Archive for the ‘Belonging Pyramid’ Category


Thank you for inviting me to discuss belonging. This is a lifetime way of life for my family and me, that has left its physical, emotional and spiritual scars upon me. I was not designed for typical church. I was formed in the teachings of St. Francis and Clare of Assisi as a Franciscan, but was mentored by Basillians and Jesuits, and those that were of the social gospel, and sprung from the social gospel. The monastics, like Francis, Clare, Basil and Ignatius…they were of those that cared radically for their neighbour. Serving and learning in those communities, I was able to be apart of the radical love of neighbour that acted in such movements as the social gospel that sprung workers rights, women’s rights, that liberation theology would come from, that would have seeds in the fall of the Berlin Wall as John Paul II pushed for it, and Desmond Tutu in the end of Apartheid. The radical love I got to see in Calgary outside of the shelter system was at the community level. I speak of church families, where they realized families were staying in their church, and it struck the Holy Spirit within them…how do these neighbours shower? it struck on a Saturday, and on a Sunday the plumbers were in building the showers, and the priest was speaking as collection was to pay the plumber currently constructing…or realizing that they could not have all members of the community participate due to lack of a lift…or the food cupboard was empty…and well, let’s say collection for the church budget or the need of neighbour was a living breathing spirit.

But like the social gospel, these orders also had a strain of theology that was offensive. It was quite blatant in the late 19th and early 20th century, in Alberta as late as the 1990’s; and that being eugenics. The active belief those not seen “as typical” by society are deficient and everything has to be actively worked towards to eliminate them, or exclude them.  There is still strong pockets of this from secular and spiritual movements, most notably seen this past summer, with the United Church Observer’s supported work to ban the plastic straw, a device specifically designed for persons with certain disabilities, and without its accessibility would mean death. Most often we just see its more passive, and prejudicial form, of Ableism, most blatantly on display this past General Council with Moderator Nominee Colin Phillips, who with his form of CP uses a wheelchair and speaking aid. He stated in his column after it was a council of awkwardness, and people not engaging-my heart hears, to engage means we have to change, and adapt.

There is beauty in our heritage, but bad theology around the healings of Brother Jesus of Nazareth, has allowed Ableism and eugenics to flourish within the church by oppression or omission of the full Image of God, Imageo Dei in the Latin. And by that omission, we are missing out on the time, talent, treasures and blessings that come with the full Imageo dei. It is from reading the healing stories from the perspective of needing to be healed to belong, not realizing they are about belonging because of the beautiful rainbow of God’s creation to paraphrase Archbishop Tutu. To paraphrase Tutu again, if persons with disabilities, mental health concerns, cognitive issues, on a spectrum ala Cerebral Palsy or Autism, etc. are not in the Kingdom, then it is a kingdom I want nothing to do with.

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Affirming Sunday Oct. 1, 2017 Leland putting up his colour

For the work of the Kingdom to continue in the beautiful tradition of My Neighbour, as J.S. Woodsworth wrote it, the sin of eugenics needed an exorcism. This is the work I have undertaken, in thought, word and deed. It led me through My Neighbour, to what today is being presented as the Spirituality of Belonging. Before we step into that, i just want to take a moment to thank Robert McClure Untied Church for including my family in your community for the past 18 months. We will remember C. coming and talking to Leland directly about Wonderkids, Justina teaching how Advent and Sacred Aboriginal Teachings go together, the Christmas Play, Leland’s moment at the affirming service to step out of the ableism of Christianity with his proud declaration of rainbow colour, “I won Nana”; and B’s wonderful Easter egg hunt balloons so all children could be apart of the fun. Today, you will be a part of my last teaching given in a United Church, as I stated at the beginning to get to this point has taken its toll, and the activeness of ableism and prejudices, have left me today going against my medical support teams wishes and

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“I won Nana”-Leland

presenting. As I opened with, a lifetime of working to build places of belonging for all Image Bearers has taken its toll on my system, let’s just say it has been messy and the worst humanity has to offer I have witnessed. But that is why this work if so important. For this is the next step after the exorcism. This is the spirituality of belonging as the church titled my presentation which has a nice resonance. Belonging is the ickiness of life and the scariest word you will hear today.

It is the next step. But we don’t get to belonging easily, for that carries too much. I designed a simple culmination, the Belonging Pyramid.

