Posts Tagged ‘Home’


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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

See the source image

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

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

Imagine how different our world would be?

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

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

Live Local.

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

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

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

Connecting.

Belonging.

Purpose.

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

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

Become…

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

See the source image

This Ol’ House

 

This Ol’ House is literally the house in the community of Rundle in Calgary, AB I came home from the hospital to as a baby. I purchased it when my folks moved full-time out to the land, Countess, AB during my Mum’s battle with breast cancer and the PTSD that came with it for her. It is the only home I have ever known in my life. I am proud to have been able to raise my own family in it.

Yet, as life progresses sometimes one needs to reassess home. It is an interesting idea of what makes a home. This humble split level had been a hub of home for many on our block, and city. Whether it was just being neighborly, aiding others as a food bank, ensuring the family tradition of any child that enters becomes family or the years that my family ran our own home church…it was a home for many.

During the ART treatment, when discussing with my therapist where my calm place was it was no contest that the calm place was the living room of this ol’ house. Calm? How is that possible, when most think of the calm place they go to it is a beach, peaceful, tranquil, forestry, yet I picked a hub that can have people in it or not and still be calm for it is a space of belonging, the living out of my beliefs.

Within this ol’ house too is the container. What is the container? That imagined mind projection of something seal-able that you can place the overwhelming memories and feelings to have a place to place them to move on with your day.

For me, it is the old, probably falling apart from the inside blue steamer trunk my Nan (Mum’s Mum) brought across from England with her when she was a war bride. It was a place to keep memories, and it was a good memory place. As you work through ART you realize it is about becoming the director of your own memories to work through them to create the tranquil feeling or positive emotions sensations so that you do not freeze or collapse. It was the story of my Nan taking a leap of faith on love to traverse the Atlantic by Steamer Ship, trusting that her husband, the love of her life, was authentic and would be in Halifax harbor for her.

That is why the container was chosen, it is the leap of faith in the treatment process to know that at the end, through love…there will be healing.

As I walk this ol’ house at night, I know it no longer functions for us. As my son grows with his accessibility needs, heck, as I age with my bad knees, the idea of a house that functions through stairs is not usable. The time is coming to close a chapter on this physical structure rapidly, yet taking the heart message of love and belonging to the new home that awaits us on the other end of healing, and new beginnings.

 


April 2017 my son went into the Alberta Children’s Hospital for double foot reconstructions. Yes, it is as bloody painful and arduous as it sounds. It also illuminated the stark contrast between being church, and stewardship church in my mind. The United Church congregation we were at during this time for even though some things were done well, pastoral care and simply being was not among them.

They were an accessible building. Which is truly what accessibility is about, can we get into the building to participate in the events (we shall not discuss washrooms, or their annoyance of locked doors). They were inclusive in that there was space created for people to be a part of with the adults. The children’s ministry was amazing not for the spiritual formation that happened, but rather the lady that ran it created a space of belonging for all children.

Continue reading- Odd.

Out with the Old

Posted: January 19, 2019 by Ty in Musings
Tags: , ,

I am blessed in the fact that I am raising my kids in the house I was raised in. The house I was brought home from the hospital to, and have called home my entire life. As I sit here the new living room furniture and kitchen set is coming in (Thank you Brick and your delayed payment events!). As I had shared with my wife, it is not that I dislike new, or change in the home environment, it is after all our home.

The challenge is in the short term watching what is so familiar go away and the new come in. Quite a metaphor for the change-grief process of life. The old fades away to a memory as the new reality solidifies. Bless her, my wife said we didn’t have to get rid of X, Y, or Z but then we just wind up storing that which when paid forward can bless another family.

For that is the story of this old house.


I was gladdened a few weeks ago when the newest affordable housing complex in Calgary broke ground that the government corrected the service provider gently on the use of terms. It was deemed by the service provider as “permanent supportive housing” yet the MLA (Member of Legislative Assembly), when announcing pointed to it as “permanent housing with supports”. Many will think this is just semantics b.s. that does not amount to anything but hair splitting. But it matters for the terms lead to the conditions which lead to the ability to create healthy communities through an interconnection of healthy interdependent citizens and their homes. It is the terms and conditions which outline the corporate and personal responsibilities for all stake holders.

Despite the long battle the City Council of Calgary had over secondary suites, and folks attempting to justify who their neighbours should be through red tape, let us be honest—we all have good or not so good neighbours—it has nothing to do with how they live (rent/own) but rather other life events that have shaped their personality. (and yes I am gladly awaiting new neighbours with secondary suites, and lane-way/mini housing). This is the hitch, and why words matter when describing housing (or as one round table for the federal government on housing in Calgary phrased it with member of Parliament (for Calgary Centre and at that time Cabinet Minister) Kent Hehr, spectrum of homes which is not just rental, but ownership).

