Advent One - Hope!

Hope? Today candle one. How do we find hope in what feels like a hopeless world? Last night, a song service of lament for a 26 yr. old... dead. Overdose. Today viewing of the body by family.. how do I as a pastoral person offer hope? I offer it by asking the family to look around. Before the song service the family held birthday celebrations for the bro's of the dead boy and there in the midst was Oliver. Less than a year old sucking on his bottle oblivious to the pain and suffering of this world. The hope is in a baby born with hope of the future. Hope is in rising above all the pain of this human existence and choosing to go on with a happy heart.

Hope is in my grandson's smile.  The hope that he will be loved by those who watch over him.  A baby in a basket.  A baby changes everything.  Causes chaos and yet joy.  Uproots us and changes our priorities.  As you reflect on this Advent season and make your way down to the Christian celebration may the birth of hope bring you a changed world, a renewed chaos and a sense of fire in your belly.  If you are of another faith I wish you best of the holiday season and also hope for you a renewed hope in your spirit and your world.  


Start Here...

Today is a new beginning and I am going to "start here".  While working through the series "LtQ2" one of the women interviewed shared the observations of an old Rabbi.  He has said, "no one can become observant all at once.  There are 631 Jewish laws, pick one and start."  So today I will start.  This is not the first time I have chosen to have a fresh start and it won't be the last.  The point is I continue to choose to begin again and let go of my resentments and pick up the pieces of my shattered life and begin again.  I continue to choose to search and look at myself and see where I am my own worst enemy.  I continue to evaluate where I see the sacred mystery in my life and continue to ask how can I engage with it.

I just spent five days with new friends, colleagues and faces which will journey with me from now on.  I am blessed and I am grateful for these people.  They are the face of God to me.  A God, which is caring, supportive and loving in my life and a God that I can share with all those I meet.  A God which does not need praise or adoration but a God that can walk beside me in human form, Jesus and a God which I feel created me in the grand scheme of the universal creation story and a God from which my spirit continually is attached and fed with a sacred umbilical cord.   A God for which I can be truly and authentically thankful to and for.  That is my definition of God.


Missing links...

Yesterday morning while I was hiking before worship I was walking a familiar road.  This road is a logging road that I walk each morning with some other women.  One morning as we were walking I spotted in the gravel this chain. When I asked the women they said it was tying the road back to the mountain because years ago when the logging company first came in here there was no road.  So they built a road in order to get equipment, trucks and people back in here to Clayton Falls.  Clayton Falls a beautiful place here in Bella Coola and a place where I have been walking to since I arrived here.  Clayton Falls is the home of fish who return to spawn and die.  Clayton Falls provides hydro and is a place where the water falls is tapped into and turns on the lights.  A place where I have watched the water ebb and flow from a small stream to a raging river.

It is a beautiful place were I have sat by the river and recorded the sounds of the water fall.  A place where I spiritually feel fulfilled and love the surroundings.  As I pondered the hands that built this road that takes me to a beautiful place so special to me does the fact a chain holds the road in place erode where I go?  Does this knowledge that people had a hand in this road make the destination any less special?  Not for me.

Soooo... why does the fact that the we now understand scripture to be written by people who wanted to document their understanding of a deity in their time and place make our evolved understanding anything less?  Why is it as we look at a 21st century understanding of science, astronomy, medicine does our understanding of mystery and a divine desire have to stall.  In the past few weeks I have had conversations with people who question Bruce Sanguin's writings that evolution happened?  People who are challenged as creationists and people who believe the bible in such a way they cannot accept evolution because it undermines their belief in scripture.

Like this road, just because there is a chain that holds it to the mountain, it didn't just appear in the mountains, someone built it and had an experience while doing so.  The road did not just appear.  Evolution of the human needs on this planet created a need to build a road.  My need to better understand my faith, my divine connection with the mystery of all that is, creates in me a need to see what was once seen as a divine handing down of scripture is no longer the case.  But it does not undermine or erode my love of what it is I can hold on to as the mystery of creation and something greater than me which is linked to all that I call life!


... a little bread, a little wine, a little faith and a little new thinking...

Symbols ... This picture is of the wood shed at the manse and it is prepared and stacked with wood.  This week I had exhausted the supply of wood in the stairwell and had to do the task of bringing in more.  A few pieces at a time I trampled down the grass, dropped wood chips and moved methodically back and forth from the wood shed to the in house storage.  This is preparation.  Preparation that is necessary because as the days grow more dark than light I know I am going to need wood to keep the house warm.  This wood is the key ingredient I need to stoke the air-tight, cast iron stove that is in the lower level.  This wood is the symbol of heat and warmth.  This wood is my security and a cost saving measure, because this wood saves on oil.  This wood, although simply chunks of what was once trees, is my life-line.  A symbol of what is to come ...

This morning in the wee dark hours, as usual I layed awake in my bed with the red numbers of the clock staring at me from my dresser top. 5:15 AM.  The vertical blinds, while drawn, hung quietly, soundlessley covering the window and I could feel the pillow under my head and it was warm.  So I flipped it over and felt the coolness of the other side.  I reached out into the darkness and wrapped my hand around the tall glass from the night stand, bringing it to my lips and drank from it.  Water, cool and refreshing, slid down my throat.  It had been an uneventful night, thankfully, one free from hot flashes, nightmares or noises from the street.  A restful night which is, for me, rare in these days of uncertainty.  Maybe this is a symbol of what is yet to come....

