Sunday, April 30, 2017

Grace United Church and the Grace Ringers, Napanee

 “Do you want to go to church in the morning?” my sister in law, Adell,  asked me last night.  

“Of course, “ I replied then.    I wasn’t nearly as enthusiastic in the morning when Adell woke me.   

Church is the truly ancient Canadian social club..  The tribe always had a war club and a social club. Everyone believed in spirit and blood.  The warriors knew of both in the field  but in the community blood was a matter for women. Warriors were baptized in fire while all children were baptized in church.   Ultimately blood and bread, the war and agriculture of ancient empire became the covenant of Jesus, son of the Yahweh god of the great  agricultural age.  

Jesus was different, a servant king.  Nietzhe called him a peasant god and celebrated instead the Superman.   The baby Jesus,  a different kettle of fish altogether.  

At Grace United Church in Napanee, the minister, Rev. Elaine Kellogg gave a deeply moving  sermon titled, Blessed Brokeness.   She compared the facts of Jesus’s crucifixion supported as it was by the descriptions of 4 gospels to the controversy of the miracle of the resurrection. She laughed, saying, that women, whose word was questioned even then, were the ones who first said Jesus had left the tomb. There were those who said he’d revived and left of his own accord. There were even those who like Doubting Thomas  demanded proof of the resurrected  stranger insisting on inspecting the wounds of crucifixion. A difference of opinion. 

Rev. Elaine Kellog said that while the life and death of Jesus might be fact in the public sense as a public event with witnesses, history and precedents, the resurrection was miraculous and open ultimately to personal experience.  

Somehow she brought home from this that Christianity is not just a temple religion but as much  the personal experience of spirituality and quite frankly the miraculous. 

This wasn't new as Jesus himself had said that thinking of crime was itself criminal. He raised the bar of religious ethic to the behaviour of thought as opposed to only action behaviour.  God was no longer only in the public space but also in the private and secret spaces.  St. Theresa described this as the Inner Castle.  Evelyn Underhill would write at length about it. The God of Christianity was everywhere.  

The congregation, this collection of Christians was very well behaved.  They listened with respect and tolerance.  There were no activists trying to silence Elaine Kellogg despite the radicalness of the message.  A polite and pleasant group indeed.  Some even invited us to join them for coffee later.  They welcomed us as strangers  We’d just learned of the origins of this custom but it went beyond that.  They even offered to share cookies a grandmother had baked. Tempting indeed. 

The Grace Ringers were especially precious.  The meditative have always loved the bells.  Unfortunately a millennial might well associate bells with  Buddhist meditation.  So few today even study Thomas Merton.  They overlook the central role of the bell in Christian church architecture. They associate it merely with the call to worship.  It is much much more.  Here these amazing musicians recreated the most extraordinary sounds of peace and joy .  It was truly  a miraculous mystical performance. I was reminded of the cathedral music of bells I’d heard years before in London.  Here, indoors,  was the intimate and truly heavenly sounds of celestial spheres. 

I love too that we sing in church.  We participate in music together. There are organists and pianists and choirs who practice but then they let us all join in.  We’re an regular amateur garage band on a larger scale participating in the search for harmony. Not Selah or Pentonix but slouching in that direction.  

I even love that we read aloud together.  It’s an odd sort of behaviour for Canadians collectively devolving to the individualism and alienation of digital reductionism,  computer cell phone addiction and other consumer distraction.   

In Christianity we celebrate life, personhood, family and community rather than the isolation, individualism,  alienation and addiction of the mainstream mediocrity.  If  only for an hour we gather to catch a glimpse of the transcendent.  In this church I really was reminded of “My Utmost for His Highest.” 

The service closed with ‘Be Thou My Vision,” a favourite Celtic hymn of mine. It gave me a special sense of  God  as intimate and personal. Of course others love God and God loves others. But he really does love me too.  Suffer little children to come unto me, Jesus said.  That’s the message of belonging.  We are all God’s children.  For the briefest moment I felt special, sunshine.  Blessed in my brokenness, loved despite my arrogance, I knew Grace.

Then minister, closing the service,  sent us off back into the world. 

Adell drove us back to Hay Bay and we chatted together about our very positive experience of the church.  The water was high in the bay and the winds were churning up the waves .The dogs were certainly excited to have us return. The flowers my brother had planted last fall were in radiant bloom.  

I believe in the miracle of resurrection.  I know that I only see the surface of things here. 

