Tag Archives: spirituality

Mehc-ote-pesqin : I Am One (part 2)


In Luke 7:36-8:3 we read the story of Jesus’ dinner at the home of a Pharisee.  When he had arrived he was given none of the regular special treatment that would normally have been given to an honoured guest.  When the woman he considered to be a sinner bathed Jesus’ feet with her tears and dried them with her hair, kissed his feet and anointed them with ointment the host complained that the woman shouldn’t be touching him.  The host went even further, saying that the fact that he allowed it was sure proof that Jesus was not a prophet.  In response, Jesus told story about two men whose debts were forgiven and Pharisee agreed that the one forgiven more would be more grateful, he then showed how the woman had honoured him according to her great gratitude, while the Pharisee had not been very grateful at all.  Jesus told the woman her sins were forgiven.

 

My friend and colleague Ron has much to forgive, and I feel honoured that he has given me permission to share a little of his story with you…Ron is from the Tobique Nation and used to teach with me at the High School in Oromocto.  He is a keeper of the sweat.  Growing up was a real combination of family and culture on reserve and discrimination off.  He had friends who were taken to residential school. He went to day school with the nuns in his area for four years, and then to the regular local schools. His mother taught him to run home if he saw the RCMP and priest together. Ron tells of the culture shock of the school system and people assuming that he was stupid.  Any time anything went wrong at the school they would round up all the native kids and line them up in the gym and demand a confession.  They would leave them there for hours as there was most often nothing to confess.  Ron and the other kids from the First Nation were treated just as the woman in the Gospel reading.  And yet they had done nothing to deserve this.  They were born, as were we all, just as God had intended, loved by God just as much.

 

At the General Assembly in 2010 time was spent looking about  issues of the indigenous peoples and the Truth and Reconciliation Commission.  One speaker was Chief Terry Paul of the Membertou First Nation, a Mi’kmaq community in Sydney, Nova Scotia. Chief Paul offered a glimpse into his painful experience with the residential school program: “For me, the residential schools issue is very difficult to think about, let alone talk about, to go back to that five-year-old that I left behind. I blamed government, religions, even God for what happened. But it was people that did this. And here I am today, ready to forgive. I am not only a survivor; I am a witness to this horrible history.”

 

Truth and Reconciliation Commissioner, Marie Wilson then shared with the Assembly some insight into the work of the Truth and Reconciliation Commission. “A huge part of the story of the Commission is about our failure in the past to see the universally sacred, and revisit that,” the commission “is not a national guilt trip, but Canada’s chance to breathe new life into what the Constitution says.”

 

Wilson stated that “the point of residential schools was to remove the Indian from the child, so within a few decades there would be no ‘Indian problem’,” with the result that “three and four-year-old children were removed from their families and put into isolated communities, going months and years without family contact.” She asked the Commissioners, “What would you do if they came to take your child, just learning to talk, barely out of diapers?”  One of the seven Truth and Reconciliation national events is coming up October 26-29th, 2011 in Halifax, Nova Scotia.  We continue to need to promote healing and reconciliation.

 

gkisedtanamoogk  is a member of the Wampanoag Nation from Mashpee, “Massachusetts.”  He is married to a woman from the Mi’kmaq Nation and lives with his wife and children at Esgenoopotiitj.   Both the Wampanoag and Micmac Nations are part of the Wabanaki Confederacy of Nations. Gkisedtanamoogk works hard to educate and guide his people on the red path, and to open the eyes of non-aboriginal people to their unique way of viewing the world.  In his book co-authored by Frances Hancock, Ceremony is Life Itself, he expresses what it is to live your life spirituality better than I have found it almost anywhere else…

 

“We structure our life on a Ceremonial Cycle…Our whole way of Life, Ceremonially speaking, is one continuous Song, one continuous Ceremony.  The way we move is a Dance.  Ceremony is Life itself.  It is the way we do things.  Ceremony, to us, is the daily Life; everything we do, everything we think about is all part of that same expression.  From Planting the Corn to raising the Sacred Bundle, the Children, we are conscious that all Life is Sacred, that all Life is a Song; and we are thankful for it.”

