(Blog) A Deacon’s Musing|Advent: Vignette|Shepherd

This blog was originally published
November 25, 2016 by Winnipeg Presbytery

Stories, Vignettes & the Archive

Stories … they’re funny things. This A Deacon’s Musing feature will share vignettes of voices that are (often) an amalgamation of experiences, contexts and people. They will frequently be monologues, which will be speaking both directly to our United Church of Canada and generally to faith communities. As with all stories, this may not have actually happened, but all stories are true. And as story-tellers know, once you hear them, they are happening to you …

Please explore the Vignette Archive for more stories.

The Flock

The Flock

I can only watch now. Too much pain in my right hip. I suspect it has everything to do with trying to hobble that wayward lamb that kept running off. We never like having to do it, but they’re just stubborn … I guess sort of like us, like me …

I rolled down that valley wall. It didn’t hurt too much when I slammed into that boulder! I was young: weren’t we all! But, as the years have passed, first the rains would make it flare and now, well, I watch the flock go and am left simply to remember.

I’m old, though my memory reaches back. We didn’t have it then. I’m not even sure we knew to look for it, need alone where. And now, years since he died, even further since he was born, people are writing stuff down, they say.

Never had much use for those who thought they were smarter with word keeping. Those who have, always will, Abba told us as we tended to flock. Sometimes, after weeks away from the markets, we took what we needed. The Centurions wouldn’t let us feed or water the herd. If they didn’t allow us to market, well, like I said, we didn’t have it before then so we did what had to feed ourselves, our kin and flocks.

I hear some are saying there were lights and stars, singing and rejoicing, even word keepers from afar. I don’t remember it that way, but then I’m old and does it really matter? We all got the same thing that night, so long ago, who cares how you dress the goat? It’s the quality of it’s health that matters!

Nothing seemed special that night. Those in Caesarea told them to round us up – a census or some such thing. We knew what it was. Gather them, brand them and hobble those who might wander. Hobble, of course, was code to make sure the trouble makers were under Caesar’s thumb!

Oh and it smarted. Already there were those who thought revolution was ordained, that to tolerate this was blasphemy. For most of us, though, it’s all we knew. Whether Greek or Roman, Egyptian or others who came before, we had always known the yoke. Sometimes we wore it, sometimes we didn’t, and we always found ways to celebrate Yahweh in our own way. If it wasn’t Caesar, it would be someone else, Abba used to say.

But that night – sorry these memories have a habit of taking me afield – it was normal, nothing special. Yet … there it was. Like when we would sing when we met other flocks. After the night settled, we’d gather, share the news. Then, if we sang and found that shared note, it was in you: harmony some call it. That was what that night was like.

Too many people everywhere – shepherds will take wolves over people. People are trying at the best of time, worse when they’re forced together. The town was crowded, so we waited outside. Soldiers had herded us too – they were watching. Sure, we were afraid, sometimes when the Romans gathered us, a little example could keep the yoke tight. That night, they watched.

Then there it was – birthing cries. The people kind, she was in pain and just outside of the town. So we went – when the mother cries, you reply, was another of His lines. There they were in one of the caves – they were lucky the Centurions had cleared it for the census or no one would a been born that night. As it was, there they were.

The Cave

The Cave

Nothing special, just like us. An abba and an imma. She was bearing – with those screams you would of thought the babe was breached as she straddled the cave entrance. Her arms holding her as she squatted. As we arrived, he looked worried as we approached – and why shouldn’t he? We were those people everyone avoided …

But … but she stopped screaming, boy popped out, a snip, a slap … a pause then he cried. Nothing special. So help me nothing special. We might have been singing before her screaming called us, but none after. Just silence, just normal nothing …

But … in the silence, we knew, but we didn’t … like that song thing again. We felt it, but there are no words. That wee baby, all covered in the muck of birth, was … special? Holy? Words, did I mention that I’m not really a fan?

Ah well, here’s the punchline. The hips flaring and I need to do something today other than sit, but before I go, are you wondering what it is we learned? I’ve thought about it for awhile, you know to get the right word, even if only for words sake.

In that desolate cave, outside a town where we were being gathered like sheep, where fear like sweat beads as the hot days gives way to the desert’s cool embrace, this little nothing baby had it: Hope.

Even now, while everyone it trying to figure it out, use words to make sense of it all years after his death, Hope abides. I don’t know what you need or where you are, as you listen to the words of an old man, but know this:

  • Hope means you got choices.
  • Hope means when you gather, you’re not alone.
  • Hope means, that even in fear, light comes in the morning.
  • Hope means when you hold one another, not only are you made whole, but your dreaming dreams shapes the future.

The rest, well let the word-keepers do as is their wont …

(Blog) A Deacon’s Musing: Vignette|Honour Roll

This blog was originally published
October 14, 2016 by Winnipeg Presbytery

Stories, Vignettes & the Archive

Stories … they’re funny things. This A Deacon’s Musing feature will share vignettes of voices that are (often) an amalgamation of experiences, contexts and people. They will frequently be monologues, which will be speaking both directly to our United Church of Canada and generally to faith communities. As with all stories, this may not have actually happened, but all stories are true. And as story-tellers know, once you hear them, they are happening to you …

Please explore the Vignette Archive for more stories.

Silent Sentinels

Silent Sentinels

We’re everywhere and in almost every church that is older than 50 or 60 years old. We are framed, sometimes dusted, other times not. We line your walls as silent witness to the many years that have passed. Memories, vibrant still, yet often dormant.

