Posts Tagged ‘Grief’


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


We as a world are changing gears and being stuck in the cycles of grief most congruent with anger and denial. I believe, and have observed, as it is the only thing that makes sense for the rise of hatred, and entrenchment in our world that for my side to be right it must be wholly good, and the other side needs to be completely evil, and the majority that usually exists in the pragmatic middle in most belief/ideological spectrums need to be viewed as weak, traitorous or complicit. Those are some political thoughts as we are hopefully at the end of the Polar Vortex here in Alberta, with normal winter returning. Another sign, that the environment is trying to keep us moving slower to allow for space for more healing, I mean, the pandemic hasn’t slown us. In fact it has illustrated the rise of faux labels we apply for prestige or perhaps, attempting to cry persecution for what is simply accountability and expectations of good citizenship. The current thought world of dualism, has created this weird space, where we so desperately want to assert our independent rights, but do not want to take on the interdependent communal responsibilities that come with those.

When I would speak on the history of povery and homelessness in my province, it was a key challenging question I would lay out to the first year students:

How did you get here today?

Many would postulate good grades, and hard work. I would stop them short and challenge them, did you appear fully grown and educated? Was there no adults who provided guidance and the necessities of life for you? Did you build your own house? Dig your own sewers? Treat your own drinking water? Grow your own food? Write and publish your own textbooks? Train your instructors? Build the school?

In the literal sense, one of the few times I like using the literal, did you pour the road? Make the bus/car? Drive the bus?

You didn’t?

But you had just told me that you got here through your own hard work, nothing more?

It is a simple truth our world has lost. An understanding of community, at times such as now, a leaving behind of the before times that perpetuated this fallacy, it should be a moment of renewal. Yet… fear that drives anger and denial… stops us…and creates more chasms between, silos, and perpetuates things such as the QAnon CULT (yes, cult, not in the anthropological senses of any religion, but rather the 20th century mainstream understanding ala NXVIM, Branch Davidians, Raelians, Moonies, Jonestown) all the pieces that perpetuated those tragedies brought to life online, and to bear on Jan. 6 with their faux Messiah, Donald Trump, still flexing his rage muscles against accountability at his impeachment trial (but shouldn’t this also be a criminal matter? The world is watching).

But it touches on what has been noted in Alberta during the pandemic, yes some decisions can be and are driven by the science (though lacking the transparency of knowing the CMOH recommendations fully to the UCP governing caucus this is an unknown). What is apparent is there are pockets within our province, that keeps talking personal responsibility and education in regards to restrictions, 333 days in it is time for accountability. Whether the small pocket of church or business or Member of the Legislative Assembly (alohagate, Anti-Lockdown Caucus to name but a few), need to be held to account. Business and non-profit licenses pulled, the full organizational ticket levied, coupled with those in attendance receiving full charges and tickets for breaking health orders. In regards to the MLA’s that do not comprehend crisis leadership, communal support, and health orders, they need to be expelled from Caucus. FULL STOP.

Yet, we live in a bizzarro world, like an elementary school playground that plays appeasement for the bully, instead of accountability.

For some, they will point to trauma awareness or being trauma informed. Both these lenses are highly important for creating the courageous safe spaces for healthy change and healing of a world on pause. Wondering and readying for re-imergence and knowing what has been shown as smoke and mirrors of our society before. What these lenses do not stop is accountability. They do not let one now have repercussions for actions. They aid us in understanding the actions of the person, and how to support them in the accountability for what they have done. The appropriate applications of these lenses in our public schools would have continued the powerful work of WE Days and Challenge Days in Anti-bullying, creating healthier and safer communities, instead of tying the hands of those responsible for shaping the future of our youngest citizens and leaving the bullied with the bad maxim “snitches get stitches” as they know what they share there will be no aid. A true shift needs to happen, and not just policies and false platitudes, actual resourcing and capacities needed.

