Archive for the ‘My Neighbour’ Category


I was gladdened a few weeks ago when the newest affordable housing complex in Calgary broke ground that the government corrected the service provider gently on the use of terms. It was deemed by the service provider as “permanent supportive housing” yet the MLA (Member of Legislative Assembly), when announcing pointed to it as “permanent housing with supports”. Many will think this is just semantics b.s. that does not amount to anything but hair splitting. But it matters for the terms lead to the conditions which lead to the ability to create healthy communities through an interconnection of healthy interdependent citizens and their homes. It is the terms and conditions which outline the corporate and personal responsibilities for all stake holders.

Despite the long battle the City Council of Calgary had over secondary suites, and folks attempting to justify who their neighbours should be through red tape, let us be honest—we all have good or not so good neighbours—it has nothing to do with how they live (rent/own) but rather other life events that have shaped their personality. (and yes I am gladly awaiting new neighbours with secondary suites, and lane-way/mini housing). This is the hitch, and why words matter when describing housing (or as one round table for the federal government on housing in Calgary phrased it with member of Parliament (for Calgary Centre and at that time Cabinet Minister) Kent Hehr, spectrum of homes which is not just rental, but ownership).

I look to my own neighborhood. It is a mash up of group homes; long term care; seniors residence; affordable housing (which is a spectrum from near market; percentage off market to geared to income) rentals; family and friends couch surfing; shared accommodations; at one point I am sure folks residing in hotels; market rentals; condos; townhouses and houses (owned/rented).   As noted in rental there is different ways rents can be figured in; same with seniors or assisted living facilities or group homes, ½ way houses; Supportive Roommates (supported independent/interdependent living), sober housing and harm reduction (sometimes sadly becomes harm acceptance). All rolled up for singles; couples; roomies; and families (sometimes fur family allowable, sometimes not). As well, home ownership which can be straight through Canadian Mortgage; Habitat for Humanity style ownership or Affordable Homes (or perhaps another way I have not heard of yet).

These ways have a qualifying mechanism which can be as simple as credit/debt ratios to sweat equity to income levels to medical and/or care provisions. Each, depending on where they fall on the spectrum; have rules, regulations and laws that govern contractual obligations, complaint mechanisms, accountability tools, acts and levels of government that may or may not oversee, whom to seek out for conflict resolution or mediation. Essentially it lays out in computer terms for apps the terms and conditions. That is what are the rights and responsibilities for the owner/service providers/landlord/tenant/owner while building a healthy home, and when the need arises through positive or negative means—transitions out of that home to the next.

The contractual obligations before signing, while signed and at dissolution.

This is why I applaud the NDP (New Democratic Party) government in their subtle caring way for reminding us of that. In this example Permanent Supportive Housing falls under a legislative licensing act in Alberta which has a ministry; specific protocols of provision (i.e. housekeeping and/or meals); and a very specific anonymous tip line for complaints to protect the resident. This aids the tenant and the staff of the facility. For it lets the staff know their rights and responsibilities, also for the tenant, it allows their rights and responsibilities to be clearly understood and known by not only them but their circles of support (professionals paid to be in their lives, and social supports ala family, friends and chosen family).

The terms and conditions allows one when seeking a home, whether it is moving from one tenancy to the next, or into care or out of shelter to understand that what they are needing/looking/qualify for…is what is being offered by the operator and/or property.

Seek clarity, on what specifically the terms and conditions are.

More precisely, seek clarity on what this means for the rights and responsibilities of all involved in the contractual arrangement.

By knowing this. By being informed. It allows for a healthy home to flourish for the individual, couple, roomies or family…and by proxy be a healthy piece of the puzzle for the growth of healthy communities in truly living out the understanding of being and knowing neighbour.

Ty Ragan Psy.D. has worked many decades as a community builder in many styles of housing  for what many would term vulnerable populations, but are always someone’s neighbour seeking a healthy home.

Advertisements

A reader asked me to consider the question of including/welcoming the misfit. It should’ve been an easy question because that seems the whole underlying principle of “My Neighbour”. Yet we do need to pause and ask, what is meant by the term misfit?