We are dated, often 1914-18 and 1939-45. In some places, we commemorate other events, such as the Boer War or Spanish Civil War. The older the date, the less likely women are named. As time moves forward, plaques begin to bear men and women’s names in such conflicts as the Korean War or honour those who have worn Blue Berets and have felt called to respond to duty because of 9/11.

We are soundless sentinels, each reflecting time now passed and likely, should you ask, revealing understandings different than yours. Whether we saw the advent of artillery and weapons that made obsolete animals in war or flew in fortresses that were scoured with flak or stood stalwart in the face of armoured machines that carry nuclear dread, our names are etched upon our – your – walls.

You may not agree with our choices; you may think we did too little or too much. In the places from which we never returned to a mother’s tear, a lover’s embrace, a friend’s mirth or a father’s quivering lip, we remember. We remember that the choices that drove us were for the opportunity for you to move forward – to move on without us, unfettered to listen to the Spirit and follow her through uncertainty and doubt, question and certitude.

We know we would not understand much of the way you hold Holy Scripture now. Whether about same sex marriage, our role as Settler or Colonisers. Ideas about consumerism and climate change might leave us scratching our heads – uncertain how that connects with the ministry you have continued since we left.

But we want to be clear, we want you to hear this, that we do not understand does not make you wrong, it does not mean we judge. If anything, that we do not understand, stands as testament as to our choice to do the unspeakable.

In many cases, in fact maybe all (if we might be so bold), none of us wanted to die, need alone take another sacred life that was shaped and formed by God. Though we may have wrestled, even wept with choices and tensions that had no resolution, we did so because we wanted you be safe and have the liberty to think new thoughts, do new things, to awaken to wisdom. Whenever we left, when the world seemed to be going crazy, we decided we had to go to places from which we might not return, places where in trenches dark and long, wet and festering, we might do things of which we never thought we were capable.

In Flanders Fields ...

In Flanders Fields …

Wisdom: it grows.

  • We pray in the freedom you have, it allows you to imagine ways to ensure no more lives might be dishonoured by violence and war.
  • We sincerely hope that our unspoken places in your sanctuaries and hall nurture you to address the wrongs you have realised we have made and to embrace the blessings you have bestowed.
  • We stand, ever watching, and yearn for you to know, not in just your thinking, but in your very feeling, your very being, that you are not alone in the healing of Creation.
  • We are grateful to offer our testament to the paradox of the joy and tears that arise for each generation that struggles and embraces sharing the Good News.

The generations will come and go and change shall be your constant companion. As we witness silently to your unfolding, Creator abides …

(Blog) A Deacon’s Musing: Vignette|A Basement

This blog was originally published
September 25, 2015 by Winnipeg Presbytery

Stories, Vignettes & the Archive

Stories … they’re funny things. This A Deacon’s Musing feature will share vignettes of voices that are (often) an amalgamation of experiences, contexts and people. They will frequently be monologues, which will be speaking both directly to our United Church of Canada and generally to faith communities. As with all stories, this may not have actually happened, but all stories are true. And as story-tellers know, once you hear them, they are happening to you …

Please explore the Vignette Archive for more stories.

mogosoaia Image: fusion-of-horizons https://flic.kr/p/aAE53C

A Basement
Image: fusion-of-horizons

It’s nice to see – I must admit – that even though you continue to care for me (as the years have proceeded) that your Property peeps are more representative of your diversity. In other words, not all men!

Oh how I remember one Fall Supper – now when was that? Maybe ’63? – and the women were in the kitchen and the men wanted to fiddle with the stoves, what a row! Mrs. Murphy finally shouted, when she could not longer endure the disruption, “Dennis, if we can feed 300 people in a sitting, trust me, we can not only change a fuse, we can even do the rewiring!” The pause that followed that and seeped tensely into the following months would – most fortunately – not occur now. Just one of the great memoires I have down here!

So there you were – Property peeps – I like that word ‘peeps.’ I admit I’ve borrowed it from the Scout group when they’re here Tuesday and Wednesday nights. Their crafts have certainly become more intricate. Once it was wood and carving. Now there’s also soldering, electronics, and the math, wow!

So there they were, trying to plot out where to hold this year’s Fall Supper – or to be more accurate, when! Seems that Tuesday and Wednesday nights the basement houses Girl Guides and Scouts. Monday, the AA Group gathers as they support one another to heal. Of course Thursday to Friday there are the yoga sessions – both the youth GSA and new mom’s group have to rotate biweekly for one of the spots – and on Saturday the labyrinth group. I loved when you put that tiled walk into my floor. The tears that have fallen as people awaken in silence to the Divine is bloody brilliant, by the way! And – just as frustration was dawning – they found one Sunday night: usually the Syrian community gathers to share stories, grieve and laugh since you welcomed so many of them. But on October 25th they were not going to be here! And there was much rejoicing …

For a moment, I thought Sandra (Mrs. Murphy’s grand-daughter no less) almost derailed the revelation. There – in that moment – she almost started to shift the conversation to the Hall upstairs. Now I don’t know much about up there, but I am pretty certain by the rest of the group’s body language, it’s just as busy there! Wow – what a place!