Saturday, April 29, 2017

Turning Point 10th Annual Reality Gala

The joy of Turning Point Recovery Society is it’s success with the clients and the community.  I have friends in health care who graduated from Turning Point Recovery.  More than a decade later they sing the praises of their experience with Turning Point. “I needed a place where I was safe, where people didn’t use,  where people helped me stay in recovery.”  Too many recovery houses lack standards.   Jim Ross, one of a  couple of addicts serious about recovery began this phenomena that continues till today with Brenda Plant as the executive director.  

The Turning Point Gala has been a major event for 10 years now.   Celebrity Speakers have included  Martin Sheen, Katey Sagal, Mathew Perry, Ashley Judd,  John Laroquette. Jim Belushi, David Cosby, Rob Lowe.  This year’s speaker was David Feherty, the famously entertaining golfer and golf show host.

It’s a place where recovery meets the community and the now successful, their families and those friends of friends who support recovery give back as others give forward.  The Four Season’s Hotel is all uptown and glitz with excellent service and great food. I loved tonight’s halibut.

This year with all the epidemic of  tragic fentanyl  deaths in the DTES, the Turning Point Reality Gala  really seemed  a warm place after a very chill winter. Turning Point always has been about hope. 

Every year the dignitaries are there. So often the mentally ill and especially the addict and alcoholics don’t feel heard. They are not alone. The RCMP in red serge from Richmond , the politiicians,  from province and city, the corporations and corporate leaders all gather in support of recovery. There is a way out.   What started as a few recovering addicts wanting to live together in the safety of mutual support has expanded to several large homes where individuals begin their journey home.  Now Turning Point even has businesses where those in recovery can work to help the reintegration with greater society. .  

As the first residential recovery service provider to be accredited by BC Turning Point is licensed by the province and contracted by Vancouver Coastal Health with its high standards. .  Their good management and good name have attracted, over the years,  sponsorship from the community’s finest corporations including Westjet, Global TV, Ledcor, Mayfair, Van mar, Rock 101, Save On Foods,    and so many more.  With the support of government as well they have been able to open recovery houses in Vancouver, Richmond, North Vancouver and now Squamish. There are always the individuals too. 

 Randene Neil is the consumate MC looking younger every year.  She has the most engaging smile and laughter   Howard Bland the auctioneer is a one man comedy routine auctioning off the finest weekend retreats with spa and fine restaurants and flights and rock concerts then throwing in a a Motel 6 night to sweeten the deal. And yes, we all love those Motel 6 extra’s and the nights at Red Rock Casino and thousands more money raised for a good cause,  all the while laughter is the norm. 

This nights speaker,  David Feherty, famous golfer, sports commentator and stand up comic shared personal stories of the highs and lows of his life.  I will forever be affflicted  by his image of how to count sheep.  His joke about his mother asked by his  father, who’d stayed too long at the pub, if she’d kept his supper warm, replied, yes,   in the dog’s stomach.  There was much appreciation for Mr. Feherty  from the golfers. A night of wild golf stories sparked with Tiger Woods tales and inside stories of Jack Nicklaus was a sportsman’s dream come true. I appreciated hearing how at the nadir of his drinking when he was popping pills and not really wanting to live that others had to tell him he was sick .  Addiction is the disease that tells you you don’t have it. His good friends took him to 12 steps meetings and helped him return from the dead.  A decade of life and relapse certainly emphasized the nature of the disease . He said, it ‘waits like a monster under the bed’ .  He described his life in recovery  as joyful even, or especially because of  his wife who he said "came from Alabama where they think Deliverance is a love story.”   The contrast, the world of alcohol and pills, was pure misery.  He was very thankful for recovery.  I can’t do justice to his Irish humor that had everyone on the verge  of apoplexy.  Truly a night to remember.

I was thankful to be with my friends Laura, Anita and Ganesh. Anita and Laura talked about grandchildren. Ganesh and I reminisced about Scotty and Malcolm our friends who are now attending the great big meeting in the sky. Kumar, known for his adventurous life,  actually got Ganesh sharing of his para sailing experiences in Hawaii. At the silent auction I won tickets to Bard on the Beach.  The silent auction at Turning Point has the very best events, restaurants, art, jewelry and shows. After all the applause and laughter the evening came to a close.  We hugged and made our way out.  I was delighted to see Michelle of Avalon Women’s centre as we made our way out of the Four Seasons.  

Another great year for Turning Point and another great gala. 


