Thankful for Hard Working Parents

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I was making a pot of soup this morning and it got me thinking about Labour Day…. Strange I know …..but I’ll explain…..

Labour Day is celebrated annually on the first Monday in September to honour the achievement of workers. Labour Day has it has its origins in the labour movement. We in no small measure have to thank the labour movement for the current working conditions and benefits that we enjoy in this country. For me Labour Day, is also an opportunity to give thanks for all hard work and those who are not afraid of it. I was fortunate to grow up in a home where the utmost value was placed on hard work. My father worked hard his entire life and instilled in all of us a strong work ethic. All that being said, when I think of hard work, one of the first people comes to my mind is our mother.

Vivian George, my mother, married my father at age 17. She moved to a new community took on responsibility for her in-laws, and began raising a family. Over the first 21 years of her nearly 60 year marriage she gave birth to seven children. She spent the next nearly 40 raising us and helping us raise our own families. Mom is an inspiration.

Mom worked hard every day – she laboured in her full time role of mother. Sometimes the work was difficult, the hours long, and often thankless. But my mother reported daily without complaint. What she do for us was in no way a secondary role. When I visit mom now in Long Term Care, and hold her hand, I am reminded of all the work those hands did for me and for my siblings. Those beautiful hands suffered cold for us. They were burned in ovens for us. They were cut when preparing meals for us. They were dirty from cleaning up after us. They often got wet from wiping tears from us. They are hands that have been loving in acts that are great and small. Holding mom’s hand is to hold a reminder of the loving, caring, encouraging, supportive and strong hands of a hard working person who never complained about her work – a woman who loves her family. Mom worked long hours and she was always there when needed. When I was an adolescent mom took a job outside the home – but she did not give up the work she had at home as well. Sometimes that meant working long hours in a nursing home and coming home and diving into her role as mother. That responsibility never suffered.

At this point in time with mom in Long Term Care and me a good journey away from her, it’s often small things that bring mom to mind daily. Today it was the pot of soup. One of the little things mom and I had was around soup. Mom always put a can of Campbell’s Soup into her homemade soups. It was the final ingredient. Once she put it in she would ladle up some of the soup into the can and give it to me. My treat was piping hot soup out of the soup can before the others got some – perk of being the youngest! This was followed by by the questions; Are the vegetables boiled? Is it salted enough? It’s not too salty is it? Answers were generally yes, yes, and no. When I make soup I still take a can of soup first. Mentally ask myself the same questions. And on a day like today – offer thanks for the tender and caring ways my mother worked hard raising me, and my six siblings.

So on this Labour Day I thank you Mom for showing us how to work hard and excel in a vocation. I thank you mom for modelling hard work for us all.

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And I offer this prayer from Forward Day by Day ….

Almighty God, you have so linked our lives one with another that all we do affects, for good or ill, all other lives: So guide us in the work we do, that we may do it not for self alone, but
for the common good; and, as we seek a proper return for our own labour, make us mindful of the rightful aspirations of other workers, and arouse our concern for those who are out
of work; through Jesus Christ our Lord, who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit, one God, for ever and ever. Amen.

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Life ~ A Gift to Cherish not a Problem to be Solved


I found this gem of advice on the World Wide Web earlier. It is from an unknown source. I thought – this would be good to share with others.

You can’t be all things to all people.
You can’t do all things at once.
You can’t do all things equally well.
You can’t do all things better than everyone else.
Your humanity is showing just like everyone else’s.

So:
You have to find out who you are, and be that.
You have to decide what comes first, and do that.
You have to discover your strengths, and use them.
You have to learn not to compete with others,
Because no one else is in the contest of *being you*.

Then:
You will have learned to accept your own uniqueness.
You will have learned to set priorities and make decisions.
You will have learned to live with your limitations.
You will have learned to give yourself the respect that is due.
And you’ll be a most vital mortal.

Dare To Believe:
That you are a wonderful, unique person.
That you are a once-in-all-history event.
That it’s more than a right, it’s your duty, to be who you are.
That life is not a problem to solve, but a gift to cherish.
And you’ll be able to stay one up on what used to get you down.
— author unknown

It’s not earth shattering – but it is good advice. I am finding that it is difficult to ever be enough, do enough, be fair enough, exceed enough. I have discovered that ‘my humanity is showing.’ I love that expression in this piece – we all have our ‘humanity showing.’

