Pomegranates by Chanan Mazal

Pomegranates by Chanan Mazal

Tuesday, 29 March 2016

Living Easter

I am the resurrection and the life
John 11:25 

I pulled an old favourite off the shelf during lent.  It is a book of meditations on the exalted Christ called At The Name of Jesus by Tricia McCary Rhodes.   Easter weekend I ended my reflections with the chapter on the Resurrection. 

I did not realize how thirsty and desperate I actually was until I found myself clinging to this description of Christ like a life line...

 "Resurrection, Reawakener, Revitalizer, Resuscitator."


Do you need resuscitated?

Revitalized?

Reawakened?

I confess, after this Easter holiday I felt like I was in need of resuscitation.  I needed the hope of resurrection, truth, life and love.  

Easter is not meant to be a holiday or church season that comes and goes.  It is so much more than that.  It is life itself.  We are to live Easter!

We are to live each day with the resurrected life of Christ in us...proclaiming like Mary, that we too have seen the risen Lord!

Have you seen the risen Lord lately?  

Have you heard Him call your name?  Listen...He is calling you.

Are you in need of a resurrection of your own?  Come to the one who is the resurrection and the life.  

He is The Reawakener!

He is our hope of living awake in Him.










Saturday, 19 March 2016

My Easter Season Discipline



Some people have asked me about the word camino that I have used on the blog.  Camino is a term that refers to a path or journey one travels (either alone or as a group) that has a spiritual significance.

Some may have heard of the movie called The Way.  The movie tells the story of a man in personal crisis who walks the famous Camino De Santiago also known as the Way of St. James. This is where people gather to travel the pilgrim route to the church of the apostle St. James the Great.

Some walk the trail to hear from God.  Others may come to seek healing, direction or to discover their own faith and beliefs.  

Walking is nothing new.  It is an ancient practice of the Christian faith.  In Scripture, families and communities would travel together to celebrate seasonal spiritual festivals.  

A couple of years ago I had the privilege of hearing Canadian author and teacher, Arthur Paul Boers speak on this topic of the spiritual significance of the camino. 
     



Boers described how the spiritual discipline of walking enabled him to make a shift away from distractions and disconnection toward a more engaged and communal way of living.

I was hooked.  After the talk I was ready to pack up and set out to Europe on my first trail! 

Unfortunately, the reality of this thing called work and financial responsibility set in.  (This is one of those moments where I kick myself for being far too responsible!)  

Despite the lack of finances I had to find a way to explore this ancient spiritual and physical discipline.

I decided to follow Mr. Boers idea of beginning a camino experience on Ontario's own beautiful Bruce Trail.

So on Easter weekend a couple of years ago Kenneth and I set out for our first leg of the journey. 

I thought I would share some of the lessons I have learned from my experience along the camino...

Preparation Is Key
Before we headed out we did our homework...

We familiarized ourselves with the website that offers fabulous trail maps and tips.  http://brucetrail.org/  - check

We brought our handy GPS - check

Layers of clothing, including hiking socks - check

Comfortable walking shoes- check

We also packed water in the car - check

Then we were ready to set out.

However, a couple of hours in we noticed that in our enthusiasm we completely forgot the water in the car!

Needless to say about five hours later we were extremely parched and weary.  Due to dehydration I became physically very ill and had to prolong our next phase of the trail.  Lesson learned!

Helpful practical tip #1:

Bring what you prepare with you!  (I know... seems obvious!)


The Power of Silence
As we walked along, Ken and I would share things we noticed on the trail, but mostly we would embrace the quiet.

Words were not necessary as nature and beauty filled the space.

I learned a valuable lesson that day, that words tend to use unnecessary energy.
  
Something I should practice even when I'm not hiking!

In order to be truly present to what is going on around and in us we need times to enter into silence and learn to listen.

I can't imagine how much I have missed in life, because I was too busy talking!


Nature Restores The Soul
As we walked along I was particularly humbled as I stepped over these massive tree trunks.  I imagined them taking root and settling in the earth long before I was even born.

My ears also became tuned to the repertoire of the birds while hidden in the shelter of the covering of branches above.  These winged creatures were clearly part of this journey with us as they called out to one another in conversation along the trail.

I quickly gained a new appreciation for the large rocks and moss on the trunks that lined the ground as they became welcomed rest stations for novice hikers like ourselves.

