Does thou shalt not kill apply to spiders?

Eeek

One of my favourite sensations is the feeling of a hot shower on a crisp fall morning. The frosty air melts away into a pool of delicious warmth. I enjoyed one this morning and it was heavenly. Too short but heavenly nonetheless. As I exited my shower and wrapped a towel around me I was greeted by the most unfriendly sight of the world’s most horrid spider. It was monstrous. The length of a quarter and legs that stretched beyond. I haven’t seen a spider that large in ages. Instinct kicked in and I picked up the lotion box beside me and smacked it without thinking. The spider is now gone and I am left reflecting upon the age old question, does thou shalt not kill apply to spiders and why was I so afraid of it?

Our instincts get the best of us at times. We instinctively try to make things easier, less scary and seek to protect ourselves and those we love from the world around us. The can both help and hurt us at different times depending on the situation. How we react and live in this world can really make a difference in the lives of those around us. As Christians do our instincts reflect our beliefs? If we react instinctively are we living by the standard to which we aspire? How do we ensure we are living out our Christ given mission here on earth? So many things to ponder all because of a stupid spider.

Are you afraid of the dark?

I walked out into the hall carefully shutting the door behind me. Only 10 minutes since I’d gone to bed but there was something (or rather someone) nudging me to go try and be alone in the dark for a while. “I have learned things in the dark that I could never have learned in the light, things that saved my life over and over again, so there really is only one logical conclusion.  I need darkness as much as I need light.” She said. That she being Barbara Brown Taylor who wrote the book I was reading Learning to walk in the dark.

Go out and experience it, she urges. Meet yourself in the dark and discover what you find.

I crept into the hall quietly, determined not to wake my husband or the baby. Closing the door I found myself looking at nothing. Not a haze of outlines or even shadows of grey. There was nothing in the darkness. Nothing ahead or behind. It’s a cavernous hallway of nothing.

Nothingness as most of us know it is not so bad. I’ve never been afraid to be alone with myself. I love to read and have spent many an afternoon tucked away with a good book. I have often slept in the sun like a cat on the love seat in my living room on Sunday afternoons away from the world and it’s distractions. There can be nothing happening in the house and I am happy to putter and move around completely content to be alone and quiet. This nothingness as we know it in our culture is different from the nothingness that comes from being in the dark. This nothingness is chosen. Darkness just comes, each night to meet you if you let it.

When vision is no longer an option you’re left relying on other senses, other ways of experiencing the world and that can be challenging when one is used to seeing. Those of us who have vision rely heavily on sight. I hadn’t really thought about how heavily until I started reading Rev. Taylor’s book. What we see often pulls us away. We see dinky cars and lego scattered on the floor that needs to be dealt with. We see piles of dishes and stacks of paper that need to be put away. We notice things that must be done and find ways to entertain and distract ourselves. In the dark I see none of those things. I just exist in this moment and space. Any distractions are of my own making. I have to control my thoughts and surrender to the nothingness. I started to get a sense for why she encouraged this exploration. The darkness offers something completely different to the light. Did I want to accept what it offered? Was I ready for what it could give me?

I come face to face with myself in the dark. In the quiet stillness I can hear more of what is being whispered to me. With no distractions I am able to commune with God on a different level if I allow it. The question remains, do I want to hear it? The darkness brings with it a forced time of reflection and contemplation. If I turn off the lights and embrace what darkness offers I have chosen to exist in a way that was long ago forgotten. This is the age of street lights and night lights, of monitors and digital alarm clocks. Darkness in this age is hard to find. I wonder if the extension of day into night in our age of progress and productivity is merely a reflection of our fear of being alone with our thoughts and our God. I wonder what would happen if we consciously embraced the darkness and all it offers.

When therapists attack…

Okay, they don’t actually attack.  Maybe ‘take over’ is a better description.  My son’s therapists have moved in and essentially claimed every area that is not our (my husband and I) bedroom as an acceptable place to do therapy.  The type of IBI that X. is currently engaged in is all about learning within the real world so that the skills he learns are transferable to many different situations.  I am behind this 100% but it has left me with almost nowhere to retreat to.  They’ve even claimed my office as it seems to be the most comfortable place to do puzzles and play games.

