Skip to main content

Posts

Showing posts from 2008

relatives

I have spent the past 2 days with an 8-month-old in the house. She is my niece so I like her better than most 8-month-olds. And she seems to like me as well, as is apparent by her cooing, flapping of arms, and grabbing of my hair. As someone who admits to not being much of a baby person (okay, really not at all; give me a teenager any day of the week and we are tiiiight in no time), the interaction was somewhat surprising to me. Why do we get along so well? Because of who she is. She is blood. She is part of me in some way. I already like her, no matter what she does or how she turns out. She will always be liked by me. She doesn't have to do anything to get my love and attention, except be born into the family. And though this is the simplest concept in the world - that who someone is determines how we treat them much more than what they do - hardly anyone gets this, including me.

I consistently like people better that treat me well or have something to offer me when in fact, the …

3 Christmas parties

While I have been nursing a sick cat back to health, it has been the season to celebrate. Funny how celebration and not-so-good stuff often collide. This is perhaps meant to prevent us from separating the different parts of our lives and to keep us from isolating our emotions and situations into tidy coping compartments. I believe that life is to be lived together, as a whole, in one big family room instead of every situation behind its own closed door. Each life event affects the next one, and one can laugh in the midst of tragedy and cry at a celebration because joy and pain live in the same universe in a strangely beautiful and companionable way that makes life rich and deep and meaningful.

I had three Christmas events to go to this week and each one was wonderful and fun and special in its own way.

ONE: Our home group got together to sit around the fire, roast marshmallows, make s'mores, sip wine, eat disturbing amounts of chocolate, and play charades. At the end of the e…

overwhelm part 2

My recovering cat, Tea, has good days and bad days. Today she is not eating again. I sit with her and talk to her and stroke her. Though she purrs, I get the feeling that my message of love and care, though sent as loudly and as clearly as I can manage, does not quite get embraced by her instincts and her body. She does not know how to take it in fully. She is too used to the suffering and stress.

I know that God loves me and that he is good. But I do not know how to take it fully into my life, my body, my relationships, my work, my thoughts. I am too used to the lack, the worry, the feeling like I have to protect myself, the need for control and the comfort of self-imposed order.
This morning I read from Matthew 5 in the Message, you know the part where Jesus says that if your eye is causing you to sin by inviting in lustful thoughts, go ahead and pluck it out, because living without one eye is better than ending up morally bankrupt. This is not a literal command, (though if a simple e…

Tea and government

Yesterday afternoon, I attempted to give Tea another appetite pill because she was still only eating a few morsels of food here and there. She hates these pills and has had a bad reaction most times I have attempted to get her to swallow one. And this time was the same: more frothing at the mouth and twitching and general discomfort but at least no vomiting (for Tea, that is, not for me). I could feel her bony spine and realised that 4 days after she came out of the hospital, we really had not gained much ground at all. Yes, she was much more settled and relaxed, but also very weak and lethargic and not all that interested in food and water. And I was getting pretty stressed out and weepy, yelling at Dean and God and anyone else in range that "I really could use some help here!"

And an hour or two later, something changed. I don't know what happened, but Tea came over to where I was in the kitchen and meowed at me. I took out the cat treats and placed a few in front of he…

love is life

I brought Tea home from the vet today. She was not doing so well there. Despite 3 days of IV solution, she still has jaundice and low energy and little appetite. The vet told me to take her home. If I cannot get her to eat and drink, she will die. The vet also said that Tea is special: she needs people and love and attention, and they can't give too much of that in a hospital setting- they can only administer drugs and treatments. Without love, she does not do well. So my assignment is to shower her with affection, provide an environment where she knows she is cared for and not alone, and get food and water into her at regular intervals. If she responds to that, she has a fighting chance of surviving.

This is so basic and so true and quite remarkable that a vet would see that medicine cannot do what love can. Without knowing that we are loved, we wane and lose our zest for life. Last night at home group we talked about how to get over self-centredness. The solution is s…

sick

I don't know what to do. Tea is pretty sick. I took her to the vet on Friday and was told that she has jaundice and is dehydrated and probably has some problem with her liver. They wanted to keep her in the hospital and put her on IV and take X-rays and do other tests and well, it was just all too much. She actually ate some food while at the vet, so that was encouraging. I had them do a blood test and took her home with some prescriptive food and some pills to see if she would improve. All weekend Dean and I forced water down her a few times a day, gave her the pills to boost her appetite and the antibiotics, tried to tempt her with all kinds of food with partial success, and I prayed a lot. She hates the pills and one of my first attempts to give her one resulted in her frothing at the mouth a bit, twitching and running wildly into the other room, and throwing up all the water we just got into her (and the pill). Very hard to watch. Yesterday she had a fever and was very listles…