On the trail we became one with nature.  Creation was no longer something we looked at from an outside perspective.

The wooded trail was space we were collectively sharing together.  This understanding gave me a deeper reverence and gratitude for God's beauty and creation. 

I also noticed on the trail that my stress seemed to dissipate as I walked along.  

My mind and body was fixated on breathing and where I was headed on the trail instead of being stuck on where I was.  

The physical movement seemed to silence the barrage of anxious thoughts that tend to fill my head.

There was something undeniably sacred taking place.

As I walked attentive to God's beauty this enabled my soul to receive needed restoration.

God used the physical discipline of walking to nourish and replenish my interior castle.

This discipline has opened my eyes to the connection of the physical and spiritual.  They are interwoven, one impacting the other.



We're On The Journey Together!
As we were a couple of hours into our second hike (by the way we did remember the water this time) we ran into some other sojourners on the trail.

There was a family taking a break eating some fresh strawberries in the midst of the woods.  They kindly extended an invitation for us to join them and share in their brunch!

This small act of generosity reminded me of the importance to share with others along the path.  There is joy not only in giving, but in receiving from a complete stranger.

Life is meant to be communal and not just with those we know and are comfortable with.



There are definite joys and hardships when walking the Camino.  However, a pilgrimage provides a unique space to meet with God.  To walk with and in Christ.

If you have ever walked a camino of sorts of your own - please share some of your personal stories and insights... I would love to hear them!

I encourage you to take time to go for a walk during this Easter season.  Watch for His beauty and listen for His voice along the trail.  Allow Him to restore your soul.

Thank you for joining me here on this camino at arils and castles as we learn to live awake bursting with the fullness of Christ. 







Wednesday, 9 March 2016

Becoming Community ~ "A Better Slice of Life" Documentary



Tonight, I was honoured to attend the inspirational premiere of "A Better Slice of Life" documentary at the Bloor Hot Docs Cinema.






The film tells the powerful story of people with disabilities gaining independence and developing practical skills to prepare them for a viable career in the culinary field.


This documentary sheds light on the need for all people to have access to education and hands-on experience to build marketable employment skills. 

Culinary student, Jim Maize, eloquently expressed how this unique program has enabled him "to see colour and the beauty in people."  He speaks candidly about his struggle over the years, having felt left behind.  However, with support in the classes, culinary lab and restaurant practicum, Jim flourished and experienced a true sense of belonging.  In Jim's profound words, the program was "life-changing."

Jim gave me permission to share with all of you that upon graduation he was hired and is now a proud employee at a local restaurant in his own community.



Shannon Buller (Employment Coordinator, Christian Horizons) and Jim Maize (Graduate)  



As I watched the documentary I was deeply moved by the power of true community.

Christian Horizons, Humber College, The Ministry of Community and Social Services and local businesses all worked together with the students and their families for a common purpose.

Everyone was committed to the successful outcome of each and every student.




When a person with a disability receives support they are empowered to achieve their goals and dreams. And when that support is both diverse and multi-faceted, the likelihood of success is significantly enhanced. 

As a community we all impact one another.  Individuals receive support but also have much to offer.

As the student gains independence this contributes to the well being of the entire family.  When employers receive trained and qualified employees then our local businesses will also thrive.

When everyone works together then our communities become stronger.  

We become whole.


Jean Vanier says it best...


We become community when...
"we all exercise our gift to build community."

We become community when.... 

 "people start truly caring for each other and for each other's growth."

 We become community when we...

"break down barriers to welcome difference."

We become community when... 

"there is true belonging" 

~Jean Vanier, Community and Growth


I believe that when we become community, we reflect Jesus.

Jesus is radical because he extends belonging to those on the margins.

Jesus offers dignity, not charity or pity.

As His image bearers, we are called to follow his example.

God, the Creator, calls us to a work of creation.

We are all called to participate in his kingdom work by utilizing the gifts he graciously bestows on us. 

When we contribute, we belong.


Vanier reminds us that...

 "belonging leads to becoming ... we become more fully human."


God's design for humanity, from the very beginning, is rooted in the character of the Triune God which is communal by nature.

We are all created to be in community. 

We are also all created to utilize our gifts for the benefit of community.  This must not exclude anyone!

Our communities will fail to thrive if we fail to make room for the talents and abilities of each and every person.