I look to my own neighborhood. It is a mash up of group homes; long term care; seniors residence; affordable housing (which is a spectrum from near market; percentage off market to geared to income) rentals; family and friends couch surfing; shared accommodations; at one point I am sure folks residing in hotels; market rentals; condos; townhouses and houses (owned/rented).   As noted in rental there is different ways rents can be figured in; same with seniors or assisted living facilities or group homes, ½ way houses; Supportive Roommates (supported independent/interdependent living), sober housing and harm reduction (sometimes sadly becomes harm acceptance). All rolled up for singles; couples; roomies; and families (sometimes fur family allowable, sometimes not). As well, home ownership which can be straight through Canadian Mortgage; Habitat for Humanity style ownership or Affordable Homes (or perhaps another way I have not heard of yet).

These ways have a qualifying mechanism which can be as simple as credit/debt ratios to sweat equity to income levels to medical and/or care provisions. Each, depending on where they fall on the spectrum; have rules, regulations and laws that govern contractual obligations, complaint mechanisms, accountability tools, acts and levels of government that may or may not oversee, whom to seek out for conflict resolution or mediation. Essentially it lays out in computer terms for apps the terms and conditions. That is what are the rights and responsibilities for the owner/service providers/landlord/tenant/owner while building a healthy home, and when the need arises through positive or negative means—transitions out of that home to the next.

The contractual obligations before signing, while signed and at dissolution.

This is why I applaud the NDP (New Democratic Party) government in their subtle caring way for reminding us of that. In this example Permanent Supportive Housing falls under a legislative licensing act in Alberta which has a ministry; specific protocols of provision (i.e. housekeeping and/or meals); and a very specific anonymous tip line for complaints to protect the resident. This aids the tenant and the staff of the facility. For it lets the staff know their rights and responsibilities, also for the tenant, it allows their rights and responsibilities to be clearly understood and known by not only them but their circles of support (professionals paid to be in their lives, and social supports ala family, friends and chosen family).

The terms and conditions allows one when seeking a home, whether it is moving from one tenancy to the next, or into care or out of shelter to understand that what they are needing/looking/qualify for…is what is being offered by the operator and/or property.

Seek clarity, on what specifically the terms and conditions are.

More precisely, seek clarity on what this means for the rights and responsibilities of all involved in the contractual arrangement.

By knowing this. By being informed. It allows for a healthy home to flourish for the individual, couple, roomies or family…and by proxy be a healthy piece of the puzzle for the growth of healthy communities in truly living out the understanding of being and knowing neighbour.

Ty Ragan Psy.D. has worked many decades as a community builder in many styles of housing  for what many would term vulnerable populations, but are always someone’s neighbour seeking a healthy home.


I had the privilege several weeks ago to be a guest on Light News Radio where we discussed a multitude of topics, as I phrased it after, the old data banks haven’t had such a work out for awhile. Yet the heart of the show was the discussion of moving beyond inclusion to belonging. For regular readers, you know I have been in the midst of re-discovering how my brain works, and the journey continues. The show had two times when there was dead time:

  • The shameless self-promotion. For those who know me, have taken courses from me, or been apart of groups/programs I have run know that this is just simple uncomfortable for myself. Some may call it humility, I simply put it out as the things that I have been blessed to be apart of, congealed together in the right moments with those the Holy Mystery intended to be apart of it. I have several books and articles across the last 33 years that share the experience, pieces I have aided have become political party policy, and sometimes pieces of legislation and laws. But the best is when someone who thought they had no place to belong finally find that safe zone to grow into the authentic them from. One friend keeps reminding me when we meet for spiritual coaching/direction “If you could get self-promotion you would be bigger that Wayne Dyer.” I simply laugh it off, just cause we’re bald doesn’t mean anything. But I do thank Deirdre on the radio for the highest compliment I can be paid, “you walk your talk.”
  • Your journey: this is the question when you can literally if you are listening close enough you can hear me having one of my neuro-glitches, thank you Dr. J and Deirdre for carrying the conversation until I came around. What was missed though is what I would like to share now. I have been blessed to find belonging in the midst of change. I live in the same house I was brought home from the hospital from, my family bought it from my folks, and yes it was the first house built on the block. I love where I live. NE Calgary is the world outside your door step. We are a midst of the socio-economic classes, spiritualities, we have shared accommodations, renters (market, affordable and Calgary Housing Company) and homeowners (and guess what, how one pays for their home does not entail if they are a good neighbour) and cultures that make the mosaic of the human race beautiful (98.5% non-western European descent, did a study on it in seminary circa 2006 when I was a Franciscan serving an Anglican parish). Our communities were built before Calgary forgot what planning entailed so we are well resourced with a hospital, malls, grocery stores, schools (public and separate, and all grades); the highest numbers of churches per capita with the lowest percentage of residents that are Christian (circa 2006-7 data). Like any community there has been places that have accepted us, and scorned us. My daughter got the fun in her pre-school years to explain Good Friday as “we are going to the church that baptized Daddy and killed Jesus” (as I was the first baby on a baptismal roll) to her being able to be the second generation to attend a Presbyterian Vacation Bible School in our community (it is one of the little churches that could). It is a place where I was able to be at the cornerstone laying ceremony for Canada’s largest Mosque. Where we learned as students to be a good citizen means to constructively query those in power, and hold to account for what needs to happen. Through actions of my family and neighbours learn how to support one another. It is where as we raise my son, we know that there are enough oldsters around to watch out for him (and my daughter) and enough newbies his smile and laughter had ingratiated him to them they will watch out for him.

