Wednesday, August 24, 2016

In the Misty Morning!

It rained overnight and has drizzled on and off all day. If we are fortunate our daytime high will reach +15C this afternoon...right about the time more chilly rain arrives. Today is a disappointing reminder that summer is drawing to a close and autumn is on the way. Sigh....until today I have been happily avoiding any thoughts of the pending winter.

My husband and I think this has been one of our happiest summers in many years. Having holidays in June has helped promote that feeling. Coming back to work as summer is amping up instead of winding down has made the summer seem longer and more relaxed. My husband has all ready applied for June holidays again next year!

Monday was spent shopping together for groceries and other last minute supplies for next week's canoe trip. We had fun just boppin' through a few stores we rarely buy from. I am glad to discover a few stores I was not aware of previously, because our neighbourhood store is closing next year once the new Real Canadian Superstore opens....a ten minute drive away. I am so disappointed as the local YIG store has been great for walking a couple of blocks to pick up milk and produce between major loads, also purchased there. What a pain. I have registered my complaint about the closure with parent company Loblaws, for all the good it will do. Drat!!

Tuesday my husband worked on packing canoe trip supplies while I enjoyed a movie (ok, we both hated the movie...which shall remain unnamed here) and dinner, with some window shopping in between. I am so grateful to my friend for taking me to the bank to pay a due bill and to a store for a new alarm clock. I had planned to drive out today to run both those errands today and our car has a dead battery. It will be late this afternoon or tomorrow before that is taken care of. Blessings to my friend for helping me yesterday, more than either of us even knew.

So today is a cooking day, using up some veggies that are starting to look somewhat peaked. Must get back to it and get finished up so I can get washing what seems like several hundred dishes scattered across the kitchen. Tomorrow I shop for shirts for my dad....if I can get the car battery charged.

Women and the Male Jesus

"......This important set of contemporary questions comes from women.  Can Jesus, a male, be a savior for females? Is the Christ figure a valid symbol for women, fostering in them a healthy integration of personality and acting as their chief help in experiences of God? Or has Christianity so identified the maleness of the historical Jesus with normative humanity that femaleness automatically falls to second-class citizenship in the community of God, a status we have seen historically translated as barring women from priestly office and power? Have women, by virtue of their sex alone been excluded from full representation in Christ's ministry, a sex that is somehow less important than the male in creation and redemption? Is Jesus' maleness so precisely identified with the divine Logos that femaleness is excluded from divine status and participation?

     These sorts of questions express concrete issues individual women and women in groups have experienced burningly.  They cannot be dismissed.....Women's questions here are more than questions. They are efforts to feel God's touch in the concrete existence of all sorts of people in  our society: God in relation to persons of different races, in relation to persons of different economic classes, in relation to persons of different political beliefs and different political powers, in relation to persons of different countries around the world, in relation to persons of different sexual attitudes and experiences. We live in a time when collectively and individually we see the God we touch and who touches us in all the places we live.....Our current ego-status--whether individually or in groups--can usurp first place for us, ahead of, before God. The question to the Jesus figure changes from Who are you? to Who are you for me? For us? The ego-reality of persons, with its demanding need to be secure, to achieve, to make a grand mark, can so dominate us that soon our address to God is not to God but to what we need God to be. The utilitarian attitude that inevitably accompanies the rise of contents to ego-consciousness can become our sole focus, so that our whole congress with the divine fastens around the way God might empower us or our group. Have we not seen such a preoccupation in recent definitions of God according to sex, color. political, or sexual orientation?

     When this danger captures us.....the symbol of the Christ who unites what we know with what we do not know collapses into a symbolic equation of the Christ figure with whatever our group norm is.  We take to ourselves the decision whether or not the symbol of Jesus Christ is a valid one anymore......

     In this way our concrete world and its important values elevates itself to cult-and-idol status. Sin creeps in, establishing itself in the citadel of our most cherished values. We look to the Christ figure with a new demand, that he conform to our concrete reality and values, instead of listening to his concrete word in text, in prayer, in parable, and presence.

     It is the very concreteness of Jesus, ironically, that will rescue us from this idolatry. Women, again with their questions, represent the shock we all feel in the face of this astonishing figure, specific, concrete, particular, who stands over against every definition and every abstraction we thrust upon him. The scandal of Jesus' particularity for women is that he is male. That is his offense. Further, this Jesus who is a man is manly--virile, not limp, related not brutish, commanding not patronizing, suffering not detached.  Nowhere in the texts of Scripture do we findJesus treating women in degrading ways.  Not once.  Indeed we find the opposite. To the Samaritan woman he announces that he is life-giving water. To Martha, he is the coming resurrection. To the Magdalene, he is risen.  He speaks theology with women, as well as summoning them, judging them, comforting them, using them to represent God in parables.  He shares his intimacy with women, praises them, forgives them, knows them. He really knew women's lives, really spoke to them, called them out to follow him.