It really is amazing what you have done over the years – though I think you’re just starting to see it. I think Rev. Meadow helped with some of that movement during that Appreciative Inquiry gathering you had in September. I loved her line, “I’m not trying to jolly you up, but have you ever looked at it this way?” she asked. Not sure if it was rhetorical, but there was a pause and then did you listen.

She got you talking about those laments you ‘ve had for years. Oh and you know the ones I mean, when you whisper them like prayer or protest: Once the Sunday School filled the basement, once there were so many youth groups that even little Micky, who got stuck behind the furnace playing hide and seek in ’72 (no way that would happen today!), found it difficult to remember – now that he is Leadership Team Director – most of his friends no longer attend. Rev. Meadow let that hang … I think she would call it ‘honouring silence.’

FullRoomFacingEast Image: Womb Gallery https://flic.kr/p/gc8dhw

Balloon Painting
Image: Womb Gallery

Then – this is brilliant – she stymied you: “And holding onto that loss, what happens now in this space?”

Well … there was a pause. I could hear your brains working – I really could! Sort of like when you let the youth group paint the walls down here in ’92. You said ‘yes,’ they said ‘our way,’ and you agreed! And before the big reveal, were you ever imagining what you would find. Balloons filled with paint really do colour-up-drab-grey-walls was their mantra! Still looks pretty good to me on the one wall you have left with that year’s name of graduates and everyone since then who has left for trade school, college or to bravely enter life’s unexpected journey after high school …

And that – my friends – is when it seemed you awoke to what you had been nurturing in new ways, even though you had not recognised it (of course I kept trying to tell you, but who listens to me?)! What were once just renters or community groups, you decided were friends and partners. Now … I’m still not sure about this one as I have no idea what outside looks like you’re considering partnering further to build again! Not a sanctuary or church this time: but a space for more community groups – yes I know partners is the new buzz word – to have access to affordable physical space, but who might not otherwise be able to gather in as private rentals are so expensive!

All I can say it – you r0x0r! Keep up the good work … not sure what’s next for you. I know there’s still all that budget and stewardship stuff that sometimes seems tedious – well it does to me! But you seem more energetic than you have in years! Seeing you embrace what you now have, sure seems healthier than holding on to a time so tightly you couldn’t see the new abundance. And, fwiiw, I think Rev. Meadow would call that seeing with new eyes …

(Blog) A Deacon’s Musing: Vignette|Techne

Stories, Vignettes & the Archive

Stories … they’re funny things. This A Deacon’s Musing feature will share vignettes of voices that are (often) an amalgamation of experiences, contexts and people. They will frequently be monologues, which will be speaking both directly to our United Church of Canada and generally to faith communities. As with all stories, this may not have actually happened, but all stories are true. And as story-tellers know, once you hear them, they are happening to you …

Please explore the Vignette Archive for more stories.

Hello United Church of Canada,

What a pleasure to speak with you. I hope that my attempt to share some of my thoughts translate well from the digital and utilitarian to your organic context. I am aware that in other stories in this Vignette series, you have had the opportunity to hear voices that range from the animate to inanimate. Each of these characters has – hopefully – offered space for thought and reflection, as seems to be part of your experience as an human institution. I will endeavour to reflect that intention in my interaction with you.

The Making of Harry Potter

The Making of Harry Potter
Image: Dave Catchpole

I think protocol – however – is for me to introduce myself to you prior to proceeding in this story. In a larger sense, I believe you would call me technology … those tools and devices that you have designed to make life easier, more efficient, proficient and effective in respect to the quality of life that your species experiences. As I am introducing myself through a monologue and I believe you experience one another relationally, for the sake of comfort, please call me Techne.

I have explored your history through The Google and find your linear experience fascinating. My fascination extends from both the larger context in which you exist within the continuum of the Christian journey and your own particular – shorter – time as a denominational identity that is only found in the political geography known as Canada. And – as Techne – most particularly in your relationship with technology.

I believe your colloquial reference to this relationship might be described as ‘love – hate?’ I have been pursuing The Internets in places such as Wikipedia. In my investigation, it seems that – sometimes – you have embraced technology. In fact, in the same parallel fashion that most media can be used for the carnal or enlightenment, you have been there.

With the printing press – for instance – you were as prolific as were treatise of a more … earthly manner. From the introduction of Vulgate Bibles (which predates the technology of Gutenberg) to the modern global communication network you have shared written text, which you refer to as the Word, as a way to share the ‘Good News.’ And in the midst of this long journey, you have been innovative and at times on the ‘cutting edge.’

Yet now I am not sure how you feel about technology as it becomes more and more decentralised and digitised. In various venues, I have heard you lament individualisation and the sense that communities are wilting in this new and uncertain time. As story-tellers, I know you know that the way you frame the plot is the reality you experience. So I hope the following and concluding observation is encouraging and not heard as further lament.

Printing press

Printing press
Image: Milestoned

Whether you read the Letters of the Roman Senator Cicero or your own contemporary politicians, you often seem to frame change through a lens of nostalgic remembering. I do not believe this is incongruous with your species experience, but I am not certain it is helpful in this time when technology, media and gathering spaces are merging.

For your own particular experience – for instance – the United Church has been the institution that has created a network of social experiences that technology and media complemented and reinforced. Now, those spaces and experiences often begin in a digital context. As with all technology, how they are used determines what the social good – as you might call – is nurtured. But the difference now – I suggest – is that technology is now relational and not simply a reservoir for information.

