TGIF June 15, 2018: Vulnerability

TGIF with Ingrid

June 15, 2018

 

This one is coming to you a little late, but the thoughts have been brewing nonetheless – just haven’t had time to jot them down.

 

What I am Trusting

Tuesday was the final meeting of Coffee and Conversations that Matter, a monthly discussion group on things spiritual, held in the Whole Glow Café in Cumberland (who generously donates their space).  This conversation was entitled “God Who?” or “What Are We Even Talking About When We Talk About God?”  Folks gathered at 10am and 7pm for two very different conversations, based on who was there and what was on their hearts and minds for discussion.  I am trusting this week that we humans have this deep yearning for connection – both with others and with something greater than ourselves.  I choose to call that something greater God – which I know is a very loaded word for some.  I believe that God so loved this world that God just had to throw some skin on and hang out with us for a while (that guy Jesus gives us a glimpse of what God is really about).  I also have a keen sense of the God within and all around – the active presence of love, of urging towards life and justice and peace and goodness from deep within, and I call that the Holy Spirit.  I trust that despite barriers of language, which can both help us and hinder us, the pull towards connection and love will ultimately be stronger than our fear.

 

What I am Grateful For

Risk.  In these conversations, there were several moments where someone in the discussion took the risk of being real, of letting their true, vulnerable selves out into the room.  And when they did that, it opened up the group in such a tender and beautiful way, allowing for others to engage in a more raw way.  I am so grateful for the bravery and tenderness I was able to participate in over the course of this series and the connections so many have made that will carry on beyond these gatherings.  I am grateful, too, that there has been so much positive engagement and encouragement in this series that we will pick it back up in the Fall!

 

What Inspires Me

Connected to what I am grateful for this week is what inspires me.  I am inspired by the everyday courage of friends and strangers who risk loving out loud by sharing themselves and their passions in the world.  It is a hard thing to love.  It is an even harder thing to love out in public, through our sharing of self through words, through works of art or music, dance, and 1,000 more things.  When we do this, it is almost like uncovering a wound that isn’t healed.  We risk others sticking their fingers in it, we risk it getting dirty, we risk being sent away in shame for what is hidden underneath.  And yet folks risk it.  Everyday.  All the time.  I am inspired to uncover my wounds more often, trusting in the greatest love to overcome whatever the world may heave my way.

 

How I am Practicing My Faith

Through my yes and my no.  In the evening conversation in Cumberland, there was some discussion about the ‘hey how are you,’ ‘fine,’ conversations we all have, multiple times per day, and, really, how meaningless ‘how are you’ has become.  And how jarring it can be when someone answers truthfully with a ‘not great, my marriage is falling apart,’ or ‘my father is dying,’ or ‘my cancer is back.’  And that in that moment of risk (see above) we have the option to say yes or to say no.  It is a split-second decision where we consider our to-do lists, appointments, other commitments, and our common humanity.  Saying yes involves leaning in with a tender curiosity, entering a place of vulnerability with this person who had the courage to tell the truth and being fully present to them, allowing them to disrupt our carefully planned out lives.  And the amazing thing about slowing down to say yes, yes I will make time for this because I believe we are both worth this, is that in our real, raw connectedness there is an electricity, a pulse, a holiness that exists within and between us that is rare and awe-some and life changing. 

This is not to say that I am always great at the yes, because I have kids to pick up and dinner to make and a gas tank to fill up and and and…but I want to have, I am working to have, a life where there is some wiggle room.  I am working towards a posture of yes because it has been my experience that God most often shows up in the most inconvenient interruptions by the least likely of people.  And I would hate to inadvertently say no to God because of my own busy-ness (and sense of self importance!).

TGIF June 1, 2018: This Untied Church of Ours...

