This is the weekly reflection from The Henri Nouwen Society followed by my own reflection for today.
On the Journey Towards Accepting my Fears
written by CARL MACMILLAN
"Sometimes it’s really hard to get up in the morning," the rabbi told us.
He was middle-aged, but he had a very young, enthusiastic spirit as he told us about his synagogue in Jerusalem where people with intellectual disabilities not only were welcome but had become key members of the community. We laughed as he told us funny stories about how people with disabilities had helped to break down barriers between groups in his synagogue. He acknowledged that his congregation’s openness to people with intellectual disabilities had caused some to leave – yet far more new people had joined, attracted by the spirit of acceptance and inclusion.
The rabbi also shared with us some of his own story – about meeting his wife on a kibbutz and, with her, making the decision to stay in Israel and raise their children, now talented young adults off on their own. This remarkable man told us all that, but what I remember, word for word, was that one sentence of admission, "Sometimes it’s really hard to get up in the morning." We had asked him what it was like to live in the midst of such conflict and insecurity, and he had told us the truth.
It is sometimes hard for me too. I don’t live in war-torn Israel, but some mornings I am also afraid of the day. I am grateful for having met that vulnerable rabbi that day in Jerusalem. He took the risk to share with us the humanity of his fear. His story gave me courage to accept my own.
Boy, do I ever identify with that. Sometimes I find it hard to get up in the morning too. Just ask the folks at 8 AM Mass and you will find out about sleeping in on the occasion or two. All kidding aside, the inability to great the day, is not about trouble with an alarm clock, but rather with fear. I think that if we all acknowledge what we feel, e could all admit to having days when we would rather just bury our heads under a pillow. We have conflict and insecurities and pains in our lives and some days they are hard to face. But yet we must. We must continue as there are kids to raise, friends to greet, work to do, jobs to complete, communities to enrich and make whole, jokes to tell, meals to share, a tear to wipe, a kiss to give, partners to love, relationships to celebrate, hands to hold, wounds to heal, places to go, and above all LIFE to enjoy. That is right life to enjoy. Even when it is difficult to do so. Even when it pains us to do so. Even when we feel that the pain is overwhelming – we have to acknowledge the great gift that life is and celebrate what we can in it. Let’s find the honesty of the rabbi and seek to be able to say – I don’t want to face the day. Then let us have the courage of that same rabbi who has helped carve a beautiful community around him, get up, place our feet on the floor, and be off with faith to meet the day ached of us – facing all of those fears.
Const. John Atkinson, a 14-year veteran of the Windsor police force and a father of two was 37 years old when he was shot dead on Friday by young men up to no good. He was by all accounts a decent man, a loyal police officer and good father and husband. We will be sadly missed by those who knew him, but he will also be missed by the community. Last Friday all of us in this community had a little of our freedom and independence removed by the sting of death. We are now a city and wider community in grief and mourning.
What are we to do with our shock and grief? A police officer has never before been murdered in this community. "The only cure for grief is action." These words of George Henry Lewes offer a clue as to how this community will react. We must take action. In the immediate future, in the next few days we will take time to say farewell. A Memorial service is planned for Tuesday Evening and Const. Atkinson’s funeral will be Thursday morning. Plans are being made to make every opportunity for the community to come together and to offer its respect and to pray. I encourage us all to do just that. If nothing else we can visit the Windsor Stars’ web page and sign a book of condolences. We will act on our grief.
After we are done with saying goodbye I should hope that we should all act to make things different. We take for granted those who offer themselves for dangerous duty. We fail to realize that our safety and well being is protected by people like Constable Atkinson. Part of our action in grief should really focus on offering support for our local policing agencies. We also need to act to help the youth of today be more responsible. We all play a role in raising the kids around us. We all need to pay more heed to the needs of those in our communities. How tragic today, to hear the father of one of these 18 years olds speak so fondly f the slain officer and clearly he must be in shock and living with horror. Several families were torn apart on Friday – all in the name of violence. We cannot allow our grief to paralyse us. We must really come together to be better. We are not alone. The pain of this community is wrapped up in the human condition. “My humanity is bound up in yours, for we can only be human together." Those words are from Archbishop Desmond Tutu. How long will we allow violence to have the final say? We must speak peace. Now more than ever in Windsor we have to be human together. We have to take heart and be active to live the way of peace and non-violence. On Sunday past we heard these words from 1st John. –
“We know love by this, that he laid down his life for us–and we ought to lay down our lives for one another. How does God’s love abide in anyone who has the world’s goods and sees a brother or sister in need and yet refuses help? Little children, let us love, not in word or speech, but in truth and action.”
