Archive for the ‘Spirituality’ Category

A vigil Mulling

Posted: April 3, 2021 by Ty in Spirituality
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Mulling. It was a word that when shared from me, would cause those leaders I served under or communities I served in, to respond with an arched eyebrow that would make Spock proud (and a few, I am sure, unintelligible utterings under their breath). For the time of mulling, usually meant, that my mind would be processing through the usual tasks of the job, while mulling many ideas under the surface. Yes, some days I do miss how my mind would work before the downturn, but the rebooting is still wonderful.

This is what happens in the moments of vigil. Taking time to be in the presence of the Holy Mystery. Which, we are in and is in us throughout daily life. Vigil is taking time to unplug and tune in to the quiet soft voice of creation that speaks to us. At Easter, the Vigil night is simple. It is time spent waiting. For some, during c-tine, it can feel like we have been in a constant vigil. There is deep truth in these statements, as there is yearning for life to return to the normalcy of the before times, yet was that normalcy truly what was of benefit for our communal wellness? For our holiness? Or was it simply the same oppressive systems Brother Jesus lived his life against, that took him to Golgotha. Drove his friends and followers into hiding for those 3 days, the vigil time. Where in the First Century they huddled in fear, afraid of being found and added to the next wave of crosses on the Jerusalem road side as a message.

May be an image of text that says "A church that does not provoke any crisis, preach a gospel that does not unsettle, proclaim a word of God that does not get under anyone's skin or a word of God that does not touch the real sin of the society in which it is being proclaimed: what kind of gospel is that? Óscar Romero"
Remember, the oppressors of Latin America so feared the love preached by Bishop Romero, they had him assasinated during Mass, while holding up the Holy Host.

That same fear does not exist within Canadian Christianities. But there is still a purpose for vigil. For me, it was taking a moment to begin diving into the new DIana Butler Bass book, Freeing Jesus, I first entered her work back in my Youth Monk days with the Anglican church in Calgary with her work Christianity for the Rest of Us. Freeing Jesus’ introduction brought forward sentiments that I have shared (and shared others who have shared similiarly) for quite a while on the state of Christendom, and the Christianities. She dove right in about the many walking away from the Churchdom due to how the power has corrupted and gutted, yet still have a resonance with the life, teachings, miracles, and Easter Morn of Brother Jesus. Yes, as she aptly points out, many traditionalists will say the church is the body of Christ and without the church you are not a believer…

And that is the crux of the Holy Heresy

The Body of Christ is responding to a cancer. That of Christendom (empire, abuse of power, etc), by exorcising it through leaving. It is not the Body that is not wanted, it is the politicized institution of trauma. This is a moment in time in history where c-tine has forced a stop of the inertial force that was Christendom, and has given space where we can actually go.

As we head towards another celebration of Sonrise, under restrictions, lockdown, online or at a distance…where is the Spirit calling you in the walk to the tomb? When we find it empty? What is the calling being heard you have been ignoring? This vigil night, engage in the conversation of renewal of Hope, Faith, Joy, Peace and LOVE for the Body of Christ lived out to our world? Or do we continue the death march out of fear for taking a step into the unknown?

Do we continue or do we transfigure?

Just like the early community around Jesus, in this time of c-tine, what mullings have arisen in your soul during the vigil of awaiting? Unsure of what is to come?

See the source image


Another year of entering into Easter Weekend at a distance. Many decry and wonder why we cannot gather, yet the sacerament of service, is the answer to the lament, and where Alberta is currently in our pandemic journey as I shared on Facebook yesterday (a unique day with Maundy Thursday & April Fool’s Day sharing space). Yes I apologize for the laise fair share of twoof my Facebook screen shots a day late instead of the normal Maundy Thursday reflection, but as the day closed after 381 days of online existence/teaching, weariness won out, so below were the thoughts that brings us into the reality of the Sacrament of Service:

Can you live out a modern foot washing in this pandemic time this Easter Weekend?

On Good Friday we have shared 11,000 new cases. Yes a third wave is here, and some, like those of Grace Life Church and Fairview Baptist use the conept of take up their cross and that they are “persecuted” under the guise of religious freedom to cause harm to neighbour and the Love Message of Brother Jesus. It was during our online Good Friday service, walking the Stations of the Cross Reflectively that we discussed as a family, what the idea of take up the cross looks like. It is not an image to hide our bias, bigotries, prejudices, hatreds, martyr complexes, or communal sins lived out. Brother Jesus lived out a radical servant messiahship, not a might make right, not Jesus with an assault rifle, rather a humble teacher from working class roots, with a calling to serve, to live out what the Imageo Dei was meant to be. It radically shattered the glass ceilings of the time. Lived out, it shifted dynamics, empowered the voices of the voiceless, showed that all had equality, and worth in the Kingdom (our divisive labels were there to divide and harm, and rather useless). There was a celebration of the once known as untouchable, unwanted or “property” of Empire, on Palm Sunday, that on Maundy Thursday, in John Mark’s folks upper room, Jesus would gather with his friends. Share the Passover Meal.

A meal that called back the rememberance of another time of freedom from Oppression from the story of Exodus. Think of the power of the Oppressed being freed, and another Empire publicly exposed for its weakness, and once the oppressed realized they had worth, it crumbled like a house of cards (thinking of any connections to the current era of Reconciliation and Transformation?). That after dinner, Jesus would go to Gethsemane, to the Garden to pray, and there that he would be betrayed, by one of his close friends, with the kiss of greeting.

From there, the fear of the Oppressor was on full display in the journey to the lynching of Brother Jesus. The lies, the propaganda, the falsities, and the gaming of the system to silence the one that chose to challenge what was wrong with society. What did harm and damage to the Imageo Dei. When we talked with our kids about what take up the cross meant, these are the moments we shared. The times when faith led to true and healthy change in our world, when the thin space between the Holy Mystery and Creation overlapped. Times like the Red River Resistance, Indigenous Rights, end of Apartheid, Truth & Reconciliation, LGBTTQ2+ rights, Feminism, Women’s Rights, social safety nets, disability rights, and, sadly, the list goes on, as the societal sin of Christendom (and insert any idealogy or religion that evil has used to hide behind to divide, to cause harm, to perpetuate genocide no one truly has not been used) but it is in those moments when we know we are standing up for the Kingdom value of the blessedness of the Imageo Dei, justice in love, and all belonging regardless of pushback–that is the true moments of taking up the Cross, and walking the path of Brother Jesus to Golgotha.

How does our communities truly transfigure if Christians truly took up the Cross, like Simon of Cyrene did?

We gather a part for the second year, reminiscient of the early followers of Jesus on that first Easter. Our gathering apart shows our care and love in our Sacrament of Service.

In the name of our loving Creator, whose Image we see in one another, the love of our Brother Jesus’ whose cross we carry to the glory of the Sunrise, and the release of the Loving Passion in our communities transfigured through the Loving & Holy Spirit in us, through us and connecting us.

