Friday, 30 October 2015

Light Reading

I have been re-discovering murder mysteries!  I finished The Girl on the Train a short time ago and am currently reading The Bones of You.  Nothing remarkable about that right!  So I have challenged myself, not to read a certain number, or only to read at a particular time, no I have challenged myself not to read the last chapter first.  And it is driving me nuts!

I know many people think that is just weird because it ruins the book, but I always read the last chapter first and then go to the beginning and read it through.  The clues make so much more sense when I know what I am looking for or supposed to be noticing about a particular character, or thinking no I definitely would not have seen that coming.  Added to that I get 45-60 minutes of reading a day in -- not bad right!  That time is spent at the gym pounding the cardio machines; so no gym no book giving added incentive to go especially when the book is one of those that you just don't want to put down.

Thrillers, Fantasy, Romance...whatever genre that helps take one away for a short period of time are always fun.  Add to that a  story line that holds your interest and you have a good combination.  All of us need that space from time to time to just enjoy a good read, relax or do whatever it is that captures our attention. It is essential for our well being.

Good reading is about not only the serious, educational elements that we need to read for our work, to generally be informed and so on.  Good reading is about enjoying everything, even the murder mysteries and romances, because then we know we are reading for the pure love and joy of reading.  So I hope that you are reading something gripping and enjoyable this week.

And No, so far I have not peeked at the last chapter but I have been sorely tempted on more than one occasion!  Now its off to get healthy physically and mentally as I hit the machines and get lost in my book.

Thursday, 22 October 2015

Something Good

I am sure that we have all had bad days!  Those days where loneliness seems overwhelming, or we feel alone and lost in the midst of all that is taking place.  Sometimes we feel sadness for no explicable reason, it just is.  Those days are tough and can cause us to journey down some dark paths from which there seems to be no return.  Those days are also inevitable as I am pretty sure that we can not be happy all the time.  It would be nice but unlikely that we will not be touched by grief and pain.

I confess that I am an optimistic person and I do find something good in most days but not in everyday so seeing this post that "Everyday may not be good . . . but there is something good in everyday." is a brilliant reminder to not to get bogged down by the big things but look for the value in one little thing that happened during the day and sure enough there is a glimmer of light shining hope back into the day and into life.  I remember a particularly difficult experience that I had and after it was all over I was asked if the whole experience was negative and I immediately responded yes it was completely awful!  The person responded well tell me three positive experiences ... and with great difficulty I found three.  They were not easy to find I assure you but when forced to consider it from a different perspective the positives were there.

Simple statements that are positive reinforcements send our thoughts and minds in completely different directions.  Gurus in the field ask us to put a positive reinforcing statement where we will see it frequently and read it to give ourselves a reminder of the good.  Mine sits on my mirror where I see it  as I get ready for the day and it simply says "Remember to breathe" it is my reminder that no matter how overwhelmed I feel I need to step back, take a good deep breathe to calm myself and then carry on!  A positive reinforcement can be an important reminder to look for the good in ourselves and in each day as it arises.  It also reminds us that one day at a time is far less mind boggling than if we are looking at a week, month or year at a time.  That said I have just finished looking at my schedule up to the end of December ... and yes I definitely need to remember to breathe!  And I do hope that you have your very own positive reinforcement to help you navigate life and its may joys and sorrows always remembering that everyday may not be good....but look (long and hard if you need to) and you will find something good in every day!

Friday, 16 October 2015

the least of these

One of the many highlights of my ministry has been to be with the people in personal care homes.  Every month I take a service of communion in a personal care home and without fail there is an encounter that always brightens the day and sometimes much longer when I stop and think about all that takes place.

As I strolled in just yesterday those who are mobile were going into the gathering room where we hold services and others were being assisted by the efficient team of recreation staff.  Meeting me upon my arrival was an elderly gentleman who has rudimentary english, as it is not his first language, and he was so happy to see me there for service.  I was the recipient of a hearty hug and a kiss on the cheek.  That would be followed by him telling me he was so happy to see me and an apology "my english not so good."  I replied that since I spoke not a word of Russian no apology was ever necessary.  He is a regular to the service when I go and his enthusiasm and that of others to have someone come and spend time, do a service and sing familiar hymns is often the highlight of the day for so many of them.  Then on the other hand there is a lady who also attends regularly and her joy at sharing worship knows no bounds and continuously says I love being with you, finishes the visit with a hug and once more saying I love being with you.

I also realize that many find such facilities sad or depressing and while there are many sad sights there to behold I prefer to look at moments like these and know that for a short time someones day has been made a little brighter because they had a chance to worship, to see a somewhat familiar face,and share a little joy together.  I freely admit that I receive far more than I can ever offer.

