Author Archive


Isolation. In what some dub, the before times, there would need to be a share of the statistical evidence to understand the disconnection that exists between neighbours in our highly cyber connected world. As we emerge from the restrictions in Alberta, and lockdowns almost in some areas of Canada, the known truth of isolation and that it can be complex simplicity that can solve it. Why complex simplicity? For isolation is disrupted by connection, but connection means letting others in, which comes at a risk but it is that risk of invitation inwards that the writer of the Gospel of Mark would pinpoint as the Kingdom being near. Vital relationships, a relational hub where you can meet and be, authentically who you are created to be. This has should be the journey church is on as Christendom gasps its last.

We need to develop and live into a new understanding of being relational hubs, that step beyond resourcing in a community hub, to the connection of people together and what happens there. But where to begin?

Is this possible? Can the church shift away from a command and control power base, to being what the earliest writers and livers of the Way were? An interdependent community? Sharing in common, speaking truth to justice. Acknowledging harm, repairing that harm done. For the key is the love triangle of God-Self-Neighbour, which rests in relationship.

The biggest challenge?

Surrendering the pride of institutions. Realizing that in the transfiguration, the brand/denomination on the building does not matter, rather it is the people and how they live out of the love of the Holy Mystery to be their truly created and called authentic selves for the betterment of the community.

Can we radically open ourselves up to do life together?

Some viewing to grow our understanding:

Archbishop Desmont Tutu on UBI

A brief video overview of The Presbyterian Church in Canada’s role in colonization and residential schools is now available to watch at https://presbyterian.ca/…/20/video-residential-schools-pcc

This video presentation is intended as an educational tool to help people understand the ways in which racism and colonial attitudes shaped the church’s mission, with devastating consequences. (Image and text from Social Media Post, please note there are questions for group and/or self reflection while viewing the 30 minute video).

This coming Friday out of Costa Rica TEC Seminars:

This Friday July 23 at 6pm (Costa Rica / Mountain) MIT professor Dr. Jeff Hoffman will join us for a webinar about the MOXIE experiment. MOXIE will demonstrate a way that future explorers might produce oxygen from the Martian atmosphere for propellant and for breathing.

Dr. Hoffman is a veteran of 5 Space Shuttle missions and logged more than 1,211 hours and 21.5 million miles in space.

The link to register is below.
https://bit.ly/LAT-Moxie— with Daniel Francisco Pérez Murillo and Andrea Jimenez Fernandez.


This Sunday I was invited to preach at Knox Presbyterian Church in Calgary on Mark 6:1-7 (New Revised Standard Version):

He left that place and came to his hometown, and his disciples followed him. On the sabbath he began to teach in the synagogue, and many who heard him were astounded. They said, “Where did this man get all this? What is this wisdom that has been given to him? What deeds of power are being done by his hands! Is not this the carpenter, the son of Mary[a] and brother of James and Joses and Judas and Simon, and are not his sisters here with us?” And they took offense[b] at him. Then Jesus said to them, “Prophets are not without honor, except in their hometown, and among their own kin, and in their own house.” And he could do no deed of power there, except that he laid his hands on a few sick people and cured them. And he was amazed at their unbelief.

Then he went about among the villages teaching. He called the twelve and began to send them out two by two, and gave them authority over the unclean spirits.

Here is the service:

Here is the link

The Speaking Notes:

Thank you to Mark and the Session for inviting me to speak today as we continue our journey through the Gospel of Mark.

Ever been judged by your backstory? Your family connections? Where you are from? Had unfair assumptions made about you based on how you talk or dress? Ever let those effect who you are in your day-to-day life? Perhaps in what the Dalai Lama dubbed Job, Career or Calling, or in church-speak vocation, y’know what you do to pay the bills, but also what you do because of your passion and who you are? Ever notice how other’s thought patterns or beliefs about who you are, in certain environments can shape your internal monologue? Or even your ability to do what you know you can do?

This is where today’s passage is taking us in the Gospel of Mark. For it can be seen as a moment in time for Jesus, much like we encounter in our own lives. It is one of the gospel moments, I love to take time in community to say, let’s be Jesus in this moment and ponder what we hear from the chorus of neighbours…or as the catch phrase goes, who’s renting space in your mind and heart? We’ll take some time with the passage, and then some time on what we can tease out for our own soul care and soul work.

Read Mark 6:1-7:

He left that place and came to his hometown, and his disciples followed him. 2 On the sabbath he began to teach in the synagogue, and many who heard him were astounded. They said, “Where did this man get all this? What is this wisdom that has been given to him? What deeds of power are being done by his hands! 3 Is not this the carpenter, the son of Mary[a] and brother of James and Joses and Judas and Simon, and are not his sisters here with us?” And they took offense[b] at him. 4 Then Jesus said to them, “Prophets are not without honor, except in their hometown, and among their own kin, and in their own house.” 5 And he could do no deed of power there, except that he laid his hands on a few sick people and cured them. 6 And he was amazed at their unbelief. Then he went about among the villages teaching.  