 

“The construction of Giving Thanks is literally: I am exposing my enoughness, my fullness.  It expresses that my needs are met.  The condition of expressing that my needs are met, that the needs are met, is what we call Thanksgiving…I am up this morning.  I have Life.  I have risen/ I have come from the Sleep Time, the Dream Time…All that should govern us as Human Beings is our Honoring of the Creator, our honoring  of all our Relatives….That is the whole meaning of our Existence: becoming one with the Great Mother and All Our Relations.”

 

        The next time someone greets you with, “How are you?” or, “Donnegok?” I pray that you will be able to respond with,  “Mejedebesquin!”

repost of Mary’s Angels: “I Am Not Alone”


tonight the moon is a mirror-ballA while back I went out for coffee with a good friend.  During the course of the conversation we touched on many subjects.  She was sharing with me that she had been going for Reike treatments (is that the correct term?) for a while and she said she had an amazing experience at her last session.  She shared the following story with me, and asked as well that I share it with you;

My wish is to have peace and taking part in a Reiki experience has given me this sense of peace and serenity.

My last two experiences have been quite different from my earlier sessions. During these session I encountered my angel. Initially, I saw two glowing lights moving around each other as if they were playing joyfully with one another. I  felt happiness and an immense sense of joy, an almost childlike sense that only the present moment mattered. From the lights, a presence developed as an outline.  The outline gradually became more visible until I could see a hooded figure there with me.  I could not see his/her face. During this time I could see part of a wing that was a vibrant white in color. The energy that was present was very strong and real.

I can’t remember much else regarding this encounter but the feeling that I wasn’t alone. It was as if I was at another level compared to the earthly one. The message that came from this was to enjoy life, have fun and laugh. And more importantly, that I am not alone because my angel that is a very strong one at that is with me at all times. This in turn gives me strength during my spiritual journey called life. Is it possible that this other level is the spiritual parallel place of holiness?

Angels, are they real?  I’ll look into this in a future post with help/reference to Calvin’s Institutes.

Photo credit to Miemo Penttinenmiemo.net

Mary’s Angels: “I Am Not Alone”


tonight the moon is a mirror-ballA while back I went out for coffee with a good friend.  During the course of the conversation we touched on many subjects.  She was sharing with me that she had been going for Reike treatments (is that the correct term?) for a while and she said she had an amazing experience at her last session.  She shared the following story with me, and asked as well that I share it with you;

My wish is to have peace and taking part in a Reiki experience has given me this sense of peace and serenity.

My last two experiences have been quite different from my earlier sessions. During these session I encountered my angel. Initially, I saw two glowing lights moving around each other as if they were playing joyfully with one another. I  felt happiness and an immense sense of joy, an almost childlike sense that only the present moment mattered. From the lights, a presence developed as an outline.  The outline gradually became more visible until I could see a hooded figure there with me.  I could not see his/her face. During this time I could see part of a wing that was a vibrant white in color. The energy that was present was very strong and real.

I can’t remember much else regarding this encounter but the feeling that I wasn’t alone. It was as if I was at another level compared to the earthly one. The message that came from this was to enjoy life, have fun and laugh. And more importantly, that I am not alone because my angel that is a very strong one at that is with me at all times. This in turn gives me strength during my spiritual journey called life. Is it possible that this other level is the spiritual parallel place of holiness?

Angels, are they real?  I’ll look into this in a future post with help/reference to Calvin’s Institutes.

Photo credit to Miemo Penttinenmiemo.net

Pentecost 2: You Expect Me To Prophecy?!?


     For those of you over forty-something have you ever listened to a rapper?  To include the younger set , have you travelled to an area where people all spoke a different language or with an accent that was very difficult for you to understand?

 

     If you were immersed in that sort of situation for days on end, then imagine the joy you would feel just hearing someone speaking so that you could understand.   Then, imagine if they were telling you that God had loved you so much that he gave his son’s life to atone for your sins.  Then they told you that through Him you would have eternal life.

