Archive for the ‘Spirituality’ Category

It is interesting, I always thought of my furlough into post secondary teaching full-time was going to be a prolgue into my next book of life. That tranistion period of discernment, before hte next big aha.

What is that old colloquilism about while we make plans?

I am coming up on my 3 year anniversary since the vocational pivot, have some great colleagues some have become friends. Over 2022, with one friend/colleague, began discussing teaching as ministry. Some may say well duh, but then take a step back, as I am not talking about my teaching in churches, or Children’s, Youth & Young adult ministry discipleship, spiritual formation. Or even the teaching in the bible college (though that is an aspect of my pivot, teaching at a bible college). This is in regards to what some would call “secular” vocational or tech colleges. Those places of higher learning, that has a direct correlation to employment outcome from learning.

Some have asked why I do not currently puruse work in universities? And it is because there is something that resonates with working with these first, second, third or even fourth career folks as they discover and ignite their passions in their studies, and how it connects to the work they are called to do.

These thoughts come together, after a PD Dinner, where a colleague led us through a reflective practice workshop that raised questions out of Parker Palmer’s Courage to Teach (it has been years, if not a decade or so since I read this work, but have re-rdered from the Library to remiliarize myself with it, as both this evening and a staff orientation at anohter school I teach at mentioned it). The questions raised wre intriguing, and percolated some extra thoughts here from me.

The first was our call narrative to teach. I had to chuckle, as in my previous life book, teaching was the side hustle that supplemetned my non-profit ministry salary, I never really saw it as more thant that. Then as long time readers now, 6 years ago, a health crisis happened, and as I emerged into 2020 all that was known was I could not go back to what I used to (was not medically cleared). One PhD psychologist suggested teaching, and I stepped into a contract role half way through a term (always a tumultous time for learers to have a new instructore halfway through). Then 3 weeks in, a global pandemic. Talk about learning curve over load.

Was it a calling? I viewed it as a nother way to aid, and to continue to support mys family. There was no deep theological reflective thoughts around it when I jumped in, or really over the years since. But as we shared moments during the workshop of the blessings of teaching, those meoments when we thought why do I do this (and for me, the question popped upwhat caused me to go back after that moment?), the connection to the 2022 conversations wtih my colleague connected.

I was able to see connections unseen previously. Years ago when I was undergoing official discernment in a progressive denom for ordination, there was 3 tracks- Sacratement and Word (what one thinks of with a Reverand); Diaconal (Justice/service and teaching), or designated lay minister (which is where most of my ministries were regardless of denom). Many readers know the story of walking away before the final vows, as the sponsoring congregation had issues with my son and his exceptionalities. At dinner though, the connection between the two books of my life hit as a lightning bolt (like when Billy Batson or Teth Adam say Shazam if you will).

The discernment process was accurate, I had spent the majority of my life in justice-service work, and 3 yaears ago was formally told I could no longer, yet service continues in the second piece of the vocational calling- teaching. I could fully articulate this teaching as ministry.

Now onto securing full-time continual/tenured role, and re-reading Palmer’s work.

2023, a new chapter of our life books has opened, what new ministry or current aspect fo life has had hte fog lift to clearly see as ministry, are you in?


A Collaborative Faith Talk with Bruce Callow

For those unfamiliar with the term, you are not a Trekkie either (which can I show you some stuff?) or you are not a fan of the fifth movie adventure of the original series crew, The Final Frontier. It is the journey for the Source, God if you will. Some balk because of the idea, humanity advanced beyond the concepts of religion (or is simply we had advanced beyond the bigotry and divisions that religion used as an opiate for the masses, as a means of power and control?). For those who do not think spirituality (those intrinsic pieces of us that get renewed through certain practices that speaks to the beginning of the answer to the why question of life), look no further, than the show enjoying a renaissance thank to streaming, Star Trek Deep Space Nine, which interweaves rebirth, renewal, de-colonization, reconciliation, science, and religion together. Illustrating the types of questions each is designed for.

Why does this matter? What percolated these thoughts once more, about how stories, like Star Trek, and science, and faith can co-exist together? It began to take shape on the Spock Days adventure, as my friend, Bruce, began to speak to joining the Roman Catholic Church in Costa Rica, and began pondering the wandering journey that brings us to these moments of pilgrimage. 