Thursday, April 27, 2017

Thursday Morning Journal

I woke to a warm squirmy furry body.  I’d dreamed of dancing in India.  It was a good night of dreams like the sailing dreams or the family dreams.  Good recollections and positive themes.  Dancing in my dreams.  I like that. I miss the word not taken often.  Here I’ve spent my life fighting the authorities to heal the sick and I wonder what it would have been like just to dance or act or write.  Instead I engaged in trying desperately to get the resources promised to my patients from the very people who made the promises.

Walking the dog I smelt spring in the air. There’s a lovely pink cherry tree where today he chose to deposit his morning offering. I like that tree.  In the back was blue sky.  I rode my motorcycle to the post office last night. It was a break from constant rain and gloom.  The cold is over. The tulips are blossoming.  

I’m going to the Turning Point Gala tonight. Brenda Plant is amazing.  Turning Point provides some of the best recovery homes in the province. Again yesterday I met an alumni years off heroin after being in their loving disciplined community.  I have friends in health care who began their journey in recovery at Turning Point.  Its a model of what recovery homes should be and a joy to support and celebrate their accomplishments.  

I am looking forward next week to the Christian Medical and Dental Society weekend.  My friend Laura is taking care of Gilbert that weekend and watching over my home. It’s good to have caring trustworthy friends. I’ll be glad to see nephews this month too as they’re travelling. One is returning to school, another is going overseas for more studies and another is making robots.  It’s amusing to hear what they are up to.  Just like learning about the God kids, this last week their walk in the forest with their parents facing the challenge of herding these little cats along the trails.  

I’ve faced more deaths.  People I knew, having passed on before.  The Downtown Eastside Fentanyl crisis and that horrible sense it’s all preventable and predictable.  I don’t doubt what I am doing though it’s common to front line medicine, patching up the civilians caught in a much bigger war. A friend has fallen to the struggles of competing dualities.  I struggle to trust God and remember Dr. Willi Gutowski’s ever repeated statement, “Jesus said, Do Not Be Afraid…that was a command….not a statement.”  We laugh then,

Dr. Seligman out of Pennsylvania has put out a course on on Positive Psychology.  I wonder about taking it though consider all my higher education has repeatedly put me at variance with the stupidity of government officials whose arrogance and safety surrounded by walls and guns and pretention has prevented them from being present.  I guess this will always be the way. Those furthest from reality have the greatest certainty about what is needed and actually believe in their own imaginations they know best because their insanity is not challenged by reality. I’ve known my whole career that I am but a human buffer for those who fear and deplore the mentally ill and addicted.  

I am grateful that I will be driving a sports car to work.  I’ll be able to have the top down if the rain doesn’t return. The Miata M5 is as close to a motorcycle as a car can be, like the MG of my room mate Fern back in our early 20’s when we performed on US television and worshipped girls.  

I often think of the Czeckoslovakian classic, the Incredible Lightness of Being.  I finish a day of work so burdened and weary.  I experience mental fatigue on Friday afternoon.  I remember the physical fatigue as a young man of a 12 hour day doing construction work and this is like that.  Yesterday the calls and meetings seemed overwhelming.  We’re using Oscar in the clinics and the distraction is monumental. I look at a screen rather than the patient and type into designed boxes with the machine shutting off if I don’t keep typing. I’ve always typed discretely into a lap top but this program and especially the pharmacist driven medication format are so demanding of attention.  I feel more and more like a Parts Department clerk and laugh at how the administration and lawyers have coopted the whole medicare process.  I remember meeting with a patient and listening and talking and writing a script and putting down one word diagnosis and a few scribbled notes.  Now we, the doctor and patient, are the least important part of this machine that serves especially the legal administrative process.  

I don’t have enough cherry trees and blue skies to counteract the anger and stupidity that dominates the media.  I pray every day to increase my faith.  I am not surprised to see more and more Canadians young people turning to drugs and death rather than listen to this government’s fear mongering corrupt Climate Change Cult and the horrid lies and disinformation coming out of the Prime Minister’s office.  Meanwhile the poverty of socialism is destroying Venezuela as it did all the communist countries before it.  And the Bernie Sanders are the richest fat cats blow hards of them all, little different from the Liberal Socialist Hitler, a great anti capitalist orator.

Now I’ve slummed in politics.  This is the world of paranoids. Them against us and reductionism.  It’s a verbal war as opposed to a physical war and yet I’m striving to be spiritual. I want to see the God in all . I want to feel that God is in charge and Love is the glue of the universe. I’m not Pollyanna. I see the Islam migrant wave of young men as invasion. I was never taught to die. I was always taught Love your neighbour as yourself but that didn’t mean suicide.  Homicide is justifiable self defence.  

Homicide is justifiable self defence.


