It’s cheesy but true – one of the deepest joys of being at Regent College is the people I have the privilege to learn alongside. Isabel was a classmate in one of my first classes called The Christian Imagination. She is disarmingly unpretentious, wonderfully curious, has an irreverent sense of humour and brings feminist posters along with wine and homemade banana bread when she comes for dinner just because she thought I’d like it (= dream dinner guest). Oh, and she wrote and performed a rap for our Christian Imagination retreat — just like that. She left her job working for the Singaporean government and various editorial publications to start afresh here in Vancouver – at least for a season – while her husband studies at Regent. She recently had me writing over at her space and now it’s my privilege to host her words. Stepping into the unknown is rarely easy and I’m grateful for Isabel sharing some of what she has learned in her sometimes uncomfortable season of ‘waiting’.
I am not the sort of girl who cries easily. But I was suddenly and briefly overcome with emotion when listening to a song, Take Courage by Kristene DiMarco, one afternoon. The lines that moved me went: “Take courage my heart, stay steadfast my soul / He’s in the waiting, He’s in the waiting”.
For the past year, I’ve been on sabbatical after eight years of slogging away in the workplace. It’s been a precious time of rest and renewal, and I have zero regrets about making this decision to step away from the frenetic pace of my former life.
On March 1, 2018, my sabbatical officially ended. And in the weeks before this day arrived, I was plagued with anxiety and fear. I had no clear directive from God as to where I should be headed and what I should be doing next. And I wanted answers. Now. Continue reading
It’s been just over a month since we left England to come to Canada and much of that time has been spent in Yukon. The time and space to adjust and process was a sheer gift – of course with good days and bad days, extraordinary days and ordinary days, cheerful days and grumpy days – but my overwhelming sense as we reach the end now is one of deep gratitude.
Somehow, the time away served as a reminder of what it means to be human. I love London – and as we have moved away I’ve realised HOW much I love it despite all my grumbling (it’s strange how leaving a place does that) – but one thing I always found in London was that it was hard to breathe. Sometimes physically due to the heavy duty cycling masks that I insisted on us using (much to John’s delight) but more in my spirit due to the constant stimulus: the onslaught of options and distractions and opinions and soundbytes and adverts and demands and sirens. Some people can navigate this in healthy and inspiring ways and have an effective off-switch. I never quite figured it out. Continue reading
As an adult visiting my parents in my childhood home, there are things which I can be sure will remain constant despite the passage of the time and the changing of seasons. One of these is a warm welcome in the form of a hot meal, anytime day or night, and another is a walk in the local woods with our beloved dog and ruler of the household, Potchi.
I laughed once at my mother, a hospital chaplain, for ‘re-imagining’ Psalm 23 by casting our dog as the shepherd and these very woods as the backdrop for life’s journey; our dog being the one who forces my parents daily – whatever the weather and the inconvenience – into these woods for a window of rest, of breathing and of slowing down.
But this week, I have begun to understand what my mother means. As I walked Potchi towards the woods for the third time in as many days, I felt apologetic towards him for bringing him to the same place yet again. As I don’t have a car, I don’t have the means of taking him somewhere more imaginative. So these woods will have to do… but he must be so bored, I thought. Continue reading
It has become a near daily refrain now – alongside the panic and fear and too-oft returning into the same cycle of abandonment and blame, alongside the unexpected unravelling – a nascent wondering as to whether what lies ahead may look a lot less structured than I would have dared believe possible, and that that is okay.
There is a curious freedom I am experiencing from shrugging off the old layers – coats and scarves and jumpers and gloves – which don’t fit anymore. It’s been a good two or more years in the making of feeling the rough itch of the wool, the uncomfortable heat rising in my body, sweat forming beneath everything I have layered on myself for my safety, for my identity.
I am always afraid of being too cold. Continue reading
My liberal sensibilities have taken a bit of a knock these past few weeks. Three times in as many weeks, I have found myself in uncomfortable conversations, disagreeing with people whom I love. On issues such as interfaith dialogue. On what it is we ascribe to the term ‘biblical’. On what it means to be ‘pro-life’.
These kind of discussions – in which I invariably inhabit the liberal corner – are not a new thing. But I have felt jarred by the frequency with which they have cropped up in the past three weeks – three knocks on my heart.
