"All words are symbols that represent unspeakable realities. Which is also why words are magical." (Donald Miller tweet)

Friday, October 24, 2014

cheering for chocolate

This summer, a day program for adults with developmental challenges moved into our lower level at the church where I pastor. I was thrilled because it helps our church budget to have some rental income. They were thrilled because the space was perfect for them.

But I had no idea how great it would be, all around.

Most days I come into work, and hear a cheerful "Good morning Pastor Patti" hollered up the stairs.

If I go down, there are multiple waves and big smiles and "Hi, my name is..." greetings. From time to time at my desk, I can hear the faint sounds of music and laughter from the gym. On cooking class day, yummy platefuls are delivered to my office.

But the best of all was last week when I went down to get a Snickers from the vending machine. One of the participants in the program watched me intently, and when I turned to go, she asked conspiratorially, "Did you get yourself a candy bar?"

"Yup," I said.

"YAH!" she cheered with a fist pump. Clearly a major triumph, in her mind.

With people like that cheering me on, how could I NOT love my job??

Happy Outrage-Free Friday to you.




Thursday, October 23, 2014

thank God

Yesterday, this happened.

My country.

The soldier killed was based in my city.

---

Someone in my Twitter feed dared to "thank God" that more weren't killed, and was immediately lambasted.

How DARE they thank "God"?

They should thank the MAN who stopped the gunman, not "God".

And the gunman probably ACTED in the name of their "God".

And if "God" was to be thanked, it should only be if NO ONE AT ALL had been killed yesterday.
(I found myself doubting that that particular tweet-er "thanked God" on the days that no one was killed.)

"God" isn't real anyway, and anyone of substance would NEVER utter such a thing.

It was as if they had uttered some hateful, deeply offensive slur, simply by saying "thank God".

---

Later I had a conversation around the oh-so-commonly-referenced myth of "all-wars-are-caused-by-religion".

Sigh.

No. They aren't.

Some are.

Not all.

Not even close.

---

My country. I am so thankful to have been born in this nation, so glorious and free. We aren't perfect. But "Canadian" is a moniker I bear with a great deal of pride.

My city. I am so grateful to be a north-ender, a city pastor, a proud Hamiltonian. We aren't perfect. But we love our city. We defend it passionately to those who wrinkle their noses and say, "Hamilton? Really?" Yes, really. It's gritty and honest and strong and beautiful.

My God. I am deeply, profoundly grateful to be a Christian, a follower of Jesus Christ. We aren't perfect. But my faith teaches me that God cares and is involved in the world.

(Some believe that if that were true, God would stop all evil - or what is defined by them as "evil" - thus overriding the free will of specific people who are, by extension, defined by them as "evil".
You might conclude, as I do, that this belief becomes untenable fairly quickly.)

My faith also teaches me that I, with all my imperfections, carry God's presence in the part of the world I am in. I am responsible to represent Jesus well. Jesus' life demonstrated care for the poor, the sick, the oppressed. He honoured women, shouted against religious hypocrisy and recognized even our enemies as humans, broken indeed. He believed justice doesn't have to include hatred, even while it is being exercised.

---

Anyway.

That happened yesterday.

And as a terribly proud and passionate Canadian, Hamiltonian, and Christian - I wholeheartedly thank God that what was a dark day was not much, much darker; and at the same time, I wholeheartedly utter the prayer embedded in our national anthem.

God keep our land.

Monday, October 20, 2014

*medical terms may not be accurate

Remember this moment of dignity and grace in my life? The colossal wipe-out, blew the knee out of my pants, twisted my ankle, on university campus, yada, yada, yada?

I iced my right ankle that night, elevated it. Wore a tensor wrap for a couple of days and it started to feel better, so I stopped.

And then, it wasn't feeling better anymore. And then shots of pain above my left knee signified that my right ankle was making me walk all twisty-like. And then little electric currents of warning through my neck suggested that I was about to move into that rare-but-never-forgotten moment of searing pain if you so much as turn your head a fraction of an inch.

So I went to my chiropractor last Thursday and showed him my owie. "Yes," he said calmly. "It's your tirbyelaratis* bone." He looked at me as if it was obvious. "It has to be always moving forward. Yours is flat."

"Because I wiped out?"

"Yes. You fell in this direction, didn't you?" He gestured. "So it's not ... it should be ...."

He sighed at my obvious oblivion as he pushed and pulled and moved it around. "Ok, you have your briatic* joint here on this side, and your crylondiar* joint on the other side. The tirbyelaratis* runs between them, and yours is ... well it has to be moving forward."

He worked some more, then looked to see if I understood.

I asked, "And it's not? Moving forward?"

"No," he said, and gave a mighty pull. I gasped slightly.

"Is it now? Moving forward?" I asked.

"Yup," he said.

"Is that why my knee and neck were freaking out last night too?" I asked.

"Of course," he said. "You'll be fine by the weekend. Oh! And I have a couple of jigsaw puzzles for you. Last time you were here, you said you like jigsaw puzzles but only if the scenes are interesting. These ones are interesting. They're  ... well ... they're definitely interesting. I left them at home, but I'll bring them in and you can have them."

And once again, this is why I love my chiropractor.

*medical terms may not be accurate, and in fact are entirely made up, since I have no idea what he said.

Friday, October 17, 2014

filler, with a hint of sarcasm

Sometimes, when I'm writing a paper, I use filler, just to get myself going.

This most recent one included the sentence, "This paper will argue something profound, with an impressive array of vocabulary."

Then I prayed intensely that I would remember to change that sentence into something ... else.

