“A single act of love makes the soul return to life” – Maximillian Kolbe
Yesterday was the feast day of St. Maximillian Kolbe. I intended to write this post for that occasion – better s a day late than never at all. Be kind — I am trying to embrace Sabbath. Kolbe was a Polish priest who sheltered Jews during the Holocaust and was eventually arrested by the Gestapo and imprisoned at Auschwitz. Kolbe died there when he volunteered to take the place of another who was to be one of ten chosen from his cell to be starved to death. Kolbe was the lone man of ten left alive after three-week of starvation and was killed by the Nazis by lethal injection of carbolic acid. He is a modern-day witness to what it means to be prepared to die for one’s faith.
In honour of his act of love and mercy for others, perhaps today we can think of an act of love that we might do for another that might bring ‘the soul to life.’ [As an aside, I wonder when I read that quote --- is the person offering the act of love whose soul is brought to life, or is it the recipient of that act of love whose soul is brought to life. Does it matter?] Kolbe’s final act of love was very costly. Chances are that neither you nor I are going to face starvation or lethal injection today for loving another. So let us consider what we might do to honour the life of this great saint. He loved those he did not know by sheltering them. He loved those he was imprisoned with by taking their place in line for death. He loved many with his steady faith and willingness to face whatever trials, fears and darkness beset his life. What do we see around us today? Who do we see suffering? Who is need of our love? No act of love is too small and who knows what soul we bring back to life… perhaps even our own.
A FUNFEST UPDATE
The pledge drive continues — The Annual Andrea and Becky Funfest, in memory of our nieces, takes place this weekend. I am collecting pledges to stay off the golf course — scroll down to see my post from August 4th — THANK YOU to the many who have pledged so far — your gifts are nearing $3000. It is not too late to make your pledge. Just be in touch via an email by clicking here and I will let you know how.
Allah looks not at your figures, nor at your outward appearance but He looks at your hearts and deeds.
— Prophet Muhammad SAW
God doesn’t look at things like humans do. Humans see only what is visible to the eyes, but the Lord sees into the heart.”
— 1 Samuel 16: 7
I miss Wafa.
A dozen years ago I met a wonderful woman of faith named Wafa. She was an officer at HMCS Hunter in Windsor, ON. She became a wonderful friend to me and to my wife Catherinanne. Last week came the sad news that our friend Wafa had lost her battle with lung cancer. Since I have heard that news I have been reflecting on just how important Wafa was in my life. This year I completed a Thesis on Interfaith relationships. That document would never have been completed if it were not for the inspiration given to me so long ago by this fiery little Muslim Officer in the Royal Canadian Navy Reserve. She is one of the reasons I am so impassioned to work toward better relationships between people of different faiths.
Wafa Dabbagh was a Palestinian woman. She was born in Egypt. She was raised in Kuwait and later served the Canadian Military at home and abroad, including in Jerusalem. She was an amazing woman. Wafa was the first woman to wear the hijab in the Canadian Forces. She was gregarious, loving, and had a gorgeous smile that brightened not just the room that she was in but the hearts of the people in her company. If you met Wafa and ‘liked her not’ (as Wafa would say) it said more about you and your attitudes than it did about Wafa. She disarmed the greatest of skeptics and cynics with narrow attitudes about women, Muslims, and head-coverings in a uniform. She was a delight. More than all of that Wafa was a woman of intense faith. She called me on almost all major Christian feasts to wish me Happy Easter, Merry Christmas, and even asked me once to tell her why Pentecost was an important feast in the Christian Tradition. ”Teach me about your Feast day Kevin,” she said with that broad smile. Wafa asked this as she prepared to come to my church to offer the Lord’s Prayer in Arabic as I was having it read in many languages on the Feast day of Pentecost. She said, “I love the words of the Lord’s Prayer and would be pleased to come and meet people of faith.”
Wafa welcomed us into her home, prepared great feasts for us all. She taught me to say Alhamdulillah after finishing a wonderful meal at her house. It means “praise to Allah,” she said, “or if you like – Thanks be to God.” She went on to teach me Inshallah (If God wills it), Assalamu Alaikom (peace be upon you), and many more. I once told her, that I wish I had the faith that she possessed. I told her that she was a powerful witness to me and an inspiration. I told her that Christians have much to learn from her as she provided such a strong witness of her faith to everyone she met. Wafa Dabbagh was a special servant of God’s making and she will be sorely missed by the military community, her neighbours, her faith community, her friends and her family. That being said, those of us who knew her were changed and made better for it. She left a great mark on the world. My world became much bigger after I met this diminutive Palestinian. She was small in stature and yet she left a tremendously large footprint of faith as she left us last week. Thank you Wafa for showing us that humility, good humour, kindness, compassion, and prayerfulness can be such a powerful refection of the Divine. We hope that we shall all meet again one day —- Inshallah.