Bruce is a musician, a storyteller, a community builder, and an educator. For those regular followers, you may remember the various Friday night space & science conferences out of Costa Rica I would share that he was a part of, or you have read or seen one of his books, or been a part of one of his community building through music projects in Calgary through the Drop In Centre, or the name is memorable from the interview here, and in the Calgary Herald, of his work in Poland with Ukrainian refugees. 

I pondered his openness in sharing the journey of faith, with who he was, and will let him share…

What was your background of Christianity?

I grew up in the United Church of Canada. Parkdale United Church is where I received my Christian formation. That church had a strong social justice culture and my mum was very involved in that stuff. Later, as a high school student I began to learn about Liberation Theology in the fight against oppression which was part of what compelled me to want to learn more about Central America. Nicaragua had managed to overthrow  a dictatorship and it was heady idealistic stuff to be connected to, at least for a while. Several Jesuit priests and university staff were massacred in El Salvador at the time when I was studying political science at the U of Calgary, I had applied for an internship to work with them a few months before that happened. Oscar Romero of El Salvador and Jerzy Popiełuszko of Poland are heroes of mine. Both gave their lives in the struggle against oppression.

When did the questioning or connecting begin?

My reconnection with faith-based matters got going during my time in Poland earlier this year. Christianity was always in the background for me, but this visit helped it come to surface in a more articulated way. The Catholic Church was a subversive organization during the Cold War that helped lead to the overthrow of the Soviet Union. I got a better appreciation of how important the church is in Poland by talking to people there.  That faith and strength rubbed off on me and I think I needed it as supporting refugees directly in a time of war can be a very draining and consuming experience. To do the work I was doing effectively I could not wear a mask. A smile can’t be shared very well  with a mask on.  Visiting refugee centers with 4,000 mostly unmasked people packed in there, well you know that you might catch something. It was a calculated risk and that’s where faith helped me a lot to be cheerful and always give my best to the Ukrainians. I had already had COVID and had had my shots too. My faith has given me the strength to carry on helping Ukraine in other ways this year.  I met someone very important in Warsaw, it was a chance encounter at the busy Central Railway Station where he was assisting new arrivals from Ukraine.I observed him and other volunteers with awe and much respect. That 2 minute conversation led to a chain reaction of activity and a very special friendship. His name is Roman Lakhnyyuk. Roman is a 23 year old Ukrainian but moved to Edmonton when he was 12. I guess you could say meeting him was the reason I went to Poland.  It is amazing how two strangers can connect like that in the midst of all the turmoil and distractions.  We have helped 40 Ukrainians get to Canada this year and now are delivering other projects in Ukraine.

What have you learned on the journey?

I like the saying “Your life is not about you.” There are so many generational aspects going on regarding the impacts you can make. It is a bit like time travel going forwards and backwards and sending messages to the future. Do what you can to help others but try not to sacrifice yourself in the process. But do push the limits of what you can do. Spending time outside your comfort zone is necessary if you want to grow. And denounce what needs to be denounced and that includes about  churches, like the petition we organized about the abuses committed by churches against indigenous school children in Canada. Pope Francis came to Canada to apologize in person this year which was especially important for healing to take place and trust to be restored.

How do you see God in science, space, stories, music, the world?

Verbal explanations of God are too hard for me, I’ll leave that to others. For me God is a quiet voice that tells me to keep going when I think there is nothing left to give. Humility is very important. I think religion and science can be effective partners, at least they should be.

“ This upcoming conference is a good example of how the worlds of science and religion can come together.”

Anything else you would like to share in regard to the journey through spiritual formation in the church?

I don’t pretend to be a guide of any sort. I am happy I completed my Catholic studies this year and to be welcomed formally into the church. It feels like a direct connection to history somehow and there is a lot of cool mystery. Pope Francis suggested yesterday that people have a more austere Christmas this year and give what we have left over to help the people of Ukraine. His commitment to Ukraine is impressive.

Roman and I just arranged the purchase of a diesel generator for the state orphanage in Lviv Ukraine which houses 168 kids, using funds we generated at our recent benefit concert at St. David’s United Church. I feel good we can help Ukrainians in a tangible way to get through this hard winter and I look forward to continuing these kinds of projects working with all kinds of partners.