Just as we need in our public health system in the prevention to treatment to cure of all that falls under health umbrella for holistic beings (emotional, physical,spiritual and mental)–or as some may see it, a Medicine Wheel, as our Indigenous siblings would guide us away from a quick triage model to an interdependent living and healing model.

Which bounces back to the yo-yo effect of open schools during a pandemic, without proper resourcing. This is not only speaking to PPE, or staffing to lower class numbers to allow for breaks, and proper distancing. It is the rolling effect of quarantine of classes after exposure (reactive measures), the lie of resilience being put forward on our children. Yes, they can be, but true resilience, well watch the brains….

See? Understand? We are creating the space for perpetuation of a complex trauma due to our desire for Twitter byte driven policy and practice decisions as adults. Instead of actual robust discussions, and reality of what is needed to ensure health and true resilience within our youth, and the adults that support and facilitate their learning. The key reason I hold, is this drive of grieving where we are lost in this tantrum like a toddler, of “my rights” instead of “our community responsbilities to one another”…

The fatigue is showing, and so is the strain, and the ripple effects. Most notably with my boy, I do not blame his school, he was on recovery day from some of his neurological conditions with barometric pressure changes and missed school. On that day he missed, his very secure cohort for medically complex kiddos was exposed. His support crew in the cohort, and the larger school are exhausted (we know and feel this). We were not called as he was not there that day. In the actual protocols this was appropriate. In a system with proper capacity (seeing the actual human supports necessary for thriving, not the false argument on human services as a debit on the lie of debit-credit household budget banksheet budgetting for governance that our Conservative populist governments try to push), there would have been enough fresh eyes to make the call to those that were not there. For those that were not there, still had a choice, to understand it was safe for their child to come, but that they would have 1 aide, and be by themselves in the classroom connected to the others via video conference. The call was not made, my son went to school, he came home, and the first thing stated to me was “they all died” and then later “I don’t want any more dead buddies”. See, in my son’s lived experience, when his chums go missing for a few days from school, he has learned at his young age, and about 16-18 times, they are now at the Tea Party in Paradise (our analogy for death, and the afterlife, our tradition calls Heaven, we created when our kiddos experienced the loss of their Granny at 5 & 6 years old).

See where proper interdependence creates robust health? Creates space for calmness? For healing? Space, where trauma is minimized, and healthy choices can be made. In the case of my son, it could have been proactive discussions on what school was to be like, or to keep him home and function with the rest of his class online. Instead we are now in a fear and grieving cycle that disrupted his learning and kept him home for the 2 days before the Teachers Convention break, and we have made the choice he will return to class when the class does.

There is no malice. We as a community are in uncharted territory, and mistakes happen. The difference between a mistake and harm, is the intent.

Which leads me to share a simple reflection from reading this week of James L. Gorman’s (2017) Among the Early Evangelicals: The Trans-Atlantic Origins of the Stone-Campbell Movement, for those unfamiliar with this version of Christianities it is collectively known as the Restoration Movement (Churches of Christ, Christian Church, Disciples of Christ, and my undergraduate alma mater, Alberta Bible College). The book explores the formation of the founders, and their, what is classed historically as primitive, but read through a 21st century eye…ecunemical. The movements within missionary societies, key traditions/denominations (what corporations would call brands) such as congregationalists, Anglicans, Presbyterians, Baptists, etc. coming together on core values to accomplish, in this case evangelizing and building the Kingdom. It also touches on the challenges that began to arise, as the focus narrowed, and it became more about, what kept others out (perceived heresies) rather than what bonded.

