Tuesday, July 29, 2008

Some parting shots of the gardens ...





A summer treat ...

There ae FEW joys as sweet,
as the taste of a sunripened raspberry
picked fresh off the bush ...
... Grandma's garden abounds with such delights !!
(Lucky for US !!)

This morning's beach walk ...

This morning the rain held off long enough to let Ms H and I take a pre-breakfast walk on the beach and reef "to see what we could see" ...

Lots of starfish, lots of crabs, a few eels and tidal puddles full of anenomes, bullheads and other assorted small marine life ...

It was a good way to spend our last morning at Grandma and Grandpa's before beginning our journey home ...


Monday, July 28, 2008

Out the kitchen window ...


(picture by Ms H. - View by GOD !!)

More Pictures of a Walk in the Gardens ...





Night Time Walk & Reflections...

Last night I went for a long walk along the beach to think, reflect and meditate on some of the things that have been roiling around within me ...

As I walked my thoughts focused on four main statements ...

1) God don't make no junk ...

2) my soul yearns to colur outside the lines ...

3) the place where prophets cry out ...

4) Words are cheap preacher ...

Last night as I walked these statements rolled through me as I thought about the last couple of years ... the transitions I've been experiencing ... the reality of the sting of rejections (and shunning) that has been an ALL too real part of my journey ... the uncertainty of the path ahead ... and the place (or lack of) for me in the Church ...

The first statement is a tee-shirt once cited by a mentor and friend who used it as a reminder of the radical nature of God's Love and Grace ... if we embrace this notion EVERY human being has value ...

The second statement is a line by a song by the Canadian Church oriented singing group Common Cup that was used as a hymn in the Sunday Morning worship service I had attended yesterday ...

The third statement is a line from the call to worship of that same service - a line that resonated deep within me and my understanding of ministry as a call to prophetic faith that asks the tough questions and challenges the people in the Church to consider if their actions are consistent with their faith ...

And the fourth statement waa good natured gibe directed my way from a friend when I was in ministry in amongst the Nuxalkmc in Bella Coola BC ... I hear the voice say partially in jest, and partially in derision - "talk is cheap preacher ..." and use it to reflect on whether my words are hollow or meaningful ...

As I walked, I realized just how cheap words have become, not only in the Church, but also in our society ... we fill space with noise ... we surround ourselves with a cacophany of audio interference that drowns out the world around us ... and perhaps most ominiously of all - we say words without thinking about the meaning for us, or for the listener ...

Just think about how easy is it to say - "I love you ..." without considering the full impact of the words, or what they really mean ...

I've mused previously about the flippancy and ease by which we say the word "Welcome" in our Churches, when in truth we are not offering a inclusive unconditional welcome, but seek to welcome in only the select few who meet our strict criteria for welcome and inclusions. Our 'welcome' sign has a hidden asterix that lays out those exclusions - one that becomes apparent ONLY when a community is under stress and living with fear ...

Today I listened to a sermon that highlighted the disconnect and the ease by which we say things without reflecting on the implications of our words ... the sermon was borrowed and simply read ... but it's message jarred with not only my understanding of faith, but the perspective of the community in which it was read ... The writer had taken Jesus' Parables on the Kingdom of God that were part of this week's lectionary reading, and used them as a launch pad for a proclamation on the merits of a Prosperity Gospel that benefits the chosen, while rejecting the un-chosen ...

The heart of the sermon was the example of an upper-middle class couple who "had it all" and decided that they needed more ... as an act of faith, they cashed in their investments, leveraged their capital and opened a franchise donut shop in their community and began to reap the benefits of being willing to risk their security in a business venture. I was OFFENDED by the example, but more than that I was offended by the implication that God had rewarded this couple for the faithful action of selling, leveraging and risking thier capital to open a business ...

There was no reference to social justice ... action ... no advocating of volunteering one's time, or donating one's wealth to groups like Habitate for Humanity, or other agencies addressing poverty, food and housing issues amongst the poor ... there was only a blatant celebration of this couple's faithful risk that paid off so richly, and using it as an example of what the Kingdom of God SHOULD BE like ...

Tonight as I walked in the darkness and thought about the four statements above - I realized the profound truth of - "talk is cheap preacher ..." The sermon was cheap talk ...

It spoke not to the needs of our society, or the challenges that the Church COULD be facing if it took it's faith seriously ... but rather it sought to comfort the comfortable, and to offer a prosperity Gospel that erroneously tells its followers that if they are faithful and dare to "reisk" they will be richly rewarded for their "faith".

There is NO outreach to the poor.
There is NO care of the needy.
There is NO tendingthe poor and hungry.
There is NO discomfort ...

There is only - take a chance and God will reward you ...

Life is simple ... be faithful and focus ONLY on your comfort and wealth and God will protect you.

THAT IS NOT THE KINGDOM OF GOD as I've come to see and understand it ... and that reflection jars with the underlying message of Jesus himself ... His vision of the Kingdom was NOT about accumulating wealth and being secure in your prosperity ... His vision was about feeding the hungry (and not charging them two fifty for a coffee and donut) ... clothing the naked ... housing the homeless ... tending the sick ... and visiting the lonely ...

You can wrap a Tim H's franchise in the niceties of a Prosperity Gospel ALL you want, but it still isn't a faithful response ... it is a shallow mis-reading of the Gospel and of Jesus' teachings ... a mis-reading the Church has embraced at it's own peril ...

Last night I realized my shunning and rejection BY the Church has as its causative factor THAT mis-reading of the Gospel ... I won't temper my tongue and tell the rich - "it's okay to donate their pennies to the poor ..." I preach from the place of the prophets who warn the fatted cows that they are WRONG ...

Today the Church needs prophets ... and it needs to hear the prophetic voices that tell it that the Prosperity Gospel that has taken hold is not only unfaithful it is just plain wrong ... Sadly though, there are few voices that have the courage to raise that message ...

... and those of us who have dared ... are increasingly finding ourselves outside lookingin... but fortunately - GOD DON'T MAKE NO JUNK ... and in my yearning to colour outside the lines, I will continue to heed the Spirit's calling that tells me to continue in the call to Ministry that I feel in my marrow and I have never doubted ... I just don't think my PLACE for ministry is in the United Church right now ...

And that is OKAY by me !!!

God's will, not ours will be done !!!


Sunday, July 27, 2008

Today ...

... my favourite holiday moment thus far: sitting on the couch last night with Ms H. and Beetle nestled in against me on either side (Noahkila was sprawled on the love seat playing his gameboy) ... after such a long absence from all three, it has been good just to know they are around ...

I didn't realize HOW much I missed them, until I met up with them ...

Today at Post Secret ...


Somebody has been reading Tolle ...
... there is SUCH profound truth in this card ... too often we convince ourselves that what we HAVE is all that we deserve rather than owning the yearnings of our souls and naming the reality was not only DESERVE, but want, and are at times too filled with fear to seek much less achieve ...
... and sometimes, the very thing we define as love isn't love at all ... it is as, Tolle says - our pain-body seeking to feed and sustain itself while calling it "love" and convincing us that it is ...
To read the rest of this week's secrets at Post Secret, click on the pic ...