If I let a person kill me I have caused that person to be homicidal and I have been suicidal.  Two wrongs don’t create a right. If I kill a person who is homicidal I have cancelled their homicidal tendency by living. My own intent is not to kill anyone and I’m not suicidal though often the thought passes these days that death is good too. Wherever I go God is there but I must do Thy Will. And Jesus did not suicide but died like a man saving his wife and child. He died like shepherd protecting the sheep. He died knowing he would rise from the dead.

I was reading a Mithra and the Persians last week. The Zoroastrians were a great group before murderous Mohammed killed them as Lenin  killed so many of the religious that stood in the way of his atheism megalomania. 

Live and let live.

I have so much I’d like to read. I dream of sitting by streams like the Buddha and meditating under a tree.  I dream of sitting like St. John of the Cross and studying the great writings like Buber.  I imagine writing some day and regret how little I’ve played my guitar this spring.  

It’s so much work with the dead lines and demands and the government threats backed by guns and jails to comply with even their littlest issue.  Harsh Roman Empire language coming out of Ottawa increasingly these days.  I think of the Irish and the Scots hiding potatoes to survive from starvation. 

A lovely Christian lady told me of Faith for Potatoes. I watched Hillsong’s lovely movie. I must find time to watch the uplifting South African movie.  Soon the sun will be shining most days.  Even Wall Street turns optimistic when the sun is shining.  

Now to work. I’m so thankful to be of service and I really do struggle to pay for my truck so that I will be able to tow a trailer to sit beside a river or the lake some summer in the near future reading and drinking coffee and thinking like Lear and Cornelious of ‘courtly things, whose in whose out.”  

IMG 4793Thank you Lord for this new  day. Please help Gilbert’s eye resolve and ensure he is, though blind, not in pain. Protect his other eye from this tragedy.  IMG 4793

Wednesday, April 19, 2017

Wednesday Morning Meditation

I woke up with my dog licking my face. He lies watching me until he thinks I’m awake and then helps the process. I dressed and walked him outside this balmy spring morning.  Pink dawn colours were still painting the clouds.  Bird song had begun.  He pooped. I picked it up.  I carry a roll of doggie bags in pockets of my jackets. Back home I sat for morning meditation and prayers.  I feel closer at time to God and then far away, the constant hide and seek of the great romance.  Attending to my breathing, bring my attention back from the myriad of distractions.  Feeling for God, like reaching out in darkness for a pair of glasses. Knowing it’s the journey and the doing, not the arriving.  Then coffee.  

I opened my iPhone and reviewed my Facebook.  Too much politics.  Clear evidence of mutual hysteria.  The people who like me thought the world would end with the election of Justin Trudeau in Canada are decidedly wrong.  Canada is a much poorer place.  But despite his best efforts Canada as a country has survived.  Similar in America there were riots of the violent angry outraged and terrified when President Trump took office. Yet here we are some time later and the world has not ended.  Yet the same level of lucrative shrill political marketing fills the airways.  

It’s spring. A new day is dawning. I’m weary of Facebook and social media.  The humour is less and the family is less and more a more the feed is filled with uninvited commercials for businesses I have no interests in and ideologies that frankly bore me.  I flip through dozens of feeds now in search of an increasingly rare sharing of family or astute humour of friends. it’s disappointing. Too much of this and I forget the pink colour on the morning clouds.  

I am going to work today.  I commute and daily see the evidence of poor driving and random chaos.  We lemming to the city where no one who works can afford to live as the urban madness and tyranny increases with incompetence and dependence.  All the government serves the parking lots. Landlords are the deities.  And I am just one of the millions of acolytes who worship there.  Regulations and restrictions exponentially increase to protect the turfs of entrenched corruption and I will leave this place where trees grow free to go to that cement prison where the inmates pay their lives away to be on the inside.  I worry about my dwindling time.  

The ugliness of bureaucracy and callous minions of corporate and government hegemony obstruct my vision and strangle all but a few new ideas.  The old prevails re worked over and over again. I don’t know if this is right or wrong.  

I have a general malaise. I have tasted the nectar of God’s love and wonder as I move through my day how this is bringing me once again closer. I know if I sit still it will circle round me but I miss the wide open seas or the deep dark forests.  Each day I think of camping and canoeing and wait for the weather to warm  as arts students reduce the science of weather to politics.  Everywhere it’s I and them, the tribalism of todays colleges and universities speaking to the rise of stupidity among the teachers terrified of students whose ignorance is increased by their drugs and delusions.