See the source image

Made me ponder, as we move through c-tine, and I re-affirm a calling to ministry (and some equipping to come, your prayers are appreciated). Through things such as the Religious Right, Alt-Right, QAnon, other conspiracy theories,Domnionist, anti-masks, anti-vax, anti-lockdown, sadly- white supremacist and Neo-Nazi movements, MAGA that have all become aligned and affiliated with evangelicalism and Christendom (the term for Christianities tied to political power, Empire since Constantine). That is even before we touch on the horrors of Jehovah Witness, Mormon, Roman Catholic and Quiverfull child abuse scandals, Fundamentalist Mormon trafficking across borders of minors, Residential Schools, Truth and Reconciliation for the heresy of the Doctrine of Discovery and Dominionism., and Churchtoo (ala Willow Creek, RZIM, Southern Baptist Convention, and the list goes on). Obviously some labels and brands are broken beyond recovery.

To paraphrase a teaching of St. Paul, if a name on a building or a label on a baptism certificate causes one to stumble (or a chasm be opened)– perhaps, it is time to let it go (and can you tell Frozen was played a lot in the house). As we move through c-tine, worshipping and connecting at a distance and online what is to be on the other end? Is it things such as Conservative or Orthodox? House? Institutional? Liturgical? High? Low? Primitive? Evangelica? Pentecostal? Baptist? Anna-Baptist? Emergent? Progressive? Creation Spirituality? Anglican? United? Victory? Red Letter? Salvation Army? Monastic? Gnostic? Mystic? Methodist? Alliance? Missionary? Holiness? Lutheran? Restoration? Missing any? (Probably quite a few).

But what if, we take a lesson from those who came to be in Jesus company back in the writings of the Gospels, or as reflected in Gorman’s work, or really the stories of saints and others. It is rarely an independent faith of one modality or formation. Rather it is interdependent community (family, chosen, sometimes biological) to grow in and with.Which brings me back around:

The challenge in church, is the same grieving as with society.

As we move forward, let’s draw the circle wide. Let’s grieve the loss, the change, the Transfiguration and then boldly step into it, not as fractured brands, but as a means together in renewal.

For me, what hit my heart as I thought of what can come as we let go, and prototype, a new term came clearly into view for the church ahead:

The Divergents.

Let’s become a beacon of healing, and doing life differently. Authentically, together in community, in the beautiful rainbow splendor of the Imageo Dei. Be the soul, that we were called to be for and of our world.

This past week, many have hit the c-tine wall. Lockdowns in some areas, restrictions in others, seeing neighbours die, and wondering if something will shift couppled with the sweeping cold of the polar vortex pushing us more into hibernation. One begins to wonder, ponder and mull.

As we rest in c-tine, what is the still quiet voice revealing about your experiences?

What calling is on your heart, and are you ready to step into it?


Yes, it can be a heady  Christian Testament word for some. It is a gospel story of Jesus ascending a mount with his three closest friends, and being brilliantly illuminated through is deep connection with the Holy. Think of the image though, an ascent, a lifetime leading up to that point that included being raised working to poor class under Roman occupation in a town, where everyone knew that he was not Joseph’s son, and that his mother should have been cast out side the town limits or stoned to death, as he grew and re-connected with his cousin and baptized, but also spent time in the wilderness wrestling with traumas, insecurities, demons, spiritual matters, and overcoming the adversary within and without to focus on the journey ahead. One that would so upset the apple cart of societies functioning that political and religious enemies would conspire together to silence him through execution. The story of Lent to Good Friday in a snap shot. Yet, he continued his journey.

It is rather unique for our spirituals selves that the physical distancing of the Covid-19 pandemic comes to us during Lent, as we move towards Easter and Eastertide (and No, I do not believe like US President Trump that is when this should cease, life is too precious). The intent of the season’s is what I write of. The journey of transfiguration, connecting to our true being, both individually, and interdependently as a community–whether local or global.

This is the journey of change. We see glimmers of hope in this change. Calgary had started to use hotels/motels as housing for our neighbours experiencing homelessness, federally we are having real conversations around guaranteed basic incomes (and Scotland took the plunge); Ireland is showing the way in reclaiming public health from private hands at this time. Whether we acknowledge these concepts as Christian or not, is irrelevant, it is the journey of love of self and neighbour over things such as greed that is the driving force. Hope. Where do you see the glimmers of hope in your world?