Amen. Amen. Amen.

Some Holy Weekend Resources/Services for your reflection:

Bow Valley Christian Church Good Friday Service.

Culture, Christ and Covid

Stations of the Cosmic Christ

All Saints Lutheran Church Calgary Holy Week Resources, Reflections and Services.


Not fully, as Alberta allows for some in person worship, we take a step not to attend though our congregation follows through on all the i and t’s, with extra care for neighbour. My son has complexities and is high risk, he cannot wear a mask, and sometimes needs to move to a low sensor environment, we do not want to create extra-stressors upon an already tense situation provincially in the viewing of the church by some, or create unnecesary useless conversations for anti-maskers, so we worship, as one seminary prof years ago phrased it, by an inter-stellar conference call, connecting us with our church family via online.

Yet it does cause reflection. In those moments, with a calling renewed (reaffirmed?) to begin forward once more out of what was into what was prepared to be. Some try to get into one’s heart through a negative cycle in the brain (insidious gremlins planted for growth under the guise of, well what do you believe? or Do you really think… )or whatever questions come from anyone’s own individuated story not comprehending that sometimes, and most importantly most times, it should never be driven by “I” but rather “we” especially in the building of church family.

My Nan (my kids’ great granny) who was the one that opened the door back to me in church as an adult (my Mum & Aunty Donna, set it up as a child through baptism, then pre-school, then Vacation Bible School) oh the Matriarchs strength that the faith stands upon. Was giddy to share time with pre-schoolers, her great-grandbabies in church. To teach her non-verbal great grandson how to begin making music sounds with her favourite song,

For as she always taught, children are always welcome with Brother Jesus. More so, church, is to be the place that is free (something that has shaped my ministry in more ways than she could ever imagine). My understanding of community discovery from how my Mum and Aunt shared the faith. This is what I took to my children, as well, as the almost irrelevance of the denomination, for at the heart is the love of Jesus and living that love out.

The strength, even in failing health, when the church pushed against my son, my Nan standing firm and telling the wealthy, “This boy’s love, who he takes Sundays after church with my grandson to those with dementia, and the joy he spreads matters more to our God, than you busybodies. He belongs here more than you.”

The joy in her eyes when we’d come visit her when she would be in lodges and long term care, and J would take her to get “gussied” up for tea time. And the joy of their giggles and sing-a-longs.

As some will try to dissuade us on our new journey, this is what comes to mind. Also a visit in dream scape, where my Nanny has tears in her eyes. She shares the story of her little cousin, who took his life because the world could not accept him for who he loved. How that shame she shares hurts so much, yet the joy in her heart seeing how her tea party partner is emerging into who God created them to be. The love, warmth in the walk. The tears she shares were once of shame, but in this young one’s story, they are tears of Joy, for how Jesus loves them.

And to remind both her great-grandbabies, they stand on the ground of powerful women and elders, cheering them on to build forward.

A reminder that was needed during this c-tine.

A time that we emerge into an important anniversary. A time of celebration for our kiddos. Palm Sunday which as Borg & Crossan (2007) The Last Week pointed out it was not simply a welcoming parade for Jesus, but rather an act of sedition against the Empire. It was blatantly pointing that those who were seen as non-entities had discovered belonging and love. The oppression and oppressors of religion, power, money and empire were being shaken to their core. This is the global sin that killed Jesus, and exposed the fallacy of the corrupt system for all to see in this humble rabbi- servant leader.

It has meant quite a bit to me in the journey, taking Holy Week, as it is laid out (not compressing as some do with Passion Sunday). But it also grew to mean more as the next church we would land in (even their Granny’s strong words, we would not survive the purge of the money holders). But the next would provide some rest, a bit of sancturay, and other challenges. But in the eye before the storm, there was church family, where my son was heard. His passion for his friend Jesus, that Granny taught him shone through. Whether it was nattering during sermons about the baptism of John the Baptist, trying to help when others were baptized, his time finally came.

Palm Sunday, a day when all were shown that we are beloved and blessed in the mosaic and wonderful image of God. Tearing up when told it was time.

A year later, the dancer and joy bringer that was his younger sibling, who was discipled by Granny, Nanny, and brother would be baptized. Twirling and laughing, unbeknownest to us, the last time we would celebrate in church with my Mum as a whole family.

Also Palm Sunday.

Both knowing before, and since, that God, and those in the love, create belonging.

How do you know that you belong?

Where is your courageous safe space?

What empowers you to not let others plant the gremlin seeds of discontent in your soul?

For Palm Sunday, as my children have lived, is the foudnation laid to build forward from. The love in us, connected to the love in you, that connects each of us in what can simply be known as the Holy Mystery some call God. Radicalized in the birth, life & teachings, execution, Cosmic no to the death penalty, and new life of Brother Jesus that connects each and everyone in community through the Spirit.

What is the moment in time, that when you hear it is time, surge of joy overwhelms as you know you are not alone, you are seen, you are connected, you belong?


There can be many reasons to slip into despair in our world. Or look to a situation we are in and not connect. Now I am not talking about truly abusive or risky situations, this is speaking more to the day to day life we lead. We can have a choice to always be looking backwards (and usually to a past that never truly was, rather an idealized mythology that never existed in the way we have framed it) or forward to a future, as we want to constantly think this is simply a step in our journey or an interim placement. It can fuel an underlying anxiety, disconnect or even, be a root in the anger many cannot put into words. Many questions swirl as to why this is our current state, and many rationales, conspiracies and stories are shared. But still…

The question arising as we live like this is, simply:

Do we set ourselves up to not have connection?

Sit with that a moment. Wherever you are in life. Have you set yourself up not to have connection due to letting past experiences shape your present understanding? Letting your own assumptions become a confirmation bias by the way you choose to engage with your present communities? Present workplaces? Present (insert reality here). It can be hard to traverse through change, there is grieving involved. There can be loss involved. One may not have the words to communicate what is happening. This is where the more creative outlets of colouring prayer or painting prayer can get the emotions out to connect with the root cause, the root reason that one is having the challenge of letting go of that which has tethered them to experience the new (and yes many times blessings) through the soul shaped prism of past experience. As the ligth shines through the now, still allows them to hide it under a bushel.

It may be weird to have this children’s hymn pop up as we discuss moving into the presence, but it is true. For it is pointing out a simple practice of gratitude. We have light. We have love. It may be small things to celebrate, but celebrate them none the less. It is why it is important, wherever we are, as we struggle with old paradigms that come into play to interpret current situations. It is important to cultivate that which is going well, that which is to celebrate. These are the instances, that when we look back (especially when we right them down to reflect on in times of despair or struggle) aid us in building our resilience, or letting our light shine.

How often, do we miss out on what is right in front of us, simply because we are focused on not being present?

Choosing to disconnect?

This simply can be by the picks of nit. Not where I see myself, not the job I wanted, not the church that fits my (insert label here), what other nits can you pick with your reality? What happens if we pause, breathe deeply, be in the moment, and right down what does fit. What does work?

