26 Aug 2017

Making memories

         Last week my friend invited me last-minute to go to a concert with her. It was a band I knew, but not all that well; and a late night early in the week isn't ideal.
         However, it's a friend whom I cherish, and wish I spent more time with. So the possibility of a fun evening together made for an easy answer. Definitely I would go!
         We met up in the city after work (from our opposite directions), grabbed a quick bite and headed to the show. 
         It was fantastic. Worth the price, and the lack of sleep (that's what coffees for, after all!). Because we were making memories.
         Memories are important to us. We've both had circumstances where life has intervened unexpectedly, and we wish we'd had more memories. Time with loved ones, with intentional interaction, is important. 
         We don't always get pictures of our time together. (We almost never do, to be honest!) We prefer to be present without screens between us. 
So we were impressed when, during the concert, the lead singer asked the audience to put away their phones and tablets for just one song. To not record what was happening, but to live it.
         That's a bold request to make of 50,000 people who have paid a lot of money to be there. Though most of us are not professional photographers, we didn't have professional equipment, and we certainly were not getting the best views - yet so many were seeing the concert through their screens.
         From my vantage point, people put down the phones. They focused on the here and now, not what they could show friends on social media. 
         They were present. They were making memories. 
         And what a gift; what an example. What a chance to model that the best way to live life is completely, engaging with the people they care about, telling those people that they are loved, and benefitting from whatever the circumstances are.
         Will I continue to take the occasional picture on my cell phone? Absolutely - but as a secondary reality, knowing that pictures can never recreate the moment.

         Will I continue to be intentional to make as many memories as possible, knowing they will stay with me forever? Absolutely.

19 Aug 2017

Buying Local

            A friend of mine has this thing - during the summer, she doesn't go into grocery stores. At all.
            It's not that she somehow doesn't eat for several months - instead she frequents the abundance of local fruit and vegetable markets and roadside stands that populate our part of the world. Even for other food groups (though, who needs other food groups in peach season?!), she finds local places: the local cheese maker, the free-run egg seller, the local butcher.  We share tips for where to get the best products and prices.
            This week, I popped into a chain grocery store - I needed more canning jar sealers and lemon juice - to preserve that glorious local fresh produce! - and I saw a rather surprising sight.
            There were people flocking to bins of imported fruits and vegetables. The prices were higher than what I had paid to the local farmer, the fruit was smaller, and (having traveled goodness knows how long to arrive) was significantly less fresh.
            Now, I know that there are reasons to buy from a grocery store - if transportation is a problem, for example. But for the majority of folks, we don't have a legitimate reason to avoid supporting our local folks... we have some form of transport that can be used to get around (cars, bikes, friends with cars, &c.). There are farmers markets that open up in town and city centres to make the produce readily available. With a little planning, time is not a constraint. I could go on.
            Supporting our local folks helps to build community. The more we talk with our farmer-neighbours, the better we can respect the folks who are literally feeding us. The more we connect to our food chain, the more we can understand the natural systems of seasons and rhythms - and actually improve our food security. The more we support local shops, the better our local economy is.
            There are lots of reasons to focus on community, and we are all invited to take part. Community building is a key part of the Christian life: Jesus built community, each of the disciples built community, we are encouraged to continue to build community - it's part of our faith journey.
            The great thing about building community is that it doesn't have to be difficult: it can be choosing a locally owned grocery store instead of a big box chain. It can be bypassing the self-serve line to be cashed out by a human staff, thereby keeping employment option. It can be as easy as purchasing seasonal produce from our local farmers.
            It can take some time and intentionality, but it is worth it.

            How can you build or enhance your community this week?

12 Aug 2017

Prayers for #Charlottesville

In light of the events of Charlottesville this weekend, I'm at a loss for words today.

I merely offer my prayers:
For those who have been injured and died.
For those who grieve and mourn.
For those who live in constant fear.
For those who peacefully protest.
For those who bravely stand against evil in spite of threat of personal danger.
For those who are too afraid to protest.
For those who are too apathetic to protest.
For those who truly believe that violence and hatred is acceptable.
For those who have just had their eyes opened to this reality of our world.
For those whose eyes are still closed.
For those whose hearts are closed to human suffering.
For those whose hearts are broken.
For those who live in circumstances where such violence, and worse, is the norm.

Holy Messiah, Divine Christ, Sweet Jesus: may we live your commission to love one another. May we not get swept into a vortex of hatred. May we be brave to stand up to evil, to work for your peace, that your kingdom will come.

Lord, have mercy. Christ have mercy. Lord have mercy.

5 Aug 2017

What Did I Miss?

            This week my sister and I went to the theatre; we saw a wonderful production of Romeo and Juliet.
            There were a few scenes that caught us off guard, however, as the staging brought to light some things that we had either not seen before, or had not thought of it in that way. (One example was in the allusion to the death of Benvolio; another in presenting the apothecary as a plague doctor).
            During our journey home, as we discussed the performance (recognising we are not Shakespeare scholars!) we mentioned a few times about what we liked, and what we'd either missed in previous readings, forgotten about, or simply hadn't thought about it that way before.
            I wonder how often these questions would arise if we were to consider the scriptures with such enthusiasm and intention? How many nuggets of interpretation and comprehension might be found by simply taking our time to read carefully the text, trying to put ourselves into the story to better make their teachings come to life for us?
            In the past few weeks, preaching on the parables of Matthew, I have been trying to re-read these messages form the lens of "What have I not noticed before?" In the parable of the sower, why is the attention on the seeds and the soil, instead of on the extravagant sower? In the weeds and wheat parable, why would a farmer allow poisonous weeds to permeate the family's foodstock, convinced that it was an act of conspiracy? In the Kingdom of heaven parables, why do we not focus on the intended audience of the kingdom, rather than the plethora of analogies?

            The questions continue, but the practice is what stays with me. It's a starting point for personal reflection, group discussion, bible study. When we read the scriptures, especially those that are familiar to us, we are being invited to seek out the new learnings, the new ideas, the new AH-HA! moments. For there is always opportunity to find something new, if we're only humble and willing enough to ask: What did I miss? What else can I learn?