It is inverted. The first layer being Accessibility which is the removal of physical barriers. This is the crafting or re-crafting of space so individuals can enter and use. This is the piece where community partnerships matter, money flows, Thanksgiving offerings work, and  government grants can be used.

The next step is the wonderful word most communities stop on. “Inclusion”  it is such a warm and fuzzy buzz word. But it means we got space for you.

The hardest piece, and the smallest that can create tipping and allow for the exorcism to be reversed, is belonging. it is that authentic space where you love your neighbour as yourself and the Holy. It is that space where the ickiness exists, because, you need to look at all angles before making decisions, all ripple effects, you may have to take stands for your neighbour that take your out of comfort, or safety. It is also the space where you heart recognize that one day that space will be empty…

But we do not do it alone, for the Holy Spirit of love was breathed into us at creation, and we live out of it…and the pyramid itself is balanced in Agape.

So great lecture, now let’s do the work…I encourage you to get comfortable for we are going to do liturgy…thats latin for “work of the people” via theology….

Take a moment, centre yourself. Close your eyes. Breathe in deeply, exhale releasing the burdens of the day. When you feel you have breathed all the breath out, keep going, let the joys of the day out.

Enter into this space. Breathe in and exhale deeply twice more.

You are travelling to just outside the church. At the entrance to the parking lot.

Accessibility: Read John 9: 1.

A person with blindness. You are that differently abled person. Perhaps you require a mobility device-cane, scooter, wheel chair, walker; perhaps you experience the world through the lens of mental health: anxiety, depression, schizophrenia, PTSD, and on the list can go; perhaps a global delay, or you are on one of the diagnosis spectrums ala Autism or Cerebral Palsy; perhaps it is deafness or blindness. Here you are, complete and at the gates of a new community.

You have heard there is a farmer’s market. You cannot reach it. The hill has no access for your device, so you turn away home. Or you are able to enjoy the market but need the washroom. Someone has parked a truck blocking main doors. You are directed to a curb to step over to uneven ground to a small dark door. Your left side is weak and you know you cannot lift your leg up or you are in a wheel chair. You have a choice- soil yourself to stay or go home?

You are new to the neighbourhood using a good day of energy to explore, your spouse can drive but requires accessible permit parking. You have heard good things about this church, off a Sunday you see that they use their accessible permit spots to park bobcats. Obviously, there would be no guarantee on a Sunday they would not be used likewise, time to keep looking.

There’s a community garden, you have saved money to rent a spot, but you cannot get up onto the field where the plots are or easily maneuver to your plot? Not worth the hassle, just won’t be this year.

You stir up the courage to come to church one Sunday, only to reach the door and realize that you cannot reach the door handle to enter, and no one is around. You turn around.

Some would say this is not accessibility, but it is through the eyes of the codes, for everything up to that point as not seen as “illegal”, much the way the man with blindness experienced his world.

Inclusion: Read John 9:2.

The world of labels and diagnosis was designed so we could become inclusive. In the best environment it simply shows what is necessary for someone to be brought into the circle. In the worst, it allows for different barriers to be erected under the guise of “inclusion”.

That is the question being asked by the disciples; what is wrong with this guy? What caused it?

You arrive on a Sunday, and someone opens the door for you. Obviously, you can see where the sanctuary is, but how do you know where anything else is in the church? You are non-verbal, possibly use pics or words to know directions but nothing is labelled. No directional signs to the office; or rooms; or Sunday School or youth group, does this church have a library? You heard something in the announcements about the library having an event this week?

It is soup after church. No tables, your wheel chair does not have a tray, how do you balance? Or perhaps you have weakness in your hands? Seeing the heavy table to be brought out you don’t want to be a bother to ask.

Sadly during service you had an accident and now the fabric chair is ruined, but you don’t want to be yelled at again.

You or a parent/caregiver have been overstimulated due to the noise level of service or something else. You seek a quite space. Can’t use the nursery not a baby, and too much stimulation going by the Wonder Kids. Try any doors to find them all locked. Can’t calm yourself in the lobby. Time to go home, as usual even the tools you have you cannot use because locked doors are more important, but you are included as the building let you be “included”.

Communion Sunday, a holy time when all are to come forward and partake of the “Lord’s Supper”. But you cannot eat. You are not part of the Lord’s Supper or the family table, at least you are included.

People come to talk to you, nope, they are talking to those with you about you because… there is something different, or as disciples said, what is wrong with that person? What label can be put on them?

