Archives for the month of: January, 2018

Over the years I, along with my family, have invited you to be a part of our journey, even if it has been from a distance and primarily through what we share in our writing. I know this offers merely a glimpse of what is true for us on a day-to-day basis. We joke at The Dale that someone should make a documentary about what we see and do there, because otherwise how could one believe it? Words, as effective as they are, don’t always capture the essence of an experience.

I’m sitting in the hospital, uncertain about Dion’s health and what the future holds, and can’t muster the language to describe what this feels like, for myself or anyone else. Dion was admitted last Thursday, a day after our twenty year anniversary. Multiple Sclerosis has been with him the entire time. There is a weariness that has settled upon our family. We are tired of the struggle. Though we are routinely given strength that is not our own to manage, we quite frankly want a break. It doesn’t seem like too much to ask.

Our reality is this: we need to equip our house to accommodate Dion’s needs, or move. Moving is a difficult thing to imagine. We intentionally chose to be rooted in our neighbourhood and are now surrounded by a large network of support. It is the only place our fifteen year-old Cate has ever lived.  My brother and his family live on the same street and just one block away. Until her death, my mom lived around the corner in the same hospital Dion is in right now. For me, the house is a more than a shelter, it is a refuge. The reality is doing renovations will take less time than selling the house and waiting on an accessible condo to be built. We don’t know how much anything will cost, but know that in order for this to happen we will need to humbly ask for your help (and will soon let you know how).

I am constantly praying about all of this. I don’t understand why our road has been so repeatedly marked with suffering, though I know that it is in the dark places I have encountered great light. As I listen to the following song, I’m reminded that God remains my sanctuary. Somewhere in all of this is we will find hope. And mercy. And grace.

Turn the light off, go to bed
Tell me all about the day you had
Lay beside me, it’s time to rest
You can close your eyes, you’ve done your best

Let me be your sanctuary
Let me be your safe place to fall
I can take away your worries
The refuge from it all

All this time
We have together
Is our shelter from the rain
I will share the weight you carry
Let me be your sanctuary

We have weathered through the storms
Taking comfort in each other’s arms
When the dark clouds come again
I will lift you up and take you in

Let me be your sanctuary
Let me be your safe place to fall
I can take away your worries
The refuge from it all

Oh, this time
We have together
Is our shelter from the rain
I will share the weight you carry
Let me be your sanctuary

 

 

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Yesterday I had the privilege of getting ordained. Today, as I reflect on the experience, I am still overwhelmed with gratitude. It’s hard to put my feelings into words.

Many of my worlds collided in the sanctuary of 201 Cowan Avenue, all people I love. As I stood at the front of the church I was struck by the many, many faces that were looking back at me. The room was packed with a cloud of witnesses. Had there been time, I would have thanked each person by name for being there and told stories of how their life has impacted mine.

Some of the people in attendance I have the privilege of counting family, many of whom have known me my entire life. Sitting right near the front were Dion and Cate, the two I start and finish each day with. I could almost picture my parents in the crowd (and was grateful that my step-mother could be) even though my dad has been gone for nearly ten years and my mom since last May. Today, on what would have been my mom’s 71st birthday, I am feeling both her absence and in an inexplicable way, her presence and affirmation.

The journey toward ordination has been a long one for me: it started many years ago and finally picked up pace because of a few people’s strong encouragement, not least of which were my two supervisors Elaine and Andrea. These two women have become my friends and staunch supporters. I want to say a public thank you to them both.

I share all of this with The Dale. This is not my celebration, but ours. Together we are learning to put on compassion, kindness, humility, gentleness and patience, to bear with each other, to forgive each other, and to put on love (taken from Colossians 3:12-15). It is messy, and raw, and very beautiful. Thank you for presenting me for ordination, for participating in the service, for decorating the room, and for extending hospitality to such an array of visitors.

It made me very happy to learn that someone left the service saying, “that was all about love”. I suppose those are the words I’ve been looking for to describe my feelings. Yesterday was about love. I couldn’t have asked for anything more.

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What is an epiphany? The dictionary defines is as “a moment of sudden revelation or insight”. It is also what the church calls the 12th Day of Christmas: Epiphany, or “Three Kings Day” is a reference to when, after having travelled for possibly two years, the wise men finally get to meet and visit Jesus. I have long wondered what was in the sky the night Jesus was born. What got these people motivated to pack up and begin a journey with an unclear destination? Something had been revealed to them. Whatever was in the sky moved their mind and heart to go.

There is little historical information about these wise men and their journey.  In the gospel of Matthew it says they came from the East, leading many to believe they started in Persia. Matthew doesn’t explicitly say there were three of them, and it wasn’t until the seventh century that we began to call them by name. It has been argued that the star could have been either a regular star, a comet, or even a grouping of planets. This lack of specific information is, to me, a reminder that this story is not exclusively the wise men’s journey. We are on an epiphany journey ourselves.

I don’t know what the star looked like that prompted the wise men to move. Did they have any idea how long the trip across the desert would take? I have been thinking about those times when my heart and mind have been illuminated by a foreign light, especially during a dark night of the soul. Though the future remained unclear, I suddenly had a sense of what needed to happen next. Maybe you’ve had a similar experience. An epiphany can call us to courageously move into unchartered territory, a place where we see the face of God in a new way.

The wise men were beckoned to follow the star in order to come face-to-face with the child who would be the answer to their hope. Their lives, and now our lives have become entwined in the big-picture story, the story where the creator actually calls out to us by name and invites us to come, the story where divinity is revealed in humanity under seemingly very ordinary circumstances.

At The Dale last Sunday we talked about moments where God is revealed: holding a new-born baby; witnessing a beautiful sunset; saying “I love you” to a friend and really meaning it; being present when someone dies and trusting that death is not really the end; joining a community where you are accepted; believing that our lives are covered in grace. We can witness God in these ordinary, yet extraordinary places and suddenly find ourselves on a journey we never expected. Though the road might be long, it does promise to change our lives.

Light in woods