 TGIF June 1, 2018  As I write this, I am sitting a round cloth covered table, decorated with beautiful symbols of the Christian faith, inside the Penticton Trade and Convention Centre.  The Annual General Meeting of the BC Conference (BC area) of the United Church of Canada is underway, the meeting (May 31 – June 3) where we do the business of the church as well as worship, fellowship, and growing together in Scriptural reflection.  The meeting culminates in a Sunday morning worship where candidates are ordained to Christ’s ministry in the Untied Church.  What I am  Trusting   Today I am trusting the United Church of Canada.  As I look around me at 400 or so faithful ministry personnel and lay people giving of their time in a chilly conference ballroom to ensure the continued good practices of the church, I cannot help but feel hopeful for the future.  As we argue about discuss re-structuring, region-naming, proposals etc., I feel the hearts of these people all around me working together, trusting in and listening to the direction of the Holy Spirit to lead us into the unknown future trusting our Scriptural witness that tells us God is making all things new.  What I am  Grateful  For  Well friends, Sunday morning I will be ordained, and I am feeling so very, very full of gratitude.  I began this journey in 2007 when I slipped up and let my friend Carmen know that I had felt God’s call (a secret I had been previously keeping quite well).  Carmen promptly told another minister who encouraged me to ask my church for a discernment committee, a group who came around me in prayer and wondering to figure out just what God had in mind.  After 18 months, to my surprise (and perhaps dismay!) we discerned that God’s call was to Ordained Ministry in the United Church of Canada.  I began my Master’s program in 2010, and graduated in May of this year with my children, family, and many, many friends cheering me on.  I am so thankful that the United Church recognizes my call and has supported me through my training and formation to join in this long and ancient lineage of servants of Christ’s church.  What  Inspires  Me  This morning our 400+ cohort was led in worship by the Children at Conference: the 30 (or so) 7 to 13-year olds gathered to grow in faith and understanding of the workings of the church.  WOW.  What a worship it was.  Thoughtful, heartfelt, honest, Trinitarian, theologically grounded, fun, creative, vulnerable. I am inspired by the faithful (and too often unsung) leaders of our children in the church who spend their lives teaching and unpacking our ancient stories of faith, ensuring that they are rooted in the love of God known to us through Jesus, and build community in new and creative ways.  I am made confident in the  present   reality  (not future) of the church when I hear the prayers of these young Christians and I hope that you will join me in learning faith from children.  How I am Practicing My  Faith   God is the #1 relationship in my life: it is not my spouse, it is not my children.  And in order to live that priority, I need to spend time with God.  All the time, every day.  Prayer and meditation are key elements of my day-to-day life.  Nobody likes a friend who only talks to them when the poop hits the fan, but we appreciate the friends who chat with us, share their highs and lows with us, and genuinely listen to what we have to say.  I try to be best friends with God.  AND I am forgetful and busy and distracted and lazy.  Yesterday, at the retreat for new ordinands, my “prayer alarm” went off in the midst of my sharing in the talking circle.  That’s right, I set alarms at intervals through the day to remind me to pray.  Because I want it to be my highest priority, but I am not just naturally inclined to do that.  So, because I need some help with discipline, I set these alarms, and bells ring out from my desk, from in my purse, from the bottom of the beach bag, on my night stand, and I stop what I am doing to connect with God.  Sometimes its just a ‘Hi God, thanks.’  Sometimes I light a candle and read from one of many books of prayers stashed about my home, office, or car.  Sometimes I am driving, sometimes on my knees, on the beach, folding laundry, walking the dog, sitting outside the church with the folks who come for lunch each day.  But when I stop whatever I am doing to acknowledge the Creator of the Universe who so loved this creation that they had to thrown on skin and hang out for a while and lives and moves in each one of us, I am better and the world is better because in that instant I pause to notice the volumes of love that surround us, always.

TGIF June 1, 2018

As I write this, I am sitting a round cloth covered table, decorated with beautiful symbols of the Christian faith, inside the Penticton Trade and Convention Centre.  The Annual General Meeting of the BC Conference (BC area) of the United Church of Canada is underway, the meeting (May 31 – June 3) where we do the business of the church as well as worship, fellowship, and growing together in Scriptural reflection.  The meeting culminates in a Sunday morning worship where candidates are ordained to Christ’s ministry in the Untied Church.