     Imagine the feeling that would give you! Imagine the questions it would raise.  Are these guys drunk?  In Acts we see Pentecost play out.  The wind blows, the tongues of flame descend and then people begin to speak in languages they don’t even know.  Peter interprets these things for those who are present.  In order to make sense of this he quotes scripture.

     “And in the last days it shall be, God declares, that I will pour
out my Spirit on all flesh, and your sons and your daughters shall prophesy, and your young men shall see visions, and your old men shall dream dreams; even on my male servants and female servants in those days I will pour out my Spirit, and they shall prophesy.”

     Wait a minute…did Joel say prophesy? Was Peter saying we should prophesy?  I’m all for God pouring out His Spirit on me, but I’m not Isaiah, Jonah, or Ezekiel…how am I supposed to prophesy?

     In his book New Proclamation Matthew L. Skinner says, “Peter’s brand of “prophecy” is …the task of identifying our own circumstances as somehow in line with testimony about God from the past and in line with the promises of what God is yet to do.”  He goes on to explain that the art of prophecy is in truly believing that the Bible is a message to us in our own time.

     We need to be open to a dialogue with the scripture. We need to let the Bible shape and effect all that we see, say and do. We need to stop reading the Bible as if it was just another book of information.

     In a course I took on Reformed Spirituality we looked at the practice of spiritual reading.  In the introduction to this section of her book Soul Feast, Marjorie J. Thompson asks the reader to consider the different way we would approach reading a letter from a dear friend and a newspaper.

     Spiritual reading of the Bible is not going to come from reading to get through a section of text.  It is not about how much you read, or how quickly you read.  Our intention should be, in the words of Thompson, “simply to sink into the words and open ourselves to their meaning in our lives.  How do we go about this?

     There are four phases to spiritual reading.  The first to read in a reflective way, slowly, pausing over words which seem to catch our attention. The second phase is meditation, in other words, when we find those words which really catch our attention, then give some thought to why this seems important to us…what is the connection between this text and our lives?

     The third phase is speaking.  We respond to our reading with our emotion in prayer.  If the reading has highlighted our current struggles we will call out, perhaps in pain, if  it speaks of our joy we will lift our hearts in praise. If you want some excellent examples of this phase, read through some of the Psalms.

     Finally we contemplate. After pouring out in words all that we need to, we sit quietly and give time for God’s response to us.  We rest in God’s presence and listen. These steps may go back and forth as we move through a text but the  process is not complete without all four.

     As you can tell from the steps listed, this is not the kind of
reading we can fit into the 20 minutes between activities and is best not left to the end of the day.   When we make a space available in our day for this kind of reading, the Spirit will lead us in finding the meaning of the text for our lives.

     God sent His Spirit to us for a reason.  The Spirit is a gift to us which comforts us in our pain, helps us when we most need help, exhorts people to be present with God in answering the call to serve others in the world who are in need, advocates for us and provides the link for us to stay in touch with Jesus and through him with God, and, if we let it, reveals the truth in  Jesus.

     When God sends out His Spirit, plants spring to life– the whole countryside in bloom and blossom.

This is the glory of GOD–let it last forever!

Amen

SCRIPTURE READINGS:

New Testament:Acts 2:1-21

Epistle: Romans 8:22-27

Psalm 104:24-34, 35b

Have You Ever Felt You Met Christ In A Complete Stranger?


Entertaining Angels

February 22, 2006

This is my response to the title question above from a course I took on spirituality.

 

I am beginning to write my response today with absolutely no idea what I am going to say.  I have struggled with this question at length.  I meet total strangers all the time.  Every semester four new groups of students enter my classroom, 240 new faces every year.  I meet total strangers at stores and activities many times each week.

 

Is the question whether or not we see God in the stranger or Christ specifically?  I am intellectually aware that God is present in every person I meet, hard as it is to feel sometimes.  Is this not true also of Christ?  In the context of the question, though, does it mean do I see someone to whom I should offer hospitality?  Or is it looking for someone who sacrifices himself for me, this is what Christ did for me.  I will assume that God and Christ are meant, Christ being used due to the relation to the scripture reference re. doing things for Christ when we do them for the least of his brothers and sisters.