I wait for death.  My family has gone before me, mother, father, brother, aunts and uncles.  I know them as memories and guardian angels. I feel them close at times. I dream of them.  

Life is good.  I liked the coffee and yoghurt today. I’m looking forward to driving with the top down on my convertible. It’s a short week. If the sun stays out I may lie outside on a lawn chair and read a book with Gilbert tied to the leg of the chair.  My motorcycle is calling to me.  Showering and shaving and dressing is a challenge.  All day I see people who don’t work and ask them if they can at least get up and out of their apartments before 9 and know they can’t. The city is full of foreign wealth and social housing.  I have to accept that I’m a suburbanite. No longer living in the insanity of the city I am losing tolerance for the mass institution of ghetto living.  My eyes look out to the towns and rural spaces where the new genius arises.  I am caught between.  I am ever straddling fences.  I long to head out on the highway. I am instead going to a little box and frankly I like it most of the time.  The idea of it is scary. The warren. 

But here the sun is coming in the window and shining now on the cactus I hung in a pot there.  I live in a rain forest and long for Arizona.  But I like the surplus water too and am forever ambivalent.

I’m grateful for my breath. I’m grateful for the sights and sounds. I’m grateful for my dog and the vehicles that entertain me as I fool myself out of the house and into the work place. I’m grateful for coffee which lures me from one place to the next. I liked the hamburger I ate at the Heatley yesterday. Shannon’s smile as she served me coffee was uplifting. I liked the chef with his 18th century beard.  This generation of castrated male Canadians act out their loss by manly beards while women every where abort their babies. 

There’s always chocolate. And tv.  One can get lost in NCIS.  An alternative reality where the man leads in the field while the woman leads in the politics or the black man leads in the politics.  These higher paid jobs are mysterious in their way while the sherif rides off to slay the dragons and get the bad guy and protect the navy. it’s silly really.  But there’s a pattern to it like all westerns and we want the good guy to win and the bad guy to lose because we go to work and there seems so much more uncertain.

But the Bible says the good guys win.  Lust is good but love is better.  Smart is good but wisdom is better. And all day long I look at materialism and hedonism and talk to addicts who just want money and a fix but have come out of the pleasure chase to be cared for by me , not willing to give up but wanting a breather before they again chaise the elusive ‘pleasure principle’.  They’re all Marxists and socialists and the government celebrates their existence and tries to give them more stuff like negligent parents. They don’t know it but they really want love but won’t go to the places where people will gather and give them relationships.  But they’ve bought hollywood and want something for nothing. And it’s easier to steal and I struggle to remain positive in the daily grind of their sales pitch.  And behind me their are fat rich eurocrats wanting to punish me for imperfection but desperate to keep me between them and them, this buffer against the rise of grief and anxiety.  They are the control freaks. They left the chaos of reality and escaped to the constant committee classroom meetings with countless little napoleons and proper servitude. There are no Gibbs in this world.  The Gibbs are strangled and shot in the back.  These people have killed to escape reality and now pass razor sharp memos and build more and more walls all the while denying they like walls with their boundaries and police and their guns in the security forces.  Layers and layers of security to protect them.  

I am terrified of lying women.

I am going out to face another day where sometimes the shouting scares me.

There is a sensitivity that you can only have like a second wind on the front.  Soldiers who returned again and again told me of this.  I like the others like me who have seen thousands and stayed face to face.  Now I must shower. I like the shower.  Shaving is less attractive but I’ve had my share of beards and today like the soft baby face.  

I am saddened that my friend has a sore throat.  

My dog’s eye is hurt. There is illness in the world and dying.  I am here praying.  I’d ride my motorcycle to work but the dog doesn’t care so much for that.  And I don’t like the rain and grease on the road this year and am more scared of injury as less and less funding goes to the hospital front lines and more and more to the smoke filled backrooms

Thank you God for this day.  Lift up my spirit and guide me in all my actions and words. Please Lord let me not offend another person who is looking for offence and please save me from those who are seeking accidents on the road. Help protect me from this whole new rash of victim predators.  Guide me and keep me safe that I might do your work and serve you.  Thank you for all the blessings you have bestowed on me. 


Monday, April 17, 2017

Bloom Festival in Abbotsford with the God Kids

Easter Weekend is always special with the activities of Holy Week, NSRU, and a long weekend away from increasingly treacherous work.  Laura and I loved the inspirational speaker at the NSRU Pan Pacific Friday night. So many of the people we know on Facebook but rarely see were there. It's an old home week shaking hands, hugging smiling, catching up. I especially loved seeing Bill and Archie from Whitecliff and Vivian and her son Steven.  So many friendly smiling faces.  The countdown is always inspiring.  

