Posts Tagged ‘Calling’


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.


It is a weird thought on day 272 of working from home due to the pandemic, that it is also the Sunday of Joy in Advent, the four weeks of preparation leading up to Christmas. We’ve already reflected on Hope & Peace. To come is Faith & Love. Today is joy:

Song for reflection play here.

Read Luke 1 here.

As I have shared previously, my family is taking time each night to sing a Christmas song, and spend time reading a chapter of the Gospel of Luke, discussing and then prayer. It is our way to re-enter the story of joy at the darkest time of year that the Nativity (if you would like to reflect on the Gospel of Matthew, and Jesus’ genealogy I invite you to view this service here , from Bow Valley Christian Church). invites us into. I mean, whether it is historically factual or a literary device, the idea of taking a donkey road tri through precarious occupied lands as a 15-16 year old very pregnant betrothed and a man leaning towards middle age was not what they wanted on their dance card as newly weds. Taking the journey through the usual travel dangers, illness, and stressors plus I am sure what we would come to call Highwaymen, the Romans who would view you as nothing more than property to play or rape with as they saw fit if the fancy took them…never mind being of the labouring class and no guarantee of a safe space to stay once in Bethlehem. Yet this is not the stress on the discernment to go, rather a spiritualized PSA for those in the Christianities bemoaning the current health restrictions in Alberta…look what Mary and Joseph undertook? Now where a mask.

But there is a story of discernment for joy that I would like to reflect into today, and that is from Luke 1, the story of Zacharias and Elizabeth. I can just imagine these scenarios, the Holy seeking consent from Elizabeth and the questions arising in her mind and heart, or as they are known in coaching, gremlins (read more about the practice of dealing with gremlins here). Things around her age? Her ability? That he should really be proper and be asking her husband Zacharias? For you see, I know this wasn’t in the text, but seeing how the Holy approached Mary, I assume, the same conversation happened and what we see is it reflected in the ripple effect to Zacharias. Who was doing his duty, his calling, with rope tied to him to enter the Holy of Holies so if he were to die because he was not clean enough to be there he could be pulled out.

See the source image

Instead he too has a conversation, with many gremlins arising in his own heart and mind, around age, around everything that the religious and villagers had put upon his family for who they were, and without child over their entire marriage. I can only imagine the thoughts, feelings, impulses, and emotions both Zacharias and Elizabeth felt with this calling, and request for an immense course correction. I mean, it left Zacharias mute until John was to be born, to show the belonging, inclusivity, and joy within the journey in spite of the hurdles, hardships, gremlins and barriers.

Personally, I had a different reflection for joy laid out. It was to be on more about the unmuting of Zacharias, the birth of John, and the celebration. Yet, life changes, and things become more real. I thought this, and my social media after a message on Friday would be one of celebration. It still can be, but some reactions coming out of others gremlins from our shared lived experience in Christendom, triggered my own gremlins that have been wrestled, rummaged, and shredded– yet as we know, in times of duress and stress they can re-emerge for it is our comfort zone. They impede and hold us back, just as Zacharias and Elizabeth’s that were alluded to could and should have held them back, yet…another choice was made.

A choice to challenge the gremlin.

To find the joy in the journey, as well as the destination (not a simple either or, but a mutually healthy both and). To move into the courageous safe space of a calling, and let the journey take us to the resounding, and powerful YES, that Elizabeth would experience with meeting Mary, and their babies shared joy of expectations.

So it is now, on the road of my own journey, as another semester of teaching comes to a close in a few days. Something that may be celebratory in the inbox. Awaiting the entry into the final leg of the epilogue of my first book in my life trilogy, will I have refound the voice, as Zacharias did at John the Baptist’s birth? To celebrate the old call (what’s 22 years?) made new again? Or will the gremlins once again silence that which can bring light and love?