In this journey though, we are seeing what happens in the stalling out of letting go of the old, and letting the new come to be able to move into prototyping as the U Theory tells us. I would say they are still those trapped in the Kubler-Ross grief spiral in the denial and anger, and that is harming as a whole, but also expected for change is scary, and the anger/denial is driven by fear of the unknown. Sadly, high death rates in pandemics and the status quo are what is known and one would rather stick to– that add to the uncertainty of the time, and leap into the unknown, and let come what may. Though we are at a tipping point for the change I would say into the prototyping of what will emerge out of this temporary new normal.

See the source imageA book, that came into my mailbox as this started was a journalist turned minister, Ellen Debenport (2015), from the Unity movement, Hell in the Hallway, Light at the Doorway. It is a new metaphor of change, whether one is moving through economic, health, mental health, relationship, spiritual, all of the above or maybe others than mentioned. It may imply trauma recovery (from PTSD to Post Traumatic Growth as researchers are discovering, and I am living). It is sharing that in the journey, much like what I started with in the journey to the mount for Brother Jesus’ transfiguration, there is a hallway. It may be short or long, the door may lead us to a different hallway…though it is our willingness to journey in the hallway, to interact, become aware, and have an impact.

The other challenge laid out though is to also have a complete willingness not to accept the hallway as our new normal, but rather keep it temporary, and when the intrinsic Cosmic Christ leads us through the right door way, to be open and ready to enter into the new normal fully. Not to hold back due to our own denials, anxieties and fears. That is our story as community now, are we ready to be present in the current hallway, or if we haven’t already to step into the temporary hallway, to journey through, and and fully embrace the better that can happen.

That is do not yearn for what we stepped away from, but prepare for a better world where what is good from this time, the compassion, empathy, neighbourliness, kindness are held close as ideals and values. These are my prayers as I contemplate, celebrate, weep, feel my full emotions…and am apprehensive for my loved ones.

That glimmer of hope. The ascent of the mountain to the full transfiguration. The moving from death of the old, to the beautiful resurrection of hope, love, faith, peace and joy to come. Not as fixed calendar dates, but as moments, fixed in time and history, to a new world as we navigate the hallway and prepare to throw open the door to a brilliant new day.

Are you ready to open up the light once again?


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?

Usetacould

Posted: July 20, 2019 by Ty in Spirituality
Tags: , , , , , ,

Toby Keith has a song, As Good as I once Wasas it is a country party song about someone reminiscing to their bad old days of barroom fights we miss the wisdom. Yes, there is wisdom in a Toby Keith song for recovery or living with a chronic illness. It is not simply about aging, and how we change. It speaks of simple things, that as we change, we can be stuck in this grief cycle.

Image result for u theoryIt is part of a learning curve, that I think the U Theory speaks to the best in the stages of change. You are different. You are not the same you once were, and yes as a result you need to refocus. Or as the U shows us, let go of what was, and begin to enter into what will be, and trying out the new yous to see what is truly emergent.

This is where recovery can stall out in the grief stages of hate and anger. We see that at a country level in America, but closer to home in Canada, Alberta has a quorum stalled out in anger and hate, because they are unwilling to let go. Let go of the “usetacould’s” or the “shoulds”…instead of looking at what is remaining of the cornerstone and building from there upwards. In my own journey yes there was high levels of frustration, and anger as I had to figure out what my brain was doing to me, there was also the focus on what mattered, and needing to reconfigure, and take the steps necessary to begin to understand who I was now, not grieve for who I was. As I struggled with focus in October 2017 at 80-90 seizures a day, I could have thrown out writing and reading as too much and just stayed in bed or on my couch. Instead I struggle walked (scared the living s-h-i-t outta my wife) up to the bookstore and bought a Star Trek novel, to struggle through to ensure, even though it was painfully long to read now, that I kept at the skills. To see what they would develop in to.