The first and second knock, I responded in my usual way. Stung, angry, righteous – carrying the sheer burden of ‘always being right’ amdist a sea of conservatives as a self-made cross upon my shoulders. I feel ashamed to admit my arrogance – and yet there it is.
But they say good things come in threes – and perhaps this was no exception. Continue reading
I had an idea that I would write some reflections every month during the first year of marriage. Somehow it has been a month already and while I don’t know how that has happened and feel no more like a grown up, I know that deep in my core I am thankful – deeply, utterly and overwhelmingly.
As a perpetual over-thinker and one guilty of taking life far too seriously, I *knew* marriage would be hard work. I solemnly prepared myself for the hard conversations, the compromises, the awkward friction and endless sanding down of splinters that would come from the mystery of two becoming one.
And while I know that all that still holds true, the biggest revelation in this first month of marriage has been just how much Light there has been. How good, how true, how settled it has felt for our two little lives to fall into step with one another. Something changed when we made those promises before God, each other, and those we love. As my mum reminded us in the sermon she gave at our wedding, there is something profound and important about hearing your voice make those promises out loud to the other, to hear the other make them back. Continue reading
Since writing my last post on my dreams for a more inclusive church, I read this post by the fantastic Christiana Rice for the Junia Project in which she gives voice with such grace and beauty (and drawing from personal experience in a way I can’t yet!) to my heart for this issue.
She begins with an explanation of her own experiences as a woman seeking to run after her God and invite others into the story in a way authentic to her experience as a human, as a woman, from within an often male-dominated narrative. She goes on to list ‘5 Postures to Midwifing Local Expressions of the Church’ – well worth a read.
I love these words that she ends with:
The Holy Spirit is gestating and God invites us as partners and co-laborers to faithfully enact our specific gifts to birth magnificent things in the world.
As we explore fresh metaphors I pray our vision enlarges and our passion enlivens so we can join in on what God is birthing all around us.
I dream of a Church which is represented in the pulpit, in the kitchens, on church councils and elders’ boards, in the pews, in mission, by women alongside men, people of colour alongside white, the working classes alongside the middle, the so called outsiders alongside the insiders – all gloriously subverting what the world would have us believe as the way things will always be to reveal the rich and patchwork beauty of the Kingdom of God.
I dream of a Church where we value voices and stories that are different to our own. That we would embrace discomfort-at-difference – turning away from our kneejerk ‘how can they make this more comfortable for me?’ instead running with determination towards ‘what can I learn about Jesus, about the heart of our God through this person, through this different way of speaking / praying / worshipping / living?’ Continue reading
I listened to this song by Nina Simone yesterday: I wish knew how it would feel to be free.
My profoundly beautiful friend told me that this was getting her through a hard day or two in the office. I had heard it before, but as I listened to it alone a little later on I heard it as if for the first time, tears filling my eyes as the weight of the words washed over me through the melody’s indomitable rise and fall.
I imagined it must have been a spiritual, written during times of slavery. Some quick googling showed that it was actually written in the 60s, but that it indeed served as an anthem for the civil-rights movement. As I listened over and over (as I am prone to do when I latch onto a good thing..) I found it surprising just how much it moved me, how profoundly, well, spiritual, it was, how close it made me feel to the God I know and love in my core. Or not surprising at all, I guess. Songs, ‘dangerous songs’ as Walter Brueggemann calls them, borne from the furnace of the deepest suffering; songs that speak of a wild hope despite all that works to suppress it – no surprise at all, I guess, that flowers that blossom by the grace of God and the strength of the human-meets –Divine Spirit in the land marked by suffering are the most astoundingly beautiful.
I wish I knew how it would feel to be free.
I wish you could know what it means to be me; then you’d see and agree that every man should be free.
My one word for this year is ‘wonder’. I would estimate I’ve spent a good 2% of the year so far in a state of wonder. But my attention was called back to the word, to my commitment this week as I heard a quote by poet Mary Oliver: ‘I want to know that I spent my life married to the bridegroom of amazement’. How on earth?! I thought as I worked long hours, increasingly grumpy and coming down with a virus. I prayed a simple prayer, though: God, help me. I don’t want to miss it. But I can’t see it and I don’t want to try. But I want to want to.
And today was a little miracle. To preface – not a flashy, write home about miracle. But I believe in the mustard seed, in the small being enough, the glimpses of glory being some of the most precious reminders of heaven-right-now. Continue reading