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Showing posts from June, 2011

(Day 18) continued...

The morning was spent in meeting with Dr. Tom O'Connor and Dr. Dwight Cuff followed by a third meeting with Keith Jobling of Justice Reflections which works in partnership with IPCA Worldwide.

After lunch Peg and I did a run through of the workshop we were offering and all was well.  The rehearsal allowed us to refine our time and be clear in who was doing what.

Lunch was again buffet but rather than sandwiches and soup the offerings were Italian offerings: salad, garlic bread, tomatoes and cheese in olive oil and meat and vegetable lasagna and tiramisu   I opted for the salad and tomatoes and vegetable lasagna and while I enjoy tiramisu passed on it... my figure you know!!

Peg and I had 28 people show up for our workshop.  For comparisons there were four in each of the other rooms down the hall.  We were pleased with the turn out, the level of engagement and the questions and feedback that were offered at the conclusion of the workshop.  

As folk departed I shared in a signific…

(Day 18) On late nights and early mornings...

Following supper last night I convinced myself that it would be a quiet evening.  I went back to my room and finished an autobiography/testimonial book that I had purchased from James Cavanagh, a former inmate and PFI Board member here in Toronto.  James (or Jimmy as he was known to many) was an inmate with one of the old timers that I presently work with at Springhill.  When I approached Jimmy and informed him that I was the one who contacted him on behalf of this inmate he signed a copy of the book with a promise from me that I would see that it was shared.

The book was an interesting read.  I really appreciated the manner in which James shared his conversion experience and respectfully communicated his convictions but I was troubled by some of the turns of phrase that left me feeling that there were things that remain unresolved for James.  Caught: Never to Run Again is an easy read and a fine accomplishment and profound gift to others by one  ran at every chance and who struggled …

(Day 17) On technical assistance and "dead zones"...

I spent the morning doing some work on the IPCA computer used by the President, Dwight Cuff.  He was having some trouble with Windows Live - the default email client on a new PC running Windows 7. He could receive mail fine, but he could not send any mail.  No matter what I did with the settings I kept getting the same error.  To make a long story short I installed Mozilla Thunderbird and he can now send and receive email without issue...  what a frustrating exercise though.

To go back to a PC is such a challenge having been using an Apple computer for almost two years now.  In my frustration I was glad that I had read some of the book I had picked up the other day.  I will insert the title later but it is written by Buddhist practitioner who is inviting the reader to live more fully present in the moment.  She gives the illustration of a trapeze artist and how the "magic" of the trapeze lies not in the strength of the athlete but in how the athlete uses the end of the swing…

(Day 16) On a multi-faith, multi-faceted world...

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This event I am attending is really two events running side by side - and I have a foot in each.  On the one side is the National Chaplaincy Conference (Correctional Services Canada) and on the other is the Prison Fellowship International Convocation.  There is some overlap but essentially for the most part the streams flow independently - this was very evident this morning during the beautiful morning devotional.


The gathering began with a video presentation of various calls to prayer from various world religions: bells, prayer chants and songs.  The group then sang together one of my favourite Taize pieces: Ubi Caritas and held silence for a few moments.  The service then continued with representatives from Wiccan, Buddhist, Islam, Judaism, Christianity and Sikhism traditions each coming forward and offering a prayer or reflection from their tradition after lighting simple candle on a table.  I was so deeply moved by the commonality that was ours in that room as each spoke of the po…

(Day 15) On airplanes, a very expensive convention centre and making connections…

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A quiet Monday morning was spent with achieving some last minute tasks and the final little bit of packing – already thinking ahead to what would need to be done next week prior to departure on the bike. 

After waking both boys up and saying good-bye – and getting a mumbled, “Have a good trip. Love you” in reply from each Anna drove me up to the airport – a bit of a chance to connect in the midst of the craziness of the past few days.