What is a misfit?
Oxford dictionary defines misfit as:
NOUN
• 1A person whose behaviour or attitude sets them apart from others in an uncomfortably conspicuous way.
‘a motley collection of social misfits’
Synonyms: nonconformist, oddball, maverick, individualist, square peg in a round hole.

Canada in and of itself has been built as a collective of nations. A multiplicity of cultures, religions, ideologies and peoples from around the world, making their community in its inherent diversity one mosaic of many. Our binding principles are the Constitution Act 1982 (the re-patriated British North America Act 1867), the Charter of Rights and Freedoms 1982. Upheld by the Constitutional promise of Peace, Order and Good Governance with the final word resting with the Supreme Court of Canada. All this is precipitated on the ideal of personal freedoms and collective rights. One of the things that was foreseen by our founding fathers, was the idea of a global village, hence the provision of freedom of movement (i.e. provinces are not the land they are, but the citizens) which allows free movement for the citizenry. One of the challenges is how powers were broken up between levels of governance. In that which the Federal (or then Dominion) government did not want to deal with, was granted to the provinces/territories. Hence the patchwork of public education across our nation.
In other words, Canada is a collection of misfits. We as a collective have forgotten this in our rush to rugged individualism, and commodification of the human being. To answer the question posed will take a few posts, this one is to look at a corporate/communal response that may aid in belonging and inclusion. I look to the idea of public schools. Alberta’s system is a mess. I can already here those who use the Separate (Catholic) and private systems gearing up their arguments. Trying to point to money savings or charter/speciality schools. Or my personal favourite threat from a private school user parent—I will send my kids to your public school. Okay, I think we can handle it.
See public schools were designed constitutionally to allow for a benchmark. A starting point for every citizen to be guaranteed a certain level of education needed to pursue a good life. Yes we have capped that off in Canada to be K-12 (yes I realize with the decline in public schools, technical and university degrees have become more the norm that should be funded up to). What I am proposing is a system that is fiscally responsible, increases the critical thinking, global citizenry, and good citizenry of the students. It also alleviates the idea of misfit, for it is a system that allows a student to grow/explore who they are.
By collapsing all funding into one streamlined system of schools that I would dub “Public Generalist” would set a standard. Yes academic achievement, social and emotional IQ would also be part of achievement benchmarks. This would include healthy school-life balance. It would look at core curriculums including the humanities and STEM, but also the holistic person with shop classes, home economics, health, world religions, world views, Canadian History, Indigenous studies, Language classes (we are officially bilingual, but I would say once entering junior high perhaps an expansion into an indigenous language option, and in high school a few others); also the fine arts (choir, band, art, creative writing, drama). These should be courses available, or through community partnerships brought into schools through elders, and student practicums from the disciplines running lunch hour or after school clubs; physical education (structured with proper teachers) needs to be apart of it as well. All these things feed into a critical thinking person, and also acknowledge TRC points I believe because it looks a the holistic person. It allows room for exploration, growth, understanding and discovery of who you are on this journey. I would also encourage clubs can be open to other points of view, if the students want it, the volunteer can pass the screening it should be allowed. We had parallel religious clubs running in my schools (believe a Sikh, Christian and Muslim); model parliament which allowed for creation of political parties. There was science Olympics and fairs; entrepreneurship programs. Plus the sports teams.
None of this was determined by our socio-economics. This was apart of public education.
I would build into the front-end a before and after school program to make life more affordable for families, which can be done in partnership with local groups (Boys & Girls Clubs, Youth drop ins; religious communities, 4-H, other service clubs looking for new mission/visions). The public school can easily become the community hub for older and newer communities. When there is a decrease in enrollment due to aging demographics why can’t some space be created that is not in use for seniors’ clubs? The list can go on.
What happens when this begins to happen the focus of public education becomes the focus of functional, healthy citizenry celebrating the unity in our beautiful diversity? Misfit no longer exists, they are simply part of the community.
That is a global solution, one that would take the drive of policy, government, but also of the adults realizing what has been lost in our education and community systems. One that instead of using the grieving of loss/change to drive further entrenchment, segregation and means survival tests goes… screw that noise…we built forward on what was built by previous generations why are we allowing our children/grand children to suffer, lets create something that builds on the legacy left us, instead of constantly destroying based on the almighty dollar.
But is there willingness to see each other as persons of value?


