Day One Entry: Apr 2, 2014

oops & grace

Today the bus driver missed the bus loop, stopped dead, then realized he’d have to go all the way around the long block to have another go at it. Some days I might have been annoyed or frustrated, but today I was slightly amused, and largely empathetic. We all make mistakes – we get distracted, we are thinking about the next thing, we goof up – it happens. So rather than getting mad, I got human.

I thought of times I’ve made mistakes in the job – yes even the chronic, recovering perfectionist makes mistakes – and thought of the forgiveness and grace offered to me and what a gift that was. The gift of grace and forgiveness for each other and for ourselves is a priceless gift, hard to give, even harder to receive. And yet it is a unique and beautiful aspect of our humanity, that we can extend grace to one another.

It’s ok to make mistakes, we all do, so let’s make sure we cut each other a bit of slack and be gracious and forgiving, let’s be human with one another.

13° Mostly Sunny
Coquitlam, BC, Canada

Shannon McAdam

pain overflow

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Today I went to see my massage therapist because of residual pain from injuries few years ago that was flaring up again in my wrist, shoulder, back and neck on my right side. Usually it’s the wrist/elbow that’s to blame, the other parts just sort of get pulled along too – though the shoulder has it’s own problems… let’s just say I’m happy that massage therapy exists. It had been much too long since my last visit, I’d had calling for an appointment on my to-do list for months but just hadn’t bothered to do it until a friend who’d seen me in pain pestered me until I called. Thank goodness for friends.

 

So I was laying on the massage table, at the mercy of the therapist, who was working on my neck… and at this point I have to stop and explain something: when one is getting a massage because one has an injury, this is not the relaxing, candlelight, handsome Swedish bodybuilder, soft music, stereotype of a massage situation. No, with this massage therapist I’ve had ice applied afterwards to make sure there’s no bruising. Yes, that painful. Of course the long-term effects are positive, with less pain later on, but in the moment it can be seriously ouchy. The kind of pain where I have to be reminded to breathe.

 

So he was working on my neck and asking, as usual “how does this feel?” – which I have to say sometimes feels like a bit of a silly question because I know that he knows that it hurts, but I suppose he needs to know how much it hurts, what kind of pain it is (dull, sharp, prickly) and where exactly it hurts. And it’s this question of where it hurts that is the point of this story. Because when he asked how the pain was while he was digging into my neck, I told him that it was in the usual spots – neck, wrist, shoulder, but also flowing up into my head. And he said something along the lines of “Ah, you have pain overflow, so much pain that it needs other places to go.”

 

Pain overflow?!?

 

Interesting.

 

And I suppose it makes sense, on a certain level, that something could be so much that it would push beyond where it is. And of course, it got me thinking. It got me thinking about the pain – be it physical, emotional, spiritual, psychological – that inevitably shows up in all of our lives, and how that pain is sometimes so great that it has to overflow into other areas. Sometimes it crosses over – emotional pain overflowing into our physical bodies, spiritual pain overflowing into our emotions, as well as from one part of our lives to another. I think of the people I encounter who are seemingly upset about something that seems simple or trivial to me, but then when I learn that there is something else much bigger and more painful going on in their life, I realize that the emotions I’m seeing are actually pain overflow from another area of their life. It’s the loss of a loved one that makes losing your keys huge and overwhelming. It’s the broken relationship that makes the broken phone screen a devastating situation.

 

I’ve seen pain overflow in people’s lives and it really is difficult to deal with. But I suspect that there’s a way that some pain overflow, especially the emotional, spiritual and psychological pain, can be relieved with deep relationship and in community. When we have people close around us our pain can overflow into their lives too – for better or for worse. But hopefully, if the ones who love us are strong, they can help with the overflow, holding our overflow of pain and making it bearable for us until we are able to hold it ourselves again. This is the struggle and the joy of community – the shared pain hurts all of us, the shared joy invigorates all of us. Joy too, can overflow, and fill the lives of those around us with joy.