David Mack’s newest Star Trek: The Original Series novel, Harm’s Way (2022) is set within his Star Trek Vanguard series, and just after the TOS episode Doomsday Machine. There are many touches which makes it a fast read, and gives it a feel of an original episode, as Mack is equisite at getting the characters voice right. It is a subplot in the work where this ponderance comes from.

See the death/suicide of Commodore Matt Decker, has left Kirk with a quandry on how to communicate this loss to Decker’s family (his son, Will, many will be familiar with from his role in The Motion Picture). See, does he share that it was a suicide due to grief over losing his entire crew of the Constitution, or does he speak of him in a hearoes death that ended the Planet Killer? What is truth? What is comfort? Where does the power of grief guide one?

In the internal struggle, Kirk is brought back to his own loss of 200 lives when he was a junior officer on the Farragut, and that internal deconstruction we do of tearing ourselves down of past decisions, errors and losses in our life story when we look back on the events of what we know now.

It is a gambit that does not aid us in moving forward, or healing or keeping the healing work done. See, we cannot even judge yesterday’s decision by what we know today. For what happened yesterday and alld ecisions made were done with the full knowledge and expereince of who we were in that moment. It is unfair and unethical to ourselves to relook and re-judge those moments of our story from where we are now. This is the struggle within Kirk, and how he then has to struggle how to share the story of Commodore Decker’s Death with Decker’s family.

Why does this ponderance matter, I posit a simple refelctive question/exercise for you:

How would you write the letter?

Now look at your own life, and those moments when you want to use hindsight to tear yourself up:

How would you write a letter to yourself?

Be kind as we enter 2023, and may the new be birthed well in our world.

Belonging Pyramid

Posted: December 23, 2022 by Ty in Archives, Belonging Pyramid, Spirituality

Accessibility is the removal of physical barriers to existence.

Inclusion is simply after getting through physical barrier removal there is a space for you.

Belonging you are welcomed for the full divine person you are, no strings attached, no codifiers, no “yeah buts”. You simply are “I am” and welcomed into the community as a full participant, and the scariest part the community needs to affirm with belonging, is that when you are gone… they will grieve.

All this inverted pyramid is propped up by Love (Agape- kindness, compassion, welcome).

Why inverted? Simple, accessibility should be the easiest, as it is design/retrofit based. Inclusion as it is simply saying the circle is drawn wide enough that one can belong.

Belonging though is the trick, for it is that moment of acknowledging and welcoming the person-hood of the other. The “My Neighbour” life embraced and lived out in community, no qualifiers. For the spiritual, this pyramid is the teaching of Brother Jesus, and many others whose mark we have missed.

Read more thoughts on here.

My Neighbour

Posted: December 23, 2022 by Ty in Archives, Spirituality

Who is My Neighbour?

An eternal question with the simplest of answers we refuse to hear due to our entrenchments that “I” is always right in beliefs, culture, race, gender, religion/spirituality, politics, paradigms, etc.

Yet, the answer is found throughout the meta-narrative foundation myths/legends/stories of our existence.

In monasticism communities and individuals vow to follow a way of living. It is taken as a whole being, in communion with all of creation, it is simply called a “Rule of Life” or “Rule of Ministry.” It basically is covenanting to not live as an asshole.

It has been many years since I have renewed my Rule pledge, it has transformed, grown and contracted over time, yet it comes back to two simple things, a teaching and a story…that echo from 2000 years ago, and many more thousand years old to those stories and movements I am drawn to today.

Who is My Neighbour?

37 Jesus said to him, “‘You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, with all your soul, and with all your mind.’[a] 38 This is the first and great commandment. 39 And the second is like it: ‘You shall love your neighbor as yourself.’[b] 40 On these two commandments hang all the Law and the Prophets.”

-Matthew 22:37-40 (New King James Version)


The Parable of the Good Samaritan

25 And behold, a certain lawyer stood up and tested Him, saying, “Teacher, what shall I do to inherit eternal life?”

26 He said to him, “What is written in the law? What is your reading of it?

27 So he answered and said, “ ‘You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, with all your soul, with all your strength, and with all your mind,’[a] and ‘your neighbor as yourself.’”[b]