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


A wise old Electrician once told me, discover what you love, then if you can find a way to make a living at it. Or at the very least make enough to live while you enjoy your passion. It wasn’t empty talk, that electrician was my Dad. Him and my Mum (the Candy Lady at our Co-Op) ensured that both their kids could pursue their interests, wherever the muse may take them. For I believe they knew in pursuit, was discovery that in this world, we are all the same, as well, in the pursuit and discovery you not only find yourself, you find what fills your soul and can keep you going even in the darkest nights of the soul. In one of the acknowledgements in a book of mine I wrote a thank you to my Dad for taking me to all the different writing groups and courses in my life growing up, even if they were only able to be found in spots that if my Mum had seen them would’ve caused her a heart attack. Writing is one place I have found belonging. Growing up, I also enjoyed law, politics, was apart of Junior Achievement, Future Entrepreneurs of Canada, took the Dale Carnegie Course, and could openly pursue my inquisitive nature into spirituality. Also, my geeked out moments around movies and comics. My folks did not set limits on us based on any assumed societal label, I still have the copy of King Arthur and his Knights my Dad scoured the city for when I was in grade 3, because I had come home sad after my school informed me I was not smart enough to read it.

It is lived experience that has led me to ask the questions in this title in my life building outreaches, ministries and programs. In working integration work alongside individuals leaving institutional life. They can be hard questions to answer. I have found we have  a tendency to over program. Even working with youth from across socio-cultural-religious spectrums, some of the answers I would get started with “My parents registered me for…” not a “well I enjoy doing…”

I look to my own children. I know we are judged by some because our children are not overly programmed. They have hobbies and interests. They have personality, and we figure out how to support that. My daughter loves art, writing, math, Harry Potter, animals and gaming. My son loves animals, his dog, reading, and movies. Can you guess the labels society has placed on them by how they answer the questions in the title? Good. Why should that matter.

Belonging is about discovering what brings us together, fills us up, and makes a better home, community and world. Inclusion, accessibility and welcome is ensuring the spaces with the proper understanding, physical accessibility and individual supports exist for that to happen. When authentic belonging happens, and is replaced by rampant programming we see and live in the 21st century the result.

Out of hurt, anger and burn out comes isolation, hatred, anger. Barriers imposed and created by whatever labels can be thrown out. Common ground is scorched and salted like a raised village in a war myth of old. Hence the rise of neo-nazism, terrorism, extremism, fundamentalism, entrenchment, ableism, barbarism, addiction (pick your destroyer that seeks to fill the void of not belonging, yet uses the language of belonging–the snake oil sold to the mass).  For it is seen in the now, where the algorithm chooses your knowledge that:

Better to destroy before I risk the loss and hurt and joy and love of belonging.

                For what happens if I honestly seek to answer what is my Hobby?

                I may meet my neighbour as a whole person, not a separating label.

Worse yet, one I may have always avoided may become, My FRIEND.

There is no longer Jew or Gentile,o slave or free, male and female. For you are all one in Christ Jesus.

-Apostle/Saint Paul, one who used to live into the labels discovering and sharing the freedom of belonging

-Galatians 3:28 (New Living Translation)


Vulcan, AB. A small prairie town that a few decades ago realized the greatest tourist option ever— the birthplace of Spock. For a Trekkie a great place, they have an information star base with souveniers and once every few years we go by and I pick up a few new things. One year my Dad’s day gift the kids got me a preaching hoody “Keep Khan and Klingon”. This year my daughter who wants to be a veterinarian got herself a doctor t-shirt; and my son got a shirt with a Spock head made from a famous McCoyism “are you out of your Vulcan Mind?”

