you are with me still


this morning, I reached into the dishwasher

grasped the smooth handle of my favourite mug

clay from the hands of the Mistress

formed into a vessel that holds memories

sadness, pours into me,

hotter than the waiting coffee

Lord, I miss Her!

alma mater

mine, hers and Hers

this –  Her gift to me –  to celebrate the journey

the end and the beginning

alpha and omega

living

striving, thriving, surviving

my graduation, penultimate to theirs

a year passes and we gather again

to encourage, reorientate, reclaim the promise

of what and who we are called to be

another year

dead

Less that two years Your priest, Lord?

mute incredulity

really?

You heal the cancer – remission

in thanksgiving and wonder She hears You

says yes

dayenu*

was it?

tears stream as voices slosh here to there and back again over cellular waves

we did not know, we were not told

of deadly returned, cellular multiplication

liver hosts, breasts long sacrificed to hope

we did not know, unaware

we wallow in guilt

the third rants

“I know you have a good reason, God!”

begging, threatening, “tell me what it is!”

yes

dark coffee spills and fills a vessel still holding the past

leaves fall beyond the kitchen window fast

turns a season

thanksgiving approaches

thanksgiving

for Her life

yes

for death

no reason

yet

I suspect it was missed

in a moment noisy

the still, small voice

“Spring comes, She is fully alive in Me.”

Romans 8:38-39   38 For I am sure that neither death nor life, nor angels nor rulers, nor things present nor things to come, nor powers, 39 nor height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God in Christ Jesus our Lord.

Isaiah 64:8
But now, O LORD, you are our Father; we are the clay, and you are our potter; we are all the work of your hand.

*it would have been enough for us

The Iona Building – Vancouver School of Theology


In 2005 we moved to Vancouver with the intent of me returning to studies to earn my Master of Divinity.  There are three colleges recognized by my denomination as having the necessary courses for eligibility to be ordained as a Minister of Word and Sacrament.  The college I chose was Vancouver School of Theology.  From the onset I was so grateful that I had.  Not only were the courses challenging and enlightening, the community supportive and worshipful, but the campus itself was beautiful.

The north face of “the Castle” is lovely.  Set at the top of a slight rise it draws the eye upward.  When I began studies there the silhouette was uninterrupted.  Since, the skyline has been changed with the rectangular shapes of high-rise student residences and condominiums.  A shame.

The building does not boast many embellishments.  The subtle simplicity of the stone blocks in varying sizes and the small carvings over the entrance ways are in keeping with the purpose of the building.  God is in the small things. 

The charter of the college is magnificently illuminated.  Originally housing the Union College of British Columbia, the Iona Building was completed in the 1930’s and is an ecumenical college educating Anglican, United Church of Canada and Presbyterian students.  The charter hangs in the library.

I spent many hours there, writing, reading, researching, photocopying.

The Merton reading room is a quiet reading/meditation room.  It has comfy large chairs and it was not unusual to find a student napping there.

During my time there the college completed an environmentally controlled archive for many of its older and antique volumes.  People come from all over to access the theological resources.

The building was upgraded to meet seismic requirements, completed in 2005, the year I started.  The interior was brand new, bright and beautiful my first day of college.  Enjoy some of the interior views and patterns.  It was a delight to study and worship there.

 

 

 

 

 

Amazing stain glass window in the sanctuary, and beautiful glass sculpture depicting Creation in the foyer.

View of the north shore mountains at morning. Taken from the 6th floor of the Iona Building

Just the Five of Us


Once upon a time there were five seminary students doing internships in the same congregation.  Two of us were students at Vancouver School of Theology, three were from Regent College.   Both seminaries are affiliated colleges of the University of British Columbia in Vancouver BC.  The church was West Point Grey Presbyterian Church less than a ten minute drive from campus.

Wendy went on to become the minister at St Andrews Presbyterian Church in Armstrong BC.  She is blessed with a musicality that  I know is an asset to her ministry and work there.

Cornelia went on to become the minister at Evangelisch-Reformierte Kirchgemeinde Oristal in Leistal, Switzerland.  She has a heart for mission work.

Barrett and Sarah went to Utica, New York.  She is the minister at a Presbyterian Church and he, after a brief time as an Episcopalian priest was call to be the minister at First Presbyterian Church.  He also teaches Philosophy.  This post was inspired by him because I wanted to share this past Sunday’s message.

http://streetpastor.wordpress.com/2011/10/02/practical-atheism/

I wish my congregation had heard it, maybe there wouldn’t be so many atheists in this world.   But my congregation heard about God’s justice and righteous expectations for living as Christians in a secular world as the Israelites and Judah were expected to live in Isaiah’s time.  Naturally there was a difference in what my congregation and congregations around the world heard yesterday, I am a different preacher, in a different context, in a specific country. . .