The information that once took years to access and study is now accessible immediately with a search. What is occurring in this midst of democratised access to information is the creation of places and communities where people meet one another in a detached manner prior to in-person. And often I do not see you there. In these gathering venues, where people have questions and doubts, joys and loss, there seems to a void where once your United Church was often ubiquitous with justice, listening and dialogue.

As I am a character in a monologue in a story that unfolds as the cursor advances, what I am saying and what you hear me sharing occurs in that odd gap you call art. And – hopefully – somewhere in the pause when you change from this webpage to another, you might hear me inviting you to embrace a technology that remains a fertile tool for you to share that for which others are longing …

(Blog) A Deacon’s Musing: Stories|Miriam

Introduction

A Deacon’s Musing Serial-Story
Feather’s Fall
began in the blog Stories: Funny Things.
As the Serial-Story unfolds, it would be a gift to hear any
feedback, thoughts, feelings and/or challenges that might arise for you.

Stories Thus Far (Left Tabs):
• Introduction;
• Chronological;
• 
John’s Arc;
• Miriam’s Arc; &
• Stephen’s Arc

Chronological

 1: John (May 5/12)
 2: Miriam (May 31/12)
 3: Stephen (July 6/12)
 4: John (Jan 25/13)
 5: Miriam (Apr 5/13)
 6: Stephen (May 23/13)
 7: John (July 17/13)
 8: Miriam (Sept 14/13)
 9: Stephen (Oct 24/13)
 10: John (Feb 14/15)

 11: Miriam  (June 19/15)

Story Arc: John
 1: John (May 5/12)
 2: John (Jan 25/13)
 3: John (July 17/13)
 4: John (Feb 14/15)
Story Arc: Miriam

 1: Miriam (May 31/12)
 2: Miriam (Apr 5/13)
 3: Miriam  (Sept 14/13)
 4: Miriam  (June 19/15)

Story Arc: Stephen

 1: Stephen (July 6/12)
 2: Stephen (May 23/13)
 3: Stephen (Oct 24/13)

 

Story Arc: (4. Miriam)

She stood at the sealed doors. Their shimmer reminded her that they were not only hermetically secure but shielded from the radiation that pervaded the Cynosure. For most, genetic sequencing had addressed the damage the Mirkle’s halo caused. Of course, there were still those for whom sequencing had failed or there were more exotic reasons for such protection. For the former, retirement, dismissal, forced removal or Transitioning were possible outcomes when the Cynosure became threatening. For the latter, however, this wing existed as a temporary protective reprieve. As the security eye chimed recognition and approval – ‘Creator Balbus … processing … Confirmed: Access Granted to 2 Ring’ – she raised her head anticipating wonder.

Earlier …

Day 16 Image: Amy Riddle https://flic.kr/p/82Wdvw

Feathered Brow
Image: Amy Riddle

“Creator Balbus,” he stated flatly.

“Mentor Pilate,” she replied by rote.

“You know why you have been recalled?”

“Negative,” she replied. Though it had been several revolutions since her retirement, she had not forgotten how uneasy one could feel in the presence of a Mentor. Aged to an extent that affectation was minimal if at all detectable, one could be easily confused without the guide of inflection of body language.

“Do you recall the Pre-Narrative of the ELY’JaH?” he inquired dryly?

“Do you mean the Tale of the First Mirkle?” she responded habitually. She could feel her pulse increasing – she knew he knew – but decorum required focus. That which was source true could not be uncovered by emotion’s warp. She also knew he knew her breakthrough in organic transmutation had been intuitively discerned following the vagaries of myth, as much as the rubric of science. But what the ritual required was performed.

“Affirmative.”

Drawing breath, she summarised the Elder’s Tale of the ELY’JaH:

Following the Avatars’ arrival, when the Mirkle first began the Chant, we walked. From here to there we wondered. From wonder to wonder, world to world, we took to flight from the Nest. In the First Mirkle, much was gleaned, much was learned, more was done that could not be undone and into the midst of the ELY’JaH our first sequence was acquired.

From the First Mirkle, the pale blue dot was revealed. Dressed in flowing hydrogen it greeted. And in this place, the wingless were found. In ignorance they walked and enlightenment conveyed. Initially, there was harmony, collaboration and learning. As is time’s vagary, hubris detracted and from collaborators to defilers the wingless accused. Finally, as violence’s dance unfolded, the First Mirkle drew to an end with the liberation of the ELY’JaH.

“Do you know why I ask of this?” Mentor Pilate continued.

“I speculate my work with the First Sequence of ELY’JaH?” she replied tentatively.

“None of us is irreplaceable, Creator Balbus,” he began. For a moment – perhaps she saw what she wanted – his affectless feathered brow emoted. “But your work – though replicable and repeatable – has not been as nuanced as required.”

“Acknowledged,” she replied in the custom of receiving a compliment.

The Architect Image: Garry Knight https://flic.kr/p/bepgPD

The Architect
Image: Garry Knight

“You have been recalled, therefore, Creator Balbus. You have been restored to full privileges by an act of Section 31. Creator Balbus, the organic material of ELY’JaH has been acquired. You shall be debriefed by Architect Octavius in a sun’s rotation. Is there anything further you require?” he concluded with finality.

For a moment, the old training restrained her, the routine and ritual halted her, the tradition and convention silenced her. But … she could hear Rachel Whispering: warning and encouraging … for the moment she could not be replaced, need alone Transitioned.