As I work on the sequel to Soul Ripples in real time, I asked some good friends to provide a forward, reflections on what this time was like. One good friend shared how I had never lost hope that I would get through it, and what was to come. In the moment I may not have realized it, but I did know change was happening and unconsciously was working through it. My PNES psychologist was shocked with the way I took to the treatment, it was due to a courageous safe space created by her and her student, but also this knowing of hope and wanting to see what was to emerge. It was relational based, like those who stuck by me and my family during this continuing journey (y’all are now family, not just friends by the way).

On day 101 of seizure free, I do not know what the future holds. I am still with my PTSD treatment in the letting go phase, and letting come of the U, but there is, and always has been, hope.

How different would our world be, if we let go of what we used to be, or the could’ve beens, and presence in the NOW for who we, and our world is? What has to be let go of? What has to let come? What is being prototyped? And what is being crystallized?

What happens when we live in hope?

 

 

 


Image result for detective comics #1000For 26 issues it was a crime comic, then in issue #27 the Bat-man created by Bob Kane, who would eventually become Batman. The Dark Knight, The Caped Crusader, World’s Greatest Detective, one half of the Dynamic Duo, one half of World’s Finest and 1/3 of DC’s Trinity.

Detective Comics the title that brought us the journey of Bruce Wayne (yes there were many others, but I always liked how Detective Comics kept to a more espionage-mystery feel in their stories).

Today the 1,000th issue came out. A great collection of short stories touching on what is the theme of Batman from great writers past and present.  Paul Dini, Tom King, Scott Snyder, Denny O’Neil, Warren Ellis, Brian Michael Bendis and others (yes I realize it is a visual medium and I focus on writers, but it’s my jam).

Image result for detective comics #1000What are the themes of Batman? A cursory look at the hero that in the past has killed sometimes actively or passively, a solver of mysteries, a beach head against the insanity of Arkham, and the darkness that is Gotham City to Metropolis’ light.

What is the mission of Batman however?

Did he truly lose himself in Crime Alley when his parents’ were murdered before him? Did Bruce Wayne die that night?

The truth is a journey.

A journey to replace, no, renew and discover the new with what you have lost. Post Traumatic growth if you will for the Dark Knight Detective in renewing a new family for him.

To quote Deadpool, the 1000th issue is about the F word—

Family.

Who is your family?

Judge Cycle 5

Posted: January 14, 2019 by Ty in Brunch & Bible
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As you work your way through the stories in Judges, it can begin to feel like a never ending loop of a bad run of Coronation Street, when the writers ran out of a bit of oomph. I mean, the cycle itself can be rather tedious, and I can hear the reader going, well how does this apply to today for surely we are not that dense or in a theocracy.

Yes and no.

It applies because it begins to tease out a change cycle. Truly, what is the Deuteronic history stories but a story of change and evolution of a collection of tribes. From slavery, to wanderings to establishing norms, to trying to figure out life within family dynamics (as it seems each nation is a cousin’s descendants). In any change cycle fear is a major thing, and that is why I believe there is this cycle issue in Judges (and today) for we do not want to leave what is comfortable for us. We see this in Ambilech’s story (Judges 9-10) where he appeals to the fear in change. Okay, let’s get real, change is a grief cycle, and as such we work through the stages of grief. Whether you are a Kubler-Ross fan, or a Senge, U Theory fan it is a journey:

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Throughout the journey of Judges, the message back to the tribes, to the person remains the same. Here are our constants, trust in that. Move forward in what we know is right, and what we know is wrong is to be cast aside whether it is old or new. It becomes a cycle, and yes, we must release the past eventually, but the processes of the past that only serve no purpose (like the old idiom don’t throw the baby out with the bathwater).

I would state that the moments of peace at the end of a Judge Cycle is the nation crystallizing or prototyping yet just not ready to step into performing. They cycle back to try again, it may take several runs, but each time something new is performing, something new is discovered that needs to be let go, as with Jephthah’s cycle of being a judge (Judges 11-12).

