube.
"Certainly ignorance is running rampant within that room."
Conservative Leader Hugh McFadyen says the comment was taken out of context.
It's a running commentary at the legislature to refer to "wine and beer" whenever the word "sustenance" is used, a practice dating back to a debate about the NDP's "spirited energy" branding campaign for the province, he said.
Rowat did nothing wrong, McFadyen said, and no official apology is needed.
"As soon as she said it, she realized the potential for it to be taken out of context, and she went immediately and explained it to Speaker George Hickes, [and aboriginal MLAs] Oscar Lathlin and Eric Robinson, all of whom were very understanding," he said.
McFadyen accused the NDP of playing politics with a divisive issue.
and to view the YOUTUBE selection:
Sunday, April 27, 2008
... what about a 90 year old lady playing hopscotch on the sidewalk withe little girls of her neighbourhood ??
... or a single mom of three kids waiting in line for her hamper at the local food bank?
... or the teenager skateboarding on the steps of the local school or church?
... or the poor starving refugee child huddled in the feeble shade of a lone tree on the edge of an African desert?
... or a down syndrome woman cleaning the floors at the local mall ?
... or the heart-broken child sitting on the edge of the playground because he wasn't picked by either team?
... or the 60 something executive pounding in nails at a Habitat for Humanity work site rebuilding homes following a hurricane or the tsunami - or just because that single mother of three deserves the dignity of a home ?
... or the nurse rendering aid in a far flung corner of the world where the wounded broken flotsam of a distance battle wash up looking for a little bit of compassion and care?
... or the grandmother in Africa caring for an ever growing crowd of AIDS orphans who have NO where else, and NO ONE else to turn to?
... or the peasant woman picking through the garbage dump of a 3rd world metropolis hoping to find something good enough to eat ... or trade ... or wear ... because she and her family have nothing else?
... the list could go on and on ...
... the Celtic blessing that challenges us to see the Face of Christ in Everyone we MEET speaks of these images of the divine ... but more than that, the reversal - the "and MAY they see in YOU the face of Christ", reminds us ... that when our gaze falls upon one of the "least of these" who are our sisters and our brothers, we have an obligation not to look away, but rather to embrace the divine Spirit (the Ruach - BREATH) that rests within each us - and treat one another accordingly ...
God will be found where God will be found ... and if we truly open our eyes we may be totally and completely SURPRISED by where God is found ...
... in the mean time ... a playful, dancing God is not a bad place to start ...
"I, God am your playmate. I will lead the child in you in wonderful ways for I have chosen you!"
Sue Monk Kidd takes that image of God as a playmate and spins it out, offering her 85 year old Father-in-Law as the image of a living deity who is not above play ... she recalled a day when the neighbourhood kids came to her door asking if Gramps could come out and play ... her suprise only deepened when her Father in Law pulled on a ball cap, grabbed a glove and headed out the door to play ...
Somewhere I read that the Rabbis have called the "Wow!" of a child the holiest moment in ALL creation. They say that in that moment creation is being renewed and rediscovered. A child learning something that causes her to say - "Wow!!" is having their entire universe expand and sharing in the vastness of creation ...
It's hard not to imagine a playful God ... maybe we would do well to step back and see God, not as some austere, serious bearded figure on a throne in flowing robes, but as a ball cap wearing 85 year old man playing in ball with the neighbourhood kids ...
... wouldn't hurt to try.
Wednesday, April 23, 2008
Tuesday, April 22, 2008
Yesterday I called home on my cell to be greeted with the following dialogue:
"Bonjour? Comment ca va?"
"Pardon?" I replied.
"Um," came the voice at the other end of the phone, "I mean, 'Hello?' ..."
"Are you doing French homework by chance?" I asked.
"Why?" came the conspiratorial toned response.
"Oh, NO reason ..."
Earlier in the week my cell phone rang and when I answered it I was greeted with the melodious sound of singing in the background ...
"Hello?" I said.
"Hi!" came the reply.
"Were you singing?" I asked.
"Why?" I asked.
"Cause I was waiting for you to answer ..." in reply, no doubt with a roll of the eyes.
Many months ago M told the girls that if they EVER have problems with boys "just kick 'em in the nuts" - advice, that as the father of two girls I can't really argue with. If boys are gonna mess with my GIRLS they are taking their chances !!!
The unfortunate down side though, is that too often the target of Ms H's well place and very HARD kicks tends to be her brother ... and on occassion ME ... once she and I were arguing in her bedroom about something and when she refused to cooperate I stepped towards her at the PRECISE moment she lifted her foot in a round house kick ...
SHE connected - VERY WELL ... and dropped me to my knees. As I curled into a fetal position she said softly - "Oops, I didn't mean to do THAT ..."
At that point it was irrelevant ... the damage was done ... and in retrospect, it was pretty funny ... and no lasting harm, except to my ego was inflicted.
