Posts Tagged ‘Spirituality’


This Sunday I was invited to preach at Knox Presbyterian Church in Calgary on Mark 6:1-7 (New Revised Standard Version):

He left that place and came to his hometown, and his disciples followed him. On the sabbath he began to teach in the synagogue, and many who heard him were astounded. They said, “Where did this man get all this? What is this wisdom that has been given to him? What deeds of power are being done by his hands! Is not this the carpenter, the son of Mary[a] and brother of James and Joses and Judas and Simon, and are not his sisters here with us?” And they took offense[b] at him. Then Jesus said to them, “Prophets are not without honor, except in their hometown, and among their own kin, and in their own house.” And he could do no deed of power there, except that he laid his hands on a few sick people and cured them. And he was amazed at their unbelief.

Then he went about among the villages teaching. He called the twelve and began to send them out two by two, and gave them authority over the unclean spirits.

Here is the service:

Here is the link

The Speaking Notes:

Thank you to Mark and the Session for inviting me to speak today as we continue our journey through the Gospel of Mark.

Ever been judged by your backstory? Your family connections? Where you are from? Had unfair assumptions made about you based on how you talk or dress? Ever let those effect who you are in your day-to-day life? Perhaps in what the Dalai Lama dubbed Job, Career or Calling, or in church-speak vocation, y’know what you do to pay the bills, but also what you do because of your passion and who you are? Ever notice how other’s thought patterns or beliefs about who you are, in certain environments can shape your internal monologue? Or even your ability to do what you know you can do?

This is where today’s passage is taking us in the Gospel of Mark. For it can be seen as a moment in time for Jesus, much like we encounter in our own lives. It is one of the gospel moments, I love to take time in community to say, let’s be Jesus in this moment and ponder what we hear from the chorus of neighbours…or as the catch phrase goes, who’s renting space in your mind and heart? We’ll take some time with the passage, and then some time on what we can tease out for our own soul care and soul work.

Read Mark 6:1-7:

He left that place and came to his hometown, and his disciples followed him. 2 On the sabbath he began to teach in the synagogue, and many who heard him were astounded. They said, “Where did this man get all this? What is this wisdom that has been given to him? What deeds of power are being done by his hands! 3 Is not this the carpenter, the son of Mary[a] and brother of James and Joses and Judas and Simon, and are not his sisters here with us?” And they took offense[b] at him. 4 Then Jesus said to them, “Prophets are not without honor, except in their hometown, and among their own kin, and in their own house.” 5 And he could do no deed of power there, except that he laid his hands on a few sick people and cured them. 6 And he was amazed at their unbelief. Then he went about among the villages teaching.  

It is presented as an external dialogue, where you can see the encouragement loop and the passive aggressive discouragement loop. Those in attendance praising the work Jesus has done, the power of his words, and his healings. The healings which are more to reveal the unwelcome of community, and to push the boundaries of inclusion and belonging. Then you get the snipers, those that do not want to see good or hear change and look for that. They look to what is known about Jesus, and what the scandals are. How he can hardly be a holy man for just look at his family. He was a tradesman, so how could he be “wise” or, we know his family-his brothers, and sisters. This can be a familiar refrain used for esteem or disrespect dependent on the family’s reputation. It is also being able to show that this were children that grew up and alluding to any known shenanigans Jesus and his siblings got up to. Let’s be honest here, who growing up regardless of place in time in history has not gotten up to some mischief. These are the reminder phrases. In case that doesn’t work though, the nay sayers decide to pull out the ultimate reminder.

They name him through the matriarchal lineage of his mother, Son of Mary (not Son of Joseph as was the tradition and practice). This was pointing out that his father truly was unknown, and that Joseph decided not to follow the law and have Mary cast out or stoned. That is Joseph decided family had more to do with than simple biology and was about belonging. But that was the simplest part of the story, see, Mary, well, Mary was the powerful piece of the story that scared the neighbours I think. If you spend time exploring the Mary visions throughout history, historians and Marian Theologians agree that Mary appears more than Jesus to both Christians and Non-Christians, simply because she can share the message of hope and love without centuries of horrendous baggage. Even though in this moment those “who took offense” are trying to turn her powerful yes to God into baggage for her child and derail what is being heard about the place where all belong, where labels do not matter, and the Image of God is beloved in its beautiful and blessed many forms. See Mary was the teenager in a patriarchal society, God decided the way society worked was not right, and skipped over talking to her father, or her betrothed as she was seen as less, in the Roman Empire as a non-citizen in short form she was property. God didn’t care, he went directly to Mary and asked her. The power of shaking the foundations of the systemic wrongs of that era began, with a peasant class, Jewish teenage girl, simply taking control of her own story, because her Creator honoured their beloved creation not the system of oppression created by man. In the hearing those offended were hoping to derail, in the story what is affirmed though for those with open hearts, is that all have voice and belong.