Claudia from the Regional CSC Office had booked my ticket – thanks Claudia – a late morning departure just as I had asked for, and as a bonus she routed me through Montreal into Billy Bishop Airport on Toronto Island. A brief layover in Montreal allowed enough time to go to Moe’s and enjoy a Montreal Smoked Meat sandwich. I learned my lesson last time… this time I did not have the Jumbo sandwich and passed on the fries as well. The sandwich and a glass of water with lemon made for perfect lunch as a watched the planes come and go.

Boarding the flight…

(Day 14) Route Planning and Packing...

Anna left early again this morning to be with her Mom.  I was up and 6:15 and she was gone so... I went back to bed and slept until 8AM.  Not a usual activity for me!!

The morning was spent finalizing routes and loading the GPS for the trip that begins on July 5th and packing for the trip that begins tomorrow.  What road to take and what to pack?  The packing was easy.  Enough casual clothes for five days of luxury at the Sheraton in downtown Toronto: jeans, shorts, shirts and a swimsuit.  Must take a swimsuit.

I have some fond memories of the Sheraton.  As children, at least twice Mom and Dad took us to the Sheraton over the Easter weekend.  I remember the glassed in courtyard where the Easter egg hunt took place and even more then that, I remember the roof-top indoor/outdoor pool.  It was so amazing.  Swimming inside and then swimming under this glass wall into the outdoor pool where the snow was falling and accumulating on the pool deck.  You can be sure that I will be having that …

(Day 13) On accomplishments, celebrations, choices and disappointments...

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One only graduates from High School once so it is important that it be a memorable event.  Anna went to some length to plan a day for Justin, inviting family from Prince Edward Island and Nova Scotia to come for the graduation ceremony and join us for a BBQ after the reception at the school.  To make a long story shorter... Anna's mom ended up in hospital and was not able to come.  Lloyd's parents and brother and family could not stay past three o'clock as they had commitments on the Island... and unbeknownst to us, Justin and his friends had planned a beach party down in Murray Corner and he had to leave around 5PM.  That's the disappointing part...  Anna, Zack and I ate steak and baked potatoes and lemon pie and toasted Justin who I am sure was lifting a toast with his classmates!
Disappointments out of the way, it was a fine day.  The program while long was very engaging and I do believe that the guest speaker may have raised the anxiety levels of some parents as he …

(Day 12) Errands and more errands... And, Happy Anniversary!!

Anna was in Nova Scotia to be with her Mom.  Zack crawled in after midnight after doing the music for the prom as part of SLAP.  Justin got home at 6AM from Safe Grad with welts all over his body from Rue Ball.

After doing yesterdays blog entry I headed in to the Institution and started unpacking boxes and trying to restore my office to rights for Susan.  I did what I could.  Have fun with the rest Susan!!!

A visit to the garage with the Terrible Torrent and was informed that it should be brought in again when the problem is occurring... okay... maybe it won't happen again!!

Shopping for supper.  Shopping for motorcycle maintenance items.

Motorcycle maintenance: install tire, change oil and install spare gas can mount...  A little ingenuity here with a nylon cutting board and some zip ties!  If you rode a KLR you would understand!!!

Cooking supper: bbq chicken breasts.

When supper is over and all is cleaned up (including me) I am off for a visit with a member of the congregation i…

(Day 11) On swan ponds and pomp and circumstance...

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Farewell the neighing steed and the shrill trump, The spirit-stirring drum, th'ear-piercing fife, The royal banner, and all quality, Pride, pomp, and circumstance of glorious war! Shakespeare, Othello (Act III, Scene iii)
Like a proud music that draws men on to die Madly upon the spears in martial ecstasy, A measure that sets heaven in all their veins    And iron in their hands. I hear the Nation march Beneath her ensign as an eagle's wing; O'er shield and sheeted targe The banners of my faith most gaily swing; Moving to victory with solemn noise, With worship and with conquest, and the voice of myriads. Lord de Tabley's, The March of Glory
No entry yesterday.  I was too tired.  Errands in the morning.  Errands in the early afternoon.  A visit to the Swan Pond followed by the Grand March... I was asleep in the chair by 9PM...
It was a wonderful day for pictures and I took lots of them.  Lots because if Justin is anything like me 20 years from now, this event with all its pomp and circu…

(Day 10) On hauling garbage, garbage cars and graduations... and time!

