Posts Tagged ‘Franciscan’


20 For ever since the world was created, people have seen the earth and sky. Through everything God made, they can clearly see his invisible qualities—his eternal power and divine nature. So they have no excuse for not knowing God.

-Romans 1:20 (New Living Translation)

Okay before the slew of anger mail starts, I realize I have pointed out multiple ties that within the Christianities due to what is in and out of canon there is multiple bibles, but this goes beyond that discourse. This takes it to a higher level, and is an idiom of my Franciscan days:

Creation is the first bible which has been written over 13.7 billion years, and then the Hebrew Bible/Christian Testament began being written.

The point is simple and direct for us to remember in our communion/love of the Holy. That we are within the Holy, the Holy is within us, and everything happens resonates the same. Some may give a feeble Force analogy, and it is beyond that, it is not pantheism, but rather a devout understanding of Panentheism, and a connective understanding to the Cosmic Christ. As Pseudo-Paul writes (that is a writer/student shaped and discipled by the Apostle Paul) in support of Panentheism:

11 Here there is no Gentile or Jew, circumcised or uncircumcised, barbarian, Scythian, slave or free, but Christ is all, and is in all.

-Colossians 3:11 (New International Version)

It also understands, as those who read my Mary theology, will begin to understand the brave teenage mum of Nazareth became the archetype for the “Goddess” “Divine Feminine” and (Lady) “Wisdom” (of the Hebrew Bible) within the non-Protestant churches that venerate her. The complete Imageo Dei that we seem to forget, both (or more precise– all genders, races, cultures, abilities, sexualities and other nuanced labels we attempt to use to segregate and disempower with in our religious discourse)–are created in the image of the Holy Mystery and called very blessed.

The question for us, is which Holy Scriptures do we experience and live in, and learn to love through? Is there a difference when one is in communion with Holy Love?

 

 

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A second post was necessary because the Lectionary gave such rich stories from the Hebrew Bible and Christian Testament for Sunday June 9– Pentecost Sunday. What’s a lectionary? It is the way readings are designed (one from Hebrew Bible, one Psalm or portion, One Gospel, and One Epistle (letter)) for each Sunday so that in 3 years all texts are touched upon in Sunday worship.  Aside from the birth of the church (Acts 2) and the ancient myth of Babel (Genesis 11) there was a gospel reading (perhaps a youtube video to come)…but there was a Psalm and a writing of Paul that I think speaks to our current time, where politically, religiously and everywhere we are becoming so entrenched we are unable to actually discuss topics for growth.

The last provincial election in Alberta illustrated this point, especially with producing a legislature made up of only 2 parties. Essentially one must say I hold to this or that. The party machines do not have to actually listen to constituents. It also crops up in Environmentalism, sports, religion… no middle ground of consensus or question asking allowed… just blind devotion and if you are not of the blind devotees you are the outsider.

Let’s pause and wonder what that means? The ancient prayer attributed to St. Francis has a line in it about Seeking to understand and not be understood. Even 800 years ago we had this glitch. Listening to build a response, to correct, or to pummel our belief system NOT to actually listen to the person and see what is happening below the surface. This is how we lose the focus on addiction treatment because we treat the addiction not the root causes (lack of belonging, trauma). Why we are lost in a society of chronic anxiety (what if I don’t hold point a or b, then I do not belong, I am not worthy). The list can go on and on.

Over the past several years I was finally sidelined by a life of ministry due to, finally diagnosed, Psychogenic Non-Epileptic Seizures (due to a-typical PTSD).  It led to my current book as I entered into the treatment and healing process, Soul Ripples, which first started out as a story of mental health in my family, and then laser pointed to how those stepping stones led to me in ministry, and seeking to answer the question of who is my neighbour?

The answer though is found first, in the quote of Francis of Assisi, seek to understand not be understood. Understand those before me, understand those who came before me, understand how it works within my own life…for creation is interdependent.

This brings us to our first reflective piece from the Psalms. These are ancient poems, prayers, hymns and songs that reflect the story of God with Creation, and Creation with God, in all its glory and ugliness. Consider these words from Psalm 104: 24-35 (ESV):

Lord, how manifold are your works!
    In wisdom have you made them all;
    the earth is full of your creatures.
25 Here is the sea, great and wide,
    which teems with creatures innumerable,
    living things both small and great.
26 There go the ships,
    and Leviathan, which you formed to play in it.[b]

27 These all look to you,
    to give them their food in due season.
28 When you give it to them, they gather it up;
    when you open your hand, they are filled with good things.
29 When you hide your face, they are dismayed;
    when you take away their breath, they die
    and return to their dust.
30 When you send forth your Spirit,[c] they are created,
    and you renew the face of the ground.

31 May the glory of the Lord endure forever;
    may the Lord rejoice in his works,
32 who looks on the earth and it trembles,
    who touches the mountains and they smoke!
33 I will sing to the Lord as long as I live;
    I will sing praise to my God while I have being.
34 May my meditation be pleasing to him,
    for I rejoice in the Lord.
35 Let sinners be consumed from the earth,
    and let the wicked be no more!
Bless the Lord, O my soul!
Praise the Lord!