What I am Trusting

Today I am trusting the United Church of Canada.  As I look around me at 400 or so faithful ministry personnel and lay people giving of their time in a chilly conference ballroom to ensure the continued good practices of the church, I cannot help but feel hopeful for the future.  As we argue about discuss re-structuring, region-naming, proposals etc., I feel the hearts of these people all around me working together, trusting in and listening to the direction of the Holy Spirit to lead us into the unknown future trusting our Scriptural witness that tells us God is making all things new.

What I am Grateful For

Well friends, Sunday morning I will be ordained, and I am feeling so very, very full of gratitude.  I began this journey in 2007 when I slipped up and let my friend Carmen know that I had felt God’s call (a secret I had been previously keeping quite well).  Carmen promptly told another minister who encouraged me to ask my church for a discernment committee, a group who came around me in prayer and wondering to figure out just what God had in mind.  After 18 months, to my surprise (and perhaps dismay!) we discerned that God’s call was to Ordained Ministry in the United Church of Canada.  I began my Master’s program in 2010, and graduated in May of this year with my children, family, and many, many friends cheering me on.

I am so thankful that the United Church recognizes my call and has supported me through my training and formation to join in this long and ancient lineage of servants of Christ’s church.

What Inspires Me

This morning our 400+ cohort was led in worship by the Children at Conference: the 30 (or so) 7 to 13-year olds gathered to grow in faith and understanding of the workings of the church.  WOW.  What a worship it was.  Thoughtful, heartfelt, honest, Trinitarian, theologically grounded, fun, creative, vulnerable. I am inspired by the faithful (and too often unsung) leaders of our children in the church who spend their lives teaching and unpacking our ancient stories of faith, ensuring that they are rooted in the love of God known to us through Jesus, and build community in new and creative ways.  I am made confident in the present reality (not future) of the church when I hear the prayers of these young Christians and I hope that you will join me in learning faith from children.

How I am Practicing My Faith

God is the #1 relationship in my life: it is not my spouse, it is not my children.  And in order to live that priority, I need to spend time with God.  All the time, every day.  Prayer and meditation are key elements of my day-to-day life.  Nobody likes a friend who only talks to them when the poop hits the fan, but we appreciate the friends who chat with us, share their highs and lows with us, and genuinely listen to what we have to say.  I try to be best friends with God.  AND I am forgetful and busy and distracted and lazy.  Yesterday, at the retreat for new ordinands, my “prayer alarm” went off in the midst of my sharing in the talking circle.  That’s right, I set alarms at intervals through the day to remind me to pray.  Because I want it to be my highest priority, but I am not just naturally inclined to do that.  So, because I need some help with discipline, I set these alarms, and bells ring out from my desk, from in my purse, from the bottom of the beach bag, on my night stand, and I stop what I am doing to connect with God.  Sometimes its just a ‘Hi God, thanks.’  Sometimes I light a candle and read from one of many books of prayers stashed about my home, office, or car.  Sometimes I am driving, sometimes on my knees, on the beach, folding laundry, walking the dog, sitting outside the church with the folks who come for lunch each day.  But when I stop whatever I am doing to acknowledge the Creator of the Universe who so loved this creation that they had to thrown on skin and hang out for a while and lives and moves in each one of us, I am better and the world is better because in that instant I pause to notice the volumes of love that surround us, always.

BC COnference 2018 2.jpg
BC COnference 2018 3.jpg

TGIF May 25, 2018: Enjoy the ride!

SealBayBates-area.jpg

Enjoy the ride...

