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Showing posts from April, 2011

whirlwind

It is a windy day today. This afternoon I took a long walk which included stops at the grocery store, the bank, the pharmacy, and the dry cleaner. At one point I thought I was going to lose a pair of pants as the wind lifted the plastic dry cleaner bag above my head, but I managed to get everything safely home, including my hair.

Things have been moving quite quickly in the past few days - it feels like a bit of a whirlwind. On Tuesday I submitted a thesis on behalf of a colleague who is no longer living in Montreal, and while I was printing out the multiple copies at the library and annoying a few people who were queued up after me, I received an email that let me know my own thesis had just been approved by my second supervisor and was good to go! The next morning I did one last proofread of the 114-page document and headed to school to print my own copies and hand them in to the various offices. Today, I just received news that the formatting is all okay (no changes) and that I now …

the trouble with resurrection

I was asked to speak on the topic of "resurrection" on Easter Sunday. It seemed like a pretty straightforward task, so I mulled it over in my mind for a few days, read all the gospel accounts of Jesus being raised from the dead, studied some Greek words, researched what a few others had said about it, and tried to put something together. It was much harder than I had anticipated. For some reason, nothing I came up with excited me, and this was troublesome. How could I be so disconnected from the whole concept of resurrection when it is such a foundational aspect of what I believe?

Dean suggested I read what Paul had to say about it, so I went to 1 Corinthians 15 and found some disturbing answers to my question. Here are a few thoughts from my talk on resurrection yesterday:

1. I have removed myself from the context of resurrection. I used to work with a woman who could only eat chicken by never thinking about where it came from. For her, a yummy thai chicken dish originated in…

On Being A Nation

I had a dream this morning that was rather vivid. In the dream, I had written a book entitled On Being a Nation which was meant to inspire people by reminding them what it means to be a nation. In the book I outlined the responsibilities and privileges that come with nationality and surprisingly enough, it turned out to be quite popular.

Dreams are strange things. I used to dream a lot and was convinced that many of them were revelatory in some way. Perhaps they were. At least a few of them translated into actual experiences, and others provided wisdom and encouragement for people that I dreamt about. At the very least, they motivated me to pray about the situations and people I encountered while I slept. I kept journals for many years of my dreams, even wrote a novel based on a set of dreams about a specific person (you can read chapter one here), but for the most part, dreams remain a mystery to me.

Nevertheless, they do sometimes set my mind in a direction that I never would have gon…

flux

It is an unsettling day today. The weather has been windy, rainy, sleety and much colder than normal. I am unsettled as well. An important meeting that was supposed to happen this afternoon was cancelled. I am in limbo about how things will unfold in the next few months as I finish my degree. I just received a second offer of admission for doctoral studies, which probably won't change my direction, but it adds another factor to the mix. We are in the process of moving my work space to the guest bedroom (which doesn't have a lot of traffic these days). Also, any vacation plans we have tried to make in the last month have all fallen apart due to scheduling conflicts or unique opportunities that keep popping up.
Unsettled. The path is not clear ahead. I cannot step forward decisively. I must wait until the things that are in flux touch down. Flux. That's an interesting word. It means 'flow' or 'moving across' and has a dynamic quality to it, like a river which…

day off

I remember having a regular day off last year. It was a nice break to spend 24 hours not thinking about the demands of school, and I felt it was imperative for my overall well-being. This past school year, however, that practice of taking a day off fell by the wayside. Taking on the additional responsibilities of a teaching assistant and facing looming deadlines for numerous large projects, I did what needed to be done, and I did it whenever I needed to do it. This meant that I worked 7 days a week on reading, writing, taking notes, teaching, grading, applying for programs and submitting proposals, as well as attending class. I did take 2 nights a week to participate in gatherings with my faith community, but often rushed home afterwards to complete any assignment I was in the middle of. On occasion I would also go to a movie with Dean, but there was no guarantee of a weekly date.

Since it was only a temporary situation, I had no problem embracing the intensity of those 7 months or so…

psalms of Matte

In the book I am currently reading, The Cloister Walk by Kathleen Norris, she writes a chapter about the Psalms and how in contemporary spirituality, we tend to avoid some of them, especially the "cursing psalms" as she calls them. Seldom do you hear these read in public or expounded upon. The brutal, angry language is unsettling and uncomfortable. And yet, she insists, these psalms smack of reality - a reality that religion tries to ignore too often.

Following Jesus is not about positive thinking, which in many cases can be a form of denial. It is cowardly to pick and choose the pretty, uplifting parts of the Bible and leave out the bits about injustice, revenge, darkness, and pain. Even if I am not currently in a situation which echoes these themes, someone I know certainly is. How can I purport to love God and not identify with my neighbour?

Many years ago, on a quest to become a better writer, I began my own book of psalms. Though I never made it to my goal of writing 15…

great

Strong reactions. People have them. I have them, too. This week I came across some strong reactions that were puzzling to me because they seemed out of proportion to what was going on. Then I realized that sometimes when people get offended, it has very little to do with the actions of others (though I have been known to be quite offensive at times, so that's always a possibility). Many times when I get offended or react strongly to something, it has everything to do with me and my insecurities instead of something going wrong. The supposedly really horrible thing that someone has done or said was just the trigger.

At times like this, I remind myself of a few things:
1. I have no interest in undermining any one's authority or making anyone look bad. It is never helpful in any way. Neither am I willing to spend a lot of time and effort protecting or defending my own authority, position, or reputation. I will protect vulnerable people, yes, and I will not needlessly give away ar…

riting

I sent my MA thesis to my supervisor on Sunday afternoon. Big sigh of relief! I am sure that more revisions will be required, but for now, it is off my plate. It seems that I have spent most of the last two months writing and writing and doing more writing, which is probably why I didn't write much here.

At the same time, I have been doing quite a bit of reading on monasticism for a presentation I did a few days ago called: "What is monastic about the New Monasticism?" One of the books that came highly recommended to me because it touched on the topic was TheCloister Walk by Kathleen Norris. It was written in 1996 by a married woman of Protestant background who became associated with a monastery (an oblate, in technical terms). The book loosely follows the format of a diary, with interesting stories and thoughts and confessions woven throughout. Ms. Norris is a poet by trade, and the writing is beautiful, honest, and poignant. As it turns out, this book is not doing much…