This community had multiple religions in my Alliance Church pre-school as a child, and allowed for curiosity, open exploration of other understandings of religion and the world. We accepted openly refugees (the Vietnamese boat people) and lived out the mosaic ideal of Multi-Culturalism. I remember my elementary school spear heading the first special needs class room for the CBE, and y’know what those 3 kids were just part of our community.

It is a place from my vantage point where I mourn the entrenchment and extremist hate I see once again resurfacing in my country, for there will be those that will miss the beauty of a world where there is no other, only a family member we have not met. It is where my family openly discussed differing political viewpoints; shared the importance of acceptance, of women’s rights, where my Nan shared the story of her gay cousin who took his life and how that was wrong over someone for how God made them. Hearing my Grandma Ragan having tossed American troops from her Montreal diner for their racism. My Grandpa Joe winning a humanitarian of the year award. My Granddad and Nan, hearing how their home was the safe home in their community, a sanctuary for the loving parents no matter who you were.

The type of home my parents made for my brother and I and our friends. My brother was more social than I, but our home was open. It was the safe place, and yes our friends no matter our age referred them as “my brother’s name or Ty’s” Mum & Dad. That is the lesson of belonging. As my family grew into the space there are many things and those stories by those we have called friend are there’s to share. My family simply saw our neighbour, and opened ourselves up to friendship, and sometimes became the family that is not made with blood and DNA.

The lived journey is what brought me to understand belonging. The messy process that is missed in data sets, codifications, and labels. It is what lead me down many educational paths to get the skills necessary when presented with new situations and challenges. When I speak of the question “who is my neighbour?” it is about creating a space beyond accessibility, inclusion and affirmation.

It is creating a home of belonging where you feel open to drop by, pop in, share a meal or a cuppa. Whether it is just needing a place to be, or explore a book or a movie, chat, games, let the kids be kids…or simply abide until the pain passes or to share the joy. That is the journey of belonging and the heart understanding I bring to the pathway.

The Radio Show


I was wracking my mind and heart about what to share on this day of new life. Then I do what many do on Christmas day, a family tradition. We would gather throughout my life to watch the Queen address the Commonwealth. So the wife and I once again did today, and her message, the 60th on television, she was the first monarch to use the medium (and has been the only one since)…celebrating her platinum wedding anniversary to Prince Phillip. Speaking of the light in the darkness, the love of neighbour and self through first responders, charity, church and reclaiming/claiming home.

“The simplicity of the call of home this time of year”

-Queen Elizabeth II, head of the Commonwealth, Religious head of the Church of England (Anglican Communion)

From our family to yours this season, please join our tradition, read the article and listen to the Queen’s Christmas Message 2017.

MERRY CHRISTMAS AND A BLESSED NEW YEAR.

 


mustard seed

  1. And Jesus spoke a parable; he said, The kingdom of the Christ is like a little seed that one put in the ground;
    39. It grew and after many years became a mighty tree, and many people rested in its shade, and birds built nests and reared their young among its leafy boughs.

Aquarian Gospel 140:38-39

You can read the rest of chapter 140 that leads up to this parable, but it is safe to say the journey we have been on in this social gospel series has reached a zenith or a climax for the literary about. The rising action in this short length of Jesus-story has achieved to this parable just in case the preceding 140 chapters were not clear enough on the world that is possible.

That is what this is about. A little idea, a little dream, one little thing planted within the Holy Mystery—within us—and watch it bloom. Want to know something else that happens out of the original blessing we are created and called into/out of???

The tree that provides for all, welcomes all exactly where they are and who they are. It provides not just a space for existence but belonging, growth and thriving into who they are and are meant to be and become.

How?

The space to rest is the beginning.

For when you can pause enough in the rat race of survival. One can then have time to dream a dream. Baptist Pastor,  CCF Premier of Saskatchewan, and Greatest Canadian Tommy Douglas would remind us “dream no little dreams” for any dream in the fertile soil of the love (cosmic dust) we are bound through…creates new reality, new life and like the tree that springs from the smallest tree— H-O-M-E.