Saturday, July 26, 2008

This Morning in the garden ...

M's mom and dad's yard is one of my favourite places
on the entire planet ...
the vista of the beach and bay are breathtaking,
the gardens are truly spectacular,
being re-united with my kids in such a setting
was better than any Hollywood ending ...
... this morning I went for a walk through the gardens,
camera in hand, enjoying the sights, sounds and smells
that come following a coastal rain
(the first in WEEKS)
with ravens and eagles over head,
and a plethora of flowers around me,
it was a divinely peaceful moment ...
LIFE IS GOOD !!








Kitties in a Box !!!

Chloe the old calico matriarch of our feline family, Diesel the old white and black boy and Chyrsanthemum, Ms H's precious orange kitty endured the indignity of being stuffed in a plastic box and loaded on the seat of the U-Haul van ...

Chloe and Chrysanthemum settled into the new digs quickly and began to explore ... Diesel promptly vanished, only to show up periodically at the food dish and the litter box ... how a 25+ lb cat can DISAPPEAR in a house with less than 1000 sqr/feet is a mystery - but one he's achieve quickly ... hopefully they will acclimatize to their new surroundings quickly ...

Needless to say - they were not impressed with me for packing them in a box ...

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Moving DayS !!!

The U-Haul Experience ...
... NOT FUN !!!
Monday nite - pick up truck after work and start loading.
Tuesday nite - keep loading after work.
Wednesday morning - continue loading at 5:30 am!!

Wednesday Nite - pull out for Brandon at 4:30 (or so)

The 26' Van was VERY VERY FULL !!

(there would HAVE to be a second load on Thursday)

Wednesday nite- Arrive in Brandon and finish unload at 10pm

Thursday morning - leave for Minnedosa at 7:15am

Thursday Afternoon - second van load finished by 4:00pm

Thursday night - finished unloading van

in a wicked thunderstorm at 8:45pm!!!

The move more or less completed ... the little house is VERY FULL ...

... in 6 weeks we do it again when M's stuff gets taken to her house !!

(Friday morning at 6:30 am - I got up and got ready to fly to BC)

I had planned on ONE moving Day ...

... so go the best laid plans !!??!!

Happy Birthday Katie !!!!


I've spent this past week moving ... and travelling to BC to catch up with Noahkila, Ms H and Beetle and to get them ready for a drive to a NEW home in Manitoba ... BUT !!!!
.
I COULDN'T POSSIBLY FORGET THE WISH KATIE, OVER at AT THE HALF NOTE a very very Happy Birthday !!
.
I hope it a beautiful day for a beautiful person, who is one of my most cherished friends ...
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Have a GRAND and GLORIOUS Day Katie - I'll be thinkin of you from the Beach on the North end of Vancouver Island !!!
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(p.s. - updates on the U-Haul Experience will come eventually ...)

Tuesday, July 22, 2008

The Key to a New Future ...

Yesterday I got the call from my realtor to meet him to pick up the key for my new house. Driving the mammoth U-Haul van I had JUST rented, I drove over and took possession of the key to my NEW home !!!
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Today, on my LAST commute from Minnedosa to Brandon, I brought the first load of stuff down with a friend's pick up truck, unloaded it, then hopped on my bike (which I had brought down too) and pedalled the three minutes to work !!

Moving Day is TOMORROW !!!

I can hardly wait ...

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Chalk One Up for The Good Guys !!

Hearing the news yesterday that former Serbian leader Radovan Karadzic (click for the CBC story) had finally been arrested came as a delightful suprise to me.

Being a news addict, I remember the news of atrocities enacted under his leadership, and have long wondered why he hasn't been hunted down and captured ... The cynic in me wonders if there was oil under Serbian soil if the outcome might have been different ...

The upside is that unlike Saddam Hussein, Karadzic WILL face justice at The Hague, rather than a kangaroo court ... let's hope the spirits and suvivors of his victims receive a long overdue date with justice ...

I like the comment from the French Foreign Minister Bernard Kouchner who said - "We have waited for this for 13 years. Finally. Finally."

FINALLY indeed !!!

Monday, July 21, 2008

I'm a WEED !!!

Today I preached a pulpit supply and offered a sermon on the Gospel reading and the Hebrew Scriptures reading that reflected on the perspective that renders one plant a weed, while touting another as a valuable plant to be preserved.

I mused on the ubiquitous and tenacious dandelion as an example of a plant that suffers from being nothing more than a plant out of context ... the dandelion is a highly versatile plant with dozens and dozens of uses ... it can be eaten as a salad, it can be made into tea, oinments, and salves, it can be used in countless ways and when a little child hands you a bunch of fresh picked bright yellow blossoms, only the hardest heart can fail to be softened ...

In short, a dandelion is not so much a weed, as it is a plant out of context ... and as a result it is reviled and hated because the many gifts and talents are not appreciated where it is ... this does not render the humble dandelion any less of a valuable plant. Instead it challenges us to change our perspective once in awhile and see the value in ALL plants, even the weeds ...

It's hard to convince a dedicated gardener that a plant long considered a weed is now to be regarded simply as a plant out of context, but as you tally up the possibilities and potentials a plant like the dandelion possesses, you can't help but be struck by the positive attributes it holds in its leaves, its roots, its stems, and its blossoms ... in short a dandelion is a very valuable plant if we can only chose to open our eyes to its fullest potential.

This afternoon as I reflected on my sermon today, I realized that I am in many respects a weed within the Church ... I carry many gifts and talents, and I embody great possibilities and potentials ... and like the simple dandelion, I have been reviled and hated because I have been a plant out of context ... The problem does not lie within me, but rather lies in the eye of the beholder.

Those who have worked hard to drive me out of the Church are simply short-sighted and narrow minded ... they are unwilling to open themselves to the possibility of change that weeds like me represent ...

In the meantime, I will proudly call myself a weed, and know that like the tenacious little dandelion, I have much to offer ... I just need to be in the right context to be fully appreciated !!

In the meantime - click here to read my sermon from this morning.

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Sunday, July 20, 2008

Today's Menu ...

This morning, after a breakfast of a whole wheat bagel with cheez whiz, washed down with a cup of fair trade Kicking Horse's 454 Horse Power coffee, I headed out the door to the pulpit supply gig I had been asked to do months ago ...

The service was wonderful ... being back in a storied OLD building for the first time in two and a half years felt good ... the nervousness that is very much a part of my pulpit presence was still there, but the care and acceptance of the congregation made me feel very much at home ...

After the service ended, the coffee time following was marked with conversation and numerous invitations to consider coming back to lead them in worship in the future ... with an invitation like that I would be honoured to come back ...