In the wood pile there were pieces of wood that I wondered what I would do with.  Pieces that I know will not fit into the stove because they are gnarly, gangling, and cumbersome.  Pieces I wonder what I will do with so I leave them behind in the shed. These are symbols of choice.

What is in store for the future?  What is it I am called to do in this world that will make a difference? What symbols should I be looking for that are the signs of hope for the future?  Where do I turn when there is a sense of hopelessness in my existence?  How do I balance that which is moving forward and that which I am called to leave behind?  I am called to be present with the world as it is.  I believe this is the symbol of my future.

This Sunday marks the first time I will create, preside and share in communion in the Christian church were I am serving.  A little bread, a little wine and a table ... according to scripture, symbols used on the night before Jesus died.  According to the accounts in the bible, he called them together, broke the bread, poured the wine and said, "holy crap, I am in trouble! Tomorrow is the day that I knew was coming but now it is here."  He asked them, these people who were his friends, will you remember me?  Will you take my message forward?  Will you share it with the world?  Or will I have died in vain?

My sister and her husband celebrated 50 years married today (Oct. 4).  I was four, and the flower girl.  It was the symbol of their love for each other and just what you did in 1963.  It was the year Martin Luther King died.  It was the year JFK was fatally shot.  It was a year of things we remember.  Many of you won't remember my sister's wedding but you sure remember JFK and MLK.  They both are imprinted on your very soul.  Both symbols of change and remarkable hard work.  Both deaths symbols of a moment when the world stopped, a collective breath was taken, and a second in time when many wondered if they could go on. As Jesus was executed on that day so long ago, his friends must have felt that moment, that second in time where they wondered if they could go on.  Some denied him out of fear, some walked out of the city in disbelief and some dropped to their knees at the foot of the cross screaming.  It is through the symbols of a little bread and a little wine that we realize that life can go on as we remember the past.

But does this mean we cannot change or let go of what we have been indoctrinated with that does not fit with what is real and hopeful?  Jesus died that I can say with certainty.  But was he the product of a god that purposefully impregnated a woman, via the spirit, only to grow to be killed?  For the vegans and vegetarians of the world that thought is as distasteful as birthing cattle just so we have beef on our tables.  Housing chickens in cages and force feeding them to the point of their legs buckling so we have succulent breast meat. For this Christian vegan I cannot believe in a supernatural force that would be that calculating and bold.   This reality is a symbol that I am thinking.  This realization is a symbol that I am part of the world and not a pawn or a piece in a "God's" game of chess.

I have faith in a divine force that is part of a greater universe story.  I have faith in the evolution of mystery where I can sense when all is right in my world and when I am not following a good path.  I have faith that I am part of the Jesus story that he told so long ago.  I reach for the Christian symbols of bread and wine and do so with a heart full of love for what I can accomplish with Jesus as my teacher, mentor and guide.  I can use the scripture as witness to that story as is has been handed down by the great story tellers of the time.  I can in my heart know I am Christian because people will know I am Christian by my love, by my love.  As I find my life and suss it out in the mountains of British Columbia, there is a presence always of those symbols. Symbols that the divine in me is desperately reaching out to the divine in you.

Have a blessed day, raise your voice in justice and speak your own authentic truth.


Four Directions..

Do you ever feel like the guy on the table?  The one who has been hit with a rock and it has not only knocked you out but knocked some sense into you?  I feel this way often since being catapulted from Ontario to British Columbia so quickly.  I have now been here three months, that is 12 Sundays there-abouts.  Listening, watching and re-acting.  Hearing, seeing and advancing.  Some days it is painful and others it is glorious.  Much of my learning is steeped in First Nation's teachings and I am very aware of the "four directions".
This morning I looked out my office window and there it was.  The most beautiful rainbow .. So I ran and got my phone and started snapping pictures. It was so beautiful and seemed to glow right there. The end of it seemed to be focused on the church; the pot of gold is in the church.   I know that but how do I uncover the treasure that is here?  I am not sure. As I looked around I thought of the four directions and how each gives me a different view.  The mystery of the divine is so much like that.  Looks different every time you turn it over and see it from a different direction.

 It is here in these mountains I can see the mystery and hear her voice.  The spirit calls me to be faithful and true.  To look and see what is really there.  Peel back the layers and unveil the treasure there is to behold.  Buried deep under pain and scarring is the face of the child, that baby that comes to us each year in the manger.  A reminder that a baby changes everything.

Wham!  There is that rock, knocking me off my "know-it-all" pedestal.  Slamming me to the earth skinning my knees and breaking the soft skin of my hands.  But as I am there, on my knees looking up at this beauty I am reminded the sun will come out and I will see the way, if I just humble myself to watch and wait for it.  I turn a different direction and see the dark cloudy rain.  I turn once again and there is white fog and blue sky and it is then I turn back to the rainbow.  There it is, the promise of life yet to come, a pot of gold holding the treasures of divine love, a reminder that no matter what I am loved.

The old song from Annie, the sun will come out tomorrow is one that I will take with me into the winter of my existence.  The promise is that tomorrow is another day and if we have faith, hope and trust in something beyond us that creates rainbows and sunshine then there is always a reason to smile.