But the ALL-TIME topper came a few weeks ago when Ms H and I were bickering in the kitchen about something. I don't remember the context nor the content, but the show-stopper came when she, with hands on her hips and one foot lifted from the floor said with fire in her eyes:
"DO YOU WANT TO HAVE TO WEAR A CUP IN YOUR OWN HOUSE?????"
Pretty Much says it all doesn't it ???
AND she wasn't kidding !!!.
If things haven't turned out as you had hoped, it's only because they're even better. Overreaching for something you want could leave you feeling extremely exhausted. You must find another way to obtain it. Attend to a pressing need that has already been put off for much too long.
The action that goes down is not all happeniong in a little way. Small-scale trials, tests, and transformation are getting you ready for the big stuff. Think this as a drill for the real deal.
Monday, April 21, 2008
I was thinking about ALL the nasty stuff that has been spread and said about me over the last couple of years (at least the stuff I'm aware of ... I won't even pretend that it is an exhaustive list), and I got thinking about the PEOPLE who said it ... and I realized something:
In most cases, they are the absolute LAST people who should be casting any sort of judgement about things I or ANYONE ELSE may have done (bear in mind the vast majority of stuff said about me wasn't true any way ... it was all made up !!!). Perhaps they are trying to divert attention from themselves lest someone discover the skeletons tucked in the deep dark recesses of their closests ...
I wonder if that is their motivating factor in slagging people like me ??? They chose to divert everyone's attention by the lies, so they will never have to face the TRUTH ... one day, the closet door will open - and the TRUTH will come out !!!
Stephen stood and proclaimed the Gospel, and as a result of his foolish boldness, he was bludgeoned to DEATH by the crowd who took up stones and pummelled him ...
Stoning is NOT a pleasant way to die, and there is NO way to make this moment into a warm pink fuzzy story that is palatable to the masses. The death of St. Stephen is a stark and startling reminder to all of us of the risk we SHOULD and MUST be willing to pay for our faith.
Too often, in the west we stand in our safe haven of "The Church" and are isolated from any real threats to our safety, our wealth, our privilege or any thing else that may cause us to take a chance ...
And so we speak in muted tones about "martyrdom", shake our heads with sad disdain, and write our cheques (from our surplus rather than from our necessity) and like Little Jack Horner, sit in our corners praising ourselves for our good works.
The story of Stephen calls us to MORE ...
The strength of the story is that there are many roles we can occupy ...
- we can be the martyr Stephen, bludgeoned to death for his faith ...
- we can be Saul/Paul who watched the action, approved of it and later was driven to his knees by God and transformed to the Gospel ...
- we can be one of the judge and jury who found Stephen wanting ...
- we can be one of the crowd who so blithely took up stones and cast them in mindless violence ...
- we can be one who was horrified and fled, averting our gaze and fearing for our safety because like Stephen - we too believe in the Gospel ...
- we can see it all and simply weep bitter tears at what humanity is capable of inflicting upon itself ...
Whatever role we find ourselves in though, we should hear the words of Jesus that speak through the clamour for blood ... words that say things like:
"Let the one with no sin cast the first stone ..."
"How can you remove the speck in your sister's eye, when there is a log in your own eye?"
"Do unto others, as I have done unto you ... "
"Love one another ..."
In the face of Stephen's horrific death we hear that gentle whisper who calls us to something bigger and better ... a different way of being and living in faith ...
The stoning of Stephen is ultimately about FEAR ... being afraid of something new ... being afraid of change ... being afraid of something that moves us out of our comfort zone and causes us to confront a mirror wherein our shortcomings, our sins and our flaws are exposed to the blinding glare of day light ...
We seize the stones and instead of fixing ourselves, we try to destroy the one who brought us this discomfort ... We hurl the stones in anger hoping - almost praying - that with their release, our lives will be restored and we will not feel that fear ...
But the whisper breaks through and as we hear the words something stirs ... and in that moment, the stones drop from our hands as we hear the words - "let the one with no sin cast the first stone ..."
Our certainty that we are sinless evaporates ... our resolve weakens ... and instead of harsh judgemental anger we feel the fear and uncertainty ... and in THAT moment rather than condemning Stephen we drop the stone ... we own our shortcomings ... we name our sins ... and as a child of God ... we seek the gift of Grace ... and utter the simple words ...
"I'm sorry ..."
And The Resurrection breaks through ...
The Stoning of Stephen is a hard story to hear ... but it is a harder story to live ...
BUT thanks be to God, that Grace will ALWAYS triumph ... and in the face of death comes LIFE!!
