Thursday, April 26, 2007

Blue Skies

After what seems like months of grey skies and rain and snow we are finally getting good weather. I've spent the day grading so Robbie and I took a break and drove down into the coulees for a walk. It was wonderful down there and after a while I was wishing I had left one layer in the van. The bridge over the river is the highest, longest of this kind, or something like that. It looks pretty dramatic against a blue sky. I took my sketch book too but it was blowing enough and my pile of grading is still high enough that I decided not to linger.

Wednesday, April 25, 2007

Saskatoon Farm

Oh yes, as Gracie points out in her comment to the post below the fabulous weekend involved the discovery of a new shopping experience. One of our little group told us that this sign I've noticed on the highway for years but ignored actually pointed the way to an amazing experience. And did it ever!

The Saskatoon Farm is actually a home and garden centre with an incredible array of household items, tapestries, kitchen items, jewelry, even chain mail armor. Then there is the bakery/cafe with the incredible scones and buns and apple crisp. And then there is the nursery with a wonderful selection of pots and plants and garden stuff.

And through the place wander a gaggle of roosters (outside) and cats and a dog (inside). They make themselves at home everywhere although they've been trained not to go into the kitchen or cafe and observe the boundaries carefully.

All this is 20 mins south of Calgary on the East side of the #2 hwy.

A Fabulous Weekend

This weekend some friends and I went up to Calgary for the last performance of the Calgary Opera for the season. It was an all Canadian production of Carmen and it was fabulous. The whole weekend was fabulous. We checked in to the hotel and changed into our fancy duds. I even bought a new purse and necklace for the occasion. We were all dressed to the nines. When we went out into the hall we discovered that everyone else staying on our floor was also dressed to the nines. We met a group of drag queens at the elevator. We asked them what was happening and they told us that there was a drag queen ball that evening at the next hotel. At this point one of the men dressed in evening gown, red wig, tiara and feather boa turned to one of our group and told her, "and you could win. That outfit is fabulous!" That became the theme for the evening. We had a fabulous dinner a block away at The Chutney, a wonderful new East Indian restaurant. The opera was fabulous. The people watching was fabulous. Even the partying that went on all night long on our floor couldn't dampen our spirits. We had a fabulous time. Someone else must have had a fabulous time too because the next morning there were boa feathers scattered all down the hallway.

We had another wonderful meal in the morning at a Dim Sum restaurant a couple of blocks from our hotel. When we went in there were about 30 people eating - by the time we left it had grown to about 300. I've never seen anything like it. One of the little old men at the table next to us pulled a mickey out of his pocket and served up about four fingers of something brown to his companion. People watching there was a lot of fun too. In the midst of the meal I said to one of my friends, "so this is what pagans do on Sunday morning." When I lived in Hamilton friends and I used to go for Dim Sum on Sundays but after church not instead of. I could get used to doing that again pretty easily. I can't do the shrimp anymore but I love those slimy pancakes. Fabulous...just fabulous.

Tuesday, April 24, 2007

Lots of Fun

Your Dominant Intelligence is Linguistic Intelligence

You are excellent with words and language. You explain yourself well.
An elegant speaker, you can converse well with anyone on the fly.
You are also good at remembering information and convicing someone of your point of view.
A master of creative phrasing and unique words, you enjoy expanding your vocabulary.

You would make a fantastic poet, journalist, writer, teacher, lawyer, politician, or translator.

Friday, April 20, 2007

After Grief - a poem by Dorothy Livesay

After Grief - Dorothy Livesay

Death halves us:
Every loss
Our narrowness
And we are less.

But more:
each losing’s an encore
of clapping hands
dreaming us on;
the same scene played once more
willing us grander than
we were:
no dwarf menines
but kings and queens.

and still, some say
death raises up
gathers the soul strong-limbed
above the common tide
to catch a glimpse
(over world’s wailing wall)
of an exultant countryside.

Brahms Requiem

Prof. Tim Pope of the Modern Languages Dept. read these words of Brahms' Requiem at our memorial service for the victims of Virginia Tech today.

