A Good Break

What a weekend. Friday evening Andy & Helen Harrington, good friends from Canada (though originally from England) came through on their way to California. It is always wonderful to have time to catch up with friends and Andy and Helen are special people. Andy Harrington heads up Youth For Christ in Vancouver British Columbia, one of the fastest growing and most innovative YFCs in North America which isn’t surprising since Andy is one of the most creative people we know. When we first met Andy and Helen about 12 years ago they had just returned to Britain after planting YFC in the war zones of Croatia and Bosnia. Their passion for helping those at the margins has not diminished. Andy was in Sri Lanka to help after the tsunami and Helen has worked with Hope International in Canada. They are presently developing a partnership with YFC in Rwanda. They were only stayed with us overnight but I was inspired and renewed by our conversation.

Sand Sculpture Port AngelesNo sooner had we waved them goodbye than Tom & I (and Bonnie) jumped in the car and headed over to the Olympic Peninsular. We were not deterred by the 2 hour wait at the ferry and soon arrived to stay at our friend Ardi Erickson’s house just outside Squim. What a beautiful place to relax and renew – which was just what I needed to do. good conversation, good food and some sight seeing around the area made this a wonderful weekend.The one dissonant note occurred as we walked along the waterfront in Port Angeles. In amongst the tall trees and rich green growth was a sign that read “Hollywood business and industrial park coming soon” I was appalled at the thought of this beautiful pristine vegetation being replaced by stark buildings – and this is what we call progress.

Sunday afternoon we headed to Port Townsend for what was the supposed reason for our trip – the wedding of good friends Tim & Cote. It was cold and windy but we still enjoyed the ceremony out on the bluff and the delicious spread that followed. All in all a memorable weekend and one that we could so easily have missed because in the midst of our busy schedule we were not sure that we had time to go away for 2 days. Once again I realize that taking time for friends is not at the periphery of what it means to be a Christian, it is the very heart of it.

Cote arriving with her father

This morning as I was reflecting on our weekend I wrote a short prayer that I thought you might enjoy
God we sing for joy this day and rest secure in your promises
Jesus Christ the ruler of all worlds, the shepherd of creation has entered our world
He comes not in power and might but in the gentleness of love
He walks beside us as a friend
Before us as a guide, behind us as a shield
He is not far off where none can touch or see
He is present in all to whom I speak
He is in the voice of all who speak to me
I see him in the face of friends
I hear him in the laughter of love ones
He comes not in power, not in might
But in the gentleness of love
Hallelujah! he is risen from the dead and is everywhere present with us.


Abbey of the Arts

Last week I had the opportunity to have morning tea with Christine Paintner who explores the relationship between spirituality and the creative arts.  I always enjoy getting together with like minded people.  We had a delightful time sharing our common interests in spiritual direction, photography and writing.

Among other things Christine runs a retreat in November entitled  Awakening the Creative Spirit.  which you may like to check out.  She also has some wonderful and inspiring photographs on her blog.

Jesus – A Man for all Nations

Here is a meditation video I put together for the MSA Seed Sampler on Indigenous Peoples and Christianity. I think that it is easy for us who are Westerners to think that Jesus was a white male who would fit comfortably into our culture. But it isn’t true. In fact I suspect that he would fit much more comfortably into some of the so called primitive indigenous cultures of our countries. I believe too that every culture reflects something of who Jesus is and of who God is. Early Celtic Christians believed they were privileged to live in a non Christian society because they believed it was through their interaction with people outside the faith that they learned more about who God is. I think that we would all benefit from that attitude. We go out into the world not as teachers but as learners. Refelct on that as you watch this video.

A Native American Prayer

This prayer is attributed to Chief Sealth (for whom Seattle is named). It is not written as a Christian prayer but I think that the sentiments expressed in it could easily be.

We belong to the earth this we know
The earth does not belong to us;
We belong to the earth , this we know
All things are connected like the blood which unites one family.
All things are connected.
Whatever befalls the earth befalls the sons and daughters of the earth.
We did not weave the web of life;
We are merely a strand in it.
Whatever we do to the web, we do to ourselves.


Harry Potter Goes Eco-Friendly

Here is a bit of news that I hope warms the hearts of all Harry Potter fans.  And all accomplished by a small non profit based in Vancouver. I am not sure what the connection is to the international prayers I have been highlighting but it seemed too good to ignore.
Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows“The seventh book in the blockbuster Potter franchise is being touted as the greenest book in publishing history, thanks to a non-profit group that has persuaded publishers, printers and pulp producers to opt for forest-friendly paper.

Raincoast Books, which expects to sell about 1.2 million copies of “Deathly Hallows,” was the first publisher to back the initiative in 2003.

Today, 16 publishing houses worldwide have committed to using recycled, or ancient forest friendly (AFF), paper for the final instalment of J.K. Rowling’s wizard tale.

That will mean 200,000 fewer trees will be felled to feed Potter demand, or the equivalent of 2.5 green and leafy Central Parks, according to Nicole Rycroft, executive director of Markets Initiative, the Vancouver-based group behind the push.  Read more on from the Financial Post

An African Prayer

One of my favourite books of prayers is An African Prayer Book, compiled by Desmond Tutu. It gives some powerful prayers and liturgies from Africa that really make me feel connected to the African people who wrote them. Here is one by Desmond Tutu himself that I think is quite profound.

Victory is Ours
Goodness is stronger than evil;
Love is stronger than hate;
Light is stronger than darkness;
Life is stronger than death;
Victory is ours through Him who loves us.

Under the Southern Cross

ausfalg-screenbean.gifIt is not just art that is impacted by our cultural views of Jesus. Our prayers are shaped by our culture too. Over the next few days I will share some that I have gathered over the last few years from different countries and cultures.

Here is one from the South Pacific Islands. It seemed a good place to start since the stars referenced in the prayer – the Southern Cross are the first that any good Australian student learns about.  I still remember learning how to find the South pole using the Southern Cross.  As you can see the Southern Cross is also a distinctive part of the Australian flag as well as flags of many other South Pacific nations. When I first came to live in the United States one thing I found rather disconcerting was the fact that I could not see the Southern Cross.

Surprisingly I did not really think about the Southern Cross as a reference to the cross of Christ until I read this prayer which I think comes from Fiji.

We ask you dear God that
Just as the great Southern cross
Guides our people as they sail over the Pacific at night
So may the cross of Jesus Christ
Lead us through the night and guide us safely into a new day