It is a journey in life, as things shift and change, within this post, you will find some thoughts that formed my understanding/creation of the Belonging Pyramid, and in some cases, a better articulation of concepts and beliefs I have been working with long before I officially joined a Christian Church as a young adult. After the video of the service, is my speaking transcript, for once I stayed fairly on point, but the blessing at the end was one of those rare moments channeling my charismatic so there is no transcript for that. I do have to admit it is always an adjustment to hear myself introduced as doctor or professor, even though those are pieces of me.

Interrupted Grieving:

A Faith Story of Belonging

March 26, 2023

Marda Loop Church

Before I begin, I just want to take a moment, to wish my wife and partner in crime, Shawna, a very happy birthday for all she does to keep our family going seen and unseen, I love you hun.

Slide 1

There is a different feel within this community. I am not trying to trigger pride (as we just had that sermon last week) or anything, but rather simply sharing a fact. Our family journeyed here during the time of re-opening, when we were unsure how safe it would be for our children to enter back into a world not yet virus free, yet brimming with many who would look at a medically complex community of adults and kids and wish they would isolate or pass away so that nachos and wings night could commence guilt free.

Why we say, this community is different, is the slow, methodical, and evidence-based way the re-open in person happened. Honouring the full Image of God. This is where we are going today, as we explore this concept of interrupted grieving, we are going to explore what we were told in an ancient Hebrew Poem of Creation:

Slide 2

26 Then God said, “Let us make humans[c] in our image, according to our likeness, and let them have dominion over the fish of the sea and over the birds of the air and over the cattle and over all the wild animals of the earth[d] and over every creeping thing that creeps upon the earth.”

27 So God created humans[e] in his image,
    in the image of God he created them;[f]
    male and female he created them.

28 God blessed them

– Genesis 1:26-28 (NRSVUE)

This concept of being created in the Image of God, is foundational, yet we tend to neglect it to often we can look at someone and other them or wonder if they are complete. Within the world of disabilities and complex medical diagnosis we can tend to make the identity of the person all about their diagnosis, labels and conditions. Conversations can become overtly medically complex, and always focused on the therapeutic even within practices that use person first language. As a result, families, and individuals can constantly feel bombarded that they are deficient, not enough.

As parents, feeling this, as we seek supports, and the reports we read do not sound like the child we love, and know, but it has to be worded that way in a deficit world so that they are seen as deserving of the support. Not so much their personality and love shining through, but constant reminders of what the world deems as “person”, and yes for some it can create a perpetual stage of grieving for there are constantly in the cycle that a beloved person is…

Incomplete, or like an old school Christian Trope, the person with disabilities is here so we can learn to be humble and serve, even being able to point to a variety of proof text healing miracles within the gospels where Jesus heals away the medical complexity…

Yet in those moments we miss the subtle message that Jesus is challenging our world with. See, historically, back then, the only way the world could be accessible- that is one would be able to gain access to buildings to be included, that is access the space open for them would be by a healing, a removing of what was falsely seen as an impediment. Jesus in these moments would give a nod to the lunacy of religious folly by performing these miracles in contradiction to things like Sabbath Law, or when friends decided that their friend needed to be included, literally watching as a roof came off a house to lower him down.

Yet, we still didn’t get it. Religion leaned into these stories to perpetuate eugenics and ableism, missing the point of the Genesis poem, created in God’s image. Let us ponder for a minute.

-I encourage you at this time to turn your phones on, reverse the camera so you can see you, if you have a neighbour nearby without a phone, or just want to share, please do, as we honour and see the beautiful mosaic of the image of God in our community, take that selfie to remind you and others of the beauty of God in the here.

As I read this poem by Richard Rohr, OFM, a Franciscan mystic from his book The Universal Christ, ponder the image of God before and around you:

Love after Love

The time will come ,

When, with elation

You will greet yourself arriving,

At your own door, in your own mirror

And each will smile at the other’s welcome.

And say, sit here, eat

You will love again the stranger who was your self.

Give wine. Give bread. Give back your heart

To itself, to the stranger who has loved you.

All your life, whom you ignored

For another, who knows you by heart

Take down the love letters from your bookshelf,

The photographs, the desperate notes,

Peel your own image from the mirror.

