In the beginning…

There’s something magical about facing flying calendar gettyimages googlethe age-old New Year’s question: will I make a resolution this year?  Maybe it’s from listening as a kid to the deep voice of actor Joseph Cotton, but around Jan 2nd I start to hear in my head a deep, somber baritone voice saying “In the beginning….”.

Those iconic words signal so much.  Possibility. Fear. Creativity. Anxiety.  A blank screen page, or a field blanketed by unmarked snow, or even an uncluttered day-timer, offers both opportunity and risk.  In that moment we (ok, I) face the decision will I do it differently than before?  Will I trust the Spirit enough to follow to where I’ve never been before? Or will I take the trail I always have?

I admit I like familiarity of old trails. There’s something solid in knowing there is a “tried and true” way of moving through the world.  I feel a little less intimidated by all that lies before me.  On the other hand, I am entirely invigorated at the prospect of doing things differently. Something new.  For me faithful living is about facing the opportunity and fear together: I can’t know the outcome, but I trust that the unknown path lead me to more than I could ever ask for or imagine.

When I put up that calendar to January, even with dates already reserved for an activity, I realize that I can be whoever, or however, I want to be this year.  I don’t have to “Do Life” the way I always have.  I can regroup, or reassess: I can choose what will be the priorities this year?  What is life-giving to me? How can I make space in my life to engage that more than I have before?  In the beginning…

The rest of that first sentence of the Hebrew (& Christian) bible is “in the beginning, God created…”.  The Spirit that runs through all living things hovered over a formless void, like a dove on a nest over her eggs.   Our lives are not be formless or void (in fact, most of us have more things we want to do than feel we have time for); but imagine if we were to sit in the darkness, or in the liminal light of dawn or sunset, and allow those words to hover over us this month.  In the beginning, God created…

Imagine the Spirit of God (however you understand this) hovering over you, using the colours and textures that are your hopes and relationships and chosen obligations, to create a life as spectacular as the rest of Creation is.  Imagine the awe and wonder as All that is Life-giving guides your choices about time…and energy…and heart…and “stuff”.

Perhaps in this beginning, I needn’t make a resolution as much as I need to make Space Within so that the Life-giving, Creator Spirit can direct me to be our fullest and best selves.   Join me; let me hear your journey. What a 2016 that would be, heh?

 

 

Joy…is it more than happiness?

The snow was heavy and wet, and in Brandon there’s a layer of ice underneath what fell yesterday.  Shopping centre parking lots are full of drivers who are remarkably patient with one another, given the time of year. Many voices of friends, on radio, on TV, are extolling the virtues of buying less and enjoying more – more family, more friends – with the added bonus of fewer pressures, and fewer bills in January.

Is it just me, or does there seem to be a corresponding increase in the joy of the Season?     Even those people who I know have been bereaved this year, or who have faced major concerns with health or employment, seem to be relieved of a burden of expectation.  They don’t “HAVE” to be joyful – in their situation no one expects it – and yet they are finding joy in the Season.

Is joy more than happiness?  Is there a lowering of the expectation

I wonder if forced reassessment of our situation, of  rejecting  social expectations, is permitting, in general, a lowering of expectation of giving-and-getting of presents…..and more gratitude of the gifts of the season?

Maybe the story of Jesus being born in an animal shelter can have more poignancy this season.  The Holy Mystery, which holds together all of the Universe, comes to us without fanfare or wrapping. There is no expectation placed on this baby; in this birth there is only great joy. of heaven and of the shepherds.  A light shining in the inky days of uncertainty.

When Mary sings a song of joy, she reminds us that we are not alone, God is with us.  She roots herself, and her child, in that amazing grace.    When Love comes to Earth, we also are not alone; God is present. What a gift!   What a place to root our joy!

Where are you rooting your joy this holy-day season?   May it give you sure footing in the uncertainties of life.

And may you have sure footing as you walk the snow-laden paths on the way to wherever you are heading.

 

Days of Remembrance

cbc ca Day of Remembrance

This week there are a flurry of “international” and “national” days of remembrance:

This weekend, Sunday Dec 6th is Canada’s national day of action and remembrance of victims of gender-based violence. A day when we remember that 14 women were gunned down because they were women.  We wear white ribbons to remember, and vow “never again”.

We are in the middle of the UN’s campaign of 16 Days of Action against gender discrimination.  One Canadian response is the campaign #WeWillWearWhatWeWant, a campaign that encourages women to gather wearing whatever makes us feel “like a woman”.  Some women will be scantily dressed, others will be fully veiled.  What would a picture of your ‘group of women’ look like?  Post it on Facebook, or on Twitter, link it to your church’s facebook page.

And then there is the issue of hundreds of documented cases of indigenous women who have gone missing or have been murdered whose cases are still unsolved.

Imagine a world where women didn’t need to fear being attacked or harassed, or discriminated against, or talked about for how they live their lives.

This past Tuesday, Dec 1, on World AIDS Day, many people stood and prayed in solidarity with those whose lives have been touched by HIV and AIDS-related illness; most are women, 25 million are children orphaned by AIDS, 85% of which live in sub-Saharan Africa (avert.org).

And on Dec 10th, we will mark the 68th anniversary of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, yet daily we see human rights abuses done even by signatory countries like Canada, the US, Israel, Afghanistan and China.

How do we seek peace when we face such huge obstacles?

 

These markers are our attempts –frail as they are –  to remember the vision, to honour the people affected,  and so build a world of peace on life at a time.  Some of these days of remembrance give us courage to speak our truth of how God’s vision brings peace to our lives.  Other days of remembrance feel like refiners fire and launder’s soap scrubbing a layer of skin off us and we feel raw and tender and exposed. (see Malachai 3, for reference)

We are human, frail and forgetful; we do not always generate peace between ourselves and others in the community.  We make mistakes, but we are forgiven every time we turn back to the path that leads to righteous peace.  We can be courageous in recognizing the hurt our lives do to others, to turn away from those acts, we wash that grime off our soul so that God’s vision can shine through us.

We are empowered by God’s spirit working in us; we can be humbly courageous and take our place in the movements that build up justice. Our actions to change the world – as small as they might be – are acts of faith – faith that God’s love transforms us, faith that loving our neighbour – the ones we like and the ones we don’t – will lead us to be with God.  We need not fear facing those places within us that need mending.  Though sometimes it feels like we are facing words of fire, and repentance tastes like soap, God uses them to make us our very best self, the self that God sees within us.  Fear not, remember the vision on these days of remembrance and discover the peace your soul craves.