Is it real?

I am Knox Meaford this morning and as I ponder the scripture and think about the people who wrote these words down so long ago I look to my present condition. My mother died this week and it seems now like she was just a figment of my imagination. I have pictures and I have momentos but I don't have her in body or in presence any longer. She is in spirit only. She gave me life and gave me hope and lived her 90 years with tenacity. She was strong and independent and, sometimes, ornery but always loved me with all her heart. Mothers are the unconditional presence in our lives. They represent what God is to the world and to our overall spirit. Giving life and remaining steadfast with us in life and in death we know our mothers are with us.

As I move forward this week and begin the journey of saying goodbye to the physical earthly presence it is my job through the euology and service to keep the faith and maintain hope that she is in a better place, with my dad and her loved ones who have gone before her. Soaring with the stars and moving about in the spirit world watching over me and others she loved. We are the ones left behind to cope with the painful loss of our mother but in the long haul God is present and eases the pain of this loss if we only trust.


August Abun-dance

Well as I launch into August and think about the past six weeks or so, life has certainly changed me. We are our experiences and through this living we change, mold and grow. Life's experience is a tough teacher and can be ruthless in its challenges. I must remember to be in the moment and remember we are human becomings and not simply human beings or human doers; life guides us to greater heights should we let it.

The doors close behind us sometimes and it is with regret or longing that we want to turn around and run back through before the last crack of light is gone. Traces of the past beckon us and the future is unknown so all we have is now. God is in the now. Real, ephemeral and can be trusted. The greatest part of this knowledge is that once you discover that there is a whole world that opens up to you.

Tonight is a full moon or, if not full, at least very close to full. Mother Earth is basking in the lunar brightness allowing just a hint of shadow. Fears can lay in these shadows or we can wait for the light of day to give us the whole picture. I like that thought; hunkering down to the sounds of the crickets and waiting for the sun to come out once more.

Be well my friends and remember God is with you as long as you are with God.


Academic vs. Spiritual

Well yesterday we where challenged by three excellent opportunities to test our academic abilities and to delve into this book called the bible. First was Bible and Psychology, second was Bible and Education and then we had three different passage themes, (prophets, psalms and wisdom literature) partnered with their respective commetaries to read and report back in plennary style. All challenging in the way the professors are doctoral graduates and strong biblical scholars all in their own field.

The buzz in the evening around the table was from all corners of the world, and we asked "How did today's teaching resonate with us from a parish/church perspective?" How do we relate to those in the pews? Such a wonderful session at the pub over wine, beer and lots of laughter. Worldly chat included comments on Obama and Sarah Palin (because the world knows both very well), Jacko and how we all relate in our own ways to the people in the pews or better yet not in our pews in day-to-day encounters. Encountering the other is a given. The great thinker, Gabriel Marcel, brings to light the need for relationship and a fear of isolation which can inhibit and styfle us. To be alone is to share time with God but it is through relationship with other human beings that we enrich and grow our spirit. I have realized more than anything on this trip that a glass of wine, good conversation and encountering the other is God's gift to the spirit.

The time is creeping along and today is a visit to a very large library in Oxford. I am cherishing every day here in the UK and am hungry to spend more time with my student companions realizing this time together will be fleeing and will come to a close all too soon. They are all great people and will have enriched my life in ways I cannot understand yet but in time God will show me how.

God's presence in our lives is sometimes subtle and sometimes earth shaking .... the common thread is God is always present. Blessings to all and keep the faith.


Pondering my purpose in England

I think one of the lessons I am here to learn and take back with me to Canader, is that it appears to me the English are much behind us in spirituality. I know the Anglican faith, much like the Roman Catholic faith, is spiritual in nature, but the tradition and pomp and circumstance that they go thru in worship takes away from the beauty of their spirit.

I was at church yesterday and there were about 15 people in this beautiful stone church with an alter that was stunning. The young clergy was so good and she captivated us with a refreshing message but the tradition was all around her in service and the recital of the words from the litergy book was verbadum, word for word and stuffy feeling. It seems to styfle the spirit as one needs to know exactly when to stand, sit, kneel, or listen and was so busy watching so not to look like a duck out of water, that the worship of God and nurturing of the spirit seemed to be secondary.