It is presented as an external dialogue, where you can see the encouragement loop and the passive aggressive discouragement loop. Those in attendance praising the work Jesus has done, the power of his words, and his healings. The healings which are more to reveal the unwelcome of community, and to push the boundaries of inclusion and belonging. Then you get the snipers, those that do not want to see good or hear change and look for that. They look to what is known about Jesus, and what the scandals are. How he can hardly be a holy man for just look at his family. He was a tradesman, so how could he be “wise” or, we know his family-his brothers, and sisters. This can be a familiar refrain used for esteem or disrespect dependent on the family’s reputation. It is also being able to show that this were children that grew up and alluding to any known shenanigans Jesus and his siblings got up to. Let’s be honest here, who growing up regardless of place in time in history has not gotten up to some mischief. These are the reminder phrases. In case that doesn’t work though, the nay sayers decide to pull out the ultimate reminder.

They name him through the matriarchal lineage of his mother, Son of Mary (not Son of Joseph as was the tradition and practice). This was pointing out that his father truly was unknown, and that Joseph decided not to follow the law and have Mary cast out or stoned. That is Joseph decided family had more to do with than simple biology and was about belonging. But that was the simplest part of the story, see, Mary, well, Mary was the powerful piece of the story that scared the neighbours I think. If you spend time exploring the Mary visions throughout history, historians and Marian Theologians agree that Mary appears more than Jesus to both Christians and Non-Christians, simply because she can share the message of hope and love without centuries of horrendous baggage. Even though in this moment those “who took offense” are trying to turn her powerful yes to God into baggage for her child and derail what is being heard about the place where all belong, where labels do not matter, and the Image of God is beloved in its beautiful and blessed many forms. See Mary was the teenager in a patriarchal society, God decided the way society worked was not right, and skipped over talking to her father, or her betrothed as she was seen as less, in the Roman Empire as a non-citizen in short form she was property. God didn’t care, he went directly to Mary and asked her. The power of shaking the foundations of the systemic wrongs of that era began, with a peasant class, Jewish teenage girl, simply taking control of her own story, because her Creator honoured their beloved creation not the system of oppression created by man. In the hearing those offended were hoping to derail, in the story what is affirmed though for those with open hearts, is that all have voice and belong.

Though what we see in the closing verses, is what is called unbelief and creates disruption in the story as what is normative for a Jesus visit is not as impactful. Which can leave the reader thinking this is about level of belief for miracles or healing, though in other instances we have seen this not to be the case.  Ponder with me for a moment, could this be a story we enter learn through Jesus’ eyes. In this moment and time, where perhaps, he is feeling a bit of the imposter syndrome while, what may have been happening is that the trip had the same results as others, though the re-introduction of the negative monologue of his childhood had let him and perhaps, those around him, to see the outcome differently.

Have you ever had someone thank you for something and you schluff it off as nothing, or perhaps congratulate you on an achievement and you offer up x,y, or z rationales as to why it wasn’t a big deal? Perhaps offering opportunities the seeking more information loop starts, so your reticence holds you back, or simply the “I’m not good enough” or …. I am sure we all have different voices or impulses or feelings, much like was displayed in this short passage that hold us back or create a filter to experiences so we cannot truly experience and know the wonder we are a part of.

For those who watch RuPaul’s Drag Race, he will talk to the queens in short one to one time and call these tracks the saboteur. It is a life coaching tool; I prefer the term gremlins. It creates such a vivid imagery. There are two things that usually spring to mind, one is the World War II idea of a gremlin which is a mischievous imp that is causing an undiagnosable mechanical failure. See the connection with the offended and the soundtrack being laid down? The other is obviously the campy horror movies of the 1980’s Gremlins, which saw things go awry for the mild mogwai if they get wet or fed after midnight, they turn into horrific monsters of terror. Both works, when our underlying mild gremlin is fed a bit, it can create a space of flight, fight or freeze.

As I contemplated the passage of Jesus’ rejection in his hometown, what the commentators and scholars said, and my own background this is where I saw the connections in the why does this matter to us now. Jesus showed what happens when we leave our gremlins alone, we can still do life, but as the last two verses showed it’s more of a “meh” life. Yet, we also noted high tension in Jesus’ community, and is it also possible that the gremlins and “meh” life moment, kept him and his family safe.  And this brings us into the soul work as we have journeyed through Jesus’ eyes, I now ask for a bit of trust to do some care for ourselves.

If you are able grab a piece of paper and a pen or pencil or simply, come back to this talk when you are ready for this practice.

Take a moment to sit up a bit straighter, centre yourself, however you are comfortable, with some deep diaphragmic breaths.

Now as we come out, take a moment to think of what your internal dialogue, feelings or intuitions are, with your pen and paper- draw your gremlin. Give them form. Take time with comic speech bubbles and add the phrases around or feelings that the gremlin uses.