One of the t-shirts from the 50th celebration sums up though the small minded ableism/elitism of the world, and how I feel in the fray. A caricature of McCoy with a word bubble, “50 years, Damn it Jim I am tired.”

Why you ask?

Because I see my son as a miracle worker, things he was not supposed to be able to do due to his blessings of life (tri-spastic CP, Epilepsy, ADHD, Global Delay)–well to quote Brad Paisley’s song– he’s been crushin’ it and breaking glass-kicking ass. Beside where my daughter got her t-shirt that looks like an original series medical/science uniform…they had an engineering one.

scottyThe fabled and joked in pop culture Red Shirt. My son, who I see as Scotty what a perfect gift, yet I didn’t. Why? Simple, I let the elitist ass hats get in my brain and stop me. Years ago my son so loved Superman that he wanted to be him for Halloween. He got the suit, and was so happy with his cape trailing after his wheel chair. And… adults ruined it for him in their nastiness.

“How could he mock Christopher Reeve so?”

“What a hateful costume?”

Really? A child (in a wheelchair) wanted to be Superman and you caused him to cry.

ac3Now another time to celebrate him, and I let these haters get in my head… I did not buy it because I did not need the negative “you know the red shirts always die first” crap. Not seeing beyond the scope and picture. Uhura was a red shirt. Scotty was a red shirt. The ones that beat the odds.

So yes, I am tired that they finally wore me down. I am tired that I let people like the Halloween haters win. The hateful families that had pushed us out of churches. The Minister that raged at my son from the pulpit. I am tired that in a moment I let them win.

I am tired, but I think another road trip to Vulcan is do.

Why?

Damn it Jim, the idjits aren’t going to beat us.


Ok I admit I do love an incendiary editorial title. It grips you, but it also should get you to question accepted norms. We are an entrenching and/or entrenched ideological society. In 21st Century Canada with the accumulated human wisdom and knowledge literally available on your smart phone, that is sad. The algorithms do not allow you to have your own held beliefs challenged which allows for more tribalism than before exploration.

Which is also why in the 21st century we are still wasting time dickering over the believability of the science of climate change (formerly global warming). Yes, the climate of the earth is constantly changing (anyone who holds to old earth theory—you know actual science not creationism-literalism) knows there are cycles. What has been observed and recorded since the Industrial Revolution is that our actions as humans is speeding up the process. It may not become a problem until my great grandkids, but something needs to change. One cannot continually consume without their own body getting ill (hence old Roman Empire Vomitorium’s) and the same it is for ol’ Mother Nature. Indigenous peoples have held the wisdom to look at decisions as they affect 7 generations down the road, got advice to heed as we look at caring for Mother Earth and Father Sky.

And before those of the Abrahamic-Sarah Covenantal religions (Judaism-Christianities-Islam and all that encompasses) by-pass me as some science not spirit individual. Nope. In the creation stories, God gave creation to Adam & Eve as caretakers, much like each new generation entrusts their lives, and the lives of their grandkids to their kids (reading the ancients stories through a psycho-social lifespan development is quite enlightening). But I digress.

The latest call to arms is banning plastics for the harm it is doing. This months United Church Observer is all over it, the British PM at G7 is attempting to get that group on board, and locally Councillor Druh Farrell is talking about it as well. Great sound bites, sounds all fine and good. But it is much like the old prohibition days (remember under SoCreds when liquor service had to stop in Alberta air space? Moose Jaw, SK know where those tunnels came from? {and yes I realize one set was a human atrocity against Chinese slave-labour brought over to build our railroad, I am speaking to the Capone one’s)}. It was a short-sighted solution for a societal ill that failed. It looked at the symptom not the cause, and that is where the current environmentalist fever is.

Plastics are a symptom. It is not the cause, any elder of the war years knows recycling and re-use better than anyone. Any one from Gen X or younger was inundated with the 3R’s: Reduce, Reuse and Recycle. We know it, but it is not wisdom, like what is available on your smart phone. It is paid lip service, and we do our due diligence with the blue and green bins, but are we doing more than treating the latest open sore from the bar room brawl?

