Tag Archives: survival

Snowfall Warnings: Are Your Winter Tires And Your Souls Ready?


Warnings

Fredericton and Southern York County
8:53 PM ADT Saturday 29 October 2011
Snowfall warning for 
Fredericton and Southern York County continued

Up to 20 cm of snow expected tonight and Sunday.

This is a warning that significant snowfall is expected in these regions. Monitor weather conditions..Listen for updated statements.

There is a snowfall warning here in Fredericton giving a possibility of 20 cm of snow for tomorrow.  It has been the topic of most of the Facebook updates from people in the area.  The primary tone is generally that it isn’t even Halloween yet, we aren’t supposed to be having snow yet!  If it were a school night kids would be putting on their jammies inside-out tonight and making tentative plans for sleeping in.

One of the problems with a snowfall of any amount at this time of year is that people never manage to adjust their driving from summer to winter driving at that first storm.  Along with that people will not have changed to their snow tires which means traction will be reduced.  If there is snow, there will be kids out playing in the snow,  and there will be car accidents, mostly minor ones, on the roads.  You would think that we would be better at this considering it happens every year.

It is a bit like the coming of the Kingdom of God.  We don’t have any way of knowing when it will come, although there have been many predictions, and many people won’t be prepared.  The difference is that not being prepared in this case, though, is that those who aren’t ready won’t have a second chance.  The time to get those “snow tires” on is now.

 

 

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!”

Mehc-ote-pesqin : I Am One (part 1)


How do you greet people when you meet them?  At King’s Landing Historical Settlement we said “Good day,” at the high school some kids say hi by pushing each other into lockers, hi, hey, bonjour, beunos dias… When I wanted to learn some Korean I learned how to say their greeting, “anyong haseyo”, and one year during Native Awareness week at school they taught us a bunch of nouns, but I asked how to say hello in Maliseet. An informal greeting like “hey”  is “quay” but the main greeting is “Donnegok”, how are you?

At the end of this month, Halifax will be hosting the Truth And Reconciliation Commission hearings.  I am not an indigenous person and I make no pretense to even the slightest degree of expertise on the topic of Canada’s indigenous peoples.  But, I love to learn, and there is much to learn from our indigenous brothers and sisters, especially about our stewardship of creation, and how to live a truly spirit filled life.

I am going to use the two stories; 1 Kings 21:1-10 (11-14) 15-21a, and Luke 7:36-8:3, and stories of three of my indigenous contacts to look at the answer to Donnegok… “Mejedebesquin”,     I am one.

In Psalm 5:1-8 we read,

“4For you are not a God who delights in wickedness;
   evil will not sojourn with you.
5The boastful will not stand before your eyes;
   you hate all evildoers.
6You destroy those who speak lies;
   the Lord abhors the bloodthirsty and deceitful.”

 

All of those negative descriptions are what King Ahab and his pagan wife Jezebel represent. Ahab was spoiled. At his secondary palace in Jezreel, there was a neighbour, Naboth, who owned a vineyard which had been in his family for generations.  Ahab wanted to take this land away from the person who had it and turn it into a vegetable garden next door for his own convenience.  He offered either replacement land or the equivalent in cash.  The answer he received was, “The Lord forbid that I should give you my ancestral inheritance.”  Ahab wasn’t used to hearing no and he became depressed.  He told his wife about it and she told him not to worry.  She set up a plot which resulted in the death of Naboth thus allowing Ahab to have his garden. While Ahab was in the middle of this garden he had taken through villainy, God sent the message that he was not pleased.

 

There are several underlying question here.  First of all was the land either of theirs to give?  And even if it was theirs, how could you put an appropriate price on the land of one’s ancestors?  In Turtle Island (the continent of North America) “fair deals” and cheating, lying, and trickery have long been used to deprive the indigenous peoples of their ancestral lands.  Deals were made but not honoured, diseased blankets were “given” out in a very successful gamut to kill off large populations, reservations were formed and the people restricted from using the land in the traditional manner.

My friend Hugh Akagi is the chief of the Passamaquoddy people whose land straddles the Canada-US border and includes St. Andrew’s New Brunswick.  This First Nation is recognized only on the US side of the border.  As Hugh says, when he is on this side of the border he fades in and out because according to the government of Canada, he doesn’t exist.  You may read his letter which was written to the United Nations in 2002 at http://www.sipayik.com/akagi’s_appeal_to_the_un.htm

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

Angels? Get Real!


A Real Snow Angel

The other day I reposted Mary’s Angels: “I Am Not Alone” with the plan of finally getting around to looking at the question of angels as guided by Institutes of the Christian Religion by  John Calvin.

Calvin makes points on nine issues about Angels in the first volume of The Institutes.  I’ll look at three of these in this post.