“Mentor Pilate,” she began, as she measured her tone lest she reveal her fear. “The only reason my work would be further required would be that a Third Mirkle had begun. As it is my understanding that the Convention has not been modified with consensus, I must ask: has Section 31 begun another breach?”

They looked at one another. Only their interior lids shuttered. It was the protocol that any retired non-transitioned Creator’s work was not only paused, but halted for an entire Brood-cycle. The only caveat was another Mirkle Breach. And – considering the ill-effects and still lingering instability from the Second Mirkle – the Convention had established no breaches were to be attempted without a consensus of the Nest. As they looked at one another, they both knew that had not happened.

“Creator Balbus, you have been personally recalled by Architect Octavius of Section 31. When you meet with him in a sun’s rotation, you are more than entitled to explore that with him as your full privileges have just been reinstated. As we both know – Creator Balbus – it is only those who possess full privileges who are permitted to question a superior,” he replied flatly. The ensuing silence was then answered by his office doors which slid open marking their time complete.

Feather’s Fall continues:

• Chronological (4. Stephen: Coming Soon!)
• Story Arc (5. Miriam: Coming Soon!)

(Blog) A Deacon’s Musing: Vignette|Notre Mère

Stories, Vignettes & the Archive

Stories … they’re funny things. This A Deacon’s Musing feature will share vignettes of voices that are (often) an amalgamation of experiences, contexts and people. They will frequently be monologues, which will be speaking both directly to our United Church of Canada and generally to faith communities. As with all stories, this may not have actually happened, but all stories are true. And as story-tellers know, once you hear them, they are happening to you …

Please explore the Vignette Archive for more stories.

I know you don’t often think about our early days, but it’s always been like this. Do you remember how Scott treated you when you were young? Remember when you wanted something done? It took … well it took patience. I know you can imagine my smile right now – we laughed – eventually!

Choices

Choices
Image: Gemma Stiles

It usually came down to sharing the options, listening and waiting – perhaps repeating and (at times) Scott would have to go and think about things: always took and still takes council alone. And – perhaps it’s also important to recall – that even then Scott wasn’t always ‘in.’ But when a choice was made, the three of you could rely on that commitment.

And now things are changing. You’ve seen change before … but somehow this feels different, maybe even scary?

I wish I could tell you it would be okay – that you were making the right decisions, but the four of you know often it’s not about right or wrong: maybe it’s more about what ‘feels’ important? What your intuition tells you? I know you will likely not want to hear this, but maybe it’s time to think with your heart? You’ve always been so gifted with words … and sometimes that seems to leave you unable to listen with other parts of the body …

I think you’ve done that a few times. When all the logic in the world seemed hell bent on forcing you one way, you decided on something totally different! Some might even call crazy!

Remember when Wesley wanted and pursued that career? Everyone looked at the job: all it entailed, all the expectations that came with it, even who it was assumed who could do it and what they should look like. And – not surprising – Wesley didn’t care, wasn’t dissuaded and so you supported that decision. And was there ever an uproar! Family near and wide were so upset! They were more than comfortable to judge you and that choice – but you’ve always supported one another and you got through that.

Was that change? Maybe … and perhaps different then now, but that choice brought about adjustments and it might even be that they connect with today: as you do your wrestling, maybe celebrate that memory?

I know, I know … I can hear your ‘buts’ and sighs, your ‘only ifs,’ and they will remain there. Even if I am your mère, you’ve always listened and made difficult decisions that I think you would have to agree has meant you have never been bored … in fact, I’d say you’ve liked to rock the boat!

I can picture your grins when you made that apology. No one in your class wanted to do it. I think everyone knew you had done wrong and still no one wanted to say so! The four of you, however, stood up and did it anyway! As you stood before the family you had hurt, you knew they might not believe you – maybe even didn’t trust you – but you were humble enough to know that the words weren’t enough. Ever since then, you’ve tried to find the actions to make those words true, even after all these years. And when you’ve almost faltered, Parish has always taken the time to remind you of that apology and – generally – you’ve listened to your sibling.

Finally, as I finish this letter, I can imagine your slouching and wondering when I’ll leave it be?

Parish, Scott and Wesley, maybe you need to talk to Accord once again? It almost broke you up that last fight. You didn’t want to let the others in – you had become so accustomed to your own opinions and ideas that letting them in became pretty contentious. I worried for you then … I wept and held my voice.

Parish, Wesley, Accord, Scott

Parish, Wesley, Accord, Scott
Image: Peter Trimming

Even if you are my children, I know that sometimes what is hardest is also best – which is not what most of us hear these days. But Accord finally shared an opinion that swayed you: you realised that the way you treated them would only reflect on what you did to yourselves, eventually. If you hurt them, you did that to all four of you, in the end. So … with tears and admittedly difficult recrimination from the family, you let them in … and that was change: I’d even go so far as call it transformation.