28 And He said to him, “You have answered rightly; do this and you will live.”

29 But he, wanting to justify himself, said to Jesus, “And who is my neighbor?”

30 Then Jesus answered and said: “A certain man went down from Jerusalem to Jericho, and fell among thieves, who stripped him of his clothing, wounded him, and departed, leaving him half dead. 31 Now by chance a certain priest came down that road. And when he saw him, he passed by on the other side. 32 Likewise a Levite, when he arrived at the place, came and looked, and passed by on the other side.33 But a certain Samaritan, as he journeyed, came where he was. And when he saw him, he had compassion. 34 So he went to him and bandaged his wounds, pouring on oil and wine; and he set him on his own animal, brought him to an inn, and took care of him. 35 On the next day, when he departed,[c] he took out two denarii, gave them to the innkeeper, and said to him, ‘Take care of him; and whatever more you spend, when I come again, I will repay you.’ 36 So which of these three do you think was neighbor to him who fell among the thieves?”

37 And he said, “He who showed mercy on him.”

Then Jesus said to him, “Go and do likewise.”

-Luke 10:25-37 (New King James Version)

Our world can be transformed…one simple act of kindness at a time, by seeing our neighbour before us.

Philosophy of Ministry

Posted: December 23, 2022 by Ty in Spirituality

The journey has always been centered upon Matthew 22:34-40, the Great Commandments.

It breaks down simply, what matters, cultivating hope through love- Holy, Self, Neighbour.

It is simple why, Genesis 1:27:

So God created human beings[d] in his own image.
    In the image of God he created them;

Each of us, is in the image of the Holy. Created, blessed, loved– take a look around you– all abilities, genders, cultures, races, sexual orientations– it is the beautiful, blessed mosaic of the Imageo Dei (Image of God) in creation, a creation we are called to care for.

It means the starting point is love, and intrinsic value of humanity, and ecology/environment.

The guiding principle, Brother Jesus reminded of in John 15:12:

This is my commandment: Love each other in the same way I have loved you.”

My philosophy of ministry grows from Love, that cultivates hope even in the darkest nights.

Faith explaines the why of life.
Research/science/evidence explains the how of the cosmos and creation.

I struggle to learn, and to live the Great Commandment daily, but in true Franciscan Charism, in learning and discovery to show holy love creating relationships and spaces of authentic belonging.

Tonight I was blessed to be asked to be a substitute facilitator for a book group exploring Valarie Kaur’s No Stranger, here are the notes. As well, my opening Land Acknowledgement, I have also attached a poster from Centennial College on things to consider in regards to Land Acknowledgements.

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

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

Mindfulness – Body Scan – Anxiety Canada 

As well, please note the attachment from Centennial College, some things to consider in regards to Land Acknowledgements, so it is not simply a passive exercise or words but can grow into more a point of engagement, reflection and reconciliation.

Now onto the questions: 

For Breathe from No Stranger: 

1.       When someone says to you, breathe, what do you feel? 

2.       When have we had an intersection of personal and communal crisis as Kaur was sharing? What were our perceived responsibilities (i.e., work, church, volunteer activities, etc.) that we continued to push through? What happened? What did you learn in the process? 

3.       It is easy for us to wonder into the USA context Kaur writes from, but what are communal crisis or changes in Calgary or Alberta that we need to practice breathe? Remember that change happens in life, what is usually forgotten in the process of change is that it brings grieving with it, it can be instantaneous such as our favourite brand of coffee is out of stock at the grocery store, or longer term with health, career changes, or loss of loved ones. But being present, through breathing can aid (for more on being present you may want to explore U Theory). 

The Dahls, The Mays, The Lewis’, The Prestons, The Ragans that gave for our Freedoms. My Granddad was part of the Royal Canadian Signal Corps overseas, where he fell in love with my Nan on furlough in Stour-Port-on-A Severn, UK. My Great Uncles and Aunts served, in the field, and on the guns trying to stop the bombing of England. My Great-Granddad Lewis (my Nan’s dad) served in both world wars, as a Sherwood Forrester (those who know what inspires me know); and when he came back took up the fight with his own government to give a damn about our veterans, to care for them.

My Uncle Red (who was like my grandpa in Jr high and high school) was on continent, with my Grandpa Joe (who in his tortured soul, was a victim of the CIA brainwash experiments at McGill-declassified by the Trudeau government), in the air force.

