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Welcome to my blog! Of course if we were visiting in person, I'd have the teapot out and we could sit and chat.
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Sunday, March 30, 2014

Living in Lent, Living in the Imperfections

  I dared to speak out dreams and good intentions in past blogs, hoping to create a season of giving in this season of lent.

  And the honest truth is that it has been a struggle.  Yes, giving has happened, but not regularly, not recorded, not always intentionally. And I've noticed that giving is a normal rhythm of life, and I'm grateful to observe that.  It is good to see generosity practiced, and I see it in many places.  It is the stuff of beautiful stories.  And I want to continue to be more aware of practicing this gift in my own life.

  I had two good intentions over this period of Lent, this forty days preparing for Easter.  One was to give more... in fact to give every day.  The other was a gift to myself, a new renewal to practice "Sabbath", taking time to rest.

 And life happens.  For all of us.  It has been an intense time at my workplace, extra company, health issues for my hubby (who is on the mend), lots on my plate.  Every time I would try to take time out, a new challenge or roadblock seemed to appear.  And I became weary of even trying...

  This morning's Lenten devotional by Henry Nouwen nourished me:

  A Cry for Mercy

O Lord, this holy season of Lent is passing quickly. I entered into it with fear, but also with great expectations. I hoped for a great breakthrough, a powerful conversion, a real change of heart; I wanted Easter to be a day so full of light that not even a trace of darkness would be left in my soul. But I know that you do not come to your people with thunder and lightning. Even St. Paul and St. Francis journeyed through much darkness before they could see your light. Let me be thankful for your gentle way. I know you are at work. I know you will not leave me alone. I know you are quickening me for Easter - but in a way fitting to my own history and my own temperament.
I pray that these last three weeks, in which you invite me to enter more fully into the mystery of your passion, will bring me a greater desire to follow you on the way that you create for me and to accept the cross that you give to me. Let me die to the desire to choose my own way and select my own desire. You do not want to make me a hero but a servant who loves you.

Be with me tomorrow and in the days to come, and let me experience your gentle presence. Amen.

  Words like this nourish and heal and bring hope to the heart.  It is a prayer that I can join in with, a prayer for days when things don't go as I planned.

  A wise friend said to me once,  I should welcome the interruptions in life.   To see interruptions as my work.   I have tried to live into that, and know that any plans I make need to have flexibility written into them.  And even in the rhythms of busyness I can create moments of silence and quiet, even if I retreat for a few minutes.  Sometimes it is as simple as singing a song, silently in my head, beautiful words that nourish me.

  In days where my gifts seem scarce, I can give the gift of a smile, or a word of encouragement.

  My good friend Dene, always an encourager in my life gave me this bookmark, which I lose in a book and rediscover it from time to time.  Even though she is now in heaven, I was delighted to have this bookmark resurface this week again, just when I needed to hear these powerful words written on it:

When things go wrong, as they sometimes will,
When the road you're trudging seems all uphill,
When the funds are low and the debts are high,
And you want to smile, but you have to sigh,
When care is pressing you down a bit-
Rest if you must, but don't you quit.Life is queer with its twists and turns,
As every one of us sometimes learns,
And many a fellow turns about
When he might have won had he stuck it out.
Don't give up though the pace seems slow -
You may succeed with another blow.Often the goal is nearer than
It seems to a faint and faltering man;
Often the struggler has given up
Whe he might have captured the victor's cup;
And he learned too late when the night came down,
How close he was to the golden crown.Success is failure turned inside out -
The silver tint in the clouds of doubt,
And you never can tell how close you are,
It might be near when it seems afar;
So stick to the fight when you're hardest hit -
It's when things seem worst that you must not quit.




Thursday, March 13, 2014

56 Gifts

  Three years ago, this month, I celebrated my 53rd birthday in the hospital, shaken up, and thankful to be alive.  And I continue to find it amazing that I now serve as chaplain in this hospital, this place of healing for me.

  Last week I shared about Lent and turning the giving up into a season of giving.  It is eight days into that decision now, and Lent has become a season of joy.  The thing that is most amazing is that is not hard to give.  There are opportunities everywhere!

  It started with a pot of soup.  It reminded of days ago, when my friend Shawn and I would make soup weekly and share it... it is a simple gift, nourishing, warm.  And so last week my hubby and I made a huge pot of Borscht - his family favourite, and shared it.

  Each day there has been opportunities to give.  Even more, I have been touched by the giving of others.  Especially by the community at the hospital this week.  Their response and sadness at the death of a colleague has touched us all.

  The morning after I received the news, one of the social workers brought in a huge container of cookies.  It seemed like such a beautiful response in the midst of such sadness.  Gifts of cookies, homemade with love, comfort food, and a beautiful gift for the staff.

  And the offerings of love and support and practical help for those bereaved has been a beautiful thing to watch this week, in the midst of incredible grief and tragedy.

  In my thinking of giving, my thoughts turned to my birthday coming up.  Coming up to 56, and being more comfortable with my age and the gifts it brings, I wanted to turn this day into a day of giving.  One thought was to buy 56 chocolate bars and hand them out.  If you see me this weekend, you might want to be looking for yours!

  But in thinking it further, that idea seemed rather shallow, a temporary pleasure for sure.  So I'm really putting myself out there, but the new thought this morning was to ask for something.

  Seems rather bold, as I type this!!

  But wouldn't it be amazing if there were 56 gifts - gifts to others?  And it could be anything, the gift of time, a gift to a charity, a homemade gift, a gift of nature, a cheerful visit to someone who is lonely.  And could you share that here, in a comment, or on my Face Book page?

  Thank you for sharing this adventure with me... to turn Lent - a season of reflection and remembering and alms-giving - into a season of giving and gratefulness.

Monday, March 3, 2014

Lent: Giving up... or Giving?

  Sitting in church yesterday, I was inspired with the idea of turning Lent upside down.  Instead of giving up, I am considering the thought of giving.  Period.

  I've been ruminating about this all day, and feel a little vulnerable.  Because really, I don't like to put it out there that I am giving anything.  That should be behind closed doors, right?  An un-public affair?

  But the thought has not left me, and if I feel so inspired, perhaps it could also be an inspiration to others.

  And so... Lent - the 40 day preparation before Easter - begins on Wednesday - how about 40 days of giving?  A gift a day?

  I was challenged to begin a little early today... as I thought about what I could give, how I could give, what it could look like.

  And in my rounds at the hospital, someone needed a pair of glasses.  Reading glasses.  And yes, I had a little pair in my purse, funky I called them, and small, and it was easy to give them away.  And the immediate gratification was joy.

  And no, I promise I will not post about this for the next forty days.  But I would be very interested to see if others are interested in participating.  I would love to hear their stories.  Because it encourages us all.

  We have so much, in our rich North American Society that our stuff literally overwhelms us at times.  It does not hurt me, not at all, to purge, to share, to deplete.

  And perhaps I will be stretched to do even more.

  And it could be the little things, like an act of kindness, an offering of time, deliberate gifts that will be given.

  So I'm putting myself out there.  A little scary, if you ask me, because this makes me accountable.

  What is Lent, really?  I don't have the theological explanation or even a very good dictionary opinion.  But I believe it is the preparing of the heart, a waiting, a longing, and a letting go of self.  To focus on the gift that God gave, the gift of Himself, in human form, willing to suffer, for me.

  In my pondering, I might share more in the coming days.  But for now, this is a beginning.  Let me know if you would like to join me in a season of giving!