     The concreteness of this person stands boldly against the ways we try to cover him, make use of him for cause, party, or platform as we abstract his particularity to illustrate our values. Looking at who Jesus is in Scripture is to liberate him from false abstraction.  He is the one who emptied himself to take on our humanity and bring a new humanity. What women face here so strongly is the journey of faith facing all of us. The question is, how to bring our concreteness to God, to look at and to hear who it is God sent to us.


     What, in fact, does Jesus show us concretely? He shows us the depths of the Christ who opens onto the infinity of God, the Christ in whom there is no male or female, the Christ who presides over all maleness and femaleness.  Responding to the concrete concerns of feminism, Jesus liberates us from the caricatures of patriarchy, revealing a living God who breaks through and transcends the divisions of sex among us, where being male does not equal excluding female. Here is an all-inclusive love and power that makes us one out of our distinct opposite parts. Thus we can grasp the experience of the saints who found in Jesus breasts, mothering, birthing--Bernard of Clairvaux, Julian of Norwich, Gherardesca of Pisa, Umilita and Margarita of Faenza, Aldobrandesca of Siena, to name just a few......"


--From The Christ and the Bodhisattva; Edited by Donald S. Lopez, Jr. and Steven C. Rockefeller; Chapter 4: The God You Touch, Ann Belford Ulanov; Sri Satguru Publications, Cc State University of New York, 1987; first published in Delhi, 1992.
     

Sunday, August 21, 2016

Meeeeemoooorieeeeeeesss......

It's interesting how, when you least expect it, the past up and hits you smack in the face.  That happened to me during our walk this evening.

We were walking past the neighbourhood pub and noticed several beautifully tricked out, well ridden Harley Davidsons parked in the lot outside.  Sitting on the patio were the owners of the bikes: a group of full patch Grim Reapers/Hell's Angels.  What triggered the memories for me was the age of most of the guys...close to my own. Many long forgotten memories...purposefully forgotten...came flooding back in an instant.

Maybe sometimes a person needs that little bit of a jarring memory to remind her of what exactly she was delivered from by Jesus the Saviour.  Why right now, tonight, it should have to happen to me, I don't know.  But I did instantly remember the intensity and depth of the gratitude I felt when I let the Lord take control of my life way back when.  Maybe that is it: the edge of that gratitude has dulled over the years?  The constant realization of my need of Christ has slowly dimmed? Maybe the deliberate refusal to ever think or talk about my real past has set me up to think more highly of myself than I ought to as I enter old age? I don't know.

I only know my gratitude to God has been rekindled somehow tonight as the result of an innocent walk through the neighbourhood that unexpectedly brought me face to face with some old memories likely best forgotten again.

Hmmmm...some things to think about......

 

Goodbyes are always so difficult!

Our Egyptian neighbours moved out yesterday, bound for their new house across the city.  Today they returned to clean the suite and then came over to say goodbye.  It is most likely we will be seeing them again once they are settled, but it is still difficult to lose such friendly, good neighbours.  You never know who will move into the building next, but each move out sets up a small degree of paranoia, particuarly when we have been so surprisingly fortunate in the many months we have lived here.  The people in our particular building have been fabulous for the most part, quiet at least and the majority of people in the rest of the buildings in our court have kept themselves to themselves with only rare occasions of disturbance. 

In a city like Regina, becoming known once again for all the shootings that take place each day, finding a relatively safe rental area has been a huge blessing.  Here's to new, quiet, good, dog-free neighbours arriving in the suite at the other end of the building now that our friends have moved out.

Little Serendipities

This morning my husband was on the road before 7am to get himself to an out of town parish a couple of hours away.  I didn't go this time because after the church service the congregation is having their annual picnic and I am not great at spending beastly hot afternoons outdoors in a field, battling wasps with no Epipen in my purse, no decent bathrooms and provided food that I really shouldn't eat.  Myself and rural picnic situations are always a disaster waiting to happen, so my husband and I agreed it would be too much stress for us both for me to try one out today.