Though what we see in the closing verses, is what is called unbelief and creates disruption in the story as what is normative for a Jesus visit is not as impactful. Which can leave the reader thinking this is about level of belief for miracles or healing, though in other instances we have seen this not to be the case.  Ponder with me for a moment, could this be a story we enter learn through Jesus’ eyes. In this moment and time, where perhaps, he is feeling a bit of the imposter syndrome while, what may have been happening is that the trip had the same results as others, though the re-introduction of the negative monologue of his childhood had let him and perhaps, those around him, to see the outcome differently.

Have you ever had someone thank you for something and you schluff it off as nothing, or perhaps congratulate you on an achievement and you offer up x,y, or z rationales as to why it wasn’t a big deal? Perhaps offering opportunities the seeking more information loop starts, so your reticence holds you back, or simply the “I’m not good enough” or …. I am sure we all have different voices or impulses or feelings, much like was displayed in this short passage that hold us back or create a filter to experiences so we cannot truly experience and know the wonder we are a part of.

For those who watch RuPaul’s Drag Race, he will talk to the queens in short one to one time and call these tracks the saboteur. It is a life coaching tool; I prefer the term gremlins. It creates such a vivid imagery. There are two things that usually spring to mind, one is the World War II idea of a gremlin which is a mischievous imp that is causing an undiagnosable mechanical failure. See the connection with the offended and the soundtrack being laid down? The other is obviously the campy horror movies of the 1980’s Gremlins, which saw things go awry for the mild mogwai if they get wet or fed after midnight, they turn into horrific monsters of terror. Both works, when our underlying mild gremlin is fed a bit, it can create a space of flight, fight or freeze.

As I contemplated the passage of Jesus’ rejection in his hometown, what the commentators and scholars said, and my own background this is where I saw the connections in the why does this matter to us now. Jesus showed what happens when we leave our gremlins alone, we can still do life, but as the last two verses showed it’s more of a “meh” life. Yet, we also noted high tension in Jesus’ community, and is it also possible that the gremlins and “meh” life moment, kept him and his family safe.  And this brings us into the soul work as we have journeyed through Jesus’ eyes, I now ask for a bit of trust to do some care for ourselves.

If you are able grab a piece of paper and a pen or pencil or simply, come back to this talk when you are ready for this practice.

Take a moment to sit up a bit straighter, centre yourself, however you are comfortable, with some deep diaphragmic breaths.

Now as we come out, take a moment to think of what your internal dialogue, feelings or intuitions are, with your pen and paper- draw your gremlin. Give them form. Take time with comic speech bubbles and add the phrases around or feelings that the gremlin uses.

Is the picture of your gremlin clearer?

You know what’s missing? A name. Take a moment and name your gremlin.

In this process, we are praying and acting. We are taking back our story. It is very hard to do any soul work in a nebulous vacuum. Once named however we can truly work with the gremlin.  Say hi to your gremlin using its name. You are meeting truly for the first time. See everything the gremlin has been a part of.

Do you like the gremlin in your life? Do you want the gremlin out of your life?

This is a key question. Just as Jesus pointed out a prophet in their hometown, it is because the gremlin can be the loudest in the most familiar of places because it can be fed after midnight if you will. Are we going to stop feeding it? If you are ready to get rid of the gremlin, the first step is thanking the gremlin. Why? First, it disarms the power, but also it acknowledges that the gremlin has been a part of your journey for a time, and in that time has done what it thought was best.

Once thanked, now it is time. If you are ready, then say goodbye to your gremlin by name. Once you have said goodbye, then destroy the image, simply ripping it up and putting in the compost or recycle bin, or if safe and you have a tin for outside burning is always good for a freedom ritual. I mean Jesus showed an end of the gremlin as he stepped out of the story and began teaching again the neighbouring towns. His own freedom ritual, with the next story being about sending out his disciples two by two.