TGIF May 25, 2018

 

What I am Trusting

On Tuesday morning Todd (my spouse) and I went for what was supposed to be an hour-long trail ride on our bikes out at Seal Bay Park.  After getting turned around a couple of times after some wrong turns, and then back-tracking to get back on the right path, the ride ended up closer to two hours long.  I couldn’t help but see this as a life metaphor: we head out on what looks like a trail that will bring us to where we want to go but along the way we take wrong turns, cover the same ground, go back, try again, and end up a little sore, a little dusty and with some bruises here and there.  Now, I could’ve focussed on the fact that we didn’t know where we were some of the time, but I chose to enjoy the ride: the good company, the pleasant surroundings, the blood pumping. Because ultimately, that was what we were there for anyway – not to just get back to our car and get to work.  The journey will for sure get us dirty and leave us sore, but I cant trust it today as exactly what it needs to be.

 

What I am Grateful For

Monday was Victoria Day, and the kids and I spent the better part of the day in Cumberland at the parade and celebrations.  I ran into so many friends from church and the other communities I am a part of; after nearly three years in the Valley, I am blessed with wonderful relationships that go beyond the “hey how are you” in real and meaningful ways.  I love the Comox Valley and am so grateful that it now feels like home.

 

What Inspires Me

Tuesday night was a public meeting in the City of Courtenay to go over the initiative between the City and BC Housing/Government of BC to build new, supported, modular housing units for those experiencing or at risk of homelessness.  At the time the meeting was scheduled to start you couldn’t get in the door – City staff were directing folks into the hallways to listen in via speakers.  Many of the folks who would be eligible for these units are regulars in our drop-in and lunch club programs at St. George’s and many of us in the congregation know them well.  We had some fear that NIMBY (https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/NIMBY) would overwhelm the meeting and drown out support. Wednesday morning one of the drop-in volunteers who had arrived at the meeting early enough to get in and speak reported that those in attendance were about 70% in favour, and those who were in opposition had some fears allayed by the community members who spoke in favour of the project.  I am inspired by the folks in the neighbourhood who see the humanity of these folks when so many are unwilling to.

 

How I am Practicing My Faith

I love listening to Taizé music when I am doing yoga, meditating, or trying to focus.  Taizé is an ecumenical (Catholic and Protestant!) Christian monastic community in France that has become an important pilgrimage site, especially for youth and young adults.  The Taizé community encourages their community members and visitors to live in the spirit of kindness, simplicity, and reconciliation grounded in prayer, Bible study, sharing and communal work. You can find more on their website https://www.taize.fr/en and you can find some of their albums on Google Play or iTunes (and on CD I am sure too!!).  My favourite is “Ubi Caritas” because it takes you on this meditative journey starting with bells, and including a psalm and a reading and many, many songs.

What do you listen to for grounding and/or inspiration?

 

TGIF Friday May 18, 2018: C'mon Holy Spirit, set the church on fire!

TGIF May 18, 2018

 

The Holy Spirit has been on my mind this week…maybe it is because it is Pentecost – the time in the church year when we celebrate the coming of the Holy Spirit to Jesus’ disciples after his ascension – and so I have been reading and reflecting on these texts.  Maybe it is because I feel a renewed sense of God’s holy presence when I can feel the hot sun on my face and the cool wind at my back.  Maybe it is because of all the exciting initiatives coming up at St. George’s!  Who knows…all I know is that dwelling on the Holy Spirit is always  a good thing to do.

 

What I am Trusting

I am trusting in the Holy Spirit!  I am trusting in God’s presence within and around me.  I am trusting that the Spirit will stir in me an ability to love and serve that world that I cannot muster on my own.  And I am trusting that as I put one foot in front of the other each day, God will guide me and walk with me every moment.

 

What I am Grateful For

I am grateful for the days (like today) when I am tuned in to notice God’s presence.  This is not always an easy thing, especially in the day to day, regular bits of life.  For me, when I am in the highest points of life and my gratitude cup overflows, I can see God everywhere: in that tree!  In the laughter of a child!  In that hummingbird at the hanging basket on my deck!  In the face of my barista!  I also have a keener sense of God’s presence in the most painful places of life: slowly entering the dark bedroom of a friend who is crippled by depression, at the bedside of a young mom whose cancer diagnosis is bleak, as I drop earth on the lid of a coffin in a funeral service.  I trust in and am grateful for God’s presence in suffering.  Where I have to work a little harder to notice that God is all around me is when I am folding laundry, emptying the dishwasher, driving to soccer, scrambling to make dinner after dance class. 