Blessed are they that mourn: for they shall be comforted.
They that sow in tears shall reap in joy.
They go forth and weep, and bear precious seed, and shall come again with rejoicing bringing their sheaves with them.
For all flesh is like grass, and all its glory like the flower of grass.
The grass withers, and the flower falls.
Be patient, therefore, beloved until the coming of the Lord.
The farmer waits for the precious crop from the earth being patient with it until it receives the early and the late rains.
And the ransomed of the Lord shall return, and come to Zion with songs and everlasting joy upon their heads:
they shall obtain joy and gladness, and sorrow and sighing shall flee away. Lord, let me know my end, and what is the measure of my days;
let me know how fleeting my life is.
You have made my days a few handbreaths, and my lifetime is as nothing in your sight.
Surely everyone stands as a mere breath.
Surely everyone goes about like a shadow.
Surely for nothing they are in turmoil;
they heap up, and do not know who will gather them.
And now, 0 Lord, what do I wait for?
My hope is in Thee.
How lovely is your dwelling place, O Lord of hosts!
My soul longs, indeed it faints for the courts of the Lord;
my heart and my flesh sing for joy to the living God.
Happy are those who live in your house, ever singing your praise.
Ye now are sorrowful; but I will see you again, and your hearts will rejoice,
and no one will take your joy from you.
As a mother comforts her child so will I comfort you.
For here have we no continuing place, but we seek one that is to come.
Behold, I show you a mystery: we shall not all sleep, but we shall all be changed;
in a moment, in the twinkling of an eye, at the hour of the last trumpet.
For the trumpet shall sound, and the dead shall be raised incorruptible,
and we shall be changed.
Then shall be brought to pass the saying that is written:
Death is swallowed up in victory.
0 death, where is thy sting? 0 grave, where is thy victory?

There was a very big turnout and many people signed the memorial pages that we will be sending down to Virginia Tech. One of our community who has a friend who works at Virginia Tech had made ribbons in the maroon and gold school colours which we all wore.

Thursday, April 19, 2007

St. Drogo's Cafe

St. Drogo as you may already know is the patron saint of coffeehouses (and really ugly people). Starting this Sunday evening at the university in the chaplains' office we will be opening St. Drogo's Cafe. We've gotten a new espresso maker and we will have some food that came in too late to be handed out with the campus care parcels. So if you are studying around the university Sunday, Monday, Tuesday or Wednesday evening stop by between 8:30 and 10:30 pm for a little refreshment.

Wednesday, April 18, 2007

Virginia Tech

We'll be doing a short memorial service on Friday at 12 Noon in the atrium at the University of Lethbridge. There is also a memorial book set up in the Student Union right now which will be moved down to the atrium on Friday. Everyone in the area is welcome to come.

This morning I read on the NY Times site through the profiles on all the people killed. It is heartbreaking to read these short items and to become aware of the families and the friends grieving.

Sunday, April 15, 2007


Okay, a little photo editing removed the offending middle aged posterior hanging over the swing so I decided that this look of delight is publishable. Jim gave me a couple of big pushes and I got really high. That was more terrifying than it was when I was little. I guess now I know how many bones there are in a human body to break!

Ambassadors for ECM

I preached this morning on the difference between Tony Soprano and Jesus. Trust me, it worked...I think. The latest Christian Century has an interesting article on manly Christianity (as opposed to the feminine wussy stuff that happens in most of our churches) (Missing Men: Is the Church Low on Testosterone). It strikes me that there are Christians who would rather follow Tony Soprano, who knows better than to show weakness after he is shot, than Jesus, who reveals the holes in his hands and side after his resurrection.

At First United our student chaplains did their first sermons as ambassadors for ECM. Lindsey has posted her sermon. She began:

“Peace be with you”. These are the first words the frightened disciples hear Jesus speak that night in the locked room. The first words they hear after witnessing his brutal death on the cross. The first words after they have witnessed the empty tomb and feared the worst. These are the words Jesus chooses to use the first time he sees his disciples after he has been raised. Out of all the greetings He could have given to the disciples upon their reunion He chose one of peace. What did these words of peace mean for those disciples and what do they mean for us today?

By the standards of the English dictionary peace is defined simply as: quiet; tranquility; mental calm; serenity; or freedom from disturbance. While these are all valid representations of peace, within the Christian faith peace is much more then this literal translation.