I do want to take a moment to caution though, this is one moment in time when we are freeing ourselves from a gremlin. After this moment, they have less power. They may return, but now you are familiar with them. You know their words and tactics. By doing that, you can call them by name, and show them the exit sign.

If you chose not to say goodbye to your gremlin today. That is also fine, we have had a long relationship with them. Talk with someone who you trust, set up a time to revisit the gremlin and your decision. These simple things of follow up coffees or teas can aid in the process. For we are interdependent, we need community. If you chose to say goodbye today, take time to touch base with a good friend to celebrate.

For that is the simple nuance, Jesus heard his gremlins internally and externally in this story. Yet he lived into who he was and moved through their voices to continue with his life and teachings. May we continue to be who we are lovingly created to be as well.

Thank you for entering into the story, and the soul work.

Amen.

For the curious, here is what is happening within Knox Community via the June 2021 Knox’s Binding Threads Newsletter:

Benediction:

The ancient Hebrew story in Genesis reminds us it is not good to be alone. We are created for community, belonging. Created by the spirit, loving one another, as Jesus reminded us to love ourselves, and called very blessed and very good by the loving Creator. Let us go outwards living that love and creating that belonging in our world. Amen.


When grieving, contemplation, prayer and collaboration lead to action. That is what this Saturday morning was about as my youngest tried to decide for their final Grade 8 Social Studies project which nation that is a part of them to discover and share (Metis, Indigenous, European), a friend reached out about what educators can do in our shock and grieving over the discovery of the unmarked grave on May 27, 2021 at the site of Kamloops, BC residential school.

What happened was, and I hope/pray will be powerful, a call to action on the dormant call to actions. There is a change.org petition you can sign here.

If you would rather reach out via e-mail to the local faith leaders and political leaders that can make the International Investigation and locating of the other missing children, feel free to adapt the below letter and send on:

To Pope Francis, Archbishops & Bishops of Roman Catholic Dioceses in Canada

 Moderator of the Presbyterian Church in Canada

 Moderator of the United Church of Canada

 Primate of the Anglican Church of Canada 

 The Government of Canada

Re: An Open Letter to actualize Truth and Reconciliation Call to Action #75 from Educators from Canada and around the world.

On May 27, 2021, an unmarked mass grave of 215 children was found on Turtle Island (Canada). 

Youngsters stripped from their homes on the onus of the Canadian Government, handed over to religious authorities for the purpose of cultural genocide. This act of genocide ended their lives. A discovery that had the Rt. Hon. Justin Trudeau, Prime Minister of Canada to ask for flags to be lowered in mourning.  

Sadly, this atrocity is not an isolated incident, but rather it is part of a dark chapter of history, known as Residential Schools which were closed in 1996. It is time for Canadians and people around the world to know this story, atrocities, and all. It is time to heal, as other nations have held up the mirror and investigated the darkness to know the truth and act in reconciliation.

It is time for Canada to be honest in our truth, and act on our intent of reconciliation. For those from a religious background, reconciliation is recognized as a sacrament, or an important act lived through the life and teachings of Jesus of Nazareth known as the Christ for Christians. It is not simply saying, “I am sorry for what has been done”. It is articulating the right words for what has happened, making amends and reparations, affecting healthy closure, and with that closure the grieving process in order to  move forward in healing towards a new reality. 

This open letter from educators calls on those institutions involved to turn their records over to international investigators so that they will be able to locate and return the lost children to their families for appropriate mourning. For  international investigators to be able to state clearly to Canadians the truth that is being evaded. Only then will it be possible to move forward in the spirit of reconciliation. 

On every Holocaust Remembrance we utter those words, “We will never forget or repeat,”and the whole time our own genocide was being carried out.

We acknowledge the 4/5 institutions that have apologized, and the work Anglicans, Presbyterians and United Christians have been attempting in Reconciliation work. We call on the Roman Catholic Church to actively live what their Catechism teaches on Reconciliation and  to not only formally apologize but catch up to where their contemporaries are at in the process. And to move forward to ensure the call to actions are actualized (not simply read or taught but done). For Canada, like other nations around the world needs to finally interrupt and heal our intergenerational trauma, and know our truth.