Instead of rationalizing distance, we take steps in connection?

How does your reality change? Where are you connecting? How do you know you have belonging there? What is going well? Where is your gratitude? What are you thankful for? Why?

As we continue in Step 2 of easing restrictions in Alberta, what are you thankful for in the here and now with your story of life?

Is the frustration or anger beginning to alleviate?


It was a simple tweet last night, but one that really did sum up where our family is after almost four years of a rolled back existence (yes I know covid has only been 370 days– but there was health complexities that slowed our roll and disrupted our normal before that). Simply putting out there, that our home is quieter than it has ever been. We miss the open door, we miss the shared table, the discussions, the tears, the laughter shared by our family (yes biological and those that belong with us). Yet, even as we, as my wife phrases it, are getting tired of each others’ faces it speaks to something that Covid has laid bare in our world, society, communities and chueches. This goes beyond the polarized view in our Christianities or presented in the media. From beyond the local congregation struggles to understand and implement restrictions, or pretend faux surprise when they outright refuse to comply that there is consequences for their actions. Truly that has been the surprise twist in the story of covid, so many discovering that rights are shaped in communal responsibilitiy, and it is not a cancel culture but an accountability.

But I digress, for it is also seeing the challenge of our driven highly strutctured and booked world that came crashing down in covid. How do we actually connect with one another? The reality being that we had a busy world, where it was easy to trip into small talk with another, but were we connected? What does connection look like? What does it mean? As restrictions ease in Alberta, many churches are shifting to multiple services to cultivate connection again as we have missed gathering.

Is it connection? Or simply proximity?

My experience is porximity. We have cultivated a cultural dissonance, that being around people means we are connected. Taking the concept of not being physically alone, alleviates loneliness, which is not always true. It is the concept that to be together in community, means mass (or restricted gatherings), but if interaction is not there, is it truly connection? Some will remember my writings and teachings around the belonging pyramid, and the inverted structure supported by Agape. I think this is what is happening as we struggle with our disconnect from busyness, and our lived dissonance of what we believed belonging was. The light has shone into the darkness, and confused it. This is the soul fog we are existing in, and beginning to emerge from. The question though is our desire to return to normal, going to silence and sideline what can (re) emerge in our religious communities?

Will true belonging emerge?

What is being put out there is that simple accessibility is connection and belonging. No, being in the building together (and if a building is up to code being able to enter the building) is not connection. Having a space for the person is not connection (it is rudimentary inclusion). This is what passed for connection and belonging in our hyper-programmed/hyper-business cultivated Christendom in the before times. In the before times where we expected our spiritual leaders to be experts in all things strategic, knowing how to grow numerically, financially, online, and have the key plug and play programs to bring sucess. It cultivated an experience where we sainted the busy, where access and connection happened due to where you were plugged in and giving (experienced this many times in Urban churches, where what level of tithing equated to level of faux belonging, not always treasure/money but also time/talent). Yet, there was no belonging, because you are not valued for your intrinsic worht in the Imageo Dei only for what you can give. In other words, we mock politicians and business leaders that speak of human capital for driving worth, yet as Christians, we have exaclty cloned that belief system into action within our own communities (for some intriguing contemplative thoughts on the history of church, I have been enjoying Dr. Stan Helton’s Caravan series on the blog of my Alma Mater, Alberta Bible College. Read here.).

Belonging takes effort. Belonging takes risk. Belonging takes bringing our Boards/Elders/Pastors back to Christian Testament community. It is scary. It is challenging. It is affirming. It removes polarization/dualism.

It destroys the community sin of Us versus Them.

Which can be scary for it makes community fluid. Responsive to those who are there. It challenges both big and small T traditions. The key question is “why do we do this?” and if it comes down to “it is the way we always have done this” but removes belonging, should it remain? The greatest challenge in the shift, is that it blows wide open our concepts of the image of God, and what the table for Communion/Eucahrist means in bringing together the Family of God?

This mullings have come from rasing a diverse family in Churchdom. Knowing the blessings of being a part of many church families, my kids in pre-school choosing to be baptized a year a part on Palm Sunday because they knew the love of Jesus their Granny taught them to sing about in Jesus, Loves Me, and their Nana shared with them. That they felt in the church families, but also the pain and hate brought to bear upon them in various communities not accepting who they are in the Image of God, because it challenged the big and small T traditions. Also, as I reflect back in some communities, my worth only tied to that which I could give, and in instances where I had nothing more to give no longer being seen as worthwhile within the church (and yes this was experienced by all members of my family).

It is also a challenge, for with the program lens, it can be simply, if you do not fit somewhere, you will not have any social connection. Look at the church coffee or pot/grace lukck times. Is there interactions with many? Do you stay within the scope of the comfortable? It can be challenging when we look at belonging those steps beyond inclusion, those steps that blow accessibility out of the water. This is not a polarized idea stating one type of Christianities is better than another. I have journeyed through the spectrum. Over c-tine, I have witnessed the rise of upperclass privilige within progressive church circles that overlap into the Q-Anon cult, and lower socio-economic challenges in fundamentalism that have overlapped at the same point of the Q-cult that has shone a dark shadown out there that only certain folks matter in the family of God, and many are exependable.

And sadly, the refrain is not Jesus loves me, but boldy from the pulpit, if you die I’m okay for my rights mean more than your life.

It is a struggle within to understand if the still quiet voice being heard within and communally is the Holy Mystery, or our own ego run amuck. For even good can come out of darkness, and that is the hardest challenge.

Yet, I sit here and continue to mull, for I know my family’s journey of joy and sorrow, has shaped us. How we entered c-tine has shaped us. Sadly, entering into a new relationship with church having to be reaching out for benevolent aid so you do not lose everything shapes your reprehension in reaching out to connect. Coupled with it being the same week picking up food hampers for survival from a former parish you were a leader in, humbling, but shaping the wall of protection more. It is something many givers and program makers forget. Especially in church, the socio-economic lens, shapes how connection happens. We are thankful to have cultivated a healthy summer camp relationship with our daughter, but there was another that could have been cultivated by the institution was locked into their socio-economic lens and myth story that broke the relationship. Now, is needing aid breaking a relationship? No, I raise the example, for the shaping then is always the wondering if you are to reach out again will it shape the interaction? Good intents can also be, unfortunately, shaped in the receiving. When the only personalized connection from a church family is in regards to aid, and not simply being. Yes, it is good to reach out to help, but it does shape in the receiver an understanding of relationship dynamics (true or false). How to shift, I am simply raising the contemplation at this juncture.

For part of the risk of belonging, is that sharing the space together- cyber, phone, or physical. The scent in the film Lars and the Real Girl, when the ladies group from the church comes to be, nothing more. Always brings up the concept, that appears to be lost in our busyness cycle of urban church. The fear when we talk about going back to normal, was normal truly that functional for belonging? Or was it functional for celebrating behaviour addictions that did not risk connection, for with connection (belonging) comes the risk of emotion?

