Author Archives: Brad

Chapter Three: “So it is written, so let it be done.”

me-2-oppositeOnce upon a time, you couldn’t breathe out of your mother’s womb.  Once born, you couldn’t roll over, eat solid food, walk or talk.  Once upon a time, you couldn’t read or write; you couldn’t cross the road by yourself; you didn’t know how to ride a bike or drive a car; or do complex mathematical formulas. And if you’re like me, you still can’t – do mathematical formulas that is.

Everything that we are able to do today, we were taught to do.  Someone taught us how to speak English, Ukrainian, French, Italian, or Spanish.  Someone taught doctors how to be doctors, lawyers to be lawyers (God help us).   Even after we could read, we needed someone to provide meaning behind the words, like when we studied Shakespeare for instance. We needed to study in order to derive a more comprehensive understanding  This was usually provided by our teacher, along with a little help from Coles Notes.

By now you get my drift, everything we do has been learned.  So, what makes us think we can pick up a complex work like The Bible, and understand it of our own accord?  Sure, we can read it as some fundamentalists do and accept it as the literal word of God, but most biblical scholars would laugh at the thought.

Along with most of you, I grew up churched, that is to say, I went on Sundays. I listened (sometimes) and then promptly forgot  anything I’d heard until the next Sunday. Were some of the messages inspiring?  Perhaps, but  I’m sure most of us can count on one hand a sermon we’ve heard that held any interest for us at all, or made us really think about how we were living our lives throughout the rest of the week.  Mostly, this is because the same stories have been and still are simply regurgitated from year to year.

Now, don’t get me wrong.  We needed those lessons, when we were five, or ten, but as adults I think we need a whole lot more.  My priests either couldn’t or wouldn’t give me the answers I was seeking. Why is the Bible so contradictory? Or is it really? What about all those mistranslations from Arabic to English?

The problem with understanding the Bible, is we have no one to really teach us about it.  I mean really teach us, help us to comprehend not just what the stories look like on the surface, but reach deep down and put those stories into perspective.  While the message that applied to Isaiah, Moses and Abraham, is still relevant and applicable for us today, I believe we can only be enlightened by understanding the culture and history of the times it was written in.

For instance, the phrase “eye for an eye,” is completely misunderstood.  Back in the day, if someone stole your goat, you might kill him, his wife, his children, and part of a village – that would have been overkill (excuse the pun!)  In order to curtail this overreaction, the Rabbis got together and said, okay, from now on, if you steal someone’s goat, you may take his goat – that’s it!  If someone pokes your eye out, you may poke his eye out, not cut his head off.  They did this as a means of curtailing the violence, not adding to it.

“Turn the other cheek,” is another phrase which has been misunderstood. I hear people say, hell, I’m not doing that!  Others may do completely the opposite and allow others to stomp all over them. Turning the other cheek when you are slapped would have been an act of dignity and defiance in Jesus’ day. The people who could be slapped with impunity were women, servants, slaves and children. Turning the other cheek was not resigned acceptance, rather it was an assertion of one’s humanity and will and freedom.

I believe the main problem in our churches today, is that we have priests, ministers and lay people who are not teachers.  In order to truly understand the holy book, we need to be taught by someone who has a deep understanding of it and years of biblical study behind them.

I’m not a Jew, but I can tell you, that a Rabbi has a thorough understanding of his history, and his Torah, and perhaps that’s because Rabbi means “teacher.”  He has studied the scriptures inside and out.  Rabbi Jesus taught us through parables.  Granted, he was a spiritual genius and was frustrated by his own disciple’s lack of understanding, calling them “thick and slow.”   If they couldn’t understand him, where does that leave us?  A lifetime of learning!

I have been fortunate, and greatly blessed to have run across a few good biblical scholars, and one in particular Rev. Hugh Reid from Kingsway Lambton United Church. He has helped answer so many of the questions that have been on my heart and mind for years.  Attending his Wed. morning Bible class has been educational, fun, and inspiring. It has made me pick up The Bible as if it were an old friend, not just some book passed down to us from our families, or something we got at our First Communion, or Confirmation, never to be looked at again. Unfortunately, the Reverend Reid’s of this world are few and far between.