READ AN ARTICLE ABOUT WAFA IN THE OTTAWA CITIZEN BY CLICKING HERE
Tara Brach writes
“the spiritual path is not a solo endeavour. In fact, the very notion of a self who is trying to free her/himself is a delusion. We are in it together and the company of spiritual friends helps us realize our interconnectedness.”
There is something special that happens when we come together. That special something revolves around the notion that we are community. We are designed to embrace the interconnectedness that comes with being a party of the human race. That is often hard for us to see, let alone embrace, in a world which preaches individualism on a regular and ongoing basis. Every now and then we are given glimpses of what Kingdom living looks like. Each of those glimpses seem to revolve around people coming together. Each of those instances involves loving, sharing, and taking on the common joy or the common sorrow that comes with being a child of God on a journey of faith. Scripture says to us:
Two are better than one because they have a good return for their hard work. If either should fall, one can pick up the other. But how miserable are those who fall and don’t have a companion to help them up! Also, if two lie down together, they can stay warm. But how can anyone stay warm alone? Also, one can be overpowered, but two together can put up resistance. A three-ply cord doesn’t easily snap. - Ecclesiastes 4:9-12
Today was RAY DAY at St. Mark’s by-the-Lake. Today the community honoured the life of Ray Hinton by embracing the notion that we are better together than we are apart. Ray Hinton was an integral part of the community of faith in general and a wonderfully devout parishioner at St. Mark’s by-the-Lake. When he died so unexpectedly in March we were all saddened and we were all concerned for Marion. The Parish Council, under the leadership of Warden Christian Paulton, chose RAY DAY as a way to show Marion how much love we have for her as well as giving the people of God in this place a way to come together to and be present to one another in their grief. RAY DAY was a day to clean out the gardens and ready them for the spring and summer months ahead.
It is not uncommon to see Marion Hinton tending to the church gardens. It was not uncommon to see Ray, assisting her in the gardens. Ray has gone to his glory. So today 35 or so of Marion’s church family walked into the church garden with Marion and helped her the same way Ray would have if he were here. My Dad always said, ‘Many hands make light work.’ I saw that come to life today. It was awesome to see all of those people today supporting Marion and supporting one another. We had to leave for a wedding this morning and it was a wonderful feeling to drive away seeing so many of the people that we have grown to love so dearly tilling the soil together as they remembered Ray Hinton. The group cleaned out all of the gardens and they constructed a new tiered garden at the main entrance to the church/hall offices. The Ray Hinton Garden is highlighted by a beautiful stone that says, ALL ARE WELCOME – In Memory of Ray Hinton.
It is an awesome new addition to the property here. All of the gardens out there are amazing after today. There were bags and bags of yard waste prepared as they trimmed out that which is no longer needed and allowed new life to spring forth.
Watching them trim this morning I was reminded of the words of John 15.
“I am the true vine, and my Father is the vineyard keeper. He removes any of my branches that don’t produce fruit, and he trims any branch that produces fruit so that it will produce even more fruit. You are already trimmed because of the word I have spoken to you. Remain in me, and I will remain in you. A branch can’t produce fruit by itself, but must remain in the vine. Likewise, you can’t produce fruit unless you remain in me. I am the vine; you are the branches. If you remain in me and I in you, then you will produce much fruit.
Judging by the amount that was trimmed away LOVE SPRINGS ETERNAL at St. Mark’s by-the-Lake. There will be many fruits of love, justice, compassion, and healing to be harvested at our church because of the willingness of this community to embrace each other, and to reach out to one of its dearest members and hold her in prayer and in action as they tended to pruning that which no longer has life, to embrace the fullness of new life.
When I returned to the church at 5:15 pm it came as no shock to see that there was one person left in the garden…
You guessed it – Marion! Her smile, even through the tears, was tremendous. She was so very loved and honoured today. I am so humbled to be a Priest among many faithful priests of the faith at St. Mark’s by-the-Lake. I would like to say thank you to all who came and assisted today. You were a diverse group of all ages and you made the church look great – more importantly – you reflected well the Light of the Gospel. A day like today is a sobering reminder of what a special church community St. Mark’s by-the-Lake is. You never cease to impress me with how well you can reflect the hope that comes with being a Kingdom people.
We Will dedicate the Ray Hinton Memorial Garden tomorrow morning after both the 8 am and 10:30 am liturgies. Please join us.