The First 175

Posted: September 7, 2020 by Ty in Spirituality
Tags: , , , , , , ,

Humans are very peculiar. I often find them unfathomable, but an interesting psychological study.”
-Spock

175 days. On March 17 I will admit I did not foresee us having to be socially/physically distanced much beyond the end of the school year. Some would say, yeah but schools have reopened and Alberta is in Phase II. Yet daily numbers continue to climb, and currently 16 schools have had positive tests for Covid-19. Now I can spend this time ranting about the ineffectiveness of the current provincial government who has chosen this time to perpetuate failed American policy of funding following students, to defund public schools and a government actively picking fights with our health care providers, not to mention the parallel opioid epidemic happening during this pandemic.

Yet, that is not the purpose of this post. I think just last year at this time I was in the midst of treatment for my own conversion disorder/PNES/PTSD and now here I am in the midst of a pandemic, shifting gears in a career path to working from home. The current underlying anxiety of life. There has been ups and downs, making hard decisions within a life where my son is in highest risk of the worst case scenarios is he was to contract Covid-19. It brings a different lens to life, a heart lens, a heaviness that shifts life experiences during this time.

A Challenge lifted with the faux choice presented around back to school, where our other child could online hub, for the supports necessary for my son to continue to grow and thrive, he needed to be back in school. Even with his school providing one of the safest options, still many moving parts. Some will never know the amount of trust our medically complex community extends to be part of basic Constitutional rights as Canadians.

During this past 175 days we have learned, we have grown. We have continued to connect as a family unit. Shifted gears into what was safe to do- walks, drives (ah before the parks opened and you could get amazing wildlife pictures from the vehicle as they were so chill), checking out how things were set up for safety (Thank you Vulcan Trek Station). Oh and a fun Wynonna Earp tour of Didsbury (seriously Didsbury, think of Earper days).

Our kids mourning the summer shift away from the parade circuits, small town fun and doing some fund raising to help others. As thrift stores re-open being able to donate to at least continue our pattern of helping. Not being able to be around Countess as much as usual for the varied reasons of the c-tine.

Screen fatigue sets in as everything feels like it is online. A few close friends who get it, we can set up visits with. But the smack of heart/soul pain when you believed one got it, only to realize in the moment that they did not and the extra layer of fear it brought. But thankful for the screens, and the online communities that were able to build connection-summer camp for the kiddos, youth group, and church each week, thank you for the heart your brought to your passions.

Focusing on interests, exploring some new. Realizing that costs rise as you step away and lose the way you used to do things (ah Public Libraries). A summer spent reading, and another child discovering and refining their cosplay passion.

A fun summer of variety of RuPaul’s drag races (though what was up with that mask? on the Zoom finally!). Bosch, Star Trek Lower Decks (okay Trek in general), warped and weird comic book team ups brought to my bookshelf by curbside pick ups from Words & Pictures, Doctor Who…and the list goes on…so many new release movies bought and watched shared through my Facebook as our Ragan Chateau Cinema (and finally Good Omens!).

Empathizing for each family that has lost someone to Covid, for the outbreaks in our shelters, and for those who my son has lost in his life this summer. The haunting conversations with him during this time. Asking in a night of tears if I loved him and would do his funeral. Fear as he did not react in anger at loss of his classmates, but rather, just slumped over like one beaten by grief. As I told him, no it’s not how the universe works he needed to get through Bible College like he dreamed to do mine because parents don’t bury their kids.

His answer…

Silly Daddy.

While others look to starting back to life as close to normal as possible. We do have to double check and triple check, second guess…for the heavy heart of a Dad, I do not want to be the one that made the misstep that costs my son his life. Moments over the last 175 where I thought of breaking my tea totaller ways, but what a risk of loss for myself, for a sip of alcohol. Not worth it.

Enjoying and living the journey of discovery of my other kid as they come into their authentic self. Pride is the only word that comes to mind, with their passion and love and care for life and others.

Hope to find a new addition to our fam jam, a wonderful new rescue Mumma dog to love as day 176 dawns in the morning, and head back to work.

In the still quiet silence, trying to connect to calm the constant state of anxiety. Listening for the vocational call…that can shift back around to a renewal of the soul of the work February 20th…just need to take the step of risk and inquiry.

One can begin to reshape the landscape with a single flower.
-Spock

I talked with my wife, Shawna, about whether I stopped counting the days because the boi was back in class. I decided against it, because our life had not shifted gears back to fully belonging and inclusive in community once more. That will take some time. Just like reminding myself, that the compassion and kindness I try to bring to others during this time, I need to bring to myself.

For, I had set the intention for a post a day during this time, and some days (several back to back), after logging off from work finding the energy is just not there to even journal. I need to be kind to me, and move forward. Each day is a new day. And yes I still work to find my centre, and peace. Most days are good, had some dark days in the first 175, and that okay.