What a wonderful outcome of our original blessing when creation was given to us to explore.

So what is your little seed?

What soil will you plant it in?


38 years old is the book. Amazing isn’t it in this throw away society that something has endured and lasted through childhood, multiple uses in ministry from churches to streets to outreaches…to quiet nights on Christmas Eve with my own children. A pop up book back when Hallmark published such things, given to me by my Nan and Granddad to commemorate my first Christmas a scants 4ish months since birth, and 2ish months since the Christening into the Anglican tradition, within the Roman Catholic School gym (shamrock backboard and all).

Yet it is the story that endures and matters. Many argue the historicity of it. Did it actually happen? Was their a Virgin birth? Did it happen on Christmas Day? What about the Pagan Solstice?

Yet in simply sitting with my family this Christmas eve, no spiritual home to say, and reading the story of the family travelling at the darkest time of year seeking shelter. Dark times? The Solstice tells us this is the darkest time of year. The extra burden wrought by taxes that do not take not even affordability, but survival into account (no comment to Carbon Tax I promise)…that was the oppression of the Roman Empire where Joseph and Mary, and their people were viewed as a number, as commodities (ringing any familiarity yet?) to be used and abused.

Mary steps out of the commodification of her gender within her oppression by Rome and Religious Israel, to claim her yes in power to the Holy Mystery to bear his child. Where did this child come from? Some say a Virgin birth, some say another oppression by a Roman soldier using his property, much like David used Bathsheba, what we today call Rape, or a genocidal practice…yet Mary was the one asked whether or not she would keep it, would choose life in herself and for her baby and was blessed.

Yet that was not the end of the story, for Joseph also had to choose life. He had to choose to keep his betrothed (purchased) property and the child that was not his. He had 3 options, become the town joke by choosing and create their own outcast ways, cast Mary outside the city gates like other sex trafficked women to her death with child, or have her stoned to death.

Mary’s yes resounded to a mystical moment for Joseph to choose his own yes.

Yet this is not the end of the mysticism of the story as societal constructs of oppression are thrown off. For we are in the midst of the 12 days of Christmas. Yes it is more than a song, and I am sure the Google can reveal the Christian imagery revealed in the lyrics, but it is the 12 days that high liturgical churches embrace as a way of bringing the two nativities together.

For Luke gives us the call out to the other cast outs and oppressed imaged by the shepherds to come to the birth. Yet in Matthew, the universal Love that is the Holy Mystery, is told of the Magi who use means of magic, astrology and astronomy to track this effect in the sky of a bright light in the darkness to come and show love.  For the gifts brought would definitely be of benefit 30 years on when Jesus would leave being a general labourer and set forth to live transformational love in the world.

Yet it is the journey of the Magi, and their decision to not let Herod know what they knew about the source, Love incarnate in the manger, this is the source for the festival time Christendom finds themselves in now. The 12 Days of Christmas between the birth and the arrival of the Magi…or between the Protestant-Catholic Christmas and the Orthodox Christmas..

The universal story of these 12 days resonates outward everywhere, for it is not about creeds or bibles or buildings…it is something more incarnate.

These 12 days it is about the spiritual journey to the centre. It is about the journey home. For it is the Magi journeying into love, and then out of love and letting that light live to transform the world.

As I read the pop up book this year to my children, these are the thoughts that came out of my heart. The journey of love has not changed for anyone in our household. The journey into and out of love and letting it shine, is a moment by moment occurrence for each of us.The symbolism of the rite and song are not lost either as we continue the journey to home.

So in these 12 days, and beyond, what is your choice of love and home mean to you?


quote

Slide from Calgary Centre for Spiritual Living on April 10, 2016

It was new member Sunday at the Calgary Centre for Spiritual Living and as such it was centered on what the quote above speaks to—Belonging. It was only last year that the family joined, and I still remember my son, through his spastic speech speaking clearly into the microphone after quite a few tumultuous and judgmental spiritual homes for him say, “Thank you for loving me.”

This is the heart of the Sanskrit word that title’s this post, belonging; it speaks Anthropologically to the idea of Tribe, and for the type of work I do, the concept of H-O-M-E.

So as one travels through life, there are a few things that shape us.

  1. Purpose-that is vocation something that adds meaning to our lives.
  2. Belonging-that place or places where we know we fit and are loved.

That is what spiritual centres, political parties, sports teams, book clubs, the list goes on and on in the area of face to face gatherings are about. It truly is like the Cheers’ theme song from the 1980’s to go to a place where everyone knows your name.

For our walk as a species though, do we create barriers for others that halt them being able to find belonging? Being able to find Home? Purpose? just because we would rather label? Or do we open up our communities for all, and see how the jigsaw pieces fit together for a true Sangha to be created…for it takes all types to flourish as a society.

Let’s be honest, it also takes many types of tribes together to build a healthy nation.