I pray tonight that God give me the patience to accept my own uniqueness and my own limitations. May we understand that God has indeed given us life as a gift to cherish and not a problem to be solved.

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Love is Larger Than the Walls Which Shut it in

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It is unspeakable. The violence that we have watched on our screens in these past few weeks is heartbreaking and leaves us all bewildered and really at a loss for words.

In the Middle East Israel and Palestine are warring. The number of civilians dead in Palestine is now north of 400. The images of bodies is too much for me to watch.

This morning we learned that Chicago saw dozens of shootings in Chicago. The city has seen a steady rise in gun violence. What’s worse is – it barley registers in the news.

In Eastern Ukraine, the ongoing fighting between Russian Separatist and the Ukraine government has now led to a passenger jet being shot out of the air. News reports suggests that the people who shot that plane out of the air three days ago are prohibiting anyone accessing the crash. The Rebels leader is on TV boasting that he is in possession of the black box, he is in charge of the bodies that have been recovered. It is utter madness. Acts of violence followed by a violent attitudes and more violent actions that rob families of even the smallest shreds of dignity that they might be left with. Current actions by these ‘rebels’ is really an act of terrible violence toward those families of those who perished.

These rebels really sully the word rebel. As Christians we follow one who truly was a rebel. He was one who suggested that Love was the way forward. Love in the face of violence. The very life and witness of Jesus of Nazareth is one of love and the way of non-violence. As people of the way we stand in the face of increasing violence in our world and collectively display to the world that Love is larger than hate and love can and will overcome violence. As Corrie ten Boom put it, “Love is larger than the walls which shut it in.” As these weak human beings continue to inflict violence on others, the Christian voice is one which declares that we must do more to bring an end to violence. We must cross the roads that keep us apart.

Today’s meditation from Henri Nouwen reads:

We become neighbours when we are willing to cross the road for one another.  There is so much separation and segregation: between black people and white people, between gay people and straight people, between young people and old people, between sick people and healthy people, between prisoners and free people, between Jews and Gentiles, Muslims and Christians, Protestants and Catholics, Greek Catholics and Latin Catholics. There is a lot of road crossing to do.  We are all very busy in our own circles. 

We have our own people to go to and our own affairs to take care of.  But if we could cross the street once in a while and pay attention to what is happening on the other side, we might become neighbours.

We may not be able to head off to Ukraine or to Gaza today – but we can make some decisions about how we will live in our own neighbourhood. We have our own affairs to take care of. We have our own streets to cross. We have our own workplaces and our own friends and families to whom we can provide an image of peace and love. We can show that love cannot be contained by the walls of violence. May God strengthen us to embrace the way of nonviolence in our own relations with others

We pray for all victims of violence today. May God be with those families who grieve – in Israel, in Gaza, the Netherlands, Australia, and all around the world.

 

Ask the Bees – They will Tell You!

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In the Book of Job we read;

But ask the animals, and they will teach you; the birds of the air, and they will tell you;
ask the plants of the earth, and they will teach you;
and the fish of the sea will declare to you.
Who among all these does not know
that the hand of the Lord has done this?
In his hand is the life of every living thing
and the breath of every human being.

In his devotion to God Job declares an important truth. The hand of God holds every living thing. Our life, and our wellbeing is closely connected to the wellbeing of the animals, the birds of the air, the plants of the earth, and the fish of the sea. We do not exist in and unto ourselves. We are a part of a larger created order.

I love this declaration from Job. I love that Job implores us to ask the animals, as the birds, ask the plants, ask the fish. Even more impressive is the fact that the animals, birds, plants and fish respond. They teach, they tell, they declare! Job seems to be saying with great emphasis – look the rest of creation gets it – why don’t you? The life of every living thing is precious in the eyes of God. God holds every living thing in tenderness and love.

With that in mind it is incumbent upon us to respond with to the world around us with a sense of sacredness. Truth be told, if we pay proper attention to the world around, we are indeed taught about creation and its importance. When we mistreat God’s creation we are taught, sometimes quickly and sometimes over time, that there are often really negative consequences.