Your Bible not speaking to you?  Get one that has a historical commentary.  Don’t have room for another book?  Have a look at www.biblegateway.com. Try different versions. Not all bibles speak to us in the same way.

The Bible is not something that should be left to collect dust or buried at the back of some bookcase.  It shouldn’t be intimidating.  It shouldn’t be looked at as an antiquated rule book either.  The Bible is filled with people just like you and me.  They weren’t special.  They were thieves, adulterers, doubters, converts, all just like us.

Can and does it speak to us by simply reading it?  Yes, with practice.  It is called the “living” word, because it can speak to us today, next month, next year, next decade and meet us right where we are.

If you simply aren’t interested, that’s fine, but before you say “I don’t believe what the Bible says, or “it doesn’t apply to me today, or “those stories are just for kids,” find out if these statements are really true.  You don’t have to go to church to do this.  The library, bookstore, and even reliable sources on the Internet can help.

There are many people today who are disillusioned with church.  I have one thing to say about that. Church is NOT God.  Church is about community and being with like-minded people, and while churches have the potential for strong outreach because they are a community, they are full of the same people that don’t go to church.  And while you may be disillusioned with the formality, don’t be disillusioned with God.

If you have had burning questions about the Bible and haven’t been satisfied with the answers, find someone who can discuss them with you.  Look for someone who is open to talking about your doubts.  Look for someone who can teach you without judgement or condemnation. Maybe you can find that at your own church.  Maybe you have to go to another church.  God wants you to have the answers.  More than anything, he wants to have a relationship with you, and one of the ways he does that is through the “living word.”  Learn more about it ~

May it be so . . .

Chapter Two -“Thanks, but no thanks!”

me-2-oppositeSept. 19th, 2014

Is it just me, or have people forgotten how to say thank you?  I’m not talking about people we don’t know, or distant acquaintances, or strangers on Facebook.  I’m talking about people like ministers, friends, family members and folks that you look to, or count on.  Actually, sometimes it IS the stranger who thanks us much more often than those close to us.

Now, people who know me really well, know that I don’t extend kindness, or thoughtfulness for the sole purpose of reaping rewards, (anyone who has children gets this.) We’re not talking about an over the top ass kissing, a trip around the world, or having your name in sky writing, just a simple thank you.

Frankly, I have been quite shocked lately by the lack of manners in what I consider to be a very “mannerly” circle.  As the kids today say, “What’s up with that?”

Is it that people forget?  I must admit that at 57, my memory isn’t what it used to be, but short of having dementia or Alzheimer’s, I just don’t buy, “I forgot.”  If that really is the reason, then it means my gift meant so little to you that you tossed it aside, and probably didn’t even look at it.  Even if that is the case, a thank you is still considered polite.

I can totally understand people not wanting to call.  It might take too long, and you might not have that kind of time. Personally speaking, I HATE the phone, and usually don’t answer it unless I absolutely have to, but in this day of social media, and e-mail, are you going to tell me that you can’t scribble out a short “thanks?”

For the life of me, I can’t understand any reason for such a lack of social grace short of simply not caring.

As a rule, I know it’s not good to generalize, BUT, generally speaking, I have noticed a tremendous lack of courtesy and disrespectful behaviour amongst one another.

You allow someone to cut in while driving…nothing.  You hold the door open for a person with a bunch of groceries…nothing.  Someone bumps into YOU, you’re the one saying “excuse me,” or “sorry.”  Is it wrong to expect reciprocal “pardon me’s?”

Is it really too much to ask of society to bring back courtesy, manners, caring for our fellow human beings, and just generally being nice?

Is it really too much to ask that people leave their phones at home, or at least in their cars, or silenced in their pockets when attempting to have a lovely evening in an intimate setting?

Is it really too much to ask to have a REAL conversation with someone, without them being distracted every other second by a comment someone is posting on Facebook?  Are you really going to miss out on something better than what’s right there in front of you?

Well, I don’t think so.

Let’s remember to treat others the way we would like to be treated.  Respect, courtesy, kindness.  These things should never go out of style, and frankly, I’d rather not live in a world without them.  To thank someone today, you don’t have to go out of your way, or spend a great deal of time, or be terribly inconvenienced.  With the myriad ways of communication, it’s easier than ever.