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The day began with a plan.

Pick up borrowed trailer. (Thanks Ernie)Load construction waste.Drive to Moncton.Load scrap metal.Drive to metal trader.Return trailer.  (Thanks Ernie)Clean garage.Change rear motorcycle tire.All was well until number three.  Got on the highway to Moncton, moving right along and all of a sudden red flashing light on the dash board and a beeping noise...  Oh great!  It's gonna blow up - just let me pull over here and get out of the way!!!

I was concerned.  I didn't know what the warning light was for.  I pulled over.  Shut the thing off and pulled out the owners manual.  That was no help.  I looked a little closer.  An exclamation mark in a circle surrounded by brackets... hmmmm.... brake....  I turned the key on.  No beeping.  No light.  Pulled up the parking brake... and there it was...

Brakes were working fine (I stopped didn't I?).  So I continued on my way up to Moncton.  $20 dollars worth of gas (and an yet unkonwn repair bill for the brake …

(Day 9) On caring community and changing...

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“How does one become a butterfly?” she asked pensively. “You must want to fly so much that you are willing to give up being a caterpillar.” ~ Trina Paulus

This morning saw me head to Springhill as if it was a regular workday.  Over the weekend I received a call from the partner of a man I had the privilege of working with over a number of years.  He was having a difficult time and needed some support and encouragement.  My supervisors within CSC approved my going to visit him so I headed to the Institution, did some paperwork and then headed to Halifax about 9AM.

Along the way I called Clarence Deschiffart who facilitates the Kairos Marathon program and inquired about meeting for lunch before my other meeting. Clarence informed me that he was meeting with Tracey Demmons, Director of the Charles Taylor Centre for Chaplaincy and Spiritual Care and invited me to come along.  We had a delightful vegetarian lunch at Satisfaction Feast on Robie Street and Tracey and I shared with each other …

(Day 8) On Listening, Love and Lobsters...

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Friday evening brought some scary news to our home.  Mom had been taken to the hospital with an extremely elevated blood pressure.  Initial diagnosis was a mini-stroke and they sent her home.  Within a few hours of returning home her conditions deteriorated and she needed to go back to the hospital.  Dad and my brother tried to call an ambulance but she would have nothing of it.  Dad drover her to the hospital and there, after a CAT scan it was determined that she did not have a stroke but instead was suffering from very high blood pressure.  She was kept overnight for observation and released on Saturday morning with medication to control her blood pressure.

I went over to the Island on Sunday after Church and my brother Brian was still upset at Mom's stubbornness - she wouldn't listen to him and Dad urging her to go by ambulance - funny how the mother who used to urge us to listen to her "out of love" is hard of hearing when it comes to listening to others when the…

(Day 5 con't) Of fathers, faithfulness and the future...

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I received a medal from my youngest son yesterday.  We had just finished supper and were bantering back and forth as to who would do the dishes.  The conversation went something like this:
Me:  Who is on for dishes tonight?Justin and Zack:  You!Me: I made supper!Zack:  Want a medal?Me:  Yes, I do.  You ate it and didn't complain - except for the peas!!Zack bolted from the table and returned with a Post-It note on which he had written "I made supper.  This is my medal." and promptly posted it on my chest. Justin encouraged me to wear it to town that night!!
I didn't wear it to town and the dishes didn't get done.  Before I had left Justin had agreed to do the dishes but his friend arrived to study with him just as I was leaving and that took precedent.  