Sunday, April 20, 2008
Tolle has some profound and yet, simple wisdom to offer about revisioning ourselves, our lives and our place in the cosmos by simply being open to whatever the cosmos has in store for us ... Today I read the following quotations:
... a glimpse of what is possible, a glimpse of what was already within ... In Zen such a glimpse is called "satori" - Satori is a moment of Presence, a brief stepping out of the voice in your head, the thought processes, and their reflection in the body as emotion. It is the arising of inner spaciousness where before there was the clutter of thought, and the turmoil of emotion ...
... to the ego, the present momet is, at best, only useful as a means to an end. It gets you to some future moment that is considered more important, even though the future never comes except as the present momentand is therefor never more that an a thought in your head. In other words: you are never fully here because you are always busy trying to get elsewhere. .
It is about being a fully concious and awake human being ... and it is THAT simple: by becoming aware of the ego ... and living very much in the present moment rather than pining over the past, or getting worked up over the future ... It's about being clear and concise ... It's about living our lives conscious of what COULD be and WILL be if we take off the blinders and set ourselves free of our pettiness and ego ...
May you have a DAY FILLED with SATORI pauses !!!
May you find the moments to just STOP, and be present to THIS MOMENT!!
Wednesday, April 16, 2008
The story of Rapunzel, recounted in Grimm's Fairy Tales, reveals a false-self pattern common to many of us at certain times in our life. Rapunzel was the damsel imprisoned by a witch in a tower without a door. The only access to the tower was through a solitary window at the top. When the witch wanted to visit, she stood below and called for Rapunzel to let down her long, golden hair from the window. Then the witch scampered up, using Rapunzel's hair as a ladder.
Year after year Rapunzel sat in the tower, singing sad songs and waiting for someone to come along and rescue her.
As I identified my false selves, I recognized Rapunzel in myself. She was the part of me that wanted daddy, mummy, husband or SOMEBODY else to come and fix it, the part that languished in whatever struggle I found myself, singing sad songs, and looking outside instead of inside for help.
Rapunzel is the helpless damsel waiting for rescue. Locked in a "towering" problem or difficulty, she waits for deliverance rather than taking responsibility for herself. her waiting is negative waiting, not the creative, active waiting that initiates growth.
As I thought of Rapunzel, stuck all those years in a tower without a door, I wondered why Rapunzel couldn't figure out a way to get out. AFTER ALL, THE WITCH WAS INGENIOUS ENOUGH TO FIGURE OUT HOW TO GET HER IN THERE IN THE FIRST PLACE. When I re-read the tale, especially the ending, where the witch in a fury picks up a pair of shears and cuts off Rapunzel's hair - I wondered why it had never dawned on Rapunzel to cut off her hair herself and use it as a ladder. THE ANSWER WAS THERE ALL ALONG, ONLY SHE (RAPUNZEL) WAS SO BUSY WAITING FOR RESCUE SHE DIDN'T SEE IT.
It's important to be able to ask for, and accept help, but not Rapunzel's way. She chose to forgo the contemplative experience of taping her soul-strength, (the dark night of the soul) to bury her problem-solving potential and project it onto others. Struggling with the difficulties of life, we may adopt the idea that we're too weak, too dumb, too busy, or too incompetent to take care of ourselves and extricate ourselves from pain and problems. A tape recording plays in our heads: "you can't manage that ... you aren't able to figure that out yourself ... you are too weak to do it on your own ..."
When that happens, Rapunzel makes her grand appearance.
The Rapunzel pattern reminds me of an insight ... received while watching the opening credits of the television programme "Mystery" on PBS. As the credits roll, a cartoon-animated woman whose ankles are tied waves her hands in the air and cries "Ohhh!! Ohhh!!" waiting for someone to come untie her.
I watched that show for a long while before it occurred to me that the woman's hand's weren't tied. She could, if she were so inclined, bend down and untie her own ankles.
That perceived helplessness is the sort of thing Rapunzel feels ...
- When the Heart Waits
As I read that, I thought "huh!!"
Too often we have come to believe that the only way out of our place of discontent, suffering, unhappiness, and even pain is by having someone else rescue us ... I think this is ESPECIALLY true for women - we see it over and over in abusive and neglectful relationships where she waits for things to improve, or for someone to rescue her - but the story of Rapunzel shows us that we and ALL people - have the means of escaping from that place with us all along.
The woman with tied ankles cries for help when all she needs to do is reach down and untie the ropes.
Rapunzel sittings month after month in her tower singing sad songs and calling for help when all she needs to do is cut off her own hair and climb down ALL BY HERSELF!! (and the metaphor of her cutting her hair and being free is HUGE !!!!)
But instead fear kept the woman crying for help rather than untying the ropes, and fear kept Rapunzel sitting waiting for SOMEONE to come and rescue her ...
The means of rescue and escape to a life of wholeness has been there all along - these women (and others) need only open their eyes to what others can so clearly see ... and when they do ... Good things can start to happen ... Rapunzel will escape and re-claim not only her freedom, but her LIFE !!!
It's ALL about perspective ... and open our eyes to what is ALREADY THERE !!!