Is the picture of your gremlin clearer?

You know what’s missing? A name. Take a moment and name your gremlin.

In this process, we are praying and acting. We are taking back our story. It is very hard to do any soul work in a nebulous vacuum. Once named however we can truly work with the gremlin.  Say hi to your gremlin using its name. You are meeting truly for the first time. See everything the gremlin has been a part of.

Do you like the gremlin in your life? Do you want the gremlin out of your life?

This is a key question. Just as Jesus pointed out a prophet in their hometown, it is because the gremlin can be the loudest in the most familiar of places because it can be fed after midnight if you will. Are we going to stop feeding it? If you are ready to get rid of the gremlin, the first step is thanking the gremlin. Why? First, it disarms the power, but also it acknowledges that the gremlin has been a part of your journey for a time, and in that time has done what it thought was best.

Once thanked, now it is time. If you are ready, then say goodbye to your gremlin by name. Once you have said goodbye, then destroy the image, simply ripping it up and putting in the compost or recycle bin, or if safe and you have a tin for outside burning is always good for a freedom ritual. I mean Jesus showed an end of the gremlin as he stepped out of the story and began teaching again the neighbouring towns. His own freedom ritual, with the next story being about sending out his disciples two by two.

I do want to take a moment to caution though, this is one moment in time when we are freeing ourselves from a gremlin. After this moment, they have less power. They may return, but now you are familiar with them. You know their words and tactics. By doing that, you can call them by name, and show them the exit sign.

If you chose not to say goodbye to your gremlin today. That is also fine, we have had a long relationship with them. Talk with someone who you trust, set up a time to revisit the gremlin and your decision. These simple things of follow up coffees or teas can aid in the process. For we are interdependent, we need community. If you chose to say goodbye today, take time to touch base with a good friend to celebrate.

For that is the simple nuance, Jesus heard his gremlins internally and externally in this story. Yet he lived into who he was and moved through their voices to continue with his life and teachings. May we continue to be who we are lovingly created to be as well.

Thank you for entering into the story, and the soul work.

Amen.

For the curious, here is what is happening within Knox Community via the June 2021 Knox’s Binding Threads Newsletter:

Benediction:

The ancient Hebrew story in Genesis reminds us it is not good to be alone. We are created for community, belonging. Created by the spirit, loving one another, as Jesus reminded us to love ourselves, and called very blessed and very good by the loving Creator. Let us go outwards living that love and creating that belonging in our world. Amen.


Causing people to suffer because you hate them… is terrible. But causing people to suffer because you have forgotten how to care… that’s really hard to understand.

-Dr. Julian Bashir, Star Trek Deep Space Nine (S3,Ep.11 “Past Tense Part 1)

A Saturday morning with coffee and Star Trek, there is sometimes no better way to ease into a Saturday. An arc of three episodes that on the 467th day of c-tine, ties into what is happening within our world today. Or more specifically for me, my province and city. A province, that has decided they are calling a pandemic on July 1 (Canada Day), regardless of what variants of concern such as the Delta has to say. The driving factor of course, being the Calgary Stampede, a major fundraising circuit for Conservative politicians in our province and country. We need some event before the next civic elections in October to pump up the cultish mantra of low taxes, cuts to services, and the individual above all.

Which is what echoes in the two-part Past Tense from Season 3 of Star Trek: Deep Space Nine which is where the opening quote is from. Forgetting how to care, as due to a transporter malfunction Sisko, Bashir, and Dax are transported back in time to 2024 San Francisco. Which is roughly 30 years in the future from the filming date, but for us is only a few scant years away. The story centres on the Bell Riots, a moment of change in history with civil upheaval in what is known as the Sanctuary Districts. Walled areas of approximately 20 city blocks, where the forgotten of society, the sick, the unemployed, the homeless are rounded up and placed.

The rationalization of the time, is the challenge is to insurmountable so here is what we do, so the individual freedoms without communal responsibility can manifest.

Individual rights asserted, as a society has forgotten to care for neighbour.

This mantra is what led to the election of the current provincial government. It has seen us bleed family doctors through unethical negotiation practice. It has led to Residential School deniers writing a K-6 curriculum that will be forced upon our children. And the soon to be unitaletal from Ministerial order change to whom can access and what supports for special needs education will be.

Bringing in a very Americanized style voucher system for education because of the fallacy of “parental choice” in what their child learns, instead of equipping a child with the best fully public education system that will open the world to them. The voucher system has public funds moved from public education to private, to follow teh “student” due to invidualism. As more unmarked graves are found of Indigenous Children at government funded church schools designed for genocide, there is palpatations to continue to ignore or downplay. I graduated high school in the last year of the schools, in the province that had the most per capita, But it is not about the hard conversations, the healing, it is about the individual.

How far away are we from our own sanctuary districts?