 

In our thankfully dying or dead Christendom there are three doctrines that have created the inter-generational and cross creation traumas that still permeate our world today. The doctrine of Dominion, Discovery and Colonialism. Colonialism is the might makes right, our god is mightier than your god so we are coming in to take control as we were not there it is now ours (plant a flag if you will) definitely ripples from the ancient world until today (for Trekkies this the Cardassian, Klingon or Romulan mindset). The other is Discovery, which Rev. Mark Tremblay of Knox Presbtyerian in Calgary had an excellent discussion on June 10 about. I will give a sound byte at best, but it is the idea that due to discovery a new land it is now ours to do with as we see fit–our right to exterminate or proselytize at the point of the sword as we see fit (carried through from at least the Crusades, but also a formed vengeance response in my opinion from how the Roman Empire treated Christians before Constantine converted circa 325 CE making Christianity and Empire Religion and birthing Christendom). All these backed up by politically informed translations of ancient stories and teachings (as even after Protestantism, the churches were mostly driven by Monarchs ruling by divine right).

Doctrine of Dominion comes out of the stories in Genesis 3, original sin or blessing depending on your point of view, as Adam and Eve are removed from the garden they are given the earth… The idea that fuels dominion is it is ours to basically use as we see fit.Which has led to some atrocious practices overtime. The rise of environmentalism is a good thing for it recaptures that we were blessed to be caretakers of creation for it is interdependent with us. This is what we can learn and share with our Indigenous family. The challenge is to understand what that means.

Instead as we work to move through the death of Christendom how to care for creation has become screaming echo chambers where you are either a dominionist or an environmentalists. That is wrong. Extremism exists in all movements. Why I say it is wrong because it removes all of the human family from the equation, it accepts a some left behind philosophy which is not what resonates within the words of this Psalm. For Canada today it is becoming the bridge of healing, and seeking to understand. Declaring a ban on single use plastics is not effective. What is effective is a discussion with all who will be impacted. It can be as fascious as I dislike paper straws to some persons with disabilities who literally need a single use plastic straw to drink for life.

What do you do with this? You do not knee jerk to answer with whatever your stock answer is. You do not throw out terms of medical exemptions to further stigmatize. You talk to citizens and stake holders and find out what is possible. What can be easily banned (plastic bags can be replaced by hemp, or compostable bags) and challenge industry of cigarettes that filters are no longer allowed, you then move to the challenge looking at places like Nordic countries that have ways to transform garbage to energy. See what begins happening? You look to a problem, you address it in a way that comes to a solid grounding of moving through and dealing with the issue with the best impact to creation as a whole, but no citizen is left behind. For change management understand that every change is a form of grieving, for some losses have been compounding regardless of ideology and for health, to end hate and anger, we need to address it honestly, openly and give space for healthy release and redirection.

Why?

Well, see I think if you hold to the words of Jesus of Nazareth, then you have to think of Paul. He was a lynch mob leader, high religious authority that through mystical experience came to discover what authentic love and belonging were (what God’s love is big enough for all, no qualifiers? Yes it is, Jesus said so). Anywho…look at this reminder language as Paul tries to break the ideological entrenchment of insider/outsider in the early church between Jewish and Non-Jewish believers in a letter he wrote to the gathering in Rome (Romans 8:14-17):

 For all who are led by the Spirit of God are sons[a] of God. 15 For you did not receive the spirit of slavery to fall back into fear, but you have received the Spirit of adoption as sons, by whom we cry, “Abba! Father!”16 The Spirit himself bears witness with our spirit that we are children of God, 17 and if children, then heirs—heirs of God and fellow heirs with Christ, provided we suffer with him in order that we may also be glorified with him.

This is why Christendom was politics, power and control. It was explicitly what Jesus and his early followers fought against. It created a caste system and, in the vernacular of some old police procedural shows and mysteries “NHI” (no humans involved). Paul echoed as strongly as he could that the old ways, the old chains were shattered, we were family. The adoption language has been used to enforce the barbarism of Christendom, most recently Residential Schools in Canada, for it allows the idea that it is up to us to be a refuge and civilization-share the faith, the nice language we cloak our institutionalized genocide in, because they were “heathen” or NHI.

But here’s the thing…Jesus was adopted by Joseph. The Empire saw Jesus, Joseph and Mary as NHI, even those Jesus built community with it is how the religious saw those folks. Hitting close to home? Who are the NHI or your movement? May not be overt hate statements, could be like the straw ban, well y’know but the planet…

Or it could be the old stand by “I hate the sin, but love the sinner”…

Nope.

Family.

Love no qualifiers.

It is the qualifiers where we get into trouble. It is in Dominion, Discovery, and Colonialism. As we continue to reconcile, speak truth, and attempt to listen where our structures do not allow for true healing. Where we have a report after listening of decades of Missing Murdered Indigenous Women and Girls where it fits definitions of genocide but international law does not allow for statements to be made strongly to that effect. In essence those that would take the stand could then be the one’s prosecuted for it, which is not right. We are the grandchildren of a system, echos are still reverberating, but what drove it is dead or dying…the Quiet Revolution Quebec had in the 1930-1940’s, is echoing across Canada.

But we do need to listen, and not to respond or continue to slam with facts. We need to listen to those that affirm, question, and deny… listen to understand what is happening in their own hearts. You can not destroy hate and anger with more hate and anger, but you can heal it with love.

And some savvy words spoken in wisdom…for wherever one is on the spectrum of whether it was genocide or not…one thing as a nation we need to truly affirm is that those commissioned to protect us as citizens, our police forces/services, have allowed serial rapists and serial killers to propagate unchecked within our borders for decades because of who the victims were.

