Easter

Easter Talk 2015

Poem:
“Easter morning”
By Bruce Prewer

Black light transforms
the clouds in the east,
the swamphens wake
at this new dawning.

Against the sky
sacred ibis wend
like angel forms,
to hopeless mourning.

The sun comes up
and the magpies sing.

God is alive
in everything this Easter morning.

hand holding crocus

In the gospel of Mark, everything happens Immediately.
Immediately he goes to the next town.
Immediately he moves along.
The story pushes forward at a brisk pace, leading us across the countryside, following this Jesus who never seems to stop moving ahead to spread his message. No pausing to erect monuments, no attempting to persuade. If you aren’t liked in a place, shake the dust from your sandals and move on.
My experience of reading Mark aloud all in one was one that seemed to move ahead too quickly. I read it aloud with my sister one day while I was in grad school and I remember being surprised at how the story flew by. That afternoon sticks out to me as one of those frozen moments in time we have. There are all these wonderful things happening in the story, these beautiful healings and teachings and parables, and then suddenly he is heading towards Jerusalem and I know what is about to happen! I feel like I’m in a movie and I want to yell at him to go back, to stay away, to just keep being an itinerant preacher. But there was no turning back. And before I knew it, the story was over, and I felt heartbroken.
Mark ends abruptly, leaving us with little closure.
There is the tragedy of the crucifixion and there is the grieving.
Then suddenly he is gone and with that same sense of immediacy, he is not there!
They are afraid. They don’t know what has happened.

Poem:
Easter Blessing
by Jan Richardson

If you are looking
for a blessing,
do not linger
here.

Here
is only
emptiness,
a hollow,
a husk
where a blessing
used to be.

This blessing
was not content
in its confinement.

It could not abide
its isolation,
the unrelenting silence,
the pressing stench
of death.

So if it is
a blessing
that you seek,
open your own
mouth.

Fill your lungs
with the air
that this new
morning brings

and then
release it
with a cry.

Hear how the blessing
breaks forth
in your own voice

how your own lips
form every word
you never dreamed
to say.

See how the blessing
circles back again
wanting you to
repeat it
but louder

how it draws you
pulls you
sends you
to proclaim
its only word:

risen
risen
risen.

Because Mark leaves us hanging a bit, you

are invited into a space of creative imagination as we wonder where Jesus might be. Where will we find him? How will we see him? How will we know it’s him?
Mark’s immediacy turns into excitement and anticipation.
The tomb couldn’t have been robbed – the stone was too big. What happened? And more importantly, what happens next?
WE decide what’s next! We seek to find out where he is
What happens next both in the scriptures and today, is people start seeing him.
We are in the midst of the church year, the story isn’t over yet, in fact, the story is just beginning…

Poem
The Messiah
by Ann Weems

Look for the Messiah where you will,
but you’ll find him where you live.
He will not be separated and kept apart
from those who cry to him.
He will be found right in the midst
of the daily, routine, ordinary stuff of life.
So wherever you’re living
Look for him.
In the ordinary niches of that living
look for the holy
that the holy might be find in you.

Mary is called out to by the man she thinks is the gardener, yet when he speaks her name, she sees Jesus.
The disciples encounter a stranger on the road to Emmaus and invite him to share a meal. The man breaks bread, and suddenly they see Jesus.
The early church gathers at Pentecost and in hearing one another and witnessing spirit fire they see Jesus.
A young man in the woods prays for guidance and sees Jesus.
A young woman meets a hard living man on the street, invites him to share a meal, and in him she sees Jesus.
A group of friends gather to pray and wash one another’s hands, and in each other’s eyes they see Jesus.
Someone sits at the shoreline watching the sun set over the mountains, and in the beauty and peace of that moment they see Jesus.
We take deep breaths, we feel our bodies swell with air and spirit, and we breathe in and breathe out Jesus.
The resurrected body is your body, is my body, is the earth’s body. Jesus is working to share love and transform the world using your body. Today we celebrate bodies, celebrate love, celebrate life.

Poem
by Jan Richardson:

May we go forward to begin anew.
May we go forward with memory.
May we go forward as his body.
May we go forward in grace.
May we go forward in the fullness of time.
May we go forward to approach this world with reverence.
May we go forward knowing ourselves Beloved.

May we bear this love.
May we proclaim this love.
May we live this love
now and always.

Christ is risen.
Christ is risen indeed!

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.

Image

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.