What I love is that it shows the challenge of accepting the new, the first line is that he is a son of a prostitute. Now, many in the ancient world or even today will not admit this profession exists due to patriarchy and oppression. But definitely in the ancient times without a man to “own” them, it is the route women were left with. Jephthah’s very birth was casting light on the darkness the tribes refusing to move forward in care and equality was doing to their own brethren.

It lays out the horrors turning away from the Law had wrecked on the tribes. So is this a statement for the need for legalism? No, for what is at the core of the Law, this is what needs to be remembered for even in the Torah it comes down to the Shema, which is boiled down to Love.

Are our actions in society out of love for one another?

Is it rooted in compassion and kindness? Knowing that we all are created with inherent worth, or have we simply commodified ourselves. The challenge of the Judge’s lineage in this story showing that someone had fallen into a societal label game and was cast aside. Do we do that today? With our medical codes? Diagnosis? Territorial-religious-economic stratification? Race? Gender? All become points of those on the in and the out.

What is the truth? Something we have known for thousands of years. We are all in this together, all the same, and it is when we stray from love and create false labels that we are hit with war, famine, and death. When hate overtakes love.

And no, it is not a quick transition or change. For in change as it involves the ickiness of life, and those dastardly emotions. It is about being present, and understanding that things will not be as they have always been amen amen. Rather it is knowing whether in the transition is it healthy or not? Does it honour our shared humanity or not? Are we able to let go, and let in what is being formed?

After him Ibzan of Bethlehem judged Israel. He had thirty sons, and thirty daughters he gave in marriage outside his clan, and thirty daughters he brought in from outside for his sons. And he judged Israel seven years. 10 Then Ibzan died and was buried at Bethlehem.

11 After him Elon the Zebulunite judged Israel, and he judged Israel ten years. 12 Then Elon the Zebulunite died and was buried at Aijalon in the land of Zebulun.

13 After him Abdon the son of Hillel the Pirathonite judged Israel. 14 He had forty sons and thirty grandsons, who rode on seventy donkeys, and he judged Israel eight years. 15 Then Abdon the son of Hillel the Pirathonite died and was buried at Pirathon in the land of Ephraim, in the hill country of the Amalekites.

-Judges 12:8-15 (English Standard Version)

And a few more cycles of inquisition, fighting back against the letting in, holding on to that which needs to be let go of. For what is the stories of Judges, but the stories of individuals and groups wrestling with the answer to the hardest question in life:

Who am I (We)?


It’s funny when most people think of politicians they picture the bourgeois that needs to be overthrown due to its corruptness. Not a high ranking profession, believe in some instances with recent revelations certain clergy fall into the same distrustful category. But as Lee steps off the bus outside of the small truck stop for my meeting, Lee knows this Member of the Legislative Assembly is different.

The servers wear pink scrubs, the walls are a pastel pink, with a model train that goes around the roof. In a corner booth sits my coffee companion. Lee slides in and turn a cup over sending a waitress over with a fill up. Melanie Moon is an abnormality. “Ms. Moon.”

“Please, Lee, call me Mel.” Stated the reluctant politician. She was dressed in a Montreal Canadiens hoody and jeans with her hair in a braid. Wisps of silver was visible in the red, that only highlighted her face freckles to Jacobs and, her dimples which made her appear younger than her years. Jacobs knew in phone contact until they met her, many thought due to her young sounding voice she was quite young.