What I have learned from c-tine, is confirmation of where I have existed. What I mourn in c-tine, is facing into the cup, and seeing revealed the dissonance we accepted to simply have a butt in a pew. What I pray emerges truly out of c-tine, is not how church was in the before times. I truly pray, communities of belonging are cultivated, with all the beaufitul risks that come with it.

My scariest moment, is my family standing with me, to take the step forward to risk belonging, and answering the call fully.

Amen.

Some intriguing reads for Lenten contemplation as we head towards Palm Sunday, the day Kingdom of God (belonging) met Empire Parade of Power, Money and Careers: Your Addiction to Outrage is Ruining Your Life | by Pete Ross | The Bad Influence | Medium

Ecclectica Ruminations

Posted: March 13, 2021 by Ty in Current Events, Spirituality
Tags: , , ,

Up until my early 20’s I would go to the barbershop to remove what was left of my hair, and when the shift happened that it was no longer a simple $5 shave, but due to the popularity had moved into the $20 range, well…it was time to shift praxis. Which brought it in line as a moment of mindfulness in my life, a time of pausing, focusing on the simple act of shaving, release (recently the rapidly graying). Practice learned in my Buddhist days, but as Franciscan, as the joke went I was follically ill-equipped for a tonsure (not sure if I was missing the ton or the sure).

See the source image
The Franciscan Tonsure, a sign of vocation and entering into a new relgiious life. Though in my tenure as the Youth Friar at one Anglican church, the fundraiser to end the child sex trade in Calgary did have me with a fuscia goattee for a while.

It is the moment, of being able to pause, and gives a time of mulling, ruminating, and sometimes epiphany moments (or perhaps I am overthinking and over spiritualizing you decide).

For tonight though, it is looking at almost a year (362 days) I have some odds & sods outside of work to accomplish next week around checking on applying for school funding, when spring textbooks will be ready, oh and those fun things called taxes, but there are other thoughts. As the polarization of political and religious life begins to bleed into everyday life. Leaving the secularized or uninitiated to disengage, become apathetic, or wonder aloud why nothing changes or look for the lurking bogey monster– which all is what we have put out into the world to be responded to, or that which at least social media, main stream media and alternative media share. What is missing is the local community stories of hope.

Where do those come from though? From the bystanders not accepting the status quo. From the bysander not defaulting to the loudest mob voice in the crowd. From the bystander wanting honesty, transparency, accountability, and the courageous safe space. From the bystander not accepting the narrative that perpetuates the polarized bully pulpits of the public squares. From the bystanders (which they are far more of) removing the sound system and podiums, and amplifying their stories. For the Dr. Seuss being cancelled story, no, a published decide to not re-invest in non-selling properties to correct issues with them, like many other forms of printed works there circulations ended. Pepe Le Pew? C’mon, he was the bathroom/snack break cartoon in Looney Tunes, what sadly will be missed is what sounded like an amazing teaching moment for the younger and family audiences on consent in the film, for the Potatoe Heads? It is an imaginative building toy with many disguises, one should be more angered by the fact that most come with only one or two sets for looks that fit in the butt of the toy, not the bucket of pieces it used to come with. Some recent examples of what happens when the polarized rhetoric is stripped away… but I digress.

Stories of Hope, that show divergent core values can actually come to the same services, and community provisions because a better world is what is wanted. Stories of Hope, that show discourse/dialogue creating healing space, and changing the systems that perpetuated the old harms and isms, because in the courageous safe space of discourse, where the hard conversations happen, the intrinsic value of the human can be affirmed, all wanting a better community to live in, can be affirmed, and explored…beyond that, plans can be struck and action begun.

But it takes the bully being silenced.

Aiding the bullied, and the bystander finding their voice (thanks to Barbare Colorossa’s book on the Bully, Bullied and Bystander that everyone in public life should read to understand what the term do better actually entails). Why have we lost so much traction on ending bullying in our schools? It can be due to a misapplication of Trauma informed work that some can point to as a removal of accountability. But that is short sighted, as understanding has grown, what is happening is healthier communites designed around restoration and healing measures.

No, it is more insidious, it is about the deep root of individualism, and the belief that what one says or does, cannot affect another. Also, couched in the polarized self-righteous belief systems that it is impossible to be a bully if you are within your ideology for you are truly in the right. Our children see this, the parents take this into our schools. This is the systematic thought that needs to be broken to bring about the proper bridging of the chasm to end a toxic practice. A system that is more boldy perpetuated through our alternative media, the shift to 24-7 mainstream news into newsfotainment (as true journalism is slow and not really designed for a 24-7 cycle) of talking heads, and behaviours on social media that creates echo chambers where how many likes negative behaviours get are seen as “holy home runs” within movements. As well, we have lost the understanding that extremism in any vein creates a perfect circle (I learned this in graded public school social studies). The extreme on the right politically goes into authoritarian/fascism/Naziism, on the left goes into dictatorship/Stalinism which behaviours, genocides and hatreds overlap. In religion, doesn’t matter which is put before extremists/terrorists the outcomes of intolerance/hate/supremacy are the same and usually deadly. For all those in the giant swath of the middle though, you can still be toxic, even standing on attempting to do right and end harm.

And yes, regardles if you are the good or the bad or the undecided, your behaviours can still cause harm and be toxic (this where personal reflection factors rather hugely into a healthy life, not only what we are doing wrong, the balance of daily examine, where we look at what is meh, what is going well, what we are learning, and where we need to provide space to heal).

Why have bystanders fallen silent?

It is draining to constantly be the thumb in the dam against the flood while the Hurrican level tropical storm continues pelting you on the other side. Yet as the bystanders, it is time to reclaim the silenced voice, not to demand better from the existing scream-bullies, but rather to shatter that dark mirror and step into what needs to be.

To simply- be and do.

To connect, create space for the courageous discourse, discovery of action tools.

The key, that which the polarized remove though, is to create…

authentic belonging*.

*(Accessibility is being able to get physical access to a space, inclusion is there is a spot for you-note this is where bystanders lose the voice and power, but belonging is the key. Belonging is when you are heard, known, accepted, purposefully part of community, and if you were to no longer be heard or seen, would be missed).


Many moons ago, with a Rosary in my weary end of night shift hand in the sanctuary of a Roman Catholic church awaiting the weekday Mass, the still small voice would whisper to me “build my church”, it was an echo sentiment from years before, in a United Church, where I cam back to church as adult with my Nan, after presiding over the Sunday Service, and greeting faith family afterwards, the still small voice would simply say, “you are called”… To scant months before in my first service, where after singing in pre-sing my Granddad’s favourite hymn, the voice, his voice, would simply say “it’ll be alright”, Each of these instances are a piece of book one of three for my life. The book of laying the foudnations and preparing. Experiencing what it means to build the church. That is simply, to create the courageous safe space of connection, purpose and belonging for the beautiful mosaic that is our neighbourhood (the Imageo Dei)

So many bumps along the road. Stories. Pieces of knowledge, ancient wisdom applied to the modern world, and modern wisdom working on the souls of many. Truly striving and stumbling to live out what home is, and having the true open door that I have been told has blessed many. But at my core, I am a simple story teller. That is the core of my parallel multi-career paths, and the core of the calling as book two opens…for what is the core of blessed community but the story of love and hope at its centre?

