Wednesday, September 15, 2010

Thursday, September 9, 2010

Have a Beautiful Day

Wow.  The reality of my job is that I spend much of my time 'walking' with people through  the darkest times of their lives.  To be honest, as much as I deny that I let cases get to  me, they do...they have to.  You cannot be empathetic with another person and it not affect  you one some level.

...but this isn't about me.....

Wow.  The life situations that people manage to struggle through day by day....people amaze  me.
What amazes me most is the ability of people to see the beauty in the darkest of situations.

(Here's a trade secret.  Shhhh.  Don't tell anyone....)

The one of the greatest skills in counselling is active listening.  Okay..that's no secret,  but...the primary goal in the process of listening is to help guide people to find their own  solutions to their problems.  There, I've said it.  Counsellors (outside of a little  questioning and repetition of what has been said) do nothing at all in the healing of  people.  We just encourage people to find the solutions for their problems that work best  for them and gently suggest that they implement those solutions.

What amazes me is the ability of people to find possibilities and hope in situations that  sound hopeless.  I'm GLAD that they find their own solutions!  Sometimes I'm not sure what I  would do if I was in their situation!

I started reflecting on this after listening to the U2 song "Beautiful Day" this morning on  my way to work and thinking about some of the issues that clients and friends of mine are  going through know who you are.

Bono has stated that this is a song "about losing everything but still finding joy in what  you have."

Sounds like a good idea to me.

Here are the lyrics.  Read them.  I love the religious references that slip in there.

At the bottom of the lyrics is the video.

Crank up the volume...and have a Beautiful Day!

"Beautiful Day"

The heart is a bloom
Shoots up through the stony ground
But there's no room
No space to rent in this town
You're out of luck
And the reason that you had to care
The traffic is stuck
And you're not moving anywhere
You thought you'd found a friend
To take you out of this place
Someone you could lend a hand
In return for grace

It's a beautiful day
The sky falls and you feel like
It's a beautiful day
Don't let it get away

You're on the road
But you've got no destination
You're in the mud
In the maze of her imagination
You love this town
Even if that doesn't ring true
You've been all over 
And it's been all over you

It's a beautiful day
Don't let it get away
It's a beautiful day
Day, day

Touch me
Take me to that other place
Teach me
I know I'm not a hopeless case

See the world in green and blue
See China right in front of you
See the canyons broken by clouds
See the tuna fleets clearing the sea out
See the Bedouin fires at night
See the oil fields at first light and
See the bird with a leaf in her mouth
After the flood all the colors came out

Day, day
It was a beautiful day
Don't let it get away
Beautiful day
Day, day
Touch me
Take me to that other place
Reach me
I know I'm not a hopeless case

What you don't have you don't need it now
What you don't know you can feel somehow
What you don't have you don't need it now
Don't need it now
It was a beautiful day

It's warm in the sun, I reach to the sun


Wednesday, September 8, 2010

Mad Padre: Why Does This Florida Church Want to Kill Soldiers...

Mad Padre: Why Does This Florida Church Want to Kill Soldiers...: "Sign displayed by Dove World Outreach Centre. 'We have firmly made up our mind' to carry out the Koran burnings, 'but at the same time, w..."

Sunday, August 29, 2010

Narrative Sermon on Luke 13:10-17 - Written by Sandra Hounsell-Drover

Her story

I come to the synagogue every week - I pray, I hear the Torah read, I feel comforted by the women of my community.  I leave bent.

I have been afflicted with this crippling pain in my back that has ravaged my body for the last 18 years or so.  I have no husband, no children, just this pain and the kindness of the women of my community.  I have not held my face to the sky and felt the warmth of the sun in years.  I have not been able to feel the warm evening breeze that often turns cold as the evening wears on.  My robe is dusty and withered - I only have this one and this was a castoff from another woman who died giving birth.  I live with the pitying eyes of those around me, the women who think Satan has bound me with this disease.  I hear them sometimes wondering what I did to bring the wrath of God on myself.

Others dutifully help me.  They share their bread with me, they bring water for me from the well.  Often I hear their complaints of having to draw two jugs from the well.  The children laugh and I hear their taunts.  Rarely are they shushed by their mothers.  But every week I come to the synagogue - I pray, I hear the Torah, I share in the community of these Jewish women and I leave bent.

I come today, to pray, to hear, to be cared for and we have a new Rabbi teacher.  I will just take my place with the women on the far side of the synagogue.

“Woman, come here.”

Is he talking to me? I shuffle my way past the other women to take my place on the men’s side of the synagogue.

“Woman, you are set free from your ailment.”

Is he really talking to me?  What is he doing?  He is touching me.  I pull back in fear.  A man, not of my own kin is touching me.  I will be stoned.  But there is something in his touch.  Something firm but yet gentle.  A fire….but still comforting. He is telling me to stand up.  Now I’m being mocked.  I thought the synagogue was a place where I could feel safe from the taunts and pitifulness. I can feel the eyes of every person here almost as if they were burning through my skin.