Please call me, Mel was a by-election candidate in the area after the dynasty ended. She ran as a Social Credit candidate which baffled many. As she spoke to the media on her by-election run, it was due to a Great Uncle she had met at a family reunion when she was a teenager who had spent hours with her teaching her the ins and outs of the political system, but also Social Credit. She signed up then. She won a by-election which then saw a general election 10 months later, and she retained her seat. A party that was supposed to be D.O.A., and here she was. Then travesty hit in her mind as her party changed names to appeal to a very specific so-con movement, becoming the Pro-Life party. Mel had not decided if she was going to run again, definitely not with that party that had drifted from what her values were. She had received permission from the speaker to complete her term as a SoCred, as she wanted to honour her Great Uncle and mentor that way. “Can I guess by stirring the pot it has to do with the C.M. death?” Mel, had attended St. Jude’s since before she ran, she enjoyed Jacobs’ panentheistic-original blessing take on her family faith. It made it come alive to her being able to openly debate, discuss and discover what God was doing for her now, especially with the change looming she was playing cards close to her chest. She also understood that any change was a process and journey of grief, she felt the heart pain for this transition.

Lee sipped his black coffee. It was strong enough to melt a spoon, never mind let it stand up. He ordered a breakfast special- scrambled eggs, bacon, hash browns and raisin toast. Mel just chuckled as asked for it to be times two. “Who gets to expense this?” Lee joked as he asked for a refill on the coffee.

“I think its your turn.” Mel said. “Now, about stirring the pot?”

Lee chuckled, he scratched the whiskers turning into a beard it had been a bit since his last shave. The salt was over taking the pepper making him just look old not wise. “Decided to take the fight to those that were, up to nefarious deeds.” His crows feet crinkled when he winked at her. Mel was never to sure what to do at breakfast out with a cleric.

“I heard about the drug dealer take down at the park.” Mel said. “I also saw what happened to the church doors.”  Part of the SoCred history was a focus on personal salvation, and Christianity. Sadly, like the Social Gospel movement that gave the country the Co-operative Commonwealth Federation (which begat the New Democratic Party) eugenics had been a miserable sin of the ideologies. Mel and Lee had spent time discussing how to exorcise that particular demon from the movement St. Jude’s was trying to renew. “Fuck Nazis.”

Lee chuckled. “Yeah, I miss the days when anti-fascism was the default setting for society, and not a question on a multiple choice test.” Lee had spoken openly from the pulpit about many things the church needed to repent from, including its role in white supremacy. Some of the Elders and parishioners also knew that the Padre’s face that looked like an old boxer’s was not because of boxing but due to years of street fighting with hate movements in Canada. As Jacobs was fond of saying `I wasn’t born a padre’.

“And after cleaning the doors?” Mel asked. Lee told the tale of the alleged assault in the mall bathroom of the sex trafficking recruiter. Noting that the non-uniform uniform was the same as the dealer. “And what do you hope comes from the pot stirring?”

Jacobs’ grins a grin that says `I have no clue, but it’s going to be alright and one heckuva ride.’ “Honestly, it’s like doing theology, just bouncing around the darkness looking for where the light can poke through.”

Melanie Moon laughed. “Ever think you should have been a private eye?”

 


Change management, much like efficiency has become buzzwords around multiple industries from human services to political organizations to spiritual gatherings to corporate board rooms.

But what is change? And why do we only manage it?

Alberta currently can be a case study in drastic change. Change creates friction. Leads to identity politics in some instances where groups entrench to be on the preserve or change sides. Perhaps there is a frozen entrenchment were yelling just happens (hello NDP-UCP Governance)… but the root is missed completely.

See change happens. It is part of human society, and human life. It can be expected (such as boom and bust economic cycles, and the need to diversify). It can be that even though the wealthiest may not be doing as well, the economic shift is changing things. Those are some examples. Others are when belief systems shift, say in a church denomination one is apart of. It can be seemingly as insignificant as a focus on youth or children, as innocuous as leadership-governance structural changes or simply a new cleric. Yet ripples are sent, some stay, some go. Emotional weight hits many, and we yearn for a black and white existence.

Unfortunately the world has never been black and white. It exists in worlds of gray mostly due to the pesky of factors- humanity. As I wrote in the past about ISO systems and such under efficiency, it was the strategic process of an organization mapping out what they did, and what role did what in the process so that anyone could walk in and take the thick binder off the shelf and know what to do.