So I am thinking it is offering to me the opportunity to discover how I keep this beauty and tradition of spirit and repackage it for our Western world to understand and adopt. Much of the Evangelical movement is so patriarchial and literally biblically based... it stinks .. but it woos the people with its contemporary flair. The smoke and mirrors of the relaxed atmosphere, the contemporary worship style, and the lack of anything traditional allows for people to be in the moment. Simply be in worship but the message that is being shared is one of oppression and subjugating the people into a false sense of security.


Sunday Morning in England

Psalm 96 - Sing a new song to the Lord. Sing to the Lord, all the earth. Sing to the Lord and bless his name; day by day proclaim his victory.

How does that fit into 2009 society and beliefs? I am finding in England the term spirituality has taken on a whole new context. Considering in North America we can choose any church on the block; be it Presbyterian, United or Roman Catholic we can choose a style and belief system that fits us. Here in England, from my limited exposure, I see this is very different here. It is either Church of England or little else. However, upon walking around Bath, UK on Thursday I found many beautiful buildings of history, oozing of culture and inviting one into the past. As I visited one church in particular, upon entering I was surprised to find no pews and a coffee cafe at the rear. It had contemporary wooden moveable chairs and upbeat sacred music piped in from the tiny speakers in the tremendously high ceiling. There was an air of the sacred in this modern day setting all steeped in the history of Bath, UK. The announcement board showed it is what we would call an inner city church which caters to helping all people. There is a worship service on Sundays that had the smell of something new. I sang a song to the Lord and my heart skipped a beat as I blessed my opportunity to be there in that moment.

Life is ephemeral. Like live theatre we are on a stage and the outcome is moment by moment. Taking pictures offers us a snapshot in time but as soon as the picture is developed and can be held in the hand we are transformed into the next moment. The mixtures of past, present and what is to be our future are always only tangible for seconds. If we remember the past is behind us and the future is always changing we can grow by allowing ourselves to be steeped in this moment. God is around us sharing every moment and is within our reach at all times. God is the only constant.

As we sing a new song we can look to see how we fit into this earthly world today. Mixed up societies and pressure to perform place blinders on this existence. God offers a place to release ourselves from this pressure cooker and focussing on Sunday morning worship time is a way to anchor ourselves weekly and bring us around full circle. The act of taking an hour each Sunday to remind our hearts about love, peace and hope is not only the closure of one chunk of time but the launch of the next.

The answer to the declining numbers in the pews is to feed the soul with food for thought. Answer the questions that are longing to be asked and reach out to each other for a sweet hour of prayer each week. Church is not what it once was it is what you make it. Satisfying or controlling it is up to you.

Psalm 96 - Great is the Lord and most worthy of praise...

But it is you that will feel great when God is allowed to share in your life and your ephemeral existence.

Have a wonderful day and may be it filled with blessings of hope, peace and love.


A new adventure

It is here in England that I am embarking on a new adventure. I arrived here on June 30, 2009 to enjoy a week of leisure time in preparation of a Summer School Biblical study. I am patiently waiting to begin, however, it is already in process.

Upon leaving Canada I was tested to see my strength and trust as my mother was wisked off in the ambulance to the hospital at the same moment that I was to leave for the airport. I attempted to pospone the flight with no success. It would cost me too much. So I trusted in myself and my choices and headed for the airport knowing there is a chance I might never see my mother alive again. Now five days later I have been speaking with her in hospital and she is certainly not well but she is holding her own.

How do we know when to trust God and when we listen to our own voice? Should we trust God our own voice is always God's voice. It is when we listen to external voices we get off track. As I enjoyed coffee this morning in a room with about 10 others it was total silence. The others are here on a 'silent' retreat and are respectfully enjoying the solitude of the quiet. This college in Cuddesdon (pronounced Cudd-sdon) is a prime location for just such a retreat. The church of England is honoured here through Anglican study and the spirit of God is present. God is speaking to me but in a Canadian voice and I find it to be challenging to listen to the ecumenical voice of God when one is steeped in English tradition of Anglicanism while have experienced in the past the spirituality of the Canadian culture.

This being the first post of my journey I invite anyone and everyone to share in this post with comments and their own reflections. I am learning how this will enhance my journey and have wanted to be writing for a long time, just was never prompted until today to actually do it.

The English cloud is over head after days of oppressive heat. Today is a good day for the nourishment of rain to refresh the ground. I will add more later.

Thanks be to God and I pray for all those who love me and I them.