This is where we are as we wrestle with joy each and every day of life, since August 15, 2017, and for the past 272 days where I can look back and mourn, weep, and allow it to stagnate, or realize and live into the mystery the Holy has laid out for myself and my family. That is, the journey of joy and the discovery of the Christ-child, each day.

What is the call you are not answering?

What joy will that journey bring?

Aspire to be the best you

Posted: February 22, 2020 by Ty in Spirituality
Tags: , , , ,

Image result for fighting with my familyOkay there are many issues one can have with professional wrestling, I have enjoyed and vented about things with the sports entertainment, and probably the last time I watched any full program was around 2009…but it has produced some important lessons for life, and that is what the movie, Fighting with my Family (2019) is. It is a story of learning to belong in your own skin, and vocation. On its surface it is a comedic bio-pic of Norwich, England’s Paige’s rise from a family run promotion across the pond to WWE Diva Champion.

It is the family’s dream after eldest son imploded after not making the WWE, for the other 2 children to ascend to greatness–they are wrestlers, aside from their own promotion they also run a wrestling school for the neighbourhood kids and youth (including one teen who is sight impaired) to give them something besides the hoodlums and gangs to be apart of.

The most telling points of this movie (and if your group is okay with language I would suggest it can be used for junior high age and up as a discussion tool)…is Paige’s journey into discovery of who she is, and not what her family’s dream is for her, but what is her dream for herself?

A deeper story though is for the brother, Zak, who didn’t make it…and discovering what he is meant to do? How to use your passion to make your corner of the world a better place. For his inner struggle is so wrapped up in what he believed his calling to be, he could not see the living calling he was already doing within his own community and family to transform the world–even though he was teaching a sight impaired teenager to wrestle…

How often do we lose sight of the impact we are making in our world and living out our calling, because we get wrapped in what ifs, ought tos, and yearning for what another has. The movie creates a fun atmosphere to discuss all these ideas. The core though is to ground yourself, and aspire to be the best you–you can…not the next (insert famous name here).

 

 

 


The Jonah Effect is an earlier post reflecting on the minor prophet Jonah, and his story. Not just re-sharing that shows to one that you can come back to sacred stories and more than one reflection can grow out of it, as well depending on the time and moment in your life they can speak differently. Same is said of Jonah, and anomaly in that it is a nouwen quotestory of a snap shot in the life of the prophet. A prophet called by God to go to the enemy Assyria’s capital city of Nineveh, and offer them not destruction but a chance to change direction. The same choice that Israel kept getting through the prophetic voices of the 12.

Jonah’s life becomes the prophetic message of transformation and hope. Of not getting lost in one’s own anger and denial, but in hearing clearly what God is whispering to screaming into our heart. Where Nineveh brings up the communal trauma, anger and hatred that the nation lived (1:2); it was Jonah’s refusal to see beyond his own anger and fear (hearing anything, about our own communal and institutional transformations? Changes? Personal and corporate callings?).

He charted a boat to escape, and as noted in the Jonah Effect, the storm so scared the sailors, they cast him over to which:

[a] And the Lord appointed[b] a great fish to swallow up Jonah. And Jonah was in the belly of the fish three days and three nights.

Then Jonah prayed to the Lord his God from the belly of the fish, saying,

“I called out to the Lord, out of my distress,
    and he answered me;
out of the belly of Sheol I cried,
    and you heard my voice.

-Jonah 1:17-2:2 (English Standard Version)

Jonah wasn’t getting the hint. The change afoot. God saved him from Sheol, the warehouse of the souls that have gone before regardless of being righteous or unrighteous, simply a place of darkness. Out of this Jonah says God hears him. Out of the darkness of Jonah’s own soul, out of the hatred, fear, anger and denial in his grief cycle-change cycle of his own life? The life of his nation? Understanding more deeply, the Shema?

