Faith from the Edges

Faith and life from the perspective of me.

Archive for the tag “lent”


Each Tuesday during Lent, my home parish of Immanuel, puts on a Lenten Lunch with guest speakers. Today I got to be that guest speaker. This year’s theme is forgiveness. Here is what I had to say.

Forgiveness: Lenten Lunch

Like many of you, I say the Lord’s Prayer regularly. I use the modern English translation and I have to admit that every time I say, ‘Forgive us our sins as we forgive those who we sin against’, I stumble a little. Really, God, you want me to forgive others the way that you forgive me, really! I have often found that it is easier for me to be the one who asks for forgiveness rather than the one giving it. I don’t think I am alone in this struggle.

I want to share with a bit of my story with the church, and just to be clear this is my story and not my husband’s. My story is not that unusual and what happened to me I think happens far more frequently in the church than we would like it to.

We lived in Kenora, Ontario for just over 10 years. The first 7 years or so were good. I made friends, I worked for the wider church, I hosted a lot of parties at our house, I taught Sunday School in our local parish, I was active in making space for new families at the church to feel welcome and helping them to have a place in it, I was raising three busy teenagers and all that goes with that. In other words I was busy and happy.

Then things shifted, really shifted and they shifted badly for me.

My husband had to go on medical leave. I was asked to stop teaching Sunday School (something I love doing to this day). I was asked to step back from my involvement at the church. I was told I shouldn’t be as engaged in planning things for the families of the church. I was told to step back. Those of you who know me, will know that this was a very difficult thing for me to do.

People who I thought of as friends ignored me, didn’t ask how I was doing, didn’t ask how the family was doing. If they saw me in town they would walk away from me. People stopped talking to me. The few times I tried going to church it was made clear to me in looks that I wasn’t welcome. In effect I was shunned by the one place that I expected would be drawing me in closer, the church. It was in fact quite brutal and very lonely for the next three years. I cried more tears than I thought it would be possible to do.

To top it all off, not only did I lose my local church community, I lost my job with the wider church. Thank God for Facebook, blogging and email as they were some of the few ways that I had to reach out to those not in Kenora.

As I tell you all this, I am back in the midst of this pain, it was one of the hardest times of my life.

When we moved here I decided to just bury those feelings. I hoped they would go away. Moving here felt like the well needed fresh start. I think many of you will realize that those feelings of hurt, anger, betrayal, and dismay didn’t just go away. They lived like a stone at the bottom of my heart.

Last September I had the opportunity to attend a Healing of Memories workshop put on by Father Michael Lapsley from South Africa. If you are interested just Google healing of memories and you can find it. The workshop allows you to take a close look at those memories that are the hardest for you to look at and find a way through them and process them. Part of the process is to write on a slip of paper a memory that hurts that you want to let go of and then have that paper burnt along with ones from other participants. The memory that I wrote on that slip of paper was the one that I have been sharing with you today.

When I left the workshop and came home, I felt lighter and freer than I had in a long time. I realized that I could move towards forgiveness. I didn’t need anyone there to apologize to me, although a few have since we left. What I needed was to not let the memory hurt as much. That by forgiving that particular church community I could come to a place of healing within myself. That I could look back on my time in Kenora with more fondness than not. That I could cherish the times that I was held up by friends during that awful time, rather than focusing on that awful time. I could move towards forgiveness.

I will be honest, I am not the whole way there yet, but I have taken some steps along the forgiveness road. I am working on forgiving the sins of others so that my sins will be forgiven as well.


Oh my goodness, it’s time for Lent!!

Here it is Shrove Tuesday and that means, yep Lent is right around the corner! Last year I kept Lent fairly simple as I will still in recovery mode from cancer treatment. This year it seems a plan has developed by listening to the Spirit. Tools have appeared that I am hoping will be life giving and deepen my walk with Jesus through the 40 days that are coming.


My guides for Lent

Here are my tools – Diana Butler Bass’ book Grounded, Richard Wagameese’s book Embers, and my drawing pad and water colour pencils. Each day through Lent I am going to pick up one of these. I will read and delve deeper into my spiritual life. I will pray and let the Spirit guide me as she does. I will draw and let my creativity flow in a different way than it usually does. Each day I will do one of these, I am not going to try to do all three on top of what I regularly do – that would be a bit much to say the least.

The dear one and I have a routine of saying Morning Prayer which I know will feed my thoughts and reflections during this time as well. We also reduce the amount of meat that we eat and of course there is extra stuff at church that we will be participating in. My hope, my prayer is that all of this together will lead to a holy Lent for me and for those around me.