We let horrors happen to our neighbour, because we did not want to look in the mirror and challenge our underlying assumptions of life. Which truly, if you have taken on the Christian Journey as laid out by our Brother Jesus of Nazareth, it is a constant re-examining…

When you approach ethics, morality, values and those undervalued who are your NHI’s?

Are you willing to leave someone unprotected or behind to remain unchallenged or comfortable in your ideology?

Or

Are you willing to listen, and love for a better world.


The back and forth one just has to ponder the questions and reports Paul got back from Corinth. He enters into a situation of basically bringing forth the ideal of not just speaking, but acting from the heart (2 Corinthians 4) . Paul uses a Platonic structure of spirit and mass being separated, but there is a deeper glean for us, as we look upon the light that emerges and shines forth. A hearer will know that it is about no longer compartmentalizing, entering into authentic relationship with self is the first step. Yes, that is the scariest sentence of authenticity ever, YOU AUTHENTIC WITH YOU. That is when the light bursts through the sludge and into the outside world.

This leads into the rallying cry of building upon personal wholeness to spread the word (2 Corinthians 5) of reconciliation with God. Now, many have heard this rallying cry and see it as a formula, a personal sinner’s prayer, a certificate, a check box and move on. This is not what Paul is putting out. It was not a quick prayer and check box that brought the light out of you (me), rather it was and is a continual journey of new discoveries of ways we are within and through the Holy Mystery, that some religions have termed God.

It is the true concept of Truth and Reconciliation. We know the life we have lived, we can share it, but should not focus on it, get the healing necessary in whatever form it takes, move forward in new life, new community (reconciliation) is the true rallying cry. Reconciliation of self, neighbour within the Holy Mystery and I wonder if this was the pursuit of the organization of Church Inc./Christendom, personal and communal health and wholeness, not numbers in the pews and dollars in the bank account if there would be a tectonic shift in the health of our world’s shared soul consciousness?

Working together with him, then, we appeal to you not to receive the grace of God in vain. For he says,

“In a favorable time I listened to you,
and in a day of salvation I have helped you.”

-Epistle of 2 Corinthians 6:1-2 (English Standard Version)

Bridging into the journey further. Soul work is personal, and corporate. The journey of life recovery, healing, change, it all comes to what needs to be let go of (good or ill) and what is being welcomed in, prototyped, created and crystalized in the new reality (2 Corinthians 6). It is a simple message, be open to all, but invest in those that are showing a desire for growth and change. For it is intentional relationships that shape and change the hearts and souls, and aid folks in finding their wholeness in this life. In organizations, churches, we usually have an idea and then seek the person to fill it. It is a Protestant work ethic thing, but what changes if instead we discover the true vocational hearts of those who are engaged and see what emerges from that?

New living life for self and community.

But know you are not alone. It is not just empty words we speak, but words and actions that come from our newly reformed hearts. Paul enters the hard part of any enterprise, when some gatherings need help, and financial at that. He is touching upon collection for the struggling gathering in Jerusalem, it truly becomes a Franciscan moment for the ancient church in Corinth; true Jesus time to be of the mendicants (open hand), understanding where the blessings have come from and to share it (2 Corinthians 7-9). It goes beyond just money though, as these words can resonate a bit deeper into what it means to be part of a vibrant community sharing gifts. Yes, we default to the easiest in any enterprise that being money. But there is talents each person has that can be brought out to grow a better world, and sometimes the gift of time is priceless, still remember mentoring at risk youth and the simple stat that 1 hour a week given to a youth radically reduces their risk from high to minimum—having just one adult that put time into them. As well, in the dementia wards as a chaplain, with simple Bible readings, and listening to where they each were in their lifespan, and the simple gospel songs seeing the transformations of passion. Simple passions, talents, and time shared for a better piece of the world.

To Paul opening up the volley of the attacks directed to him. There is a power surge in Corinth is appears and the goal is to remove Paul’s oversight, but also to establish a command and control structure (2 Corinthians 10-13). Slander, gossip, media, false testimony (lies) all driven by love of power, position and money. Obviously by the third planned visit of Paul, the Corinth gathering is a powerful little gathering with money.

Paul is presented as a false apostle, and that which is driving the underbelly is what is put upon him as “truth”. When you look at false accusations in organizations it does come to pass that which is being passed off in the hatchet job of a person with a decent character is that which the person flinging the mud (or in this case group) wants to hide. Paul lays it out stating that it is time to go on the record, and produce the evidence and witnesses.

A put up or shut up moment. A moment that religions of all stripes need to have when looking upon leadership abusers, but also of predatory communities of wolves. It is time in the soul work, to put up or shut up. To move into authentic being, or simply fade away.

The hardest soul work of any journey for a person can be endings of tenures, times in careers, passing of loved ones, or health crisis. In communities there is also a life span that many miss, they assume eternal continuance. But really it does come down to need, health of the organizational leadership, finances, passion of the gathered, and overall health of the community—and purpose. A health purpose moves through most transitions.

The letters to the soul were the hard questions laid out by Paul to Corinth.

If you were to write letters to the soul to your organization, group or community how would they read? What would be your challenges, your persistent thorn in the flesh?

How would it look to live out the beliefs?

What changes when you connect to the heart-soul self and it shines out?

Are you ready to become authentic with you?