(Hmm, I wonder if I did?)

---

By the way, I saw this article the other day ... I liked it. And there was one sentence that I particularly  liked. It was this:


(Ready?)

(Hello, are you ready? ... Yes?)

(Ok then.) 

Here it is. 

"Maybe we need to buy less stuff,
so we have more (money) to give."

Well, isn't THAT just a ridiculous thought, CRAZY talk is what THAT is. "Buy less stuff...." .... What does that even MEAN? I mean, who DOES that?

(You can hear that I'm being mildly sarcastic right? You heard that?)

We (in Canada) just finished saying how thankful and blessed and contented we all are, as we stuffed ourselves with turkey and apple pie. Christmas is coming, that season when we all spend ourselves into oblivion. Apparently we aren't sooooo very thankful that we couldn't do with a liiiiiiiittle more stuff. 

(Again with the sarcasm.)

Anyway. It's just a thought, mostly self-directed. Happy Outrage-Free Friday. 

---

"In this space, I will bring this post to an end with something witty that ties the whole thing together."

Wednesday, October 15, 2014

what happened in the park

Yesterday was gorgeous.

If you live in a warm climate, this might not seem like much, but here? In October? Oh, this is heaven, baby.


And here's why I'm thankful.

I'm thankful I have a paper due tonight, so I was up SUPER early yesterday, working at home, and not eating breakfast.

I'm thankful I then had to take the car in to get some work done, and wait for the shuttle which took for-e-ver to get me to work.

I'm thankful that by the time the shuttle dropped me off, I had realized how beautiful it was outside, and also that I was really hungry, so I walked down a block to get some coffee before going into the office.

I'm thankful that by the time I got back, an appointment had cancelled, and I was hit with the rare urge AND freedom to go work in the park - haven't done that all summer or fall.

I'm thankful for 20 years of experience working with people in the city, so that as I walked into the park, the older man stumbling towards me, muttering incoherently, caught my attention and raised caution flags, but didn't scare me away. It meant that I heard him when he said, "I'm in trouble."

And I'm thankful for basic crisis response and first-aid training I've had along the way, so that as he veered past me, and then dropped slowly to the ground, my brain clicked in to call 9-1-1, and accurately and quickly report where I was and what was happening to this man who seemed to be having a seizure. I'm thankful I could sit with him as it happened.

And I'm thankful for another older gentleman who had heard him say, "I'm having a seizure" so we could tell the paramedics that. And for a younger woman who asked, "Do you need me to flag down the ambulance when they get here?" And for a 9-1-1 operator who confirmed that it sounded like a seizure, and told me what to expect. And for both fire and paramedic services who responded quickly and compassionately, listening to those of us that were there, and thanking me for calling.

I'm thankful for an unexpectedly warm day today, and all the meaningless bits that led to me being in that spot, at that moment, able to help for a few minutes.



Monday, October 13, 2014

not dead yet

Each week, I send a little note out to my favourite church. (Yes, it's the one I pastor. How awkward would it be if it wasn't?!) This week - well - I feel a little strongly about it. So here's a slightly modified excerpt of that note for you too.

--

Did you happen to pick up Saturday's Spec? On the front page was a well-written article about dying churches in Hamilton. Of course, the Spec's definition of "church" is found in the subheading - "the city's religious and architectural heritage" i.e., the buildings.

We define church a little differently - off the top of my head, I'd go with "a group of people choosing to live out their faith as followers of Jesus, both individually and together as an authentic community, in whatever space they happen to find themselves". Ironically, the building our "church" meets in, was one of those "dying churches" several years ago.

I'm so grateful that congregation intentionally
passed the torch on to us!
Jesus' name continues to be honoured in this space.
Christian community continues to grow in this space.

Speaking of dying churches, someone sent me this article just an hour after I opened the Saturday paper. It's not new, but it made me gasp a little. And cheer. And then gasp again. Enjoy if you like.  (October 17, 2014 edit - off topic - but props with all my heart to the author's follow-up to that article, right here.)

Sunday morning at our church, one of you in a broken voice offered a prayer of thanks for full-time employment for the last seven years. One of you came and silently knelt at the front during worship. One of you, one of our youngest members, read Scripture for us all. One of you, one of our oldest members, who usually stays in the background, unexpectedly came to the microphone and prayed with such authority and passion that we all knew - it was the closing prayer. No other was needed. Most of you stayed for awhile, enjoying good conversation over homemade desserts and coffee. Some of you went home with extra food tucked in your bag.

And one of you told me that the reason you were at Crossfire was because, well, there was life here.

I guess not every church in Hamilton is dying after all.

--
PS If you're interested, past weekly notes to my favourite church are right here

PPS Props to you if you caught the Monty Python reference in the title. ;) 

Friday, October 10, 2014

jammie thoughts

Yesterday, a morning meeting got canceled. Most weeks I am slightly overbooked with meetings and appointments, knowing that most weeks one or two of them will be canceled.

So I worked from home for half a day. In my jammies, no less. All by myself. Felt remarkably luxurious, and for once, I'm kinda caught up. (That won't last, but I celebrate it when it happens.)

Every now and then, "all by myself" is a good thing for me.
Recharges me.
Energizes me.
I get creative again.

And sipping fair-trade dark roast coffee, in a warm bed, laptop balanced on a pillow, working on things that matter - well, it just reminds me of how very, very blessed I am. Even my moments of impatience or sadness these days are because of ultimately good things - missing people I love, waiting for things that have not yet happened - but they will. 

Happy Outrage-Free Friday to you.

And Happy Thanksgiving.