"Life does and will go on whether I fail at geometry or not" Anne of Green Gables.  It is our choice whether we welcome this life with all its warts or choose to reject it.  I choose to live and I choose to be happy and I choose to be faithful.  I also choose to look at the divine from all directions because some days one direction is easier to take than others.  That is what makes it so great.  We have choices...

Blessings my friends blessings ...


torn between two worlds...

As I prepare for my morning walk, reading and surfing a little, I look at my favorite writers and bloggers.  It is here I find this:

Whoever does not carry the cross and follow me
         cannot be my disciple.
         None of you can become my disciple
         if you do not give up all your possessions. 

                  —Luke 14. 27, 33

I am torn between two worlds.  The material, human world in which I live and work and the spiritual world in which I seek to be part of.  In adhering to this passage to those who claim to be disciples and followers and those who live in the material world I am a misfit.  I have given up all my possessions. I do not possess a need to cling to this human life.  I have moved into a spirit place where I live here but know there is more than we see. 

Being steeped so much in death that is not directly connected to me it gives me the opportunity to see from a distance.  I can see the grief and the lack of true spiritual trust.  When we trust this is only a temporary place then how can we be in despair when those we love move on?  Should we not be joyous on their behalf.  I have heard it said, "I am so sad for {the deceased}!"  How can we be sad for the dead?  

Giving up my possessions has freed me from this world, but not without a cost.  It is this cost I work with every day in order to do effective work. 


... the seasonal darkness....

Today will be a hard day.  I have now shared in three song services for the young man, 22 years old, who died last week.  It was natural causes but still no easier to deal with.  At the song service last night there were two other deaths announced as friends and family were grieving for the boy.  I have already shared funeral and spirit dance with a family earlier in August.  This is troubling.  How does a nation of people, a small community deal with so much death.  It makes me think of the train crash in Quebec and the trouble in Syria right now .... trauma in the world.  How do we keep from being crippled under all the trauma?  What is the hope? 

I am numb to a certain degree because of my own historical trauma ... the good news is, I have come through and can see where it takes steely determination not to let it emotionally cave you.  There is life after death and it is only through the gospel message that we can survive... but not the old gospel message, the new partnership with Jesus as he attempted to shake up the world in his life ... not the creation of his divinity after his death.... but his work and his practices and his voice!  I am trying to be that voice ... a new face for Jesus, in the flesh if you will.... 

As I embark on a chemical addictions counselling course at the local college my eyes are opened yet again.  I can see where those who have suffered pain, who are trying to get well, and who are struggling day to day want better for others.  Our own pain breeds a desire to help others with theirs.  That is the spirit moving among us, teaching us there is life after death; breathing life into death-like situations.  The folks I am sharing time with here in this community are all walking around affected by the residential school trauma. 

Inter-generational Trauma is real and alive and it is not only affecting Canada's First Nations people.  It affects those families affected by all addictions, abuses and past stories.  We are a broken people all swimming in a pool of infected water.  Driven to distraction by our own pain and running incessantly trying to outrun our own demons.  A darkness of our very soul that we cannot avoid.

So STOP!  Stop running!  Stop avoiding ... just stop.  Listen to the word of the Spirit as it breaths life into your soul.  Listen to the energy of the earth as it circles and circles the sun, year after year,  time after time.  You are but a blip on the radar of the great universe and its existence.  If you think you can change it you are kidding yourself and will die trying.  It can change you though, if you let it.  Mother Earth, Father Sky, The Great Spirit, the Mystery of God, the breath of life.  Find it feel it and rest in it.  Let your demons catch up with you and then fight them down to their death, only then can you live again. 

As you go to bed at night you go knowing and trusting the sun will rise the next morning. Some days it is brilliant in the sky and others it is behind the clouds.  But you know it is there.  It is in this deep understanding and trust of the universe and its consistency you live.  So trust it fully and know the sun will come out again for you no matter how dark the night may seem.  It is in the core of this rooted trust you will find hope to tackle anything that comes your way.  Have a wonderful day and remember God is not just in a book (the Bible) God is everywhere you look and far bigger than the boogie man! (Veggie Tales)  Thanks for reading, pray for me as I pray for you that today I can find the light, love and hope which I know is in my own heart.  Light, love and hope in which only I can connect.  Light, love and hope that I share with my God, my divine source, my peaceful place to rest. 


Lessons in life through knitting

Most recently, since my grandson was born I have taken up knitting again.  My mother taught me when I was very young how to knit, follow a pattern and understand the craft.  I am a good knitter and know how to follow a pattern.  So I knit Hunter a sweater earlier this year.  It should fit him this winter and he will look terrific in it.  As I was working on the edges there were a couple of times where I knit where I should have purled.  Darn! But really it makes no difference to the function or the purpose of the sweater, I just know they are there.  Most wouldn't notice, but I do.  I chose not to go back and fix them. I call them Gramma's mistakes.

So now I am in Bella Coola and I decided to knit another sweater.  I picked up some wool from the local Co-op store and searched out a pattern on the internet and began.  It is a lovely pattern but also just some straight knitting.  As I looked back over my work I found one of "Gramma's mistakes". Darn!  Well that is okay the person I am making this for, while not my grandchild, will likely never notice as it is not that visible to the overall eye, but again I know it is there.  Then lo' and behold, one of "Gramma's mistakes" made it right smack dab into the middle of the back panel.  I could not avoid fixing it.  It was just too obvious!  So I undertook to drop the six stitches of the pattern down about 2" of knitting and fix the mistake.  I couldn't do it!  I had to rip it back~ again, darn.