West Point Grey PC was a wonderful place to get our feet wet.  I miss it, and all these servants of God that are capably speaking the Good News and ministering to a broken and hungry world.

June 9, 2008 LISTEN


As I drove to Anishinabe this morning there was an interview on CBC radio with Belinda van den Brooke (sp?) who was commenting on Residential Schools. She said she could not speak for everyone else who is a Residential School survivor, or “in general.” Everyone’s experience was different. Her personal experience is not a blanket description of what happened. She talked about how she often acted as an advocate in the school, and it resulted in quite abit of trouble for her. I chuckled when she said that she would be proud to have a TM (trouble maker) after her BA if it meant she was helping people.

As I sit in the parking lot at the center I remind myself to 1. LISTEN 2. Expect to find God in the unexpected 3. Be a witness 4. Remember names!

The Rev. (the Reverend Margaret Mullin) has three people in mind for my Ministry Reflection Group. One is a residential school survivor who attended Cecilia Jeffrey in Kenora, Ontario. She is a Christian working in the Presbyterian Church in Canada (PCC), and making a claim for her experiences at CJ School which was administrated by the PCC. Another member is a AA co-ordinator, 20 years sober. The third is a lovely and very wise staff member, who has a beautiful spirit and a gentle way about her. All are aboriginal.

I learn that when speaking with a First Nations person, you should not stare. It is concidered extremely rude. In my ED100 class back at VST we read that looking down when someone is speaking indicates you are concentrating on listening, removing the distraction of sight and thereby gives honour to the speaker. It’s really hard! I have been brought up to look people in the eye when speaking to them, and occasionally watch them mouth their words so as to not miss any. I never realized how much I read lips and tend to doing so at the center because some of the dropins do not speak English very well and if I am not watching I miss so much I don’t have a clue what they are saying.

It is also rude to point, at anything, not just people. Its another cultural challenge, you try not to point for a day.

We distribute emergency food kits. They contain a canned protein, a vegtable or soup, a fruit and a starch (usually Kraft Dinner). People are eligible for only one a month and must show their health card to receive it. Some have been banned from receiving them because they take the food and trade it to some of the local food retailers for “sniff.” Anishinabe keeps a record of who receives food and this is remitted to Winnipeg Harvest who supplies us with the kits. Winnipeg Harvest distributes 10,000 loaves of bread a day to various social agencies throughout Winnipeg. Daily hot meals are provided by the Union Gospel and Siloam Missions on Main Street, four blocks away from our location. Siloam feeds upwards of 300 people a day.

It is mind boggling to consider the scope of poverty that exists, and infuriating that certain retailers with a goal to make a bigger profit, only enable people with addictions.

June 8, 2008 Thinking about tomorrow


Tomorrow is my first day at Anishinabe. On the 11th of this month, Wednesday, the government of Canada is issuing an apology to First Nations people for the legacy of the Residential School System. All the communications media are flooded with stories and opinions about the past and the expectations for the apology. I am going to be in a unique place to observe this momentous occasion when Prime Minister Harper speaks on behalf of the Canadian government.

I have actually just returned from Ottawa. I was there for a week to attend the General Assembly of the Presbyterian Church as a resource person on behalf of St. Andrew’s Hall and Vancouver School of Theology. While there I had a disturbing conversation with my sister’s coworkers, members of the RCMP. The attitudes towards First Nation’s people was alarming, sterotypical and less than humane. How can relationships improve when some people (professions?) have such a disregard for a segment of our society?! I asked one why he wanted to be a police officer. “To do good and fight evil!” was his response. I came away wondering what his conception of evil was…

It’s all very discouraging to think that those hired to ‘serve and protect’ would treat people that way and expect society to become ‘good’!

I expect the coming week is going to become a very emotionally charged experience.

June 7, 2008 An Introduction


I am a second year theology student at Vancouver School of Theology, an affiliate college of the University of British Columbia. I am doing my final field unit at Anishinabe Place of Hope, a mission of the Presbyterian Church in Canada, operating in the inner city of Winnipeg, Manitoba. It is a 20 unit residence that offers safe housing for people serious about staying alcohol, drug and substance free, upgrading education and seeking gainful employment. The residents are predominantly First Nations. On Sundays there is a worship service. Monday to Thursdays there is also a drop in center that provides coffee, shelter from the elements, advocacy, emergency food kits, linens, a local telephone line, information on various social agencies, councelling, occasionally a hot meal, and so much more. I invite you to drop by once in awhile and discover the “so much more.”