The First run at the prologue for the new book…a step in getting the dust out if you will:

For the past 24 months I have admittedly struggled in getting a book together. All that began to change in July of 2015 I entered into a course at the Calgary Centre for Spiritual Living. It was to be a fun summer course playing around with manifestation and energy. The course was based on Pam Grout’s 2013 book, E Squared. It was 9 do it yourself energy experiments. Experiment # 4 The Abracadabra Principle (pp. 67-88) is what birthed this book. For in it you are to manifest something simple in your mind.

Me being a man before reading the chapter was going to manifest the completely accessible bungalow home that my family needs, but then read the chapter and the instruction on starting small realized that as a book I was reading wound down and decided to try manifesting my wife, Shawna, getting me a new book without saying anything. A safe bet for these 48 hour experiments or so I thought, for the 48 hours came and almost went and no book.

Except—drum roll please—a new book. That is the volume you are currently holding and reading. See in conversations during those 2 days with Shawna, what was birthed was the title and outline for this little book.

Quite the thing, as it came about a year into my family’s new commitment into the New Thought movement. Each chapter will explore a different theme, and a metaphysical narrative for understanding and application for one’s life. Things rolled along quite well as the outline fleshed out, and kept going with the course, then hit two more experiments, one around weight loss and one around gardening.

Ooops. The greatest hurdle to energy work or in my case writing suddenly hit the bricks: P-R-O-C-R-A-S-T-I-N-A-T-I-O-N!

The procrastination tool to avoid homework for a course is what writing can look like, but when one has not been able to create a solid work for a while as a writer, well then you take the run when you can.

Let’s be honest that everyone has a key procrastination tool. For Ty Ragan, I am that procrastination tool, a character that has existed in one form or another through various incarnations within his fiction stories. These stories whether mystery, adventure, pulp, super hero or all the previous existed within the Tyverse as he so admirably dubbed it (most recent adventures available on his website: tyragan.wordpress.com). I have been a detective, a pastor, a sidekick, a super hero, a trans-dimensional mystic, a mentor and…

            I even manifested at one point as a Tulpa, as Ty was journeying through his Franciscan formation to aid him in reconciling his past, and working on bringing together his journey through multiple religious paths. Now I am introducing the new book. Why?

            Simple, there was a mystery-mystical story in the work that has stalled out several times for my new identity as John MacCurtis, mayor of the city, former sidekick, and dragged back into the life by a mass murderer targeting former teammates. Yet it could not get beyond the first 500 words. So I decided it was time to get into a published work after 28 years of kicking around and kicking butt, providing the odd spiritual guidance that brought together fractured pieces from a burnt out time of life, to fully accept who he was.

            Now this book is going to be another journey for the reader. A next step in the spiritual journey of wholeness by looking at powers within our being that when discovered, reflected and empowered upon can and will create a new spiritual self.

The new spiritual self. How do you get there? It is a constant process in working on yourself, but also outside yourself and with the other. Those around you, the community you exist in. Finding a safe community to grow in as well.

Community is the key piece that many forget within their spiritual journey. Especially in the Western World we have a hold on to individualism, the sad part being that by tying it to only us on our journey, not a “we” on the journey, the key piece from most of the master teachers: Buddha, Bahhaluah, Jesus, Mohammed, Moses, Francis of Assisi, Dalai Lama, Ghandhi, etc. is lost for they did not exist within a vacuum, they did not manifest and transform as individuals. They were full participating members of their society, they had connections with others, and were positive justice focused participants within their world for the better.

That is the journey of the book you now hold, looking at each power/emotion/energy there is a piece of the meta-narrative, the story of the Universe it is tied into, there is a piece tied into the weave of the threads of you, and then there is a way that you connect into your community.

By turning the page, you are accepting a step into learning this new reality and preparing to live out of this new reality to transform the world.

The question is simple;

Are you willing to create a new you and a new world?


…God…I know who would believe I would drop the “G” word on my blog.  Anyways this is a reflective piece on the journey forward that was triggered by Sunday’s talk by Rev. Marjorie Contenti at the Calgary Centre for Spiritual Living on June 7, 2015. It was centered on living a life without regrets (in a few days go to the site and check out the video)…but she started out by talking about her mother who has recently transitioned.

This got me thinking about my own Mum. For she has aided in shaping my spiritual journey. She always had two pieces of advice for me as I moved on my own spiritual pilgrimage. From my youngest days, that it is all about love, God is love, and there is only one God folks just have different ways of getting there. The second is one day I would find stability in a religious community as she watched me move fluidly through not nly Christendom, but Shamanism, Buddhism, splashes of Sheikhism & Hinduism, Sufism, some Judaism & Islam, with a dash of Zen and/or Confuscious, Druidism and other Pagan Rites and on it went as I sought out more and varied pathways to untiy with the Holy Mystery.

The journey actually took my family right out of structured Christianity. It led me in the last few years to use a label, Franciscan, to explain my understanding of spirituality. For this is the Charism of the mendicant mystics St. Francis & Clare of Assisi. For me the vows taken within this secular (lay) religious order spoke to the easiest way to hold to the religion of my heritage, Christendom.

Yet it still left one in a weird state, for you see the last Order I was officially with was the Third Order Society of St. Francis which one has to be in Communion with the Anglican Church to be a part of…and it has been a few new moons since I last sipped the Communion Cup at the rail of an Anglican Church.

Where does this leave me? It was a journey, the Satsang I wrote of earlier was a deep soul cleanse, and as i try to live my life label free of others why was I confining my Spirituality within the confines of a label? Even one that pushed to the outer extreme? Why? Tribalism. That desire to still belong, even if not fully for what are we in society without some form of labelling?