It is stories that have shaped my life, and still do. Many look at me weirdly in the academic, political and spiritual circles I exist in for the resonance I have to so many of our modern legends and mythologies. Not only the resonance, but how effectively they can be used as points of connection, intersection and discussion… so many ways to meet and understand neighbour. Whether it is the modern super hero stories (I am sure many know of the reflections shared around Spider-Man, X-Men, Batman, Superman, Flash, the list goes on and on) our modern pantheon of gods and demi-gods as found in anceint folklore and mythologies (which I also love). Or the more recent addition of Doctor Who? The Doctor an amazing story of constant curiousity, inspired problem solving, fun and, yes, new life (ah regeneration, since I went through my own health issues, and now into c-tine, it does so feel like a moment of regeneration?). To the inquisitive nature of Sherlock Holmes, the mysteries solved, and the importance of the right partners.

The Arthurian Legends, stories I so wanted to read as a child, and a system said I could not comprehend, and a Dad that said yes he can…and well, the copy of that hardcover from Smithbooks still resides on my bookshelf, never tell a child they can’t when an interest is shown. The wonder, magic and splendour of Camelot. The idea of quest, blessing, calling, and the connection/belonging of the Round Table. To the first movie I ever saw in theatres, Walt Disney’s Robin Hood, and the core truth that all have value, and every role in society is needed for us to be healthy, how easily power can corrupt (and I have seen it happen to far too many good people) for when power becomes the goal like with Prince John– well, the fact it is actually people involved is forgotten for the pursuit of gold (or is it oil?). When a season of life ended, I hope my team at that time understand the blessing of sharing that story book with each of them.

But a core story that has stayed with me throughout my life. From when there was the one night of the week as repeats aired on CBC, Star Trek. A true reflection for me, of what Brother Jesus taught our world was meant to be. Our universe, where all have equity, justice, equality, hope, can pursue who they are meant to be and we affirm the ideal you they are currently and are becoming. Where we aid others. Each of its iterations has brought a new era of story and contemplations into my life. From the Next Generation to Deep Space Nine to Voyager to Enterprise to (Kelvin) Star Trek movies to Discovery to Lower Decks to Picard…each piece introducing new characters, new allegories to our reality now and where we can be, what we can aspire to.

The re-connection to the stories, happened sharply over the last several years as I started to build myself back. As we unearthed, and healed the darkness, smudge and trauma that almost, yes, took my life, though it took me off of one path and opened up an epilogue/prologue upon a new path. A new story. My loving wife and kiddos that have journeyed through much, and we know eyes wide open what has been in all its diverse sorrows to joys, to what we know can be in a hope seen and soon to be lived.

See, for me, as I reflect back on the journey, the long road of getting here. Some may look at the hiccups, the setbacks, the loss, and say, why bother? Or didn’t so and so ruin your life…No they did not. I still remember the day in the early part of my PNES where a congregational cycle of prayer had my son make that statement as I had stepped away a few times from church based ministry to protect him from their heresy & ableism, as with other members of my family at other moments. For me it is about living love, and it is truly about discerning if there is authentic misunderstanding, or simply a desire for a quick apology so one’s own hates are not revealed on the altar for all to see.

But I digress, see there is an understanding that it is not a pollyanic view, especially in our polarized world where many akin the word Christian or Pastor to some device of hatred and exclusion. Or like in Star Trek V when they finally gound “god” and it was revealed to be nothing more than a monster in godcloaking:

Yet, here we are, a long road, some wear and tear, great learnings, lovings, and discoveries.

As was revealed earlier in the movie with the discussion of pain, and the need for the pain to emerge into who we truly are. So it is with each aspect of our life, all the ups and downs, sorrows and joys, losses and wins…they have shaped us…to be with others. To hear the authentic quite voice once more on this journey, one that others have heard.

“it is time to answer hope’s call”

Taking a risk, at this stage of the emegent chapter one of book two, prepared and now stepping in to the uknown. Accepted back to seminary as a student to complete my Master of Divinity. Awaiting the links to open up to apply for funding. To grow my skills, for my writing, community building, and to step back into ministry within the church. And maybe, perhaps, once settled to finish the journey that started with my Psy.D. to finally get my Doctor of Ministry.

To once more, be a pastor.

To aid others in being authentic communities of hope.

To discover honestly, what the quiet voice of the Holy Spirit is whispering to each of us to live out and transform our world for the better.

And yeah, it is one of the scariest steps in my life I have taken.

But also fills me with simply being

content.


13 days to one year, 14 days to the first day of c-tine at home for our whole family (the college I teach at shifted to online delivery March 17, 2020). It’s okay to admit you have hit a threshhold for learning new things.It is okay to breathe.It is okay to take time alone (which is different than being lonely if lonely reach out for phone calls/online calls to folks), for being alone can aid in renewal.It is okay to cultivate new ideas or to simply keep on keeping on with what renews you.It is okay if you haven’t saved any money like the media is saying what a time of savings, cause y’know what being home is costly.It is okay to have ended relationships during this time, because the break made you realize they were toxic, or simply the only thing that kep the relationship going was proximity (nothing positive or negative).It is okay to be tired for no reason.It is okay to admit to not being okay.It is also okay to realize compassion for many in our society who are suffering, who have been excluded, who have been without voice. It is okay to speak about mental health, mental illness, chronic disease death, suicides, and overdoses (for those new to the advocacy call for help, I hope you continue once you no longer have to wear a mask for covid).It is okay to be frustrated/confused/angry due to the restrictions (sorry Alberta still not a lockdown), but end of day, what are you doing to cultivate health and optimism for you and your personal circles of support?It is okay to be okay with the restrictions and masks, and taking extra steps of care for self and neighbour.May as, this time moves forward, and eventually winds down, may we be continue to be okay with discussing tough topics with one another, okay with seeing one another as a full person, and yeah, be okay with doing things for the good of community and neighbour, even if doing that good and support has no direct tie to my own story.Let’s be okay with our journey, our healing, and seeing the good that can be cultivated and emerged from this time.


Since I was allowed to stay up late on Tuesday nights as a little gapher to watch the re-runs on CBC, Star Trek has been a part of my life. The stories, the social commentary, the inclusivity, the knowing of a better future to come. Watching as the technology I have seen on the screen has slowly and then rapidly become a reality. Think of what our Smart Phones (even flip phones) are like communicators, and sometimes tri-corders (and the body scans we can do now, like their med-beds), during C-tine, our video calls I do feel like asking for hailing frequencies to be open on screen. As each new era of the first book of my life emerged, readers know certain stores have resonated from the original, to the Next Generation to Deep Space Nine (DS9) to Enterprise to Voyager, enjoying Discovery, Picard and Lower Decks (looking forward to Prodigy and Strange New Worlds). Yet it is the underlying theme of all belonging, and freely being able to pursue one’s passion as purpose that resonate at the core of the storylines.