Well, there is a hard thing to create affordable housing, there is stalling on a Disabilities Act for Canada, and only about 3 provinces have their own over arching legislation. Care is downloaded onto the non-profit & religious sectors, but means of having income through funds and grants continually are reduced, or switched to fund matching, which leaves organizations going to the same soources over and over.

Which brings us to the epidemic of opioid poisonings (more commonly understood as overdose). In a province that has cultivated polarization of view points, and ideologizing governance into a science we are seeing the loss of harm reduction. At its core, harm reduction is about life preservation, reducing harm we see these through things life contraception, condoms, food banks, masks, free pantries, community gardens, handing out winter gear, the bottled water drives, hand sanitizer, vaccines, needle exchanges, and yes safe consumption sites.

What other forms of harm reduction do you see in your community?

Harm reduction is only successful in the spectrum of care for neighbour (which self is a part of), if we understand our true interdepence with one another. Yet, as a province the vocal have decided for the epidemic it is more important to have an ideological win that care about the person before them. It is more important to show that harm reduction is needed not recovery beds. Recovery needs to be abstinence only. All have the “evidence” to show the path, what is missing is the humanized quality that all are pieces of a healthy spectrum of care for neighbour. We must break the polarized lens to allow the true prism of life to emerge. The prism that can show what Constitutionally we are promised in Peace, Order and Good governance. The prism that is authentic disruption of our ideological driven eugenics experiment, into true heatlhy and authentic community. The greatest prevention for the epidemic, and creating the courageous safe space for response to neighbour in need that activates the spectrum of care for the person before you with the healthy circles of professional and personal support. Or we continue to be okay with the loss in our province of 4 of our neighbours a day.

As the pandemic has shown, Albertans are okay with death, as long as there “independence” is protected. As long as tax breaks go to corporations, as long as their lives and ability for beer and wings is not disrupted. A province where during the height of isolation, our government launched the predatory online casino to ensure revenue flow. Where there is a panic around how to ensure people come out this summer and unmask. The fixation over a piece of cloth is astounding. Where the rallying cry for the anti-maskers, and anti-vaxxers has become survival of the fittest. Where our premier speaks of the frail, disabled and those older than the life expectancy being the dead so who cares. The eugenics experiment continues as we look to opening up July 1.

We know of the long haul symtoms of Covid-19, not a flu (as many want to compare this to the Spanish Flu, a more accurate analogy would be to Polio) in a province unilaterally attacking supports for persons with disabilities and mental illness. As someone who left a field of work due to atypical PTSD, the fact it has been removed from our Worker’s Compensation is creating a poverty class.

Covid has sped up some transformations of work. It has revealed the need to slow our personal lives down and be present. It has reminded some that to grieve is painful, and shown the shallowness of our social media relationships in some cases. It has also shown toxic relationships as deeper conversations in some quarters have happened, and truly understanding how others disvalue life due to health conditions. Knowing selfishness manifest in individualism by the 1 in 5 choosing not to vaccinate themselves of their children. Struggling for those that are caring for self and neighbour in vaccinating in a system by Alberta Health Services where a family cannot book together if some are receiving 2nd and some 1st doses. Think of the complexity on the working class shift workers trying to navigate this system? The eugenics experiment continues with the youngest placed in the cross hairs.

A time of change. Which brings its own grieving. That is, was, and will be the coming months of C-tine, and its wind down.

Whether or not folks when ill or during certain times of year decide to remain masked, in the early months of re-open choose to keep masked. Is not my concern, they are showing care. The key though, is to disrupt the isolation. To connect. To truly cultivate community, to release. To authentically be together as nieghbours, friends, family and loved ones. We are at day 467, July 1 is re-open day for Alberta…Our circle opens up a little with those we love who are vaccinated, but we are also being safe, and ensuring we do what we can to care for self, neighbour, and those that our government has said are expendable for me, they are not, they are fully persons, with intrinsic value in community, because they are lovingly created in the image of the Holy Mystery and called very blessed and very good.

Which brings me into the other episode from today, Fascination (S3, Ep.10), and the Bajoran gratitude festival. The release of that which holds you back, the pains, understanding the good that has come through this time of c-tine, or as Major Kira would state it at the festival opening:

As the scrolls burn, may our troubles turn to ashes with them. And now, for the next twenty-six hours, I expect you all to enjoy yourselves! I know I will. May the Prophets walk with us.

Also, to grow resiliency, aid in grieiving. Take time each day to acknowledge Three (3) things you are grateful/thankful for and the why it matters. This simple task in a journal, each day for at least 7 days will aid in growing optimism, and shift your mindset at this time of disruption, disturbance and transformation.

“Having been to the mid-21st century I do have a question, how could they let it get so bad?”-Dr. Bashir. “That’s a good question, I wish I had an answer”- Sisko (from the end of S3, Ep. 12). We are in 2021, 3 years away from where this episode happened, and Bashir’s questions leaves it in our hands, are we going to let it get this bad?