overwhelm

Well, I am finished. My university courses for the term, that is. I handed in my last paper on Tuesday, all 43 pages of it. After I walked out of the Department of Theology office door, having just deposited the precious envelope, I decided that the occasion merited a bit of a celebration. I bought a bag of Old Dutch sour cream 'n' onion chips, a bottle of New Leaf Green Tea, got on the subway, and ate my small meal of victory while reading Ben Hur on the way home. Pretty crazy party, I know.

And despite being really happy that the research and writing and putting words and thoughts together in a profound and clear way are done for the moment, I found myself slightly less excited about being able to get on with day to day life now. Dentist and vet and car appointments and laundry and cleaning the bathroom and Christmas shopping don't have the same lustre as grappling with theological and philosophical questions. This should be a season of rest, but I am restless. My mind a…

the R word

We are away for the weekend, visiting friends in Ontario. I have two papers due early next week, which explains my absence from blogworld as I have been trying to get them done before we took this wee vacation, and I am happy to say that the rough drafts are both done and packed in my backpack, waiting for me to edit them.

We had a great home group dinner on Wednesday night, lots of food, good discussion, mulled wine, and of course, some silly dance moves. I got there early to help prepare the food and a few of us started talking about one's purpose in life. One of my friends had been asked the question at work by a colleague, "What is your purpose in life?" and now she wanted to know what other people would have said. Good question. It is easy to give a broad, vague answer and we came up with most of the usual ones: to worship God, to love others, to know God, to be everything I am meant to be, to make this world a better place, etc., but that's pretty easy to say an…

enough

For those of you who don't know, I run a home for delinquent cats. This is not some benevolent gesture and mission statement on my part, it is merely the state of things. My cats have problems. Jazz came from a farm and is part Maine Coone and part wild hyena (that's hyperbole in case you can't tell) and occasionally attacks people without provocation. Oh, and with provocation all the time. She feels the need to dominate everyone and everything. Nevertheless, when she is not feeling threatened, she does have her loving moments, but hardly anyone gets to see them.

Tea was rescued from a park and is one of the neediest balls of fur I have ever encountered. She follows me around. She sleeps pressed up to me all night long. She likes to sit right beside me and stare at me while I work. She sits on my lap while I eat popcorn on the couch (and nips pieces out of the bowl). She continually whines for food and water. She is obsessed with drinking from the kitchen tap and meows lou…

a few thoughts of late

Things are good in matte-land. Dean is back from a little trip to Florida, I am in the midst of writing two papers (Augustine and the Shunammite woman), it is a beautiful sunny day outside, and my right knee will not have to be amputated (I accidentally ran and I mean RAN into the solid wood banister yesterday and for a moment thought my life as a walking woman was in jeopardy, but thankfully, one mother of a bruise is all I walked away with).

Anyway, here are some thoughts and quotes from the last week or two. A lot is going on in and through my brain, and I don't always have the time to jot it down here, but I did write a few notes to friends in the past weeks and here are some glimpses from them.

from an email I wrote to a friend...
"After each class I usually come home and spill everything out to Dean and whoever else is around, so everyone is getting a lot out of my education. I told someone in home group the other day that the Bible is not God. And they said they would hav…

hear

I have finished my French course and one would think that I should have more time for writing now, but alas, it seems I have pushed many of the tasks of everyday life to the side for the past two months and their nagging tugs and persistent pleas must now be heeded. There is a long list of correspondence and bills and projects and maintenance issues and appointments to address, but I am tackling it bit by bit. And my house is clean for the first time in weeks! woohoo!

Currently in our small home group gathering, we are tackling subjects that people have indicated they would like to not only learn more about, but get better at. Last week we talked about hearing God better, or being able to recognise that still small voice of wisdom. And then we practiced. We always practice what we are learning in these evenings, because that's the way you get better. Practice. Do it. Try. And then do it over and over.

Here are some points that I came up with on how to recognise the voice of God in y…

the lecture

I attended a lecture last week hosted by the Theology department at my university (no, I don't own this place of higher learning, but isn't it interesting how much of life is "mine" in common English usage. Anyway...). A very well spoken and highly educated pastor from a local Presbyterian church was the guest presenter. The talk was titled: Biblical Interpretation: Where Hermeneutics and Revelation Meet. Interesting. I hadn't planned on going because I had a French course at the same time, but one of my professors scheduled it as a make-up class so I did the unthinkable, skipped out of French early, and showed up at H-403 to hear what was to be said.

