Saturday, July 16, 2016

Be Brave, Take the Leap

It's been a busy week.
Art class and a community report on CTV Morning Live, coffee with an author friend and another friend's book launch, and the prep for a colonoscopy.
Keeping an eye on the osprey fledglings as they grow larger and more tempting to the eagle.
And the usual weekly planning of a church service and rewriting a sermon and writing my next Field Notes column.
The baby mud swallows are starting to fly.
And it's windy.

Doing all of this during "Joy-ly" has been very difficult. My first three weeks providing pulpit supply at Sackville United Church have been overshadowed by the shootings in Orlando and Dallas, in Minneapolis and Baton Rouge, and now the carnage in Nice and the murders of a five year old Calgary girl and her mother.
I'm feeling out of my depth now, unsure of what to say, how to say it, if anything I say will make a difference.
How can I talk about hope and peace and love -- let alone joy -- when there is so much pain and grief and rage swirling around us like air currents?
We chant "Love wins" as people are gunned down and mowed over.
We sing "Peace on Earth" as drone strikes kill civilians and bombs go off in airports and markets.
We are either incredibly stupid or incredibly naive.
How do I stand at the front of the church this week and talk about small seeds that grow into big moments? How do I make anyone believe that a small seed can have a big impact on this world?

I sit on my back deck with the wind keeping me cool on this hot July day. A moment of joy.
The birds are singing, the bear wanders through the field, the pheasant chicks are safe. Moments of joy.
The wild daisies and rudbeckia are blooming, the red carnations have blossomed, the sunflowers are growing. Moments of joy.
The massacres and the violence, the hatred and vitriol seem so far away from this deck, this yard, this field and woodlot. It's hard not to feel guilty for being safe and protected and nourished, clothed and educated and fearless.
This is a safe haven. Even when awful things happen, our country remains a safe haven. It would be so easy to be smug, to settle back in the zero-gravity chair and pretend like none of it involves me because I am safe.
But not untouchable.
I still live in this world and feel I have a responsibility to push back against the darkness blooming on the edges. What do I say in church when thirty-five people look to me to provide the right words?
If only we were birds who only know to follow their true instincts.

The baby swallow is clinging to a small branch on the side of the spruce tree. He is within sight of the nest he tumbled out of earlier. A parent swoops around him; they chirp at each other.
He knows where he wants to be. He knows how to get there.
He needs to be brave.
He wants to be brave.
All he has to do is leap. Let go of the branch and flap his wings and aim for the nest. Or the roof of the garage. Sometimes closer is good enough, until the next leap.
His instincts will kick in. He will make it. It's not far. He just has to leap and flap. A leap of faith, really.
Hope is the thing with feathers...

My words might not be perfect, their flight might be awkward, but my intention is true and the destination is all that matters.
"Love can make us brave. Brave enough to resolve not to be afraid, not to hate. To choose to push back against hate and violence with love. We give thanks for that."

We are thankful for safe havens, and safe landings. 


  1. Although we do feel guilty, I don't believe God wants us to. Yes, indeed - the events of the past week do lay heavy on our hearts, and yes, when one thinks of the four words - peace, love, joy and hope, "joy" just doesn't seem to fit. We must go forward, though, and when, not "if", there is joy in our lives, we have been blessed, ... again. Let there be joy in our hearts.

  2. Jesus told us His path is not an easy one to follow. Maybe what is happening in the world right now will teach us that fear and hate do not make a safer world. It never has but we don't seem to learn this lesson very well. So let the peace and joys of life come in small doses and enjoy the when they do. Hope is always with us.