My Neighbour: Further thoughts on belonging… and my journey that brought me here

Posted: April 25, 2018 by Ty in My Neighbour
Tags: , , , , , ,

I had the privilege several weeks ago to be a guest on Light News Radio where we discussed a multitude of topics, as I phrased it after, the old data banks haven’t had such a work out for awhile. Yet the heart of the show was the discussion of moving beyond inclusion to belonging. For regular readers, you know I have been in the midst of re-discovering how my brain works, and the journey continues. The show had two times when there was dead time:

  • The shameless self-promotion. For those who know me, have taken courses from me, or been apart of groups/programs I have run know that this is just simple uncomfortable for myself. Some may call it humility, I simply put it out as the things that I have been blessed to be apart of, congealed together in the right moments with those the Holy Mystery intended to be apart of it. I have several books and articles across the last 33 years that share the experience, pieces I have aided have become political party policy, and sometimes pieces of legislation and laws. But the best is when someone who thought they had no place to belong finally find that safe zone to grow into the authentic them from. One friend keeps reminding me when we meet for spiritual coaching/direction “If you could get self-promotion you would be bigger that Wayne Dyer.” I simply laugh it off, just cause we’re bald doesn’t mean anything. But I do thank Deirdre on the radio for the highest compliment I can be paid, “you walk your talk.”
  • Your journey: this is the question when you can literally if you are listening close enough you can hear me having one of my neuro-glitches, thank you Dr. J and Deirdre for carrying the conversation until I came around. What was missed though is what I would like to share now. I have been blessed to find belonging in the midst of change. I live in the same house I was brought home from the hospital from, my family bought it from my folks, and yes it was the first house built on the block. I love where I live. NE Calgary is the world outside your door step. We are a midst of the socio-economic classes, spiritualities, we have shared accommodations, renters (market, affordable and Calgary Housing Company) and homeowners (and guess what, how one pays for their home does not entail if they are a good neighbour) and cultures that make the mosaic of the human race beautiful (98.5% non-western European descent, did a study on it in seminary circa 2006 when I was a Franciscan serving an Anglican parish). Our communities were built before Calgary forgot what planning entailed so we are well resourced with a hospital, malls, grocery stores, schools (public and separate, and all grades); the highest numbers of churches per capita with the lowest percentage of residents that are Christian (circa 2006-7 data). Like any community there has been places that have accepted us, and scorned us. My daughter got the fun in her pre-school years to explain Good Friday as “we are going to the church that baptized Daddy and killed Jesus” (as I was the first baby on a baptismal roll) to her being able to be the second generation to attend a Presbyterian Vacation Bible School in our community (it is one of the little churches that could). It is a place where I was able to be at the cornerstone laying ceremony for Canada’s largest Mosque. Where we learned as students to be a good citizen means to constructively query those in power, and hold to account for what needs to happen. Through actions of my family and neighbours learn how to support one another. It is where as we raise my son, we know that there are enough oldsters around to watch out for him (and my daughter) and enough newbies his smile and laughter had ingratiated him to them they will watch out for him.

This community had multiple religions in my Alliance Church pre-school as a child, and allowed for curiosity, open exploration of other understandings of religion and the world. We accepted openly refugees (the Vietnamese boat people) and lived out the mosaic ideal of Multi-Culturalism. I remember my elementary school spear heading the first special needs class room for the CBE, and y’know what those 3 kids were just part of our community.

It is a place from my vantage point where I mourn the entrenchment and extremist hate I see once again resurfacing in my country, for there will be those that will miss the beauty of a world where there is no other, only a family member we have not met. It is where my family openly discussed differing political viewpoints; shared the importance of acceptance, of women’s rights, where my Nan shared the story of her gay cousin who took his life and how that was wrong over someone for how God made them. Hearing my Grandma Ragan having tossed American troops from her Montreal diner for their racism. My Grandpa Joe winning a humanitarian of the year award. My Granddad and Nan, hearing how their home was the safe home in their community, a sanctuary for the loving parents no matter who you were.

The type of home my parents made for my brother and I and our friends. My brother was more social than I, but our home was open. It was the safe place, and yes our friends no matter our age referred them as “my brother’s name or Ty’s” Mum & Dad. That is the lesson of belonging. As my family grew into the space there are many things and those stories by those we have called friend are there’s to share. My family simply saw our neighbour, and opened ourselves up to friendship, and sometimes became the family that is not made with blood and DNA.

The lived journey is what brought me to understand belonging. The messy process that is missed in data sets, codifications, and labels. It is what lead me down many educational paths to get the skills necessary when presented with new situations and challenges. When I speak of the question “who is my neighbour?” it is about creating a space beyond accessibility, inclusion and affirmation.

It is creating a home of belonging where you feel open to drop by, pop in, share a meal or a cuppa. Whether it is just needing a place to be, or explore a book or a movie, chat, games, let the kids be kids…or simply abide until the pain passes or to share the joy. That is the journey of belonging and the heart understanding I bring to the pathway.

The Radio Show

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