But it is time to no longer fit the triangular peg into the oblong hole. For really it is looking at my journey as with most people I know and seeing the cross section of influences, from spiritual to literature to inspiring life stories to– well –if it speaks to the intangible parts of yourself and grows your own pilgrimage living in, through and with the Holy Mystery, then it truly is of the Spirit which we all are.

So yea, this is why the labels end, this is why New Thought resonates, not for the label, but rather for the fact of accepting the multitude of life that is out there to learn and grow from…

More to come along the new trail being blazed on this pilgrimage.


It has been awhile.

Okay every morning I spend time reflecting, meditating and renewing my energy to keep the soul sludge in check.

Evenings before bed spend some time ruminating what needs to begin anew, and what went well.

Follow through on the vows of justice, simplicity and love within my Franciscanism–yes I realize I am no longer with an official order, but this mystic path is the easiest way to explain why I do what I do without the spiritual baggage for others the name of the Master Teacher brings.

But there is sludge that underlies even our sub conscious, down into the soul chakra level that we are unaware of that takes time to remove, cleanse, essenetially burn away for a fresh start. These are the things that I hold to from my Munay-Ki rites, and the Wisdom Keeper I opened up.

It is this level that will be healed or the journey of renewal to begin this Sunday afternoon at the Calgary Centre for Spiritual Living at “Awakening the Heart” at 1:30 p.m. to 3:30 p.m. Satsang with Brian Lottman.

What types of things need to be released for a new beginning one may ask from my end?

  • Transitions and transformation within vocational calling
  • The fact we are still storing the accuser’s belongings within our home and all the negative energy that brings into our sanctuary over the past few months and how to get rid of it.
  • A possible new opportuntiy but needing to shed the conditioning of Christendom of being “too old” to do that anymore. Really allowing the spark of a passion to fully fan to life.
  • The shattering of the shadow overlay that blocks the creative flow for the mystery novel setting on the cuspicious of my creative self, the crown chakra.
  • De-fractioning the soul pieces from the losses of Spiritual Matriarch’s within my own journey.

Just a few to bring to the Satsang, and to allow the Spirit that is everything, and in everything, that is me and I it, to be able to move through and be the One that is true for living the calling of love. Simply by moving beyond the labels of society to live a new.

So if you are free this Sunday c’mon over to the Calgary Centre for Spiritual Living. If you cannot make it this Sunday, Brian Lottman has three other stops in Calgary:

June 14, 2015
Unity of Calgary
Calgary, Alberta
1pm to 3pm
(as well as service talk at 10:30am)

June 6, 2015
Spiritus Meetup
6514 Ranchview Dr. NW
Calgary, Alberta
7pm to 9pm

June 4, 2015
Calgary First Spiritualist Church
Calgary, Alberta
7:30pm to 9:30pm

-30- for now.


It is a unique thing when one’s vocation and travel patterns intersect with familial history.  As a student, there was a drive within me not only for the academic/theoretical bent but also the practical and pragmatic. Through my monastic formation within Druidery/Buddhism/Franciscanism the practice of pilgrimage was important.

These would intersect while working on my Bachelor of Arts and Master of Arts I served building ministries in the city, but also served aiding those without homes rediscovering themselves and what it meant to live in community and home. That’s right I was a humble shelter worker.

On vacations I would explore the history of Canada from coast to coast, doing outreach with those experiencing homelessness and discovering deeper truths of what it meant to be not only a Canadian, but a human being. It was in one of my earliest trips to Winnipeg, AB that I discovered the actual shelter history of Canada, through the Winnipeg Shelter that historically was a Methodist Outreach, and whose most famous lead minister/director was James Shaver Woodsworth.

I must admit this man’s pragmatic theology became a guide for my journey over the past 15 years.  He was one of the members of Canada’s Social Gospel movement; was arrested at the Winnipeg General strike and moved from Orthodox Christianity to Pantheism (although under newer definitions I would say he became Panentheist).  The minister would move from the ministry of the Methodist Church, to planting the Labour church, and his political leanings of socialism would lead him to join, aid in founding, and eventually   lead the new party dubbed the Co-Operative Commonwealth Federation. His political career would come to an end during the Parliamentary vote on Canada going to war with Nazi Germany. It was not because an evil should not be stopped, it was knowing that war as practiced in the world is not about right and wrong, it is about the profiteering of the wealthy and the culling of the poor. Woodsworth was the only Member of Parliament to vote no, it would cost him leadership of the CCF, and his seat.

But why does this man matter?

Why do I digress into travel history?

Simple, for the prophetic life of Woodsworth was shaped through service to others. It was grown out of a shelter environment. He spoke much, yet he also wrote and two of his books still ring true (once you put aside the eugenics stances of his time within): My Neighbour and Stranger at the Gates. Both works of the early 1900’s explore the work of the shelter, and the tie it has to the holistic care of a person.

The shelter debate has lost its historic centre of the narrative, for within both of Woodsworth’s books what is discovered is working with the whole person to aid them in transitioning from one point of their life to the next. Historically the Winnipeg Shelter was for new Canadians coming to settle the prairies. Now remember historically the Prairies and British Columbia were settled on mass to keep the encroachment by our neighbours to the South. Also historically it was an unfertile wasteland, which needed healthy communities for survival.