I don’t want you thinking I can’t live in my own home. I can. I am allowed to play with the baby anywhere and we can co-exist with the therapy but I need some quiet time. I crave quiet time in the day.  So does my little guy.  He cannot nap in chaos.  I don’t think many of us can.  After a month of hanging out in the relative quiet of my bedroom while my son napped in his bassinet mid-afternoon I found myself dreaming of a place where I could leave my computer out and have a few books in a stack.  You know, an office of sorts kind of like the one that was stolen from me.  This dream has become a reality.  While I was walking through Costco last week I found a cheap folding table that was skinny enough to fit in front of my bedroom window.  I’m writing on it right now!  It’s fantastic.  There’s room for a few books, a cup of coffee, my elbows and my laptop.  Have I mentioned it can be easily converted into a sewing station?

window

I feel like a new woman.  Like this week I may write an epic love story or the next great theological text.  While in reality I may just send a few emails and post a blog or two this has folding table has given me the opportunity for a little quiet in quite a loud season and I am thrilled to have found it.  Here’s to the little things in life!  They sometimes make all the difference.

Where would we be now?

“There were a lot of political films coming out of Europe during the late ’60s. Movies like Costa-Gavras’s ‘Z’ and stuff like that. I used to go see all of them, and I realized that my righteous indignation was a form of entertainment for me. I loved getting pissed off at injustice. I didn’t do anything about it, I just liked the feeling of being pissed off.” 

                                                                                                                          – Harold Ramis

Harold Ramis made me laugh. He made a lot of people laugh. From Ghostbusters to Groundhog Day there were so giggles and belly laughs tucked in with bits of wisdom along the way. Today while I was catching up on some news I happened upon an article that celebrated the contributions he made to the world of entertainment. As I read a quote by Mr. Ramis something resonated inside me. “…I loved getting pissed off at injustice.  I didn’t do anything about it, I just liked the feeling of being pissed off.”

Sometimes when I’m reading blogs and articles on the church I get caught up in the momentum of the ‘movement’. The idea that change is needed and the truth is I do believe it. I come from the Reformed tradition. I believe that we should always have movement and growth, that we should always be seeking and discovering. The words are inspiring, the ideas thought provoking and emotionally charged. There never fails to be a response from within when it’s written well with passion. The trouble comes after the reading. With thousands of people reading these blogs, where is the response? Where is the action? Where is the moment when we step out from behind the words and into the moment Jesus is calling us?

I think criticism is important. Much of our history is built upon the art of self-critique and growth from it. But what happens when we think of the ways we need to reform and fail to move into action?

Jesus often talked of what was necessary. He spoke of how we should live, love and relate in this world. Jesus used words, he was ‘the Word’ and we need those words in order to grow, expand and change. But it shouldn’t stop there. Words are alive and need to be lived. It’s not enough to read or even absorb them. They must put into action and stood behind if they are to have power.

Jesus was God in action. As Christians we must surely be people of action. We must take the words that we read, that we share, that we know and live them. When I signed in to Twitter this morning to meet my #hellomornings group a quote from Nehemiah flashed on the screen which got me thinking about a life filled with action and purpose.

“so I sent messengers to them with this reply: “I am carrying on a great project and cannot go down. Why should the work stop while I leave it and go down to you?”” – Nehemiah 6:3 NIV

While the context is not one in which any of us would wish to be found with enemies seeking to harm us, I find this to be a great representation of what I want my faith to be. I want to read and reflect as I find it essential for growth in my personal faith life.  But I don’t want it to stop there. I want to to be interrupted in life, to be able to say “I am carrying on a great project and cannot go down”. This is what we should be doing. We should be carrying on great projects for God. Doing the things he calls us to do. I don’t want observation to be all that my faith experience is in this life.

It’s not enough to see. It isn’t enough to comment. As a people we must act upon these observations. We need to respond to the paths God shows us. Imagine if all Jesus did was observe. Imagine if he just provided commentary on the world as he saw it. Where would we be now?

There is a way we can help: Typhoon Haiyan

My heart wasn’t in this morning’s post. It’s not that I didn’t enjoy the book, I did. It’s just that over the past week I’ve been reading news reports and my heart has been with the people of the Philippines. Seeing the devastation that flooded the airways is nothing compared to living it I’m sure. I cannot imagine what it is like to watch friends and family members die, to have lost people so dear to you in an instant. There is desperate need in the region. Food, shelter, warmth and hygiene essentials are much needed and there are ways we can help.

