A Blanket of Humility

A Sermon Preached Sunday June 25th, 2017 based on Luke 10:25-37 Jesus told a story in today's Gospel reading so I shall begin by doing the same – it’s a story of an experience I had a few years ago taking part in the Blanket exercise with other Chaplains and Elders serving with the Correctional Service of Canada. The floor of the prison gym is criss-crossed with colourful blankets. We move from blanket to blanket, greeting each other quietly, occasionally trading items – a cornhusk doll for a braid of sweet grass, a piece of leather for a dreamcatcher. The blankets represent the northern part of Turtle Island, or North America, before the arrival of Europeans. The participants in this exercise are immersing themselves in the world, 500 years ago, of the Indigenous Peoples of Turtle Island, its original inhabitants. Then, the the world changes. A facilitator folds up corners of the blankets, making the land “smaller” as the participants learn about the Indian Act of 1876 tha

NSW (Day 9) IPCA VII Grieving, Strength and Landing on Your Feet

In the shelter of the tree: strength begets strength! It's late on this 2nd full day of the IPCA Conference and yes, its been another full day: workshops, plenary sessions and regional meetings with a 2 and a 1/2 hour tour of the Sydney Harbour thrown in for good measure. With supper over I'd had enough of crowds and it was decided that Peg and Greg and I would gather in the lounge in my residence building with a bottle of red wine that Greg had purchased the day before. With the wine open we began to share... deeply of how we were experiencing this event, how we were feeling about the news of August 20th and what it has meant for us to be together on this journey of service together for the past two years. Said simply, it was a sacred time.  Deep honest sharing.  Some tears.  Much laughter. Even more gratitude.  And still more sadness for the place at which we find ourselves... but, as we reminded one another - we have each other - and there is incredible strength

NSW (Day 8) IPCA VII Hospitality, Bushwalking, A Cook's Tour and Stumbling in the Dark...

Second full day of the conference... and it was full!  Beginning with breakfast and devotions followed by a very informative lecture by Ulrica Fritzon from Sweden on the place and value of restorative justice within Chaplaincy. As lunch was preceded by some free time, Peg and Greg and I headed to the town of Lane Cove… about a 4km walk… uphill for lunch.  We didn’t think it was that far… but it was and we made it – with some encouragement for Peg of the reward at the end! Along the way I was admiring flowers and taking pictures.  I’m captivated by the beauty and diversity of the foliage and flowers… and it was as a result of this that we met Bill who was tending his garden.   As we said hello, he proceeded to take time to identify some of the plants and trees for us, asked what brought us to the area and then… he invited us to dinner that evening.  I love these encounters when travelling!  Peg and Greg declined as they were going to the Opera House that evening… but I accepted, mak

NSW (Day 7) IPCA VII On Being Known... and Not Knowing Your Future...

Lord Byron once said, "What is fame? The advantage of being known by people of whom you yourself know nothing, and for whom you care as little."  Harsh words, but I was drawn to them for the first part of the phrase... If fame is about being known by people of whom you know nothing that I never want a part of it... Let me explain. For the past years I have served as the manager of the International Prison Chaplains Association website.  I was responsible, on a regular basis for communicating with over 1,500 prison Chaplains around the world.  They got to know my name.  I am sure that some of them even set up spam filters to keep my name out of their inbox... the point being, anywhere I go these days during the conference people know me... and while I know myself, I don't know my future as it may relate to IPCA in the future.  Right now it looks pretty bleak.  And that makes me extra sad when so many people know me and my deep commitment to this work... And so... muc

NSW (Day 6) IPCA VII I Can Do This Hard Thing...