This was the role of the shelter. It was about aiding new Canadian families to prepare for the trek west, and also to build a new home. Not a house, not a subsistence existence, but a home. A home that was connected to other homes to build a community and thrive as a unit to create and grow a new society that was burgeoning that was Canada.

How did they do this?

They met the new comers where they were at. They discovered and worked to abate health needs. They worked on education, literacy, language, skills training. They looked to the communities where tracts of land were available, start up kits were given, but they also ensured that the community they were settling new families and persons into was a healthy community for them to be a part of and grow.

One just needs to look at the strong socio-cultural roots within sections of Alberta and Saskatchewan to see the effectiveness of historic housing readiness and effective placement in aiding the building of generational homes.

So as citizens this example leads to questions:

  1. What is community to you?
  2. Do you have a community around you?
  3. Do you have what you need to have a healthy life? For you? Love ones?
  4. Do you have a house or a home?
  5. Is the human right for housing or a home?

From my perspective of pilgrimage through history and country, I believe the human right is not for housing, for me it is about the human right of H-O-M-E.

The place where you belong and are safe and loved.


Photo of Christ in Hagia Sofia.

Photo of Christ in Hagia Sofia. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

You have read that right, what we are existing in now as church is such in flux I do not know if we can as yet claim the title of “Christ” but we can claim the symbol of the cross (thank you St. Andrew for the “X” symbology). Regardless of the #hashtag or denomination or trademark or brand your local church or youself has slapped on the building, confirmation, baptismal or other sacramental record in my mind 2013 the Mayans may have been right about something.

2013 for them was not the end of the world, in my shamanic training it was about the old realities and systems dying away and a new way of being birthed. As a Franciscan historically we do not believe of a Reformation or Restoration as a one off event. This is a constant event since the birth of Christ, a constant, if we are truly a body learn basic biology as bodies constantly shed/gain weight, cells, skin etc… yet some limbs may even be lost or old organs replaced, yet the body continues.

Unfortunately as institutions we can use sight of this. We strive to keep the ship even kiel, to keep the buildings and seminaries rolling, to not change how elders, boards, pastors, bishops, etc are selected or even how the worship experience happens. Why? Because we believe we are being the rock in the midst of the chaos of the world, a place of refuge/sanctuary for the weary believer, a hosptial if you will for healing.

But what if we are wrong?

What if the X-roads we are at is not about maintaining, but LETTING GO.  Yes read that again, LETTING GO(D). Let’s throw open the church and look at what needs to happen in the world? What happens if en masse the 2 billion believers got together and showed our treasures and said we want a Christ miracle, let’s end poverty… could we do it? Could we end illness? Let’s dream big folks? Can we cast of the shackles of the past and live out our faith in radical ways?

2013 is a time for the old to perish and the new to be birthed. We are in the midst of a reformation as the church is struggling between many factions: Liberal, Conservative, Charismatic, Mainliners, Liturgists, Catholics, Orthodox, Romans, Evangelicals, Liberationists, Red Letters, Universalist, Calvinists, Reformers, Health& Wealth gospellers, Monastics, Clerics, Sisters, Nuns, and the list goes on.

But it is a human created list, what we need to remember is that we are called into a life of service of God‘s creation, by God, within this call we each have our own gifts and vocations to be lived out and the labels are fragmenting and impeding the work out of God’s Love within this world.

So in 2013, remember, it is God that calls, it is God that empowers, but it is you that MUST act or not, upon that call.

Xianities are at a X-roads, are you willing to leave the pew/prayer closet and actually BE the Body of Christ?

For then a true miracle will arise in 2013 as the old “frozen chosen”, the musty old cathedrals of our souls will have the doors and windows blown open for the Holy Spirit to live and breathe in.

Alleluia anyone?


Portrait of a Franciscan Friar

Portrait of a Franciscan Friar (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Thank you for all those who have come to A Robin Hood‘s Musings for inspiration, information, controversy or just a good read. Here is a thank you for your support in 2012, the first two rough chapters of a new adventure and a new world, Enjoy:

One

            The Dalai Lama is hinted at once saying his morning prayer/meditation was when he read the newspaper, answered his e-mails, and other communications. This centered him to begin his day centered with others.

            He never served in a church that was struggling to stay alive, with parishioners that as soon as they see the flicker of a light are knocking on the door. Why? For the benevolence aid available for food, or utility/rent payments. So much pain created in the aftershocks of Alberta’s common sense revolution of the 90’s to early 2000’s. Yet I feel the desire to centre myself, so here I am huddled in the Sacristy with a candle, my Book of Alternative Services and Bible doing morning prayers.  

            The walls are so thin on this brisk fall morning that I can hear voices outside the building. Inside my eyes squint to find to Holy stories for the day. The rustling and screaming outside is getting louder. The use of racial epithets has begun; the Aryan Guard has been trying to create a beach head in this, the greatest mosaic of communities probably in all of Canada. What is it when people are struggling financially or in pain become easy prey to monsters that are unable to see the beauty that is the rainbow children of God. We are the beautiful rainbow given to the sky in the promise of Genesis 9.

            More rustling and jostling, sorry Morning Prayer, but what is happening outside sounds a wee nip more urgent for centering my day than this. Leaving the Sacristy, I dart through the candlelit (or should be candlelit) sanctuary (really should pay the Enmax bill one of these days, oh right that takes some money) into the Narthex, need to fix the baseboards here. Hit the dirt path outside to the double ply wood doors (yeah had to sell the oak wood ones last spring to pay a family’s rent), the dirt path is there because the cement caved in and it was the cheapest way to fill.

