Today is the feast day of St. Monica of Hippo – she was the mother of St. Augustine. She was known for her resilience and her perseverance. She is the Patron Saint of wives and patience. Now that today is her feast day is appropriate as it is our Anniversary. Perhaps Catherinanne will offer a prayer to St. Monica for patience to deal with me day in and day out. Bill Cosby said that, “For two people in a marriage to live together day after day is unquestionably the one miracle the Vatican has overlooked.”
Eleven years ago today Catherinanne and I were married at St. Peter’s Cathedral in London. It was a culmination and a beginning. A culmination of having brought together the dreams of the months and years previous to a moment of commitment hand sheer happiness. It was the beginning of a lifelong journey that assures me friendship, love, tenderness, intimacy, nurture, and comfort. Catherinanne has been so much to me and today I say thank you and Happy Anniversary.
One of my favorite poets is Robert Frost. He wrote, “Love is an irresistible desire to be irresistibly desired” Thirteen years ago I met Catherinanne and we both had that “irresistible desire to be irresistibly desired.” I am so thankful that I met her when I did and so grateful that she desired me and that she said “Yes!” Love is certainly a choice – Thank you for choosing to love me even when it is not easy.
Marriage is a great gift and a means of God’s good grace. Today we give thanks to God for each other and for the gift of our marriage. We pray that God will continue to guide us in our marriage to be better partners for each other.
Remember this Song Catherinanne????
Niccolo Machiavelli (1469-1527) was born on this day May 03. Now you are probably asking, “who in the name of Niccolo, is Machiavelli?” Well he was an Italian born Political Philosopher who believed strongly in political stability by enforcing power. His thinking was guided by the idea that the ends (stability) justified the means (autocratic power). Morals and ethics were irrelevant to him.
Today we use the term Machiavellian to describe persons or organizations that have the ends and not the means at the forefront of their minds. So today we sing Happy birthday to a man who lived well his namesakes description. We take a moment to acknowledge the man who gave us, in his very persona, a word to describe that which frustrates us to no end in our modern day. I wonder what word they used to describe persons and institutions that had lost their way and were power driven before Machiavelli came along?
Now I write about this today because I must confess that there are days that I find myself frustrated with the institution of church and have described it as Machiavellian. As I see it, the church has, from time to time, lost any semblance of our greater calling to follow The One who loves all, embraces all and calls all to a higher sense of being. The present debate about human sexuality in the church is a great example. The ends that so many seem to be seeking are “unity at all costs.” That phraseology has even been used. In a recent letter from the Anglican Essentials to the Canadian House of Bishops the following statement is made; “If we will not make clear our willingness to remain within the Communion it will be determined that we have walked away from it” They go on later in the letter to add, “We acknowledge the heaviness of the responsibility which God has placed upon your shoulders and we assure you of our prayers as you work to preserve the unity and integrity of the Communion which has been entrusted to you.” Nowhere in their letter is there any conversation about the nuances and complexities of this debate in the church. There is no mention of the pastoral concerns, not a word about Justice. In this edict to the Bishops we do not see any talk about the “means” of being the people of God. The Essentials Movement in the church has one idea of what it means to be the People of God. There is little to no concern about how we get to being the People of God. Now that is, indeed Machiavellian. It frustrates me to no end that people like Don Harvey of the Anglican Network in Canada endorse that organization’s Vision statement; “Through God’s grace, to provide a national ecclesial structure in case the Anglican Church of Canada or any of its dioceses “walk apart.” It is ironic that the whole purpose of these organizations is sup[posed to be UNITY – oddly they are by their very nature splitting the communion. These groups assume that unity means uniformity and they believe that has to be the primary goal. Their refusal to engage in conversations about HOW we might live together as a church that has room for all people, conservative and liberal alike is a Machiavellian attempt to force people into one reality with fear and authority as tools to achieve their intended goal.