Sit. Feast on your life.

Love… for it is within the love that the next phase happens. For we connect with the image of God in the Great Commandments from Jesus:

Slide 3

Matthew 22:34-40 (NRSVUE)

34 When the Pharisees heard that he had silenced the Sadducees, they gathered together, 35 and one of them, an expert in the law, asked him a question to test him. 36 “Teacher, which commandment in the law is the greatest?” 37 He said to him, “ ‘You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind.’ 38 This is the greatest and first commandment. 39 And a second is like it: ‘You shall love your neighbor as yourself.’ 40 On these two commandments hang all the Law and the Prophets.”

 …of loving God with our everything and our neighbour as yourself, a triangle connecting the beautiful mosaic that is the image of the Holy in Creation.

Slide 4

A triangle when inverted, brings us through to what practical theologian, John Swinton, wrote in his 2016 book, Becoming Friends of Time:

The question of who they were…the uncertainty, tension, and grief. For people of faith, such uncertainty could be excruciatingly painful (Swinton, 2016, p.11)

Slide 5

But it is a false uncertainty, for we are able to know the image before us, is complete. Not having to follow the idea of lack or incomplete to simply be able to access or include, Swinton continues around inclusion:

The problem with the inclusion agenda, is there is no innate moral mechanism within the contemporary political discourse that might obligate or even encourage people to love those who society considers different (p.93).

This was the beginning of bringing together my thoughts on belonging from Swinton and other’s works to design my belonging pyramid.  For Swinton is sharing about the risk of belonging, we can easily travel through accessibility (for what is that but building code, though we could have a long discourse on appropriate washrooms that function for all in their toileting needs); inclusion simply means once one is inside, there is a chair or space for them and their mobility device.

Yet neither speaks to this love those who are different, or dare I risk, love those who are part of the mosaic of the image of God, as we look at the selfies taken just moments ago.

For it is that love, that Jesus commanded, and lived into, out of and thru that this all balances on. For true belonging is risk of grieving. For it is knowing the other as neighbour, as friend, and also knowing that one day, they may not be there, the risk of loss. Whether your friend, or those you may lose by standing with your friend in their fullness. Yet in true belonging, interrupts the grieving society, and yeah, some religious, place upon us if we do not fit a cookie cutter mold of image of God.

But Paul, shines a light into the lived teachings of Jesus here, as he writes to the network of folks in ancient Corinth, choosing the analogy of the created image to understand:

Slide 6

1 Corinthians 12:12-26 (NRSVUE):

12 For just as the body is one and has many members, and all the members of the body, though many, are one body, so it is with Christ. 13 For in the one Spirit we were all baptized into one body—Jews or Greeks, slaves or free—and we were all made to drink of one Spirit.

14 Indeed, the body does not consist of one member but of many. 15 If the foot would say, “Because I am not a hand, I do not belong to the body,” that would not make it any less a part of the body. 16 And if the ear would say, “Because I am not an eye, I do not belong to the body,” that would not make it any less a part of the body. 17 If the whole body were an eye, where would the hearing be? If the whole body were hearing, where would the sense of smell be? 18 But as it is, God arranged the members in the body, each one of them, as he chose. 19 If all were a single member, where would the body be? 20 As it is, there are many members yet one body. 21 The eye cannot say to the hand, “I have no need of you,” nor again the head to the feet, “I have no need of you.” 22 On the contrary, the members of the body that seem to be weaker are indispensable, 23 and those members of the body that we think less honorable we clothe with greater honor, and our less respectable members are treated with greater respect, 24 whereas our more respectable members do not need this. But God has so arranged the body, giving the greater honor to the inferior member, 25 that there may be no dissension within the body, but the members may have the same care for one another. 26 If one member suffers, all suffer together with it; if one member is honored, all rejoice together with it.

Slide 7

That from this charistmatic theologian, Amos Yong, in his 2011 book, The Bible, Disability and the Church: A New Vision of the people of God would very eloquently point out:

Each person with a disability, no matter how serious, severe, or even profound contributes something essential to and for the body, through the presence and activity of the Spirit; people with disabilities are therefore ministers empowered by the Spirit of God, each in their own specific way, rather than merely recipients of the ministries of non-disabled people (Yong, 2011, p. 95).