            East side of the building where the community garden is, that is the origin of the screams. Now that I am outside there is also the sound of leather on flesh. The community garden was planted by the Grandmother’s of the community so that fresh free vegetables were always available for those who needed them.

            Two rather large bald men in black bomber jackets with iron crosses embroidered on the back, black jeans and jack boots with black hoody’s pulled up over head to try and hide their ugly mugs. So I do what any good priest would do in this situation, as there is a third person on the ground getting the boot treatment. “Hello there!”

            The two thugs turn to me. Okay at least they have stopped pummeling the young lad. Now I accomplished plan A, divert their attention, what is the next step in the plan however? They are transfixed however at the site of me in my patched brown wool habit. Perhaps it is the tonsure shaved into my hair that has them mystified. It is possibly the first time a Franciscan Friar has ever confronted them before in their lives.

            A young indigenous youth stumbles up. I know the lad, he helped me learn Latin and Cree. “You okay Daniel?” He is a pillar of the positive youth movement within these communities, maintaining a 90.5% average in grade twelve, works two side jobs to aid his single Dad in caring for him and his two sisters, and will probably be the first of his family to go to university (I have personally already sold the original gold communion service of the church to pay his way through, a special church scholarship). The beauty is the reconciliation within God, as his father was a student at a Franciscan residential school, brutalized, yet we were able to come to forgiveness and reconciliation to aid the new generation in this community in breaking the cycle of hate and addiction.

            Daniel looks right at me, his left eye is already puffing up. “Yes, Friar.” I nod; he grabs his messenger bag and bolts to the school across the road.  The two wannabe men look mad, it is quite obvious they have paced brass knuckles within their black leather gloves.

            I bob my head with prayer hands. “Now lads, it is time for you to vacate my parish.” Word usage may have been too large for this dim bulbs, what is it I learned in my Missiology degree, speak the vernacular. “Get the fuck out.”

            That they understood, good. The much smaller of the two steps up and tries to intimidate me by inflating his chest and trying to get into my personal space. “Fuck you Friar. We ain’t done fuck all, but we will fuck you up.”  Mental note to self, do not laugh at the one ill-equipped for the contest of wits they are trying to engage in. I feel the corners of my mouth begin to form a smile, under the hood I can see the formation of cold sweat beads from fear, and the sweet aroma that sweat breeds. Win.

            “Look you little Aryan Guard fuckwit, this parish, these people are blessed through the Holy Mystery and under the protection of the Almighty. You are not wanted here, so get out.”

            A shift in the wind. My forearm flips out and connects with his wrist, as a smooth loud snap as small thug’s wrist bends out the wrong way. The sock which probably had a cue ball in it hits the dirt. Aryan Guard one crumples out of my personal space crying like a new born babe at his circumscion. The bigger gorilla is on the move, but thankfully my Birkenstock moves faster and quieter than he. The heel of the sandal to his chin with a new fangled blessing causes both his hands to go to his bleeding mouth and I think there will be a tooth or four to remove from my sandal later.

            “Friar, need a hand?” Got to love the thick Tibetan accented English, to keep the church afloat, we sold the Manse to a small group of Tibetan religious, refugees actually that at one point claimed sanctuary in our basement. The five dollars we received for the Manse aided us nicely with seed for the community garden.

            “Brother Lao, I think my visitor’s are leaving?” The two white supremacists are already stumbling over their own feet to get away from the pacifist who just humiliated them can move. Brother Lao may clear 5’1” if he is wearing platform sandals, but with the saffron multi-coloured robes of his homeland he looks quite regal as he walks up the crumbling path way to me as I straighten my own robes.

            “The ministerial tea still on today?” I smile, for most communities, the Ministerial is made up of the local Christian Leaders. St. Clare’s Anglican is the only Christian church in the communities of the Shire (4 communities, built 40 years ago as a town within a town: York, Nottingham, Worchester, and Berk). So our ministerial is myself, and Brother Lao, the lead of the Tibetan Buddhist Religious (4 elderly nuns, and 8 monks), and a network of House Mosques that on Holy Days pay for the candles to use the sanctuary at St. Clare’s.

            The rumble of the 15 year old Dodge Caravan rolling to a stop in the dirt and gravel (more dirt than gravel) parking lot announces the last of our trio arriving. Tarek, the Imam of the Mosque gets out. He could have been a pro-basketball player, but instead used his scholarship for a full ride for a religious studies degree up to and including a Ph.D. Lao and I look at one another, smile and then in unison announce. “Welcome, and how is your better-half, Frank?”

            Tarek smiles. “Working far too much, and too hard. It is the lot of the self-employed carpenter.”

Chapter Two

            Evening green tea, alone finally in my office, tomorrow God will provide the funds necessary to alleviate more pain in this community as the coffers are currently dry. Eleanor, the elderly lady who freely gives her time as secretary has just left (crossed the street home, as Eleanor is truly Sister Eleanor and is one of Brother Lao’s). Soon I will retire to the choir loft, that I converted to my own bedsit to save funds (as we had sold the manse for the great profit).

            Why do you ask that a church that is healthier than most in Canada with 200 members and about 250 attendees a week throughout our multiple Masses is so financially strapped? I really have no clue.

            I hear the laughter of children from the basement. Since our Tibetan religious moved next door, two families have claimed sanctuary because their deportation back home would end with death.