The 45 minute presentation was immensely wordy. Most of the time wonderfully wordy, but sometimes my brain could not follow all the complex linguistic helixes being constructed by Dr. T. Nevertheless, I did catch a few things that I liked in what he said. He cautioned against the purely academic study of th…

me too

I think we've all done it. I was walking down the sidewalk in St. Laurent today, on my way to the pharmacy across the street. While I was still about 20 feet from the intersection that I was heading to, I saw people start to cross the street up ahead and I began to run, wanting to make sure that I didn't miss the green WALK light that had obviously just begun. I stepped out into the street and darted in front of a car that was slowing to a stop for its red light. But the driver honked instead! What? I looked at the pedestrian signal and found that it did NOT say walk, in fact there was a big red hand warning me that it was not safe to cross. I had just darted into the street in front of a car that was rightfully driving through a green light at quite a nice speed! Oh, crap! Those pedestrians I had so willingly followed were just in a hurry and trying to squeeze in-between the traffic, disregarding the law and their own safety. In looking at them instead of the traffic light, I…

cut off

You might not want to read this. It is going to be messy. And embarrassing. And slightly more revealing than you might have the stomach for. Just thought I would warn you.

In case you don't know much about me, I am a very good and spiritual person. Really, that is what people think, and I hate to disappoint them. I am a leader in our church group. I teach and pray and give life advice and take theology courses that boggle the average person's mind and openly admit to loving reading the Bible and talking to God (and it's true!). I show up early to meetings and set up and clean up and provide snacks and plan events and have people over to my house for meals and do all kinds of wonderful stuff for others. And most of the time I love it. But there are days...
For the past few months I have been having a rough time at the Wednesday group that I lead. Each week I spend a few hours preparing a discussion and activities on a topic, or thinking up cool stuff for a fun night that wil…

aha!

I had an a-ha! moment this week. I was sitting in my Tuesday evening class, listening to a lecture on source criticism in the Hebrew Bible. It is much more fascinating than it sounds, really. We read through a few passages in Genesis, observing the parallel stories and contradictions between them. This leads one to conclude that several sources were used in compiling the book since the style, vocabulary and details are quite different in different sections. The point is not the different versions of one story, but why the compiler felt it necessary to include multiple stories. It is not hard to see that each story reveals a different aspect of God's character in some way. These writings were never meant to be accurate scientific documents or historical databases, they were recorded to show us who this God is and how he interacts with humankind.

At one point, someone asked a question about the story of Abraham and Isaac. The ears of my heart perked up immediately. I have a…

feed me

I am getting used to being somewhat perpetually tired and hungry, at least Monday to Friday. It is good for me. It puts things in another perspective. Some ugly thing called worry wants me to believe that there is never enough time, but I know that there will always be just the right amount of time each day to be the person I am to be and do the things that God sees as important right now. And there always is. God can be trusted regarding time. Seeing that play out every day is like witnessing the miracle of sunrise over and over again; no matter how many times I experience it, it still takes my breath away and extracts a sigh of gratefulness and wonder.

The other impulse I have the joy of engaging and seeking to get some self-control over is the one that raises its horny head when my reserves are down. When missing the recommended amount of food and sleep, the needy devil starts to scream for all kinds of soul fast food to satiate its selfish appetite. It wants attention lavi…

not the worst party ever

I had a birthday party on Friday night. Dean invited a few people over and we made food and talked and played games and even walked around the carnival set up at the local mall parking lot just before it closed. Pretty fun! Well, in theory, yes. As it happens, I just had one of the busiest weeks of the year with classes, assignments, meetings, and just a lot of stuff going on which meant I was over-tired from running from one happening to the next and trying to keep my list of things to do from falling behind and in the midst of it all, not getting a whole lot of sleep. I don't know about you, but I am not at my best when I am overtired.

As the evening progressed, I felt less and less like I was part of the festivities and more and more like the party was going on without me. I had the urge to leave the room and lie down somewhere so that I didn't have to be happy and sanguine and sociable and the perfect hostess and seen to be having the best time of my life which was really …

present

Yesterday was my birthday. It was a good day - busy, but good. I spent 7 hours in class, 2 hours commuting, 1 hour in a meeting, 1.5 hours on administrative work for the church, just under 1 hour on errands to the bank and post office and such, and then had a lovely Mexican meal at the end of the day with the attentive Dean.