  1. God is Lord over all!

  2. We should not indulge in speculations concerning the angels, but search out the witness of Scripture

  3. The designation of the angels in Scripture.

  4. The angels as protectors and helpers of believers

  5. Guardian angels?

  6. The hierarchy, number, and form of the angels

  7. The angels are not mere ideas, but actuality

  8. The divine glory does not belong to the angels

  9. The angels must not divert us from directing our gaze to the Lord alone

 In my friend’s story she said, “I encountered my angel.”  While Calvin talks about the fact that angels have been charged by God to watch over our safety, direct our ways, and take care that some harm may not befall us, there doesn’t seem to be any indication in scripture that we each have our own angel assigned to our cases.  The angels protect the people who fear God, the believers.  They do so in many ways which includes lifting us up when we are falling, but they also fight against the devil and our enemies in groups and Legions.

Are the angels glowing lights, and shining figures with wings?  Are they just a breath of inspiration in our minds?  Angels, according to Calvin, are real separate beings.  If they were just inspiration within us, then they would not rejoice over our salvation (Luke 15:10).  They also appear as men in several instances in which they accept hospitality.

So, what’s with glow, the halos, and the wings?  If the angels can appear as men dressed in white and that sort of thing, where do we get this idea about wings and halos?  In section 10 Calvin makes a clear case that God’s glory does not belong to angels.  If this is the case why would they need wings?  God’s glory makes it so that it is unsafe for us to look on him directly.  When we read the Christmas story we hear about the glory of the Lord shining around them and the shepherds being afraid.  God doesn’t need for the angels to glow or have wings.  There is nothing he couldn’t do without the angels.  We are the ones who need them to glow, we need them have wings…It is because of our weakness, our fear that we assign these characteristics to the angels.

Ready Or Not: Here It Comes


Weather Forecast

As most people on the Eastern seaboard know, hurricane Irene has been developing and then moving northward for several days now.  In her wake she has been leaving destruction, cancellations, power outages and deaths.  They have been broadcasting warnings to prepare for emergency survival for days now.  In areas used to hurricanes and tornadoes I imagine everyone takes the warnings very seriously.  In New Brunswick, where the storms are almost always downgraded and getting tired before they reach us, I think a lot of people talk about the upcoming bad weather but then don’t really do anything much to prepare.  Boaters take precautions to ensure their boats are neither smashed against the docks, nor set loose from moorings.  One of my friends on Face Book said we are supposed to be making 72 hour survival kits and practicing escape routes,  but I only heard of one person actually stocking up on water and groceries.

This reminds me of the story of Noah’s Ark (Genesis 6-9).  God had warned people that they needed to make changes, repent and live according to His laws.  They didn’t.  He warned of consequences.  They ignored Him.  Only Noah listened and took the directions God gave to prepare for surviving the storm.  Everyone else went about their everyday lives, taking time out to gossip and laugh about Noah and the huge boat he was building in the middle of dry land.  As you know, however, Noah and his family were the only ones to survive the flood of which everyone had been warned!  Why didn’t the others listen?  Why do most of us still not listen when we are given advance warning?

Clearly Irene is not a storm of the magnitude of the one which caused the Great Flood!  It is not going to rain for forty days, and forty nights.  If we are ignoring the warnings about this storm, though, what greater warnings may we likewise be ignoring?  Are we so comfortable and complacent that we don’t realize the dangers our souls face in the midst of our modern societies?  If you have been hit by hurricane Irene (or tropical storm) I pray that you are safe and unharmed and surrounded by your family.  For those still in the path, take reasonable precautions and then maybe take some time to watch the rain and the trees swaying in the wind, remember that we have been warned, and pray that we are ready to hear and heed your warnings about upcoming storms in our lives so that we may, like Noah, be prepared and, with God’s help, survive! 

Follow the Bubbles: 8 Lessons from the cenotes


My sister and I just got back from a trip to Cancun.  We had been there before and planned to mostly sit in the shade and read books.  We did decide to visit Xcaret (esh-ca-ret) which is one of the biggest parks in the Cancun area.  There is so much to do there that we will need to go back several times to cover everything.  Our biggest adventure was definitely when we decided to go ahead and try snorkeling through the cenotes (underground rivers).We hummed and hawed considerably, but eventually packed our things in a locked waterproof bag to be taken to the outlet area next to the sea.  Next we got in line and picked up flotation vests, goggles, snorkels, and swim fins.  We set off to the entrance spot.