I’d love to hear if you have any plans for Lent and what they are? Are you giving up something? Are you taking on something? Are you engaging with something new to see God’s presence in your life differently?

May you have a good and holy Lent. May you take the forty days as a way to renew your spiritual life. May you see Jesus walking with you each and every day.


#40Acts #DoLentGenerously

I know I have been away for a while, and that deserves a post all of its own, for today I want to talk about how I will be observing Lent this year. I am following the 40 Acts of doing Lent generously. Each day I get an email that tells me what the action for that day is. I must admit I really like this as I am not great at giving things up but do like an extra discipline during Lent. In fact, this year doesn’t really feel like a year for giving up things considering all that I have been through.

Today’s act was about circles. The circles of connection with the other people that I know and care about, circles of connection even with those that I don’t know that well. The task was to draw, doodle, sketch your circles and then if you had time to pray for them. That’s what I did this morning. I put on some quiet Canadian folk music and went at it with my water colour pencils.

#40Acts #Circles #DoLentGenerously If you look closely – you will see the dear one and I in the centre of the circle and then it moves on from there. Circles interacting, showing community and connection in all parts of my life. When I finished I took a few moments and prayed for each circle of connection – each community that I am fortunate to be a part of and know that many have prayed for me.

I told the dear one later that morning that the focus felt good and important. It felt like I was able to connect in a way that I hadn’t been able to lately.

My plan this Lent is to post blogs about this experience of doing Lent generously as the Spirit moves me, to be guided by the connections that I will make. May you all have a holy and generous Lent.

Lent as Reconciliation

I have been pondering reconciliation a lot lately. It has something to do with the work I do, it has something to do with some personal relationships, it has a lot to do with my relationship with God. I decided yesterday that the word I am going to keep in front of me this Lent is reconciliation, as it seems to be the word God wants me to pay attention to. Over this holy season I am going to pray about reconciliation, write about reconciliation, work on reconciliation. I want this word and all its meanings to seep deep into my soul and become part of my being.


Tonight like other Christians I will be going to church for the Imposition of Ashes. I have been getting a cross put on my forehead in this way for most of my life. It is a way for me to mark the beginning of this season. It will be a way for me to mark my reconciliation as a child of God, as a follower of Jesus. I will repeat the words over and over again today, “Remember that you are dust, and to dust you shall return” as my prayer. I will remember how I have turned away from God and that God’s mercy and love is ever present even when I don’t recognize it. I will embrace that love and mercy and claim it as my own. I will remember that I am dust and to dust I shall return.

I want to be about the work of God’s reconciliation in the world and to do that I need first of all to make space for God in my life, to sit in silence (something I am not always good at), to let the words of Scripture be present and work through me, to hear the voice of Jesus through the voices of others.

This Lent I am going to hold these words from Paul’s second letter to the Corinthians in front of me:

 So if anyone is in Christ, there is a new creation: everything old has passed away; see, everything has become new!  All this is from God, who reconciled us to himself through Christ, and has given us the ministry of reconciliation;  that is, in Christ God was reconciling the world to himself, not counting their trespasses against them, and entrusting the message of reconciliation to us.

(2 Corinthians 5:17-19)

Have a holy Lent. May you find God’s reconciling acts of love and mercy wherever you go. May you be Jesus’ ministers of reconciliation. May the Holy Spirit guide you in acts of reconciliation with others. Have a holy Lent.




Beauty, Delight, Grace

Lent prayer table

This is going to be my prayer table for Lent. The cup is the one I have chosen to use as I go through Joyce Rupp’s book The Cup of Our Life. It was given to me by my Grandpa even before I met the dear one. It has my name on it and forget me not flowers. It has some some tea stains on the inside. It reminds me of his love. The candle holder is one the dear one gave me and has a woman figure on it that is growing into a tree of life. It feels divine and holy to me. The scarf was a gift given by a dear friend when we left Gaspe almost 12 years ago. It has gannets and daisy flowers on it. Gannets make me think of the Holy Spirit for they dive into the water as the Spirit dives into our lives. The daisies are reminders that new life is always possible.

These are all gifts. I didn’t pick any of them out and they have given me more than the gifters probably thought they would. I have been blessed by their beauty. Reminded to delight in gifts. Felt the ongoing grace of their love and care for me. I want to hold these things in front of me as I go through this season of Lent.

What gifts have you been given that you can hold in front of you this Lent? What gifts have brought you grace, delight and beauty?

Ash Wednesday

Burning palms

Yesterday we burned palms and they turned into ashes. Today those ashes will be put on foreheads in the shape of a cross. The words said by the dear one will be said by clergy all around the world today: Remember you are dust, and to dust you shall return.