Read the rest here.

Weekend Activities

Sunday evening always comes too fast although I'm enjoying having my first Sunday evening without a service in months. This was a really good weekend with a couple of movies, Over the Hedge (a delight) and Stranger than Fiction (really interesting and a great cast). I got a lot of work done for the chaplaincy, the parish and my class. And I got to got to the park with a bunch of friends yesterday. There were three adults and four kids and a couple more kids joined us for bocce. Our team picked up a five year old ringer who bowled better than the rest of us - mind you that wasn't difficult. I actually swung in a swing for the first time in years - I have photographic proof but discretion might be wise. I'd hate to have blackmail evidence out there on the net. It was a really fun afternoon.

Today we had a baptism out at Ascension. He was beautifully behaved, even when I poured water in his eyes. Having short arms is a disadvantage for a priest. It makes coordination of water and baby a bit more of a challenge. It also looks like we've raised enough money for a cow, a half dozen goats and half dozen pigs, a variety of mosquito nets and some literacy training this Lent. Gotta love it!

Saturday, April 14, 2007

Hungering for God

Late have I loved you, beauty so ancient and so fresh. Late have I loved you. Behold, you were within and I was outside, and I was seeking you there. I, deformed, was pursuing you in the beautifully formed things that you made. You were with me, but I was not with you. Those things held me far away from you, things that would not exist if they were not in you. You called and clamored and shattered my deafness; you flashed and gleamed and banished my blindness; you were fragrant and I drew in breath and now pant for you. I tasted and now I hunger and thirst for you; you touched me and I have been set ablaze with longing for your peace. (St. Augustine, Confessions [10:38], translated by Scott MacDonald)
Quoted in "Cousin Thomas" Christian Century, March 22, 2005 by Suzanne Guthrie. Read her very interesting piece here.

Friday, April 13, 2007

All Quiet on the Blog Front

I've noticed this week that the blogs I read regularly are pretty quiet - must be a combination of end of term craziness and post Easter slump. And maybe it is the nice weather we are enjoying. Or the advent of baseball season. (Note: the Jays are in first place - it won't likely last since their pitching isn't very deep but let's enjoy it while we can!)

I got an email this morning from a friend I haven't talked to in 20 years. She's a journalist in Rome now and I've spent the morning reading articles she has written. Wonderful stuff and very fun to get connected again. Between reading and cooking spaghetti sauce it has been a really nice morning. Now I'm off to hear a talk on narcissism and sex in the 18th century. Should be fun!

Tuesday, April 10, 2007

Kum ba yah Christians

There is an article in the latest issue of Rolling Stone magazine about BattleCry, a youth crusade that whips kids up into a frenzy and gets them to commit to rejecting anything that the organizer, Ron Luce, doesn't consider Christian. This includes their non-Christian friends. According to the article Luce tells the kids, "The devil hates us and we gotta be ready to fight and not be these passive little lukewarm, namby-pamby, kum-ba-yah, thumb-sucking babies that call themselves Christians. Jesus? He got mad!" You can read more here. Or you can read the whole article in the latest issue on stands until the 19th. You can read a really good analysis of this movement and why it isn't what Jesus would do at Internet Monk here.

By the way, they sang Kum ba yah at my beloved grandfather's funeral. He spent ten years in the mission field teaching young people. He spent the rest of his life committed to caring for the vulnerable. It was this grandpa who first taught me the grace of forgiveness when I was four years old. I had been playing in the basement and my family were terrified that I had wandered off. Since my grandparents lived on a winding road with poor visibility, a block from the ocean, they had reason to be terrified. As I stood in the midst of some very angry adults it was my grandpa who pulled me up onto his lap and held me.

What kind of face do we want young people to associate with the Gospel?

Monday, April 9, 2007

Easter Joy

It has been a really great day. Church was a really good place to be this morning - lots of Easter joy and visiting friends. My new altar server did a really good job and we belted out the hymns. Most folks stayed afterwards for lunch which was delicious. We've been on a health kick and the after church lunch has been really good. Actually it always was really good - it is just now there is a bigger range of non-sweets.