This time in the belly of the beast is an allegory used for the death time of Jesus in the tomb in the Christian testament. It is a time of rebirth and resurrection, not simply a retreat. The kernels of new life were laid, for the communal understanding. Not just  one man in a fish. Vomited freshly onto dry land.

jonah

And the Lord spoke to the fish, and it vomited Jonah out upon the dry land.-Jonah 2:10 (ESV)

But even on dry land he was still struggling with his anger, and change. Jonah was outside the city gates with the tree, and a worm was sent to whither it to get Jonah back on track. Continuing to strip away what Jonah understood as blessing in the new world changing before him. Jonah’s anger has so consumed him again when he let it so consume him that, well…

When the sun rose, God appointed a scorching east wind, and the sun beat down on the head of Jonah so that he was faint. And he asked that he might die and said, “It is better for me to die than to live.” But God said to Jonah, “Do you do well to be angry for the plant?” And he said, “Yes, I do well to be angry, angry enough to die.” 10 And the Lord said, “You pity the plant, for which you did not labor, nor did you make it grow, which came into being in a night and perished in a night. 11 And should not I pity Nineveh, that great city, in which there are more than 120,000 persons who do not know their right hand from their left, and also much cattle?”

-Jonah 4:8-11 (ESV)

Think beyond yourself. Think beyond your anger. The bush became a metaphor for what the anger was doing to Jonah’s soul, given time to resurrect, and still he let it consume him. How hard, once released, is it to exorcise the cancer of anger from our souls? The writer, like with good fantasy and science fiction, uses hyperbole, brings elements of the world and creation (political and environmental) into play to create the interior conflict within the lead character, so that by the end, in good rabbi tradition, the transformation is left to the reader to experience with the deep Star Trekkian question, where should our pity lie?

Or to flip it,

Where should our love and hope root and grow?

Are we ready for the journey from fish to heart of the sacred?


It was the flashbacks I truly did not want to relive. A week from hell for me emotionally, mentally and spiritually as the last vestige of healing scar tissue was torn away through neuro events. But it is the struggle to reclaim what is good in the memory, to re-heal. Not just succumb to the darkness of loss. Yet it is hard when you realize how drastically a system failed her, a system that sees nothing wrong in their actions, a system that blamed her child for not bringing her out of the mental illness they calcified in her soul. Her battle with cancer was long with many ups and downs that saw her transition living facilities many times throughout the years. From homestead to lodge to hospital to long-term care. The unfortunate piece of our health care system is no acknowledging the need for holistic care of the individual for cancer is not just physiological—it strips a person emotionally, mentally and spiritually. Therefore, we see defeat, anger, Post Traumatic Stress Disorder, Depression and Anxiety. But the system is not designed to continually engage people at appropriate levels, I saw events planned that would hold no interest for anyone regardless of their capacity or health yet the system pushed these out as “social events” to build resiliency. A system where an ill-trained palliative person told my Mum she was dying. That night on the phone was one of the few times I heard my Mum swear with her “No shit Sherlock” comment…but it was the beginning of the downward, for it had made real that which her faith had been fighting against in our many phone talks multiple times a day, or when my family would visit her as often as we could.

But the time she heard the nurse yell at me in the hallway:

“You’re her son, get her to chipper up she’s only dying and has become a depressing person. That’s your job to make her happy and fix it.”

-The Nurse

                The nurse did not appreciate my retort and it is a family blog. But I saw pain in my Mum’s eyes for now she believed she was a burden.

It took a lot to get through the hassles and hoops of institutions from health to religion to get an Anglican priest to spend time with her. After she was broken spiritually and had given up her phone to speak to the outside world. The time of reconciliation when I spoke with her after the visit brought her soul piece. It proves to me that when talk of being palliative happens with patients there needs to be acknowledgement of their spiritual cultural roots and individuals from those roots should be involved in bringing the news, and reading the situation (and many who have known me know that I have been the one to sit and walk during this time). I do believe her outcome may not have changed, but the path there would have been immensely different.