Then I got up and headed down stairs to start a load of laundry and a pot of coffee ...
By 8am, I had lunches ready for all three kids, the kitchen tidied (kinda), the coffee poured and the laundry hanging out on the clothes line ...
I LOVE hanging laundry on the line first thing in the morning ... the air is fresh ... the birds are chirping ... the town is quiet ... it's a moment that is almost perfect ... savouring the quiet, serene, solitude with a mug of fresh brewed "Breaking The Silence" from Marquis Project just rounded off the morning ...
Then it was off to work ... along the way my cell phone rang and two dear and cherished friends called to say - "Hi!" ...
Today I started by creating a almost perfect day ... and so far it has continued ...
I wish the same for all ...
And the end of all our exploring
Will be to arrive where we started
And know the place for the first time ...
- T.S. Elliot
It's funny ... I've been a firm believer in the idea that the Spirit will guide me, and place in my hands or on my path what I need to get through the moment ...
Looking back, those moments in time when I have had my hardest struggles, or have endured my deepest hurts, have been that very moment when I have simply been trying too hard ...
Over the last two days the various books I've been reading have each talked about the Dark Spiritual Time, or the Long Dark Night of the Soul ... and how vital it is to achieving wholeness.
I've emerged from the Long Dark Night of MY Soul ... there have been countless hours spent lying on the floor weeping ... there have been endless moments of self-doubt and gut wrenching sorrow ... the darkness lingered for a very very long time ...
But at the end of it, the authors, and my journey have taught me that one will NEVER be fully whole until you take the time to journey into and through the darkness ... the journey of personal evolution of mind, body and most of all SPIRIT is about leaning into your fears ... living on the edge ... journeying into those dark lonely places and facing yourself in the mirror that is held up to your soul ...
And when you step into the dawn of a new day ...
... It's ALL GOOD !!!!
You CAN NOT be WHOLE until you face your fears and journey through the dark places of your soul ... but it is SO worth it!!
Sunday, April 13, 2008
A GREAT film and a beautiful song ... Enjoy:
Saturday, April 12, 2008
It came as a complete surprise to M ... who walked in the door with a "what the hell is going on?" look on her face, but a great time was had by all and a lot of fun was had by ALL involved.
So, a belated Happy Birthday to M, from all of us !!! (Better late than never!!)
Friday, April 11, 2008
I didn't break up a "happy" marriage ... I didn't break up ANY marriage!! To even imply THAT is a lie ...
I haven't been running around!!!
I DEFINITELY haven't slept with ANY BARMAIDE (oh by the way - can you PLEASE learn how to spell?? And try using GOOD GRAMMAR too !!!)
I DID NOT GET FIRED because I had an affair!!!
I DID NOT HAVE AN AFFAIR !!!!!
I GOT "fired", but it wasn't because I had an affair ... and anyone who says so is a liar, and WILL hear from my lawyer !!!
M and I are separated because we've come to the realizations that we can't live together in a healthy way!!! We remain friends because we had 15 years and THREE beautiful children together and WE WILL DO EVERYTHING in our power to love THEM unconditionally!!
I am NOT a drunk. I have an occasional beer, or glass of wine, and once in a very very very long while have gone out with my friends (both male and female) in Brandon and had a bit too much ... Contrast this with some so-called fine upstanding citizens who are at the liquour store daily ... and ask - "who's the drunk?"
I have friends that are BOTH male and female, because that's a sign of maturity and BEING AN adult!! I have friends I've met online that I have have meals and coffee with, but have NOT slept with them, and even if I did - who's business is it anyway ????!!!!
I DO HAVE great insight in a great number of things ... I am EXTREMELY intelligent, well read, and thanks to the last 8 months of gut-wrenching searching of heart and soul - I am in a far better place THAN I have ever been, and I am no longer ashamed, nor embarrassed to speak my mind because when I speak - I DO KNOW WHAT I'M TALKING ABOUT!!!
I AM NOT a hypocrite, nor a liar, nor a lowlife, NOR deserving of the treatment I have received at the hands of the Community of Minnedosa, the Board of the Church, and those self-appointed judges who have deemed me unworthy because they have told the same lies over and over and over until they "know" it is true. Just because you tell something enough doesn't make it true.
I, FOR ONE know the truth.
I know what happened. AND I know that two years ago I asked the Board of Minneodsa United Church to help me STOP the lies and gossip that were emanating from the Office, and the Board table and THEY did ABSOLUTELY nothing. They insisted we should wait and let the rumours die down ...
Now over two years later - the rumours persist. The gossip has not gone away. And I stand amazed at the inability of so many to grasp the truth.
A wise friend once said - "Shawn, shit doesn't flow up hill !!!"
Minnedosa, the Valley Paradise is living proof of THAT!!!!
I've had enough of the lies, the gossip and the utter BULLSHIT!!!