After church I dropped by to see Paul happily settled in his own home. It has been three short weeks and already he's managing crutches like a pro. A slow pro but a pro nonetheless. He and his son and I had a fascinating conversation. His son has been doing a lot of traveling and has encountered many people who are tired of shallow religion and who are entering deeply into traditional religions. We had a long talk about something one of my friends and I are planning.

We expect in the fall to start a weekly worship service that is kind of non-church. We've got a bunch of people ready to join us and the owner of our favourite coffeehouse is letting us use it for our gatherings. We both have been encountering folks who struggle with church for a variety of reasons. Some ask big questions that rock the boat. Some are gay and don't feel welcome. Some don't have any experience in the church and feel out of place there. So we're starting a gathering where everyone is welcome, questions and struggles are welcome, and where the only requirement is a willingness to take seriously scripture and the Christian tradition and to be willing to wrestle angels.

But more on that later. The rest of my day was delightful. I had a nap and talked to some friends on the phone and my best friend came over for dinner and we took two walks to my dog's delight. I read some and listened to music. It was a very nice day.

Tomorrow it is back to grading. Groan.

Sunday, April 8, 2007

Christ is Risen! The Lord is Risen Indeed! Alleluia!

Jesus Christ is risen today, Alleluia!
our triumphant holy day, Alleluia!
who did once upon the cross, Alleluia!
suffer to redeem our loss. Alleluia!

Hymns of praise then let us sing, Alleluia!
unto Christ, our heavenly King, Alleluia!
who endured the cross and grave, Alleluia!
sinners to redeem and save. Alleluia!

But the pains which he endured, Alleluia!
our salvation have procured, Alleluia!
now above the sky he's King, Alleluia!
where the angels ever sing. Alleluia!

Compleat Psalmodist, 1749

Saturday, April 7, 2007

Choked Up and the Sound of Silence

Aaron's right - he's had a couple of posts about the hymn My Song is Love Unknown and how hard it is to get through it without choking up. I chose it for last night and then my colleague at Ascension chose it for this morning so I had a double dose of it. And choked both times. It is one of my favourite hymns and the last verse always gets to me. Like him I'm also having a hard time finding the energy or time for blogging lately. This week I was doing my regular chaplaincy stuff, teaching my course, guest lecturing in my friend Paul's class, and doing Holy Week prep for the parish. There hasn't been a lot of time to write (just ask my family).

I do want to write a little bit about the last couple of days though. This is my favourite season of the church year and last night's service was really lovely. We were only eleven and there is something very intimate about gathering with a group that size. I preach differently when we are such a small group. It isn't just that I am more informal, although I am that, but I feel comfortable sharing more from my heart. I know all the debates about using personal experience in sermons but I'm not really talking about that. I don't know that the ideas or basic content are different. But I think I take more risks with what I reveal of what is in my heart.

This morning's service was a real treat for me. Michael Ebsworth, the other priest in the parish, leads a small choir called Cave Cantemus. They are a wonderful accapella choir and they sang some beautiful pieces while taking us through a meditation on the seven last words from the cross. I got to sit in the pew and participate in the prayers and allow the music to carry me away. Afterwards I trained a new altar server who will assist me on Sunday.

This evening a friend and I watched the newly released Into Great Silence. It has been getting a lot of buzz and it was interesting. It is a documentary on a monastery considered the most austere in the world. There is no narration and almost no dialogue. Essentially it is two and a half hours of beautiful photography of the simplicity of life in the monastery. There are lots of shots of dust floating in sunbeams and drips of water. I must confess that I fell asleep for a bit in the middle but I still really liked it nonetheless. There is a delightful scene of the monks, who are allowed to go out and talk on Sundays, climbing up a mountain so that they can slide down in the snow. As beautiful as the setting is though it isn't immediately evident why someone would want to take on this solitary, silent life. And since there is no narration you have to figure it out through reflecting on the recurring texts inserted in the documentary. The film opens and ends with the passage from 1 Kings where Elijah hears the voice of God, not in the earthquake or the fire but in the still silence. There is a scene of two men being received as novices and from that and the recurring texts, 'unless a man gives away everything he can not be my disciple' and 'o Lord, you seduce me and I am seduced' one is given some insight into what draws men into such a severe life. I've spent some time in monasteries on retreat but I can't living there permanently. I can do silence for a few days but every day, no way!