I headed off down the highway buoyed by the warmth and best wishes of a congregation that had so graciously welcomed me in ...I had time to reflect on my sermon topic, and consider how it relates to myself in ways I had hitherto not considered ... and as I drove, I thought about the journey that has lead me here ...

I stopped for lunch of a Big Mac (sans the fries) before heading down the road chuckling to myself as I thought about some food related memories tied up with comfort foods that are important in my life ...

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Peanut butter, cheez whiz and popcorn have been three of my comfort foods throughout life ... in University an ample supply of each was tucked in my room, or in the kitchen cupboard ... even now, close to two decades later, PB, Cheez whiz and popcorn remain staples in my diet ... toast with pb or cheez whiz is a morning meal, or an evening snack, and no video is complete without popcorn (with or without butter and salt) ... today though, my mind wandered to Cheez Whiz and an afternoon many years ago when a friend and I sat at our dining room table in Bella Coola, drinking coffee and eating baking powder biscuits that I had just taken out of the oven ...

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By the end of the afternoon Ger, a friend I have grown to love like a brother, had managed to consume the lions' share of a 1 kilogram (2.2 lbs) jar of Cheeze Whiz, one knife full at a time ... The whole experience was prefaced on Ger announcing that Cheez Whiz wasn't allowed in his house for his boys because of the preservatives. He then spun the jar, read the ingredients and announced - "there's NOTHING really that bad in here ..." and proceeded to slather a thick layer of Cheez Whiz on each of many biscuits that were consumed as we chatted away the afternoon ...

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As he got up to leave, Ger noted the empty jar and muttered something about the TWO of us having eaten a lot of Cheez Whiz ... (I think I had one bisquit with cheez whiz - the rest I had with pb ... the emptying of the jar was NOT a community effort)

.

Since then Ger has become a friend with whom I have laughed uproariously, I have drank with, I have wept with, and I have shared many more wonderful moments as a friend ... my life has been enriched by his presence, and he always seems to pop up in my life at the very moments I need him ... lately it has been a phone call at just the right moment ... and each time the ensuing conversation has reaffirmed a friendship that has seen us wander through much over the last decade and a half that we've known each other ... even if half of it has been spent half a country apart ...

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Today as I continue packing up the house that has been home for the last 8 years, I know that there are many moments and memories that will simply NOT fit in any box, but are amongst the most precious things I will carry forward with me ...

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as a parting thought ... I also recall two of the jokes Ms H used to delight in telling ...

Question: What do you call an empty jar of Cheez Whiz??

.

.

answer: Cheez WAS!
.

and

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Question: What do you call the beginning of the Cheez Whiz production line??

.

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Answer: Cheez WILL Be!

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This morning ...

The rain is falling - AGAIN !! ...
the rumble of a Thunderstorm is passing ...
the house is quiet ... (too quiet) ...
boxes filled with stuff line the halls and downstairs room ...
furniture is dismantled awaiting the moving van ...
the solitude of aloneness has shifted to a sense of loneliness ...
I yearn for conversation and human contact ...
my sermon for today is half finished ...

... oh well ...

at least the fair trade coffee (Kicking Horse)is fresh and hot ...
(and it is available in the local grocery stores in Minnedosa and Brandon ...)

Life in a place of transition is seldom fun nor easy ...
but the promise and potential of this moment is full ...
and this moment is more than enough ...

Dayenu !!
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This just in ...

Earlier Ms H phoned to let me know she and her sister Beetle entered a watermelon eating contest at the summer "fair" where they are holiday-ing.

She was very pleased to tell me that in their respective age groups, she came in third and Beetle came in second!!

The pride of achievement was complemented by a cash prize!!

And so far no sore tummies from over-indulging ...

Way to go Girls !!
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Saturday, July 19, 2008

Time well spent ...

Having no cable, and lousy antenna reception meant working my way through my dvd collection ... even after watching the first three seasons of Hawaii Five O I found the need to go and rent some new flicks overwhelming ...

Thanks to Rogers Video in Brandon I rented over 21 videos in a two and a half week stretch ... after a long day at work, tearing around Brandon looking for a house to purchase (which proved successful), and getting household chores finished while packing, crashing on the couch with a video proved to be a good way to unwind ...

I watched numerous movies - some good, some bad and some mediocre ... but two that stood out were My Life as House, which I've watched a dozen times before, and The Bucket List with Morgan Freeman and Jack Nicholson as two men who meet in a palliative care ward following a diagnosis of terminal cancer ...

Freeman's character, a car mechanic with a vast wealth of trivial knowledge covering almost every topic from the profound to the mundane, and Nicholson's character, a billionaire investor who buys the hospital he suddenly finds himself confined in, make an unlikely yet highly enjoyable pairing.

It's not a GREAT movie, but it has a profound lesson.



The two men look back on their lives and wonder if things could have turned out differently ... in seeking to accomplish ALL the things they wrote on the list of items they would want to achieve before kickin' the bucket, they learn that life is a precious gift and that simply settling for the way things are is an utter waste of time, energy and life ...

Like a page out of Eckhart Tolle, the two men journey focused only on the NOW (after all, that's ALL they have) and without fear claim life in its fullness. They go and do all the things they want to do - but in the end realize that LOVE is the one unalterable reality in life ... love of family ... love of friends ... love of self ...

Love that accepts us without condition or hesitation ... love that is more than a warm pink fuzzy from external influences ... love that is free of fear and hesitation ... love that gives wholly of itself and in return receives back no less ... love that is precious and rare, and that too often we flee rather than embrace ... love that comes from within, as we confront our Pain-Body and set ourselves free of its stifling influence ...

The words "I can't do this ..." have no place in love ... for in love there is no hesitation, no fear, no doubt, only the full acceptance of THIS MOMENT, freed at last of the Pain-Body that spins a tail of deception, half-truths and delusions ...

Love is a precious gift if we have the courage to claim it ... and too often we allow our ego (our pain-body) to convince ourselves that we are "in love" when we are merely feeding our fear, our ego, and our Pain-Body ... the lesson of The Bucket List is to embrace life and to live fully present to the NOW, free of our Pain-Body ...

Sadly though, it is a lesson that is lost on many ... and many more simply will not open themselves up to the awakening that naming the Pain-Body represents ... it is safer to settle and live a life that our ego has convinced us through the short-sighted delusions that arise from our Pain-Body is ALL WE'RE entitled to ... we suppress our yearnings for more, convincing ourselves we've gotten what we're entitled to, and what we deserve, even if the core of our beings tells us otherwise ...

The Bucket List underscores the lessons of Tolle ... and Tolle helps remind us to focus on ourselves and to live life fully present to this moment ...

A Little Dog River Stay-cation ...

It's a grey and rainy day ... I have to get the rest of the stuff in the house packed up for Wednesday's Moving Day ... I have a sermon to write for a pulpit supply tomorrow ... and I have absolutely ZERO ambition to do any of it ...

So, I popped on Season Four of Corner Gas to let the folks in Dog River give me a little inspiration with a Stay-cation (thanks too, to Holiday in my Head by Smash Mouth) on the plains of Saskatchewan ...