I give thanks for extraordinary, inspiring women like Irene Moore who had the vision and boldness to dream huge!  I am grateful and honoured to work with her and be along for the ride! 
   

 Irene Moore, Christian Horizons




Thank you to Gina Antonacci and Jo Anne Nugent from Humber College for leading the way to provide access for all people to further their education and skills.

Thank you to Shannon Buller, Mary Lou Kelly and Judith Huh for your passion and faithful dedication that made all this possible.

You have reminded all of us that a community who works together has the power to transform lives!

For more information regarding the Culinary Program check out:

Christian Horizons/ Humber Culinary Program














Sunday, 6 March 2016

Our Call to Remember

Rule of Life:  Living Sabbath

My journey this year is about learning to live awake.

I have noticed that in order to function well during the day it is vital that I get the necessary sleep and rest my body requires.

The same spiritual principle applies.

In order to live fully awake in Christ I must take care to obey and reap the benefit of sabbath rest!

Through my time of daily examen on Sunday evenings God has revealed how easy it is for me to be so swept away in "church ministry" that I can completely miss the heart of Sabbath.

If you preach, teach, greet, usher, help in children's ministry, lead music or are responsible for the Sunday potluck ... you will certainly know what I mean.

How many times have we been so busy with "God's work," that we have completely neglected the very One we came to worship and serve? 

I confess...

I resent my alarm most Sunday mornings.  I have also been known to fail to hold my tongue if there is no hot water left in the shower or if I feel Ken rushes me to get out the door and I still can't decide what to wear to church.

Sadly, I can walk through the parking lot, enter the doors of church, rehearse with the worship team, review the service details with the choir ... and still some weeks completely forget to acknowledge God in his house!

No wonder I struggle to keep the sabbath holy!

My practise now on Sunday mornings, before my feet hit the floor, is that I pause for a few moments to embrace and give God thanks for the sabbath. 

"Remember the sabbath day, to keep it holy.  Six days you shall labor, and do all your work; but the seventh day is a sabbath to the Lord your God..."  Exodus 20:8


God calls us to remember the sabbath day.

To remember, to ponder, to be attentive.  

We are called to pause.

To intentionally turn our minds, our heart, our thoughts to Him and to set this day apart for holiness.


The Sabbath is not so much about a particular day of the week.

The Sabbath is also more than just a day, it is a frame of mind and heart.

"The sabbath was made for man, not man for the Sabbath, so the Son of man is lord even of the sabbath."  Mark 2:27

The sabbath was made for us.  A precious gift for you and me.



If you have missed the Sabbath today ... it is not too late.

I would love if you would join me and take a few quiet moments together to remember the sabbath.
  
Take a few deep breaths.
Inhale through your nose (over the count of three) and then exhale slowly through your mouth (again counting to three).

Ask God to still and quiet your mind.

Take time to prayerfully read and ponder the following statements that call us to remember.


Remember...

The sabbath belongs to God. 

Thank you, that you are Lord of the Sabbath.

This day belongs to you.


Remember...

The sabbath was made for man.

Thank you that you made this day with us in mind.  That the sabbath was made as a gift for us.

Remember...

Lord, you are holy.
Your sabbath day is holy.

Thank you for making us your holy people.  Help us to be holy, set apart for you.  

Remember...

"God blessed the seventh day and hallowed it, because on it God rested from all his work which he had done in creation."  Genesis 2:3

Thank you for blessing this day and making it holy.
Thank you for all that you have created, including this day set apart for you.
Thank you that we are made in your image.
Thank you for the gift to create and work.
Thank you for the gift of rest on the sabbath.
  
Reflections:

What have you created and worked on this week?

As you gaze and ponder on what you have created this past week, give God thanks for his goodness to be a part of his kingdom work.

Who has been lord over your sabbath?  Was it God or you?    

Take some time to pray and ask God to reveal what concerns, thoughts or activities distract you from remembering the sabbath or from keeping this day holy and set apart for Him.

Ask God for forgiveness, giving thanks that He is faithful to extend his mercy and grace.  Seek his help to remember the sabbath and to keep it holy.

Now go and rest in Him.


To answer God's call to remember the sabbath is an act of worship to the Lord.  As we worship him in remembrance not only do we bring Him honour, but we will also come away renewed and transformed.

To live awake in Christ is learning how to rest in Him!




Thank you my dear friends for taking the time to stop by and make this castle your home! 
   













   





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