One such example is the depopulation of bees around the planet. As a kid I was terrified of bees. Who am I kidding, I was terrified of bees even a few years ago. But I have come to realize that the bees are my friends. Why are they my friends? Because I love to eat… and according to the Agriculture and Consumer Protection Department of the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations, the worth of global crops with honeybee’s pollination was estimated to be close to $200 billion in 2005. In a March article in the New York Times last year Michael Wines reported that the shortages of bees in the US have increased the cost to farmers renting them for pollination services by up to 20%.[1] We can rest assured that those higher costs will be passed on to us as consumers. While the reasons for the collapse in bee populations in the past couple of years are not firmly established growing evidence suggests that a new class of pesticides known as neonicotinoids, incorporated into the plants themselves, could be an important factor.[2] Ask the bees – they might teach us that something is wrong. Ask the plants/crops about pollination – they will declare that there is a problem.

So what might we do? Well we can all make clear to decision makers that we want to decrease the use of dangerous pesticides and increase opportunities for farmers who avoid their use. But what about the bees you ask? Can we help in some way? YES! Let me tell you about a great project that is making a difference.

SignbeesGardens4Bees is a project  sponsored by the Julia Hunter Fund, an endowed fund at the London Community Foundation. This project supports public gardens based on the criteria of design, education and community development. Ten pollination gardens in Southwestern Ontario are planted in 2014 with flowers that feed the bees. Three of these will receive an award of excellence based on design, education and community development at Bee Fest, October 4, Feast of St. Francis, at Banting House in London. St. Aidan’s is one of the ten communities taking part. We have installed a new garden at the front of our property directly to the east of our new sign. If you come by the church we can provide you with a tour sheet and you can see the plants that attract the bees, and in our case, detract the deer! You will see lavender, garden sage, bee balm, pussy toes,…etc [You can see a full list and visit some photos here] The garden is looking good because of the hard work of Murray Hunter (A parishioner of St. John the Evangelist in London, ON whose brainchild this project is), along with St. Aidan’s own Bill Swanson, and Pat Ferguson.

It is our hope that out Pollination Garden will provide a living witness that might inspire people in our church and in the wider community to consider building their own pollination garden. Our garden is not just a rectangle of pretty plants. It is a faithful act. It is the community asking the bees of the air and the plants of the field and listening to be told, to be taught, and to be inspired to honour God by honouring and protecting God’s creation.

Recently the Anglican Church of Canada added a new promise as a part of the baptismal covenant. In the new covenant we promise, with God’s help, to strive to safeguard the integrity of God’s creation, and respect, sustain and renew the life of the Earth. I am pleased that St. Aidan’s could take part in the Gardens4Bees (Facebook and Twitter) project. It is one small way to respect, sustain, and renew the face of the earth – it is one way to declare that we are seeking the counsel of nature around us to seek to grasp how we might better safeguard the integrity of God’s creation.

Listen to the bees! Listen to the plants! Listen to creation!

To offer your response to this blog please click “Leave a Comment” near the top of this post
I welcome your feedback 

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Our Garden is blooming

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The Righteous Gentiles

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The Episcopal Church today marks the Feast of the Righteous Gentiles. On this day the church gives thanks for the life and witness of Raoul Wallenberg, Hiram Bingham IV, Carl Lutz, Chiune Sugihara, and André and Magda Trocmé.

  • Wallenberg was a Sweedish humanitarian whose efforts saved tens of thousands of Jewish lives.
  • Hiram Bingham IV was an American diplomat in France who helped 2500 Jews flee persecution.
  • Carl Lutz was the Swiss Vice-Consul in Budapest, Hungary from 1942 until the end of World War II. He helped save the lives of tens of thousands of Jews from deportation to Nazi Extermination camps during the Holocaust.
  • Chiune Sugihara (1 January 1900 – 31 July 1986) was a Japanese diplomat, serving as Vice Consul for the Japanese Empire in Lithuania. During World War II, he helped several thousand Jews leave the country by issuing transit visas to Jewish refugees so that they could travel to Japan.
  •  André and Magda Trocmé were a couple of French Righteous Among the Nations. For 15 years, André served as a pastor in the town of Le Chambon-sur-Lignon on the Plateau Vivarais-Lignon in South-Central France. As the Nazis were gaining power in neighboring Germany they urged his Protestant Huguenot congregation to hide Jewish refugees from the Holocaust of the Second World War. Between 1940 and 1944 when World War II ended in Europe, it is estimated that about 3500 Jewish refugees including many children were saved by the small village of Le Chambon and the communities on the surrounding plateau because the people refused to give in to what they considered to be the illegitimate legal, military, and police power of the Nazis.

