Today we pause in our 'Stroll for the Soul' to instead, 'Walk in Solidarity.'
I am sure you have all heard about the horrific discovery of the mass grave at an Indigenous Residential School in BC. 215 bodies of children were found! These were all someone's child, someone's sister or brother, someone's grandchild - and yet their small bodies have been thrown into an unmarked grave in the hope that their lives would be forgotten.
Let us not allow this to happen.
Today, let us join with the rest of the country and say that their lives DO matter.
I encourage you today to wear something orange in solidarity with our Indigenous brothers and Sisters.
All government buildings will have flags flying at half mast for 215 hours.
I also encourage you to join our nation and take a moment to be silent at 2.15 today. Stop whatever you are doing and just be still. As you pause, say a silent prayer for justice and reconciliation. If someone asks what you are doing - tell them that you are standing in solidarity because all lives matter!
Jesus said: "Love one another as I have loved you" (John 15:12)
Today we continue with our series of inspirational messages that will focus on Homes, as we take time to stroll our neighbourhoods, back yards, parks, or just sit and look out a window. This resource is adapted from, and used with permission from, The Prayer Bench (https://prayerbench.ca/).
Our Habitat for Today
The loon in a quiet, freshwater lake often in a wilderness area.
Reflection: Facing into the Wind
I love loons. They are found in every province and territory in Canada. Our $1 coin, popularly called “a loonie,” features a solitary loon.
Loons are a migratory bird and nest on freshwater lakes. They need a rather long lake. With their heavy body, they “run” for several metres along the surface of the water on a calm day to gain enough speed to fly.
We might want to think about the metaphor of the loon running into the wind today. What are you facing today? What’s in your day? Before you Stroll, take a moment to hold in prayer your day, and all that is in it.
Loons have a distinctive call. It is haunting. I’ve read that the Ojibawa people credit the loon’s voice as the inspiration for the Native American flute. For many, it is a call to wilderness and solitude. What challenges do you face in carving out time for quiet and solitude?
Know what is most distinctive about loons? Their chicks ride along on their parent’s backs when they are very young. This keeps them safe from predators above and below water, helps them rest and conserve their body energy. It is a beautiful thing to see.
You might not hear loons on your Stroll today. But, perhaps, you can use this time to cherish the space of solitude within.
Peace to your house, Loons. May God cause all to be well with you.
Focus for Your Stroll: Making a Wilderness Practice
“In the morning, while it was still very dark, he got up and went out to a deserted place, and there he prayed.” - Mark 1:35
If you are able, give some thought to where you could stroll today that might offer a sense of solitude or wilderness.
Practicing “wilderness” is simply the freedom to be alone with your inner life. It might be a place you pause to write or draw. It might simply be a quiet place within where you enjoy being with yourself, in the protection of the Divine.
Video: Restore The Call
Today we start our series of inspirational messages that will focus on Homes, as we take time to stroll our neighbourhoods, back yards, parks, or just sit and look out a window.
This resource is adapted from, and used with permission from, The Prayer Bench (https://prayerbench.ca/)
Our Habitat for Today
The Spider spinning its nest
Reflection: The Art of Spinning Stories
In the early Spring morning when the sun’s rays have not yet warmed the earth enough to dry the dew, a spider’s web is a beautiful sight, glistening like a piece of precision jewellery. It’s not always easy to find such a web, but sometimes we can find them caught between the branches of trees or on a gate post.
Spider’s webs are an architectural feat, beautiful to us and extremely functional to the spider. In construction, the spider makes use of a variety of different silk threads that are thick or thin, sticky or dry, beaded or smooth. In a complex geometrical design the spider spins the web, moving backward and forward, creating the pattern and building a strong net to catch their dinner. Unsuspecting flies and insects trapped in the web will be preserved by the silk threads, ready to be eaten when the spider is ready. It’s a self-made pantry, where food is delivered straight inside.
”A spider’s web is stronger than it looks. Although it is made of thin, delicate strands, the web is not easily broken.” E.B. White from Charlotte’s Web
But, think about it:
How does a spider know how to spin?
Where does a spider get their inspiration?
What does the patience of the Spider teach us?