 

Our swim in through a cenote began with gingerly stepping into the cold water in a brightly lit and beautifully clear pool.  Once acclimated to the temperature it is quite beautiful and little effort is required due to your flotation device.  A little practice breathing with the snorkel and we were off…

 

Faces down in the water and breathing through our snorkels we headed off down  the river.  We were a little nervous, but  reassured by the idea that it was a river and would head directly to the sea.  What could go wrong with that?  Well, it sounded good!  We quickly moved from this swim in the sunlight, into…

 

the dark.  While you were able in the darker underground areas to see a glimmer of light up ahead, this was only the case when you had your head above water.  When you swam into these areas with your face down you were frequently unable to see anything.  It is here that the trouble began.

 

There were two main problems; staying together and finding the right path.  With my sister in the lead not lifting her head at any point I was aware when we took our first wrong turn but unable to catch up to grab her swim fins there was no way to get the message to her.  When we came to the next open area, which had no outlet, I explained about our wrong turn and we headed back around.  Eventually we ended up behind the group who had entered after us and came out into another open area where a man who worked for the park wanted us to pose for a picture.  Somewhat dazed, we complied but didn’t strike any happy thumbs up pose at all and in the end we didn’t manage to find and buy the picture which would have been our only proof that we had really gone on this excursion.

 

We left that area, headed downstream.  I led this time and all was going well, I thought.  We came into the light in another spot but it seemed that we shouldn’t have been there.  With a picture of the map of the park in our heads, it seemed that we had somehow gone in the wrong direction again.  We made the decision to go back to the start  and get out.

 

If you have been paying attention, you will know that this decision meant that we would be swimming upstream the whole rest of the time in the cenote.  Did I mention that I am a middle-aged, not terribly fit individual?  We only made one more wrong turn in our adventure but the struggle to keep up and stay in contact was considerable for me.  Very often I felt that as much as I used my feet to propel me, I was going nowhere.  I had to use my arms most of the time just to keep up.

 

How did we end up getting out of the cenote?  My sister, in the lead, stopped frequently to make sure I was still with her and encourage me,  and I followed her bubbles which, under water, is the same as following her breath.  So long as I was near the bubbles, I knew that even if we were lost, we were lost together.

 

The steps, when we found them, were a welcome sight.  We were not just climbing out of the water after a vigorous swim, we were climbing out of the dark and uncertainty, and we were together!

 

What lessons may be taken from the story of our adventure?
1. If you have to go into the dark, take a friend.

2.When you are leading people don’t forget to lift your head up to stay on track.

3. When you are in the lead, stop frequently to be sure those behind you are still there, and encourage them.

4. Stay together in dark as well as in the light.

5. It is harder work getting back on track once you have taken a wrong turn, but do it anyway.

6. Like your life vest, God will keep you afloat come what may.

7. There is no substitute for a good map (Bible) or a guide (Jesus).

 8. No matter what, keep the bubbles (the breath of God or the Spirit) in view at all times. 

Seed Packets Redux: Part 2


As I was driving up to Montreal last week I drove past countless fields at various stages of planting.  Some fields were bare, with the earth prepared and awaiting seed, some were newly planted with a bright fresh crop of green or yellow covering them, some were burned over and likely to be left fallow for the summer, and between them all there were wild areas with an abundance of plant life most would call weeds.  What do we see when we look at ourselves, our congregations, families,colleagues etc.?  Do we  see fertile ground awaiting seed, rows of plants growing to bear seed, or a tangled mess of weeds?

Living Faith 4.2.1 says, “The Spirit enables people to receive the good news of Christ, to repent of their sins, and to be adopted as children of God…the Spirit enabled us to believe.”  Living Faith 6.1.2 “God brings us to faith in many ways. We may have trusted in God from childhood; or our faith may have come later in life.  Faith may come suddenly or only after a struggle to believe.” 
Given these statements, it is clear that it is not really you and I who are bringing people to faith.  The job of sowing faith is the work of the Spirit through the Word.  It is with this understanding that we come to the parable of the Sower and the Seed this morning ( Matthew 13:1-9 and 18-23).

Have you ever prepared a garden bed?  There are many things that need to be removed; sod, old patio stones, weeds, and rocks in the ground.  Whether in our own hearts or those of others we’ll need to remove preconceptions and prejudices against Christianity and or the church as an institution, negative prior experiences, hurts, and fears.  Some of us have built up walls around our hearts which may take considerable care to break down.  Sledge hammers are never called for, and it is important to save all we can of the soil.  Our primary tools for this work are our open minds, our love, compassion and our listening skills. Once cleared, we add fertilizer of some kind in order to aid in the growth of the plants.  Here we apply such offerings as Sunday School, Bible studies, service groups, book clubs, VBS, and of course heartfelt weekly worship.  Even if all hearts are already prepared to receive the Word, care needs to be taken over time to watch out for and remove any weeds which may come up and attempt to take over, and the weeds are many and insidious.