Or…shatter the lens of individualized polarization for the prism of blessed community?


On June 25, 2021 TEC Seminars out of Costa Rica will be celebrating the life of Judith Love Cohen, here are the details from my friend, Bruce, one of the organizers:

Please join us for a very special webinar.Aerospace Family Legacy: Remembering Judith Love CohenOur special guest speaker will be Judith’s son Neil Gilbert Siegal( IBM Professor of Engineering Management, University of Southern California).Friday June 25, 6pm Costa Rica / Mountain time.

Register here:https://itcr.zoom.us/…/register/WN_tXROzIejQMadDGhnbvsEUA

I have attended several of these conferences of learning and discovery, they are always excellent, and you leave having learned something new, join us for a night of celebration of one who lived their dreams and be inspired to live into your own.

Ever Miss a Meal?

Posted: June 5, 2021 by Ty in Spirituality
Tags: , , ,

Ever miss a meal?

It can be discombobulating, and we may not know why. Yes, there are the physiological responses of low blood sugars but is that all meals and eating are for? A way to get the fuel our bodies need? Are we simply a mechanical entity like our cars that need to gas up? Or is there more that happens? Personally, during covid, I can say I miss supper. 

 In our ancient stories, eating is something that was prevalent in the community life of Brother Jesus, it was where he showed God’s love, inclusion, welcome and connection–in essence belonging. Just look at how many times sharing food showed that all belonged?

Our stories tell us one of the last things Jesus did was gather with his friends, and share a meal, showed them and called them to love, the simple sharing of wine (we may use juice now) what I know as the cup of promise in belonging to community, and the bread, that is a source of life. Our fuel, in the midst of connection. This is part of what I miss, when I say I miss supper. Being together and sharing communion. I freely admit I enjoy liturgy (the work of the people, or rather the way the worship-community service is shaped in a church). I am also sacramental, and this speaks to the mysticism of communion for me. Yes, gathering online we have shared communion on those Sundays virtually, with our family unit…but there is something about gathering together physically, sharing together. For me, it is like a family dinner.

See the source image

And what a family dinner, as you can see in the story, it is more than simply eating. In the midst of being together, we belong, we connect, it is almost mystical as labels evaporate.

This is what I miss in my own home, the bustle of supper. Family & friends coming together for large meals potluck style, kids friends over for dinner or sleepovers whether it was burgers or pizza or hot dogs, laughing together, gathering around our large dinner table and talking about the day. Being with each other. Or simply, knowing that when we are sitting down to eat as a family, which we do try to do each night, that if the doorbell rings, it is simply time to add another plate at the table and welcome in our neighbour, not worrying about restrictions or isolations.

Simply being able to eat together, be together.

See the source image

As we look forward to more restrictions easing, more vaccinations happening, and the ability to be together outdoors, and soon indoors. Take a moment to do some soul care, and have supper with someone– an old friend or perhaps a new one you have yet to make.

A simple piece of soul care, by sharing a meal together.


When grieving, contemplation, prayer and collaboration lead to action. That is what this Saturday morning was about as my youngest tried to decide for their final Grade 8 Social Studies project which nation that is a part of them to discover and share (Metis, Indigenous, European), a friend reached out about what educators can do in our shock and grieving over the discovery of the unmarked grave on May 27, 2021 at the site of Kamloops, BC residential school.

What happened was, and I hope/pray will be powerful, a call to action on the dormant call to actions. There is a change.org petition you can sign here.

If you would rather reach out via e-mail to the local faith leaders and political leaders that can make the International Investigation and locating of the other missing children, feel free to adapt the below letter and send on:

To Pope Francis, Archbishops & Bishops of Roman Catholic Dioceses in Canada

 Moderator of the Presbyterian Church in Canada

 Moderator of the United Church of Canada

 Primate of the Anglican Church of Canada 

 The Government of Canada

Re: An Open Letter to actualize Truth and Reconciliation Call to Action #75 from Educators from Canada and around the world.

On May 27, 2021, an unmarked mass grave of 215 children was found on Turtle Island (Canada). 

Youngsters stripped from their homes on the onus of the Canadian Government, handed over to religious authorities for the purpose of cultural genocide. This act of genocide ended their lives. A discovery that had the Rt. Hon. Justin Trudeau, Prime Minister of Canada to ask for flags to be lowered in mourning.  

Sadly, this atrocity is not an isolated incident, but rather it is part of a dark chapter of history, known as Residential Schools which were closed in 1996. It is time for Canadians and people around the world to know this story, atrocities, and all. It is time to heal, as other nations have held up the mirror and investigated the darkness to know the truth and act in reconciliation.