I found this video on YouTube ... and thought it was worth sharing - Enjoy !!


88

Cpl. James Hayward Arnal
based at
CFB Shilo Manitoba
died while on foot patrol in Afghanistan.
Our prayers for his family,
his comrades, and all those who serve in uniform.
At the going down of the sun,
and in the morning,
we will remember them.
Lest we forget.

Happy Birthday 46664 !!!

What can one say about Nelson Mandela ??
A man devoted to freedom ... a man who understood that peace was not a warm pink fuzzy concept with everyone joining hands and making it all okay ... Peace has a cost ... in his case it was a life of struggle that lead to a glorious day in 1994 when he stood before the WORLD as the President of the NEW South Africa.

The struggle is far from over ... but with the example of people like Mandela, we know what needs to be done ...

From a young brash lawyer, to an outlaw guerilla fighter, to prisoner 46664, to president and now to an honoured 90 year old man ... Mandela has been an inspiration to many, and an example to all of what a live devoted to freedom and justice can be.

Happy (belated) 90th Birthdays Mr Mandela ... you've been one of my personal heroes since my teenage years !!!

Thursday, July 17, 2008

A musical suggestion from a reader:

My Own Woman posted a comment with a link from Youtube and the hope that it might work ... well, it didn't work for me ... but the link is worth sharing ... so enjoy:

Can't go wrong with Joni Mitchell ... and her song Big Yellow Taxi speaks a truth:


Time to break free of the box ...

The lot in Minnedosa still sits vacant ... I've heard people say - "well, we'll have nice windows and a great piano ... but no where to put them ..."

I've heard other people say, "why both building it at all? We don't want to go there any more any way ..."

And I've lost track of the number of folks who have said to me that the outcome of my ministry in Minnedosa was NOT what they wanted ... "a shitty deal" was the latest label applied by a now former member of the congregation who said "they won't see a penny of my money now ..." Sadly, this is not the first time I've heard this ... and yet those voices are continuing to be ignored and overlooked ...

Aside from wondering where there is JUSTICE in any of this, I weep for what might have been ...

But, my role in the drama that is Minnedosa United Church and its attempt at rebuilding has drawn to a close. Despite pleas from many voices in the Minnedosa area to establish an independent congregation where they can worship and feel included, the time is fast approaching when I will close the back doors on a moving van and pull up my roots and leave the toxicity of Minnedosa behind ... I want to see these excluded, rejected and marginalized people included ... but the Greater Church in its infinite wisdom has chosen to marginalize me along with them, and cast us all out into the darkness in the hopes that the neat, tight and convenient story that the "good" folks of Minnedosa tell themselves will not be challenged ...

I can't help but wonder though - WHY ARE WE SO HELL BENT ON PRESERVING THE STATUS QUO? and WHY DON'T WE TRY TO REVISION THE CHURCH BEYOND THE REBUILDING OF A BUILDING THAT WILL INVOKE MEMORIES OF WHAT ONCE WAS, BUT THAT WAS LOST TO THE FIRE??

ALL over the world there are example after example of Churches facing the changing community around them by embracing that change and stepping outside the heavy wooden doors that keep our sanctuaries safe and comfortable, and meeting the community on their terms.

Today I read with interest a posting at "A Church for Starving Artists" that mused on the use of Church space, property and resources to be MORE than just a worship and meeting space for Congregations. How do we better utilize the resources we have was the underlying questions with Jan reflecting on WHAT WE COULD BE DOING. It's a very good and very eloquent posting well worth checking out ... (click here for the post)

I have recently explored examples where Church Congregations have chosen openly and willingly to rethink their physical requirements to move beyond the creation of under-utilized worship space. It begins with the decision to create a multi-use space that can be adapted for any number of uses.

It continues when you chose NOT to install fixed pews, but rather use seating that can be moved and altered easily, or even removed.

It reaches its culmination when the "welcome" sign that is hung on the door is NOT conditional and so amended with rules and regulations, but rather keeps the doors open and the building vital and alive to the community around it ...

The boldness of this way of envisioning church space is being found increasingly in groups like the Scottish Churches Housing Action who are finding amazingly creative ways of transforming Church space into usable HOUSING through out Scotland.

In Canada McClure United in Winnipeg and Parkdale United in Toronto and their Green Phoenix project stand as just two examples of what is possible when Churches are bold enough to accept their reality and begin to think outside the box.

And my absolute favourite example is St Matthew's Community Church (Anglican) on Maryland in Winnipeg has the audacity to propose building 21 affordable housing units INSIDE their sanctuary space to serve the people of the Spence Neighbourhood. Recognizing that they are a people out of space, in that they are a tiny worshipping congregation in a vast and cavernous building, they have brought in partner congregations to share their space, they have converted their basement to a dynamic and lively community centre, and now, recognizing a need that sits on their door step, they are seeking to create living space filled with housing within a historical and majestic building !!

What better Sacred Space can there be than housing for the homeless and those at risk ???

To me groups like Habitat for Humanity are creating sacred space with each house or housing unit they provide to a needy family ... The Church backed Westminster Housing Society in Winnipeg with its commitment to affordable and secure housing in the inner-city neighbourhoods is creating sacred space with each house and housing unit they renovate and create and offer to those in need ... AND Our Place in Victoria BC that provides food and shelter to the most vulnerable and marginalized is more of what Sacred Space is supposed to be than any example one can find under the auspices of the United Church ...

Yet in the majority of our Congregations, Minnedosa United Church included, there is a definite LACK OF VISION and COURAGE. Rather than embracing what will be, nostalgia kicks in, and what once was is recreated in a more modern efficient version ...

It's immensely sad ... a vacant lot sits on Main St in Minnedosa ... one segment of the congregation wants to build a recreation of the church that was ... one segment of the congregation sits bewildered and brutalized by the machinations that have transpired and lead to the dismissal of the minister ... and one segment of the congregation has simply thrown up their hands and walked away ... add to this a community that has failed to understand much less comprehend what has transpired ... members of the community who have actively engaged in creating, perpetuating and sharing toxic and untrue rumours, gossip and stories ... and too many community people for whom the last two and a half years are a familiar story in the life of Minnedosa and the United Church (a story that has been oft repeated and never dealt with in an open and transparent way) and you have a vacant lot that represents much more than just the loss of a building ...

The vacant lot is a loss of hope ... a loss of potential ... and for many a loss of faith ... looking into the teary eyes of a church elder for whom "the church" has been a central component of her life and hear her say - "I don't really care any more because this is NOT what faith is about ..." breaks my heart ... and perhaps most sadly of all - it would seem I am the ONLY one who cares enough to listen. The Vacant Lot is a loss of what could have been if fairness, justice and OPENESS prevailed ...

In today's church is would see that the status quo must be maintained ... what was must be preserved ... and the way things were must be continued ... change and transformation have no place here ... the Church leadership can not be proven WRONG.