You decide to reach out and be included in small groups. Some do not understand that not everyone in your house drives so always doing things the way you have always done them means exclusion. You struggle one winter night to come out to learning circle, it is a rough night for your physical self. Church is low lit and you almost trip over the chair blocking the hallway with the “silence sign” on it. Or you can’t get around it with your wheel chair—so you go home.

Membership classes are offered…nothing on ages for membership. Nothing on child care. Your family can then not join together as one would have to come one year and the other next, for financially it is not there to afford child care for the weekend. But you have a seat in a sanctuary on Sunday morning.

A service on different prayer practices. Stations set up, cannot maneuvor a mobility device around to get to each, so sit silently and hope no one notices you.

Feedback on sound system that can trigger convulsive brain activity or flashbacks from trauma.

Exceptionally loud music compared to speaking that can overstimulate a mind that is not neuro-typical.

There’s a youth group. Nothing about ages or when it is or who to connect with. You may fit but are afraid of rejection because so many churches before have told you you do not belong.

But like the blind man of the story, or women of the time, you are allowed to come hear about the Holy, just not be in the whole presence of. But you are included.

Belonging: Read John 9: 3

There are those that have shared the journey, that share grieving, and celebrate life together. There is a rhythm on the “way things have always been done” so if you have always been here, much like the disciples, you got the norms of the place and time. Jesus looks at you and does not see the labels, the diagnosis, the worldly prognosis; or whatever other b.s. (belief system or the farm term if you prefer) the world puts on you.

Jesus flips it to the heart of the matter. You are here to shine through the glory of God.

Genesis 1:27-28 (read it) the Holy Breath is within you. You are created just the way you are meant to be, in a perfect reflection of God.

It was Jesus pointing to the world and going, YOU BELONG because YOU ARE. Any healing done after that was because of how dull the hearers were and the risk they were placing a child of God’s life at due to their ignorance.

But as you rhythmically breathe back into the now of your community. Breathe in the Command Jesus gave us. Love. Breathe it in deeply, breathe it out deeply.

Do this three times, and rest in the presence of Love. Or Agape as it was termed.

Rest in that Agape, and when you are ready come back.

(Once all are back).

It is fairly simple, we can discuss accessibility, we can discuss inclusion. Those things already happen, I took you through the eyes of the one experiencing what is. The physical building can be as pretty as one wants it to be. Universally designed as much as we want it to be and is able for a 30ish year old property. We can have someone open the door or prop it open so everyone can come claim their seat on a Sunday. We can attain everything up to code and function so the circle is drawn wide for inclusion.

BUT, and this is a big but. If we are still the disciples pointing and asking the question, or not making eye contact…we are having adventures in missing the point. The point is belonging. Authentic longing, based on the love Jesus showed in this story. The scary thing of belonging especially within the differently-abled/persons with disabilities/mental health/medically complex (let them pick their descriptor) is that there may be no warning and suddenly…

Their spot is empty. That is why we create barriers and labels. You have now experienced different perspective, the thoughts on building agape belonging is upon you or remain in the status quo.

 

Within your groups take a moment to pause and reflect:

 

  1. What did your heart hear in this experience?
  1. Where does that feeling reveal you to be within the pyramid?

 

Accountability: 

Consider, what you can do to create a spirituality of belonging this week. One little step within your own community. Share with your group, and come back and share next week with them how it went.

Children’s Time

You Are, You Belong

Image result for Brad Meltzer's I am Helen KellerOur stories start with a beautiful poem of Great Creator making all. It speaks to us that when each of us was created it was in their image, and breathed into with blessing. Today, I am going to let you meet one of Creator’s images and blessings.

Start with the last page: I am Helen Keller, I won’t let anything stop me.

Helen was born both deaf and blind, if you cover your ears and close your eyes, that was how she knew her world. Her own relatives believed her to be a monster. Yet she didn’t stop wanting to let the world know the love she had inside. Her family, her tutor helped her discover how to communicate in her own way. She would go on to shatter her world’s old way of seeing things.

What are ways your family or friends have helped you?

Helen learned to communicate through signs, by being shown through touch.

She realized people needed help. She fed the hungry, grew schools to help those who were told they couldn’t to learn.

What is one thing you can do to make your school or home or church more welcoming?