Stand up?  The pain is not as intense as it has been.  Stand up!? Well let me try.  Here I go.  One smooth motion and I’m standing.  I’m standing.  I’m standing straight.  I am upright.  I look this Rabbi in the eyes (I can look in his eyes!) and I see that same fire that just coursed through my back at his touch. Praise Abba!  Praise Yahweh!  I can look him in the eyes.  I can look around the room!  Praise God in the Highest!  I can hear the gasps.  I can see the smiles.  I want to dance!

But this is the synagogue.  I must remember my rightful place. 

The leader of the Synagogue is saying something.  He is trying to hush the gasps and whispers and the pointing.  He has a tone to his voice - is he angry... incensed.  He is trying to maintain order.

Praise God I can see all around and I can move!

He is saying something about this Rabbi who has given me cause to rejoice.  He doesn’t like that this Rabbi has healed me on the Sabbath.  Obviously he wasn’t the one in pain!  “There are six days on which work can be done...”

I really want to speak up.  I want to say “You have had 18 years to heal me.  But I have come and have left bent……Another day, and this healer, this Rabbi would be gone.  And you would still have me bent and in pain!”  But no, this is the synagogue and I am but a woman.  I dare not speak.

Maybe this Rabbi does not know the laws of our faith?  Oh he must!  He is a Rabbi after all!  This Rabbi is calling the leader a hypocrite! He counters by telling us that when we lead animals to water on the Sabbath we are working.  Oh I am reminded of that passage from Leviticus….

And anyone who does any work during that entire day, such a one I will destroy from the midst of the people.  You shall do no work: it is a statute for ever throughout your generations in all your settlements.

Will he be destroyed?  Will the Leader?

Has my healing caused division?  I am almost afraid of what might happen to me next.  But this Rabbi - I think they call him Jesus - has just given me my name.  He has called me “Daughter of Abraham.”  He has invoked the name of our great ancestor.  Yes, I am a daughter of Abraham.  A descendent of faith.  Thank you God of Abraham for setting me free!

The women around me are touching my robe and smoothing my hair.  Their pitifulness has turned to amazement.  I remain standing tall.  Watching these two men, surely I am seeing the Kingdom of God unfolding before my eyes.

I am a daughter of Abraham!  What say you, leader of the synagogue.  Could he be at a loss for words.  All the leaders now look a bit sheepish.  They have been put in their place.  I am beaming.  This smile, this joy, this new life I have been granted, just makes me want to sing praises to the Almighty God.

Those around me too, they have seen the kingdom of God and are praising Abba. 

Maybe you come bent, and in pain - carrying immeasurable burdens in your body or your heart or your soul.

Is he calling out to you to ease that pain?

Are you able to bring yourself before him and let his healing love and care course through you?  Or has he already healed you and you still need to sing praises.

I have come for 18 years and I have left bent.  Today I leave singing “My life flows on in endless song.”

Friday, May 7, 2010

A VERY Brief Review of Black Snow: A Story of Love And Destruction, Jon Tattrie.

A local story by a local author, Black Snow takes the reader for a mesmerizing journey through the ravaged streets of Halifax in the moments and days immediately following the Halifax Explosion.

In less than 200 pages Tattrie weaves together the devastation of the aftermath of the explosion with a love story and the lives of a people who are indelibly marked by the effects of World War I.

On our journey from the flattened dockyard to the four corners of the Halifax Peninsula, Tattrie uses flashback to give the reader glimpses of a world that seems to be falling apart at the edges.

If there is a single positive lesson or moral that comes out of this tragic tale it is that bright moments – moments of life – come out of the double-edged sword of human contact and tenderness.

I liked it…a lot.

Thursday, May 6, 2010

A Brief Review of A Soldier First: Bullets, Bureaucrats and the Politics of War, General Rick Hiller

Read it.

That’s the most clear and concise thing I can say after reading General Rick Hillier’s memoir.

Here’s why.

First and foremost, Hillier is a general in the truest sense of the word. The ancient Greek word for general, stratagem, refers to the ability to plan cleverly, and outwit. This book is an excellent example of the cleverness that exemplified Hillier’s military career. At the book signing I attended, General Hillier mentioned that his original intention was to write a book about leadership, but HarperCollins asked that he write a memoir first (a guaranteed money-maker) and then they would finance his project. A memoir is what he wrote, but the primary theme that flows through its pages?.....Leadership.

This book highlights one of the clearly stated ‘principles of leadership’ Hillier presents throughout the book; namely, “Never underestimate the soapbox you have.”

Other principles that I think are worth pulling out of the text are:

- “…while it can be difficult to lead [at]…times…, if you are adamant about doing what is right, as opposed to worrying about how your actions will look to superiors or others, you can get through it.”

- “…what the commander or boss is interested in, the staff, units or bureaucrats will be interested in.”