And yet, every day the vacant lot where the Church once stood stands as a stark reminder that failing to embrace reality as it is, and thinking in new ways as we move into the future will merely make the Church increasingly irrelevant and unimportant ... we can wrap ourselves in the comfort of believing the story we tell ourselves - but as I've noted in my readings and reflections of Tolle - when it is the ego and the pain-body fueling the moment - the falsity of the story is never challenged ... and the truth is never set free ...

Thinking outside the box is happening ALL around us ... the call of faith is clear ... our challenge is to embrace that change and to step not just outside the box, but to leave the safe comfortable confines of the box far behind ... We don't need new sanctuary spaces ... we need sacred spaces where ALL people feel welcome and included, not just the chosen few ...

That is perhaps the hardest lessons for a Faith Community to learn ... I know that today in Minnedosa, there are many who understand it ... but those holding tightly to the reigns of power have yet to hear it, much less listen to it ...

But ALL of this is in the hands of the Spirit ... and the Spirit will come and recreate the Church, not as fragile human egos envision it, but as God does ... and that is perhaps the BEST NEWS OF ALL!!!

Come Holy Spirit Come!!!

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Wednesday, July 16, 2008

"Called to ??" The role of minister in the modern church ...

I do not doubt for a moment I was called to ministry ... I remember the moment ... I have endured the struggle ... I even fought it ...

But the call was real and it has never lessened ... as I write these words I am no longer welcomed in Pastoral Charge Ministry within the Church that I grew up within and where I have shared the last 20 years of my ministry ... and I no longer feel comfortable nor welcome worshipping within the congregations of that Denomination either ... I have become spiritually homeless ... yet in saying that, I can affirm that for the first time since the call first rolled over my being, I feel like I am doing real ministry ...

My work today is about seeking to make a difference in concert with a spectrum of service providers, government agencies and departments and people who see the real needs of the homeless and the at risk of homeless and say boldly - "SOMETHING has to be done!!" and have together set out to not only do that something, but to be that something. The work we do, though not enough, is making a real difference one day at a time, and THAT my friends is real ministry.

It was interesting to me to pop over to FollowingFrodo to see what my colleague in ministry Gord is up to, only to discover a posting musing on the Role of Ministry, and connecting on to two other postings musing on the same issue ...

For Gord's posting on The Role of Ministry - click here

For Cheesehead's posting on What *IS* my job anyway - click here

And for Jan's posting at A Church for Starving Artists on Staffing - click here

As I read the three postings and the accompanying comments, I couldn't help but wonder if the problem is simply a failure of our LEADERSHIP to accept change, to encourage change, and to stand behind those voices who are about change ??

Looking back in my career I can say that I was called by my last two pastoral charges to do a specific task. In both cases it was to open the doors of the Sanctuary and welcome in the community around the Congregation that had seemingly drifted away ... I launched myself enthusiastically at the task ... I went out and became visible in the community, I got involved in thing "the minister didn't usually do," I invited in the community and I made the experience of Church current, relevant and most of all WELCOMING.

The old guard in both places were happy with the financial bottom line improving ... and they begrudgingly tolerated the newcomers ... but then, the newcomers wanted to get involved in committees and on the boards ... the new comers weren't interested in preserving the status quo, but wanted to change the way things are to include them ... the new comers wanted things different ... and I was not willing to be hemmed in by tired dated expectations ... I am a minister who will speak out ... I am a minister who will roll up his sleeves and get involved ... I am a minister who can be shrill and critical of things that are dysfunctional, toxic and unhealthy ... and I will cow-tow to NO ONE.

Things ended badly in both pastoral charges ...

... and rather than help Congregations face the changing reality around them, both Presbyteries I served in cast me in the role of Scapegoat and posited on my shoulders ALL of the BLAME for the crises, conflict and problems that enveloped the Pastoral Charge, the Pastoral Relationship and my own life ... Looking back, I can shoulder some of the blame in that I was responsible for stirring the pot and over-reacting, but until the others are held responsible for their part in the dramas that marked those pastoral relationships, there is no just nor true solution to the crises, and the problems will continue to fester.

I place the failure of leadership, not at the Pastoral Charge level, but at the level of Presbytery and Conference, for failing to hold people accountable in a fair and equitable way for their actions. As minister I am not called to be a chaplain, nor a meek gentle shepherd. My calling is to be a teacher, a leader and a prophet who like Jacob has wrestled with his night-time visitor and who has glimpsed the possibility of a faith-filled future being open to God's Will.

Does this mean that I am perfect, without flaw and infallible? Quite the contrary ... I am most of all profoundly human, and my frailties and weakness will sometimes get the better of me ... in that moment though, our greatest weakness becomes our greatest strength. Ministers are real flesh and blood people, we are not without our faults and foibles ... we are like everyone else, and do not belong on, nor want to be on a pedestal.

At the end of the day however, the challenge of the Church - that is the calling of the greater Church (Presbytery and Conference and beyond) is not to sacrifice the minister as a scapegoat when problems arise, but the calling of the greater Church is to SUPPORT the ministers in those places that are actively (and at times aggressively) resisting and even fighting change ... In my journey no one had my back, and the "friendly" fire I took from behind was as equally nasty as the unfriendly fire I took from in front ...

The reality in the 21st Century is that the Modern Church is in a serious space of decline ... it may even be dying ... and instead of finding new and creative ways of being the church, we have instead begun to cling more tightly to what once was ... our voices are muted and whispered ... we speak in comforting tone like those used in funeral parlours ... we use euphemisms to soften the reality and heighten the sense of comfort and nostalgia ... we play our soft background music and surround ourselves in soft muted tones ... we deny reality and hope that our quiet environment will be neither disrupted nor disturbed ...

Those voices that rub against that illusion are quickly and ruthlessly ushered out the door and silenced ...

Instead of embracing change and letting the resurrection happen, the followers of Jesus have instead of standing by the empty tomb rejoicing - "HE HAS RISEN!!" instead are desperately trying to roll the stone back and create a members only social club where only the select few are allowed to share in the secret ...

What is the role of minister??
Not to be complacent nor passive ... it's time for action !!!

I'm proud of my history in ministry, and today I weep for the Church that can see a deeply troubled and divided congregation that is crying out in Pain and say blithely - "It's okay." while driving out leadership with a passion for the Church ... but as I stand as one driven out ... I can only trust in God that one day the resurrection will happen and the stone will not be just rolled away ... it will be cast away and a NEW CHURCH will come into being that truly welcomes in EVERYONE, not just the select few who carry the right political affiliation, and who pretend everything is fine ...

One day - it WILL happen ... and I'll add a hearty "HALLELUJAH !!!!" to my enthusiastic "I TOLD YA SO !!!"

Thanks be to God.

Tuesday, July 15, 2008

What Would Jesus Do?

Yesterday over at The laughing pastor, Pastor Blake mused aloud about the tension between being passionate and compassionate focusing on the question - "what would Jesus do?" in regards to the problem of homelessness ...

Beyond an obvious resonance with the whole issue of homelessness, I began wondering about the question "what would Jesus do?" and how that could be applied to modern life in more than a superficial - "LOOK at how Pious I am" kind of way ... I wonder how the Modern Church would stand up to such a rigorous measure of faith ...

Working to address issues of homelessness and poverty I marvel at the mediocre support afforded to social and outreach programmes like food banks, soup kitchens and emergency shelters by our faith communities. These programmes have become vital to the survival of too many amongst us and yet they function on a razor thin margin of donations from other charities, rather than sustainable and assured funding. ... Too often Churches practise 'cheque book charity' wherein they offer a small cash donation to appease their conscience while hunkering down in their "homes" taking stock of their toys and investments and hoping the poor among us will stay away ... I don't have to even ask - "what would Jesus do?" ... I know the answer ... he would deal with our modern Churches and their stinginess in the same way he spoke to the people of Nazareth, Chorazim and Bethsaida ... his words would sting ... but the truth would be undeniable ...

Having experienced a vast spectrum of violence against my person, ranging from libelous and slanderous emails sent out to my friends and associates, a slashed tire, shots fired at my home and vehicle, threats uttered, rude gestures, physical intimidation and last week being forced off the road ... I don't ponder 'what would Jesus do?' in regards to the small-minded perpetrators of these actions, but rather I would posit on the shoulders of those who have closed their eyes to the utter nonsense enacted by others ... The leadership of the Church in Minnedosa who said so flippantly - "oh, that didn't happen ..." or "that's not because of the Church" have never wrestled with the question - 'what would Jesus do?', for Jesus would not side with the malicious perpetrator of violence, but would stand in the middle with a firm and resolute - "STOP!" ... He, like ALL people of faith, would condemn the violence and toxicity, and not deny it, or worse enable it by doing NOTHING to confront the perpetrators and call them to account ... but alas, it doesn't take a rocket scientist to see that too often the very people who SHOULD and COULD stand opposed to the violence physical, spiritual and emotional, are often part of the cause ... and have themselves shared in the mob mentality that has created this milieu ...

Looking more deeply at my former Pastoral Charge and its earnest yearning to rebuild the structure it lost in 2006 to arson, I wonder what would Jesus do?? Would he continue to press forward blithely pretending that ALL is WELL, and that the building should and could continue? Or would he recognize the anguished voices of pain that are crying out from the margins of that Community of faith, and pause to rebuild the SPIRIT and the HEART of the community before trying to build a building?? I hearken back to a comment by a ministerial colleague who, as the crises that lead to my departure began to unfold said softly - "Shawn, the new building will never rise on the corner until the Spirit wills it to happen, and until Minnedosa United Church heals the rift within its souls and brings its congregation back together, there will be no building ..." Two years on, his words sound prophetic and accurate ... One can not build a "Church" if the heart of the community is rent and broken ... and I hear from too many people for whom the Church is no longer home, to see a Community of Faith building a new structure to house itself ...

Wandering the streets of Minnedosa, I have marvelled at the "warm and welcoming" responses I continue to receive from the citizens of the community ... averted glances, avoidance and outright shunning are common ... many of those who become visibly uncomfortable are the "good" church folks who have lapped up the vicious and UNTRUE rumours, gossip and innuendo that has been spread far and wide and accepted as fact ... I have mused countless times - "what would Jesus do?" if he heard the untruths and lies being perpetuated and spread - would he pass them on, or would he put his foot down and take a stand ... I opt for the latter ... unfortunately the cowardice and complacency of the Church, particularly the Church in Minnedosa has chosen to spread the rumours and add to them ...

What would Jesus do is a hard question ... it takes to the heart of our faith and our understanding of who and what Jesus was about. If ours is a 'gentle Jesus, meek and mild,' our response will be bland and beige and insipid, but if ours is a Jesus of action - the guy who kicked over the tables in the temple, and who confronted the crowds by challenging the status quo ... our response to the question would be life-altering and passionate ...

Jesus' compassion was not merely worn on his sleeve and hauled out at opportune moments ... his compassion under girded his passion and was motivated by his faith, and by his desire to the see the world more closely aligned with the Kingdom of God as he understood it ... a place of radical inclusion ... a place of healing and wholeness ... a place of boundless GRACE.

The church divided is not a place of Grace.

A church that averts its eyes to even one member is not a place of Grace.

A church that casts out one for any reason is not a place of Grace.

A church that relishes rumours and gossip over truth is not a place of Grace.

A church that prioritizes being a social club over changing the social order is not a place of Grace.

A church that will not live its faith and welcome in ALL people is not a place of Grace.

A church that lacks Grace is not a church at all ...

And today a vacant lot in Minnedosa reminds many of the cost of losing Grace ...

What would Jesus do?? It's a terribly uncomfortable question for those among us for whom faith is nothing more than a label we wear ... fortunately, there is ample evidence that faith is FAR MORE than just a label ... poverty, homelessness, inclusion, living the welcome ... the issues that we confront in our daily lives, and how we live our lives are all indicators of our faith ...

Looking around in today's world ... many of us are not even willing to consider the simple question - "what would Jesus do?" much less live an answer that sees us embodying Jesus's message in our day to day lives ...

There's some work to do ... and regrettably, the whisper - "what would Jesus do?" has been lost ... but we are a people of the Resurrection, and the Resurrection is about new life, even in the face of death ... As Bishop Desmond Tutu once said to a crowd gathered under the nose of the Apartheid regime of South Africa - that which opposes the Will of God will not prevail ... Tutu even brashly invited the police recording his sermon to "come and join the winning side" because they had already lost. Many years later his words proved prophetic ... that which opposed the will of God - a will of inclusion, welcome, justice, fairness and most of all LOVE had fallen and in its place arose, with hopeful optimism the possibility of MORE ...

At the end of the day, it's all about faith ... faith without works is dead, and works that are NOT faithful and faith-FILLED are dead ...

What would Jesus do ??? ... he would live his faith and expect no less from us ...

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Monday, July 14, 2008

As the day begins ...

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Today as I began my day I read the following snippets in one of the resources I use to begin my day with reflection and meditation ... there are no coincidences in life ... things happen because they happen, and there are lessons to be learned where throughout our day. The challenge we face is to be open to the whispers offered by the cosmos ...
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Today these words set the tone for the hours ahead ... they are worth sharing, but more importantly, they are worth reflecting on:
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"Look to this Day !!
For it is Life,
the very Life of Life"
- Sanskrit, Salutation of the Dawn
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Today I will live int he present and find what I can to enjoy there. If there is pain, I will accept that too. But my pain does not have to completely overshadow the enjoyable parts of my reality. I will participate in making more of my joy: I may join in a conversation at work or at a meeting, tell a joke at the dinner table, or laugh with a friend. Just for today - I may even allow myself to sing!
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I can't make past wrongs disappear, but I can take actions that will help me to let them go. When I make amends, I do what I can to correct the situation. Then I can put the past in its rightful place leave it there.

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Today I will try to extend to my fellow members the respect, patience, and courtesy that I want for myself.

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"Great Spirit,

help me to never judge another

until I have walked in his moccasins."

- Sioux First Nations' prayer

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Dayenu !!

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Sunday, July 13, 2008

Eeeeewwww !!!

This story is JUST TOO GROSS for comment:

Fecal Bacteria Found on University Keyboards from CTV.CA

Maybe stories like this will inspire MORE people to take 30 seconds to WASH their hands with soap and water after using the washroom ... and consider cleaning their keyboards periodically ... I'll be sharing this one with my colleagues ... and passing around the aerosol cleaner and wipes !!!

In the meantime, being finicky would seems to be a HEALTHY choice !!!

3 ... 3 ... 3 ...

This morning I pulled out the set of Season 3 of Hawaii Five O

I popped in the disc 3 of the set

and I turned on show number 3 on the disc, an episode entitled "Over Fifty? Steal." which starred Hume Cronyn as a gentleman thief who to quote Jack Lord's character McGarrett "sure can play the game."

The entire episode was a delightful and almost comic romp that pitted Cronyn's character Mr Avery Filer against McGarrett and his team in a cat and mouse game that often saw the mouse dancing before the very nose of the unsuspecting cat ... it was just plain fun ...

Sometimes you need a good entertaining story ... and the third track on the third disc of the third season of Hawaii Five O is simply that ... a good story ... even the music backing the episode has a light-hearted jazzy beat ... Cronyn and Lord made a good team, comedic and otherwise ... too bad I have to wait for Season Four to see Avery Filer return to once again match wits with McGarrett and his team ...

I had to use this picture of Hume Cronyn,

it is the cover of the 1976 Programme of

The Stratford Shakespearean Festival's

production of

The Merchant of Venice.

It was TOO good to pass up!

Saturday, July 12, 2008

Lessons from a Zen Master ...



Today I hopped in the car to head to Brandon and popped in the Eckhart Tolle CD for A New Earth and the cd began with the following story:


"The Zen Master Hakuin lived in a town in Japan. He was held in high regard and many people came to him for spiritual teaching. Then it happened that the teenage daughter of his next-door neighbour became pregnant. When being questioned by her angry and scolding parents as to the identity of the father, she finally told them that he was Hakuin, the Zen Master. In great anger the parents rushed over to Hakuin and told him with much shouting and accusing that their daughter had confessed that he was the father. All he replied was, "Is that so?"


News of the scandal spread throughout the town and beyond. The Master lost his reputation. This did not trouble him. Nobody came to see himanymore. He remained unmoved. When the child was born, the arents brought the baby to Hakuin. "You are the father, so you look after him ..." The Master took loving care of the child. A year later the mother remorsefully confessed to her parents that the real father of the child was thsee Hakuin to apologize e young man who worked at the butcher shop. In great distress they went to Hakuin to apologize and ask for forgiveness. "We are really sorry. We have come to take the baby back. Our daughter confessed that you are not the father." "Is that so?" is all he would say as he handed the baby over to them.


The Master responds to falsehood and truth, bad news and good news, in exactly the same way: "Is that so?" He allows the form of the moment, good or bad, to be as it is and so does not become a participant in human drama. To him there is only this moment, and this moment is as it is. Events are not personalized."


Around the same time My Own Woman from over at The Perpetual Search for Personal Nirvana left a comment on my previous posting that said in part:


"The only thing I can do is give you a bit of worthless advice: The only person you can change is yourself, you can not change others."


As I thought about Tolle's words and found MOW's word when I got back from Brandon I realized that while I yearn to attain a state like that of Zen Master Hakuin, I am not there ... I have a ways to go ... but what I DID realize is that what MOW said is true ... I want to see other people change - to achieve and experience the freedom from their pain body ... but it is something I can yearn for - but have no control over ...


I can change only me ... I can control (in so much as it is possible) only my journey ... I can do only for me...and for no one else ...


I want to see friends I care about deeply set free from their pain bodies ...

I want my reputation restored ...

I no longer want to be shunned by otehrs ...

I want to be treated with fairness ...

I want others held accountable for their misdeeds ...

I want others to be taken to task for the toxicity they have wreaked upon me and others ...

I want to be doing the job and the career I was trained to do and that I was good at ...

... and in saying this, I realize that ALL of these things are things that I have no control over ... and that Hakuin would respond to with a thoughtful - "Is that so?"

I can only bring change within myself ... and that change can only come from accepting what is, and living present to this moment ...

It's funny ... hearing Tolle share the story as I selected one of the CDs helped me to remember an important truth - live present to the NOW ... and the fact that the story of Hakuin was the first track on a CD selected at random was not so much a coincidence, but was a happening that simply happened ...

I need to just work at learning to let it go ... and letting go can not be intentional ... it can only be achieved by being present to the moment ... and lately I've learned that is easier said than done ... I just need to trust that one day the truth will be revealed, and the Karma energy will pay back what is owed to those who have been less than hospitable to me and who have enacted the violence I've experienced ... but in the mean time I have no control nor say over it ... and I can only focus on myself ...

In this moment there are no coincidences ... just a moment from which we can learn and grow if we dare ...

(btw, thanks MOW - you advice was wise!!)

Thoughts for today ...

It's a cold and grey day ... it reflects the inner mood that has rolled over me in the last few days ... around me the community celebrates the illusion of being a warm and friendly place that welcomes in the newcomer and embraces the stranger as friend ... Having walked the journey of abandonment and shunning that has been so effectively orchestrated by the "good" people of Minnedosa, I can only shake my head in bewilderment at how incredibly blind so many are to the reality around them ...

My sadness arises from not from those who cling to the illusions, but those who can see the truth and chose to do NOTHING in the face of the toxicity and violence that the story represents ...

Yes, Violence ... physical violence - the slashing of tires, shots fired at houses and vehicles and last week having one of Minnedosa's illustrious citizens trying to run me off the road ... I wish I could write THAT off to bad driving - but it was too obvious an attempt ...

Violence to the spirit ... the gossip ... the rumours ... the threats ... the lies ... and most of all the denials from the perpetrators AND their defenders ... such violence is subtle but violence nonetheless ...

Violence to the heart and soul of a person ... looks of distain ... averted glances ... the whispered comments ... the anonymous postings ... the two faced hypocrisy of bad mouthing someone in one context then facetiously welcoming them like an old friend somewhere else ...

Violence is what has marked my journey over the last two yesrs in Minnedosa ... it really comes as no suprise ... but what surprises and saddens me is the unwillingness of many to even acknowledge this is happening at all ... So important is the story being told by those who live enveloped in fear and insecurity, that they can't take the chase of letting go of the story - they can't take the chance of starving their pain body - they can't take the chance of setting themselves free to experience and live the awakening of the spirit that enlightened souls like Tolle promise ...

Today my story changed ...

A red sign has been placed in front of our house in Minnedosa announcing to all - 'SOLD' ... a second red sign has been placed in from what is soon to be MY house in Brandon announcing to all - 'SOLD' ...

In the coming days I will be packing up more than just the physical detritus of the last 8 years in this community ... I will be packing up the shards of a 15 year marriage ... I will be packing up the remnants of a 20 year journey in ministry ... I will be packing up the residue of a 40 year old story that ended in a cold and vicious place filled with fear-filled people who can not see the density of their pain bodies ...

With the packing comes the letting go of much ... the things to be left behind ... the things to be cast aside ... the things that are no longer important ...

Today I begin to let go of much ... but one thing I will never let go of is the hope that the people I have cared deeply for, and that I have been honoured to once love as friends will one day experience their awakening, and they will stop defending the lies and half-truths and they will step into the incredible place that letting go of their pain body represents ... I will never let go of the hope that one day they will expereince this awakening because I know they are worthy of it and they deserve no less ...

As for me ... even in the face of the violence Minnedosa has so graciously extended to me I move forward with hope ... I own the reality of this moment ... but I let go of any judgement of what it means ...

Today:

I crave conversation with another ...

I yearn for human touch ...

After two weeks of no contact I miss my kids deeply ...

I mourn the death of a marriage because of selfishness ...

I miss those I once called friends ...

AND I know that I don't mind being alone, but I do not enjoy being lonely ...

But even in this, I think back to the words I read this morning as I laid in bed and prepared to begin my day ... words that offered a vivid reminder to let go of the story - embrace the truth - and live life present to this moment ... The words I read were:

Life is a package deal. It is not enough to look only at the parts we like. It is necessary to face the whole picture so that we can make realistic choices for ourselves and stop setting ourselves up for disappointment. ... many of us coped with an ever-shifting situation in which our sens eof reality changed from one minute to the next. We adapted by taking whatver part of reality suited us and ifnoring the rest. Again and again we were devestated because reality didn't go away just because it was ignored.

Our lives will remain unmanageable as long as we pretend that only half of the truth is real ... when we cut through denial and anchor ourselves in reality, while it may be difficult to face certain facts, when we allow ourselves to confront them, we cease to give our own denial (PAIN-BODY) the power to devestate us at every turn ...

The whole picture means taking a long hard look at the reality before us ... and that is perhaps the scariest thing of all ... too many people are terrified of letting go of their stories - their pain-bodies ... and so denial becomes the rule of the day ...

Awakened wholeness and living present to THIS MOMENT demands of us only one thing:

"When I am willing to look at the whole picture, I take the first step toward a more manageable life"

Life is too short to live an illusion defended by lies ...

In letting go of the lies, my mood has brightened, and inspite of the rain, I've found a sunny place to stand and look forward to tomorrow ...
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A good story that one ...

I know somewhere in a box is a book of short stories by First Nations' author Thomas King entitled, "One Good Story, that one ..."

The title story has a Native elder, or is it the Trickster, hood-winking white anthropologists by telling them a reworked creation story ... as story that is told with a chuckled "One Good story, that one ..."

Story telling is an important feature of every human culture ... long lonely nights were passed by sitting around the hearth and sharing the stories passed from person to person, and generation to generation ... children everywhere love to cuddle in a lap and hear a story ... much of what happens over coffee or tea is story telling ...

Story is central to our experience as human beings ... and vital to the positing of our lives and existence within the broader context of the world ... without story we wouldn't understand how or even where we fit in ... we need to story to define us and under gird our personal world with meaning ...

Lately though I've come to realize the power the story our Pain-Body spins has over us ...

I remember presiding at a funeral once where the departed was being praised as a saint, or at least someone who stood in close proximity to that designation ... the looks of confusion in the assembled congregation increased with each passing sentence that further underscored the wonderful attributes and their many positive features ... I had heard of not speaking ill of the dead, but reaching into the realm of the fictitious was a bit hard to take, for me and for those gathered ...

The reset was hit when one voice challenged the prevailing and glowing commendation being sputtered from the pulpit ... the observation that embraced the truth about the dearly departed brought laughter and most importantly RELIEF to all assembled including a family who had been wondering if they could have been SO wrong about their lost member ... the words - "are you sure they're talking about ------ ?? It doesn't sound like them ..." whispered a much needed truth that dispelled the fiction being spoken ...

I've thought of that day many times in the ensuing years ... I've always strived for honesty in regards to ministry, particularly in the context of funerals and memorials ... I try to call it like I see it ... but in reading Eckhart Tolle, I've come to realize not just the centrality of the story, but the ferocity by which our egos will cling to the fiction that fuels the pain body and feeds (negatively) the pain body despite ample evidence to the contrary ...

In recent days I've had several conversations and exchanges with people who have closed their eyes to the fictional story they are clinging to and allowing to define their lives ... one person was honest, yet un-enlightened in exclaiming - "this is the story I HAVE to tell myself right now, because I can't handle any other version ..."

Others are more subtle in their desperate clinging to their respective stories ... sadly, until we (and I include myself in this) - until WE stop feeding the fictional stories that renew the pain-body and in turn fuel the ego (even if negatively), we will never break free of the toxicity that those stories represent ... close our eyes to the truth will not change a falsity into a truth, and it will not bring healing, wholeness nor the awakening we need and deserve ...

Letting ourselves be defined by a narrow story premised on a falsehood serves no one ... false stories are the fodder of coffee shop gossip and serve only to create a tempest in a tea pot that in an ideal and healthy context would hurt no one ... but regretably, our world and the majority of the citizens around us aren't prepared to break free !!!

Regrettably, most stories told and re-told and passed on, are false creations of our ego, that seek only to trap us in our wallowing pain-body, and that fail to set us free by embracing THE TRUTH !!!

The truth is not just a story we tell ourselves ... it is the indisputable outcome of a healthy story told free of a weak and insecure ego. In the face of a healthy story, the unhealthy stories crumble in the face of the truth, leaving us to shore up crumbling walls, or to walk free ...

Closing our eyes and stoppering our ears to the truth and clinging to the illusionary story we've woven for our selves, pretending (perhaps not even consciously) that our little safe world is 'OKAY' and the story we tell ourselves is ALL there is helps no one ... to open our eyes and our souls to the NOW and to live present to our existence requires setting ourselves free of the story and detaching ourselves from the drama we've created by saying - "this is what is ..." Too often, what is is simply and uttely a lie we tell ourselves to maintain the illusion of safety and comfort and to avoid our fears ...

Until we accept that we deserve better our story will continue and we will live those lies, and feed our ego by fueling our pain body ... Looking into the mirror that stands before us and accepting the TRUTH is never easy ... but is needed for an awakened, a whole and a healthy life ...

The choice is ours to make it ... there may be two options, but there is only ONE choice ... and it begins with the truth ...

s

Wednesday, July 09, 2008

Sometimes ...

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... life is like a house of cards, and we can
ONLY
pray that there is no wind, and no one shakes the table!!
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Here's hoping !!
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