Friday, August 9, 2013

As the Rain Falls... So Does Grace... Wild Goose Ride (Day 07)

My mother tells me I was a gift.  Through my life I have known what it is to be received and treasured
as a gift.  Thank you.  I have also known what it is to be treated as other than gift and today was an opportunity to bring those two experiences into focus together - even as I celebrated my 48th birthday and (as of 5:30PM Eastern Time) have received 91 birthday greetings from Facebook Friends, two from LinkedIn and 36 personal emails.  I am loved.  Wow.

I began my day with some conversation with Anna and answering some email that needed attention and then I went to the Community Centre where breakfast is hosted each day for the volunteers.  I shared the table with Meaghan who is a student at Queens University and is doing a three month tour of the eastern US in her car... alone!!  She is studying occupational therapy and Queens and ended up here at the Goose as a result of a poster she saw in a coffee shop in Raleigh, NC.  The Spirit does work in wild and wonderful ways.  We shared in a conversation about travel, the goodness of people and how so many folk let fear limit their horizons!  Blessings on the journey Meaghan - it was a pleasure to meet you!

The view as I ate lunch...
With my belly full and my mind and heart whetted for more invigorating conversation I made my way to the Main Stage where Alexa Salvaterra and Dana Courtney were leading in a conversation/workshop on Racism and Dealing with Differences...  We sat in groups of six and had a chance to share our personal stories of when we have been "in the circle" and "outside of the circle".  I shared some of my story of growing up as a hard-of-hearing child and how that experience influenced, I believe, the ways in which I respond to those who are marginalized today.  

Others shared of their own pain and struggle and it was a useful way to get in touch with the expeirence of those who are marginalized in our societies today.  Alexa then lead us through two other exercises: one where we were invited to ponder and share a heartfelt cry for the world and the second, our dream/God's dream for the world.  She rooted each of these in a powerful story from her experience of working with marginilzed communities who came to understand that their longings and dreams for their respective communities were not divergent - but convergent.  At end of our time together I was left with these words: "God is at work when the potential for the future overcomes the pain of the past..."  

At 11:30 AM Philip Yancey took the stage.  I was looking forward to his address and was
unfortunately disappointed... I was disappointed by what I experienced as his arrogance.  He told the story of his brother who had experienced all sorts of addictions and challenges and seemed to put himself over and against that by saying, "I knew I did not want to become like my brother... and along the way I found God..."  He spoke of other writers and how he wonders "why he subjects himself to reading their material..."  Yes, he spoke of one woman who had ceberal palsy and how "her material was gold" but then he went on and, in my view spoke in a disparaging way of her attempts and ability to communicate... add to all this his focus on Jesus and my growing disease with the idea that Jesus is the "only way..." I was tuning out...

I did hear Yancey remind us not to forget the source of all our justice making... and I held that close to my heart... "In God I live and move and have my being..."

My travelling companion!
Still pondering these words I went and heated up a can of soup on the JetBoil and had sourdough roll from a local bakery (and a beer - hey, it was noon, its my birthday and I'm not driving!!).

Full of Campbell's soupI shared a conversation with Caroline where we each shared our experiences of "arrogance" and a seemingly lack of humility... and perhaps by passing judgement as we had we became as arrogant as those we were criticizing...?

Caroline headed over to a workshop on "Food for the Hungry" and I headed to the Performance Cafe where I listened with interest to performances by Pinketon Reid and Insomniac Folklore - and that's when it started to rain...  WOW!!!  It almost downed out the artists.  As the rain came down I shared in a conversation with two men from Alabama who shared with me their struggle in their tradition in respect to same gender marriage and the ordination of gay and lesbian folk... it was humbling to hear their pain and struggle and to in some small way offer them the hope that is ours in the United Church of Canada!

As the rain eased off I headed over to the Main Stage to hear Glennon Melton as she spoke about
"Love Wins".  I wish I had of caught all of it as she was speaking pointedly about shame and guilt.  I did write down these words though:
I am confident because I am a child of God.  I am humble because everyone else is too!
Glennon ended her presentation with a reading from her book, a dream she has of sitting in a room with God.  God is knitting.  Glennon is waiting for God to ask her what is wrong.  God does not ask.  Eventually Glennon speaks  and God listens and Glennon comes to see that what God is knitting is her life - in this she learns that she IS beautiful and that God is knitting her life... and God says simply, "You go dance and I'll keep on knitting..."

Its pouring rain...
still people sit and listen!!
We are called to dance and enjoy the life that is entrusted to us.  Amen.  Amen.

I have just finished my birthday supper - the 5th that I have marked away from those I love - not by plan but by circumstance and scheduling (and grace inasmuch as they have always supported my pursuits)!  I am blessed.

As I prepare to order dessert, finish my beer and close the computer in
preparation for the rest of the evening, I've just received the 95th Facebook Birthday Greeting.  To all of you: Thank you for remembering me.  The day has been a gift.  I hope and pray that I may always treat each of you as the gift you are to me.  Blessings.

On the Sabbath Road...

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