You heard that right?

Within the body of Christ? Within the mosaic of the created image of God, each is empowered to be ministers.

In other words,

Slide 8

Complete and whole.


And that risk,

The risk of the person’s empty space,

The risk of seeing beyond the status quo

The risk of interrupting grieving into the blessed unknown

To seeing what will grow

Where love is planted.

Interrupts grieving.

And shatters an age old trope that harms the image of God

So that all can truly live into their created purpose.


Join live in person or online Sunday March 26th at 10 a.m.:

This weekend Dr. Ty Ragan—a member of our MLC community—will be speaking on the topic of, “Disabilities and Faith with Interrupted Grieving: A Faith Story of Belonging”. Ty is a theologian, part of a local order of monks, and teaches at several Calgary post secondary institutions.

Watch this space for the full video and speaking notes to come…

Why the mullings as I unpack where the sermon will go?

Part of it is definately working through the sludge of the past, to be mindfully present in the now, and where the dialogue is leading within the community currently a part of. It is one of the challenges of being in the community you are in the pulpit of (compared to simply being booked, where you can keep things sometimes high level, though I do not believe fluffy has ever been used to describe me–except maybe a brain scan once or thrice).

But it does bring in to mind, that there is many bumpy and segregationist or exclusionary roads within religious groups from those that do not fit the “norm”. Paul tried many times, to echo Jesus into the early church in the Christian Testament, to one of the many small church (these were households) networks that had gone awry, was in a letter that Paul wrote to the believers in the city of Corinth:

12 The human body has many parts, but the many parts make up one whole body. So it is with the body of Christ. 13 Some of us are Jews, some are Gentiles,[a] some are slaves, and some are free. But we have all been baptized into one body by one Spirit, and we all share the same Spirit.[b]

14 Yes, the body has many different parts, not just one part. 15 If the foot says, “I am not a part of the body because I am not a hand,” that does not make it any less a part of the body. 16 And if the ear says, “I am not part of the body because I am not an eye,” would that make it any less a part of the body? 17 If the whole body were an eye, how would you hear? Or if your whole body were an ear, how would you smell anything?

18 But our bodies have many parts, and God has put each part just where he wants it. 19 How strange a body would be if it had only one part! 20 Yes, there are many parts, but only one body. 21 The eye can never say to the hand, “I don’t need you.” The head can’t say to the feet, “I don’t need you.”

22 In fact, some parts of the body that seem weakest and least important are actually the most necessary. 23 And the parts we regard as less honorable are those we clothe with the greatest care. So we carefully protect those parts that should not be seen, 24 while the more honorable parts do not require this special care. So God has put the body together such that extra honor and care are given to those parts that have less dignity. 25 This makes for harmony among the members, so that all the members care for each other. 26 If one part suffers, all the parts suffer with it, and if one part is honored, all the parts are glad. (1 Corinthians 12:12-26, NLT).

It was Paul pointing out that each and every person has a role to play, just like our body parts cannot function for another role, or how they wire/re-wire (ah neurology is fascinating way in undestanding the how of our created selves)…so does every person in the breathing eco-system of our communities. This flips the idea that there is those created, whose only purpose is to humble us to learn service.

There was nothing in Matthew 22:34-40, The Great Commandments, of love God, self and neighbour, that ever stated there was a lesser Imageo Dei, and it is to be remembered that way.

As you enter into a disability world though, the instersections with your world (medical, spiritual, emotional, psychological) will try to make you feel lack and less, and that the identity is the diagnostic label, and this can be hard to throw off, as the world attempts to use what is classed as “typical” development benchmarks on your child/you. Yet even with “typical” kiddos, there is always the caveat in their own time or maybe not at all. BUT within disability communities, that caveat is silent.