So I tore out 2" of knitting which is about two full patterns in order to go back and fix my mistake.  I did it inadvertently and without realizing it but I had to go back and fix it.  I could have left it and it would have bugged me as log as this sweater is around, so I chose to go back and fix it.  I tried to short cut it and fix it without taking all stitches back to that row but again it was better to just tear it out and begin fresh before the mistake was made.

Don't we wish life was like that?  Don't we wish we could tear out the years, days, hours or minutes between when we made the mistake and make it right, like it never happened?  But even so I would have known I made it and had to go back to make it right. Only in sharing it in this blog will anyone ever know I made that mistake, however, the one I did not go back and fix is still there.  So it reminds me, I do make mistakes and some can be fixed and others cannot.  Some mistakes just alter a pattern others ruin the sweater, all in all 'tis life.

Here I bear my "Gramma's mistake" in this sweater which I chose to leave to remind my friend that I am human and make mistakes.  The sweater will still keep her warm and she will know I prayed love into every stitch, even when I knitted when I was supposed to purl and even when I totally forgot to pull the stitches from the front to the back when I should, all in all 'tis life ... the grace of forgiving ourselves of our mistakes is part of the whole picture and the grace of letting others know we make them gives them a chance to forgive also.


Bear Aware

Being an urban Ontario girl the thoughts of encountering a bear is a bit unsettling.  I  brought with me a gift from one of the kind people on Ontario. It was a gift of "bear bells". This is a little Velcro strap that wraps around my wrist and on it is a large jingle bell which makes a lovely noise when I walk.  These bear bells are supposed to alert animals to your presence so hopefully they will scurry off their own direction!  It is funny though as I share this with the good native people of the Bella Coola Valley, including the local RCMP officer, they all chuckle.  Upon the puzzled look on my face, they proceed to rename the bells, "dinner bells".  Instead of the bear staying away, the locals tell me the bear says grace and realizes dinner is coming up the path!  Good-natured, I know they are teasing me and it makes me feel at home.

As I did walk with my bells though, it was with some thoughts about how they warn everything within hearing distance of my presence. "I am here" these bells say on my behalf.  It set me to ponder how does the Divine, the Sacred, or commonly named, God, let me know when present?  What signs can I look for?  Does this beautiful presence have bells attached?  For some, I think they need an atom bomb because no matter what happens in their life they cannot see it is the presence of something special.  For some, I think they need an avalanche or a snow storm to wake them up to the whisperings of the Spirit.  For others, they fundamentally believe God is present but beyond reach only to punish us, answer hot-line prayer requests, or to move us around like chess pieces on this earthly surface.  The bells serve to remind them to behave not to the beauty.  So sad.

For me, these bells remind me I am alive!  Able to walk along a beautiful pathway looking and watching out for bears.  Here in the Bella Coola Valley, I literally have to watch out for the four legged kind with little brown eyes, fur and long fingernails, badly in need of a mani or pedi, in your world what kind of bears do you need to be aware of?  All bears can be respected and loved from a distance.  We need to better understand them and know they are wild and not to be fed or encouraged.  These bears have their own environment they live in and, while growling at times, we can live with them in the same forest.  We need not tame them, just understand them better and face what it is we need to face to be healthy, strong and live in a balanced world with our bears.

I love it here with the bears and with all the challenges perceived.  One favorite question is "How are you coping with the isolation?"  It is not isolated here.  There are bears everywhere and I have been just as isolated in downtown Toronto as I could feel here.  But I choose not to be isolated. I choose to engage and find the bears and bunnies in a community that is welcoming and loving.   I walk with my bells saying "here I am, Lord, use me to be your love"  this is my reminder of the presence of the Spirit, everywhere and in all places.

May you find the bears in your life.  Welcome them as a wild part of you and respect what it is that you need to do with them and remember that every thing on this planet is part of the whole divine spirit.  Blessings to all!


Humbling experiences ...

It has been a challenging week.  I have heard stories that should never be heard.  Not because they shouldn't be told but because they should never have happened.  How can I, as a Christian, look the First Nation residential school survivor in the eye and not say I am so sorry?  How can I, as a Christian, not fall to my knees asking forgiveness of those who have been so wronged over generations? How can I, as a Christian, not seek to know what I can do to make things better for the Indigenous Peoples of this country?

This week I witnessed the two, of four courses here at Vancouver School of Theology at the 28th annual Native Ministries Consortium (NMC) where peoples from all over North America, including Hawaii, are gathered.  Time for story telling and witness to the challenges faced in the past by First Nation's peoples.  In the work I will be doing in Bella Coola B.C., I am challenged to better understand how, as a white person, I can be effective clergy and pastoral care giver.

It is through relationships with these people I am learning so much.

One term that was raised by Dr. Martin Brokenleg during our class, Aboriginal Youth Issues Today was Intergenerational or transgenerational trauma.  This is defined as a cumulative emotional, psychological, social spiritual wounding.  It occurs over the life span while bridging across generations and is the result of a massive group trauma.  This is what the youth of the First Nation's people are living with.  This trauma manifests itself in many ways such as addiction, abuse, domestic violence resulting in jail time.  The Native Canadian people are struggling with identity and unresolved grief.  But here at the NMC I see hope because I hear many people telling their story and reaching out to heal and, in turn, learning how to re-engage with life.  I see hope and life here in this place and I see how I can help those struggling in the Bella Coola community.  I am embracing all of this learning and will take it home with me. There may be mountains to climb, but I know the sun will come out tomorrow and I can find common ground with this work.  Bless all residential school survivors and may I sit and listen to each and every story.  I pray for those who cannot find a voice to tell their story and I am humbled by those who can speak their own truth.  