For each day can be reshaped, just like a landscape, by adding one thing. Take time each day to note at least one thing you are thankful for. It begins to make a whole new soul scape.

As tomorrow brings a new day, a new bus ride, a new log on…and the cycle continues where it leads…


Ah, Maundy Thursday cinema at the Chateau Ragan Cinema last night was busy, after Overcomer, we enjoyed a new Tom Hanks movie, A Beautiful Day in the Neighbourhood (2019) which touches on an interview from 1998 that Mr. Rogers granted to an investigative journalist from Esquire, Lloyd Vogel. The premise does sound a bit pedestrian I admit, but it is a story of service, authenticity and reconciliation. Seeing some connections between the themes of Holy Week and Maundy Thursday? In the idea that at the Last Supper, each disciple spent time intimately being served by Jesus, in full presence as he washed their feet, confirmed who they were, and that they were loved just as they are… even Judas, who Jesus confirmed had to do what he was destined to do.

So we meet Mr. Fred Rogers, a man humbly called into service in a medium to reach out to families and the children of the world. Who his wife admits struggles sometimes with anger, but it is how he chooses to respond. That lays out some daily spiritual practice, of walks, alone time, presence, prayer (praying for each person by name he knows), when he meets new people and is blessed to spend moments of life with him so he can share the full story with his beloved wife. A neat aside is that during the making of extras, Mrs. Rogers would share that Tom Hanks was her husband’s favourite actor (and really, who else could we see playing Mr. Rogers)…Full disclaimer time, as a Canadian lad, I was more fond of Mr. Dressup (and hey CBC–how about a documentary and t.v. movie????), but whose life has not been touched or shaped in some way by Mr. Rogers’ and his simple living of kindness and presence?

See the source imageThe idea that each child has value as a child, not for what they will become, but who they simply are. Read that again, value for being.  The simple notion of the Imageo Dei, brought to the screen for every child. He is America’s family and child pastor.

Vogel is assigned a feature for Esquire on Mr. Rogers. He is used to digging under the surface, exposing hypocrisy, and the evil under the surface. Vogel is actually the main character of the movie, with Mr. Rogers as the spiritual guide in the journey of truth, love, forgiveness, and reconciliation that awaits his new friend, Mr. Vogel. For Vogel the first step is beginning to understand that kindness and love, can exist in another for others, with no strings attached. True friendship, an echo of the time when Jesus took a towel and water, and said they were not master-student, but friends…

It is a story of true identity. Knowing your identity. Living your identity. In simplicity of life. (Mr. Rogers’ theme as subway sing a long here).

It is a beautiful day in the neighbourhood, despite our current circumstances. You have value for being. You are beloved, and belong.

The final closing thought is a beautiful spiritual practice from the film to share,

Take a minute, and just be with

the memories of all those that have and are loving you into being.

 

For some fun, watch the blooper reel, watch here.


 

“I failed; I did not make a difference.”

-My personal sound track entering into therapy on Feb. 14, 2019.

On May 2, 2019 with my PNES therapist I was able to share the work of breaking this soundtrack. It was arduous over the months in therapy, as I asked friends something I never had before. What did they think of me? I began to look back at the thank you notes, and the honours that I had let fade into the background.

An exterior soundtrack began to emerge and take concrete form. It was that I did make a difference. I have a tendency to be overly responsible, and need to figure out where my rodeo ends and the next begins. It is the struggle of not wanting to be the bystander of the bystander effect. It knows what I can honestly give.

Continue Lies of the Heart


In just two months my monthly trip to the comic shop to pick up the new Heroes in Crisis Image result for detective comics 1001will come to an end. As this has aided a renewal in some fun in life, I have decided I should figure out another series to pick up and read. With news Supermans titles would be going weekly it became a bit too expensive to pick up. With Detective Comics #1000 I was piqued with the new storyline starting in 1001 and picked that up.

Though Tom King was the writer of H.i.C. and Batman #68 looked like a standalone story to sample. Well, it was part of the Knightmares storyline (part 6) of the deconstructing of Batman. I will try not to give any spoilers.

It was a fun story of a bachelorette night with Lois Lane and Selina Kyle discovering friendship and shenanigans.

Image result for Batman 68How can this be a Knightmare in deconstructing Batman/Bruce Wayne? Seeing joy is wrong?