I really wanted to go to our church though and was able to find a ride with a good friend who has recently come out of hospital and is still struggling to feel well and whole.  So grateful she was able to attend today and was so willing to take me with her.  After church she told me a wonderful story of God's intervention while she was in hospital.  There were many problems during her procedure and afterward she was in very rough shape.  When she attempted several hours afterward, with nursing assistance, to make it from her hospital bed to the bathroom, she fainted...it was a bad scene....code blue...thankfully she did survive and is now awaiting more procedures.  Her roommate in the hospital was an elderly lady with heart issues.  This elderly lady had also had a rough time post surgery, but the staff was going to send her home to await another procedure several days in the future.  She was terrified and so was her family because she too had fainting spells related to her condition.  However, the hospital insisted she had to wait at home.  When my friend passed out on the floor, it "happened" that the cardiologist who came to assist with that situation is the cardiologist of the elderly lady and he was certain as he raced to the room that it was actually her who had coded.  After he attended to my friend he stopped to check out his own patient since she was right there in the next bed and he told her how relieved he was she had not been the one he had raced to save.  She told him they were sending her home for a week or more before her own next procedure and he was most upset.  He told the hospital staff she would be staying in hospital until it could be done, no arguments!!  After my friend recovered sufficiently to talk, this elderly woman told her that because my friend had fainted and that particular cardiologist had been on call, the incident had most likely saved her own life.  The tears were streaming down both of their faces as they prayed together for each other and to thank God for his intervention as a result of my friend's temporary distress.

As it turned out, after church my friend had to make a quick stop at a little farmers' market and I found some delicious vegetables my husband is going to love.  How delightful to be able to take advantage of the last of the fresh produce of the season.  She also had to stop at the grocery store near our home and was there just long enough for me to also purchase the cereal and milk I needed to buy at some point today.  Originally I had planned to walk the 4 km home from church, but originally the daytime high temperature was going to be considerably lower than the +30C it is now headed for.  It is a typical prairie August day: a slightly chilly breeze that is masking the thick heat underneath it.  After the first fifteen to twenty minutes I would have found myself having a most miserably hot walk through the mosquitoes!!

At the church I received a small cheque from the United congregation we share with, for my husband's participation in their service a couple of weeks ago. How very kind....how perfectly it will see us through until payday on Thursday!  The gasoline reimbursement cheque from work that we thought would not be here until the end of the month arrived Friday and it will cover the costs of my husband's canoe trip.  Two serendipitous arrivals!!  These perfect timings of provision after unexpected expenses are what give me the courage to face my husband's retirement on the small pensions we each will receive.  Thank you Lord.

I think I will spend the afternoon doing laundry...another small serendipty since I am not outside exhausting myself in the heat.  I have been scratching my head wondering when I would have time to do laundry over this next week and so today has turned out to be the day.  YAY!!!!

My husband SHOULD have most of his 2 days off starting tomorrow, other than when he meets the Bishop at the cycle shop to pick up his bicycle, but that is hardly "work".  hahaha He will buy his canoe trip groceries and that is always fun for us both....I love seeing what he is purchasing and helping him wrap and pack it for the trip.

Looking forward to a good, productive week!

Saturday, August 20, 2016

Special Gifts For My Husband

My husband has received some wonderful and very unexpected blessings in the past two days, both in the form of gifts; one from a good friend and from his boss.  He has never been one to receive much in the way of  "just because you are a good friend/valued employee" gifts. He doesn't expect gifts, in fact rarely feels worthy of receiving them. So, when he received a comprehensive atlas of Canadian canoe routes from one friend and a brand new mountain bike from the Bishop it has all left him nearly speechless. I am so happy and excited for him. He picks up his bike on Tuesday and I expect to see little of him for the next few weeks as he rides it around the city. He purchased a few needed accessories for it so it will be customized for his use. The canoe routes atlas will be used in a week's time for planning this year's canoeing extravaganza. He can hardly believe this is all happening. 

The Bishop is purchasing a gift for each of the office employees to show his personal appreciation for all the extra hours they put in each week and their dedication to excellence. Amazing! He is a cycling enthusiast and found a discontinued line of mountain bikes at his favourite bike shop for about 75% off the regular retail price. My husband is going to donate his present bike to one of our Iraqi refugees who is missing the bike he had to leave behind when he came here. 

I have been blessed in my life with many generous, loving, giving friends and have received more gifts from them than I ever had a right to. So, it is such fun for me to see my husband experiencing these same types of blessings. 

Thank you Lord for encouraging my husband at a difficult time in his life. When you know you have friends you can cope with the hard times in life so much more easily. What blessings have found their way to him this week.

Friday, August 19, 2016

A Barrell of Laughs, My Husband!

 So this morning, dressed in the same biking get up he wore yesterday, my husband once again cycled to work. Adding to the hilarity of his "costume", he just got the bike to the bottom of the back steps when he realized he needed to check something on his phone before leaving. Of course he had his riding gloves cinched on all ready, so rather than undo them and remove them so he could tap and swipe his phone screen with his fingers, I caught him using the tip of his nose! hahahaha Hilarious!