Her last weekend, though, my old life loving Mum resurged, and she had time to play a little, joke and sing a little with her grandkids. Her Leland, had become her pal of comfort on family times and events ensuring his Nana was taken care of by sitting next to her and even with his cerebral palsy getting her things she needed. Her little Princess, was all about the songs and dancing and fancy Nancy times (My Mum would always chuckle how she skinned her chicken nuggets when we would go to McDonald’s). My kids were born after my Mum was diagnosed, but this weekend, this day I know it was the simpler joy of being family that mattered.

Sadly, a few days later my Mum’s journey would transition her to as my daughter always believes, the “great tea party” in Heaven being simply love.  Centennial Presbyterian Church would continue being apart of the life journey of our family (both myself and my daughter are VBS kids, we as a family had been members for a time).

It was the last place my Mum would publicly hear me preach.

“We could always come to your Mum if our family needed food and she had this pantry”

-Neighbour at her Celebration of Life Tea

It is the spiritual place that opened their building to our family. A place I celebrated her life, and yes even in the whispers I heard the hecklers stating I dishonoured, but allowed the majority of those that saw her light shine through drown out. For I knew I had shared everything she told me she wanted in a simple service, before high tea.

“Everything I have heard today makes me wish I could have known this quirky amazing loving lady who was a neighbour and Mum to many”

-Rev. Smith (from Centennial) attending to support my family.

And months later, it would be the last public sermon I would give in 2014 doing pulpit supply. I stood in the pulpit I had celebrated my Mum’s life, next to the altar that had bore her ashes. Knowing she would never be able to hear me again. Sit in the pew with that smile.

Do I miss preaching?

Yes. I have had opportunities to speak, but no pulpits have called since…perhaps one day one will again.

“One day a church will be brave enough to call you. When that happens, I will join and be there every Sunday to support you and your family.”

My Mum, on the many trials of churches I had traveled through

Playlist:

Paul Brandt’s Jesus Loves Me

Brad Paisley’s Me and Jesus

Paul Brandt’s Amazing Grace

End Notes:

  • I want to acknowledge and honour her family (blood and chosen (close friends)) that continued the journey with her, my Dad who was the hardest working, and loving husband and Dad during this time.
  • My Mum gave me an old King James Bible when I returned to church at 19 years old and began teaching Sunday School. She also bought me the bible I took with me and wore out in my years at Bible College. Growing up each summer until we aged out, she would register me for the Vacation Bible School at Centennial Presbyterian Church, she would always encourage a simple belief in God is love, and to do good things.
  • I did attempt to file complaints and advocate for better mental health care in rural Alberta at the time, but AHS and the Health Ministry under our previous government would not respond.
  • There was nothing nefarious on the timing of my last pulpit supply, I have been booked for speaking, teaching, and life celebrations since, but no pulpits have opened.
  • Mum memorial 

Sons of the Father

Posted: July 14, 2014 by Ty in Musings
Tags: , , , ,

A rejuvenation of discovery comes to a close. The tenth and final volume of Starman, Sons of the Father reveals the mystery of the Starman of 1951…and is a very metaphysical ride, but at its heart is the story of a decision.

Or as Superman would bring it together for Jack Knight, some are called to the life for life, others for a time (season) as Jack’s love Sadie, pregnant and betrothed to Jack at the end of 9th book left him and his son with the Mist 2 (read Night and Day for the full effect)to be a single Dad and make decisions on his calling.

Was he still needed as Starman or is his time at an end to pursue love and family in San Francisco?

We have all had callings within our life, some have been for seasons (for me this was more likely the years spent in Church Ministry, a season not a life, could it be rekindled, possibly, but I have passed the bible baton to others better suited) or callings meant to be life long or at least until a season closes…

One has to ponder their choices, those that they pass the baton to continue the work, make their good byes and accept their next steps into the future. Sometimes we get to make these choices ourselves, other times they are thrust upon us by circumstance, but true health comes from coming to the same point of acceptance, closure and moving forward.

So what is your current life calling?

Is this part of a larger meta-calling or a calling for a season?

What is your choice in pursuit of love?