What can we learn about fearlessness from the Spider?
I invite you to watch this beautiful video from BBC of a spider's web.
Beautiful Spider web
Focus for Your Stroll
As you Stroll today, keep an eye out for a spider’s web. Maybe you even have some in your home, or garage. If you find one, stay and observe for a few moments.
Ponder your own story.
Where is your strength?
Where is your inspiration?
Where is your knowledge?
Where is your warmth?
Peace to your house spiders. May God cause all to be well with you.
Matthew 19:14 (NIV)
Jesus said: “Let the little children come to me, and do not hinder them, for the kingdom of heaven belongs to such as these.”
As someone who has three children with very young children and has worked with preschool children throughout my career, I have always been amazed by the comments that come out of their sweet little mouths. Young kids say exactly what they feel at the time, with their own truth and wisdom and no filters.
You may not think they are paying any attention to what you are doing or saying, but even when they are playing and seem oblivious to what’s happening around them, they are listening. Believe me when I tell you, they are listening with those cute little ears and watching with those beautiful sparkling eyes.
Remember to take time to pay attention to what they are saying. It will be an honest reflection on how they interpret what they have seen, heard or experienced. You may see a little of yourself, you may be shocked, you may laugh your head off and if you listen very closely you will definitely learn something! They are very literal in their interpretations of what they experience.
For an example, my husband Bill had knee replacement surgery three weeks ago and my grand-babes have obviously heard the family talking about their Papa having this operation. Last week, when I talked to one of them on the phone about their day, I was asked when Papa would be getting his knee back from the doctor. Lol.
A little story that shows a child’s advanced wisdom is “The Starfish Story”, by Loren Eiseley. One day a man was walking along a beach when he noticed a boy picking something up and gently throwing it into the ocean. Approaching the boy he asked “What are you doing?” The boy replied” Throwing the Starfish back into the ocean. The surf is up and the tide is out. If I don’t throw them back, they will die.” “Son,” the man replied, “don’t you realize there are miles and miles of beach and hundreds of starfish? You can’t make a difference!”
After listening politely, the boy bent down, picked up another starfish, and threw it back into the surf. Then, smiling at the man, he said, “I made a difference to that one.”
Enjoy the rest of your day, and don’t forget to watch, listen and think like a little child.
Last Sunday we celebrated Mother’s Day. As I planned for worship, I came across a resource from GodSpace that reminds us how many of Jesus’ parables are images of what a mother does for us:
· As a mother nurtures and feeds us, God feeds us in the feeding of the 5,000.
· As a mother binds up the skinned knee of her child, God binds up our wounds in the story of the Good Samaritan.
· As a mother comforts and surrounds her children with love, So God surrounds us.
· As a mother bears a child’s pain and suffers with us when we hurt, so Jesus bore our pain on the cross.
· As a mother believes in and brings to fulfillment the hopes and dreams of her children, so God believes in and nurtures our hopes and dreams.
As a response to thinking about the motherly love of God, I encourage you to take time to sit with your eyes closed thinking about your mother.
What characteristics best describe her? Write these down.
Now think of the parables of Jesus. Which of these parables reflect the mothering characteristics that you wrote down? Make a list of these parables and write next to each the mothering characteristics they portray.
Reflect on what you have written. How does this enhance your understanding of the mother heart of God?
Peace, Rev. Gail
Last week, when I was on vacation, I had time to reflect on some writing from one of my favorite theologians – Diana Butler Bass. In her blog – ‘The Cottage’ she wrote these words that really struck me:
“It is quite striking how people use the word “lost” and “loss” to describe the last fourteen months: we’ve lost friends and relatives to death, we’ve lost a year of our lives, we’ve lost income, we’ve lost a sense of security, we’ve lost our ability to move freely through the world. We’ve lost a lot.
Many clergy speak of grief and lament – perhaps the post-COVID church will be one marked by that sad journey. But I think that “grief and lament” lacks specificity. It is hard to grieve millions of people, and it is hard to grieve the hundreds of millions of lost years of our lives. We need to grieve what is gone, yes. But that is not the only task ahead.