Then Saturday we didn’t make it out during the day. We’d had all manner of plans but read books instead.  I walked Gilbert. Laura made meals.  We  lounged  till early Saturday evening. The rain letting up, we then drove to the Pan Pacific with the Miata top down. Another great inspirational speaker and more friends. 

Sunday morning we got ready early for Easter mass enjoying the celebration of Risen Christ at Christ Church Cathedral.  

After we made arrangements with Kevin and Anna to drive out to the Bloom Festival in Abbotsford. They’d been staying at the Pan Pacific so had to pick up their children after their weekend ‘date’.  Gilbert and I headed back to Burnaby in the Miata leaving Laura to catch up in her little red Smart Car.  The plan was to transfer to my new white Ford F350 2017 Lariat truck.  I love my truck.  It was a great ride out to the country listening to my iPhone music played through the Ford Sync 3 system with the sun roof open.  Great views of Mount Baker. Sunshine and blue sky.  Synchronistically with divine timing we hooked up with Anna and Kevin and the kids on the highway..  

Parking at the Bloom, the late winter had delayed the tulips.  The daffodils were out but instead of fields and fields of spectacular coloured tulips there were only a few patches. But walking with dog and the kids was it’s own entertainment.  We doubt they missed the tulips since the mud was so much more interesting.  

After we enjoyed an early  dinner at the Abbotsford Cactus Club.  While the adults had peppercorn steaks the kids had little hamburgers and fries.  Service was great. Finishing before the adults the children began to explore the restaurant with their parents retrieving squirmy bodies between the discussions of Dean Peter’s sermon and the inspirational speakers.  Kendra was definitely in Christopher Columbus mode.  Somehow we didn’t lose any children.

Walking about the Bloom, Alex had decided that day that he wanted to hold my hand while Kendra informed Laura that she wanted to be carried.  They really are the best family.   Anna, the consumate mother had  delightful tete a tete's with Laura, a grandmother several times over with another grand child due any day.  

I admired Kevin’s calm.  He shared that the Buddha had left his family to seek enlightenment. I shared that Paramahansa Yoganada’s said that one could meditate on a mountain but the real trick was  to bring the mountain into one’s heart and meditate in the world.  Kevin had very much enjoyed Dean Peter’s sermon quotes from Thomas Merton and St. Francis.  

Gilbert who’d had to wait in the truck was barkingly delighted to be re united with his little hairless buddies. He didn’t mind the bits of steak I’d brought back wrapped in napkin in my jacket pocket. It took him no time to find that.  We all hugged good byes and headed back to Vancouver our separate ways.    

Christ Church Cathedral Easter Sunday 2017

Christ Church Cathedral began in  1888 and was built in 1895. The Regimental Church of the Seaforth Highlandder’s, it is  the church the Royal Family comes to when they visit Vancouver.  I became a member nearly 20 years ago and attended “religiously’ for a dozen of those years when I even served as a Reader in the Church. .  Christened and raised Baptist and later a member of the United Church  I was baptized Anglican at Christ Church Cathedral by Dean Peter Elliott and Bishop Michael Ingham.  I felt God’s presence that day in a very special way.  Always Christ Church, it's leader, and members are close to my heart. When Gilbert, my cockapoo,  joined my life I attended St. James Anglican Church where Father Mark on meeting us told me Gilbert was definitely welcome but he’d have to think about me. Gilbert thereafter attended services with Father Mark’s big friendly dog,  Bear . 

Christ Church is a truly beautiful Gothic building with the most inspiring stain glass, the crucifixion and the risen Christ prominent.  Since Dean Elliott’s arrival there have been marvellous building projects which have made the church one of the grandest in Canada.  The new organ,  high in the back of the church is not only heavenly sounding but visually stunning as well.  Rupert Lang, organist and  musical director has lead the cathedral choir of Christ Church to countless musical awards .  Now there is a new bell tower and the bells add to the divine ambience that pervades this house of God. Easter, a Touch of Brass, joins the  triumphant music of the day. 

Bishop Melissa presided.  She is a loved Bishop whose discernment is much remarked upon.  I’d brought Kevin and Anna our friends and parents of the God children.  We’d all been at the NSRU which had till last year taken place on the Easter weekend across Burrard at the Hyatt. The conference had moved to the Pan Pacific this year because the attendance overflowed the Hyatt capacity.  Kevin and Anna having stayed at the Pan Pacific walked up the few blocks to the church this sunny Easter morning.   My friend, Dr. George arrived shortly after with his beautiful teacher friend,  Jane. Shortly after that a very strong man in black suit with distinctive ear piece sat in front of us.  Obviously not there for my protection we later saw  that our greatly admired Premier Christy Clark was there with her now very tall son.  