This leads from Swinton, in the first post, to Amos Yong’s 2011 the Bible, Disability and the Church: A New Vision of the People of God, ties into the idea of the body, and full person hood with this quote:

Each person with a disability, no matter how serious, severe, or even profound contributes something essential to and for the body, through the presence and activity of the Spirit; people with disabilities are therefore ministers empowered by the Spirit of God, each in their own specific way, rather than merely recipients of the ministries of non-disabled people (Yong, 2011, p. 95)

But how do you disrupt the medical model and re-enforced religious ableism to live in the joy of life as Swinton in his 2020 Finding Jesus in the Storm: The Spiritual Lives of Christians with Mental Health Challenges:

Unlike happiness, Joy is not a feeling, it is a presence—the presence of Joy (Swinton, 2020, p.80)

But it takes a shift of presencing, that is of understanding that any change in life brings one into a time of grieving, it can be instantaneous such as your favourite type of potato chip not being available; to loss of purpose, employment, development of chronic health condition, to loss of close relationships, to loss of a loved one. What is usually not explored well, is that this is a moment to understand to be present, this is where the concept of U Theory (Kubler-Ross is useful, but in moving into the new not as functional).

The concept is to be present when letting go of the old reality, understanding that the normal or expected normal is not there, taking time to be present in the discombobulation as you move into the bottom of the U and see the possibilities ahead, why is this beneficial in what the last 2 posts were talking about?

Simple, it allows the shift into joy as life. Because there is nothing set in stone, you can enter into whatever comes as part of the prototyping before crystalizing, and realizing that really what is crystalizing is the personality, and how the connections and belonging happens as the move into realizing– the move through the pyramid from accessibility and inclusion, into actual belonging.

That is how not only the family, but the community shifts to how Yong points to the fully actualized body of Christ, and the minister one is called to be regardless of the diagnosis and labels the world places upon them.

The mullings continue with the ideas spilling outwards to begin to tease together a cohesive story for the morning of the 26th…

Mullings lead to conversations, which can be of benefit to create opportunities. I know it seems a rather pedantic way to open up a post, and some days pedantic brings focus. That day is today, one hopes. At one point the Trekkie in me feels like quote singing Faith of the Heart from the Star Trek Enterprise opening, but it is a bit more than that, it comes down to the lines it’s been a long road getting from there to here. And not for the reasons many will place on my journey or story.

See, when one exists within the disabilities world, there are usually two life stories that everyone else wants to place upon you: 1) everything is about the diagnosis, and 2) it is so hard (and the outgrowth is to be in constant grieving for what could have been).

I am not going to get into circular arguments on either of these, I know how I exist and who my son is, I also know the decisions we have made in the journey. The first being that diagnosis is there to aid us in understanding what a person needs to fully connect-belong-and live out their purpose, and the second, being that we will not grieve this straw man of “what could have been” but rather live into the joy of who he is.

But when once again given an opportunity to speak on belonging, my mind does race with the dialogue partners, and storis from the Hebrew Bible and Christian Testament for what it means. Long term readers will remember two recent (though that thought is variable with the past chunk of time from my own health crisis to covid pandemic (c-tine) to now), pieces that have aided in shaping a little theory of mine, one is the Scottish practical theologican, John Swinton, who so directly pointed out in his writings and teachings, and clearly in his 2016 work, Becoming Friends of Time: Disability, Timefullness and Gentle Discipleship has this gem on page 96:

The problem with the inclusion agenda, is there is no innate moral mechanism within the contemporary political discourse that might obligate or even encourage people to love those who society considers different

It was this thought, coupled with a church polity moment, that saw a wheel chair user halted in their calling to be a national moderator, and how they phrased what had stopped them, in essence that the church did not want to talk about its buildings. That is how many had been grandfathered so they did not have to adhere to basic accessibility building codes, and for fear of the conversation, it was easier to simply shut away.

Both these coalesced during my Long Wilderness with PNES in a new theory I designed:

It is rather simple, an inverted pyramid building to the hardest point of our existence. See accessibility should be the simplest and most basic thing we do as churches. Sadly it is not always, and yes it goes beyond ramps and lifts, wider hallways and doorways. When I was discussing with a national church on a resource for outreach the longest conversation of two people involved in the disability world was around toileting. The most basic of human functions, and how easy it is so overlooked.