I have had my van shot at, my house shot at, emails sent to friends uttering snippets of these lies, I've had my van tires slashed, my safety threatened in writing, I've had a million hang up calls, and I've watched as small minded idiots destroyed a reputation I spent 15 years building one loving action at a time.
I've been a loving and loyal husband!
I've been a good and caring Father!!
I've been a DAMNED GOOD MINISTER !!!
I've been a faithful and steadfast friend!!
AND I can stand tall with my head held high and my shoulders set because at the END OF THE DAY, I have NEVER lost my integrity, and I have never done anything that I need to be ashamed of.
I am tired of people trying to tear me down and destroy me. Find something better to do and just shut the HELL UP !!
This is MY life, and the only people I want to hear from are those who have something valuable to say ... and accusing me of falsities and lies is neither valuable, nor welcome!!!
I don't care what you've heard around the coffee shop, at the Legion, at Bowling, or over the phone - unless you've heard it from ME - it is PURE 100% unadulterated BULLSHIT !!!! Remember they always say - CONSIDER THE SOURCE!!!
Oh, and FOR THE RECORD - I never took one penny from the church more than what was owed or entitled to me. BUT, I have the written and signed promissory note from the couple who DID take $7000 as a hardship loan from the Church, and have yet to repay it !!!
So to those who want to tear me down I have only one last thing to say - Just go away !!!!
Thursday, April 10, 2008
Make a special effort to say what you believe, and act on those convictions. Beware of someone who is trying to make you look bad. It may be time for you to fight back. Your reputation is at stake and you must take drastic measures to protect it.
Hmmm ... interesting ... makes me want to say - "BRING IT ON!!!!"
But I'll wait and see ... my reputation is rebuilding - and I WILL protect it from the lies, untruths, gossip and nonsense and viciousness that is floating around out there ... few people know the WHOLE truth about the last couple of years ... maybe it's time to start sharing THAT STORY, and send the cockroaches scurrying back into their holes and crevasses !!!
He couldn't post it as a comment, but it deserves it's own posting ... Can't quibble with any of what he says - and I may even rethink my advocacy of a Boycott of the Olympics as a result of this response ... Although, after hearing Dick Pound of the IOC interviewed on CBC Winnipeg this morning I may NOT ... he spent way too much time insisting that China WILL change its ways because of the Olympics ... I was waiting for him to give credit for the fall of Communism to the Olympics ...
Anyway - words of praise and criticism, are ALWAYS welcome - and in this case I'm happy to share:
I find your postings, which I say without a trace of intended irony, that I follow religiously, always interesting, usually thought provoking, and at times intimidating. However, I am drawn to it like an addiction: I need to know what you're going to say next, or where your life seems to be headed. Your 1500th. posting in which you told people, essentially -- if you don't like what I have to say: stop reading -- made eminent sense, but perhaps easier said than done.
Anyway, that's not why I'm writing -- I want to respond to today's posting: "It's Time to Listen!!!!"
1) I also was opposed to the Olympics going to Beijing;
2) The "gild of the Olympic Lily" was tarnished far sooner than "when they let professional athletes compete in basketball & hockey (sic)". Quasi-amateurs had been sanctioned in the Eastern bloc countries for years, so my view was that if we were not going to have truly amateur competitions in the original Olympic sprit (an impossibility in today's world), then this should simply be a competition among the world's best athletes. It may be a different style of competition than it was years ago, but it is probably fairer under today's conditions. At the same time, the Olympic phrasing about bringing together the youth of the world, etc. could use some revision.
3) Your "No"'s are easy to agree with, until I come to the "Boycott" word; and here I disagree entirely. The Moscow boycott did little except deny many young athletes a chance to participate, and create a similar useless payback scenario in Los Angeles. I believe that a boycott of the China games would hurt only athletes and have no impact on China's policies. If we want to influence China, we have a massive tool available: stop buying products made in China. If every North American stopped buying Chinese goods tomorrow, China would have an enormous economic problem; then we might be able to call some shots on human rights issues. Until our citizens are prepared to step up, then "boycott" is a political word. Why should the athletic competitors suffer all the pain if the rest of us aren't even willing to suffer a little by the loss of cheap, Chinese-produced, goods?
Fair Enough !!
Maybe we just need to BOYCOTT China once and for all !!!!
I wouldn't want to see the athlete suffer - BUT - compared to the suffering of TOO many in our world, from the poor chinese peasants, to the sweat-shop factory workers, to the people of Tibet ... we can do better than just pretending THEY are less valuable that our athletes ...
No easy answers ... but so far - no just solutions either ...
The debate continues ...
Wednesday, April 09, 2008
Yesterday I almost wept as I read his most recent posting call "when is church not a safe place?"