Today we give thanks for all who would speak up and take risk to help those who are persecuted. Perhaps the most striking of the things I read about those that we honour today was Chiune Suihara’s account of why he would take such risks.

 You want to know about my motivation, don’t you? Well. It is the kind of sentiments anyone would have when he actually sees refugees face to face, begging with tears in their eyes. He just cannot help but sympathize with them. Among the refugees were the elderly and women. They were so desperate that they went so far as to kiss my shoes, Yes, I actually witnessed such scenes with my own eyes. Also, I felt at that time, that the Japanese government did not have any uniform opinion in Tokyo. Some Japanese military leaders were just scared because of the pressure from the Nazis; while other officials in the Home Ministry were simply ambivalent.

People in Tokyo were not united. I felt it silly to deal with them. So, I made up my mind not to wait for their reply. I knew that somebody would surely complain about me in the future. But, I myself thought this would be the right thing to do. There is nothing wrong in saving many people’s lives …. The spirit of humanity, philanthropy … neighborly friendship … with this spirit, I ventured to do what I did, confronting this most difficult situation —and because of this reason, I went ahead with redoubled courage.
Even a hunter cannot kill a bird which flies to him for refuge.

c_SugiharaThese are powerful words. These ware words which speak of a heart of compassion. They are words that need to be heard in places like Texas where a humanitarian crisis is unfolding. Over 52000 have walked to The US from Latin America, fleeing gang violence. These are words that need to be heard in the streets of South Chicago where dozens die from gun violence every weekend. While far away from Latin America the threat of violence to youth is real in major cities across the US.

Father Michael Pfleger

Father Michael Pfleger is a voice that offers a constant reminder that we need to heed the words of Suihara. “There is nothing wrong in saving many people’s lives …. The spirit of humanity, philanthropy … neighbourly friendship … with this spirit, I ventured to do what I did, confronting this most difficult situation —and because of this reason, I went ahead with redoubled courage.”  Father Michael is one of those people who have found his voice and is prepared to speak up with redoubled courage.

The words of Suihara need to be heard in the streets of Gaza and Tel Aviv.  His words need to be heard in our nation as we address the needs of our First Nations. His words need to be heard in our churches as we seek to give a voice to those who have no voice.

Today we pray for those who have the courage to bear witness to peace, to justice, and to compassion for all.

St. Swiffen – Pray for Us!

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My father kept a daily journal for over 20 years that was primarily written to record the weather. Dad would note what kind of day it is/was. What was the high temperature, the low, was it raining, sunny, rain-drizzle-and-fog, snowfall accumulations, rainfall accumulations, etc. Dad enjoyed weather watching. He often was very good at forecasting it too.  Along with the weather Dad would often make a note about something that was happening in the family that day – Could have been either one of us. One of the gifts for which I am grateful is an email each morning from my brother Darryl who has been so kindly compiling and sending us Dad’s thoughts. So this morning I read all of what Dad wrote about July 15 from 1992 to 2009. I learned that on this day in 1999 while vacationing in Whiteway, I took a trip to St. John’s – a simple note made in his book – “Kevin and Catherinanne were in St. John’s today.” Nothing earth shattering in that, but somehow I get comfort from reading a sentence that my father wrote sixteen years ago.  He also noted the larger events. For instance on this day 2006 “Vivian (My Mom and Clara (My sister-in-law) went to Carbonear hospital last night. Angie (Clara’s daughter – my niece) had a baby girl – 8 pounds 10 ounces!” Happy Birthday Samantha! He recorded a host of interesting things.

But it was another entry that jumped out at me today that has me writing. Dad’s entry for 1998 reads:

Skies cloudy with some fog around.  Light southwest winds.  Temperature +12 in morning, going to +22 in evening.
 I was trouting today in on Glover Road to the Round Pond Brook.  I got my quota. St. Swiffen’s Day.

What leapt out at me was the reference to St Swithun (pronounced Swīþhūn). Not one to reference the saints on a regular basis, I thought Dad must have had a reason more particular to him to reference this. So in my ignorance, I looked up St. Swithun. Who was he and what was he about and why did Dad note that his feast day is today?