Have we invested properly in STEM to look at better ways of converting existing (currently in Calgary, encased in concrete sarcophagus,) waste into cleaner forms of energy and matter? Explored how to recycle more of what we use more expertly? How do we create something out of once use plastics?

But better yet. How do we tackle a true western world disease of over consumption? I used the term classist in my by-line because we are chastised for needing to reduce consumption quite a bit, and it is usually targeted to the working classes, where the wealthier get opt outs, or ways around or the tried and true, well they have money so of course. Want to know the last time I bought a new cell phone? Well mine is still a flip phone. Last television? Christmas 2017-as the flat screen I inherited died after 9 years, before that? 2001 with my first cheque for being a pastor, others before that were used or passed down. New vehicle? Uhm my family has had 3 mini-vans, all older, all kept going until they needed to go to the recyclers… clothes, worn and donated, and yes I know they don’t end up in the landfill because I am usually also one of the ones giving them out (though it was funny when someone thanked me for finally becoming charitable and giving).

The wrong classes are being targeted with the reduce message, but it will not change under a system created to sell products where things have to be upgraded constantly to keep economies floating. A message that your value is not in who you are, but in what new toy you are able to get. Where there is no international standards, so laws used in some countries whole companies can go elsewhere and create worse pollution scenarios by having their products made their and shipped back.

It speaks to a system that has to admit, it takes all jobs to make an economy work, and there is no shameful work. That the classist system is the highest consumers, and discarders of product are the ones that need to be targeted, not the lowest consumers.  That we need to invest in our STEM future and find ways to reclaim polluted waterways, soils and air…as well as cleanse and reuse the already buried wastes. That is useful environmentalism.

City planners that allow city growth to outstrip resourcing for healthy public services-including transit, shoppes, and schools so you are forced into a driver commuter scenario, extra monetary burdens come as work is never within your own area either. Municipalities need to take responsibility for feeding the consumption dragon by not setting appropriate limits, and ensuring key infrastructure for citizens on those areas can be reached via more than one modality (i.e. not just by driving the country mile urbanly– yes City of Calgary I am speaking to you).

Yet I also touched upon the word ABLEIST. What is that? Simple, discrimination against persons with disabilities. In darker forms, it is eugenics. The breeding practices of live stock brought to creating the perfect human being through selective breeding, abortion, and homicide (passive or active) to remove the weak from the gene pool. And yes, in the more social media ends of the world from any movements extreme this still exists (left or right, ya both raise idjits).

And I see signs of ableism within the neo-environmentalist movement. There is an assumption everyone can use public transit (does not take into account ruralism); or walk/bike (does not take into account clear pathways and connecting points for ones mobility devices). Does not take into account that something needs to be figured out for medical waste, and that includes incontinent products. BUT…

And this one is not going to make me friends. The single use straw, the current “evil” to be banned. Well, hate to burst the progressive or conservative, it is a useful tool for a person with disabilities to get liquids. As one twitter convo pointed out to me, the paper ones can create choking hazards. Reusable ones become breeding grounds for bacteria (have you ever tried to truly get one sanitary and clean?); and metal/stainless steel? C’mon does that sound like a safe thing in the cold or with a hot bevvie?

What continually seeking the greatest soundbite reminder has done in the movement is create a constant chase of symptoms. It has not encouraged growth, respect, understanding, inclusion or belonging for all those in the human family with the creation we share. That is where neo-environmentalism is failing. I yearn for a movement that moves beyond the simple, to truly attack at the core issue of the crisis… over consumption, and anything for a profit mentality over the sanctity of life.

We are the caretakers of creation for our children, and six generations on. Can it survive our consumption? Are we willing to get production slowed so all can come along safely? Are we willing to call out the over-consumer? Are we willing to not shame the one who needs something for a life aid?

Are we willing to be one another’s neighbour and not adversary?