First off, we all need to be praying for the people living in the aftermath and those who have gone to help. Also, if we are able we can donate to relief organizations that are making a difference right now. I know not everyone can afford to do this and that’s ok. But if you have some extra, consider sharing. As I’ve walked through my life this week I realize how blessed I truly am. I have a warm home. My son is safe and secure. My only concern this morning was the new socks I purchased that were too tight to get on my feet. I know I cannot do everything but I can help a little and if it makes a difference in even the life of one person, it’s worth it.

Presbyterian World Service and Development is accepting donations to aid in the work of it’s partners Church World Service-Asia/Pacific and ACT Alliance who are already there,
working at assessing the damage and determining the needs of the people in this region. They are looking to support the immediate needs of those affected most and will be providing life essentials as quickly as possible. I think the work they are doing is important and I just thought I would let you know of one way that you can make a difference in the lives of those living in this disaster. The Government of Canada has announced that it would match all donations for the relief efforts made between November 9 and December 9 of 2013 so if you’re thinking of donating might be nice to do so in this time period. We can double our impact!

I borrowed the donate now button from PWS&D. I figure they’ll be ok with it as I’ve linked it right back to their website which will give you more information if you’re thinking of donating.

donate now

 

Shaking my head: The Rob Ford Saga

I’ve found myself shaking my head more times than I would like this week regarding the Rob Ford saga. Clearly he’s made extremely poor choices but honestly, I wasn’t shaking my head at those choices. I knew he smoked crack when the Gawker video story surfaced this past summer. It’s not surprising to me to hear that this happened. What surprised me and had me shaking my head was the reaction of my friends, a great many of them Christian with regards to his confession and clear problem with substance abuse.

Tell me this, if someone says to you they have ‘drunken stupors’ are you not concerned with this statement? The plural ‘drunken stupors’ seems to imply that he drinks quite regularly, to the point of excess and it happens enough that the time he decided to try crack he can’t quite pin down. To me this is sad. It may be a complete lie, he might know exactly when and where he smoked up but that too is sad to me. His life is clearly not what it could be. He’s making choices that hurt not just himself but also the city he governs. He has gone down some dark roads, made really poor choices and like him or not, he needs help.

I have to wonder what Jesus would be doing if he were here, right now with us. I suspect instead of making snide comments, or spewing hate on Facebook and Twitter that he would be knocking on Rob Ford’s door saying you’re not living right and I’m here to help with that. Now none of us are Jesus. I’m not suggesting any of us head on over to Mr. Ford’s house, we’d likely be arrested for trespassing. I am however wondering where our compassion is and why we think it’s ok to berate, judge and condemn people.

I’m not against stating the obvious nor do I support Rob Ford. I never did for what it’s worth. I feel he should resign. He should’t have lied. He really needs to think things through. I know that’s not looking promising but I wonder how helpful it is for any of us to be throwing hate out into the world. I feel like Rob Ford’s confession is bringing out the worst in people and that makes me sad. Clearly this man needs help in many ways. As Christians there should be some part of us that responds to that need and wishes against all odds that he would get that help, shouldn’t there? This whole thing has left me unsettled and sad. I may not support Rob Ford but I see that he is a man who is in clear need of help, guidance and the light if ever there was one.  

Eventually I’ll get there I suppose.

Last week a sigh slipped through my lips as I left my son at school after yet another easy drop off. He had finally settled in. He was content. There was a teacher he loved, friends he had fun with and activities he enjoyed. His speech was improving. His confidence was soaring. I was happy. This morning another sigh slipped through my lips, an angry, disgruntled sigh. Today we were told my son was moving to a different class, with only one of his friends. He burst into tears and was devastated. He was finally comfortable and then it was gone. His comfort vanished and I found myself frustrated and helpless.

They are shuffling the deck so to speak and I am not really sure why nor can they tell me. This is probably the hardest part of being a Mom for me. I can’t make everything perfect for my little guy and it wouldn’t do him any good if I could. He needs to learn that there are some things in life you cannot control. That sometimes you just have to roll with whatever comes your way. I’m just so tired of constantly being the family who’s nice and flexible.