Perfecting a system...

Under the sink in the kitchen I have a system.  This is a system that I devised a long time ago to simplify the way I take care of waste in my house.  One is garbage, one is recycling and one is compost for the green bin.  Living alone I do not leave a huge footprint of waste but none the less I need a system. When I moved in here to share space with my son I brought with me all my systems.  The organized life that keeps me focused and on track.  My son just said this morning, as he tossed the empty cream carton in the blue bin, "Thanks mom this makes it easier!"

It is a simple system as you can see but a system none the less.  Where would we be without systems?  There are systems everywhere.  The problem arises when systems break down and no longer serve a purpose or become hurtful, or counter-productive to the very purpose they were created for.  It is then this system needs to be revisited.

Yesterday we had an uplifting and educational morning at church.  It was Aboriginal Sunday in the United Church of Canada and, with the St. Andrew's congregation I celebrated the Native Canadian.  It was uplifting and inspiring as Danielle, my daughter, told her story of her eight week stay in Winnipeg at the Inner City Mission .  She has raised over $7000 toward a van to transport children in a dangerous community and continues her work.  It is here in these educational places where we see the intentions of the early colonizers who put a system in place that went horribly wrong and it took 150 years for it to be corrected.  The system called "residential school system" was broken from the onset, but was not changed until great damage had been done and is still denied in some circles as being problematic.  For this, I ask the forgiveness of all those hurt by this system and ask to share time with the injured, hear their stories and honour the pain they have endured so I can begin to act and help with healing.  I will do that when I move to Bella Coola and begin ministry with this community.

The mending of bridges starts with a sincere apology and then changes in systems and actions.  I will do that.  I will go with a humble heart and ask the people I encounter to tell me their story.  I will listen and I will lament and mourn.  Then we will heal together.   Take a minute and listen to this short clip of song Sweetgrass and Candle (from the United Church in Canada Website) as you rest and nest in your space.  Think about the systems you have in place in your life.  Are there some that need revision?  What works for you?  Does your system bring you closer to the sacred and clear the way for you to see your own heart?  Are you reaching your own native roots?  Who are you?

The Creator is hovering, waiting for you to find your true and authentic self.  Breathing life into your life so you can find your way.  Rest in your native self and go where you are prompted.  Blessings on your journey this day and for all days forward.


Winds of Change ... a road less traveled!

This is a snap shot of a road I am being called to travel.  Carved out of the side of a mountain in order to connect isolated community with the rest of the country.  A gravelly, rough hewn trail beckoning my very soul.  Am I listening?  Can I hear the call?  At first I guffawed; "who me?" Really?  But the Holy Spirit was calling louder and louder as details began to unfold.  A symphony of wind-like sounds echoing in my heart and voila, I hear it.

Winds of change are all around us.  Just yesterday I fought the dust and debris dancing around in the high winds.  My hair product did me little good!  On second thought, it did exactly what it was created to do.  When the wind blew my hair willy-nilly it held it fast!  I felt wild and wind swept... it was fabulous.

This week is Pentecost in the life of the church.  A time when we read about ancient people writing about an ancient time when the winds of change came down upon them and life was never the same.  A time in the Hebrew scriptures when the writers tell about God messing with language and creating a babel and then a time in the early church when they better understood each other even though they were all from different places.  Canada is the Acts passage.  A diverse place where all peoples come together speaking different languages and enjoying personal culture while living in this land.  Aboriginal peoples welcoming the attempts at reconciliation, Muslims sharing prayer time, Jewish synagogues opening their doors and people who declare themselves "spiritual but not religious".   All those faithful to something within that is called spirit ... that which connects us to each other which is beyond ourselves and in-explainable.   What is it?  I believe it is a holy spirit which breathes life into our being.  That which we depend on for our very life; seven generations behind us and seven generations before ... a spirit that is suspended in time ....

(Photo by Michelle Breadner Robinson, Owen Sound Ontario)

So as you live life with some discomfort at times remember that the holy spirit is beckoning you to hear it and listen carefully.  The discomfort you feel may be due to heading in the wrong direction or imposed upon us by others (Michelle putting booties on her sweet little dog to keep her feet warm) or it may just be the winds of change in our lives which does not always feel comfortable at first!  

May the winds of change blow you in the direction of hope, peace and reconciliation.  May you breathe life into your dreams and hold them in high regard as you are called to be the best you can be.   Take that road, wear those booties trying to find your comfort zone, and embrace the style the holy spirit blows your way!  Blessings.... 


See through glass dimly

The events of the past couple of weeks has my head spinning and I know not where to turn.  Is there a deity that I should be praying to? I use the word "should" because many would suggest there is and many would suggest it is my place as a Christian to believe that the god that impregnated Mary and raised a boy into a man, only to fulfill the role of saviour/redeemer, is my evidence.  But in today's world there is so much evidence of so much evil I am fearful. I am trying to make sense of it all.   Can sense be made of any of it?