It is time for Canada to be honest in our truth, and act on our intent of reconciliation. For those from a religious background, reconciliation is recognized as a sacrament, or an important act lived through the life and teachings of Jesus of Nazareth known as the Christ for Christians. It is not simply saying, “I am sorry for what has been done”. It is articulating the right words for what has happened, making amends and reparations, affecting healthy closure, and with that closure the grieving process in order to  move forward in healing towards a new reality. 

This open letter from educators calls on those institutions involved to turn their records over to international investigators so that they will be able to locate and return the lost children to their families for appropriate mourning. For  international investigators to be able to state clearly to Canadians the truth that is being evaded. Only then will it be possible to move forward in the spirit of reconciliation. 

On every Holocaust Remembrance we utter those words, “We will never forget or repeat,”and the whole time our own genocide was being carried out.

We acknowledge the 4/5 institutions that have apologized, and the work Anglicans, Presbyterians and United Christians have been attempting in Reconciliation work. We call on the Roman Catholic Church to actively live what their Catechism teaches on Reconciliation and  to not only formally apologize but catch up to where their contemporaries are at in the process. And to move forward to ensure the call to actions are actualized (not simply read or taught but done). For Canada, like other nations around the world needs to finally interrupt and heal our intergenerational trauma, and know our truth.

Prologue

Posted: May 28, 2021 by Ty in Bionic Knight Pulps
Tags: , , ,

The innocuous coin was in a non-descript grey plastic grocery bag, on a bottom shelf, shoved away in the cob webbed storeroom of the 1970’s era split level family home. The chains holding the shelving up were beginning to sag a bit with time. The house was next to what had once been known as the ashram, a simple trailer co-op that had been used as the base of operations for a superhero conclave. After the last of the heroes had vanished, the municipal council had passed a motion to annex the land to build a new multi-purpose housing development, the long boarded up split level, rotting away in the slow death of abandonment on the fog rolling space, was also part of the plan. It is where the new green space and universal designed playground was to go.

Long ago, implosion had been taken off the table, the house would be collapsed upon itself with all contents to simply be plowed over and paved. It was a plan many municipalities had used to repurpose landfill sites in time, to build malls. It was a sound plan; the multi-purpose affordable housing project was part of the land developer’s redemption strategy. Many did not know who this shadow player was, they played their identity close to the vest.

They could not explain what brought them to remove the plywood from the door frame and enter the dust covered house. Even though it was so close to the hero commune, it had been a squatter’s paradise, overrun with mice and insects. Their expensive loafers crunched on the scurrying insects that to the untrained eye appeared as carpet. Moving his pen light to shine upwards the ceiling appeared to be moving due to the high level of infestation. Their eyes scanned the stair way up, though the low drum beat in their ear stopped them from ascending. At the landing they looked down the staircase, on the right and left there was doorways at the bottom. This weird thrumming beat in their ears reminded them of the ear infections they had as a child. Something was guiding them.

The light shone downwards, was that squirrels? The kind introduced to the city that run amuck as too many folks thought they were cute and fed them. Ruffling of feathers, obviously between the influx of woodpeckers in the area, and pigeons, that roosting had begun inside.

The descent, the stairs creaked. The abandonment, and more likely leaks and possible floods over time with some broken windows exposing to elements had done structural damage. They shifted uncomfortably in the expensive designer suit, an ox blood colour with subtle pinstripes, double breasted. They pulled on their tie to loosen the not. The thrumming was louder in their ear, they pushed back the short brim fedora a little. From an inside pocket, pulled on a pair of black leather gloves. The thrumming dulled a little when the looked to the right doorway, so they went through the left, a rotting family room with broken furniture, stepping on mice remnants, a right turn brought them into a laundry room. The mildew and mold from a burst hot water tank, a cannibalized furnace out of the peripheral, about eight feet in a left turn.

The pen light beam cut through the thick dust and cobwebs onto the rotting wooden shelves. Was that a skunk huddling in the corner? No movement, if it was, it had long since expired. The penlight scanned ripped open debris, and remnants of a family’s life heirlooms. A father, wife, and children. The light fell on a picture that had a young married couple; a heart drawn with Rick loves Susie. Their footsteps on what they think is a sheet, they squat and look closer, it’s a ripped tapestry, an image of a dragon and a knight pulling forth a sword from a stone.

A crack of thunder outside. Rain was coming. Too often the city felt like it was England or a bad Sherlock Holmes novel. The light beam glances on the shelf, the plastic bag. They walked up to it. An old journal falls off the shelf when they grab at the bag. They glance the flashlight off an entry.

May not have passed that psyc test to the best of my ability. Taking the ancient languages is tripping me out, but the push for funds having me re-look at where to go in university. Thankful to pick up writing gigs. The pain though, is that they are back. Why does society always pick up moment from the darkest elements and sidelines hope? Final’s week is not the time for a new killer mystery, maybe an old standard bearer like Killer Face or Ripper, really do not need a new BK rogue.