Dean Peter Elliott with his usual brilliance gave a poignant sermon reminiscing about the 2 sided vinyl music  with both tracks, distinctively different tunes  of the old 45., played by the same artist.  He likened this to the inseparable nature of the Crucifixion and Resurrection, of the Old and New Testament, the message of God in Nature and God in Scripture. So typical of Peter’s sermons we’d find ourselves discussing them later over meals. Sometimes their import and meaning would resonate long after, their message of diversity and unity, the three in one spirituality of Christian meditation inspiring and uplifting.  

The Peace, and Prayers and Communion all followed before the Cathedral was  filled with the majesty of hundreds of voices singing the perennial favourite, 1708 Christian hymn "Jesus Christ is Risen Today. "

Outside on Burrard Street, we joined Dr. George and Jane introducing Kevin and Anna, everyone in high spirits, the sun shining, with much laughter and joy shared, before we departed to enjoy the rest of this glorious Easter Sunday.  

Thursday, April 13, 2017

Maundy Thursday - Holy Week 2017

Maundy means the ‘washing of feet”.  Thursday was the day of the Last Supper.  Jesus washed the feet of his disciples then. “a servant is not greater than his master; nor is he who is sent greater than he who sent him” Jesus said.   This gave rise to the description of Jesus as the “Servant King’.  Humility is to be admired and not seen as a sign of weakness as it is by the cowardly braggart. The first should be last and the last should be first.  Suffer little children to come under to me. You must be like children to enter the Kingdom of heaven. All of what Jesus stood for was that it’s in the little and the great that God is found.  It was thought before that the Great were the venue to God.  The peasant did not know God but through the King or High Priest.  Now Jesus, son of God, son of man, said differently.  

I’m heavy with age and work and threats and betrayal.  I’m asking you God, I’m asking you Jesus, restore my childlike enthusiasm.  Give me the desire to carry on.  I see you as the one who told the truth.  At the Last Supper Jesus said that Judas would betray him.  It’s been said even God couldn’t pick 12 men who would not betray him.  I look at politics and I see the deceit and lies and betrayal. In my own life I meet everyone these days in fear that they will lie and attack me for their profit.  Judas betrayed God for 30 pieces of silver. But some say that Judas was the truest for he triggered humanity’s salvation.  These events unfolded later but at the supper Jesus spoke of the betrayal.  

The greatest harm comes from betrayal because betrayal is always the work of a friend, a loved one.  

It is the sense of betrayal we feel in terms of the institutions that we serve, the sense of betrayal of our government representatives.  But that is through the whole of the Jesus story.  it’s the leaders of society that blinded by their wealth and privilege kill God.  

Even today it is the government that promotes and protects abortion.  It’s is the government that now that favours suicide.  It’s the government that profits from tobacco and alcohol and would add cannibis to it’s source of income for increasingly nefarious hedonistic means.  

Jesus.  You a carpenter, teacher, healer. You lived under the local authority of Herod the Jew and under the representative of Rome's Pilate born during the reign of Caesar Octavian.  You taught the Kingdom of God and Love.  Christianity is the religion of Love.  Agape and Filios and yes even eros.  

I am crying for you daily. I see you in the beauty of nature, in moments with others, in the relationships we share, in the love of my dog even.  Everywhere the Holy Spirit comes. I pray, Holy Spirit Come. You are here now. The Resurrected Christ.  

I wash your feet and you wash mine.  You wash my feet and I wash your.

At the last supper you say that the bread is your body and the wine is your blood and we share in the celebration of eating and drinking God for God is all but this is you in death and life and resurrection. This is a reminder of the Last Supper.  In the days of Passover.  

Thank you Jesus.  

Tuesday, April 11, 2017

Harley Davidsons, Motorboats, God Kids and More Holy Week 2017

I’ve found pictures from the weekend.  It was a busy time with getting the insurance set up for the Harley and the Miata from Thaun Vo at Rand and Fowler.  Laura and I got up on Saturday morning to drive down to Trev Deely in my new Ford F350 Lariat truck.  It was a sunny day and everyone but me seemed to have got their motorcycles out on the road.  I was considering a lighter bike because of the weakness in my arm and my feeling the big bike was less maneuverable in the city.  Vancouver is the city of the worst drivers in the world,  Erratic.  A biker’s nightmare.  So I’d thought maybe I’d go back to a Sporster.  Thaun had told me he was going to be there at noon.  Gilbert loves truck rides, Laura and Trev Deeley.  