You can see more pictures of today’s activities by clicking here.
Paraskevidekatriaphobia is the word of the day. Great Scrabble word. The word means “fear of Friday the thirteenth.”
There is a lot of discussion just about everywhere today of today being unlucky. For those who are superstitious this is a horrendous day to do just about anything. But you ask, is there anything behind this at all? UrbanLegands.com cites a 1993 English Study as saying that “Friday 13th is unlucky for some. The risk of hospital admission as a result of a transport accident may be increased by as much as 52%. Staying at home is recommended.” The study published in the British Medical Journal, studied the number of vehicles on the same highway on Friday April 6th and Friday April 13th and the number of motor vehicle accidents resulting in hospitalization on those two days. Paraskevidekatriaphobics will not be surprised to hear that while there were fewer cars on that same highway on Friday the thirteenth, there was a higher rate of accident and hospitalization. And here I have been suggesting that this stuff was just silly — a real ‘honest to God’ scientific study seems to refute my ‘this is just silly’ response to Friday the thirteenth! But wait a minute….what if you are Italian and driving on that highway? In Italy, thirteen is a lucky number and folklore around Friday 13 is not nearly as prevalent. So the moral of the story is…. if you are going to drive on the highway today, do not drive in England…. take a nice drive in Italy instead.
Here is some more interesting lore about 13 from UrbanLegends.com
Legend has it: If 13 people sit down to dinner together, one will die within the year. The Turks so disliked the number 13 that it was practically expunged from their vocabulary (Brewer, 1894). Many cities do not have a 13th Street or a 13th Avenue. Many buildings don’t have a 13th floor. If you have 13 letters in your name, you will have the devil’s luck (Jack the Ripper, Charles Manson, Jeffrey Dahmer, Theodore Bundy and Albert De Salvo all have 13 letters in their names). There are 13 witches in a coven.
I sort am freaked out now — but glad to report that my name has only 11 letters. In the meantime, I had a rough start to today. The family of Greg Lambden (read my last post)called me at 10:30 am to let me know that they were at the cemetery waiting for me to do an internment. I was so upset. Somehow through a communication error I had the date for this all wrong. Thankfully the Lambdens were patient and understanding and we had a beautiful last farewell to Gregory. That being said, as I was rushing to the cemetery, I was thinking maybe there is something to this Friday the 13th business. I mean I am driving to excessive speeds and got trapped behind no less than three, ‘let’s go for a drive in the county’ drivers, a cement truck, and a road paint crew that had closed a road. Maybe this day is in some way jinxed….then I remembered that I am religious, not superstitious and decided checking scripture might be helpful. The Lectionary is a tool used to set different scripture to be read for each day as a part of praying the office. Here is the Epistle reading for today:
Listen, I will tell you a mystery! We will not all die, but we will all be changed, in a moment, in the twinkling of an eye, at the last trumpet. For the trumpet will sound, and the dead will be raised imperishable, and we will be changed. For this perishable body must put on imperishability, and this mortal body must put on immortality. When this perishable body puts on imperishability, and this mortal body puts on immortality, then the saying that is written will be fulfilled:
‘Death has been swallowed up in victory.’
‘Where, O death, is your victory?
Where, O death, is your sting?’
The sting of death is sin, and the power of sin is the law. But thanks be to God, who gives us the victory through our Lord Jesus Christ. Therefore, my beloved, be steadfast, immovable, always excelling in the work of the Lord, because you know that in the Lord your labour is not in vain.
What is most interesting and chilling for me about this reading is the fact that Sandie and Danny chose this as one of the readings for Greg’s Memorial this past Wednesday. WOW! I read this and thought, ‘this is unbelievable.’ Perhaps this day is just meant to come together as it has. What are the odds that the reading that the family choose for Greg was appointed in a daily Lectionary the day of his committal two days later?
So on the Friday the 13th, I am pleased to have had opportunity, late as I was, to be reminded of what each and every day (Friday 13th included) promises us. While some worry today about bad luck or what they should and should not do, we a s a people declare that death, darkness, superstition and even bad luck have no dominion over us. No matter the challenges of each day we leap forward confident in the God who tells us to be immoveable in excelling in doing God’s work and being a people who bring joy, light, hope, healing and forgiveness. Everything on this earth is perishable — even our superstitions. But the unwavering Love of God is eternal and will sustain us in all things.
Thank you Danielle, Sandie and Danny for being so understanding on this Friday the 13th. Greg was obviously loved very much and cared for so very well by a family that fully understood that there is victory in living and victory in life that death will never be able to destroy.