People like Const. Atkinson took that to heart. We ought to as well. We must strive to make the human condition better. Let us love in action!
Well the parish is about to get classed up again! Yup – Our Honourary Assistant the Reverend Canon Geoff Dibbs and his beautiful wife Margaret are back with us for the next six months. This is not just good news for the parish, it is great news for me as Geoff is such a tremendous help. Geoff always reminds me that hoi arrival to us will bring some dignity back. If nothing else Wednesday morning Mass may begin on time again…or for that matter Sunday Morning Mass as well.
Margaret and Geoff had not had the easiest of winters. After Margaret fall, her recovery was slow but steady and we are pleased to say that she is doing very well. We have been praying for them since they left us in October and now we rejoice that they are with us.
Geoff is such a devout priest with great wisdom and integrity. I delight in his return because I know I will learn so much when he is here. I am delighted to have the Ministry Team at St. Mark’s back to full speed with Geoff’s return. Andrea, Jane and I along with Geoff will endeavour to do what we can to continue to grow t6his parish.
Welcome back you two! We missed you and we rejoice in your return!
This is a photo from 7 years ago with our 8 o’clock organist Amanda Dibbs …Related? You bet! We’ll get a new photos today!
Before the blog entry about Payton -
HAPPY ANNIVERSARY CHRISTIAN AND CHRISTIE PAULTON!
Have a great day guys.
We visited the Walter Payton Roundhouse for lunch. It is where the wedding is tonight. The place is owned and operated by Payton’s family. There is a museum in the roundhouse – a former railway turnabout here in Aurora. The memorabilia is quite interesting. Lots of tributes to a great football player who died much, much too soon. Perhaps the most touching thing is a display regarding organ donation. Payton was a great advocate for donation of organs and it is evidenced in the many notes and articles in the Roundhouse Walter Payton Museum. There is a sign out front that reads – “Don’t take your organs to heaven. Heaven knows we need them here.” That is for sure. A few years back a family friend in Newfoundland – Raymond was given his life back when he received a liver from a young man who died tragically. More recently, those of us at St. Mark’s by-the-Lake have been most grateful for the gift of a heart to our beloved Tom. Our prayers have been with him for several months now and he is recovering. In my prayers I thank God for those who donate their organs. I now have had a couple of people in my life that I would have had to say farewell to far too soon. Unfortunately organ donation was not a possibility for Payton. He needed a liver. Due to bile duct cancer a transplant was not even a possibility. Nonetheless he made an impact on the world not just on the field but off it as well. As I rest tonight in a hotel and complex named in his honour I will say a prayer of thanksgiving for all who are generous enough to offer the gift of life itself. At the same time I will pray in thanksgiving for Tom and Raymond…and to Tom who is still in London recovering, get well soon friend – we all love you and are praying for you as you recover.
We are in Aurora, IL for a wedding tomorrow. We have a great hotel. Things are good. On our wedding night – 10 years ago, we went back to the hotel and we were so hungry and exhausted that we ordered pizza and root beer and sat on the bed and enjoyed a lunch and collapsed asleep with exhaustion.
Aside from the sleeping and exhaustion we decided tonight to recreate the moment. We ordered something called Chicago Monster Pizza – Deep Dish. Had no idea what we were getting. Thank God for root beer. It was excellent pizza – but killer to my diet. The toppings – all 11 of them were piled about 2.5 inches high. A wild pizza. One slice was more than any one sane person could handle.
Any way…we just finished our supper of HUGE pizza. We are full. I think a nap may soon be in order.
Today we celebrate our 10th anniversary. It is hard to believe that 10 years have gone by. I am grateful to Catherinanne for so many things – not the least of which is her patience with me. She is a great gift to love. I am so pleased to have someone in my life who is so supportive and who loves so much and so many. It was a great day 10 years ago and it will be a great day today.
We were married at St. Peter’s cathedral in London, ON. We had an Anglican and a Roman Catholic priest, we had an Anglican and a Roman Catholic Choir, we had an Anglican and a Roman Catholic Choir master, and we had an ecumenical liturgy in every way. The music was brilliant – violin, organ, and trumpet. We were married at night and Catherinanne and I went to dinner together before the wedding at Ahso Gardens (sadly destroyed by fire recently). Steak and Lobster if I remember it right. I remember that I was a little nervous and could not finish it. We then drove to the church and greeted all who cam at the back before we started. It was a great day – my sisters Helen and Elaine were at the wedding and participated in the liturgy. My eldest brother James was in the bridal party and his wife Clara travelled to the wedding with him. My best bud Craig came from Newfoundland and was my Best Man. Mom and Dad were there and it was great to see them riding in a limousine. I say today – 10 years later Thank you so much to my family who were able to travel to the wedding. It made it that much more special for me. Of course all of Catherinanne’s family were there and were so supportive in every way and it was great to bring our families together.