So, thank you for reading this blog!  I appreciate the time it took for you to do it, and for those who leave comments, I am eternally grateful . . .I think!

kIm

Chapter One – “57 and counting…”

me-2-oppositeIn the last year, several people have told me that I should write a BLOG.

You know that face you make when you’ve just heard something unappealing?  You know, you wrinkle your nose and raise your lip? Well, that’s the face I made after the above suggestion.  Now, I’m not knocking anyone else who does this sort of thing, but somehow to me, it feels slightly narcissistic.  After all, who wants to know what I think anyway?  I was further advised to let other people judge that for themselves.

So, for my real friends who urged me to try this, and perhaps for those who are simply curious, or have nothing better to do, here goes my first blog.

Today is my birthday.

I don’t know about you, but for me, birthdays have always been a time of introspection.  Actually, for me it’s always a time for introspection.

It’s been a tough few years, this year being no exception.  Sparing you all the gory details, I’ve had to live with what psychologists/psychiatrists call a “new normal.”  Especially difficult this year was losing my grandmother, for obvious and not so obvious reasons. The obvious need not be stated, but here goes the not so obvious.  Ever since my mom died in 2003, I’ve basically been my grandmother’s lifeline.  In the beginning it was just looking in on her, but in the last three years, I have been at her side, day in, day out, rain or shine.  Now that she’s gone, and speaking simply from a viewpoint of practicality, I have a big time hole to fill.

Okay, okay, I hear ya… join a choir, volunteer.  All valid, but nothing is “speaking” to my heart and soul right now. Part of the problem that my son brought to light the other day is this.  He said, “Mom, I’m good at a lot of things, but not great at anything particular, and all the things I’m good at don’t pay.”  I nodded my head in complete understanding and agreement.

God has blessed me with many gifts, but not SO blessed as to make any of them monetarily valuable, and is this even important? I can sing a little, but I’m not a great singer.  I love to write – especially poetry, but there are far better poets than myself.  I’m a graphic artist, self- taught (well, with a little help from the hubby!) For the past twenty years, I’ve had my own company called, A Story Just For You (you can look in on my newly birthed website right now, but I hope you finish my blog first!,)  that specializes in personalized children’s and grown up storybooks, note cards, greeting cards etc. but the reality is, there’s still something missing.

My husband Brad could see that I have felt a little lost and directionless lately.  One day he said to me… “You love to draw and write. Have some fun.  If you have to, just give people some of your books and note cards.”  It’ll fill in some time, get your artistic juices flowing, and you love it.”  It was a brilliant idea, and one that I have embraced for most of this year.  Painting, writing…I do love to do it, but it’s not “it,” that elusive soul filler.

My husband and I (as some of you know) also sing together under the name The Synergistics.  We sing at retirement homes and long term care facilities, and it’s rewarding.  So why do I still feel like Moses in the desert?

Perhaps it is because my one true passion and the greatest gift God has given me is in pastoral care; walking with and listening to the pain of others.  For some, this might sound morose, even creepy, but it is my true calling.  I am a trained Stephen Minister and leader and miss this vocation and calling more than I can say.  Unfortunately, I am no longer able to attend the church where I was serving in this capacity.  So, if you are in need of an ear, you know where to find me.

Today is my birthday, and while I may complain about my 57 year old hips and knees, I am NOT complaining about my life.  I have a much better life than most.

This past year, I have reconciled with my son, my daughter is thriving at university, I have a good marriage and I live in a home that’s beautifully “me.”   I am blessed.

But, I simply can’t shake the feeling that I am waiting…that I haven’t done that all important “thing.”  Maybe, this is ONLY about my age.  I know the older we get the more meaning we seek in our lives.  We begin looking for the “legacy.”  What has it all be about?  What has my life meant? What has my life meant to others? What good did I do? “Have I left this earth a better place?  Have I fulfilled my destiny? Is there a destiny, or is everyday ordinary living . . . “it?”

Today is my birthday, and while I don’t have any of these answers today, I will continue seeking . . . maybe next year.