he really ‘met’ people

my whole week has been turned upside down by the passing of Trent’s former Young Life co-worker Julian Dabbagh.

i only met the guy a few times, but when Julian met people, he really met them. he stopped, looked and cared. he tried to make you laugh, tried to make you feel comfortable. and when he walked away, it felt as though you’d just encountered Jesus.

that’s the only way i can explain my reaction to the news of his death.

i cannot imagine what it’s like for those that really knew him. i can only pray for God’s immeasurable strength to hold them up and remind them Julian is now walking streets of gold, receiving treasure immeasurable, and waiting for us to join him.

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like rain on dusty soil

What does it look like, when God takes care of you?
Does it look like me being a sobbing train-wreck on my pillow because it’s one of those days when I realize I’m not strong enough to save my mother? Does it look like manuscripts being rejected, paintings uninspired, birds eating the raspberries in our garden and the broken-hearted world which weeps outside my window?
Perhaps it looks like rain on dusty soil.
Like Amnesty International, freeing victims of injustice.
Like the tomatoes, carrots and zucchini which weren’t attacked by the birds.
Like the poem on my blog which connects me with a complete stranger across the waters.
Like my husband, whose sole purpose in life, he feels, is to make me smile.
Like the mornings when Mum isn’t fuzzy and wants desperately to have a cup of tea with me.
Perhaps that’s what it looks like when God takes care of … us.

(Below is a photo of my mum, sister and Aunt Shirley–three generations, laughing as one)

the man behind the pulpit

i don’t like church as much as the next person.

i can rant and rave and wave my social justice flag and flog down the latest pew-sitter and condemn the most complacent worshiper. but who is that really helping?

church is nowhere near what i believe Jesus wanted it to be. for him, it was about going to where the people were. climbing a mountain and having a picnic, sharing stories. it was about bringing God to the people.

today’s church is a building… an empty building waiting desperately to be filled so it can fulfill its mandate to preach the gospel and fill the offering plate. it doesn’t go; it waits for people to come to it. and no one comes because they don’t understand the church’s language and feel like a foreigner within its walls.

so ya, church leaves a lot to be desired: miracles, warmth, relativity, funk and compassion for the outsider…

but at the same time, how will it ever improve if all we do is rant and rave and wave our pathetic little flags?

we say “nature is my true sanctuary. that’s where i find God.” but com’on… it’s really an excuse for “i’m too busy every other day of the week to get into nature, to have a rest, so i prefer to sit in a park and read on sunday morning instead of sit in a church and be preached at.”

We should really be taking more time to slow down the other six days, and not use that as an excuse for not attending church… because by attending church, we have a presence, a voice, and we can potentially ‘earn’ the right to be heard by the man behind the pulpit.

that’s right… the preacher, the one in robes, the untouchable saint whom we all secretly hate because we feel he condemns us… well, he’s real. he’s human too. and if he’s anything like my father, he’s trying his best.

my father is a pastor. i was raised a PK. i recently told my dad i wouldn’t become a member of his church, but i will continue to attend faithfully every sunday and give him my financial support because i believe his heart is sincere and i like the humility of the people who attend. i just don’t support the idea of ‘denomination’… nor the concept of church as an institution which requires my name on a dotted line.

my dad sat for an hour tonight and listened to me rant and rave about the church and he nodded his head and his eyes got a bit watery and his heart bled for the church which he loves so very much and the daughter whom he’d die for. i know he was torn. i know he wants me to be happy, and wants desperately to show me how good the church COULD be if done properly. and i believe the church has potential… that’s why i go every sunday. but i can’t fully commit because it’s not living up to its potential.

so bring your thoughts and concerns before your pastors and let them hear the cries of your hearts. if you don’t, church will never change. it will remain in the darkness, not due to any fault of its own, but because its people gave up on it and walked out on it without ever explaining why.

we all screw up and need second, third and even fourth chances… let’s not give up on something which at one point, occurred on a hillside in the form of our savior handing out bread and fish.

let’s all give that man behind the pulpit a second, third, even fourth chance to get it right. because no doubt he wants to. and seriously… would we do any better if we were up there?

my mum and i

I don’t mean to treat her like a child. But sometimes it’s easier than remembering she’s my mother. Because when I remember that, I hurt thinking about the fact that I dress her and put her in a depends-diaper and cut up her food and microwave her orange juice.

But on independent days, days when she dresses herself and tries to cook supper, my head whirls and it’s hard to fit this new woman into any kind of category. I don’t know what my role is. I love when she’s like this, but I am braced for any moment when she might lapse back into the child who depends so humbly on others for assistance.

And then I realize: it’s okay. Everyone likes to know where they belong, what role they play in someone else’s life. And in those moments, I think it’s safe to call us friends… she still offers me advice, consoles me, loves me in her mothering way, but we laugh and joke together like two silly girls at a café sipping lattes without a care in the world.

And then when the sky darkens and the rain pours down, I pull her under my umbrella and protect her, as any mother would, until the storm passes and a new phase begins. It’s all part of this wonderful, wacky, weird and wobbly concept called Life which none of us really understands but all of us know.

rainy day thoughts

i pull on yellow rubber boots
grab my rubber duckie and
have a bath in the rain puddles
splashing spraying springing
from
adult-hood into
my plastic jacket-hood
wet drops slip slide down
my face my nose i stick out my tongue
lick the tears of heaven
then stop to wonder
why is God crying?

home sweet home

I’ve been away from home for two weeks… it feels like years. 🙂 I’ve been covering conferences in both Montreal and Ottawa. The Montreal Conference was a Presbyterian retreat for female minister; the one in Ottawa was the General Assembly for The Presbyterian Church in Canada. I’ve been moved and impressed by the government of this church, by the truth and reconciliation it’s seeking to pursue with aboriginal leaders in this country, and by the social justice sought for by the church members. Now it’s time to go home and weed my garden and kiss my husband.