Where can anyone beyond baby size be taken in your building to be changed? Discussions of full size change tables built into walls to provide proper support and dignity (so the person doesn’t have to set wet, or be changed on a floor) to the other hurdle, is there space to decompress when the auditory or visual overwhelms? Where is the quiet places (and, in some traditions having to discuss about how many spaces were locked so this was not possible).

This conversation doesn’t step into the ableism we had encountered, from folks blatantly saying they did not want us, to passively aggressively to physically engaging. Attempting a faith journey can be exhausting.

Then there was c-tine, where literally the provincial government was blaming folks with chronic conditions for health restrictions to keep folks alive. To keep our neighbour alive, and how many churches struggled with these ideas, struggled with masking. And we would hear some rumblings to overtly blatant such as your kind should just stay home so we an get along with life; I don’t care about your kinds survival I want my nachos (insert activity here).

Then the restrictions were lifted, and as a family we were at a crossroads, for many churches did not look to the care of the few, but the desire of the many or those in leadership, and any precautions were completely lifted. How do we leave online and engage in a healthy community? See this is the challenge of inclusion in real time, there was a space for the person in the assist device or a chair, but there was no actual connection. They did not belong, they were not seen as a full person (in Christian speak, the Imageo Dei), think of being so afraid of connecting and allowing belonging that you limit the beautiful mosaic of the created Image of God, and could say some had more value or completedness than others?

It led to stumbles, and discovery. Finding a small community that held the simple belief that one could engage God everywhere, that you could worship in a way that provided safety in the early days so a community could gather, was where we landed, and found that belonging piece. That being seen piece, that piece where there is inherent risk, because with belonging there comes a day when that space may be empty, and then comes the grieving.

But that grieving is different than the grieivng state that one is supposed to exist in, that the system places on families of the medically complex, and that it is so jarring when families decide not to live there.

It is also jarring when families reject the concept of diagnosis segregation for funding.

It is also jarring when families reject the idea of polarizing within the community around complexity lines, and being able to see what one family may need is okay to get behind, even if it is not needed in ours because it is about all of us, not one of us.

I was invited to have an opportunity to speak on the 26th of this month, more details will come…but I am beginning to navigate ideas and thoughts around a topic of disabilities and faith, or more aptly–

Grieving Disrupted: Belonging

As I sort this sermon out, watch for other postings along the road…

P.S. this book was picked up at a workshop around faith communities, disabilities and belonging in Calgary’s Jewish Community, they are way further ahead in respects to this.

It may seem like an oxymoron the title. As the winter storm blew through Calgary on Shrove (Pancake) Tuesday, through transit I traversed to teach at a local bible college, my course on addictions where we continued exploring the bio-psycho-social model, and sometimes the connections to biblical counselling (mostly because I enyoy courage learning spaces where we dive in and explore) but I digress mostly due to lack of pancakes as the weather and timing of the course kept me from the Shrove/Fat Tuesday meals. Why do these exist? It’s symbolic of the last day of “sinning” that is enjoying the extra of life before starting 40 days in the wilderness with Jesus (taking away or adding something to connect with Creator deeper), it is why Roll Up the Rim originally happened during this time to dissuade Canadian Christians from giving up their Timmy’s during these 40 days.

The beginning is marked by another ritual (and yes for those who track theories, Christianity is rife with Sub-Cultural sociological applications, as is usage and problem behaviours), Ash Wednesday, the marking with Ashes to remind us of the finiteness of this life, and the beginning of the time of pondering/mulling/fasting/re-connecting (a good model for this is Jesus’s time in the Wilderness from the Gospels of Luke, Mark and Matthew-and yes, take time to reflective read these stories in the style of breath prayer/lectio divina. Read 3 times, and reflect on these questions: 1) what image came through this reading? 2) what memory came through? Spend time in each hearing of those readings. I suggest the YouBible app for audio if you are doing alone, the final questions: What am I hearing from the Spirit for an action during this time of re-connect?).

But how does this tie into Lust? Well, the 7 Deadly sins, do provide a little bit of frame work for the work of Substance Misuse and Problem Behaviours (ala gambling, gaming, shopping, sex, etc), but there is more, because we can easily objectify the other. Not just sexually, but economically or due to any other label we apply so the person becomes other, dehumanized, nothing more than their role for our own gratification in life.