The mechanics of the work. The how, not the why.

That is the cusp of change management. Reactions to change need to be processed, not managed. You can manage chaos as a manager or director. This can mean continuing to push forward, pull along those who are willing or need survival income, but many will fall off and be lost in the wilderness to different levels of harm. Either financial, emotional, physical or spiritual. In the end though you can claim being proficient in change management as you had mapped out a process, a manual anyone can now pull off the shelf to show the system and that it is implemented. Yet in the push-pull to accomplish, what was missed is the values-morals-ethics that brought one to your organization.

It is not so much about managing change, as processing grief. We are at a time in human history where we know much about grief and trauma. Great knowledge, yet without application there is no wisdom. We seek those who can manage, not those that can lead. Mostly due to the fact that true leadership in the icky field of values, in grief work is not something that comes with fancy title but is the one that others seek out to understand and process with.

It is in the journey of processing. The ritual of acknowledging what has been lost. Celebrating what remains, that one can become open to the new being birthed within their community, organization or institution. The same journey of healing one goes through with a death in their life, or an enforced change of life circumstance due to health. It is a journey. It happens with every life change, we go through a grief cycle it can be brief or long dependent on what is changing, the social and professional supports we have access to, and if the new reality fits within our existing values, or are those values being challenged for growth or change or holding firm to the values and making a different change in life.

When it comes to change it is a harder conversation, and requires and understanding of those who are in the journey. It is not about managing change for the outcome wanted at a strategic level.

It is processing grief for the new direction to be birthed organically.

But it is messy, and requires seeing all pieces of the organization as people, not cogs. Are we willing?

 


Created with Kryptonian Crystal technology; Batman ingenuity and Wonder Woman’s compassion it is Sanctuary. A place where heroes can come to heal from the unseen wounds inflicted on them in the life. The grief, the traumas, the vicarious traumas or the simple processing of the WTF moments. It is a place that gives you what you need most and to be where you need to be most to hopefully become whole once more.

Until something goes wrong.

King and Mann’s Heroes in Crisis has been a brilliant series thus far in removing the stigma of human services mental health issues for the workers. Let’s be honest, if Batman and Superman can let down their masks and seek help, then so can we. The murders.

But is it real? One does not know as we go down the murder mystery rabbit hole. But this issue’s real story is Wally West, he was the 3rd Flash in the pre-New 52, Post-Crisis on Infinite Earths DCU. Wally was a cocky fortune seeking side kick that grew into a super hero as he took up the mantle of Barry Allen who died to save the universe at the end of the Crisis. Wally was a hero of my generation (and yes he was my flash). It was the story that saw Jay Garrick (Flash One) become a mentor; his future nephew Bart Allen as Impulse; other speedsters- the Zen Speed Master, Max Mercury; and the Quicks (Jesse and Johnny), it was a series that showcased the beauty of the legacy super hero heritage. It also featured the Rogue that became a hero in Pied Piper (and the greatest casual scene ever, way before its time, when Harley comes out to Wally as gay).

But at its core the family became real.

To escape the Speed Force, Wally realized his lightning rod- Linda Park-West, his wife. His soul mate, that which made him better. They would become parents of meta children- Jai and Iris.

Then Reverse Flash and Barry Allen (yeah he finally returned from the dead literally Image result for heroes in crisis #3decades later) created Flashpoint— and the New 52–time was lost– and no more Wally West. Then Rebirth…and Wally is back….

But…

No kids.

No lightning rod.

It appears Wally is a victim of the murderer at Sanctuary. Where he was working through his grief at loss of his whole family. Grief at loss of literally his whole universe. Being in a world that he was not just a man out of time (New 52 removed 5 years of comic time); but literally out of multiverse.

His line is tell:

Image result for heroes in crisis #3

I didn’t want to be alone. The simple refrain of grief. The learning on how to move forward into the new reality before you.