No.

It is deeper than that, and for anyone that has perhaps journeyed through trauma you can get it. You become hyper-vigilant to seeing the horrors, and the catastrophic. It leads to constantly being a fight/flight/freeze scenario. You replay your life, and relive that which you have lost. For Bruce, it was seeing Selina who he had lost, and coming to the realization that there was nothing that meant more to him. The inability to feel/focus on gratitude it one of the biggest emotional numbing agents within PTSD before and during healing.

The other piece is in the conversation between Bruce and Clark, about the worst nightmare for Bruce. The quiet. Bruce hates the world that makes Batman necessary, but what happens if Batman is no longer necessary?

What is the greatest fear of the situation you are in?

Batman-68What is your major support? Have you told them so? Authentically, have you paused. I have written previously of the Jonah Effect, those that bail on us when crisis or illness arrive. Yet, how often do we truly acknowledge those that have continued the journey with us and been there for us.

The Knightmare was for Bruce realizing that which could possibly be no more, because he was too focused on everything else to let himself be present for the good. That is Selina.

Today I was proud to be able to share the supports of my wife, kids, 3-5 close friends, Dad and his wife that have continued on this journey of pain, sorrow, and now healing with me. There is gratitude which provides more healing. It was humorous and learning to see this type of struggle from our world shared in our current mythology.

Before you go forward, whereever you are on the journey, truly take time and pause–

Who are those that support you and you support them in the journey?


Jamie Foxx, Ben Mendelsohn, Jamie Dornan, Eve Hewson, and Taron Egerton in Robin Hood (2018)

Marian: You call that a disguise?
Robin of Loxley: Well it fooled everybody else!

Ah great final line from Robin Hood (2018 trailer).  For long term readers and listeners you will know there is a soft spot for the legend of Robin Hood. It has shaped my outlook on life, justice, faith and humanity.

 

That all said, I must say the undertones I have been sharing for years have finally hit the forefront with the new 2018 film. From the opening sequence narration speaking of not tying us down with history that will bore, but getting to the heart of the story…to the draft notice for the Third Crusade. Get ready for a fun ride if that’s all you want from a movie…or if you want to actually engage and discuss (yes youth groups I am looking at you, as this would be a youth night or retreat movie).

Be ready to tackle real world issues. It is not simply a smash and grab thief issue.

Anyone up for a little wealth redistribution?

-Robin of Loxley

From the Holy Land where one is confronted with the atrocity of using the Lord’s Name in Vein. No we are not talking about lying, we are talking about masking the atrocities of war, land grabs, and war crimes behind the Gospel. As extremists seeking power and control, use the opiate of the masses to pacify, convert and create a banner to fight underneath.

Fear is the greatest weapon in God’s arsenal. It is why the church created Hell.

-The Cardinal

To the lies of the wealthy. Using power and wealth (the 1%) to keep the peasants/working classes subjugated. As a former Lord that was drafted and sided with the disenfranchised is reported dead and lands seized. As Xenophobia, heresy and hate are used to justify stripping what little the lowers classes have to prop up a war effort…but for which side? As espionage and collusion for a true power grab.

A power grab using the people’s faith as their greatest weapon. A weapon so that everyone will overlook what is being done to them because it is God ordained…sound like a familiar political gambit in Canada and United States of America to overlook ethical issues with leadership for the religious right states they are the Godly choice (that is using lightning bolt issues to confuse and fog the true issues of governance being for the betterment of the people, not power and control).

 

Taron Egerton in Robin Hood (2018)

In all my years of war I have never seen anything like you. -Little John

Why do legends such as the Robin Hood meta-narrative persist? Seen reincarnated, as my daughter noted, “Robin Hood is like Green Arrow”. Yes, my daughter, the creator of Green Arrow was inspired by Robin Hood, and the G.A. of my life by Mike Grell was centered on the urban hunter of social justice. It is because there is a war within us, between a Robin and a Sheriff. It is the challenge of being an authentic you that changes the world for the better, or the self that only cares about power and money.

It is the struggle of the True Self and the Shadow Self. It is seen inside a person, but also a community, a nation, and a species. It is the struggle to be better. To ensure corruption, lies, and oppression are not the rule of thumb and life, but rather the hiccups along the way. It is the struggle to put hate out of our species once and for all, and to understand that when horrible things happen whether through nature or humanity’s efforts no type of God ordains them. It is when the Sheriff is fed cosmological.