On the high authority of Wikipedia I learned these things about Swithun:

  • He was a 9th Century Anglo-Saxon Bishop of Winchester.
  • He was knownfor his piety and his zeal in building new churches or restoring old ones
  • When he gave a banquet he invited the poor and not the rich
  • His best known miracle was his restoration on a bridge of a basket of eggs that workmen had maliciously broken.
  • On his death bed he begged that he should be buried outside the north wall of his cathedral where passers-by should pass over his grave and raindrops from the eaves drop upon it.
  • He was moved from his grave to an indoor shrine in the Old Minster at Winchester in 971
  • There are parts of Swithun in churches across Europe.
  • He is regarded as one of the saints to whom one should pray in the event of drought.

Then I found pay-dirt:
The name of Swithun is best known today for a British weather lore proverb, which says that if it rains on Saint Swithun’s day, 15 July, it will rain for 40 days.

St Swithun’s day if thou dost rain
For forty days it will remain
St Swithun’s day if thou be fair
For forty days ’twill rain nae mare

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Statue of Saint Swithun in the Stavanger Cathedral

Dad was aware of the good saint no doubt because of the legend that the weather on his feast day could be a predictor of the weather for over a month ahead. It’s a bit of a religious ground-hog day if you will. These days were days to note for dad. If March came in like a lion it was to go out like a lamb. The ground-hog’s response to the weather also interested Dad.  After St. Patrick’s in  March we would hear about Shelia’s Brush. Legend has it that she would brush away what was left of the winter season – so the last good snowfall after March 17 would be known as Shelia’s brush. Who is Shelia you ask? I have no idea – but I understand she was somehow connected to Patrick… let your imagination go wild!

Back to St. Swithun – According to The Mirror today, it is going to rain in places in Britain today and they are unconcerned about the long-term implications of that.

 “…the bad news for the superstitious is that there is a chance of patchy rain for St Swithun’s Day today, which, according to folklore, means wet weather will continue for a further 40 days. On Wednesday the bulk of England and Wales are likely to remain dry and enjoy some sunny spells, but parts of Scotland and Northern Ireland are likely to see some rain. According to the Met Office:
“The history says St Swithun was a monk who died in 862 AD. According to his own request, he was buried in the churchyard of the Old Minster (cathedral) at Winchester in a spot where ‘the sweet rain from heaven might wet his grave’.
“More than a century later he was canonised and his remains were moved inside the cathedral on 15 July. It was said that his spirit was so outraged that it rained for the next 40 days.
“While the story is compelling, it’s not entirely backed up by historical records and, similarly, when it comes to the weather folklore it’s not backed up by weather statistics.
“Numerous studies have been carried out on past weather observations and none of them have proved the legend true. In fact, since the start of records in 1861, there have neither been 40 dry or 40 wet days following the corresponding weather on St Swithun’s Day.”

Well – leave it to The Daily Mirror to rain on my St. Swithun’s Day Parade. I will stick with Dad’s willingness to enter into the legend of Swithun. Now if you’ll excuse me… I have to go look up today’s forecast.

To offer your response to this blog please click “Leave a Comment” near the top of this post 

On a more serious note…

I will also invoke St Swithun to pray with us for an end to the droughts in Northern parts of our country right now. We pray together for the people of Yukon and Northern BC where forest fires are raging. We pray for the safety of the firefighters there and for all whose lives and property are endangered.

Beyond Jealousy

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Jealousy arises easily in our hearts.

In the parable of the prodigal son, the elder son is jealous that his younger brother gets such a royal welcome even though he and his loose women swallowed up his father’s property (Luke 15:30).  And in the parable of the labourers in the vineyard, the workers who worked the whole day are jealous that those who came at the eleventh hour receive the same pay as they did  (see Matthew 20:1-16).   But the Father says to the older son:  “You are with me always and all I have is yours” (Luke 15:31).  And the landowner says:  “Why should you be envious because I am generous?” (Matthew 20:15).

When we truly enjoy God’s unlimited generosity, we will be grateful for what our brothers and sisters receive.  Jealousy will simply have no place in our hearts.

These words belong to Henri Nouwen.

How easy it is for us to allow our hearts to be turned to cynicism and negativity when jealousy arises. This meditation from Henri Nouwen reminds us that God’s generosity is indeed unlimited and we have no need to be worried about another’s wealth, position, possessions. What someone else receives is of no consequence to us when we are able to embrace God’s unlimited generosity.

Do you struggle with jealously — ever?

How do Nouwen’s words strike you?

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What do you see?


What we do see depends mainly on what we look for. … In the same field the farmer will notice the crop, the geologists the fossils, botanists the flowers, artists the colouring, sportmen the cover for the game. Though we may all look at the same things, it does not all follow that we should see them.