Pastor John (check out his books, Every Job a Parable, The Day Metallica Came to Church) is in the midst of a series on the 7 Deadly Sins at Marda Loop Church, this Sunday we touched on Lust (and I will not touch on the work on Anger as my internet decided to be beyond hinky):

Now that you have engaged with the concept/idea, take time to ponder through a developed practice that was suggested (yes my brain works weird), that is you can read/hear the Song of Songs (Song of Solomon), each day a chapter, reading through 3 times with reflective journalling at the end of each hearing.

What is reflective journalling?

it is responding to the breath prayer/lectio divina. It is not simply writing, though can take that form. It can be colouring, scribbling, doodling, sculpting, whittling, painting, cartooning, song writing, poetry, beading (any creative activity that allows your whole emotion-intellectual-spiritual express itself).

Then there are 3 rhythms, tied to the Great Commandments, Jesus gave us in the synoptic gospels (Matthew, Mark, Luke and John):

  1. Love of self
  2. Love of Neighbour as self
  3. Love God with everything

The first reading is on self-love, because we struggle knowing ourselves as the Holy Mystery does, and so we start there, to be able to grow forward.

With each chapter (1 a day), listen deeply, 3 times, after each reading reflect on these three quesstions to lead into the time of reflective journalling:

  1. What images come through with the first hearing? Spend time with one and what it means to you?
  2. What memory comes through with the seocnd hearing? Spend time with one and what it means to you?
  3. What do you feel moved to do today as an act of love (in the cycles topic)?

After journalling…do number 3.

Repeat these questions each chapter under each cycle.

As you come towards Maundy Thursday, the last supper, the institution of the Sacrament of Service according to the Gospel of John, what is your plan for the next month? Year? on renewing the command Jesus gives in this gospel, to love as he has loved us?

Feel free to use this reflection, share, and let others know what the experience was like.

Bonus or taking time to explore and discover your own connections to faith:

A final pondering to share, what does creating a courageous space for living out of love look like for church?

To aid, some thoughts from Dr. Gabor Mate & friends on the wisdom of trauma and how to aid healing (I lean towards the power found in Poly Vagal Theory):

30 years? Really?

Posted: February 24, 2023 by Ty in Current Events
Tags: , , , ,

I will admit, I have netered that time of life where things do not seem to be as far away as they are in our form of linear time (anyway catch the DS9 reference?). Anyways, it was a few months late, but I found the 30th anniversary special on the Death of Superman.

Remember this leading up to Nov. 18, 1992:

It was the first story to hit the mainstream media and draw in new readers, how did it come about? Well, Lois & Clark: New Adventures of Superman was doing well ratings wise, and in the show and comics Clark and Lois were engaged only the show wasn’t ready for the wedding so the big 1992 story had to shift (remember the triangle numbering?). And as legend goes at the creators summit, one smart ass (whose name fails me now), made the same joke he always makes about new story ideas “Let’s kill him” only this time it made the board.

And so the trilogy began.

Superman died.

There was a Funeral for a Friend.

Then a span of time with now Super titles.

Then 4 newbies (Steel, Superboy-who have between the panel stories in the special, Eradicator and Cyborg Superman)

A destruction of Coast City, A cyborg villain Superman.

And the return of the OG to save the day.

A few crisis and reboots since then, Clark and Lois have a son, Jon.

DC never ret conned the death arc (hey Doomsday is a cool character, and beating death is epic Superman).

Yet this goes beyond one bad day.

And two parents, I mean if you are a parent there are pieces of your story or family story you keep putting off or never share or put into the concept of when the child is old enough or the time is right we will share it.

Only the opening of the story is Jon in school, and the honouring of the anniversary of the death of his Dad… a story that was never told to him.

There is a fun adventure of a new spawning of Doomsday/possession and can Doomsday be stopped/healed withour Dad’s death?

But really as you dive into the pages (no I won’t spoil the ending), but I do encourage you to take time to read it, and enter into it through the eyes of Jon. Was there ever a family secret you tripped over? Or someone else revealed to you (whose story wasn’t there’s to tell?).

And also, has it really been 30 years since 1992? It doesn’t seem that far away.