Which is why, as this section moves towards a close, this Reading Week as an instructor has been intriguing for what has come into my feeds. Clicked on Crave to watch the next episode of Season 3 of Discovery, and there was a documentary “Woman in Motion” about Nichelle Nicholls (who originated the character of Uhura) and her work with NASA.

I encourage viewing for everyone, but I also encourage discussion and dreming after viewing. The documentary shares the story of Ms. Nicholls, whose Dad never believed in the word, can’t. She shared of being a teenager, and singer with Count Bassie’s orchestra. How the lead singer, a sultry siren, was no longer there, and she got the nod to take the lead imitating her predecessor during the set. At the end, Bassie came to her, and bluntly asked what she was doing? As well, to knock it off, she had actual talent, so sing. Could you imagine the same advice being given to a young woman in the music industry today?

See the source image

The story of her beginning to work with Rodenberry with a role on one episode of his show, “The Lieutenant” around racism, that was so controversial it has never aired. What began that day though was a friendship of deep discussions on importnat issues of justice. Rodenberry promising he would have something for her. What was that? In a show idea known as “Wagon Train to the Stars” that would become Star Trek. The character? One Ms. Nicholls would help name, Uhura, and create. For the command crew of the Enterprise, represented the mosaic of humanity plus a Vulcan. Though during the first season she would see her role continue to shrink to a simple catch phrase “hailing frequencies open” to the point of resigning. It was during this time, at an event, a fan wanted to meet her. She was tired, and did not want to, but the hosts kept pushing, The Fan- Dr. Martin Luther King Jr., the message, you can’t resign. The retort, who are you to tell me how to run my career. The rationale by Dr. King, it is the only show he allows his children to watch, that he makes time to watch with his children. She stayed, an African American Lieutenant, the commander of communications.

The story shifts to the convention era, where she met a person from NASA, as they were moving from the Apollo era to the shuttle era, and Ms. Nicholls, once again challenged the norm, for she pointed out she could not see herself in the astronauts. A visit to NASA revealed the rainbow that made space flight possible, but the actual astronauts had a selection bias, and there was 4 months left to go in recruiting for the program…and Ms. Nicholls was hired, one caveat, she did not want to be a mascot. She took in astronaut training so she knew what she spoke about, she also did not have NASA folks with her when she went on her recruiting talks, filmed her PSA’s for television and radio. 4 month, criss crossing the country, receiving threats of harm when she spoke out, challenging the military recruiting process, as she recruited civilians (and those in the military overlooked) to thousands of applicants to the first 35, adn the friendships she cultivated in there to the Challenger in 1986…\

But her message was simple, she saw something that wasn’t right, and wanted to make it right.

An underpinning of Star Trek, in spite of the Prime Directive. Striving for IDIC (Infinite Diversity in Infinite Combinations), a true courageous space for inclusivity. To move beyond the societal “isms” that were explored in Star Trek Deep Space Nine episode “Beyond the Stars” where Sisko, is back in time as a writer in the 1900s:

Sisko was the writer Benny Russell, who the readers believed was white. The world was very much polarized by colour, at least in the powerful money hands. This is the world that the bridge of Uhura challenged. This is the world that Star Trek in its IDIC continues to challenge, while cultivating critical and ethical thought processes.The shared extended metaphor of Bajoran-Cardassians, in the age of Reconciliaiont, of Settlers-Indigenous. And inspiring folks to discover their passions and pursue them. This is how I shaped the episodes and movies to be used in my teaching with youth and young adults, from exploration nights in youth groups, youth centres, young adult studies, discussion nights, oh and one fun confirmation cycle. It was a pleasure on Friday February 19, 2021 during a video conference out of Costa Rica linking the world (very Trekkie) to be able to thank one of the actors, who states she is a storyteller, Nana Visitor (played Major Kira Nerys in DS9) for the stories that inspired and have been used to inspire so many.

May be an image of 1 person and text that says "TeC ”R Rica Tecnológico de Nana Visitor Friday February 19, 2021, 6pm Costa Rica AORNN SPACE"

A friend and former colleauge in journeying with those in life recovery and exiting homelessness to home, is now at home in Costa Rica cultivating his own passions around space exploration and community building as a teacher. This was a conference part of TEC. The exciting news that kicked off was Costa Rica adopting their own Space Agency (after a long history of working with NASA, and some excellent books co-authored by my friend, Bruce Callow). Their initiatives around education and STEM that has seen them in schools outside of Costa Rica (including Calgary), and having cameos with the books at the last Vul-Con before c-tine (and as rumours/bills from the Town Council of Vulcan the last focused event such as that).

We then shifted to an incredible and inspiring talk by our storyteller. Ms. Visitor shared about those great moments of entering The Flow. That is that moment when everything aligns, and it no longer feels like struggle or work, just going and what amazing things happen within a team when that moment is realized by a team. I have had the pleasure of experiencing those moments in my own writing and teaching, but also in community builidng and spiritual direction with the teams and communities we were a part of, an dyes it is powerful. The challenges thrown out that the way work is done needs to change, understanding work as a person with nothing outside the work is unhealthy and wrong. We need to cultivate a world that allows for healthy balance with work and life, and watch the miracles roll out, just think we have gotten this far with the broken system, how much farther could we go with an unbroken system?

Of course, there was talk of the power of representation within Star Trek, Ms. Visitor sharing when she first read the character of Kira, she thought it was a man, because rolls like that did not exist in the early 90’s for women. And when she found out it wasn’t, she wanted it. She shared on her Women of Trek project, interviewing the actresses who have played the powerful roles. The hope of Ms. Nicholls health holding so after c-tine she will be able to interview her in person for the book/documentary. This was one of the greatest moments, as there was the allusion that inclusivity also involves mental health and disabilities for pursuit of passions. As the character of Tilly in Discovery was brought up, for she is brilliant, yet can be crippled by anxiety, and she is important to show, that we can still be who we are in experiencing the world, and chase our passions.

Which leads us into a reflection for this first weekend of Lent,

If inclusivity was the norm

If you could live your dreams/passions

Who would you be?

*Guess what– that’s who Creator made you to be.

For more on Nana Visitor, read Bruce Callow’s article here.

My Facebook message after the event:


It could be my 335th edition of ecclectica in all its itirations in life, but truly, it is reflecting more of the 335th day of the current exisence. Some days to bring together thoughts, and things of life in the here and now. Before we shift into what life should be through some reflections I just want to share something cool from a friend, and a former colleague, a dreamer living life building community. During c-tine many have been discovering Star Trek Deep Space Nine on streaming services and being astounded they did not know about the complexity, characters, and discussions that leap from every episode, and so compelling and applicable to our curent world. Bruce Callow, as part of his work in Costa Rica and science/space education was able to sit down and interview Nana Visitor (Kiera Nerys) from the show, read the Costa Rican Times article here.