Read the last few pages…

Closing prayer: Thank you Creator for the wonderfulness of difference, that each of us is lovingly blessed to be who we are meant and created to be. Amen.

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When I Smudge…

Posted: September 13, 2018 by Ty in Belonging Pyramid, Spirituality
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Today’s guest column is a proud Daddy moment. When folks always wondered why I believe in doing things inter-generationally- why our book groups, bible study, movie nights, political events are always all ages… it is for the discipleship by osmosis that happens. My daughter is a storyteller growing into her own Wisdom Keeper, and lover of Mother Earth. She will have the opportunity to share her wisdom later this month vocally, but I share it here, for as the younger generations learn from us, so we learn from them:

By Justina

Smudge 1

“I smudge my heart so I can feel good things”

Smudge 2

“I feel connected in my heart to the spirits that are visiting me, when I smudge”

Smudge3

“I smudge for the people I love and care about…”

People have asked what I mean when I say do the Soul Work… well when my daughter Smudge’s and reflects… Soul Work.


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Azeem and child discussing diversity.  Robin Hood: Prince of Thieves (1991)

It was my summer of Writerific, I was 12 years old and with other young writers discovering our voices, strengthening our ability to tell stories…and yes part of that was moving into areas that some would deem controversial. It was also the summer I first picked up A Picture of Dorian Gray by Oscar Wilde. It was the summer as well, with Robin Hood, and this great exchange between Azeem, a Moor from the Holy Land who stood with Robin Hood, and a child, who simply asks about that which she had never seen. It is a simple scene, some may never remember it, yet it is one that teaches so much about dignity and respect in a world of belonging. It teaches, curiosity is never wrong. Conversation is never wrong. Oh, and when one has a question, ask as politely as you can to the one you have the question of.

This is our mission this year (and every year) to raise the level of discourse and dignity within the community of super heroes my son is apart of. The most offensive thing (well maybe not the most, but on the royally ticking off scale) is being out and about, and a parent shuffling their child by saying don’t stare. Let your kid come up and chat with my son, he will be his loving self… Oh and adults…you have questions…don’t bypass my son and speak to us, start talking to him first.

Other pro-tips for the professional and non-professional out there to bring better dignity to our world:

  1. It is “What’s wrong with him?” rather it is, what does he use a wheel chair? What does that gesture mean? or like the child, why did God sculpt him this way?
  2. Anyone with a pulse knows (or should by now) that the R-word is as atrocious as any racial slur…regardless of how you try to use it and needs to cease. The challenge is many do not understand the root of “handicap”. Much legislation and language needs to be updated to speak of accessibility or universal design/barrier free instead of this word. Historically it was the term for those with disabilities, as they were on the lower socio-economic spectrum (poverty class) and would come cap in hand for alms. So much like in the Franciscan tradition when the term Mendicant was tossed at those monastics as a slur, so handicaps root is such…it means beggar, less than, outcast. Words matter in reclaiming dignity and belonging.
  3. Ableism is what happens without dignity (at its worst is Eugenics). The plastic straw ban is ableist, and how the religious and spiritual jumped on board to support shows their lack of understanding around the issue (please see other posts on this topic)… not only the life giving of the plastic straw for some with disabilities, but when the United Church Observer online finally after months of debating their editors changes from “plastic straws evil” to “plastic straws should be available for anyone via a fee” finally a strong stance, but one that does not understand the socio-economic history of persons with disabilities, and goes back to a misreading of the gospel from a spectrum of theology that sees less than, not full belonging (we shall see if they print my challenge to them this coming September).
  4. Diapers!!! ARGH!!! The most indignity we present to persons who are differently abled. Unless you are a newborn or a toddler, it s not a diaper or a nappy. They are undergarments that happen to have incontinence protection. Underwear. (YES CBE AND MEDICAL COMMUNITY AND ALBERTA GOVERNMENT LOOKING AT YOU!!!), the simple things make life livable, do you go around telling people oh I am going to wipe my butt now? Or hey I just left skid marks in my boxers? NO. Why assume we can treat someone else that way.
  5. Grief. Yes it is a scary world for those our society deems “typical”. We like to code to prove cognition and whether or not someone comprehends “death and grieving” for if they qualify for “counselling”. Let’s keep it real (again Alberta Education and Alberta Health looking at you, but also the Church)… at any level any child or person knows when someone was in their life and gone. They cycle through missing them, whether or not they have the ability to vocalize or communicate it in such a way that we understand. It is not on them to enter our world to heal, it is on us as their neighbour to enter their world  This is where the church women’s group from the movie Lars and the Real Girl got it right, it is about just simply being, and yes sometimes it is in the silence.
  6. Do not live in the grief/shame or inflict it upon us. That is to the world in general, and to the family unit. We are given a narrative of what a child’s life is to be. Then when something changes that narrative we are put in this place where if we choose to move out of grief/shame or the “you’re a hero for doing this” or the “it takes a special kind of person” narrative then we are ungrateful. NO! We choose to stand in the beauty of the life before us. Yes, we truly believe this is part of the rainbow of life, the beautiful image of the Holy Mystery. Everyone is who they are meant to be, and they will achieve vocational life and wholeness because we come around as community in love and belonging. The grief/shame is perpetuated when our world stops at only accessibility or inclusion.
  7. yet you do not know what tomorrow will bring. What is your life? For you are a mist that appears for a little time and then vanishes.