I'm writing this on Friday evening. Tomorrow Peg and I will make our way 10km to the north shore to St Ignatius College Riverview, a Catholic Boys School where the seventh gathering of International Prison Chaplains will take place.  There we will meet up with Greg Rodgers, one of the other partners of Kairos Pneuma Chaplaincy Inc. and countless other Chaplains from around the world. I was privileged to attend the sixth gathering in Stockholm Sweden and up until August 20th I was excited to be attending this gathering, representing Kairos Pneuma Chaplaincy Inc. and its services to the Correctional Service of Canada and the men and women in their care. Unfortunately, on August 20th we were informed that we had not been successful in our bid to continue - that we have been underbid by a competitor organization, and as a result, our service delivery would cease as of March 31st 2016.  It's going to be a hard thing - being here: so deeply connected to chaplaincy - but with n

NSW (Day 5) Sydney with Peg

To bed around 9pm and slept until 7:30am... wow... I guess I was tired!  Peg didn't rouse til almost 9am and slowly, with the assistance of caffeine we made some breakfast and talk about what we might do today.  Neither of us had a lot of energy! Eventually we decided that we would head down to the Rocks where we could see both the Harbour Bridge and the Sydney Opera House.  It was about a 10 minute walk - we turned it into about 20 minutes and we looked at things along the way and stopped to talk in a nice little park that we came across. Initially we thought about taking one of the ferry boats to Mission Point or some other such destination so we could see things from the water... but the more questions we asked the more complicated it seemed to get... and then we realized that a Harbour Cruse was part of the conference activities next week... so we just went walking. We walked along the cruise ship dock, took pictures of the Opera House and Harbour Bridge, and then s

NSW (Day 4) Hunter Valley to Sydney

This will be a brief entry.  I woke well rested to the sun falling on the grape vines outside my door but there were dark clouds on the horizon and the forecast called for rain in Sydney. I took my time getting my breakfast (fixing were provided in the room) and then loaded the bike and suited up.  No word of a lie.  The minute I started the bike it started to rain!!! I gamely headed out in a driving rain, refusing to put on the rain gear because it was almost 30 degrees!  I would have melted. After an hour I'd had enough.  I took the GPS off the scenic route and headed straight for Sydney.  I was stressed worrying about traffic anyways and by this point... I just wanted off the bike. Soon I was pulling up to Bike Round Oz and in no time the bike was unloaded and the owner had called me a cab.  $20 later and I was at the York Hotel where Peg had left a key to the room at the front desk.  The room is a nice set up... a bed and sofa bed, kitchenette and washroom with a wa

NSW (Day 3) Katoomba to Hunter Valley

After a wonderful breakfast at Lurene House, in the company of a pandemonium of parrots... yes, thats what you call a group of parrots... and it fits given the noise they make as the vie for a place at the feeding trough! The hosts of the Lurene House are both originally from Cambridge and met while travelling in Australia as young people (that's a common theme I've noticed).  They returned from a backpacking trip to Cambridge 22 years ago and six month later were emigrating to Australia.  11 years ago they began running Lunene House and it is so clear that they both enjoy what they do. I ate early and both came regularly to the table to speak with me, talking of the climate, events going on in the area, their travels etc... and as I was loading the bike others joined in the dining area and it was such a hubbub of activity.  Such community as they took me table to table and introduced me as the only North American in the house that night... Having been introduced all

NSW (Day 2) Kangaroo Valley to Katoomba

The morning dawned bright and warm and after a walk around the beautiful grounds and a full English breakfast I was on my way... another day of twisty roads and beautify scenery. Unfortunately I missed the first view point of the day: Fitzroy Falls.  By the pictures on the internet it is a stunning waterfall. Climbing out of the valley I knew this was going to be a beautifully interesting day... and I'm just going to let the pictures speak for themselves after I ramble a bit... At about noon I started to get very lonely.  Perhaps it was some of the names of the villages - they were all so very different then home... and then there would be a familiar name: Balmoral and Wentworth Falls... Its been a long trip and I'm glad that as I write this I have only today September 16th and tonight on my own before I reunite with Peg and then other colleagues on Saturday at the IPCA Conference. I picked up a book in the lounge of the B&B last night, drawn to the title: A Ye