Breathe A Reflective Guide

Posted: February 19, 2023 by Ty in Archives, Spirituality
Tags: ,

Shared again to include the Land Acknowledgement I crafted:

Land Acknowledgement

We are treaty people, who have not always honoured or lived into the consecrated nature of treaty here on Treaty 7. We are in treaty, as settlers, with peoples in the traditional territories of the Niitsitapi (Blackfoot) and the people of the Treaty 7 region in Southern Alberta, which includes the Siksika, the Piikani, the Kainai, the Tsuut’ina, and the Iyarhe Nakoda, and Metis Region 3. We can struggle to hear the authentic truth of genocide, while trying to understand what it means to live Reconciliation, in Mohkinstsis, known as Calgary. We are thankful for all that this land, and our relationships in healing have given us.

This week as we enter the love ourselves portion of the compass; it is about taking time to breathe. Which can be a triggering statement for many, yet at its core, is about centering in the holy presence within, through and without the interconnection of creation. The chapter, for those engaging, will see the personal and communal crisis that intersect, and how all these pieces interplay within our own holistic (mental, physical, emotional, and spiritual health), as well, for the helper/advocate how easy it is to disengage from our own care to continue the struggle for a better world to our own detriment.

Before this Thursday, take time to breathe. Engage in this body scan, to slow down, and reconnect the pieces of us we tend to keep separate:

Mindfulness – Body Scan – Anxiety Canada


For Breathe from No Stranger:

  1. When someone says to you, breathe, what do you feel?
  1. When have we had an intersection of personal and communal crisis as Kaur was sharing? What were our perceived responsibilities (i.e., work, church, volunteer activities, etc.) that we continued to push through? What happened? What did you learn in the process?
  1. It is easy for us to wonder into the USA context Kaur writes from, but what are communal crisis or changes in Calgary or Alberta that we need to practice breathe? Remember that change happens in life, what is usually forgotten in the process of change is that it brings grieving with it, it can be instantaneous such as our favourite brand of coffee is out of stock at the grocery store, or longer term with health, career changes, or loss of loved ones. But being present, through breathing can aid (for more on being present you may want to explore U Theory).

I have started to reflect and mull about another concept of ideas. Those who have been part of my teaching in spiritual centres, retreats or outreaches know I do like to explore things differently, and to innovate. I attempt to show the physiological-psychological-emotioanl-spiritual connections within our lives. As the Western World slowly decolonizes (and face the hatred filled backlash of violence through online and in person reality). What could this look like?

This is preliminary mullings is to touch upon some life coaching practices as spiritual, what is seen in the work from Knox below, gremlins (the individual); presenting during that season to a new ministry plant we worked through indidivual gremlins to communal-organizaitonal-institutional gremlins. As well, touching on the holisitc work of a self-care coaching wheel to aid folks in seeing how different aspects of our lives are inter-connected.

But beyond these two types, which aid in personal growth and connection. For with each practice comes connection to another to explore the challenges opened up.

But what of topics?

Some that come to mind in the earlier pieces of mulling is substance misuse disorder/problem behaviours (what we still note in a stigmatizing way as addictions, and the moral lens that brings with it). Possibiliites around lifespan development (a new experience of fall, or stepping into challenging what is known to make our own). Trauma– how do you understand Bathsheba? There is thankfully a change happening in seeing what this story is, you say it still is adultery?

What if I told you about a young girl, who had a pastor groom them into a sexual relationship to keep their eternal salvation? Then to ensure that they were not revealed, they placed a call to child protective services flexing alleged abuse in the household so the parents of the youth, lost their child to a system (isolation); and that the parents lost their jobs due to the allegations and soon their own housing entering into the houseless institution. Would you say this girl was an adulteror? Or a victim experiencing traumas? Then why do we use the patriarchal reading of Bathsheba to victim shame Bathsheba and make euphenemistic apologetics for David?

Why does trauma matter? What does it look like? Manifest like? How can it be disrupted? Healed? It feeds into other presentations I have made with colleagues (What’s Shakin’ exploring my journey with PNES comes to mind, but also the importance of belonging and connection). The role grief can play, and what it looks like to grieve? What brings on grieving? And yes, I still love the powerful analogy Lars and the Real Girl brings to us for a discussion on this.