While the day itself is a great memory, what is really gratifying is the memories since that day. Last night we began our Anniversary celebration. We were out to see Great Big Sea. We were in good company with Mark and Sally Charlton, and her sister Nancy O’Reilly and her Friend Byron – A Great dancer I discovered. What a marvellous concert. Thank you to Mark and Sally for a great time. Thank you also, Nancy and Byron for your generosity and hospitality. The concert was excellent. I was primed for it as well. Having just come back from Newfoundland a week ago and having just have the whole parish led by our great choir serenade me with “She’s a Rocky Isle in the Ocean” a wonderful Newfoundland ballad by another great group -0 Buddy Wasisname and the Other Fellers. We hardly sat all night and my hands are sore from all the clapping.
We have plans made for tonight and we will celebrate with a relative on Catherinanne’s side of the family a wedding tomorrow. Marriage is a great sacrament. It is not always easy, it takes work and it is a spiritual exercise. Marriage is so good though. I cannot imagine living this journey without my partner. Thank you Catherinanne – I Love you!
Enjoy these photo’s…yes that’s me…and yes I’m trying to get back to that size!
One of my favourite popular artists is Alanis Morissette. I think she managed to remain herself in an industry which works hard to sell an image of you they think you should be. I like her music because it is raw and real. When I hear it I am reminded of the Psalms and of Lamentations. She exsiccates from lament to praise. No matter what – she is real.
My friends the Crouse’s gave me a he CD “The Collection” for my birthday and I have been enjoying so much listening to it. I am really taken by the song Everything. (If you want to see the lyrics click here http://alanis-morissette.lyrics-songs.com/lyrics/83129)
To me this song is deeply spiritual. It speaks to the nature of God’s presence with us all of the time. It speaks so well of God who understands our humanity fully. The Chorus is like a prayer refrain –
You see everything, you see every part
You see all my light and you love my dark
You dig everything of which I’m ashamed
There’s not anything to which you can’t relate
And you’re still here
There is honesty about self in this song. In it she laments her passive-aggressiveness, her moodiness, her negativity while at the same time acknowledging her wisdom, her bravery, her kindness and positive approach. I hear those words and I connect because it is so real. It speaks of the complexity of us all. We are all of the stuff of which she sings. We are paradoxical indeed. Living brings us into great moments of kindness as well moments of great pettiness and insecurity. I think we can all relate to knowing how we are sometimes so together and at other times so discombobulated. I think this song gives voice to what we often feel inside. And God is still with is in all of it!
Just as the Psalmist is able to articulate all of the lament and yet bring it all back to a point of praise. In this song we hear not just the truth about the human condition, but we hear the great truth about the One who can be with us through all of our condition. God sees everything, sees every part. God sees all of our light and loves our dark. God digs that of which we are ashamed. There is nothing to which God cannot relate. And God is still here. God loves us out of our darkness and gets it when we are ashamed. This is a great song. It is a great poem. This reveals a piece of the holy of love of God.
On a humourous note I think the song could include a line like I am Canadian and she could go on about those great attributes and the I am Americian (She took out citizenship last year) and she could elaborate on the darker side (LOL ..a light joke to the American readers) .
If you have not heard this song – listen to it. If you need it I can email you a file of it. It is a wonderful soft melody and it sooths my soul.
Today we welcomed Sadie and Zachary into the Christian community. It was a wonderful celebration and I hope in the days ahead to be able to upload a photo or two to show you all. I was so happy to have Fr. James Murray, Great Uncle to Zachary assisted in today’s liturgy and baptised Zachary. He was a delight to work with and I enjoyed every minute of his company. It was a great gift to have a Roman Catholic and an Anglican celebrating baptism together. I offer my thanks to him for his participation today. He is indeed a holy man and brought great dignity to our liturgy today.
We missed Jane today at church. She has taken off for China. We wish her all the best and loo forward to her many stories upon her return. It is great really that the world has become so much easier to navigate. The world is getting smaller.
Say a prayer for Darfour. The situation there is critical. I am saddened that life there seems not to be valued the same way as life here in North America. Pray for creative solutions to difficult issues. Pray for generosity from all of us in positions of privilege. Today I was enraptured with two beautiful children. Tonight I am shocked that so many their age are dying from of all things a lack of food and clean water. Pray that we might make new ways to share the wealth of the nations.