The dishes were still there this morning when I got up... and I left them there, thinking I would do them later.  I must say, I was encouraged and pleased when about an hour later I heard the clatter of dishes in th…

(Day 5) On Wondering, Wandering and Worldviews

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The most significant gift of this sabbath time thus far is the gift of time to wonder.  Each morning I am presented with a blank slate: no fixed agenda, no list of needs, no worries about what challenges will await me at the prison and I have time to wonder... and I did a lot of wondering yesterday:

I wondered at the curious mix of ingredients and chemical reactions as I ate that guilt ridden piece of banana bread, I wondered how I could be so stupid as I waited for gas to be delivered after running out on the way to Amherst, I wondered at the complexity of the automobile and my past ambition to be an auto mechanic as I waited for the car to be repaired, I wondered about what I would see and who I would meet as I looked at maps and route suggestions on the GPS,and, I wondered about the mysterious change that occurs within as I sat on the back step and watched the sun peek through the clouds for the first time in five days!
Much of my wondering was focused on my soon to be wandering acr…

Day 4: Church Meeting or Banana Bread?

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Yesterday was the regularly scheduled meeting of Chignecto Presbytery, a regular gathering that I am obligated to attend as a member of the Order of Ministry of the United Church of Canada... and I had planned to attend!  I did!  Really!!  But as the day progressed my focus changed.

First off I went to Amherst to get the car aligned and was informed that a tie-rod end would need to be replaced.  So... the appointment was rescheduled to the 16th.  With a morning to myself I decided to go shopping.  I needed some personal care items for the trip and wanted to get a couple of light moisture wicking t-shirts.  For the first time in months I set foot in Wal-Mart and was quickly reminded why I hate shopping!

With sun-screen and other non-essentials (as per our current weather) purchased I returned to Sackville and stopped to visit a few colleagues and was invited no less then three times to travel with them to Moncton to the meeting.  At the first invitation I decided not to go.  The two su…

Day 3: The Pre-Departure List...

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There is a list (inside my head) of things needing to be done prior to departure.  I am thinking, "If I can hammer this list out here - and tick of the things that need to be done - perhaps it can be the last list until I return?  I have already arranged to have the chimney repaired (mid July), and to have topsoil delivered (next week) and booked my flights to the Conference and back... but the list remains:

alignment on carpurchase oil and filter for bikechange oil and filter on bikewrite a service for Sunday June 19thdo a 2nd dry run pack on bikefinalize presentation for PFI Convocationget ready for Justin's graduation celebrationPam Bowman and a number of other colleagues are attending the Atlantic Seminar in Theological Education where Miriam Therese Winter and Micheal Morwood are leading participants in exploring the theme "Let Us Pray..."  As I was reflecting this morning on some of the words shared with me from that conference I was reminded of these words fro…

Day 2: Preparing to Leave

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“…I’ve come to believe that there exists in the universe something I call “The Physics of The Quest” – a force of nature governed by laws as real as the laws gravity or momentum. And the rule of Quest Physics maybe goes like this: “If you are brave enough to leave behind everything familiar and comforting (which can be anything from your house to your bitter old resentments) and set out on a truth-seeking journey (either externally or internally), and if you are truly willing to regard everything that happens to you on that journey as a clue, and if you accept everyone you meet along the way as a teacher, and if you are prepared – most of all – to face (and forgive) some very difficult realities about yourself…. then truth will not be withheld from you.  Or so I’ve come to believe.” ~ Elizabeth Gilbert, Eat Pray Love.
I watched the movie Eat, Pray Love a number of months ago and quite enjoyed it.  I remember being struck by the words above - “The Physics of the Quest” and put them in th…

Day 1: I'm Officially on Sabbatical...

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Yesterday was the first official day of my sabbatical.  The morning was one of contrasts.  For me there was no rushing out the door to the prison.  However, Anna was stressed and rushing to get away to be with her mom to offer support as she waited for a procedure, the boys were writing their first exams of the week, Barb and Jerry Wittstock’s (friends of ours visiting from Alberta) were packing to return home and I had no plans... well... I had lots of plans but they were washed away with the rain!
Anna got away.  The boys got off to school.  Barn and Jerry were gone.  And I was alone.  I read.  I did some mapping.  I read some more... and I spent some time reflecting on the pictures above the Justin shot over the weekend (the sun did shine for two days).
“The grass withers... and the dandelions are scattered...”  My paraphrase of Isaiah 40.  
A wise person once said to me about ministry, “Put your hand in a bucket of water and take it out... when you are gone that is about how much you…