    1. -James 4:14 (English Standard Version)
    2. As the words of the brother of Jesus- James, Bishop of Jerusalem, the man who was because of the love of his Mother, Mary of Nazareth, says it directly. In our world we too often let the labels, the coding, the diagnosis become the prognosis or script for life. It is time to shatter the glass ceiling for everyone in our world, and to simply know that each and everyone of us belongs. That, and the life that appears and is lived is shaped within the community from those who are blood and chosen family to broader neighbours. Are we willing to live life with out barriers?
  8. Oh, and if we are not a service being paid for out of pocket by the government or ourselves, it is not something “FOR”… if you are an elective community group (community association, church, sports leagues, etc), you are doing things “with” the person. For they are a part of the community, and as such are a full member, who like any member just needs different things to belong. Hell, even if there is a pay… the activities better be WITH, as everyone’s communication (voice however it is found) and life has value and worth…as such, deserves dignity. (Special shout out to the Presbyterian Church in Canada for using “with” language in your justice documents for persons with disabilities, and acknowledging the poverty and socio-economic disparity that exists in the community)

These are but a few ways to show love to your neighbour, and yourself. These are but a few ways to understand the answer to the child’s question to Azeem.

Better yet, look at yourself in the mirror. And simply let the inner-child ask you the question:

Did God paint you?

How does your inner Azeem answer?

Now be with your world, as the child, and as the answer.


Star Trek Enterprise is an easily overlooked piece of the Trek-Mythos. It is the adventures of the NX-01 crew setting out in the first warp 5 ship to explore the galaxy. It begins with returning a Klingon home, has temporal cold wars, Xindi, Romulans, Orions, many new adventures and learning. It also sets the stage for the United Federation of Planets of Humans, Andorians, Tellarites and Vulcans to begin with (an atrocious series finale shared this scene, where a beloved main character’s life was tossed away in the dumbest way possible, Trip you deserved better).

“What’s the meaning of this delay, Jon? I’ve been patient. I’ve put up with your refusal to abandon this absurd proposal even after all the revelations. I agreed to go through the whole blasted debate one more time before the Council. I’m not going to stand for anymore delaying. . .” He (Shrand) trailed off, then took a step closer, studying Archer’s face. “Jon, what is it? You look like your best friend just died.”

Bennett (2017) Patterns of Interference p. 349-350.

It is the story of discovering how one belongs within the wider scope of the universe. First by discovering who you truly are, and what intrinsically is you. It is the quirky adventures of many streams of human (and a Vulcan and Denobulan) life coming together to live and learn together. At its core is the story of Captain Jonathan Archer as he learns who he is, and how to navigate the universe, and carry on his father’s legacy who was the driving force of the warp 5 project. As is shared in many shows, and novels, belonging is not about melting into another’s way of being, but respecting who they are, and their culture is and finding the intersections of connectedness for inclusion.

Which brings us to Christopher L. Bennett’s Rise of the Federation series under the Enterprise banner. A series of novels that share how the Federation grew from infancy, to where it is at the beginning of the original series. In Patterns of Interference (2017) we have the kernels of a great Star Trek story. Continuation of the journey of core characters; some drama; some mystery; first contact; intrigue and rooting out of possible evil (don’t want to give too much of the main plot away as I encourage you to read it). But in the sub-narrative there is a story of change, and grieving.

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Porthos, boldly went where no Beagle had gone before.