 

Pain overflow is inevitable, so let’s hold one another tenderly and share the pain, and with the sharing, ease it.

caprese salad that’s easy to eat

I love the flavour of a nice caprèse salad: basil, bocconcini, tomato and dressing. Simply delicious. There’s only one problem, when one is trying to serve it at a casual meal, it can be difficult to serve and eat effectively.

Enter the humble skewer, always coming to the rescue at a time of need!

In this twist on the classic we take one bocconcini, one cherry tomato (or chunk of chopped tomato), and one leaf of basil, put them on a stick, and end up with perfect bite-size mini-salads! When serving a crowd I opt for the pre-marinated bocconcini to avoid the extra step of making dressing. It would probably be just as easy to by the plain ones and just drizzle the whole lot with some good olive oil and balsamic. Delish.

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what do you wish for?

As I rose up on the escalator out of the basement of Sears department store downtown tonight my eyes zeroed in on a big sign atop a pillar dripping with Christmas decorations. “What do you wish for?” it asked.

Hmmm…

I wish for world peace.

I wish for all cancer to go away and stop hurting people.

I wish for common kindness to be commonplace.

Think I could pick those things up at Sears on my way through this evening? Probably Sears wishes that I’d wish for something like a new pair of slippers, some perfume, or a toaster oven.

We are getting the first tastes right now of a season that will play wildly with a powerful human feeling – desire. Desire is an interesting thing, it can just as easily stir us into action as freeze us in place. Desire can spur us to great things, if we follow our desire.

Now you might be thinking “yes, but desire can lead us into bad behavior too”, and this idea of desire may be the one you’re most familiar with, but desire doesn’t have to take us that way. In the Christian tradition we could say that “sin” is in fact misplaced desire. A desire for deep relationship could lead a person through a series of perceived intimate relationships that are not in fact quality deep relations. A desire for belonging can prevent a person from being their true self when they fear their community may reject that true self.

Also, when what we desire seems too big and too difficult to strive for, we can sometimes be paralyzed into non-action. “Why do I not do the thing I want to do?” says the Apostle Paul in a letter to his followers. It’s a question we all face in our lives. We most often know what it is we could do to follow our desires for the flourishing of people and planet, what we could do to make a difference, so why don’t we do those things?

Does desire maybe strike again here? Our desire for safety or comfort or any one of a number of conflicting desires. These are noble desires, but when they get in the way of what we could be doing, they become less noble.

And so as the season of material desire comes upon us, let’s also remember our less tangible desires, the ones that, if we followed them, might lead us into unknown territory, but the ones which, in the end, are the only ones that truly give us a feeling of desire being fulfilled when we pursue them with our whole heart.

15 authors of influence

I was tagged by two people on facebook to complete this task: “Fifteen authors who’ve influenced you and will always stick with you. List the first fifteen you can recall in no more than fifteen minutes….”

I’m skipping the “tag 15 people” part, but if you want to create your own list, please go ahead!

I made my list on the bus on the way home from work. I contemplated waiting until I got home, but decided that making my list while standing in front of my bookcase might defeat the purpose of the assignment. And should I really include “that one author who wrote that article in that eros and theology book that was really amazing but whose name I can’t remember…”? I’m definitely going to check on her name when I get home.

So here’s my list, in no particular order, and of course there are more, but I think this makes a nice little group.

My 15 authors:
Madeline L’Engle
Ursula K. LeGuin
Robert Munsch
Catherine Keller
Jhumpa Lahiri
Elizabeth Schussler Fiorenza
Mary Daly
Guy Gavriel Kay
William Shakespeare
Maya Angelou
Jane Vennard
Sue Monk Kidd
Rumi
SARK
John Caputo

What authors have influenced you? Why? I could almost write a separate post for each person explaining the why part… Maybe that’s a task for a rainy day!