Alas there is hope. If I take time to focus my energy on my own church community and not on what is happening or not in the wider church, I actually get excited. I am fortunate to be in a ministry setting where the disciples are firmly fixed on seeking Christ in all persons and loving neighbour as self. I am thrilled to be able to say that we are not wasting our energy on Machiavellian church management. There is hope in the church – we just need to keep reflecting hope to all. So I encourage us all to pray and to act. That is to say we should be ever conscious of the ongoing nature of being church in this new day. We should encourage openness, dialogue and we should work for the ideals of justice, love, tolerance, respect and dignity for all persons – that is to say we should make the goal of BEING disciples the primary concern for us, holding our baptismal covenant which is all about a means of living a way of being, as our raison d’être.
Lloyd Crouse was a Member of Parliament for over 30 years for his Riding in Nova Scotia. He also was the Lieutenant Governor of Nova Scotia for 5 years from 1989 -1994. More than all of that, he was Father to our neighbour and good friend Stephen Crouse. On Saturday Lloyd Crouse, P.C. Order of Nova Scotia, went to his rest in Christ. His public service is well noted in his obituary . At 88 years Lloyd had lived many experiences and loved to talk about them. We would look forward to the times that Lloyd and Marion Visited Steve and Sandy as we would always count on a good story or two. I spent one afternoon by the pool riveted with Lloyd as he told me of his first encounter with Joey Smallwood. He told me about John Diefenbaker, Brian Mulroney, Bob Stanfield and Ed Broadbent. There were lots of stories and never enough time to tell them all. At one point Steve came out and sent me home as Dad was getting burned in the hot sun. I enjoyed every minute that I spent with Lloyd and I soaked up every story. He had stories about schooners, about Lunenburg, the Grand Banks and all kinds of good maritime history. He had stories about the war and his service in the RCAF. Lloyd lived a full story, with each chapter of his live yielding something new and something different. For 65 of those years he had his partner Marion with him as they wove the fabric of life together. In the next couple of days I do hope and pray that Marian and Lloyd’s family will wrap themselves in that fabric and relive his story together. God has granted a great gift in each and every person. Their story becomes a part of the collective beauty of creation. I thank God that I had at least the opportunity to get to know Lloyd a little and to revel in his story.
Steve and Sandy are great neighbours and I have no doubt that much of what makes Steve who he is today is the father that he had in Lloyd Crouse. Thursday Lloyd will be laid to rest. Our prayers and best wishes are with the family at this time and I encourage you to pray as well.
I Offer this poem of Henry Van Dyke as a reflection on life and death, especially as it relates to Lloyd Crouse and his living witness to life on the water:
Parable of immortality ( A ship leaves . . . )
by Henry Van Dyke – 1852 – 1933
I am standing by the seashore.
A ship at my side spreads her white sails to the morning breeze
and starts for the blue ocean.
She is an object of beauty and strength,
and I stand and watch until at last she hangs like a peck of white cloud
just where the sun and sky come down to mingle with each other.
Then someone at my side says :
- ‘There she goes!
Gone from my sight – that is all.
She is just as large in mast and hull and spar
as she was when she left my side
and just as able to bear her load of living freight
to the places of destination.
Her diminished size is in me, not in her.
And just at the moment when someone at my side says:
- ‘There she goes! ‘,
there are other eyes watching her coming,
and other voices ready to take up the glad shout :
- ‘Here she comes!’
I also like this little video of Bluenosse II under sail. Just turn of the music in the media player at the top left (if it has not already stopped), and double click the arrow in the center of this video to have it begin.
“Some people have an intrinsic desire to be a part of something larger than themselves. Only a privileged few get to realize that dream.” Those words ring true for Lloyd in his life as he from a young age always seems to reach for something more. Lloyd did well and became part of much more than life for just himself. He lived a life that was part of a larger gift of himself to the world, in Marriage, in business, in family, in public service and in honour.
Rest well Lloyd – Well done thou good and worthy servant! May your rest today be with Christ and his dwelling place in the House of the Lord God Forever. AMEN