Tonight we had our first study session for Ed Smith’s book – From the Ashes of my Dreams. (For more detail on this book scroll down to September 24 and read my blog Ed Smith and Padre Pio)  Over 20 people came out for the first night and early indications are that we are in for good conversation with each other and good learning from this book.  The group consisted primarily of people from St. Mark’s by-the-Lake, but we were also pleased to have Rick Heath with us from St. Gregory the Great Church as well as The Reverend Sue Paulton from St. Mark’s in the west end of Windsor along with two of her parishioners.  All of this together with the fact that there are several people who are coming but are away tonight makes this particular gathering of the Markus Book Club very exciting indeed. This was aided by the wonderful way in which we were accomdated by The Marcotte Funeral home. We needed a place to hold tonight’s get together as the Church Hall was in use, and as is usually the Case Jerry Marcotte opened his doors to us. Many Thanks to him an Donna for making us feel so welcomed and for all the goodies! Jerry does not disappoint. Thank you so much – it was a very comfortable and inviting space and it was great place to kick off this book study!

Tonight we learned early that if you have the right book great conversation will no doubt ensue – WE HAVE THE RIGHT BOOK. I was thrilled at the level of anticipation and excitement in the room, and we have not received the books yet! We began tonight by introducing ourselves and explaining why we have joined the group. One person remarked that they “hoped that Ed’s story might inspire them to help others.” Another reflected that they joined so that in “Ed’s story they might be reminded to not take life for granted because anything can happen at any time.” It was good to hear people ponder on this man’s journey with a keen interest in getting to know themselves better at the same time. “I want to know how he held on to Joy,” a participant said with a wonderfully broad smile. Others were there for “a night out” and some came because they felt that the review of the book on this blog made “the book sound to good to pass up.” Of course I was amused to hear from at least one participant that “if Kevin invites you to something, it is usually a good time!” Whatever the reasons were for joining this study group, each person who has made his/her way to his book will no doubt be pleased that he/she made that choice and I believe that in discussing this book we will all be changed for the better. We are called in baptism to find ways to ‘respect the dignity of every human being.” Ed’s book will help us struggle with issues around dignity and how we might sometimes take that away from others, and how we might better be ale to provide dignity to those around us.

We had a marvellous discussion about the title as we begin this book and we will re-engage that conversation when w have finished it. Tonight we mused about what the title might mean. There was a good expression of ideas that reflect various representations of the phoenix rising from the ashes. There was a feeling among participants that Ed may be referring to having all of his dreams prior to his injury burned down so to speak, and now in his recovery, rising from that place to find new dreams, new realities. It was suggested that out of his tragedy, maybe there has been an element of learning for health care providers that may not have existed before, that is to say – Ed has provided a voice of advocacy that may be changing the way some people in the medical field treat those they encounter. On a more theological level, we discussed the whole idea of Ash Wednesday and the “imposition of ashes” that takes place and how that is a reminder at the beginning of lent that even as we prepare to enter the darkness we need to be reminded that we will be raised from the ashes to the glory of the resurrection.  This lead to some conversation about how we all have a contribution to make even in our woundedness. None of us are complete – we all deal with some brokenness – We have a lot to learn from Ed Smith about how we can live our vocation in the world in the midst of our own insecurity, fear, hurt and pain. One person in the group wondered if Ed had ever read Henri Nouwen’s work. This was quite a curious question for me as he is one of my favourite writers. It gave me pause to think about and speak to the group about Nouwen’s book – Wounded Prophets which is really a recounting of how ministry for all of us is really not about expressing how complete or whole we are but more an expression of our own brokenness. Jesus was all about showing the wounds, living in the now, expressing with honesty the pain and the joy of life. I believe that it was a good comparison in fact. Ed Smith would have been a great person for Henri Nouwen to have met and vice versa.  I think they would have had much to teach each other and I think there would have been some kindred love to be expressed. I shall be very interested to see a week from now how we feel about this book’s title having read it and re-lived with Ed the 17 months of rehabilitation.

I know over 20 people who are very excited to meet Ed Smith on October 23, and I have no doubt that there will be a host of questions for him when he is here.   

If you want to join us this upcoming Sunday evening or Next Thrursday evening for discussion please feel free to do so – and Remember to Mark your calender for October 23 and come out and meet ED SMITH! You will not be sorry.