Over and over I have read book after book that talks about the ABUSE that Churches can inflict on themselves, each other, their paid staff, and people coming in the doors with the scraps of their lives in their hands seeking the help and Holiness that the Institution called the Church purports to offer ...
Over the last two years I've experienced first hand the brutality that "Good" Church people are capable of inflicting on someone that they take a dislike to ... I have witnessed the manipulative depths they are willing to plunge to GET THEIR OWN way rather than live with the truth and own some of the responsibility ... I've seen it - I've lived it ... and most of all I'VE SURVIVED IT.
They did their worst, and I emerged stronger, and more certain of who I AM, than I was when this began ... and they are left in the same place they have been repeatedly over the last 40 plus years pretending it is all better because "The Problem" is NOW gone ...
To that I can only say - LOOK IN A MIRROR, and ask yourself what is really ailing your faith community??? What is the REAL PROBLEM??? and start dealing with that, rather than finding a convenient scape goat that rubbed you the wrong way and in his/her dysfunction needed help, but received instead only rejection, abuse and betrayal ...
Pastor Blake, a colleague and a friend for whom I have deep and abiding respect hits the nail on the head when he observes - Often church is not willing to allow some people in. If a person can't come in....how can a person learn and experience God's presence and power.
One of my mentors in ministry said long ago - "the Church is BODY of the RISEN Christ, not some namby-pamby warm pink fuzzy social club ... our calling is to afflict the comfortable and comfort the afflicted and to live the GOSPEL in our world without fear, hesitation or shame ... unfortunately too often the Church - the ONE place ALL should be welcomed in without hesitation NOR condition - has become a place where only the select few are allowed ... and the vast majority of US go silently along and shrug our shoulders and throw up our hands and say and do nothing to stop this horrid UNFAITHFUL ABUSE ...
and it is ABUSE ... I've heard over and over from the "great unwashed masses" like me, who have been thrown out of the Institution of the Church ...
But the whisper of prophetic hope in this moment is ... in the darkness of being rejected by the Human created and maintained church (an institution that is slowly collapsing under its own weight), we are finding not only each other - but others who share similar experiences and who like us, are hurting ...
WE are no longer content to cover our ears, our eyes, our mouths and stifle our spirit and pretend everything is fine ... instead we are talking amongst ourselves, and like my Spiritual Forebearers who gave the world the German Methodist Tradition that became the Evangelical United Brethren - we are asking the question - "What about us???"
And as that question rolls from our lips, the Spirit takes note ... and something WILL happen ... maybe we will form a diaspora Church that gathers in the broken, the wounded and the rejected ... Maybe like our founder, we will meet in the market places and the food courts and where the people gather ... and in time we will be part of a much needed renewal of The Body of the Risen Christ, that actually lives its faith by caring for people and helping them gather the scraps of their lives, rather than being concerned MORE about appearances, and propriety and rules and budgets ... and instead we gather in Community to proclaim Christ Risen and ALIVE among us !!!
What the world needs NOW is LOVE ... and unfortunately, too often that is the ONE thing LACKING in the Institutional Church ... there are TOO many egos there to leave room for the quiet, unassuming presence of unconditional LOVE ...
Time for a change !!!!
Time to LIVE OUR FAITH and throw open the DOORS, and cast out the publicans and politicians who have for too long constrained the Spirit and stifled the Church ... Like Tutu says - "if it goes against the Will of GOD, it can not stand ..."
Come Holy Spirit Come !!!! and set YOUR people free !!!!
They represent freedom of mind, body and spirit that threatens not only the way things are, but the way many vested powers want things to remain ...
Archbishop Desmond Tutu and His Holiness The Dalai Lama are two of my personal heroes ... their lives, their spirits, and their words are worth not only hearing, and heeding, but using as an example of what a life of respect, mindfulness and HOLINESS are ALL about ...
And today they are very much part of an unfolding story that is challenging our world to see the pivotal point at which we stand where in we can decide to be complacent and DO NOTHING, or we can say - "ENOUGH!!!" and collectively do SOMETHING that will forever alter the course of human history ...
I was never a fan of the idea that the Olympics were going to Beijing.
The gild of the Olympic Lily began to fade for me when they let professional athletes compete in both Basketball AND Hockey ... but my interest in EVEN watching the Olympics vanished when the 2008 Games were announced ...
WRONG COUNTRY ... WRONG MESSAGE ... and NOTHING will convince me otherwise ...
Now with the recent happenings in Tibet my sentiment of how wrong this ALL is has only deepened ... the protests against the International relay of the Torch proves that those of us feeling this way are not just few in number, and we are not just the marginalized ... we are a growing voice that is saying
NO to the occupation of Tibet.
NO to our Governments' willingness to ignore human right issues in China.
NO to the change through economics philosophy.
NO to DOING NOTHING
AND - NO to the Olympics being held in China.