In the ancient story of Tobit there is a throw away line, and the dog went with. The NX-01 embraced this, as Archer’s puppy, Porthos, the fearless space adventuring beagle and lover of cheese went with (and was part of many first contacts). Fifteen years on Porthos is closing in on 18 years old (though with tech could live longer)… he is no longer able to enjoy his cheese. He enjoys his friend Jon, at the end of the day sitting with him, as the inevitable closes in.

The sub-plot is one of those meta-narratives for our Image result for Star Trek Enterprise Commander Shrantimes. For Archer, now Admiral Archer, struggles with the time he needs to spend with his longest companion at life’s end and the demand of the “work”. Especially at this time as the Council is debating his motion around non-interference. Where Shrand comes near the end. Shrand has been Archer’s frenemy for quite a while, having met and tortured him in a Vulcan-spy-monastery; and many adventures in between. Affectionately dubbing Archer, “Pink Skin”. A tough warrior, without much compassion, but lots of passion for striking first and asking questions later. The inverse of Archer, whose space faring has made him wanting to monitor and ask questions first before acting. Foils of debate.

Yet, as the quote above notes, Shrand, notes something is off with Jon when he tries to get him to the debate Archer wanted. Yet Archer had just received the news it was time for Porthos to pass. How could he rationalize to the Council not showing up at this time? How could he rationalize as some would say the life of a dog over this important matter?

What/who is important in your life?

Archer discloses this to Shrand. His inner struggle on the unfairness not to go through despite what is happening with Porthos. Shrand’s response on p. 251:

“To hell with the Council, Jon. And to hell with me. Go. Your companion beast should not leave this world alone.”

Archer attempts to protest and Shrand brings him up short again, with Archer’s own heart.

“The fate of the worlds can wait. You have a friend who needs you.”

Image result for Captain ArcherNot hyperbole from the Andorian Admiral, though, we sometimes overemphasize the task before us when emotional time is needed. When a friend is in need. We can have a million to do’s on our list, and easily rationalize not being there. That is when the voice of our true heart needs to ring through. That which we can tend to so easily close off, unless it is from a trusted source or, in this case a surprise source.

“Just go be with Porthos.” Walking with Archer towards the exit, he spoke again, hesitantly. “I don’t suppose. . . that is, I know how hard it can be to say goodbye. If you. . . need me to come with you, lend additional support. . .”

“That. . .would be very much appreciated,” Archer said with a bittersweet smile. “Thank you– my friend.” (p.352).

It is the closing scene of the book, but the one that is the most telling. Two people who have been at odds, worked together. Done things to aid one another. Never truly realizing what they were to one another, until a situation arose that pushed them out of their usual roles. A passing of a companion, made each realize what the world would be like without Porthos, but also at some level without the other.

Being missed. The piece of belonging. The piece of authentic friendship, being there in the dark, not just the light. In the quiet, not just the action. In the tears, not just the cheers.

We can hide from many things in our lives. Create layers of dissonance through keeping ourselves busy, so we never have to look at our true selves, or feel pain. This is true. I wish I could share the full 3 page scene with you, as my wife read it she teared a little at the power but also because as she said, who knew Shrand had a heart.

That is true. Who in life is your Shrand?

How do we know who our friends are?

How do we know what we value in life?

Who/what is important in your life? Does your choice of time use reflect this?

Beyond all labels and values- –

how do you know when you belong?

In your own heart, and the heart of others.

 

 


The Red Herrings of life. Those rabbit trails we follow, not because they aid us in discovery of who we are or what we are meant to do, but they offer what appears to be a shortcut to the solution. They can aid us in avoiding the powerful questions of life.

Me: Columbo’s a brilliant detective people don’t take seriously cause of how he dresses and acts.
Daughter: So like you Daddy.

-Facebook post on Convo of August 15, 2018 explaining Columbo to my kid

It is the lesson learned if one is a student or fan of the mystery. From suspense (ala original Saw movie or Alfred Hitchcock) to the police procedural (Law & order; Criminal Minds; Ironside; Precient 83) to hardboiled detective (Mike Hammer; Sledge Hammer; Spenser & Hawk) or character driven (Jesse Stone, Alex Delaware, Harry Bosch, Sunny Randall) to the cozy (Murder, She Wrote; Diagnosis Murder; Perry Mason; Columbo) to spies (Jack Ryan; Jack Reacher; Bond-James Bond), the British (or deductive/inductive) of Miss Marple; Poirot; Sherlock Holmes & Dr. Watson, Broadchurch or DI Rebus; (anything by Minette Walters) or due to translation the emerging Nordic…there is something about a puzzle.