            I rub my temples as I begin a tea meditation. The media will have another round of calls tomorrow, as the slumlords that own all the residences in the Shire are talking selling out for large upscale condo and casino developments, so chances are the rents will go up before Christmas to force the families into the shelters. Which is disastrous as the highest (not average) family income in this area is $25,000 per annum (wait I only make $18,000 I should call the Bishop).

             Our church sign still says Anglican, but it is not completely true. Most of my congregations are everything but Anglican (closest we got outside of myself, is Sister Eleanor and she’s Buddhist). We actually also left the Anglican Church of Canada, not because of the “question” (the same-sex marriage bullshit) but rather because we are not seen as a viable parish by the Diocese and they were trying to close us. So we made a shrewd business decision. St. Clare’s closing would have killed these communities as they would have lost one of their major supports. So we petitioned The Holy Father (Pope Benedict XVI) we used the 2009 Apostolic Constitution of Pope Benedict XVI, Anglicanorum Coetibus and became an Anglican Use parish within the Roman Catholic Diocese. None of the parishners noticed really as we kept doing our own survival thing.

            Through R.C. social justice initiatives in the Diocese we get some aid for the basics which helps, as we are a “beachhead” for the Great Commission or some such thing in the Shire. Yet we are still only one disaster away from this building finally being foreclosed upon, and we have no plan B, but the people of this parish are family and family keeps the homestead going.

            I take another sip of tea and crack open my Great-Granny’s Book of Common Prayer for Vespers when a new creak is heard. It is just one of those days God, thankfully Franciscan Charism speaks of being constantly in prayerful Communion with the Holy Mystery and only taking certain times to be intentionally focused upon this.

            Another creak, not our tenants.

            Not the building settling.

            A visitor. Guess I should have written the cheque for the alarm system instead of to the public school for tuition for one of our kids over 16 years old to cover the school fees so the child can be allowed to attend class. Drop out one of our kids my ass, totally unconstitutional and illegal, when we actually get the monies together for the legal challenge it will be a grand statement to the Alberta Government.

            Move slowly out of the office space into the Narthex. The door is unlocked (okay technically the lock hasn’t worked for three years, but humour me that I simply forgot to lock it). There is someone kneeling in the sanctuary at the altar rail. Long curly red hair, jeans, bomber jacket, hoody, and a nice ass.

            “I am sorry my dear, I know God loves everyone, but the Aryan Guard is persona non grata in this House of God.”

            The kneeled figure leaps up and twirls around. “Fuck Tuck do I look like some supremacist prick?”

            There’s that cheeky dimple-freckle smile I grew up with, and on graduation night almost convinced me not to begin my postulancy with The Society of St. Francis. “Bronwyn, you scared the crap out of me sneaking in here.”

            “The door was unlocked.”

I think the bald part of my tonsure must have gone red at that. “Bloody hell woman you know there’s been no locks on these doors for three years, you’re the one that gave me the alarm sticker to try to convince people we were `protected’.” She giggles at my air quotes.

            “Air quotes? From the bloke that tussled with two of the baddest asses the Guard has huh? And in the Garden no less, ain’t that for walkin’ with God or somethin’.”

            “You really need to come to Mass more often my dear.” A full out belly laugh this time. Bronwyn was/is a cradle to grave Irish Catholic. She is a member of the parish but she only darkens the door on Mondays/Wednesdays/Fridays when we offer midnight Vespers, as she hates crowds. “The two yahoos decided to play cowboys and Indians with Dan and me. I pointed out the errors of colonization to them.”

            Bronwyn gives me a hug and peck on the cheek, is it wrong that if she asked I would seriously consider dropping the habit and leaving with her? Her hand slips an envelope into the side pocket of my habit. “Watch yourself, Friar rumours are they put a price on your head.”

            “How much this week?” I ask.

“Thousand.” Is her answer.

            “Please, the last thugs offered twelve times that and no one took.” My response, true but simple.

            Bronwyn smiles, crosses herself, and begins to walk out. She stops in the sanctuary doorway. “Tuck you’re not Superman, regardless of what your bicep tattoo says.” With that she leaves the building.

            I retire back to the sitting room (I long ago gave up having an official office, it looks much more like a tea room with comfy chairs for working, praying, writing homilies, and journeying through the Sacrament of Reconciliation) withdrawing a manila envelope from my habit. Bronwyn’s vocation is to protect and serve, she does this as an Inspector with the city’s finest. She has retained me on a few cases due to my past, the modest retainer has aided those in the parish with food, water, heat, and rent when most needed it.

            I open the flap of the envelope, as I lower myself into a cushy wingback chair. There is one 8 x 10 photograph in it. I look at the relic pictured.

            “Damn, Bronwyn what have you gotten yourself into.”


Stained glass window, depicting Christ the Kin...

Stained glass window, depicting Christ the King, created by Lucien-Leopold Lobin (1853–1892), Tours, in 1890. The notice at the center bottom window reads: Presented by the Brothers of the Third Order of Saint Francis, Wexford, A.D. 1890 – Very Revd Simon B. Hore, O.S.F. Guardian, Spiritual Director (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Yes I have posted into my archives my writing past, but I also think it is good for the reader, and possibly individual who would like to join me on a spiritual journey as their spiritual director or at the Rainbow chapel to know how I was formed. The following posts to the archives will be a series of list poems to reflect this formation process up until now.