They smirk. Really? Their light goes back to the picture. “All these years, and your name was Rick?” They chuckle, the thrumming is louder, so much that they are not able to focus. They lift the bag, it bursts, coins and old paper money fall over.

It lands on top of their loafer. An oxidizing Canadian penny, glowing slightly.

                “A green flame?”

Lightning crackles outside the window.

                The cracked picture frame of the wedding picture bursts outward.

A piece of glass slices through their suit, a bit of blood drops on the floor.

As the thrumming becomes a word.

PenDragon.

To Be Continued…

425

Posted: May 15, 2021 by Ty in Musings
Tags: , , , ,

Okay c-tine has created a time warp, as I cannot believe it has been nearly a month since my last post, when I was doing quite well weekly. Though there are other items showing sadly this loss of time, as everyday can tend to feel like groundhog day. For long time readers, 425 is of coruse the day count, since the college I had a teaching contract with switched to full online delivery on MS Teams, and staff went home to work remotely.

Who knew that 3 weeks into my contract, that the duration o the contract would be fully on line, as Alberta stumbled through a lack of response to a pandemic as ideology overstepped collaboration and evidence. But it is 2020-21 (though it does, some days feel like it runs together). Though I am not about to complain, it was a unique epilogue to the first book of my life, it was a time as it wound down when there was hope of returning to seminary and then ordination.

Sadly, the National Student Loans of Canada, does not adhere fully to finance rules, and as such funding fell through (still working on removing that barrier)–but requires a bit more emotional capital that I can hope to expend currently. As well, it is a rather ageist thing that the Federal Summer Student program has an age expiry of 30 years old, in an era of history where there are 60 years old getting diplomas and degrees, but I digress.

As the saying goes though when a door closes, God opens a window. It is true, from a wonderful 3/5ths opportunity worked up within a local church for community engagement. Truly, it is what I have been writing and speaking about for many years. A topic where I have pointed out the church needs to shift as Christendom is going through the Quiet Revolution here in Canada, a key piece of reconciliation and decolonization. That is, the church needs to accept and surrender, confess the sin of Empire power… truly it needs to shift back to what I personally read in the Gospels and Acts, being a soul of a community.

In social worky or human services of political policy terms, this is a community hub. A place of connection, resourcing and belonging for the neighbourhoods the churches exist in. A true and fun calling to enter into as a full-time teaching contract closes (though I am on as a sessional). It opens up the ability to take the biblical languages, which I wanted to shape my writing/teaching better, as well as a space where, perhaps, a discernment conversation can also be forwarded.

Day 425, and I look to picking up a new batch of comics and wonder what the new issue of Star Trek & The Orvelle will hold (self-care is a thing, that can be as simple as a hobby one enjoys) or driving through the country laughing with your family, as you pick up drive through donuts before returning home for pizza and RuPaul down under.

May it be a blessed week, where you can hear not only the whisper voice of the Holy Mystery, but experience the calling’s manifestation in your life.

Suggested reading as one institution wrestles with some aspects of inclusion, reconciliation with one group that I am sure Jesus would have called friends:

Keeping our Promises (A letter from the PCC Moderator)

A Precious Gift (A Report by the Rainbow Communion)


Ah on a weekend I could have succumbed to the lament I felt late Friday night seeing the funding notice rejection in my inbox, it is time to live into the emotions, but also cultivate optimism, and sometimes it is found in the simple things of a week. So I give you an optimistic ecclecicta, for taking a 7 day experiment of tracking at least 3 things you are thankful/grafeful for (with the rationale) can aid your optimism in resilience. That all to sound “sciency” with simply sharing some fun:

Do you belive a woman can fly?

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It is the first thought that leapt into my mind last weekend as my family settled in for a family movie night to watch our newest DVD- Wonder Woman 1984, with the microwave popcorn popped and dusted with dill pickle salt, and the root beer poured. I know critics and some have panned it, but it is, in my humble opinion, that WB did not do a strong enough job of essentially sharing the joy of this gem– you are entering into, truly, a circa late 1970’s to 1980’s movie with all the tropes that come with it. From the nerdy work woman that cannot walk in heals (Barbara Minerva), the megalomaniac oil business man (Maxwell Lord), to the body swap love (Steve Trevor), to the mall scene, and the soundtrack, to the greed that drove the Cold War, and the under current of fear that existed at that time, and the simplicity of belief in mass media that everyone just needed more stuff or would only care about themselves. Oh, and did I mention the fun little PSA moments built in around young Diana, like movies would have tossed in for kids

The core though is full on Wonder Woman. Discovering that what we wish for (in a twisted stone with Monkey Paw rules), is not necessarily always what we need. Oh, and that little thing of truth that our world finds so hard to understand even now: As a species we do not exist in silo’ed isolation. Every choice we make has ripple effects on creation and/or others. It is truly in understanding interdependence, connection and belonging that we can see the love in our own lives for ourselves (just as we are) and for others.