‘Lost’ doesn’t just refer to what is gone. It also means that which is mislaid, out of place, dislocated. Sometimes lost just means that we’re lost. And that is the other task for the post-pandemic world: to help others find what has been lost, to point the way beyond the thicket. We need to find ourselves again; we need to be relocated in the world.
We’ve been dislocated in four major ways:
1) Temporal dislocation
We’ve lost our sense of time as it existed before the pandemic. How often have you thought: What day is this? What time is it? Did I miss an event? What month is it? That’s temporal dislocation.
2) Historical dislocation
We’ve lost our sense of where we are in the larger story of both our own lives and our communal stories. History has been disrupted. Where are we? Where are we going? The growth of conspiracy theories, the intensity of social media, political and religious “deconstructions” – these are signs of a culture seeking a meaningful story to frame their lives because older stories have failed. That’s historical dislocation.
3) Physical dislocation
We’ve lost our sense of embodiment with others and geographical location. For millions, technology has moved “physicality” into cyber-space and most of us have no idea what to do with this virtual sense of location. Without our familiar sense of being bodily in specific spaces, things like gardening, baking, sewing, and painting have emerged as ways of feeling the ground and the work of our hands. We’ve striven to maintain some sort of embodiment even amid isolation. But the disconnection between our bodies, places, and other bodies has been profound. That’s physical dislocation.
4) Relational dislocation
We’ve lost our daily habits of interactions with other humans, the expression of emotions together in community. Have you worried you won’t know how to respond when you can be with your friends without distance, with no masks? How will it feel to be in large groups again? How will work or school feel back in person, with others at the next desk or waiting on customers face-to-face, or in the first in-person meeting? What happens when the plexiglass comes down, the mask is off? That’s relational dislocation.
With these dislocations in mind, the task comes into focus. Surely, religious communities need to be about the work of relocation – finding what has been lost, repairing what has been broken, and re-grounding people into their own lives and communities.
The word religion is believed to have come from the Latin, religare, meaning to “bind” or “reconnect.” Religare is about mending what has been broken, recovering what has been mislaid, and reconnecting that which is frayed.
What is the future of religion post-pandemic? Well, it depends. It depends if we continue to insist on the other definition of religion – as obligation to a particular order of things (like doctrine, polity, or moral action – a “bounden duty”). If nothing else, the pandemic has revealed that particular orders of things can be upset, overturned by the most unanticipated of things. If religion is about maintaining a certain order of liturgy, dogma, or practice, well, then, we can consider religion one more pandemic loss.
If we think of religion only in terms of doctrine, polity or moral action, then perhaps religion will be one more pandemic loss. But, if we think of religion in terms of religare, however, the task of the post-pandemic church – the work of finding, repairing, and relocating – is clear. We must reconnect ourselves and others with time, history, physicality, and relationships. In this sense, the future of religion has never been brighter – our lost world needs finding. Pandemic dislocation calls for guides and weavers of wisdom. We don’t need to return to the old ways, we need to be relocated. We need to find a new place, a new home in a disrupted world.
And at the very heart of finding our lost selves is relocating our hearts in and with God. There is a journey beyond the pandemic, and we will find the way a step at a time. We haven’t been to this particular future before. And we will need one another to get there. “
As you read this, I invite you to ponder on these questions:
1) With the rapid increase of the religiously “unaffiliated” and those leaving congregations, what do you think the future of your community of faith will look like for your children or grandchildren?
2) What do you think about the four dislocations? Which one(s)have you felt most strongly?
3) What in your life needs to be relocated post-pandemic? How can you help relocate others? What might your faith community or spiritual gathering or friend group do to help relocate others? How can you be a guide or weaver in a post-pandemic world?
Finally, I leave you with words from poet William Stafford to reflect on:
There’s a thread you follow. It goes among
things that change. But it doesn’t change.
People wonder about what you are pursuing.
You have to explain about the thread.
But it is hard for others to see.
While you hold it you can’t get lost.
Tragedies happen; people get hurt
or die; and you suffer and get old.
Nothing you do can stop time’s unfolding.
You don’t ever let go of the thread.
— William Stafford
Keep holding the thread my friends.
Peace, Rev. Gail
Each Wednesday we send out an inspirational message.