This morning when the clock radio clicked in the first words that I heard was the voice of Desmond Tutu calling on the world to BOYCOTT the Summer Olympics ... he began with the words - "FOR GOD'S SAKE ..."
If there is anyone who knows about the struggle for freedom ... it is is he and his fellow country men who lived through Apartheid ... (To read more - click here)
When someone like Desmond Tutu speaks ... we dare NOT listen ... he is the one who said in the deep darkness of the Apatheid struggle that Apartheid would fall because it was against the will of GOD ... and anything that opposes God will NEVER stand ... he said it in a time and place where the fall of Apartheid seemed unlikely and near impossible ... yet, a few short years later, I REMEMBER weeping as Nelson Mandela stepped out of prison ... then weeping with joy when he and his country men and women celebrated his installation as President!!
The Western Media said - "it was inevitable" ... but voices like Tutu's (and Jim Wallis from SoJo's) remind us that there was a deep dark time when it seemed IMPOSSIBLE ... but folks like Tutu spoke up and spoke out and kept speaking inspite of the opposition ... and they called us to ACTION.
Today those voice call us to ACTION AGAIN ... this time to boycott the Olympics and to say to China AND the WORLD - ENOUGH !!!
FREE TIBET !!!
AND FREE US ALL !!!!
It is time to listen !!!!
With dangerous men like Tutu and The Dalai Lama involved, we dare NOT ignore them !!!
Tuesday, April 08, 2008
And so, in that moment of darkness, I cried out ... and like the Psalmist, it was the Creator (God, The Great Spirit, My Higher Power, The Cosmos - whatever term YOU need to use to explain this presence and life force) that ultimately heard my cry ... and answered ...
Last night I began reading a book on spirutality by an author, whose fiction I love ... she began life in a conservative, fundamentalist faith (like me) only to journey and struggle to a place where her spirituality is based on questions, yearnings, struggles and living life in the hard and dark places rather than slapping on a smiling face and saying - "it's ALL okay."
The passage I read last night was about the quick fixes ... the desire in our culture to have EVERYTHING handed to us fast and easy ...
Last night as I reflected on her words, and on my journey over the last two years I realized that to be whole - to be happy - to be content - to be able lean into your fears and face them in a HEALING way, there are NO EASY answers, and there are NO QUICK fixes, and there is NO ONE WHO CAN do it for you ... it takes time, pain, suffering, and a commitment to seeing the journey through ...
Two years ago I came to the realization that I wasn't happy ... it was a realization that was forced upon my ... it was a realization that took two years to dig to the BOTTOM of WHY???
But now, having found the "why?" ... and having not only found it, but named it, AND owned it ... I know my feet are on a path that leads me AWAY from that unhappiness ... I've learned WHY I've been unhappy, and I've learned that THE ONLY PERSON who will change that is ME!!
The strongest lesson though for me was the simple realization that there was no quick and simple way of finding the wholeness I needed and wanted ... I HAD to confront the dark lonely places where I lived the brutal sting of rejection, and the horrible pain of abandonment ... YOU can NOT be whole without journeying into the dark place where EVERYTHING is stripped away and you have to begin re-creating yourself and your understanding ...
It was NOT comfortable ... and it was NOT pleasant ... but as I move forward, even looking back as I move upwards out of the valley ... I KNOW it was WORTH IT. I would remain less than whole otherwise ...
Today though, as I consider the quick-fix mentality of our culture, and the desire to "get better" and "be happy" in 10 easy steps ... I realized that we need to re-orient ourselves from a Fast Food Approach and remember that something as BASIC as our food, takes time ...
It begins by planting the seed ... nurturing it, watering it, tending it ... and letting it grow in its OWN TIME ... we can't hurry the harvest ... no can we compress it's growing season ... it's out of OUR control ...
Then when the seed has grown and matured and is ready for the harvest ... it takes time and care to take what nature has provided, and move it from the gardens and fields, to our home and our table ... then the cleaning, the preparation, and the serving ... it TAKES TIME ... each step requires - NO, DEMANDS - patience and time !!!
Until at last the meal is served ... a meal - a feast, that has been months in the making ... around the table are those people we cherish and value - and as the platters are passed, and the meal is enjoyed, it is to be SAVOURED, not just gulped back ... the fellowship around the table - the conversation, the laughter, the smiles, the time ... all of it becomes part of the experience of wholeness ... all of it is part of the FEAST!!
I'm mindful of the Movie Babette's Feast, where Babette, carefully and lovingly prepares a meal using the finest ingredients, and creates gourmet dishes for the austere religious community in which she lives ... with time and care, she prepares a true feast ... but those she serves it to, are unable to enjoy it ... they see it as something wicked - something almost evil, rather than a celebration of life and community.
In our culture, we're too oriented to the quick fix, and the fast and the easy, to take the time to sit down, and with patience and care and truly savour the gift that time alone can offer ...