We are not powerless, we have one life. One choice.

“You’re only powerless if you believe you’re powerless”

A simple contemplation for this time in Lent, from Marian to Robin in the movie, trying to convince him to go big:

If not you, who ? If not now, when ? 

 

Want to read more of the Spirituality of Robin Hood?

Check out my new book, Soul Ripples, Coming 2019.


Ah the reviews of “scary” or “terror inducing” for me were a bit over the top, but Haunting of Hill House (Netflix series, 2018) was good. Now, I must admit we will not be talking about the paranormal aspects of the show (perhaps another post, as I do love what was shown for the negative/dark side of paranormal, much like the Exorcist television show), but there is another topic that emerges within the confines of the 10 episodes and that is:

A-D-D-I-C-T-I-O-N.

And within the confines of addiction, the shame hierarchy of addiction so other addicts can hide and believe they are healthier than the other. The Crain family is the centre of the story.  A shared trauma when the 5 siblings were children,  which as they grew up each took their own path of suppression/repression/projection and psychological denial.

Luke’s addiction was the one that the rest could look down upon, as it was heroin. The eldest brother, Steven, dove into denial and repression through turning everything into a story to cover up what he believed was family psychosis and as a result created emotional walls to keep everyone out, and self-sabotage. Theo to avoid touch, wrapped herself in her work and the only release being one night stands not knowing how to love. The eldest sister became obsessed with death running a funeral home, and Nell became lost in trying everything to feel “normal”. Each had their own addiction…and while Luke chose the quickest way to numb the pain, each sibling as well showed that when their own path was no longer working they had no issue supplementing with hard liqour.

The most telling  scene being at a funeral viewing with Luke even though 90 days clean, still struggling with his own grief. The family’s liqour use on full display for drunkenness.

This is the question it raises. Addiction is not formed in a vacuum. It is not a choice. It is a coping mechanism for life, for trauma, for loss, for grieving, for lack of belonging. Feeling the eternal outsider and not knowing how else to silence the demons, or make the pain go away.

It is why 12 step programs still persist, because they draw people into community, and provide support on the journey. Create a safe port o call when the storms of life get too much. DBT/CBT (ala Smart Recovery) do the same, as it provides tools. Things that allow working through the symptoms, but it is striking at the heart of cause that brings release. How many do that?

In that journey, how many communities/families are willing to journey with the addicted?

It is in the journey when light is shone into the darkness that creates healing and ends addiction.

Recent studies on front line workers in homelessness/housing first have shown high rates of PTSD (higher than sexual assault victims) and currently peg 46% of active staff living/working with symptoms. One has to ponder, and possibly explore what is the functional/non-functional addiction levels of these staff for coping? As one struggles with flashbacks/anxiety/depression/pain and the darkness, reaching for what ever will bring relief/unconsciouness can be easier than working the healing. Discovering the light that the darkness has buried takes a lot (and requires a wraparound industry of support).

Yet for that light to shine, one has to look at their world…and do those around them create a safe port o call or simply a place where you can rationalize usage? Reflecting on Luke, he could very easily have looked at the other addictions and rationalized usage not healing. For the only difference in addictions, was legal/illegal.

The purpose behind was the same– numbing the pain of loss.

And that is the challenge for when it comes to addictions healing, we as the outsider do not necessarily want to admit perhaps our behaviours need to adjust for safety on the journey. The communal responsibility over personal right. It is a fine line, but one that shows the living breathing eco system within ourselves is how the community interacts with those in pain.

Are we going to be a part of the healing?


I have been blessed in my 21 years of ministry to be involved in many great blessings. From blessing civil weddings; watching equality rights flourish; acceptance and belonging in spots for all people; breaking bread at a potluck; public prayers and laments; fun sing-a-longs; Serving the Eucharist; hearing one’s Truth and Reconciliation journey; anointing; affirming calls…teaching, speaking and preaching on all manner of topics from a holistic perspective, being apart of creating sacred and sanctuary space or more simply, home, for community and individuals… and yes all this across a myriad of spiritualities and philosophies.

Ashes to Ashes

Dust to Dust.

-Anglican BCP Funeral Liturgy excerpt

Yet, one thing is an outlier. Grief and change. We do not want to grieve. For we equate grieving with death.

Yes, grieving is a part of death.

