The one being me.
The other day as I was driving back from Moose jaw towards Caronport I found myself looking off at the horizon and thinking; “God has made some beautiful country out here.” There is a hill actually that I had not paid attention to before and it caught my eye thinking of Psalm 121. “I lift my eyes up to the hills, Does my help come from there?” No. The presence of God does not depend on the presence of hills or mountains or trees or any created thing. They are nice to look at but they are really only signposts to the one who created them and who is always present.
Then I joined a house church group (which is really more like a small group than a separate church gathering) and the scripture we delved into was Psalm 121. I got to know some local people and I think I needed that as much as the reminder that God’s presence is constant – hills or no hills.
So this Sunday I am making a trek into Moose Jaw to check out the Anglican church which has a very welcoming web site and since I now know a couple others who attend there, I am hoping to find a home away from home there. I find myself longing for the richness of liturgy and should get a good dose there.
I think I am back in this space because it seems a more appropriate space than Facebook. Facebook would be Ok since what I will say won’t be long and maybe not terribly profound except to those who know how to read between my lines.
I have been up in Edmonton leading in a small retreat for the women of Sanctuary Covenant Church – Friday evening through tonight. No sleepovers. Just meeting at the house; Sanctuary Place. Sharing in study and meals. Together in the presence of God, listening to him as we shared stories and considered how we could draw closer to God and to each other, how we could deepen our relationships so that we could also help those hovering on the peripheries of the circle join us in our journey deeper into God. (Thanks Randall for reminding me of the great way a wheel can be useful to illustrate this)
And for me it was a weekend of experiencing the presence of God. God the creator of words was there as we shared and he was sufficient – well, actually way more than sufficient. Exodus 4:10-12.
This weekend is full of the meaning of hopes and dreams. Judy and Kendell will be married at about this time tomorrow. Love will find its home in their hopes and dreams for a life together.
And my dreams? And hopes? Well I will be trying out the pastor role in new ways as I lead them in the service of marriage. I think all is ready. But who really knows? I want it all to go perfectly – for their sake and mine to I guess.
But the real test of what we accomplish tomorrow will be how they approach life together from here on. Praying that God will bless his work tomorrow.
I have decided that I have a strange character. I am such an introvert and yet I love people. That is where my problem arises. I panic when I am thinking about people coming and filling up all my space and time with their energy. Their energy seems to mean that I must be willing to be drained by theirs.
I am rejuvenated by silence and by being alone. If I don’t have some periods of intense and prolonged solitude, I find myself panicking more quickly, coming to a place where I can’t respond to others in any way that reflects how much I really do like them.
This summer is a summer for people. I love it but it seems as if all my free time is full of doing – going – providing. All things a grandmother should love. I am anticipating a tiring summer. I may end up loving it – and probably will. My home is full of love, food and good times. But inside I am wishing to run away – to a quiet place where I could just sit, no one else would set my agenda, I could read all night or sleep all night if I wished. Maybe there will be time for this in … But I can’t forsee when this time will be. My fall is even filling up. So I panic.
Who will I become, what will I be? I will have to learn to snatch bits of time and hoard them for my spirit’s health. Maybe I will just have to make the seconds of solitude count for more. Each moment will have to be savoured and the sweetness of it mined for the small drops of energy they provide. Perhaps I will become a storehouse of moments – moments I choose to hold silently and live into as fully as I can.
I guess I will see what is left at the end of this summer. I have always found this space a good thing. Something I do in silence and alone. There are just fewer moments to come here too.
from Henri Nouwen
Fruits That Grow in Vulnerability
There is a great difference between successfulness and fruitfulness. Success comes from strength, control, and respectability. A successful person has the energy to create something, to keep control over its development, and to make it available in large quantities. Success brings many rewards and often fame. Fruits, however, come from weakness and vulnerability. And fruits are unique. A child is the fruit conceived in vulnerability, community is the fruit born through shared brokenness, and intimacy is the fruit that grows through touching one another’s wounds. Let’s remind one another that what brings us true joy is not successfulness but fruitfulness.
Visit HenriNouwen.org for more inspiration
The other day in the pet store I had my arms full of special goodies for my Koi that are now residing in a small (10L) aquarium for the winter. The alternative to this kind of crowded existence was death by freezing so I figure they have it pretty good. However, the aquarium was getting sort of polluted and I decided that I’d also better invest in some kind of creature to destroy the algae. I was sort of thinking snails but it seems that there are fish that do this job. Not cheap fish either. So I was shelling our $15 for one little black sucker and also grabbed some more filters and a piece of driftwood from some exotic country. The walking encyclopaedia of fish knowledge salesperson assured me that if there was insufficient algae, the algae eater would also derive some nutrition from the wood. Now my aquarium is home to 6 Koi and one black algae eater, three rocks and one hunk of driftwood. The water is now clear enough to see all these fish through the glass thanks to one little black fish. Amazing.
While I was at the till making my purchases, a girl of about 8 years was fiddling with the display of poppies on sale for Remembrance Day. She must have been in the store with an adult who had disappeared or who may have dropped her off for a fun time there while they shopped nearby for more adult toys. (It is right next door to Future Shop) She was just hanging around the till and looked a bit bored. She looked up at me (I was wearing a poppy) and asked, “What are these for?” I was at first a bit stunned. Didn’t she go to school? Don’t they teach kids anything in school anymore? Maybe she is one of those kids who doesn’t listen? How could she not know what the poppies were for? So I explained to her that they were to help us remember the people who had fought and died in the great wars so that we could live in a safe country in freedom. She heard the “war” word and immediately asked if they were evil? I assured her that no, they actually believed that they were fighting against evil in those wars.
But, Oh dear. I am not sure she got it at all. She was muttering “evil” under her breath as she wandered off.
And perhaps she is partly correct. All war is evil, even for the good causes. Peace between all is how God intended humankind to live. But I guess we have managed to mess that plan up fairly well. So we have wars. People fight for the rightness of some cause or government. And much pain is experienced by both sides in the process. Sometimes, I suppose, it is necessary to fight for what is right, to keep evil at bay. Someday we may learn to settle things without resorting to war but meanwhile…
Until then we must not forget the gift of freedom others long ago fought for, for the many soldiers who have died to maintain peace in far off places, and all the innocents that died in the crossfire. We must remember and pray to God for better ways for nations to work things out, for God’s love for others to control our leaders decisions and for an end to cruelty and hatred for people different from ourselves.
I sit beside two
The value of words
Can’t be overestimated
Among the young,
And my listening
Does it count as
Or is it only my
Wishing for company
And finding it
In the overhearing?