- “…the importance of recognizing people and rewarding them for a job well done.” (a lesson learned from his time at Fort Hood)

- “…to establish the kind of working relationships and the camaraderie that make everything work the way it’s supposed to.” (from in his preparation to command the Multinational Division Southwest in Bosnia)

And my favourite…

- “…everything we do is about people. It’s not about organization, structure, process or management: it’s people who accomplish things, and they need to be inspired, informed, enabled and supported.”


Most of the other reviews I’ve read have been positive and the only significant criticisms I’ve found are over whether Hillier’s descriptions of events significantly differ from how others saw them. To those critics I’d like to throw out one final guiding principle, “Perception is reality.”
If you want to know more….read it!

Thursday, April 8, 2010

Obeying God?

I’m a bit rusty, but here it goes.

Reflecting on Acts 5:27-32.

“We must obey God rather that any human authority.”

Provocative words. Dangerous words. How does one determine the will of God? I’ve had this argument many times with those who have told me that they did something because they knew it was God’s will. How did they know?

This very question lays at the root of the Protestant Reformation. Who knew the will of God, the Church (i.e. the Holy Roman Church) or ‘reformers’ within the church such as Martin Luther or Thomas Cramner? The cry ‘sola scriptura’; that is, that the only authority comes from Scripture, falls short of the mark simply because it was the Church who chose the books that would make up our Bible in the first place.

Then and now we are left to ponder who is obeying God and who is just hearing voices....
As a good Anglican, I fall back to Richard Hooker’s assertion that authority is derived primarily from Scripture, informed by reason (the intellect and the experience of God) and tradition (the practices and beliefs of the historical church). Personally, I see this relationship between Scripture, Reason and Tradition as interdependent and interacting, rather than the more static hierarchy that Hooker preferred. As I mentioned above, scripture grew out of the traditions of the Church and have had such a profound impact on our reason (how we think) that our very way of discussing the will of God is tied up with them.

And maybe here is the clue to the truth we seek in trying to discern the will of God – truth which arises from an interdependent, interacting relationship.

I dunno, like I said, I’m still rusty.

"The Road Not Taken" by Robert Frost

Two roads diverged in a yellow wood,
And sorry I could not travel both
And be one traveler, long I stood
And looked down one as far as I could
To where it bent in the undergrowth;

Then took the other, as just as fair,
And having perhaps the better claim,
Because it was grassy and wanted wear;
Though as for that the passing there
Had worn them really about the same,

And both that morning equally lay
In leaves no step had trodden black.
Oh, I kept the first for another day!
Yet knowing how way leads on to way,
I doubted if I should ever come back.

I shall be telling this with a sigh
Somewhere ages and ages hence:
Two roads diverged in a wood, and I—
I took the one less traveled by,
And that has made all the difference.

Thursday, January 21, 2010

The Great Levelling


Today I took some time to do a Daily Office. Three pieces of Scripture stood out to me:

The first was this,

The voice of the Lord shakes the wilderness;
the Lord shakes the wilderness of Kadesh.
Psalm 29:7

As you can well imagine, the first image that came to my mind was that of the devastation that has hit our brothers and sisters in Haiti. The question that seems to come forward every time a disaster like this happens is “Why would God let something like this happen?” There are a lot of good (and bad) answers to that question out there. Just type the question into Google and you will find at least 75 million sites! I find the whole question a fruitless pursuit that usually end up conveniently shifting blame and responsibility for the state of our world away from ourselves. We want to judge. We want to assign blame, and the last person we want to judge is ourselves. The greater truth is, when bad things do happen, and the wilderness of Kadesh shakes around us, it is our response that reveals more about our God than anything else.

The second piece of Scripture I read was...

As many of you as were baptized into Christ have clothed yourselves with Christ. There is no longer Jew or Greek, there is no longer slave or free, there is no longer male and female; for all of you are one in Christ Jesus. And if you belong to Christ, then you are Abraham’s offspring, heirs according to the promise.
Galatians 3:27-29

Paul’s letter to the Galatians reflects the words of John the Baptist (who, in turn echoed Isaiah), words that describe the Reign of God as a great levelling where the mountains are laid low and everyone stands on equal footing. I thought immediately of the brief interview I saw with René Préval, the President of Haiti not long after the earthquakes levelled most of Port Au Prince.

In a very sad but real way, all distinctions have been erased from the people of Port au Prince and the surrounding area. Without too much exaggeration we can say that everyone is homeless. Everyone is hurting and struggling to survive in the most horrible of circumstances. Earthquakes, like other natural disasters, do not discriminate. In our response to the desperate needs of the Haitian people one of the greatest challenges will be to ensure that our help also be indiscriminate - treating all people as equal.

The third and final piece of Scripture that caught my attention was,

By the tender mercy of our God,
the dawn from on high will break upon us,
to give light to those who sit in darkness and in the shadow of death,
to guide our feet into the way of peace.’
Luke 1:78-79

Like most of you, this is my prayer for the people of Haiti.

Please, in response to this prayer, I invite each one of you to do all you can in whatever way you can, for as long and as much as you can.

Let’s leave our judgements behind.

Every Blessing.