But grieving is also apart of change. Minor or major dependent on the change (transition) within our lived lives. It is why recovery of any can, is challenging, for there is a transitional change and we mourn what is now, and have trepidation for what is to be born.

Much the same, in the 600 journeys I have had the sacramental (sacred) privilege with family, friends, clients, neighbours, and congregants in journeying with to what lies in the next life.

The great unknown.

One thing I have always stood in when it comes to grieving and loss of life in this world, is know what you believe. Be open to learning and discovery. Those two pieces are invaluable before entering into any kind of human service, for they will not teach it in a text book, it is an experiential discovery that has sidelined many a vocation earlier than necessary.

It became a discomfortable expertise, but a comfort in my own belief system and aiding someone in discovering/affirming their own beliefs whether it be in healing from their own grief, or becoming comfortable with their own transition. Also being able to sit in the silence, with the tears that heal, and know that sometimes, there is no pat “holy answer” (despite what every religion, spirituality and philosophy of life tries to peddle to you) and that it beyond acceptable and okay in life. I never knew 21 years ago cracking open an old King James family Bible to teach some Junior high youth that one of my sacramental expertise’s would become the funeral liturgy, and the journey of grief.

What I do know for sure:

I have no clue what comes next from this life, and that is okay.

I do not know why children die, in fact it is kind of a universal dick move.

But I do know the great cosmic story, and the greatest thing is love. From that breath of love is the source of the cosmic dust we share with all of creation. We are birthed into this world…and when we pass away from this world and our physical body returns to the elements…

The soul cosmic born of love, returns to the eternal river that is love.

The journey of life is simple, live the love your were born from.

Some Listening:

Kenny Chesney “Get Along” video here.

Luke Bryan “Most People are Good” video here.


Judas Goat

A Judas goat is a trained goat used at a slaughterhouse and in general animal herding. The Judas goat is trained to associate with sheep or cattle, leading them to a specific destination. In stockyards, a Judas goat will lead sheep to slaughter, while its own life is spared. Judas goats are also used to lead other animals to specific pens and on to trucks.

-urbandictionary.com

Wild Wild Country (Netflix 2018) the last 3 episodes one begins to ponder as evidence mounts whether Sheela was Osho’s Judas Goat. A role designed as the movement/settlement began to be confronted by vitriol hatred, and violence as noted in the first reflection is what radicalized the movement. Where it was about drawing together, the confrontation and harassment, breaking of the laws of the land to root out that which was different undercut the principles of this new religion growing a city in the heart of farm country.

It is a series that can be used for personal or corporate discussion and reflection. Key questions to come during this time of Pentecost:

  • Welcoming of the stranger at your gates? (a theme out of J.S. Woodsworth’s writings of the social gospel).
  • Who is my neighbour? How do I love my neighbour as myself?
  • How do I respond to that which is different from my norm, but is not harming the disenfranchised?
  • Where do I stand when the wave of hate begins?
  • How does my own grief of loss of what was, shape my reaction to what is becoming?

The series is a winding road, of a 4 year span that has been exorcised from the story of Osho and the Rajneeshis. It is the loss of what was a time of tribulation, and raises questions around who was set up? Who knew what was happening in the darkness? What happens when dark responds to dark? When silence is broken, and it is not the message of love and acceptance that is vocalized, but pain, hatred and jealousy?

It also speaks to what happens to true believers as is seen in two of the members, Sheela and Philip Toelkes (a.k.a Swami Prem Niren; 2nd Mayor of Rajneespuram and lawyer of Osho). Two sides of a coin in their response to the whirlwind around them. Yet clinging to what they had learned on the journey and still living the core of the teaching after the accountability dust settles.

For the question in the early 1980’s Oregon (and before in India that drove the movement International) is what happens when the world responds to love with hate?

It is a microcosmic battle within each of us, in Islamic studies it is the Jihad, within Christianity it is Pentecost…will the Holy Spirit shine through or not in the moment of choice to reside an acknowledge the Holy Mystery? Yet as seen, it also is a macrocosmic struggle when the world interacts.

Judas

An individual whom sells out his/her friends for their own personal benefit

-Urbandictionary.com

It is as the dust settles and the Osho International emerges, a Judas moment if you will, tracking through, you are left to ask the question:

  • Who betrayed the movement?
  • Who was the true Judas of the story?
  • Who held true to Love?

Sometimes the mirror held up to our own movements, institutions and journeys is through viewing and being the third party in a discourse about another’s pilgrimage to the heart of the sacred.