Whether it is a heist, a cover-up; saving the world; nefarious evil or just simple murder it is the winding path of discovery laid out before us. Some literary historians put forward Poe’s Purloined Letter as the first modern mystery, if you want that small of scope I can say sure. But it misses the point in the breadth and depth of the genre. What is Shakespeare’s Hamlet if not the mystery of character driven discovery (ala Jesse Stone) and ending a cover-up (like a spy novel) or ancient myths with Pandora’s Box; Prometheus and Fire; Cain & Abel or the story of Tamar.

Each a mystery.

Each having rabbit trails even when the truth can be there if you just look deeply for the facts. Those facts are not simply just data points, coding, or other labels. Those facts are the intangibles of the character of the person, the soft-squishy skills of being human. As well, as the question of what intrinsic worth- what drives the person. For in everyone’s story they believe they are the hero.

The question the mystery genre brings forward for us is a bit deeper if we wish it to be. Are we truly the hero of our story, or simply followed the false leads and red herrings? That is, are we authentically who we are created to be? Or have we become what others have led us to be?

Life, it is a mystery.

Will you accept the challenge of solving the puzzle of Y-O-U.

Awaiting Inspiration

Posted: August 18, 2018 by Ty in Belonging Pyramid
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Me: “no matter where you are in your lifespan, there is always a (re)new call (passion) awaiting your answer.” (From Facebook convo on my article Renewing the Life(span) 08/18/2016

awaiting

40th b-day gifts from wife & kids– awaiting inspiration.

Belonging is hard. It is like trying to figure out how to make friends when you no longer have the diversified/randomized table groupings of elementary school– before the cliques of higher grades take over. Cliques that continue into adulthood whether we want to acknowledge them or not. Just look at most of your social groupings whether religious, community or other are very homogeneous because moving outside of the comfortable norm leaves us in the discomfort of not knowing.

I am an abnormality in my world. I am raising my children in the home I was brought home to as a baby. My daughter, attends the Vacation Bible School I attended in grade school. Our neighbours who are still around who would watch out for the Ragan boys, still have a Ragan boy in my son to keep their eyes out for. Many look at me weird when they hear I am from North East Calgary. I am blessed to be apart of this mosaic. We are the most diverse communities in the Properties culturally, ethnically, gender-sexual identity, abilities, religiously and economically most likely in Alberta and one of them within Canada. Yes, the beauty that is Canada, our welcoming and Just Society, is just outside my doors. My kids get to live the world within a few blocks and I wouldn’t have it any other way (heck our Canada Day BBQ is thrown by the largest Mosque in North America, I was blessed to be there when the foundation stone was laid).

What does this have to do with belonging you ask? It is a good question. Accessibility of life is about physicality of space. Inclusion is just simply we are allowed to exist. Authentic belonging, well that is hard. It is, simply put, knowing who you are, who your neighbour is… and not letting it be a barrier (and authentically missing that neighbour when they are gone).

Within scope of my ministry work some examples this was seen in the church/non-church member; those with disabilities or mental health concerns. Within my non-profit work it was experienced in some instances as aiding those leaving sexual exploitation/trafficking as a child, stepping out of addiction in to healing, our Veterans, refugees, temporary foreign workers, those case out from their families, those who could not make ends meet or are escaping violence in all its forms. Better understood as simply becoming who one is meant to be. In some instances of community building it was helping residents of buildings move beyond concept of affordable vs. market rent payers to be simply, neighbours. Many self created barriers on many levels to keep us separated. The barrier is comfort. The clique is stability.

Too often that is what happens. We travel in the same circles, even in the mosaic. Not realizing that there are intersections, where we are neighbour. Where each of us can learn and discover from one another. Where we can laugh, share life, extend our hands in welcome. Where diversity is our strength, because we do not see it as a barrier, but as many ways to ensure everyone is brought along on the journey.

One could say I dislike change by sharing the story of where I live. This may be, or perhaps it is simply where we are meant to be for this season until the next move. What the quote in the conversation above was tying into from a rather convoluted article before. It is about realizing within our life and life circumstances there is always something awaiting for us to answer.