Several years ago now I asked a fellow priest if they would take a service for me at such a home and they were less than complimentary in their thoughts on such a ministry.  Most don't know who you are, where they are so why bother?  That comment was followed by my usual sarcasm "one of these days it might be me in a place like this, and in this condition and I can only hope that some other priest will come in laugh , joke, and pray to brighten my day if only for a few minutes."  The comment still saddens me greatly.  How may of us get caught up in the fact that we may not be remembered and write off so many people who are in need of a few moments of joy, shared worship, a touch to remind them that they are valued.  There is much more joy to be found here than some may realize

  • Henry who sang a fabulous bass when no one knew he could even talk...I never knew he couldn't
  • The Retired Priest of many years who refused communion from so many but since he thought we were related it might just be ok
  • The competition of two members from an adult day program for me to stand beside them as they sang hymns with gusto
  • The person with severe dementia who shone brightly as she entered into the story I'll love you forever  by Robert Munch and determined that she would not want a child like that
  • A former news paper buyer (I was the paper carrier) who thought I had come to take him home from the personal care home and whose favourite hymn was All things bright and beautiful and if we were singing it at church today he would gladly come
  • The countless numbers who say thank you for coming to pray with us today and taking time out of your busy day 
  • The joy of Boris because I came to see him
  • The sincerity of Sandy to say I love being with you
  • those who gift you with the opportunity to be with them at the end of life, to pray with them and to offer what little comfort and consolation that can be had
The last verse of the poem An Old Lady's Poem says this...

I'm now an old woman ...and nature is cruel;
'Tis jest to make old age look like a fool.
The body, it crumbles, grace and vigor depart,
There is now a stone where I once had a heart.
But inside this old carcass a young girl still dwells,
And now and again my battered heart swells.
I remember the joys, I remember the pain,
And I'm loving and living life over again.
I think of the years ....all too few, gone too fast,
And accept the stark fact that nothing can last.

So open your eyes,  open and see,
...Not a crabby old woman; look closer ...see ME!!

When next we meet people in those personal care homes who seem forgotten and somewhat lost think of the rewards and memories that they continue to offer and  don't  brush them or the facility aside without looking at the young soul that still dwells within after all we will one day be there, too!

‘Truly I tell you, just as you did it to one of the least of these who are members of my family, you did it to me.’  Matthew 25:40

Who Cares!

"It doesn't matter who gets the long as the work gets done"  is a line that has become quite popular this last week or so when credit for this philosophy was given to R. A Dickey of the Bluejays.  I first heard this comment over ten years ago when Father Christian Swayne of the Order of the Holy Cross was leading an ecumenical mission in Stephenville, NL and at the end of the week of talks that he had given he concluded with this very statement.  In Father Swayne's context he was talking to a group of community leaders, specifically of the religious variety, and the community at large as he left us with these parting words to ponder.  R. A. Dickey,  in his context, was talking to fellow teammates and media.  The media latched on to the sentiment as well as some team members and it has been quoted numerous times since by either a team mate or the media, usually with the prelude... "as R. A.  Dickey says...."

Really it does not matter who gets credit for the quote but the philosophy that lies behind it is an incredibly selfless one.  Humans in all walks of life expect to get credit for what they do and when the credit is withheld or offered to someone else ill feelings and resentment are frequently the result.  These words are unusual words in a world where recognition is sought after and needed.  These words are foreign in a world where competition is highly valued and you want, or need,  everyone to know how great you are and how good you are at particular things.  You want to point out to everyone who does not sit up ant take immediate notice that these are my talents and strengths and due credit and accolades should be appropriately afforded. It is all perfectly natural for a  person to want validation and  feel a sense of worth for what they are doing   

This philosophy of R.A. Dickey and Father Swayne though calls us to pause and ask if it is important  to have all of the credit as a long as the end result is good for the team, for the ministry, for the community, for the people that are in need.  The emphasis is on the end result and not on the path to that result.  It is also an important philosophy when we consider the context of the world that we live in and calls each of us to honest self examination.  Can we adhere to the same philosophy?   We are  reminded that we cannot hold the limelight all the time, there will be others who share the praise, there will be some who obtain all the recognition but what really matters most is … that the work is being done not who gets the credit!  So thanks R.A. Dickey for such a timely reminder!  An now the credit for the quote has to go to....

“There is no limit to what can be accomplished if it doesn't matter who gets the credit.”


Thursday, 15 October 2015

Great Love

On Tuesday evening I went to a clergy event with the Bishop.  This diocese holds them on a regular basis and it enables the clergy to come together with the bishop to discuss certain issues that are relevant and be brought up to date on other concerns.  The speaker, Kevin Lamorieux, was dynamic and engaging.  He made a statement that captured my pondering.  He said that his grandmother passed along a valuable piece of advice to him.  "Love everyone!"  He went on to say that there are lots of people that he likes just fine but he has yet to succeed in loving everyone and all that it implies.