Smiles and handshaking when the 19 year old "Boston Marathon Bombing" suspect was apprehended.  Our society takes solace and comfort in this capture.  Are we safe?  I believe the next story on the heels of this tragedy tells us we place our comfort in the wrong places.  Before the ink is even dry on the arrest documents or the handcuffs cleared of the young man's sweat, there is a diabolical plan uncovered.  Two more arrests which tell of an alleged plan to derail a VIA train.

This is the bridge... where the plan would play out!

Through the smoky glass we see a man....
"Do we see through the glass dimly" as Paul suggests?  In this passage Paul is suggesting without love he has nothing and is nothing.  Where is this love in our world today?  I have compassion for the victims of the bombing and those who were injured or simply frightened by the actions of these two young men at the marathon.  I fear for those who would lay out a plan to derail a train to make a point.  I would not want to be in the role as a police or government who is held hostage while the masses look to them for "justice".  What is justice?  Who wins when we rejoice to the news one man is killed and another apprehended for actions such as these.  Are we so shallow and empty that we cannot see that this is not "justice"?  How is it we cannot see that the media feeds our fears and the authorities strive to satisfy those who are screaming "crucify him".  

My friend is grieving the death of his wife ... she died of cancer.  Years from now he will look back and only then be aware of the horrors of what was going on around him as he is drowning in his grief.  I remember basking in the joy of new motherhood while the Chernobyl disaster was unfolding on April 26, 1986.  I remember grieving and crying on my 50th birthday because I had buried my mother the day before.  In our own world we must find peace and harmony.  I believe we must turn off social media, television, radio and newspapers and look within to find the hope we need to keep from offing ourselves.  I believe today is the day to rebel against mass action against one 19 year old boy and I believe today is the day we reclaim what it means to be faithful.  Not faithful to a god that has been instrumented by ancient texts and not faithful to what other humans tell us to believe but faithful to that which is the synergy of Mother Earth and the Universe Story  ; a 14 billion year old story that by far supersedes our hunger for immediate satiation of our needs.  This is the god I choose to believe will make things right.  This is the peace I witness in my heart.  This universe will correct itself and will seek justice for all the wrongs.  My job is simply to find deep guttural love for all the bad and the good in this life and attempt to seek "justice" for every living creature.  


Earth Day

As we link divine wholeness to our lives we connect through the ground under our feet.  I am trying to unfold my wings and everyday I am challenged by my own distrust of the world.  I will find myself in Mother Earth and in my grounding to the land.

Today we honour the Earth!  The ground of our being and our home.  As I read the Cosmic Story this morning in worship we will honour the great garden of our lives.  The wonder of nature is amazing and we can see that through this short video.  What does it mean to be in touch with the Earth?  Grounded in the sacred with our feet planted firmly in the dirt.

Take time to find yourself in this day ... smile at the sunshine, watch a bird as it floats in mid-air, watch for the goodness through your child's eye.  Find the blessing in living and share it with those you love!


Heavy rain in the forecast...

There are heavy rains forecast for today... rains that will wash away the bleakness of winter and feed the roots of the spring abundance.  The temperatures are beginning to creep up and a sure sign of spring is the return of the people who migrate south for the winter months.  I was out this morning with my son's dog and I could hear the birds.  It was before the sun was up, very early, 6:00 AM and it was a lovely time of day.  It reminds me that each day we begin again and have a new day with no mistakes in it!  Can I do better today than I did yesterday?  Not that yesterday was not good but each day I want to be a better person, find greater things to do, change people's lives and encourage those who are struggling.  This is my work helping others find the sacred and be the best they can be.

Most recently I found a very good picture on Facebook.  I captured it and kept it in my "good message" folder and shared it with the congregation at Sunday morning worship.  I find it speaks to my heart and keeps me focused on living in the moment:

I try to live in the moment and let the rest fall away.  Taking the time to smell spring in the air this morning was a great way to begin my day.  Even though I had to scoop up after my son's dog (I am not fond of dogs but am helping out right now so it is part of the job) I took the time to listen to nature and smell spring in the air.  CBC radio reminds me there will be great rain in the next 24 hours and I ponder how Mother Earth will be cleansed of the salt and sand, remnants of winter.

I am reading Parker Palmer's "Let your life speak" http://www.amazon.ca/Let-Your-Life-Speak-Listening/dp/0787947350 and am loving his philosophy.  He reminds me to listen to my life and hear my vocation which is my inner voice directing my work.  I am encouraged to listen to my "true self" which for Palmer, "when violated, will always resist us, sometimes at great cost, holding our lives in check until we honour its truth" (pg. 4).  This to me is god.  Our inner voice which calls to us for relationship and beckons us to be the best we can be.  That was the Jesus story.  Come to god and you will find yourself.  Authentic self and trust in what is beyond ourselves.

Sometimes life forecasts heavy rain and we need to welcome it in order to bloom, blossom and grow spiritually.  Rest in yourself to find wholeness and love yourself and your god first ... the rest will fall into place.

Yogyakarta pictures from June 2012.  Taken by C. Breadner.


Food for the moment or for a lifetime?