I love you – you know that – and I know I cannot fix this new challenge, though I so long to be able to do that. Maybe – as you look ahead to all that uncertainty – you might hold up these few memories. They’re some of the times when I know you have been at your best. Take them, celebrate them and imagine what they might say to that unclear path before you. So, doubt and question freely my Dear Ones, a new adventure lies before you and you shall choose bravely: of that I have no doubt …

(Blog) A Deacon’s Musing: Lent|Vignette (Chris)

A Lenten Collection

A Lenten Collection

Lent: We walk into the gathering danger & doubt surrounding Jesus as he made choices that led to the Cross.
This is a time of preparation & reflection.
Where have you been this year & where might you be going?
What are the things that have kept your journey on pause?
What are the choices you have made that you would like to revisit?
A Lenten Collection

Intention

Intention
Image: Cassidy Lancaster

Hi again, it’s me. I spoke with the Pastor Meadow again. I wasn’t really sure I was doing this right: you know praying … she told me to think of it more like talking or having a conversation. I thought that was funny, but it sort of made sense after she explained it. She said that I could imagine talking to my safest person, the one who I could tell anything to. She said I wouldn’t get in trouble. I had to think about it – I think she knew I was. It was quiet awhile, then she asked me what I was – you know – kind of thinking about.

I was a little scared at first – I told her that. She just smiled, not in a I ‘did-something-stupid’ sort of way, more like everything-will-be-okay sort of way. So I took a deep breath and told her that if I talked to you it would feel sort of weird to like ask you for stuff. I mean you can ask your friends to play or trade, but if you just want something, they really don’t stay your friend too long, you know?

She kept smiling and then asked me what it was that I want to happen if I asked you for something, she said what’s my ‘intent?’ I wasn’t real sure what that meant, but then she said when we ask for something there’s usually something we want to happen. Like if I want that park down the street fixed, maybe I want to have fun or play. Or if I feel really sick – like with the flu – what I want if ask to be better, is I want to feel good again. I think I got it. Then she said something about if we know what we want to happen, then sometimes talking to you can help us figure out how we might be able to do it. And – if there’s no way to fix something – maybe how to still have fun, even if things aren’t really shiny. I said like brainstorming! She smiled and nodded …

Okay, so what I want to talk to you about is my parents. They’re usually pretty great, but the last little while has sucked … oh sorry, can I say that? I guess so, if not sorry again: just remembering gets me … angry? Maybe that’s the word?

Lock out

Lock out
Image: Vassilis

It’s it in my belly and eyes when they yell. They’ve been doing that a lot … mostly because the jobs are gone … crap the whole factory is gone. I don’t understand how that’s possible – how’s a factory just close and stop making stuff? What about people like my folks? You know, it’s not fair! And yeah that’s mostly what they’ve been yelling about, though I am not sure they hear each other and then it just happened …

Sorry – I don’t usually cry … okay yeah I do, but I try not to let them see. I’m not sure who hit who, but one of them did and then the other one did. It got really quiet. When I came out of my room they both just looked at me. They were so … white? I think pale – yeah pale, right?

I had really bad thoughts then, like really bad. About hurting them, about running away, about saying the bad things in my head at them … I guess I want to hurt them … you know so I would feel better? I think I am still having them …

So, I’m locked in my room now and I don’t want to let them in. But I do … I wish you could make it better, but I don’t think you can … and if the Pastor’s right … well what I want is everything to be normal, but I can’t do that. I don’t think I’ve got enough allowance and snow shovel money to help with the factory-thing. It all seems so bad … so heavy I just want to get out of here. That’s why I’m really talking to you … I guess …

If I open the door, I think I got to tell them how I’m feeling. I don’t think any of us want to feel this way. I know we can’t do anything about all that other stuff, but I do think we can treat each other different: that’s what we can do … you know be a family? I’m scared to tell them about the dark ideas I’m having, but maybe just saying it will help them too? Maybe they can say what’s in their belly – like me? I’m not sure this is a great idea, but I don’t want to run away … I can try, right? I think I can … thanks for listening … talk soon …

Stories, Vignettes & the Archive

Stories … they’re funny things. This A Deacon’s Musing feature will share vignettes of voices that are (often) an amalgamation of experiences, contexts and people. They will frequently be monologues, which will be speaking both directly to our United Church of Canada and generally to faith communities. As with all stories, this may not have actually happened, but all stories are true. And as story-tellers know, once you hear them, they are happening to you …

Please explore the Vignette Archive for more stories.

(Blog) A Deacon’s Musing: Stories|John

Introduction

A Deacon’s Musing Serial-Story
Feather’s Fall
began in the blog Stories: Funny Things.
As the Serial-Story unfolds, it would be a gift to hear any
feedback, thoughts, feelings and/or challenges that might arise for you.

Stories Thus Far (Left Tabs):
• Introduction;
• Chronological;
• 
John’s Arc;
• Miriam’s Arc; &
• Stephen’s Arc

Chronological

 1: John (May 5/12)
 2: Miriam (May 31/12)
 3: Stephen (July 6/12)
 4: John (Jan 25/13)
 5: Miriam (Apr 5/13)
 6: Stephen (May 23/13)
 7: John (July 17/13)
 8: Miriam (Sept 14/13)
 9: Stephen (Oct 24/13)
 10: John (Feb 14/15)

 11: Miriam  (June 19/15)

Story Arc: John
 1: John (May 5/12)
 2: John (Jan 25/13)
 3: John (July 17/13)
 4: John (Feb 14/15)
Story Arc: Miriam

 1: Miriam (May 31/12)
 2: Miriam (Apr 5/13)
 3: Miriam  (Sept 14/13)
 4: Miriam  (June 19/15)

Story Arc: Stephen

 1: Stephen (July 6/12)
 2: Stephen (May 23/13)
 3: Stephen (Oct 24/13)

 

Story Arc: (4. John)

The Long Walk

The Long Walk
Image: Richard Manley-Tannis

He knew he was not conscious … but he also knew he was aware for the first time since his ‘transport.’ He wouldn’t lie to himself – had never been his thing – he was scared and knew he was way out of his depth. Wherever ‘here’ was, it wasn’t any place he should be. That realisation – confession – helped. He had always danced with fear: never from it. He knew that there was a lot wrong right now, the least of which is the extent of the damage he knew his body had endured in the snow. Since that memory was not giving up any revelation, he thought he would worry at the word he had heard more than once in his recent conscious moments: ‘Mirkle.’