We are told this all the time and it’s starting to wear on me. Jesus never said “blessed are the flexible”, did he? He doesn’t seem to focus on being likeable, or agreeable at all. He focusses on what we should be doing. How we should be living and as I sit here in my frustration I know I should be loving. I should be practicing love and giving love. I should be finding the reasons this is good. He can learn from change. He can meet new friends. He can adapt and grow and discover new parts of himself.

And even after writing it all down I’m still just sitting here feeling sunk. I have no control over their decisions or actions. I can only respond and I guess I that means that I should follow Christ and act in love while letting go. This is the hard part of following Christ, the letting go. I’m working on it. Every day it’s something I work on. Eventually I’ll get there I suppose.

 

A Pinterest worthy life.

The muffin

Yesterday in a moment of domesticity I decided to make Lemon Poppy Seed muffins. Seems benign, right? It should have been. It was my own fault really. I didn’t take out my glasses to read the recipe and used 5 tbsp of poppy seeds instead of 5 tsp. It doesn’t sound that bad but it turned a Lemon Poppy Seed muffin into a chewy, sticky mess. They looked pretty but it doesn’t really matter how nice it looks on the outside, what’s inside is what counts.

It really is what’s inside that counts. Think of it. Fresh warm bread has a marvellous texture inside. The soft lining of a favourite sweatshirt may not look appealing but feels delightful. The crisp clean linen sensation as you slide between the sheets could never be accomplished unless there was a between, an in the middle of, an inside.

The inside is what counts but in today’s world we often think that it’s the outside that matters. Who can blame us? Facebook has us posting pictures of ourselves when we look our absolute best. Food blogs look delicious but do the recipes really live up? Does anyone care? After all we spend our time looking at Pinterest instead of making something that we could enjoy in person. In our world it’s what’s on the outside that counts.

Jesus saw things a little differently. He saw through the trappings to the heart of the person. He knew that what was on the inside mattered.

“Therefore I tell you, do not worry about your life, what you will eat or drink; or about your body, what you will wear. Is not life more than food, and the body more than clothes? Matthew 6:25

Life for Jesus was about more than food and clothing. Life was about the experience. Life was what you made of it. If you’re feeling the pressure to live a Pinterest worthy life, don’t. Jesus didn’t and neither should you. It’s not how things look, it’s who you are that counts.

Life isn’t about looking pretty, it’s about living well and a life well lived is messy and filled with mistakes. You’re hair might get messed up, you might throw too many poppy seeds into the mix and in the end wind up with a disaster but you lived and you’ll learn. Life is about more than what you have, it’s what you do and who you are on the inside.

Here’s to a life that’s messy, mixed up and wonderful; a life that’s well lived.

With wonder and awe…

BIBLE

Every night my son and I gather together in his room to read before bed. He’s usually in his PJs, tucked underneath mounds of blankets. He waits for me to come with books and songs. It’s time together that I cherish. The quiet time. The time when he’s just about but not quite ready to face the end of the day. Lately he’s been very random in his book choices but one seems to be requested everyday, the Bible. It’s not actually the Bible. It’s Bible stories for boys but he’s really loving it so we read it together and he really seems engaged.

The other night while we were reading I got a surprise. When we turned the page and started in on the section surrounding Jesus’ death and resurrection he grabbed my face after I read “…he came back to life, so we can be God’s friends.” and said “wow……wow”.  His little brown eyes looked deep into my own and I was astounded by how amazed he was by this. He thought it was incredible and wanted me to know how incredible he found it.

We’ve read it (and other stories) since. He’s his normal everyday happy self who loves Monsters Inc and Thomas the Tank Engine. He bounces with each step and is fully engaged in life.  Nothing about him has changed but something within me has. His reaction, his wonder and thrill at the realization that Jesus is invested in him has really caused me to think about my investment in Jesus and the church.

I’ve found myself battling discouragement the last few months. There are days when I’ve wanted to throw in the towel and just sit at home knitting. But as is my life, every time I find myself seeking distance and find myself feeling frustrated by the church I am reminded somehow why it is I do what I do. This time the reminder came from my son. His wide open eyes filled with wonder and awe over this great gift remind me of the need for loving environments that share the Good News and hold children close. I am reminded of my responsibility to the next generation and I live in hope that we’ll be able to clean up some of the mess that lays within the church before we hand it off to them.