Our road map as a photo collage, we have touched on living dreams to make the world better, and understanding how life experiences shape a person with our interview with Ms. Visitor. Now we move into the ecclecitca, which includes touching on different topics. The highest streaming in North America is of course, that a President whose words, actions and machinations that incited an insurrection where 5 citizens died could be acquitted at his second impeachment trial. It is some what of a commentary on our world, where accountability is only for some, and not reserved for those who scream “persecution” the loudest.

It has become a staple within the Right to Al-Right to Fascist to Neo-Nazi end of the political spectrum. As the right moves further along the spectrum (which when I was a public school student, was taught in school, but currently is not taught as teachers fear being labelled ideologues and lose their job. The result: a less critical thinking electorate and citizenry). The left which goes from Left to Socialist to Communist to Dictatorship to Stalinist is pulled further into the right end of the spectrum, for nature abhors a vacuum, and so does our political ideological entrenching, the chasm being created is one where many are left politically homeless. Where those left politically uninspired either become apathetically complicit for not voting, or do to the rage on one side or the other enter into a highly dualistic co-dependent relationship with an extremist ideology, that has to be completely good as the other side has created that it is evil, and then we are in the shouting match that with a simple match, the tinders can incite violence.

This was a chance in history, for the supposed leader of the Free World, to re-assert the need for healthy dialogue, for holding to account hate and extremism. Instead, they collapsed under the pursuit of power, and shoring up territorial biases and bases. It was a commentary touched upon recently in Canadian politcs by the Rt. Hon. Joe Clark (read article and link to podcast here), where some key points to be extrapolated is that our political leaders of all stripes have become more social media performers, than thought leaders. We as a nation need to demand better, we need to move beyond territorial entrenchment, and party-colour belonging, to push all our national parties to actually be pan-Canadian, to look at what is needed for our nation as a whole. To vision cast, to move beyond the tweet-byte, lay out a vision/dream. To take seriously the character of the local representatives that are running and serving, do they serve all Canadians and their constituents? If it is only serving the party line, then it is a systematic failure. It creates group think, that makes accountability only faux-shows, where parachutes are aligned after the smoke and mirrors. Or accountability is non-existent as we see in Alberta with MLA Barnes & Pitt joiing the Anti-Lockdown Caucus propagated by the People’s Party Maxine Bernier, a party known to overtly affiliate with the Neo-Nazi’s of Canada, and to be blunt the politicians that affiliate are creating streams of disinformation, and wreaking havoc on governments (many they are in the governing caucus’ of) to get traction on a pandemic (and we shall touch on the epidemics of opioids, meth and homelessness in a second).

Which the silent complicity of party leaders not kicking these members from caucus, leads to non-accountability as we saw on display this past Saturday Feb. 13 at CF Chinook Mall with anti-maskers marching through the mall hoping to spread covid, and comparing restrictions as making them the “new Jews” which opens up a whole lot of “WTF” in my mind that we have allowed once again mainstreaming of anti-semitism and the hate that perpetuated a holocaust only 80 years ago (the lifespan of many that are losing their lives in our pandemic currently). Yet, no ticketing, no arrests. Why?

We have created a world, where the smoke and mirrors of personal rights and performance creation of victimhood/persecution lead to 0 accountability. We have stripped the interdependence, as we make each side the other, and the villain. Instead of entering into dialogue. Having said that, I do state clearly when it comes to where the spectrum connects on Facism/Naziisms-Dictatorship/Stalinism, that needs to be called out. Though, we truly need to understand what that is when it is called out, so that the authentic is placed in the cell of silence it belongs in, and the impact of those terms are not destroyed by screaming it at every point we do not agree upon.

Which brings me into the reading of Irshad Manji’s (2019) Don’t Label Me, as a queer-Muslim writer, she has a dialogue with her beloved pup, Lil, about the state of the world. The challenge being revealed, is that we lose ourselves in labels which perpetuate stereotypes, and do not allow us to meet the person to see who they actually are. It is within her words she shares about moderate Republicans she has met who do not hold to the MAGA/Q Cult. She also shares about her own journey in faith, and the push back from other progressive quarters of atheism that do not want to hear the word faith even on things as innocuous as Facebook, taking offense that someone should not share that for fear of offense. It really is a call to keep ourselves safe, but also to get to know our neighbour and understand the anti-fascist, anti-rascist movements in the light of the impact on the other they have. There is a great story she shared of two friends in Missisipi and the move to change the flag, one a hip-hop artist, who speaks their truth to the symbology and the pain it brings, another, a man in the Confederate lineage that does not see a problem with the flag on their part. But then astutely shares, the hip-hop artist is their friend, and it causes pain, so “I have a choice, to take action to remedy, or not be a part of the change conversation and play the victim afterwards”. A proactive entering into discussion.

As a writer, I appreciate labels and stereotypes. When working a work of fiction they allow for a quick visual or quick reference words to create a word image for the viewer, yet we are living in this world where everyone is defined by the labels and no one wants to move beyond the label to meet the person underneath. Would we be able to shift our world to a better place if the more moderate on the spectrum connected and found the common ground once more? Built the bridge across the chasm that has been created by the extremists?

For it is the fear induced by the extremists that continues to perpetuate the hate and systematic racisms/injustices in our society. For the purity test on the other extreme just leaves them to default to where they are okay with the norm, instead of creating space to accept in the journey of life a person learns and grows and changes.

This is the message that resounds in the closing chapters of DC Comics’ New 52 Superman. In his final days, where a perfect tri-fecta has left him dying, he sets out to live the hope of his symbol until his last days. To try to lay the groundwork for it to continue. My question though, is do we have to wait until we are in a dire circumstance? Until the match has been lit again and people are dying? Until we are in the last days of life, to understand what it takes to create a legacy? Or can we simply leave each day knowing we have a story, and others we meet will have a story…

This is the challenge when individuals look to government policy as the silver bullet or cure solution. The challenge being in our current world of entrenchment, and each side needing to be able to claim the “holy and good” side, or to the spoils go the victor, much is missed. Framing the idea of ending homelessness. It is a broad and hard topic that hits the grieving of change vectors of individuals and communities. The first challenge is one has to understand how we have done as a society, has been okay, but in the first part of the 21st century decisions made have left many in poverty and homelessness and this is not okay. It is okay to admit we have made a societal mistake and want to move on. It is about being able to bring fresh eyes/heart to something like UBI, where many trip up thinking it is another layer of government entitlements added to the system and this is what trips up on costs of– it is a replacment for the piecemeal approach to support, it is stripping away the money wasted on disproving claims and the appeals process, it leverages technology to simply be. It removes space for individual grants if one has a dream for a small business, and gives space to let that happen, for artisans to flourish, and create new dynamic spaces for meeting, discussion, critical thought, it provides the top up for minimum wage jobs so they become living wage, as the pandemic has shown, each role is necessary for our society to function. The fist step though, is allowing permission to admit the bias and misunderstanding, and accepting that all can change. To shift the discussion from yes-no, to how. But first we have to allow the ability to acknowledge mistakes and change at the individual, the instittutional and the system level.