I've learned, as I sit in a place feeling for the first time whole and well ... that none of this could be rushed ... the bruising and the pain could not be avoided ... and the outcome would never have happened if I hadn't allowed the journey to take the time it needed ... There was simply no quick way of finding the happiness I needed, except by journeying into the darkest places of my being, and wrestling with what I found there ...
It's all about time ... because after the time has been taken and we've emerged from the dark, we find ourselves moving to a place where a feast awaits ... a feast that MUST be savoured and enjoyed, NOT gulped down with one eye on the clock ...
It's ALL about time ... because at the end of the day - we are worth it ...
Monday, April 07, 2008
In her book Waiting for God, French mystic and political activist Simone Weil (1909-1943) wrote a passage I'd love for you to keep in mind during the coming weeks: "When an apprentice gets hurt, or complains of being tired, the workmen have this fine expression: 'It is the trade entering his body.' Each time that we have some pain to go through, we can say to ourselves quite truly that it is the order and beauty of the world that are entering our body." I encourage you, Scorpio, to adopt this redemptive attitude about the suffering you have been experiencing.
Remarkable ... today I had yet another conversation about seeing the many challenges and the many struggles I've endured lately as steps on the journey, rather than set backs ...
This morning I recieved an email from a friend who sent me a link to the song "Everything" by Micheal Buble ... it's a great song, from a great singer ... and it is simply a nice way to start the first day of a new week ... ENJOY:
Saturday, April 05, 2008
Better late than never ... Since the day I heard this back in my youth, it brings tears to my eyes ... a Tribute to One Man - One Life - One Message ... that 40 years ago on an April morning in Memphis was set free to CHANGE THE WORLD !!!
U2 - Pride:
From CKX News
From The Wheat City Journal
And from the previous week, there was an article about the March against Racism that the Community Development Coordinator of the BNRC helped organize. (click here)
It brings back memories ...
Chicago - "You're the Inspiration" - a shlocky, but wonderful song ... sometimes nostalgia is a good thing !!!
Friday, April 04, 2008
But Martin Luther King Jr left a legacy that continues to reverberate throughout the world to this day ... The world is a far better place for having had him walk among us, even if it was for less than 40 years ...
I've always marvelled, that the night before he died he spoke the following words:
And they were telling me –. Now, it doesn’t matter, now. It really doesn’t matter what happens now.
I left Atlanta this morning, and as we got started on the plane, there were six of us. The pilot said over the public address system, “We are sorry for the delay, but we have Dr. Martin Luther King on the plane. And to be sure that all of the bags were checked, and to be sure that nothing would be wrong with on the plane, we had to check out everything carefully. And we’ve had the plane protected and guarded all night.” And then I got into Memphis. And some began to say the threats, or talk about the threats that were out. What would happen to me from some of our sick white brothers?
Well, I don’t know what will happen now. We’ve got some difficult days ahead. But it really doesn’t matter with me now, because I’ve been to the mountaintop.
And I don’t mind.
Like anybody, I would like to live a long life. Longevity has its place. But I’m not concerned about that now. I just want to do God’s will. And He’s allowed me to go up to the mountain. And I’ve looked over. And I’ve seen the Promised Land. I may not get there with you. But I want you to know tonight, that we, as a people, will get to the promised land!
And so I’m happy, tonight.
I’m not worried about anything.
I’m not fearing any man!
Mine eyes have seen the glory of the coming of the Lord!!
We're not in the promised land, but with guides like Dr King, we know the way ... we just need to work harder at getting there ... and one day we will ... and it will be amazing.
40 years ago today, his life ended, but thankfully his DREAM continues !!!
I've NEVER been a big one for horoscopes ... but lately, they've been almost freakishly pertinent to my life ... Today is no exception.
First my Chinese Horoscope:
Social relationships, friendships, and supportive alliances are strengthened now. Your energy and confidence are high and you can accomplish much in a harmonious, flowing manner right now.
Next my astrological Horoscope:
Don't let anyone rush you into doing anything you don't want to do. Sudden changes at work may be inevitable. You can't expect your current situation to last forever. Be willing to take advantage of any new opportunities that are presented to you.
And Last, but perhaps most remarkable - the Horoscope from the Brandon Sun:
You've been so accepting lately that it startles you to come up against someone thinking in narrow and perhaps archaic terms. Go around this person. DO NOT ENGAGE! It would take the jaws of life to pry this closed mind open!
I'll tell ya how it turns out ...
Thursday, April 03, 2008
Casual conversations have lead to remarkable doors being opened ...
Chance encounters have brought the right people and the right resources to where they are needed ...
It is simply amazing how when you least expect it, the right people happen into your life with the right words, thoughts, actions or offers ... and life continues to wend upwards ...
It's all about people, relationships and how WE treat each other ... and it's ALL GOOD !!!!
This song gently reminds us of what those waves can be and mean: