Saturday, January 30, 2010

I'm tired ...

I'm tired ... not the "need sleep" kind of tired, but the bone weary tired that borders on a hopeless depression ... the kind of tired that comes from having to spend too much time and energy trying just to survive ... the kind of tired that comes from lying in bed at night wondering how and when things will begin to turn around and I won't have to keep making excuses to my bank and my creditors and utilities about when I will get caught up on what I owe them ... the kind of tired that comes from wondering when and where and HOW I will find full time employment and no longer have to count pennies to buy milk to feed my kids ...
I'm tired.
But in that exhaustion I am content with my life ...
I don't like having to work four part-time jobs for minimum wage ... but I'm deeply thankful for having each of them, and even though bouncing from one to another is both physically and mentally exhausting, having them at all means I can at least survive ...
I don't like having to rely on the charity and kindness of others ... but as I stop by Samaritan House Ministries to visit and refresh my spirit through much needed conversation with my friends there (friends who have been there to pick me up and dust me off a dozen times, to offer the blessed gift of laughter when life seems dreary and dark, friends who may not appreciate how much they mean to me) and as I take the day old bread and bagels they offer to supplement the food on my table, I am deeply appreciative of their presence in my life that is a true blessing of mind, body and spirit ...
I don't like having to roll pennies and watch my spending and having to say "NO, I can't afford it ..." when my children want something as simple as a dvd rental on the weekend ... but as I consider the plight of people in Haiti, Afghanistan, Louisiana, Pakistan, and other troubled corners of the world where want is deeply felt, I realize how fortunate I truly am, and how full my life really is ...
I don't like pretending that everything is okay when I feel the sting of rejection from within the Church I have called home for all of my 42 years ... having people avoid me in the mall ... and receiving FOAD* letter after FOAD letter to my applications and resumes hurts more than words can even tell ... but then I stand before a non-United Church congregation that has been loving, kind and gracious over the last year that we've journeyed together ... like Nouwen's wounded healer, they have tended to my bruises and wounds as I have gained strength and courage to help tend to theirs ... in our woundedness and brokenness we've found a place of healing and the gift of wholeness that IS God's gift of Grace ... and along the way a faint glimmer of hope has begun to glow in the darkness by a community that has not forgotten that ALL are members of the Family of God, and that living a Gospel of Inclusivity means loving the outcast and the cast offs ... and they've whispered words of hope through the lonely darkness ...
I don't like worrying about my finances and my well being while I try to slap on a smiling happy face that says "it's okay ..." I'm hurt and angry ... I'm tired - exhausted to the bone ... and I am growing impatient ... I KNOW things will turn around - but after a year of under-employment ... after a year of struggling to make ends meet and failing miserably ... after a year of sending off in excess of 75 resumes and having exactly ONE interview about a prospective job ... I'm TIRED of pretending it's okay ...
No one chooses to be poor.
No one chooses to be under employed.
No one chooses to be rejected by the one place where grace and care is supposed to abound.
NO ONE CHOOSES TO LIVE in a place where Hope is something that takes energy to maintain.
I'll be the first to admit that I continue to be lucky and blessed, and fortunate when I compare my life to others ... and I KNOW that one of the lessons that these bruises have taught me is to no longer quietly accept the status quo and continue to blithely pretend that things are okay ...
This week I was asked to describe myself in one sentence ... I came up with - Shawn is a preacher, a social activist and a writer.
This morning while I was standing in the backyard with Oboe and Flute as they did their morning constitutional in the bitter cold, I realized that perhaps the greatest opportunity that the last few years has taught me is the opportunity to reflect from a first hand perspective what it means to move from being one of the people who builds, maintains and runs the service provider agencies to being one of those who actively sets policy and lobbys governments and politicians on behalf of these agencies to standing in line and having receive the help they offer for myself, not because I chose to see what the help is ... but because I have to receive that help ...
There is NO shame in a meteoric fall from grace ... there is in fact opportunity !!
Opportunity to share these experiences.
Opportunity to tell what it's like to take day old bread because you're out of options.
Opportunity to put a face to the biggest non-issue facing our society today.
Politicians have forgotten about the homeless and the poor.
Politicians and Churches are eloquent in sharing words of concern about the marginalized.
Politicians and Churches and Communities leaders are good at the photo ops and press releases.
But along the way they've forgotten that the poor can not survive by mere words and handshakes of concern ... they need real and tangible help ... and today I've come to realize that one of the aspects of my ongoing ministry, is to reflect back on the last five years of my life and share the gleanings that have come from seeing from different perspectives the poverty industry that keeps growing but fails to address the root of the problem.
Poverty no longer frightens me ... but realizing the depth of my exhaustion has made me realize that while my journey has been relatively uncomfortable, there are many out in our communities who have it far worse ... and while I could engage in a pity party about how bad my life is, I'm pretty fortunate ... but someone has to speak up and speak out about a problem in our world that is not only solvable, it is totally and completely unacceptable.
No one chooses to be poor.
I did not choose to be marginalized, rejected and out cast ... and while I may never be welcomed back into the circles of Grace that supposedly exist within the Church, I will do everything I can to illuminate the issues of poverty and marginalization that exist within our Churches, our communities and our world ...
I will speak, I will write and I will advocate from a place of weakness and marginalization, and I will no longer be intimidated by the anonymous threats and the stinging rebuke of those who react from fear ...
As a wise man once said - "the Spirit of the Lord is upon me, because God has chosen me to tell the Good News to the poor, God has sent me to announce freedom for prisoners, to give sight to the blind, to free every one who suffers, and to say, 'this is the year The Lord has chosen."
I will not follow the lead of the United Church and timidly ask - "If that's okay with everyone ..."
I will not be afraid.
I will not be intimidated.
AND I will not be ashamed.
I will claim my prophetic voice and let the Spirit lead me where She wills ...
Today the Scriptures are coming true in your hearing ... and NO ONE is going to be throwing me off a cliff either !!!!!!!!!!!!
I am a Minister and I am going to live the Good News.
(* FOAD - def'n: F--- Off And Die!!)

Tuesday, January 19, 2010

139 ...

Sgt. John Faught, 44,
of the
1st Battalion Princess Patricia's Canadian Light Infantry
based in Edmonton, was killed by the detonation
of an improvised explosive device
while taking part in a foot patrol with Afghan soldiers
near the town of Nakhoney in the volatile Panjwaii district,
on Saturday January 16th 2010.
Prayers for his wife and two sons,
prayers for his comrades,
and prayers for the people of Afghanistan.
Lest We Forget

The Loss of a Canadian Musical Icon ...

Kate McGarrigle (left) who along with her sister Anna formed the folk duet The McGarrigle Sisters and wrote and recorded numerous songs and ten albums has passed away at the age of 63 following a battle with cancer.

An amazing musician in her own right, Kate's children Rufus and Martha Wainwright have followed thier mom and aunt to become iconic musical artists in their own right.

Prayers for Ms. McGarrigle's family and all of her fans ... it's a sad day for the Canadian Musical scene ...

(CBC story here - Folk singer Kate McGarrigle dies)

Saturday, January 16, 2010

An image from Haiti ...

A friend in Jamaica sent this ... a reminder that even in devestation, the hope of FAITH remains untouched ...

Prayers for the folks in Haiti and the unbelievable suffering they are experiencing ... and for the help that is making its way to the impoverished island state ...

Saturday, January 09, 2010

Gumby Creator dies at 88 ...

In the hyperworld of commercialism and marketing run amock, can you imagine hearing the creator of Spongebob, Dora or any of the hottest tv cartoons resisting the marketing juggarnaut and the tie in promotions of toys, product and spin off's with the words - "it might be exploiting children??"
Today such a stance would be unheard of ... but when he created the ubiquitious Gumby and Pokey, creator Art Clokey resisted creating toys to be sold along side the tv shorts he had crafted and expressed concern that such a creation would be exploiting children.
Instead he quietly created Gumby and Pokey's cousins Davey and Goliath who on behalf of the Lutheran Church in the US, offered a series of shorts stressing issues of morals, faith and respect ... like 'em or hate 'em, Davey and Goliath and Gumby and Pokey were part of growing up in the 1970's ... so much so, in the 80's comedian Eddie Murphy used Gumby (now all grown up) to forge a name for himself on Saturday Night Live ... the phrase "I'm Gumby DAMMIT!!" entered pop culture in a major way.
Today reports that the man who started it all by creating a claymation figure based off of his late father has died at the age of 88. Art Clokey, started his journey in college and went on to make shorts for the Howdy Doody Show, then created a number of his own series through the years ... all of which left an indelible impression on those countless children who watched Gumby and Pokey's adventures and Davey and Goliath's moralizing ...
Thanks for the memories Mr. Clokey - you made the world a better place with your little clay friends ...

Thursday, January 07, 2010

Tomorrow will be a sad day ...

(This one is for Beetle)
When he came into our lives 14 years ago he fit in the palm of my hand with room to spare ... he was the runt of the litter ... he was timid, skittish and shy ... over time he grew in confidence, size and has firmly entrenched himself as a member of the family ...

Along the way, he became ENORMOUS ... everyone who meets him says - "oh my what a BIG cat ..." but when he speaks he has the tiniest squeekist 'meow' imaginable ... the big cat with the little voice !!!

He absolutely adored Beetle from the day she arrived at our home and often found comfort and likely warmth curled up on her, or with her while she watched tv ... one of his favourite night time sleeping places was her bed ...

He HATED - and I MEAN HATED, Ms. H!!!. I've never known of a cat to chase a kid out of a room, but early on he developed a tangible dislike for Ms. H. that involved the two of them staring each other down ... then he would advance menacingly towards her and she would flee the room ... often in our old house he would lie under the dining room table and swipe at her ankles as she ran by ... once he mistakenly swiped at me - an error he never repeated!!

His life lost some 'umpf' when his buddy Angus was put down ... the two of them were inseparable ... I told Beetle as she nestled in her bed to remember him for who he has been, and that even though tomorrow we'll lose him we have lots of stories about him ... he was that kind of a cat. I told her about the morning in Bella Coola when I looked down at Angus (the golden collie type dog we had) and under his sleeping form saw two little white legs and a thick black tail ... I yelled and Angus sprang to his feet revealing a very comfortably sleeping cat tucked under his furry form ... such was the love between the two friends ... Angus often laid at the top of the stairs with his nose pushed through the criss-cross baby gate and on the living room side of the partition sat Diesel, his nose touching Angus' ...

I remember one night sitting reading only to look up and see two deep green eyes reflecting at me in the darkness of the hallway outside the room ... it was like those old cartoons with the menacing lights watching the unwary pass by ... I was slightly startled but said - "Diesel?" ... and the eyes blinked and a high toned "meow" greeted my question as though answering "yes, who else would it be?"

And at night he wouldn't settle unless everyone was in ... if the old calico matriarch Chloe was outside Diesel would fret and fret until she came in ... and if one of the kids was at a sleep over he would prowl the hall way meowing until you reassured him (repeatedly) that it was okay "they are at a sleep over ..."

There was a regal bearing about him ... his lush white fur, his distinctive black patches and his unbelievably luxurious black tail ... we used to joke that his daddy might have been a cougar in the upper reached of the Saloompt where he was sired and born ... whatever his lineage he has been a fine pet, a beautiful cat and a cherished member of our family ...

Tomorrow when he gets taken to the vet will be a sad day ... but fortunately in his 14 years walking and complaining among us, he has left a legacy of memories that will help ease the hurt of having to say good bye to a friend who's health is failing ...

Diesel was a good cat ... and he will be missed.

Wednesday, January 06, 2010

Rest in Peace ...

Bruce Alexander Ankenmann
"Uncle Bruce"
July 7th 1930
January 6th 2010
The last of the six sons of Alvin and Erna,
the last generation to live on the home farm,
a beloved uncle,
and a
friend ...
Good bye Uncle Bruce, and God Bless,
you will be missed ...
Beetle, Uncle Bruce, Noahkila and Ms H
when we visited with him in
Tavistock Ontario
on December 31st 2006.