Dust is a good thing, it is what we are all made of, everything in creation is made up of dust, star dust at that. It is when we take the dust and do something with it that something beautiful happens. The dear one posted this video up on his Facebook page this morning. It says what I want this Lent to be for me. To make all things beautiful.

Here’s to a Holy Lent for those who are walking this journey.

Ready or Not Lent is nearly here!

A couple of years ago I wrote this post about not giving anything up for Lent or taking anything on for Lent. It was in response to a really difficult point in my life, a point where I felt abandoned by my church. Last year I had a more typical Lent in that we are once again part of an active church community but I didn’t do much extra because we were also busy settling into our new home and that felt like enough. This year is different. This year I am feeling ready for Lent. I prepared to take some extra things on and I am prepared to let some things go. I am prepared to embrace this season and move through the coming forty days with joy and expectation.

I am takJoyceRuppCuping on two disciplines this Lent. One is personal. I am going to pray my way through Joyce Rupp’s book The Cup of Our Life: a guide to spiritual growth. I am going to choose a cup and set up a prayer spot and take the time for God and me, to open up some space and see what happens. As it feels appropriate I will share with you what I am learning, struggling with and how the discipline is going. I haven’t done any regular prayer time for quite a while and it seems this is the moment to do it.


The other discipline I will be taking on has a community aspect to it. The church community that I worship with has decided to deepen its spiritual life by gathering together for study using the Animate Faith program. This is a video based program that takes 7 weeks to go through so it will get us into Easter as well, but that will be fine. I am looking forward to delving into the issues put forward in this program with this community. I am looking forward to learning together and digging deeper together.

At the beginning of this year I wrote a post on the words that I have chosen to be my guideposts for this year. This is probably the most important part of my Lenten disciplines this year is to look for those moments of creativity, delight and grace as I journey through this season. To make note of them and to give thanks to God for them as they happen.

I told the dear one the other day that for the first time in years I am looking forward to Lent. I suspect that some of that has to do with how long an Epiphany season we have had this year and also that I am feeling more comfortable and at home with the folks that we worship and work with week after week. I am looking forward to a full Lent where my personal spiritual life and my community spiritual life become more connected and where the hope of resurrection is being glimpsed each day.

Lent, ready or not, here I come!

Wednesday in Holy Week


Today’s Gospel is hard and they will get harder until we get to Sunday. Today’s Gospel is about betrayal. The betrayal of Jesus by his friend, his disciple Judas. Betrayal is a hard topic for me and I know that it is hard for most of us. I have felt betrayed by those I trusted and I am sure those who trust me have felt betrayed by me. It involves shame, guilt and other nasty feelings. It is so not what we hope the Gospel of Jesus to be about.

I actually think this is a harder day than Good Friday. For by Good Friday we know what is coming, we know what we have to get through. Today we have to live through all those feelings. Feelings that make us uncomfortable and make us question what we believe in. I am wondering today what pushes you to the edge, what feelings are hard to go through, has your faith been tested by the betrayal of those you trusted?

For now I will hang on to what this Taize chant has to say “I am sure I shall see the goodness of the Lord”. May it bring you the peace you need to continue walking with Jesus through Holy Week.

Tuesday in Holy Week


In the Gospel reading appointed for today we hear Jesus speaking to his disciples about being the light of the world and that he would only be with them for a short time. Today in Holy Week always strikes me as a real day of preparation. We are building up to the action, not quite there, but it is coming. Many of the clergy I know, including the dear one, will be up to their necks getting services, sermons and themselves ready for what is coming. Today I am thinking about how ready am I for this next stage of my journey? Am I ready to consolidate what I have learned? Am I ready to do what God is calling me to do next (even when I have no idea what that will be)? Are you ready?

Palm Sunday


When I was 14 and a young server in our parish, our priest took a group of us to the big city to see Jesus Christ, Superstar on the big screen. It was a faith transforming moment. I couldn’t believe what I was seeing and experiencing. Jesus’ story told with words and music that I understood. I was so excited and wanted to tell everyone about it. Each year during Holy Week, I take the time and listen to the music and remember.

Remembering myself as a young Christian, remembering the journey I have been on in my faith, remembering  the journey that Jesus made during this week. We start the week in glory, move to sorrow and grief, then sit and hold ourselves and wait, then  comes resurrection. We can’t get to resurrection without going through the rest. May your Palm Sunday be joyful and your Holy Week as full of emotions and remembrance as you need.

P.S. Sorry about the double posting today. I had wanted to get the earlier post out yesterday but it just didn’t happen.

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