I am sure that we have all been faced at one time or another with someone telling us to love people.  It is easy to command or say but sometimes much harder to put into practice.  And for the speaker on Tuesday evening to say that put an honest perspective on our relationships with others.  It is not easy to love everyone, sometimes we struggle with the very concept in our own families much less with the general public. And yet the sentiment brings strong reaction and thought.

Love everyone and then we need to put a name and face to who it is we love and then we begin to think about the short comings of the person and the time they did something wrong and we can go on and on with good and valid reasons as to why we are holding out.  Then I think about those who say I love  you with relative ease and I find a certain discomfort in the easy ability they have to say those three little words especially if they are more of an acquaintance than what I would deem a very close friend.

Love, the lyrics of one song says, is a many splendoured thing.  I am not sure that we would all describe it in the same way and yet there was something about yesterday's sentiment from a grandmother saying "Love everyone"  that calls not only to the speaker but to all of us to try to do our very best to love and in so doing create world will be a lovelier and kinder place.  It calls each of us to strive to do better by the people that we know and are in relationship with, to do better with those that we will one day meet.  It calls us to strive to be the people that we have been encouraged to become.

Love everyone, at least start with the liking and work towards becoming an even better person and one small step at a time we will succeed in being all that we can be.

Don't look for big things, just do small things with great love....The smaller the thing, the greater must be our love.
  • As quoted in Mother Teresa: Come Be My Light (2007) by Brian Kolodiejchuk

Friday, 9 October 2015


A catchy title to be sure!  And it will have a completely different meaning and significance to my Newfoundland and Labrador friends who are in the midst of hunting season and where the question of "did you get your moose?" is heard frequently.  My hunting has been a completely different sort!  No guns or harm of animals of any kind involved.

As with most arrivals of autumn I have increasingly noticed that I have to go looking for parishioners who are a bit, shall we say, slow to return to the church services and various ministries.  So this past week has been filled with e-mails, telephone calls and follow-up.  My parishioners have discovered that I can only be avoided for so long and eventually I show up at the door -- I'm a lot harder to avoid this way!  And I have discovered that if I show up at the door, even if I have to leave a calling card, there is always a response.

I imagine that some of my colleagues may be less than impressed with my tactics but after more than twenty years in parish ministry it seems to continue to yield results and people do still appreciate the personal contact even if it is only to connect by telephone to make sure that everything continues to be fine.   Relationships are built and slowly grow through contact and checking in.  So, while it may well be slightly manipulative on my part,  people do appreciate the personal touch that is basically pain free but indicates that they have not fallen among the forgotten.

So are you wondering if I have had success?  Absolutely!  I have secured a guitarist and vocalist to participate in a number of special events, had phone calls returned, booked visits, and had telephone conversations to touch base with others.  It has been a good week "hunting" for those who have been off to a slow start to return to the congregations, reconnecting with those who have drifted away and having a number of elderly parishioners make time in their schedules for us to have a home visit.  So hunting friends while you are limited to a quota of one beast to fell its been a bumper week here and I still have a few more to go!

Friday, 2 October 2015


As I finished reading the book the 13th Disciple it said you are light, you are the light.   The premise of the whole book was that the 13th disciple set up a mystery school of people who were at very different stages of faith, brought them together and changed their lives forever.  One discovered that he was a healer, another the speaker of truth and so on.  Each of the members of the mystery school had a gift unique to them and it was up to them to accept and use it.  The over all message for the ordinary person was that the light lives in you and that you have a choice to accept or reject it.

Imagine for a moment that when we look at each other we can see the light of the spirit glowing.  It would positively change how we look at each other and most likely how we treat each other.  It would also change us as we look at others, our self and the whole world differently.  One character in the book wanted to go around telling everyone that they were blessed and while it was a very humorous moment in the book the response of the people was predictable and they all thought she was crazy!

How many of us look for the good in others?  We note all of the things that go wrong, we remark on all of the things that people do wrong.  We are happy to point it out on a regular basis but we seldom emphasize the good that people do.  It reminded me of a poster that a friend had many years ago "When I do good no one remembers.....but when I do bad no one forgets!"  It is a sad reminder that we often get caught up on the negative aspects and give the bad things emphasis when all of the good may well outweigh them. Certainly the media does not help matters when night after night we hear reporting about all that has gone bad in the world and then every so often a good news story gets shared and we are all reminded that there is still good at work in the world.

Yet this book The 13th Disciple reminds all who read it that there is good in everyone... but we have to be willing to look for it.  The light still shines...but we have to be willing to see it.  God still needs messengers and light in the world...but we have to be willing to be open to receive the message.  Give and take, good and bad, messages and silence.  The light of the good news lives it is in each of us,  will you look for the light?  And will you let your light shine?