 

What Inspires Me

Today I am inspired by folks who are willing to get real.  To get messy.  To get vulnerable in order to grow in love and deepen their journey with one another and with God.  It is risky to show up as our real selves, to tell the sometimes ikky truth of what is lurking in our innermost thoughts.  And yet God keeps bringing into my life these amazing and courageous people who share their broken beauty, striving for something better.

 

How I am Practicing My Faith

I love listening to podcasts for different perspectives on things, especially faith.  If you are looking for a 30-something perspective on faith in the United Church of Canada, check out http://illumin8faith.com/.  Maybe you are sick of that perspective from Ryan and I, so here are some other ones to check out, depending on your particular flavour:

https://homebrewedchristianity.com/

https://commongroundscast.podbean.com/

http://www.christianhumanist.org/tag/christian-feminist-podcast/

https://robbell.com/portfolio/robcast/

Have you got a good one?  Share it in the comments section!

pentecost-213861.jpg

TGIF May 11th, 2018

TGIF Friday May 11, 2018

I am sitting in the Whole Glow Café in Cumberland this morning sipping on a steaming cup of joe and munching on a delicious breakfast cookie.  I love the sense of community here in Cumberland, the chit chats and laughs I get to have with folks who come into the café while I’m working away.  Here are my thoughts for the week…what are you trusting?  What are you grateful for?  What is inspiring you this week?  How are you practicing your faith or spirituality?

Don't forget to join me at either 10am or 7pm on Tuesday May 15th for Coffee and Conversations that Matter at Whole Glow Cafe at 2713 Dunsmuir in Cumberland when we will be chatting about prayer.

What I am Trusting

This is one of my favourite times of the year: it is warm and sunny during the day but still cool and crisp overnight.  The sunshine of the daytime lifts everyone’s spirits and it seems to help us all slow down a little.  The coolness of the evenings and mornings lends itself to a certain coziness.  I am trusting and leaning into this slowing down where neighbours linger a little longer to visit, where we catch a whiff of the sweet blossoms opening around us, when we find ourselves wrapped up in a blanket on the patio in the evening with fingers curled around a warm mug of tea. 

Slowness in our culture of speed and productivity is an act of rebellion.  I am going to rebel and trust in God’s springtime cycle that encourages slowing down and noticing. 

 

What I am Grateful For

On Monday evening I graduated from the Vancouver School of Theology with a Master of Divinity degree.  I am the first in my family to receive a graduate degree and I am so filled with gratitude for all the hands that helped along the way to get me here.  All the meals that were made while I was studying, all the childcare that was offered while I was in class, all the prayers for perseverance through the tough times and all who celebrated each win along the way.  I am grateful for a mother (and grandmother!) that taught me the value of educated women in society.  I am grateful for a spouse that has encouraged and challenged and supported me through these past years of study.  And I am grateful to have finished!!

 

What Inspires Me

This week my daughter had her bicycle stolen from the bike rack at her elementary school; Monday morning the principal found a cut lock in the schoolyard.  We are a family that does our best to cycle to school most days when the weather shifts, it is a fabulous way to start the day and clear our minds to be ready for whatever comes at us.  We also just love cycling together as a family, especially while we are camping (which we are this weekend!).  We thought this theft would bring some grief with it, but it was taken with remarkable acceptance and grace by Miss E.  At the dinner table last night, we were talking about the incident and Mr. X noted that probably whoever took the bike either needed a bike or needed some money for food so they must need it more than we do.  Indeed.