So many stories fading into the fog of memory and lore, so that some believe the Holocaust (13 million people exterminated for their crime of being Jewish, LGBT, disabled or born a multiple) never happened, and that it is okay to think Hitler was right, when we say never again, this is our stand and our time to actualize that in the West, we have failed many times since with Indigenous Peopels, Somalia, Rwanda, Bosnia, Palestine and the list goes on…can we make 2022 the year that our grand parents, great grandparents and their generation fought back against evil in the shadows and plain sight a reality in our world?

Or will we simply forget.

So often diving rage is misunderstood, mislabelled, or misrepresented. The Hebrew Bible is filled with stories of Divine Rage, the Prophets and Judges showing and telling where the people have gone wrong by not living Micah 6:8:

It was and is about compassion, love of the Holy Mystery (that is within everything created, and everything created is within them, thank you Matthew Fox for bringing back the mystic concepts of folks like Eckhart which are woven in Creation Spirituality and the idea of Panentheism). This is seen within other world belief systems, and in Valarie Kaur’s book See No Stranger a memoir and manifesto of what living transfiguring love can look like in the world. I choose the word transfigure instead of transform, for the simple call back to Jesus’ own transfiguration story, imagine is this happened over all creation?

Yet, we can confuse the concept of rage being the anger emotion that does not have movement. It being seen as the one that stops transfiguration, and this is possible. We have bore witness to this with Brexit, Jan.6 in the USA. The Convoy-Coutts-Ottawa Occupation. The resurgence of neo-naziism, the slide of western democracies into authoriarianism (I mean we have a premier in Alebrta that could not see why support Putin was wrong int he war in Ukraine), basically a world coming out of a time that should see the emrgence of Star Trek Utopianism, instead we have digressed into polarized tribalism of anger machines. Not-divine Rage, a rage that wants to hold the ground, continue to be beneficiaries of systemic racism, economic disparity systems, us-them mentalities, colonialism, cyclical global intergenerational trauma, living into a closure-justice story focused on revenge (not, as Indigenous nations show us justice focused on healing and restoration of slef and community, a true and deep understanding and living of reconciliation as shown in our Jesus story that we abandaoned for Empire).

To hold ground to a time where one’s skin, gender and sexual orientation mattered for power in the system.

This is the rage our world is currnetly trapped within, and needs to end.

Yet, there is rage, as Kaur’s book enters into the second phase of her writing. A divine rage is a useful rage that propels to change, health, reconciliation, accepting of the truth. Could this be a step in why this past two weeks our parliament voted unanimously that residential schools were a genocide.

It was a week, where my Trekkie ways showed a clear understanding for maybe the non-siritual, and I would encourage if you watch only one episode of Star Trek, Star Trek Deep Space Nine’s “Beyond the Stars” is it. The Prophets (Wormhole Aliens, the Bajorans see as there Gods) are once again interacting non-linear time with Sisko (The Emissary), and have him involved in visions and another time, and shows what can happen. It is a discussion starter and thinking episode, note when you can see divine rage? Can anything change? Should it? Will it? Where do you feel okay with how things are? Where do you feel the hit that there is something wrong? These are intuitive pieces of self-reflection. Take time to journal (which can take any creative form to engage your intellect and creative side). Then engage in discussion with others, do not watch in isolation, seek out others who may not share your point of view (if safe) to be in discussion with, to be part of the transifguration.

This is but one small piece, but have you ever thought your value as a person has been pulped?

What is the root of it?

Is it propel to change for those without value? Or is it to break your own power?

Bonus Content:

A church in Calgary doing things differently, reading the Holy’s two scriputres (Bible and Creation, engaging God everywhere), last Sudnay’s confession and first step in reconciliation:

To the Psalter for my son

Posted: October 23, 2022 by Ty in Spirituality
Tags: , , , , , ,

I sit

In the silence

the eerie hew of the tracking monitor illuminating the small space

a hosptial stay

to discover what may be

good news will come

but news for naught as well,

glimmers of the old him

want them to remain strong

emerge more

as medical Hail Mary’s (not of a Rosary or visitation)


but is it simply to check a box?

For the same old refrain

of systems, beliefs, and research

not fully actualized,

is it because,

they cannot see

the beautiful image bearer?

The passaionate fighter?

The smart ass of humour?

The curious mind

who is not held back

or bound

by diagnostic labels

But rather…

shines through the bushel they try to smother him with diagnostics

to simply be him,


how long, will his light shine bright?

Just let who he is…

shine that love into the world

Continue shattering what is deemed “label”

to be

what is him.