This morning I am heading out for the day and know I need to prepare supper, the evening meal.  Supper is what my mother and father ate at 5:30 pm everyday.  Dinner was at noon and often consisted of roast beef, potatoes and gravy flanked with vegetables.  A hearty meal to sustain the farmer mid-point in their day.  Milking was a morning chore and the balance of the day was spent working the farm so that the milking task was supported.  All chores centred around a whole.  The kitchen was very much a part of this whole.  Meals were sustain-ance for the hard working folk involved in farm life.  In summer fresh produce was grown, "blanched" and then frozen for future use.  Root cellars were filled with root vegetables and cold rooms were home to preserves and canned items.  What happened?

This morning I am heading out for the day and know I need to prepare for supper, the evening meal.  I have people depending on me as part of my partnership to prepare food.  It is the team effort I am living right now.  A team effort that is spiritual, physical, mental and emotional.  All important parts of the whole.  I was on Facebook and saw this picture:
Looks good but is not practical for supper for a growing family and I don't have the time or the ingredients.  Instead, I took an onion and cut it up.  Then out of the freezer I pulled a lovely roast loin of pork that I bought on sale for $8.23 which is lean and low fat.  I placed the frozen piece of meat on the cut up onion in the bottom of the crock pot which was once my mothers.  I cut up two potatoes, half of a sweet potato, one third of a turnip and two carrots.  I added two cups of chicken juice (broth) and two cups of water, a little salt and pepper and put on the lid.  I turned on the crock pot to high to get a start while I shower and prepare to leave for the day.  Before I go I will reduce to low this less than $10 collection of food which is ready to cook for the day and know when my family comes home in my absence tonight there will be a hot, healthy meal ready to serve.  All in all this preparation took me less than 15 minutes.  A divine meal full of love in less than 15 minutes.  A sacred time for my family to know I love them even when I am not here.  A low cost and low fat meal taught to me by my farm wife mother.

Often we seek the decadence of the chocolate lasagna only to find emptiness and a sugar high.  Often we seek love in the foods that are not a healthy choice.  Our soul needs food for a lifetime not just to satisfy our momentary cravings.  Family is where we grow and learn to be present to our spirit.  In our fast paced, fast food world we loose touch with the person who takes the time to work part of the puzzle which is so important.  The role of love through food preparation and feeding ourselves the love of supporting partners and family members.  The chores of our mothers and grandmothers were of the utmost importance to family life.  On the farm everyone worked together to survive.  Start your own farm .... support your family and be in relationship with the divine role of food for the soul.   Get back to basics and find more than you realize you have lost!


Are we Easter people?

As Holy week unfolds and life's challenges face us do we really understand what it was that Jesus faced?  He paraded into Jerusalem to shouts of praise and accolades.  He was on top of the world.  But something was amiss.  He understood that this could turn on a dime and, because we read the book, we know it does.  He is on top one day and the next, crucified for the same reason.  Crucified because he spoke the truth.   Have you lived through anything like this?  Have you been the chosen one at work, given a gold watch only to be downsized right out of a job?  Have you been the apple of someone's eye, only to be served with divorce papers?  Have you spoken up against injustice only to find your friends cross the street when they see you coming?  Are you an Easter person?  Do you realize that in order to stand for what is right, something has to die?

Jesus died that day a long time ago.  The gospels are each writer's account of what transpired after his death.  He was critical to the people as they picked up the pieces and moved on.  Some denied knowing him, some ran and locked themselves in a room, others simply went back to being oppressed by the Romans and their law.  People mourned his death because he was a great man.  But he was also divine.  He was the essence of God in the flesh.  He was the speaker of the house of God and love prevailed through him with passion.  When we talk about the passion of the Christ it is with it we can move mountains and stand forever.

Our world is a broken place.  A place where CBC radio repeats over and over how the Toronto mayor was ejected from a party for poor behaviour when the important news, how hundreds are hungry and homeless in that same city, is never mentioned.  Shootings of young men make headlines regularly while the mothers cry out in pain.  Jesus was the voice trying to bring people back to what is sacred.  Jesus is the voice reminding us of what we are to do.  Jesus may have died that day but he lives on in the hearts of all Christians and is calling for justice.  Stand in peace with our brothers and sisters; in faith and trust hold hands with Muslims, Buddhists, Jews, Hindus, and all faithful because Jesus wants us to.  Be a Christian and welcome all faiths to your table.


The great and powerful................. OZ?

Last night I went to see the new 3D movie, OZ the Great and Powerful and was totally amazed at the overt and blatant biblical symbolism.  There is Pilot, Jesus, Satan, Jerusalem and, of course, God.  All with different names but the same story.  Good versus Evil and the people faithfully waiting for the saviour to come.  How many times can we re-invent the story before it gets tired?

I do not want to shatter anyone's vision of what it means to be faithful but until one is to dig into the understanding of our Christian history and look at it with new and refreshed eyes it has no substance.  The bible, a human construction, is a story of people who encounter God and most live to tell about it.  Some don't, so others tell their story.  We are a people who is living in the wake of these writings.  Empire has changed over the millennial years but is still present. We still face the war between good and evil while some are crucified and others choose to live on the dark side.  Mythology is the way we can learn from the past in a colourful way.

As I struggle in between the Christian world, where I still claim to be a follower of Jesus the Christ, and his work 2000 years ago and the humanist perspective it is with faith I watch for good in my life.  A Faith which lends itself to my thinking there is more to what I can see.  Faith that the universe was not created by accident but a divine plan of which I cannot begin to understand or put into words.  A divine plan that is not a direct link to me but a divine plan that asks me to be in relationship with the world.