Permission to acknowledge mistakes is one of the things missing from public discourse. It is what leads to the unaccountability for actions. See, mistakes happen, some big, some minor, and we have to accept the accountability for those actions whether they were intentional or unintentional. I teach my students, each time I pushed the boundaries of the rules or broke them, I fully and rationally understoon what I was doing, and knew that worst case scenario it could lead to unemployment, and I was okay with that. Each person needs to be. Unfortuantely this quest for profit and power over people, has created a world where we do not expect accountability (good or ill) for our actions. We also have created a world where we cannot openly admit mistakes, or when we struggle.

That ties into a blessing I received for a Christmas gift. The complete CBS series of Elementary on DVD. I am a Sherlockian (I belive that is the right term), as I was introduced to the stories first through the ol’ Basil Rathbone movies on PBS, then reading Doyle’s stories, and the comics, enjoyed RDJ’s Sherlock Holmes movies, and Cumberbatch’s Sherlock. But there was something about this imaginging of Holmes in the modern world, with his sober companion Dr. Joan Watson into America. Holmes as we meet him is a recovering addict (the usage is part of the original stories, but was always on the fence for the reader if it went from simple Subtance Use/Social Use to Misuse/Substance Abuse). There is a beautiful scene opening up the first episode of Season 2, with Holmes in a meeting, and he openly talks about his usage, and that he feels he was born 100 to 200 years late, as the world would have been so much quieter, and perhaps then he would not have been an addict. This is also the episode where we meet his brother, Mycroft, and begin to understand the interplay of family in recovery, and what happens for both sides to see the other in their new reality, with new hearts. This is the beauty of Elementary it’s authentic portrayal of addiction, recovery and reconnection. The use of not only purpose in the process of being a part of community, but authentic belonging.

As the life and discography of Johnny Cash would illustrate, purpose is about what resonates deep within us. Belonging is those authentic folks who we connect with. For Cash it was about the music, his faith, and more, the story of his wife, and how that connection turned his life.

This is where we miss the mark in society on our march to end homelessness. We hold it is about upper-middle class developer housing- a house or a condo or an apartment. It goes deeper than that. It is about belonging. The government monies and policies speak to capacity and stock in the system to allow one (or family to be housed), same goes for the donations to non-profits. Decades ago I helped in writing policy for the now non-existant Federal PC Party, that spoke of all types of housing stock to have 10% put on an affordable sliding scale to aid in the stock on affordable housing, which very few took up as it was seen as to out there as what would your neighbour think finding out they are paying this and you are paying that (what does it matter what each of us pays, as long as we are all in community in a healthy way). By providing safe housing, that is designed for the needs of community members, we remove external stressors on their determinants of health, by providing a UBI, which allows for housing and food security, we remove layers of stressors/traumas on one’s healthy that actually burden more expensive systems of care on the emergency response end. As one ages in place, the costs on the system align with other neighbours.

Then it becomes more complex, as it is about moving beyond labels, for what to do with neighbours that may be provocateurs? Disruptors? If they are breaking by-laws/laws, it does not matter if they have lived next door for 20 years, moved in from another community or exited homelessness. This is where accountability for actions matter. What is needed in community is free options for neighbours to connect and get to know one another, so we are able to know what is typical behaviour, and when they need us to be present. This is why public libraries are so amazing, it is the one space left in our Western World where you can exist without having your bank account value checked. It is why I love seeing religious groups opening their doors for community meals, space for neighbours to meet together. A universal approach where there is no means test to access, simply saying come and break bread together. What if community associations created the same space? Are there volunteers out there that would share their skills for knitting circles? Meals? Book clubs? A space for those that live in community to use to connect based on hobbies and interests?

What if this allowed for funding from municipalities so that the halls were not constantly driven for rental incomes, and become spaces to cultivate getting to know one another beyond labels?

Think as we head into our civic elections in Alberta this October, what dream is there for a healthy and robust community beyond NIMBYISM, beyond labels…what does it look like for authentic belonging for all? For connecting? For purpose that is not tied to simply work?

I bring this up because it is one of the quick arguments of some, as to why we have a means test and work so hard to keep people from accessing Alberta Works and direct to day jobs in construction (which devalues the actual skill set it takes for what is classed as unskilled casual day labour, trust me, if my Dad, a general contractor and Master Electrician is aiding me on a DIY in house, it works, to my own skill set not so much). I am an Albertan and do not believe this ludicrousness. The entitlement is there for those in need. Not once they have cashed out all their savings and retirements then help. It is there for help. Say what we will on the back end of sorting out CERB and the possibility of taxation for those that made too much, at least those who needed it got it. See what shifts when we look at supporting one another in need? Not simply, trying to root out a fraudster?

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Same in our systems of housing, of care– why so much added trauma and stress to access the supports needed for physical, developmental or mental health?

Why not a robust system to allow for thriving, where we trust the family doctors and specialists that what is being asked for is needed?

Imagine how different our world would be?

See, Johnny Cash, found his belonging in his faith…

Others find their belonging through hobbies, interests, politics, philosophies, their faith. As we have moved into more commuter communities we have lost the local connection. We scream shop local currently, but miss a deeper point for health on the other side of c-tine:

Live Local.

For when we live local. When we connect, and know one another’s stories and journeys. It becomes truly hard to stigmatize, or live in fear. We can move through the grieving of change together. For it is in moving forward in understanding root causes we can truly make a difference.

It is in being present, that we live out the evidence.

For in that prescence with one another, we have to see the intrinsic value of our neighbour. The instrinsic value in human life, no matter what path brought you to that shared point of view with so many. Which shifts the discussion then from either or in solving our substance abuse epidemics of opioids and meth, to focus on the person behind the substance and their story. It leads us to understand for some the path is abstinence, for some it is harm reduction in the healing. It is a necesary spectrum, for as each person has intrinsic value, and are the protagontists of their own story, so too does each have a path of healing that touches on the tools of systems, theories and practices we try to create our own silos and chasms with. Instead of understanding, oh so simply, regardless of the theoretical label placed on the tool, it can be adapted for the person before us. The neighbour only finding away to numb the pain or silence the chaos.

Connecting.

Belonging.

Purpose.

Ideals that overlay so many things in our lives. That when truly sought, we can begin to accept the different paths to the same community. When sought healthily so many underlying causes can have truth spoken into them, space held, and reconciliation lived into.

Yet, it begins with you and me, not as an I, but as a We.. Your decision. Your choice. Your voice.

Become…

Our reconciliation. Our dialogue. Our decision, Our choice. Our voice.

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