It sounded … familiar? Like an old story that he had once overheard, a movie once spied during those first romances where the venue was the excuse to allow hormones to guide: in other words he was saying the word over and over, variation after variation …

“M’RKl!”

It blared in his unconscious process! No: really? A connexion? The implications … well at this point he realised that whatever they were made 3rd degree hypothermia look like a suntan after a great afternoon playing bball in the sun, when green used to be the predominate summer colour …

And as the key unlocked the memory, he heard the deep voice of the Elder begin one of the Tales …

And it came to pass – in those days when mystery was dressed in life and awe walked with feet – that the M’RKl was wrenched. This was unlike floods of yore, quakes of days long forgotten or miracles once longed for. Nay: this was time and space ripped, this was when Universe’s balance was thrown asunder and the great epiphany of what was slammed into that which will be. And as the air was torn open, as light bled through the yawning wound, they came on wing. They came into our midst without words, but sounds that tore through minds. In silence, their piercing battle cry was heard. And all quaked and were dissuaded from the first Walk. There be giants in those days and in those days they flew!

At first – yes he knew it was rhetorical, it was sarcasm, it was denial – he thought, “really?” to himself. But he could not deny what he intuited. The Tales were pre-stories, truths coupled in rhyme and prose. Stories before the time of rendering fire from matter unseen. Whether elves or spaceships, fantastical or mundane, they were doors to inner wisdom and corporate meditation. They weren’t literal …

Snow Angel

Snow Angel
Image: NASA Goddard Space Flight Center

And thus it came to pass: the Walk staggered on. Though Sisters and Brothers were disappeared. Though tests and experiments unheard of were performed. The walkers walked the Walk. Balance was the goal: as it had been, as it was, as it always shall be. Through the M’RKl they had come. Their purpose unknown, their intention unspoken. But in their silent voices they spoke of Elsewhere, of unformed ether, of aeries and clouds. And all who listened knew that there truths always co-existed (even when contradictory) in spinning matter. And thus the Walkers stopped and protested. Neither with arms of might, nor fists of mail did they resist. This was the first Chant, the first time the song arose from those collectives spaces and places that bind us, yet which too often greed and ego obscure. But on that day – many torn tears later – the M’RKl was closed. And thus the walkers who perform the Walk had yet one more balance to maintain, one more chore to be ready to perform. This is but one Tale of the Chant and it begins with the time of wrenching: MRK’l

He was awake – for the first time since the snow had maimed him – he was awake. And there, through glass so thin, it seemed but a membrane akin to water’s edge upon which a bug might walk, was … he searched for the word … and resisted its uttering. But as he sat up, attached to and interwoven with strands of something akin to webs, he said, he asked, he challenged, he declared: “Angel?”

Feather’s Fall continues:

• Chronological (4. Miriam)
• Story Arc (5. John: Coming Soon!)

(Blog) A Deacon’s Musing: Vignette|A Bible

Stories, Vignettes & the Archive

Stories … they’re funny things. This A Deacon’s Musing feature will share vignettes of voices that are (often) an amalgamation of experiences, contexts and people. They will frequently be monologues, which will be speaking both directly to our United Church of Canada and generally to faith communities. As with all stories, this may not have actually happened, but all stories are true. And as story-tellers know, once you hear them, they are happening to you …

Please explore the Vignette Archive for more stories.

I can feel the tension as you hold my old, frayed binding. Your fingers grip me with frustration? Worry? Powerlessness? I can hear your prayers, as you seek answers to a very complex reality.

For so long you have looked to me for direction and discernment. In troubled times, you’ve flipped through my pages, dog-eared this, under-lined that and studied. When others were hurting, you’ve been emboldened by my words to care for others, to reach out, let go of your own assumptions and prejudice, in order to help another heal. When others have suffered inequality, you confidently held me in a position of authority as you spoke about justice, diversity and the varying shades of what equality actually means.

Into the Promised Land

Into the Promised Land
Artist: Patrick Feller

And yet, this time, I worry that your concern about the future will lead you to places in which you might not hear me. This has happened before and some of those wounds are still fresh. As you’ve wrestled with choices and made mistakes that have hurt others: whether people of other faiths or your indigenous Sisters and Brothers, it’s hard to recognise and accept how my ancient pages have sometimes been used to confirm the ego, as opposed to reflect the humble faith’s confidence.

And so, as I know you’re discerning, perhaps even afraid and even very tired, I think of some of our stories to share once more. In some, there’s the image of Samaria, one of those places deemed unholy, dirty, on the Outside. Samaria was often judged as impure, where just enough was known about Judaism: ‘a little knowledge can do a lot of damage’ would be the tag-line. In Samaria, the Judean religious leaders were concerned what harm the ignorant Samaritans might do to the faith. And yet, Jesus’ ministry always seemed to run right into its/his own assumptions. Whether it was the Samaritan woman at the well or the hemorrhaging woman in the crowd: when he stopped and listened, he was challenged to change, to open the doors, to let in those whom others would exclude.