 

I make a point to try to get to know people I meet.  I work hard to remember names, even though I am not naturally good at remembering names.  I easily strike up conversations with people.  Does this disqualify these interactions?  If we know each other by name after a few encounters and share some information about our lives, does that mean we are no longer strangers?

 

Hospitality within the home was an interesting section in Thompson’s book.  When our children are born, they are definitely strangers and oh how we welcome them and love them immediately.  I definitely saw Christ in my girls when they were born.  On the other hand, my step-son offered me hospitality when he accepted me, a stranger, into his life with his father.  It is largely to his own credit that we got along so well, as it started with his welcome.

 

The main venue of my giving hospitality is my classroom.  As I said earlier I have 240 students every year.  I welcome them, I learn their names (eventually), I respond to them.  There are always some challenging students who make it harder to be welcoming.  I try very hard to remember that each day is a new start with those students and to welcome them by name when they come in; sometimes I ask them to help me with something.  This is not always successful either, but I do make the attempt.  If they chose to refuse my hospitality, I can not force them.

 

I had a student years ago, let’s call her Susie.  Susie had suffered some awful things in her early years.  By the time I had her she was suffering from Post Traumatic Stress Syndrome, depression etc.  She was quite overweight and wore huge clothing as if trying to hide that she had a body.  She was extremely emotional, and clearly needed far more help than I could give her.  I was teaching Personal Development and Career Planning 10.  As we went through the course I did my best to keep close track of her progress…not her mark, but her state of mind.  She soon felt comfortable to share with me some of her struggles.  Knowing that she had professionals doing the real work, I made sure that I was available to listen to her, and did not judge her.  Her journal writing was amazing, she was clearly very intelligent, but she did not do well in my class.  In the end she was out of school for so much of the semester that she restarted in semester 2. 

 

The next year I had her again in Family Living.  She was doing better, but again she did not make it all the way through the term.  Even though I knew that she was very low, she always smiled when we spoke.  My heart cried out for her when she dropped the semester again.  The third year I saw her often in the hallway during first semester.  She was like a new person!  She had lost weight (not that that is central, but as indicative of her feeling more comfortable with herself), she was smiling all the time!  I made a point of talking to her in the halls, letting her know how glad I was she was doing well.  I had her again second semester.  She was in two of my classes and she brightened every day for me.  She worked really hard and listened attentively, and she smiled.  She stayed after class to talk to me, and I always feel better after we talk.  At the start of this story I was talking of Susie as being a stranger who came to me weak and broken, whom I helped.  By the end, Susie had become my helper.  I see Christ in Susie.  Once she was a total stranger, and she became a proximity friend.  I have not seen her since she graduated, but she has touched my life.

 

Over the years I have often accepted the hospitality of strangers.  I played in the New Brunswick Youth Orchestra for years and every time we went on a rehearsal weekend or on tour I was billeted with people I had never previously met.  In some houses I slept in lofts, in some in children’s rooms while their occupants slept in the family room.  Some served amazing meals, and some just what they could afford, but they all took a huge risk letting a high school or university student into their homes for one or two nights.  At the time I appreciated their generosity and welcome.  Now that I am older, I can see even more clearly what they went through to provide me with a safe place to lay my head for the night. 

 

While our congregation hosted the Synod a few years ago, it only seemed fitting that I should take charge of finding billets.  The shoe was on the other foot as I asked people to open their homes to strangers.  I hosted two ministers here and, while I was offering shelter to them, they gave me so much more in the great discussions we had in the evenings.   God truly blessed me with these strangers. 

 

Opportunities to serve Christ through serving strangers are available to us every day.  They may not look very clean.  They may seem much more important than us.  They may be waiting on us in a restaurant or looking for service in our workplace.  Our spiritual calling as Christians is to remember that every person is our brother or sister and to offer them what we can.  All this we do in service to God, present in these strangers.