During my walk from the metro to my morning French class, I usually talk to God. And yesterday I was telling him what a great day it was to be alive and well and surrounded by good friends and family and the opportunities to learn. And then I wondered if it was okay to ask him for something for my birthday. Oh yes, I immediately knew that the good and giving God that I serve and love wanted me to ask for something special on a special day. But what? I have a hard time asking for things, especially from God, because it seems so self-centred and points all attention to me, but I really did want something amazing to mark the day that I took my first breath on …

mine [not]

I was on the subway last week and observed a man in a business suit get on one of the trains, look around briefly at the seats which happened to be all full, and give a disgusted little huff like someone had insulted him. I thought his reaction was astonishingly self-centred, like no one on the train deserved a comfortable place to sit as much as he did.

Two days later I found myself on that same metro line, riding down to my French class early one morning. I was tired and not quite awake and just wanted to sit alone and read a book and not be jostled or have to stand pressed against other commuters. I happened to catch the train before it filled up and got a seat at the end of the car, away from the rest of the people; my most favourite seat. I love this seat, my special seat, I thought to myself. And then I realised how silly that sounded.

That was not my seat. Hundreds of people sat in that seat every day. I planted my bum on it for 15 minutes that day, but that hardly made it mine. …

stop and smell

My sincere apologies for the lack of posts here lately. My schedule is slightly overfull these days due to being a full-time student, a part-time administrator, and a willing volunteer with several leadership roles that I continue to fill in our church group. Most weekdays it is a challenge just to make sure I get some real food in my stomach and a reasonable amount of sleep. This week I have not done too well on either of those counts, but hey, this is a no whining zone, so let's get on with the important stuff. I have a giant can of Arizona green tea with ginseng and honey and a yummy apple and cheese salad in front of me, plus I had a little nap today when I got home at 5:30, so we're all good.

I have often said to myself (and whoever will listen to me) that if this faith, this truth, this belief that God is good and loving and wants to be with us and infuse our lives with meaning and purpose - if this truth is no good under stress, then what good is it? If I get grumpy and …

up

I won't bore you with the details of how crazy this past week has been, but with most days being 10 to 12 hours long (time I have to be away from home, before I do any other work), I am pleasantly surprised at how well I am holding up without any artificial stimulants or bad habits. I have decided that the best way to handle the stress and the vigorous demands on my life right now is to go as natural as possible. Not that I have joined the ranks of the raving organic freaks (though I love my friends who lean that way and have learned much from them), but that I don't rely on artificial means to achieve a short-term goal because I believe -no, make that I KNOW that I always end up paying more for that type of quick fix in the end.

So here's the deal.

1. I don't do caffeine (just the occasional chai latte). The brief burst of energy is not worth the crash a few hours later, unless of course you top it up with another jolt. It is okay to feel tired, I don't mind it. It…

double down

I wrote an email in August. Just a simple inquiry stating my possible interest in pursuing studies at a master's level in the discipline of Theology. I do have a rather ancient Bachelor of Theology from a bible college which is not accredited, so I wanted to know how that would translate into further studies at a major university. I love learning in general, but have often found it difficult to pin the tail on that illusive donkey of higher education because my interests are spread across so many fields, especially the arts. How can I pick just one? Since my first degree pointed me in a "most likely to get somewhere" direction, I decided to start there. Ask a few questions. Find out the options. No harm in that. And since we now live within an easy 25 minute commute on public transportion to downtown, it seemed like the perfect time to explore the possibility.

I had done some research into Theology programs in universities in Montreal, and the scope and tone of the one at…

retreat with Jonah

I just came back from our first church retreat. Splendid stuff! Squish 25 people into a 4 bedroom cottage, get them to make meals and wash dishes together, take them boating, drag them on a 3 kilometre hike up a hill, force them to participate in a talent show, circle them around a bonfire and stuff them with marshmallows, and talk to them about Jonah while overlooking a body of water. We are better people for it, I know we are.

The lessons from Jonah were profounder than even the deepest part of the lake. The first morning, someone gave us a candid snapshot of their life, bad decisions and all, and we heard first-hand about the mercy and the cost of second chances. Let me paraphrase one incredible statement that this person made. Their initial experience of walking with God was like waking up every morning with a certain euphoria; they were full of love and joy at this amazing presence and power in their life. After a detour of several years that delved into darkness, they turned bac…