Perhaps touching on the Poly-Vagal Theory, that shows what creating safety can do for healing. Touching on the beautiful mosaic of the created image of God (Imageo Dei) not in what wondeful opportunities in an ableistic understanding for service, but going even steps beyond what Nouwen shared, that disabilites, neuor-divergence are all part of the beautiful imageo dei, and if we learn from our Jewish neighbours, what it means for full belonging and participation in all areas of life.

What does it matter for beloning?

For it is about knowing the full person, and as Francis of Assisi implored, seeking to understand our neighbour, so we can love them as ourselves.

Oh, and a desperate need to move beyond sympathy and charity, to belonging and empathy…

Slothlike Reflections

Posted: February 19, 2023 by Ty in Spirituality
Tags: ,

Currently my church is going through the 7 deadly sins on Sundays (check out Marda Loop Church Calgary on YouTube for the previous ones on Anger and Greed). Today we touched down on Sloth. It is a unique thing when we explore these types of concpets that have existed for centuries, as many within spiritual-religious traditions conflame them with what exists in the “how” of creation, that is we will overlay to add stigma, and extra harm when someone is struggling with physical or mental health/disability/substance misuse disorder/problem behaviours.

What is refreshing, within a church that holds scripture and creation as two texts of faith is acknowledging that what is being discussed with sloth, is not what we would see within depression. Or to take it to another level, much of what is discussed– the disconnect, the boredom, the finding no connection or value or need to find things of love, hope, gratefulness, and the list goes on. Seeing another thing that it can manifest as? Burnout, Compassion fatigue, a trauma response, and/or Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD). Again if you are experiencing these, it is not the sin of sloth being discussed.

For, the simplest is the Tony Campolo quote the Pastor John shared, “Sloth makes what is of ultimate importanace not worth the effort” and in this scenario, it is when it is outside these causes. It is not a dissociation either.

See how the purview is narrowing, much like the concept of exorcism/deliverance, for those with millenia practicing these spiritual practices (thing Orthodox, Roman Catholic, Anglican/Episcopalian) it is not the default go to (the hyper-spiritualization/demonization of life as and in creation) where one first explores all the physical and mental health causes first before going into the spiritual (which can tip into spiritual abuse, this is also due to how the exorcism is done, but also by dissuading one to seek out the supports to thrive that are necessary).

So why are you disconnected?

What would re-connection look like?

Some Free Fall

Posted: January 23, 2023 by Ty in Free Fall
Tags: , , ,

Hoping to get some time carved out in my schedule for this to develop into something…

It is always a weird feeling to be in darkness, and then see a bright light, but not at the end of the tunnel, your notifications had decided to push through the do not disturb feature overnight on your phone. No wonder insomnia was beginning to become a rising issue? The covid pandemic pause had shown us exactly how overworked and running on empty we were as a society, yet as restrictions lifted, we wanted to jump back onto the eternal treadmill once more.

Hence the squawking at this ungodly hour, when one should be sleeping, others note it as the dead hour. Here I am in the darkness, should I be sleeping? Yes, a normal person would be, yet here I am awaiting a communion of sorts. Finished the cleansing of the darkness from this place, tapping into some Anglican Rites, being a good quasi-Canadian associated Anglican I used the Book of Common Prayer, needed the sludge cleared for the phone to activate once again.

In the phone there may be an answer, the question is whether it is a call I wanted to receive, but the communications had brought me to this old trailer, to do this. The essence is simple, to discover what my actual name was, not just be the bloke the locals had designated Jake Doe, whatever would come through would open more to me than that.

“Jake me boy is that you?”

Even a quick thumbing to dark mode did not help the blinding green screen glow, reminded me of the type on the monitor of an old Apple 2E in public school. Not exactly the best ergonomics for eye care in the 21st century.

“That is what folks have been calling me? Who are you?”

Who I am is irrelevant, the time is short, Jake you need to find it.”

“Find what?” My name? My memories? These are what are sticking out to me at this moment. But this disembodied voice through the green screen is attempting to speak in bad, almost pedantic, riddles.