Those words are from John Lubbock’s book  The Beauties of Nature and the Wonders of the World We Live in

So here are few images — what do u see?

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If Only the Church Were More Like a Barber Shop

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Ed Penny

Today I happened on an old picture from school days back in Newfoundland. It is a picture of me collecting my grade five diploma from Mr. Ed Penny. I am in a suit with a jacket a couple of sizes too big – in a word, it is ‘priceless.’ The year was 1982. I was 11. [Incidentally I note from a photo I saw a few weeks ago that the suit looks remarkably like the one my brother Darryl was confirmed in a year or so earlier].Funny how a picture can send a man down memory lane.

I spent some time recalling memories of days spent at Acreman Elementary and Ridgewood Junior High School and time on the shared ball field/school yard that we had. Odd as it sounds, that photo of me with Ed Penny is really meaningful and has stayed with me all those years. For those who know me well, hanging on to something for a year is a BIG challenge – having it for over thirty is a small miracle. At the risk of being schmaltzy – I think I managed to keep that photo because Ed Penny was one of those people who made a great difference for me. Thirty plus years later I still tell some of those dry jokes that Mr. Penny shared with us. [Anyone out there remember Mr. Penny's Halloween Joke about the Viper?] I’m not sure he would remember it, but on more than one occasion my Grade 5 teacher made sure I was going to be ok, somehow knowing that I needed him to make a joke with me, or just give an affirming word. I was fortunate to have teachers who managed to offer me dignity when in an environment where, for me, dignity at times seemed very hard to find. Later, I was fortunate to share the staff room with Ed Penny for a brief time in 1992 when I taught an internship term at Acreman. Getting to know him from a different perspective only strengthened my respect for him and how he cared for his students and his peers. If I’ve not said so already – Thank you Mr. Penny for being a positive role model for me through both of my stints at Acreman. Thank you all the more for treating your students and your colleagues with dignity and respect. It makes a great difference.

We all have opportunity to be people who offer dignity to others. In the Anglican Church we are asked this question as a part of our baptismal covenant;

Question: “Will you strive for peace and unity among all people and respect the dignity of every human being?”
Answer: I WILL WITH GOD’S HELP

I really appreciate that the Church has chosen this phraseology. What more should we want for one another than peace and unity among people, and dignity for all. On the surface this seems a tall order. But in truth – it is really not as complex as it sounds. Mr. Penny understood how to give dignity to others – he did for me and I have never forgotten it – I am sure I am not alone. We all have the capacity to make another human being feel value.

On Monday I was at my favourite Barber Shop. While I was having my long locks shorn, a man entered the store who was clearly known to all the barbers working that day. This man had struggles in life and it clearly showed in his conversation. He said hello to all of them and they all said hello to him and they all gave him the moment of attention he needed to know that he was valued and he mattered. They all gave him dignity. I met with Quenton Little, a new colleague, the next day and recounted the story to him. In discussing how great this was he said; “If only the church could be more like a barber shop!” Thank you Quenton! Exactly! Sometimes we do a really good job at that – and sometimes we really don’t. This means there is an opportunity for us to strive to further fulfill that portion of our covenant. Let us seize the opportunity to grow further in our baptismal promises.

BARBER SHOP

We all have worth -even those who are different, those who make us uncomfortable, those we fear, those we don’t understand, and those we simply don’t like. As a people of God, we are called to honour the value and belovedness of another human being. We are called to respect the dignity of EVERY human being. Thank goodness our promise is “I will, with God’s help.” Sometimes we struggle, and we need to be reminded that we do not do this alone. May God be our help and our strength as we strive to find simple ways to respect the dignity of those we encounter daily. In the meantime, I will look to people like Ed Penny and each of those barbers for a lesson or two on how to humbly respect the dignity of another human being. Thank you God for great teachers, great barbers and new colleagues.

Please share your thoughts or responses to this blog by clicking the ‘Leave a Comment’ near the top right corner of this post

 

Quentin
Father Quenton Little is the new Rector of All Saints in London and the newest member of our London Deanery – Please join me in welcoming Quenton. Leave him a Welcome note in the comment section!

 

 

New is Scary… but … New is Life

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Help-Thanks-Wow-teaching

Tonight I was re-reading Anne Lamott’s book Help Thanks Wow. These words jumped out at me….