Yes, as my wife so easily encapsulated with the Steve Trevor storyline, “I hate when super hero movies make me cry”

If you want a movie that reminds you of the fun of the theatre and movie nights at home from the video store (whether Video Show Place, Rogers, Blockbuster, VHQ, etc), or simply, to have a movie that your kids (and yes mine are teens) that will cheer when good wins, it is worth the watch.

The Unicorn Find

A few years ago, while my family was binging the Comic Book Guys, I wrote about that one comic I owned that I no longer did that I wanted to find again. For me, it was one bought when out with my Mum, Nan & Granddad from WoodWard’s Food Store. Back when WoodWard’s existed, and grocery stores had comic book spinner racks (we geeks lament the young not getting into our hobby, yet our hobby is now exclusive to comic shops, not everywhere’s like it was before). Where I found the first comic I really remember owning:

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It was great fun to travel back to being a kid with a comic I literally read to pieces. I had forgotten the smell of a newsprint comic from the era, with many stories of that vintage I currently have being in reprinted editions. As well, it has me with my eyes keenly open for another rare gem, Marvel’s The Last Star Fighter magazine adaptation that my Dad had brought home one night after work for me (and my brother that night had gotten his first BMX Plus magazine I believe).

Pfizered

Ah, yes in the Province of Alberta confusion reigns on who qualifies and who does not with our wonky phased system. I do hope we follow B.C.’s route and shift simply to age groupings to get more shots in arms, and that Health Canada pointing out the AZ is cleared for 18+ will also create more movement, as we desperately need the light at the end of hte tunnel on C-tine (398 days at home).

Today we got our first dose (and yes once a vacinne is cleared for those under 16 years my kiddos will be getting one too) of two of the Pfizer in a quick move through system, and just a 15 minute wait afterwards. Go in, swap masks, register and needle in arm:

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Post Pfizer Selfie

So yes, there are bumps on the road, sometimes even potholes or sinkholes, but we can make it through and see some light. Just a simple musical reminder that came back on my radar as well to close:

What are your good views this week?


Tod Bolsinger’s (2018) Canoeing in the Mountains is another addition to the ideas of what to do as leaders in the post-Christendom world. We are witnessing the death gasps of the old modality, especially ramped up during our current pandemic. The crux of the journey, with a touch on the parables drawn from Lewis & Clark, but truly deep dives into Dr. Bolsinger’s time as a PCUSA pastor, what does it mean to traverse change in leadership?

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A book mentioned in a course, 2 years later found at Red Deer’s Parables Store.

It is a book that was mentioned during my reboot/healing work months in 2019, when I attempted a course at Alberta Bible College on Strategic Leadership (as an audit), as we explored leadership. The concept as leaders, being not necessarily to try and read everything available on the topic, but rather pick one title a year. A little like the advice I was given wen I started out in ministry last century in regards to conferences, not to be overwhelmed by the amount but rather pick the 1 or 2 that have value added for learning, but more importantly renewal (like the Leadership Summit I attended at ABC in 2019, but sadly, covid).

Though it brings forth in this reading some reflections, as I continue to deep dive into what it means to grow healthy spiritual communities.

What does community look, neigh, love like through a gospel lens?

This book, with ones such as a Church Called Tov are intriguing in how to do things differently, as Bolsinger points out apptly, when it comes to traversing the journey of change churches default to what they have always done (not necessarily what has always worked or even been enjoyable). It is the quick fix, the knee jerk reaction for as people, especially people in change pang (yes, death may be a part of it) is to default into what they have always done. It also is what creates the fight-flight-freeze response when new folks, or those shifting their journey begin to ask questions as to the why (rationale behind) actions, decisions, methodologies, etc. I would equip practicum students to ask my teams the why questions, if we cannot go beyond the “that’s how we have always done it” type of cliche, then it is something to be explored. That is, it is a sacred cow not necessarily an effective tool or community aspect (and from a leadership book of yester year’s title, sacred cows make the best burgers).

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For in reflecting on the idea of adaptive leadership within Bolsinger’s book, and his other twinned motto, failing only as fast as the community can handle, it becomes clear part of the learning curve for shifting gears is to work with congregations within the concepts found in Senge et el (2008) Presence which is about being present during change, during the move through the U Theory of letting go, letting come, prototyping new ideas, before crsystallizing the new reality. What I feel when I read Bolsinger’s text is being adaptive enough in leadership to act like an investigative journalist sync life coach to dive to the root of the issues at hand, to root out what is holding the community into the old paradigm, and to be able to let it go. Part of that work, as we know from working in coaching with internalized gremlins, is an often missed step, thanking that which we have always done. It has gotten us this far, but after thanking it, ritual of releasing it, so that the altar is cleared for the new call, the new commissioning.

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The New Community that is and will become.

What communal gremlins are holding back the church from becoming that which it is meant to be in a post-Christendom world?

How do we live into what Brother Jesus called us to authentically be, before Empire interrupted?