 

How I am Practicing My Faith

This is sort of stealing from the what I am trusting section of this blog, but I am practicing my faith today by wading into the slowness.  As a Christian, I believe that God created and loved the world so much that he just had to throw some skin on and hang around with us for a little while (Jesus!).  Which teaches us a lot about how we are to love.  When we love someone we just need to be with them sometimes.  Not doing, doing, doing but just hanging out.  I am loving my neighbours when I am just standing around chatting.  I am loving the new mom who pops into the café and I stop work to play with her baby.  I am loving the earth when I lay down barefoot in the grass, close my eyes, and feel that sunshine on my face…I am loving myself as a child of God when I do this too.

TGIF Friday May 4th, 2018

TGIF May 4

2009-09-05-star_wars_religion1-150x150.jpg

Today is affectionately known as “Star Wars Day” and our kids celebrated heading off to school with their Star Wars shirts and Miss E with her hair done up in three buns just like Rey (the Leia buns were a close second choice).  I know that the rhythms of congregational life are deep in them because whenever someone says “May the 4th (aka may the force) be with you, they will often respond, “and also with you.”

What I am Trusting

This week I am thinking about the rhythms of life as a human being and the liturgical rhythms of the church. By this I mean the cycles of life of both people and the church and how much freedom there is in being a part of a tradition that honours that ancient cycle.

It seems we are often expected to be fine (Fine…FINE…I'm FFFFFINE!!!!) but no one can be fine or good all the time. No one should be fine or good all the time. The richness of life is found in the exhilaration of new love, the sorrow of loss, the bursts of unexpected joy, the lament of grief; the richness of life is found in the ups and the downs.  I appreciate that the cycles of the church give permission to have or a container for personal seasons of lament, of joy, of preparation/anticipation, and just ordinary time. 

This week I am trusting in the beautiful cycles of life that all of Creation partakes in and that we are held in by the church.

What I am Grateful for

I had my final interview for Ordination in the United Church of Canada on Wednesday and I am grateful for the relationships I have built along the way in this journey.  To know and be known be others in a place of vulnerability is such a gift, one that I do not take for granted.  These relationships are years in the making and a huge blessing.  (p.s. – they recognized my call and training, I will be ordained June 3rd!)

What Inspires me

This week I was chatting with Eddie (name has been changed for privacy), a regular in the soup kitchen at St. George’s United called “The Sonshine Lunch Club”.  We were outside enjoying the sunshine on the front steps of the church together talking about love.  Eddie was sharing with me about how he just wants there to be more love in the world, and he wants to do his part, so he is going to go play some music on the corner – not to make money but to share love.  Eddie surely could use some money, but as I left my office later that day, I could hear the sound of Eddie’s guitar and harmonica, and I waved as I drove past, noticing there wasn’t a case laid out to receive…just a gift to our neighbours in the form of a song.

How I am practicing my Faith

As many of you know, each morning I get up at 6 am, grab a cup of coffee and get into the big brown chair in my living room that my children call my “prayer chair”.  I light a candle and lately have been using an app called Pray As You Go which offers about 12 minutes of music, scripture, and reflection.  After that I spend some time writing in a prayer journal, chatting with God.  Lately, my 6-year-old son has been joining me and I am learning how to share this precious time of mine, holding in tension my desire for personal contemplation and my call as a parent to teach and make disciples of my children. I know God must be having a chuckle as I learn how to let go of my need to have things just so and embrace the tenderness of this little person learning to develop his own relationship with the Holy, squished in beside me on the big brown chair.

Welcome to TGIF with Ingrid!

Hello Friends!

I wanted to give you a window into my weekly faith walk and invite you to join in.  Maybe this is something you want to read a little about before diving in, maybe this is the practice you have been looking for.  Each week on Fridays (or *ahem* shortly thereafter) I will be updating this blog space with my TGIF:

What I am Trusting, what I'm Grateful for, what Inspires me, and how I'm practicing my Faith. 

I hope that you will add yours below in the comments section, and feel free to comment or email me (ingrid@stgeorgesunited.com) with anything you're wrestling with or surprise spiritual victories that you want to share.  Blessings on your journey!

(ps - this is a practice that I picked up from Brene Brown)