As I challenged previously about responding to your passion.

Today I ask: What does it take to create belonging within your community?

Are you willing to risk belonging?

A P.S. on simplicity and belonging from the Washington Post (as well as answering one’s call in different seasons of life). Read here.

 


In John Shelby Spong’s 2009 book Eternal Life: A New Vision the former Bishop of Newark tackles the thoughts of lifespan development and afterlife. Within he breaks down the lifespan into approximately thirds. The first 30 years being the building; the next 30 years being and then the elder years. When you think of the Anglo-Catholic tradition this would flow out of older concepts of Christening (birth); First Eucharist; First Reconciliation(Confession); Confirmation around the ages of Bar/Bat Mitzvah;

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My wife’s Facebook e-collage with some of my favourite things for turning 40 yesterday.

Sacrament of Marriage; Anointing of the Sick and Last Rites.

Colloquially, we have our own secular time tables. Pre-School (4 yrs old); K-6; then ages of culpability (12 years and up). That at 18 years old in Canada you become an adult Federally (19 years old in B.C.; Saskatchewan and Ontario for drinking). That is at 18 you can vote and serve in the military; smoke (cigarettes, and this fall Marijuana); and partake in gambling and alcohol. Psychologically and socially they have extended adolescence to around 24-30 years old (Biblically Jesus would have just left his childhood behind when he started his ministry). Then at 40 years old you are judged to be at midlife; and 65 years old is looked upon time of retirement and golden years.

In Spong’s theory. The time at 60 and beyond is looked upon for the new work, that which rejuvenates the soul and keeps one going. It is intriguing these thoughts come upon me. As usual our family is pilgrimaging, and listening to the still quiet voice of the Holy Mystery.  Especially as we continue the journey of discovery on my neuro-a-typicalness and what it means. As we await the new chapter in the new book.

This past Sunday, a sermon actually caused me to pause and contemplate. It has been a few years since this has happened (okay more than a few). And it must have been a good reflection because my son stayed tuned in, and did not heckle (yes he heckles when he dislikes preachers, it is quite a good barometer–yes I have been heckled by him).

The passages were wrapping up what the lectionary (a set up of reading through the whole Hebrew Bible-Christian Testament in church on Sundays over 2 or 3 years) has brought through the life of David. David is not a favourite of mine, but it was an intriguing message grown out of these two passages:

29 You, Lord, are my lamp;
    the Lord turns my darkness into light.
30 With your help I can advance against a troop[a];
    with my God I can scale a wall.

-2 Samuel 22:29-30 (New International Version)

and from Acts 12:17-23 & 36:

17 The God of the people of Israel chose our ancestors; he made the people prosper during their stay in Egypt; with mighty power he led them out of that country; 18 for about forty years he endured their conduct[a] in the wilderness; 19 and he overthrew seven nations in Canaan, giving their land to his people as their inheritance. 20 All this took about 450 years.

“After this, God gave them judges until the time of Samuel the prophet. 21 Then the people asked for a king, and he gave them Saul son of Kish, of the tribe of Benjamin, who ruled forty years. 22 After removing Saul, he made David their king. God testified concerning him: ‘I have found David son of Jesse, a man after my own heart; he will do everything I want him to do.’

23 “From this man’s descendants God has brought to Israel the Savior Jesus, as he promised.

-Acts 13:17-23 (New International Version)

David’s celebration of his life. His victories, his sorrows, his atrocities (rape, murder, infanticide) and jumping to the book of Acts, Paul speaking of the history of what one has been brought forth through.

What struck was Acts 13: 36:

36 “Now when David had served God’s purpose in his own generation, he fell asleep; he was buried with his ancestors and his body decayed. (New International Version).

For this is what was zeroed in on. The end of life, as this man of horror and holy was dying. He had fulfilled a purpose in the then and now.

The question put forward to us, was to move forward from the past, and live into the generation we are now. The stark reminder that even though we continue to attempt to label our generations as a barrier (Greatest, Baby Boom, X, Millenial, Z) we are all here in this generation.

Why?

Whether you are in the first third, mid-third or last third, or reached beyond…

There is a reason.

There is a purpose.

More importantly there is a passion that continues to spark and renew.

Rejuvenates.

Make new.

What is the passion that drives you today? Right now to seize the new.

This has been my humble Wisdom Keeper contemplation since Sunday, welcome to the journal.