There are many Empty Tomb or resurrection narratives found within the Canonical Gospels, never mind the ones in the pseudepigraph (apocrypha-gnostic—the ones Constantine’s Scholars did not want). There is scenes we are familiar with of Doubting St. Thomas putting his fingers in Brother Jesus’ wounds; talking with disciples on the road; eating fish with them.

BUT-

The oldest text ending we have was what is believed by tradition to originally been recited to John Mark (his folks owned the Upper Room, yeah that one, he was there at the arrest and ran away naked, and he journeyed a bit with Paul) by Peter (the one that Jesus called Satan in one moment, and in another was being called the foundation stone of the Christianities, and Brother Jesus entrusting him with the keys if you will).

This was the original “ending-beginning” (original Sonrise):

 When the Sabbath was over, Mary Magdalene, Mary the mother of James, and Salome bought spices so that they could go and anoint Jesus’ dead body. Very early on the first day of the week, just after sunrise, they came to the tomb. They were saying to each other, “Who’s going to roll the stone away from the entrance for us?” When they looked up, they saw that the stone had been rolled away. (And it was a very large stone!) Going into the tomb, they saw a young man in a white robe seated on the right side; and they were startled. But he said to them, “Don’t be alarmed! You are looking for Jesus of Nazareth, who was crucified.[a] He has been raised. He isn’t here. Look, here’s the place where they laid him. Go, tell his disciples, especially Peter, that he is going ahead of you into Galilee. You will see him there, just as he told you.” Overcome with terror and dread, they fled from the tomb. They said nothing to anyone, because they were afraid.

-Mark 16:1-8 (Common English Bible)

Fear? Seems an apt human response to finding your friend’s body missing. Even with the message, these women had heard the rumblings of the authorities, or of other factions on what to do with the body to break the back of the movement.

Yet the message went to three strong women. It was the true community message time. In ancient world customs took 2 women to equal one man in testimony. Yet here you had a Trinity. Much like a mirror reflection of the Trinity of God (Creator), Jesus (master teacher/way shower) and the promised Holy Spirit (community empowerer). The women were Mary, Mother of James (who was Jesus’ brother)—the co-creator of the life of Jesus; Salome (Herod’s niece who was manipulated in killing John, reborn within the movement, a new child mentored by the women); and Mary Magdalene (once written off as a sex worker in a derogatory manner, now history showing that she was the major sustainer of the community, through her monies keeping things going, and very possibly the wife of Brother Jesus).

An earthly feminist trinity receiving the truth. That even the plans of evil, power, Empire and Religious Controllers were undone. They had heard the message (the Gospel proclaimed of the new Kingdom to come) and they had seen the signs…yet in the midst of the reality. Truly having their society’s meta-narrative shattered, the caste system of religion, economics and colonialism blown away…the fear of change gripped them and they rolled through it as they ran.

Who would do any different in the midst of such drastic change?

With each change in life no matter how minuscule, our emotional intelligence goes through the journey of grief. That is what this group was going through, later accounts tried to alleviate that understanding. This earliest account allows you to enter into it.

Not only enter into it, but after the fear rolls through and you are left with the acknowledgement of what just happened.

Flowing into that moment of new reality. That moment when one realizes nothing can stop radical love. Nobody can stop true belonging. No matter how much “power they have”. For all the powers of the known world attempted to and looked as if they had succeeded in silencing the peasant labourer from Nazareth…and the Holy Mystery and a big Nu-Uh for them as the sun rose on a Sunday.

They may have run in fear…

But what came next is how each of them, and cascading into each member continued to write their own Gospel story.

Empires and religious controllers to come may have tried to set and seal the Christian Testament, but they too missed the moment of fear of the women. For it was in that moment of fear, that they knew the story was no longer about the life lived of Brother Jesus. It was now about the lives living the way of radical love of Brother Jesus and the transformed world to come.

It was now their Gospel. Their political proclamation of radical love and belonging.

It was their answer to the question, who is my Neighbour?

This Easter Sunday, as the sun rose, and you were confronted with the man in white telling you the tomb was empty…where is your fear taking you?

            What is your Gospel? Your political proclamation of radical love and belonging?

            What is your answer to the question, who is my neighbour?