- Working out at the gym
- Playing guitar
- Playing clarinet
- Cross stitch
- Horseback riding
- Girl Guides
This is a partial list of the various phases through which I have gone so far in my life. I remember my parents asking, when I was getting into something new, if I was really serious or whether it was just a phase? Somehow in their minds this tied into whether or not it was worth putting money and time into supporting my efforts. I have, in fact, caught myself thinking the same thing when the kids decided they desperately needed calligraphy pens, collections etc. I realize that there are some developmental stages that kids go through which parents only survive by telling themselves, “It’s just a phase, it will pass!” but the thing about the things on my list is I was absolutely serious about all of them. At the time that I was into riding it was all I thought about. I worked hard to learn all I possibly could about horses and riding and there were hours of sweat and labour involved. I loved every minute of it, but then it passed.
I am here to talk about the value of the phase. Much maligned, it is in those periods of intense focus on one activity or another that we gain knowledge, proficiency, sometimes expertise in that area. Long after the phase has disappeared from our daytimers, that skill and knowledge remain with us and help to inform our further pursuits. It is remarkable the connections that come up when you are doing something seemingly unrelated. Things you did when working with horses turns out to work well with other animals, and or people.
When I have pondered my calling over the years I often gave thought to all those skill sets I have and wondered what path they were pointing to. There were times when I considered mission as an obvious answer. In the end, I think that more than anything they have equipped me to make connections with a great variety of people. I am just as comfortable in a conversation with farmers and college professors, teens and ‘little old ladies.’ It is in this way that I believe I have been prepared to give pastoral care. I may not be useful in the church kitchen, but I can talk with and coordinate with those who are.
So…here is to the phase, may we enjoy many more of them!
This photo is of the Bima of the Synagogue in Tarnow, Poland. It is all that remains of the once beautiful place of worship for nearly half the city’s population which was destroyed and decimated respectively during the Holocaust of WWII. Like all people my age, I learned about the Holocaust in history class and through various documentaries and movies I have seen since. I never doubted the horror, but until tonight I had never heard f Tarnow, and had never actually spoken with an holocaust survivor. Now I think I’m unlikely ever to forget it.
Tonight I was privileged to attend a talk by Dr. Israel Unger, a retired Chemistry professor and a child holocaust survivor. Dr. Unger shared his memories as a young child. Memories like seeing his grandfather pushed down the stairs and then shot, hiding behind a false wall in the attic of a flour mill for two years, and unrelenting fear. He put some things into perspective in a unique way. He read the names of three children who were killed during the holocaust and then told us that it had taken him fifteen seconds. At that rate it would take over two-hundred eight-hour days to read the whole list.
The strength it must take to survive the events he did, and then to relive them every time he speaks about them would be unbelievable if not witnessed. I believe that this kind of bravery will lead to real change in the world. Like the disciples who risked their lives to go out and spread the story of their experience with Jesus, Israel is doing what he can to ensure that this kind of systematic, and factory style genocide will never happen again. Bravo!