Friday, April 6, 2007

Maundy Thursday/Good Friday

Having loved his own who were in the world, he loved them to the end.
John 13:1b

My Song is Love Unknown

My song is love unknown,
My Savior’s love to me;
Love to the loveless shown,
That they might lovely be.
O who am I, that for my sake
My Lord should take, frail flesh and die?

He came from His blest throne
Salvation to bestow;
But men made strange, and none
The longed for Christ would know:
But O! my Friend, my Friend indeed,
Who at my need His life did spend.

Sometimes they strew His way,
And His sweet praises sing;
Resounding all the day
Hosannas to their King:
Then “Crucify!” is all their breath,
And for His death they thirst and cry.

Why, what hath my Lord done?
What makes this rage and spite?
He made the lame to run,
He gave the blind their sight,
Sweet injuries! Yet they at these
Themselves displease, and ’gainst Him rise.

They rise and needs will have
My dear Lord made away;
A murderer they saved,
The Prince of life they slay,
Yet cheerful He to suffering goes,
That He His foes from thence might free.

In life, no house, no home
My Lord on earth might have;
In death no friendly tomb
But what a stranger gave.
What may I say? Heav’n was His home;
But mine the tomb wherein He lay.

Here might I stay and sing,
No story so divine;
Never was love, dear King!
Never was grief like Thine.
This is my Friend, in Whose sweet praise
I all my days could gladly spend.

Samuel Crossman

Tuesday, April 3, 2007

The Joys of Spring

Yeah! It may be snowing again in Lethbridge but the Blue Jays won 5-3 in 10 innings yesterday! Now I just have to order the sports package for my satellite service so that I can watch a game this weekend. I didn't watch a single game last summer and I missed it horribly. There is something sublime about watching a game with a hot dog and a coke. Wait, make that tuna salad and a sparkling water.

Lent - Day 36

The goal of our life is to live with God forever.
God who loves us, gave us life.
Our own response of love allows God's life to flow into
us without limit.

All the things in this world are gifts of God,
presented to us so that we can know God more easily
and make a return of love more readily.

As a result, we appreciate and use all of these gifts of God
insofar as they help us develop as loving persons.
But if any of these gifts become the center of our lives,
they displace God
and so hinder our growth toward our goal.
In everyday life, then, we must hold ourselves in balance
before all of these created gifts insofar as we have a choice
and are not bound by some obligation.
We should not fix our desires on health or sickness,
wealth or poverty, success or failure, a long life or short one.
For everything has the potential of calling forth in us
a deeper response to our life in God.

Our only desire and our one choice should be this:
I want and I choose what better
leads to the deepening of God's life in me.

St. Ignatius, from the beginning of the Spiritual Exercises

Monday, April 2, 2007

Lent - Day 35


I had grasped God's garment in the void
but my hand slipped
on the rich silk of it.
The 'everlasting arms' my sister loved to remember
must have upheld my leaden weight
from falling, even so,
for though I claw at empty air and feel
nothing, no embrace,
I have not plummetted.

Denise Levertov

Sunday, April 1, 2007

Hospital Visiting

Well, as I expected Paul was appalled by my gifts. Actually, I think he enjoyed being appalled although he insisted that the statue and holy water be hidden away in case one of his 'real' friends saw them. He also told me that it is alright if other people pray as long as I don't. Oy. They've transferred him to hospital here so things are looking good.

Palm Sunday


All glory, laud and honor,
To Thee, Redeemer, King,
To Whom the lips of children
Made sweet hosannas ring.

Thou art the King of Israel,
Thou David’s royal Son,
Who in the Lord’s Name comest,
The King and Bless├Ęd One.


The company of angels
Are praising Thee on High,
And mortal men and all things
Created make reply.


The people of the Hebrews
With palms before Thee went;
Our prayer and praise and anthems
Before Thee we present.


To Thee, before Thy passion,
They sang their hymns of praise;
To Thee, now high exalted,
Our melody we raise.


Thou didst accept their praises;
Accept the prayers we bring,
Who in all good delightest,
Thou good and gracious King.


The­o­dulph of Or­le­ans trans­lat­ed from La­tin to Eng­lish by John M. Neale