I can easily justify my lack of follow-through in my garden at home.  After all, if I don’t support the local farmers by buying their produce I am contributing to the economic decline, right?  The problem is, at the end of the day I will still have the hearty crop of weeds there reminding me daily of my failure.  There will, however be another spring and another chance to get the job done properly.  Those of us in the church would do well to
remember that only ¼ of the seed in the parable turned out to be productive.  Numbers are not everything!  The number of people in the pews on Sunday, the number of children in Sunday school each week, the total number of families and members, don’t need to cause stress.  When they are high we may be on the top of the world and feel that we are truly doing the work of the Kingdom, and when they are low we may fear for the survival of our congregation.  Even if our programs or events seem less successful than we would like, so long as one plot of soil was readied, or one seed planted we have done well.

Whatever Kingdom gardening we may be doing, we need to remember to take time out to praise and worship the Father who has sown the word in our lives, the Son who is that word, and the Spirit who inspires us to listen.

Living Faith is the Statement of Christian Belief of the Presbyterian Church in Canada and can be downloaded at http://www.presbyterian.ca/resources/online/2447

Seed Packets Redux: Part 1


On Feb 20th I wrote a post I titled, While Visions Of Seed Packets Danced in My Head (http://wp.me/p1hsO8-6p).  At that time, with my garden under a foot of snow, I was distracted from tidying the living room by the lure of a gardening book.  An hour later there I was with my pencil and paper making plans for what to plant in my vegetable garden and wondering if last year’s compost would be ready to use.  As soon as the snow cleared, sometime in April, I was out in the back yard with my work boots and gloves on, and my tiller in hand turning soil and getting all the weeds out of a section of the
garden.  I got about half the area cleared that day before hitting the shower. Time passed……a little over a week ago I was sitting on my deck with a lovely view of what was once bare earth and is now covered with weeds of various types, many taller than my tiller which is still stuck in the ground where I left off.

The Gospel reading this morning, Matthew 13:1-9, 18-23, is all about gardening, or agriculture to be more specific.  In this very familiar parable Jesus shares a story with a crowd of people beside the Sea of Galilee, so large that he actually gets into a boat to get free of the press of people.  He talks of something with which all these people would be familiar, a man, the sower, planting seed.  This man has a “packet” of seed.  We assume that all the seed is basically the same and equally capable of growing and bearing a good
yield.  Some of his seeds fall on the path and are snatched up by birds, some fall on rocky ground where they begin to grow but with shallow roots they shrivel up under the sun.  Some of the seeds fall among the weeds where they begin to grow only to be choked off by the weeds.  Some of the seed falls on good soil, grows and provides an extraordinary harvest.  He sows all his seed, but in the end only one quarter of the seed produced a
harvest.  Interestingly, the harvest was many times more than might have been expected from the whole amount of seed
sown!

Israel, situated as it was in the Fertile Crescent, was a culture which based on agriculture and much of the imagery in the Old
Testament was related to sowing and reaping.  Their laws included regulations on when and where to plant, what kind of
seeds to plant, when they should harvest, and even what to do with any grain left in the field.  They were used to God being referred to as the sower.  In creation he planted every plant of every kind in the Garden of Eden.  He is variously said to have sown Israel and Judah into the land, sown peace in Zion, and sown righteousness in the nations.

For the most part, although they were familiar with the trials of farming and the vagaries of rocks, birds, and weeds, people didn’t understand the point of Jesus’ story.   The disciples, who didn’t get the point either, had the benefit of Jesus’ extra time and patience when he explained it to them later, when they are alone together.  Unlike in the Old Testament, in the New Testament the imagery of the sower is used to represent the sowing of the Kingdom.  Jesus explains to the disciples that the seeds in his story represent the Word of God.  When the Word does not get into the soil at all, on the path, it is stolen by “the evil one.”  For the other examples, where the seed reaches the soil, our hearts, the image refers to what happens with us.  Sometimes we are turned away by troubles or persecution for our beliefs, sometimes overwhelmed by the distractions of the secular world, and sometimes the seed takes root and we produce a good harvest.

There are many ways of interpreting the message of this parable for our lives.  Are we meant to look at ourselves as the soil, the seed, the plant, the sower, or the harvest?  If Jesus is the seed and we are the soil, what kinds of harvest how can our soil provide a
better harvest.  If we are a seed and plant and we produce a good harvest, what form does that take?  A lot of time is spent in considering the present condition of the soils.  One interpretation I read took the view that within each of us we may have areas of
all the types of soil, thus when the seed is sown some of it may find good soil while other parts of us are unwilling to yield.  All of these points are worth consideration, however, when I first thought about this week’s readings it occurred to me that maybe we aren’t supposed to focus so much on the current condition of the soils in the Parable and which type we are ourselves, nor on how we can do a better job of sowing the Kingdom in our communities, but on what we do in our churches and ministries
to prepare the soil for planting.