I talked to Stuart. He’s the go to guy on buying bikes at Trev Deely. I told him what I was thinking and he thought maybe the Heritage Softail. That’s the bike Dave has.  It feels so good.  I love that Trev Deely lets you sit on the bikes.  Even take selfies.  The main thing was when I sat on the 1200 Sportsters they just seemed too small.  Now Dave had suggested I reduce the luggage on my Electroglide.  

So back at the trailer park that’s what I did.  I took off the top bag and got rid of some of the heavy tools I keep in the side bags for touring.  Then I cleaned up the bike.  Wow!  My Electroglide was the best bike for the ride to Sturges from here, thousands of free way driving and the trip up to Merrit for Sturges North.  I love that bike. And without the luggage it was light.  Thank you Dave.  I rode out on the highway with the Doobie Brothers playing. It was heaven.

So what’s this got to do with Holy Week.  This was just God’s Grace. I don’t deserve a peach of a day like that. I didn’t earn the ‘high’ I had riding out on the highway. It just happened. I have been on my bike not enjoying it.  I have been in my head and I’ve missed out on the joy.  But this day with the sunshine and the beginning of Holy week it wasn’t quite like being Jesus riding into Jerusalem triumphant on a donkey but it was riding a Harley.

There’s a song “Were you there when they crucified my Lord?”  The key there is that we think of ourselves in cartoons and stories and myths as the central actor or the heroin or hero.  We feel sorry for Jesus on the cross because we identify with Jesus.  But we don’t identify with Judas or Peter or Herod or all the Roman Soldiers or the thief or Pilate or the Sanhedrin or the wailing women.  But Carl Jung in his dream analysis says that we’re all the people in the dream. And as there is but one God and we are all parts of that one same God when Jesus was crucified we as human sinners were more likely than not , not Jesus. We’re becoming like Jesus but at that moment I was probably betting on his robe or sticking a spear in his side.  

In the afternoon we drove out to Tom’s in Slesse Park meeting up with Kevin and Anna to pick up my boat that Tom had been stowing. Tom and I had last used it to ride across Harrison Lake to the north shore where we’d hunted.  I’d hoped to get out duck hunting so it had stayed at Toms’ but the office disruption meant no weekend free for hunting ducks and geese.  Meanwhile Kevin and Anna love to go fishing with the kids but didn’t have a boat to do that and Kevin had a place to store the boat at his workplace where they keep all their machinery. I’d just like to see it being used. This summer Kevin and Anna are going back east and for the price of gas will likely drop the boat off at Hay Bay

Running late for our 1030 am Anglican church we ended up at the 1115 Cariboo Community Church service.  Anna and Kevin and the God kids were there.  They had communion on trays and Laura, catholic to the core, took a tiny cup, drank the blood of Jesus, put the cup back and crossed herself.  She didn’t know about the baptist and pentecostal bit of waiting till we all took communion together.  She was smiling. I’d gulped down Jesus myself so unlike the marshmallow test the server gave me more.  Meanwhile little munchkins were crawling along the chairs and floors.

After we had lunch at White Spot.  Lots of fun talking with Kevin about Lazarus and Jesus.  The beauty of the church is a share lexicon. We also talk about Stepping Stones. But it’s not like we work together so we don’t talk work or sports much.  We do talk Jesus and sobriety. And a little politics.  Nobody I know is looking forward to everyone sounding stoned like our Prime Minister does.   But Justin Trudeau’s legacy will be to increase the number of people who aren’t present in this life.  I certainly missed a few years of my life being unfocussed and wandering brained.  Wine and marijana days.  

Then there’s Syria and North Korea.  I think the Laura and Anna were talking recipes.  Laura’s got a new granddaughter on the way and she’s been waxing poetic about the years raising her son and daughter and talking about children a whole lot.  Being around the little rug rats gets that going.  Gilbert was back at the trailer and missed being with his buddies but sure loved being out at Tom’s with the kids and Tom and his girlfriend Panda.

Holy Week Tuesday.  I’ve got to get to work.  Jesus is in my thoughts. Along with Harley’s, Laura’s granddaughter, Gilbert and boats and such.  We’re kind of muddling along.  It’s a sunny day.  I’ll have the top down on the Miata as driving to work. Jesus would like that. Gilbert sure does.