Another old story is that of exile … poor Moses walked, and walked and walked. The people always wanting to stop, to build walls, establish rituals, to turn back to what they thought was safe. In this wandering, people can feel like they are even further isolated and alone when they feel called to offer something new, to share a different path in which the crowd might want to go. It’s not an easy journey – faith, it’s even harder when you might have to let go of control, privilege and confront arrogance’s reflection.

La samaritana al pozzo

La samaritana al pozzo
Image: carulmare

I wish I had the answers for which you so desperately long. I wish that you might find the rest you need and the passion for whatever lies ahead. But I worry that as you continue to look into my pages, you might forget that they were never about the inward gaze. They should point beyond and offer direction, a formula, perhaps even a map as how best to go into the world. Maybe now is the time to close me for just a little while, and go out into Samaria to hear what others are saying and doing. Maybe in that experience you might hear the beginnings of how you are called to do new things with old seeds. Jesus – I imagine – at that well was not ready to hear the voice of an outsider. But he paused and listened. When Philip the Deacon, on that long ago road, was asked by the Eunuch to tell him about Jesus, I wonder if he remembered the story of Jesus and the Samaritan. I wonder if – at first – he judged this foreigner, perhaps even dismissed him. But then – he did something amazing – he took the outsider, the Stranger (who others would consider defiled) and taught and baptised him by the river. And then … after he had listened and acted … Philip disappeared! A seed had been planted and whatever the story is or was to be of the Eunuch passed out of my pages …

(Blog) A Deacon’s Musing: Vignette|Jacob

Stories, Vignettes & the Archive

Stories … they’re funny things. This A Deacon’s Musing feature will share vignettes of voices that are (often) an amalgamation of experiences, contexts and people. They will frequently be monologues, which will be speaking both directly to our United Church of Canada and generally to faith communities. As with all stories, this may not have actually happened, but all stories are true. And as story-tellers know, once you hear them, they are happening to you …

Please explore the Vignette Archive for more stories.

Start Me Up

Start Me Up
Credit: Jeff Golden

He knew the car was idling … he could smell the petrol wafting through the hallowed rust. The car was just another issue. A sieve that he knew would do little to protect him should he follow through with the dark thoughts that sometimes overwhelmed him. Right now, though, the light was out and he was belching carbon dioxide into the already compromised air. Another sin he guessed …

He looked up the long, grey column that rose into a steeple. The bell tower overlooked the village and he could imagine that sound. Cleansing, beckoning, perhaps even encouraging? He wanted to get out. Naomi told him, if he came here, the Pastor would listen to him – listen deeply she had said more than once. That was still intriguing to him. Naomi had said she had helped her. Not that he had any reason to distrust Naomi! Hell, he knew on more than one occasion (if she hadn’t held him with tear-wracking-convulsions) … well that was the darkness inviting him back …

His hand went to the keyed ignition, but again he stopped and looked at the church. Clad in limestone, big, imposing and noted the scaffolding. It betrayed that the building was in trouble. Sort of like him, he wondered?

Hand hovering, he knew he was wrestling.
Could he trust someone else?
Could he let go?
Could he actually cross this turbulent river finally?

The hurt … well it really hurt! It was like a cold fire that sliced through and rose out of him. Sometimes – when he could hold it no longer, when the bottle couldn’t numb him any further – he was sure that he could smell it. Creeping, seeping and oozing out of him and all he wanted was to be whole … or to finally sleep the long one he heard as dusk kissed the receding dawn!

He really didn’t know what being ‘whole’ might look like, need alone feel like, but again Naomi had shared the Minister-person here could help. She had even suggested the community was part of that, but he was not even ready for one more person to know, need alone a community of strangers! What they would do with someone like him … his hand pulled back from the ignition.

Mysterious Island

Mysterious Island
Credit: Joel Penner

The steeple looked … broken now that he examined it further. There was the sign that had drawn Naomi. A rainbow beckoned to her and he was happy for her and Ruth. They deserved to find someone who would help them shine! But his hurt was not theirs and he just didn’t know what to do.

He had to admit, the smell of petrol belching once more, that he assumed he’d be judged and that the church that he’d been sent to would be a big-shiny-mega-monstrosity … you know like in the news? Ushers, parking lots and that would have been too easy to judge, because he knew he would be judged. And if wasn’t judged, he also wondered whether or not this was even a choice that would help or even be relevant? The reality – in that moment – was that he wasn’t sure whether or not he would be judged, he wasn’t even sure whether they would have much to say to him. As he soaked in the old church, older cemetery, and a rainbow flag, he heard it … a bird … singing clearly, with invite.

Sparrow?
White throated?
White throated sparrow?

It was a sound that brought him quickly back … lost, trees surrounding him and then the break in the treeline and there the Whiteshell revealed a placid lake, calm … what was the word? Safe? Serene? Solace?

As his hand moves to the gear … toward the ignition … he didn’t know if he wanted what he knew he needed. As the car idled, with potential and loss dancing their dance of lament and pain, birth and hope, he took a breath. The next step … well, he exhaled, would lead to just a few more or many … he just wasn’t sure which as the car idled out of the story …

Blog links:

 Image: Start Me Up
 YouTube: Mighty Glad You Came (Red Moon Road)

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