If we stay where we are, where we’re stuck, where we’re comfortable and safe, we die there. We become like mushrooms, living in the dark, with poop up to our chins. If you want to know only what you already know, you’re dying. You’re saying: Leave me alone; I don’t mind this little rathole. It’s warm and dry. Really, it’s fine.

When nothing new can get in, that’s death. When oxygen can’t find a way in, you die. But new is scary, and new can be disappointing, and confusing – we had this all figured out, and now we don’t.

New is life.

This is truth. At least it is truth for me in my life. I have always valued learning. I enjoy being in a classroom, a study group, an online forum, a continuing education event – you name it – whether as a student or a teacher – I love learning environments. Part of what drives me is a hunger for something new. Lamott’s words are powerful for me because I feel like they express clearly my feelings about faith, life, and learning and discernment.

If you want to know only what you already know, you’re dying. Comfort and safety feel really good. In fact we have in many ways been taught from a young age to get an education so that we might get a good job, gain security, and retire comfortable. But what of the risk-taking and safety-averse Jesus that we follow? The very message of Jesus is saturated with calling people to discern how they might leave the comfort of today for uncertainty of tomorrow. Jesus arrives to the people in the most incarnational and new ways possible – as an new-born. Jesus arrives in the most uncomfortable ways possible – in a stable. God’s call to Joseph and Mary most certainly must have been disappointing, scary, and confusing.  In his life and witness Jesus again and again challenges people to leave what they know to take on something new. Heavens in the only account of his childhood in scripture, we have Jesus leaving the security of his family to teach in the synagogue. Peter, along with James and John sons of Zebedee, are told to drop their nets. Matthew leaves his tax collecting. Jesus asks those who have been rigidly following the law to examine what they were doing and embrace love above all else. You get the idea – our Christian story is about launching out from what we know to explore the depths of what is unknown or unfamiliar to us.

“Kevin, are you advocating that we stop teaching our children that safety, comfort, and security are goals to strive for?” Of course not. I am more suggesting that we encourage our children, adults and everyone else to embrace the notion that learning is a lifelong goal that should not be connected to jobs, positions, or security. No matter our job, our bank account or our situation, we should be encouraged to discern when we have become too comfortable – so comfortable that become like mushrooms with poop up to our chins. We need to have the courage to seek opportunities that may be scary, and may be confusing. New is life. No matter how much we come to know we can be assured that we do not have it all figured out. Sometimes we have to put our nets in new waters.

Twenty years ago, I made the very difficult choice to leave Newfoundland and everything that I knew to move to Ontario to study theology. It was frightening. The pain of leaving a large family and a comfortable level of family and community support was not easy, never mind how foreign London Ontario seemed to be to me at the time. I still remember how scared I was walking into Huron College that first day. Today, I cannot imagine what my life would be like of I chose comfort over reaching for something new. While I still have great pain in my heart when homesick for family, I could not imagine not being engaged in parish ministry here in the Diocese of Huron. Two years ago last week, I uprooted my little family’s life after discerning that I was comfortable and I was safe – so much so I really could not envision ever taking on something new. Hard as it was to leave behind all that made me feel warm and safe, it was critically important to remember that Jesus called me to serve, not simply to be comfortable. As much as a grieved leaving my previous parish behind, I am have come to know that ‘new is life.’ But these challenges to take risks and embrace what is new come to us daily – not just in the big moments. My daily prayer includes a plea to God to give me strength to take the risk of doing something new – and my prayers of gratitude daily include thanksgiving for learning from new experiences.

If we are discerning big changes in life – we can do so knowing that ‘new is life’ and that we never travel from one place to the next alone. If we are simply seeking new ways to let oxygen into our lives of faith, or looking for new ways to serve – we can do so knowing that while doing something new may be scary and unfamiliar – life and hope will result from willingness to step outside of our comfort zone.

Let us seek to be open to discerning what nets we need to put down and what new adventure we can embrace.

Please feel free to leave your thoughts by clicking the “Leave a Comment” link atop this post.
If you would like to get a copy of Anne Lamott’s  Help Thanks Wow: Three Essential Prayers – Phone or Visit our Friends at the Oxford Book Shop if you are here in London. You can visit their web page by clicking here (Support local business)
If you are not in London the book is available on Amazon and at Indigo.

HELP, THANKS, WOW by Anne Lamott

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