It would be easy to take the bible literally and simply believe what I am told to believe but I want more from my faith journey.  I am asking the hard questions and find what I call God all around me alive and well.  As I face yet another crossroads in my life it is with confidence I step out knowing something is there guiding, beckoning and welcoming my inquisitive nature.

Come with me, on your own journey.  Go out and find your faith and you will live more fully and love with intensity.


This piece of art is the mindchild of my neice Shannon Breadner of British Columbia.  She is the oldest daughter of my late brother Brian who died at 56 of a sudden heart attack.  I loved my brother but I think he was blessed to die quickly and not suffer.  He also would have made one ornery old man in an old folks home.  I worked with the family and presented a celebration of life.  There were about 160 people there to honour and say goodbye to Brian.  It was heart warming and he was loved by so many.  He was not the type of person who was in church on Sunday.  Actually I think once he left home I am unsure if you would need two hands to count the times he was in a church, aside from weddings and funerals.   So as I celebrated his life I related him to God though the adult baptism of Jesus.  Jesus was baptized when he was about 30 and when John layed Jesus back into the Jordon the skies opened and there was a voices saying, "This is my son whom I love and am proud of."  Was it God?  I don't know, but I choose to think it was the spirit talking to the writer (Matthew) as he tells the story.   Jesus returned to life filled with the spirit after this experience only to be tempted over and over again.

It was his choice to remain faithful to the sacred.  He kept telling the tempter ... again and again how he would remain faithful to what he believed and so then the tempter backed away to await a more opportune time.  The temptations don't go away they simply fade sometimes until we get comfortable only to come at us yet another way.  

One of the temptations Brian struggled with was the desire to run away from life.  He was a truck driver and this was conducive to his need to be "on the road" and not have to face day to day decisions.  He was a ramlin' man and lived his life restless.  That is why this painting by his first born gives me hope that Shannon sees there is room for communal love between spirits.  This beautiful painting represents closeness and the need we have to be in communion with others.  Thank you Shannon!  You have had your own challenges but I know you will be fine.  As you are tempted to give up, throw in the towel, call it a day you can look at your own work and find hope. 

Today is Lent 1 a time of 40 days when we read that Jesus was tempted.  He didn't give in ... don't you give in either.  No matter what faces you down in life there is always hope and tomorrow the sun will rise once again and when you are in communion (connected) in spirit with hope, love, joy and peace the divine is with you guiding you along.  Place your trust here in this place.  Blessings!


Feeling the pulse...

As I ponder this beautiful picture it makes my heart soar.  I want to dance like this.  Yesterday with the younger generation I asked them to be seeds in the ground and grow as the sun warmed the ground.  At first I asked them to grow on one foot and pushed them over.  I wanted to point out we are better grounded on our two feet and it is our roots that keep us centred and anchored.  Mother Earth has a pulse from which we draw energy and life.  Most recently as temps have been up and down and it reminds me of a pulse.  Mother Earth is reminding us she is alive and taking good care of herself.  We, as humankind, should take notice.   Attention is focused inward and onto our technology forgetting the beauty around us. 

The frosted window gives way to a beautiful map reminding me that I can't look out but need to look at what Mother Nature creates.  Beautiful creations. I like being poked into awareness and creation does this daily.  Pokes me and reminds me to pay attention.

A wonderful woman I love died this week.  The end of January I had a wonderful visit with her and she was poking me reminding me to be present in the moment.  She will live on in the hearts of all. 

I am genuinely happy and I hope you are too.  I have work to do and will continue to search for work that feeds my passions.  I have learned to wait.  I have learned to ponder.  I have learned to watch.  Heading into the Lenten season (a church season) it is a time to evaluate the wilderness of our lives and see where we need to improve and purge.  As something in our life ends there are always new beginnings.


Writing a Journal

At the beginning of the new year I always pick up a journal and begin to write down my thoughts, only to have it wane over time.  Just like the good intentions of many people we all want to eat better, exercise more or quit smoking, but like many good people I do not sustain my good intentions.  In looking at this pattern, I am thinking this year I will setting aside 15 minutes every morning to simply reflect and read a daily motivation.  If I write, all the better, but I am not going to weigh it down by thinking writing or not writing denotes success or failure.

Often we set ourselves up with boundaries that are unrealistic.  Over the years I have been challenged to be open minded and listen to others.  I am better at it and shake my head at my past closed and opinionated self, but I forgive my own ignorance.  Being aware of this often requires a revisiting of my boundaries.  What will I live with?  What can I live without? Can I see the other person's thoughts?  Does it change my world view?  This is hard work and takes us on our spiritual journey.

In the past few years I have been faced with expanding my understanding of the divine.  There have been many days where I wonder, "is there such a thing?"  Who is "God"? What is "God"? Christian practices are about 2000 years old.  Coming from a certain time and a certain place following a certain man.  What does that mean?  After taking a journey at the Gaia Farmhouse December 20, 21 and 22 I was connected to the universe story and reminded ecologically where we all came from.  It is fascinating and sparked a desire to dig even deeper into my soul to find out what it is I believe.

I am on a journey and I invite you to walk with me.  Ask the hard questions but be ready for answers that may not fit with your world view.  That is where the hard work starts.  Are you willing to change your world view and let go of your childhood thinking?  Are you ready to grow?  I hope so because it is a wonderful journey!  I am off to shovel the love that mother earth has layed upon my car .... Happy New Year!