Easter Newsletter, 2007
FROM THE RECTOR’S DESK I’ve never forgotten him telling me this and stored it away amongst those things in my mind as “possible things to do in the future” – until now. Having now done it, I am glad I did – and not just because it seems to have had the impact intended. I am glad to have done it because of the impact it has had on me and of my own experience of the passion story this year. I began seriously to commit it to memory about two and a half weeks before Palm Sunday when I was on vacation down in California. I began with the first two or three sentences and added a little bit each day, pacing myself and finally added the last paragraph on the Friday before Palm Sunday.
hose of you who were in church for the services on Palm Sunday will know that this year I decided to present the story of Christ’s Passion in the form of a recited monologue taken straight from one of the Gospels, in this case Luke 22:14 – 23:56 (NRSV). I have received numerous positive comments about this, not just complimenting my memory (it’s actually easier than you might think) but more than this people have told me how the story connected with them in a totally new way, took them to another level, transported them right back to that time and place. Those were the sorts of things people said and I’m really pleased and not totally surprised, because that was the intention. The idea came from something a friend, colleague and parish priest once said in Bristol. He said that he used to read the passion story from the gospels to his congregation during Holy Week but that somehow it always seemed flat, somehow didn’t seem to connect with the people. Probably it just seemed like a long reading, which is what it was, of course. He realized that there was “a text in the way,” that somehow the written word on the page was coming between him and the hearers and that, no matter how well he read it (and he was a good reader!), the full impact of the story was not going to get through. So, being something of a thespian (amongst other things he was chaplain to Bristol Old Vic) he decided to learn it and then present it much the way I did on Palm Sunday, telling the story rather than reading it.
That Friday I took my sister and her family up to Cypress and while they were having their ski and snowboard lessons I rode the Sunrise Chair reciting the story of the passion. There were not too many people around so I don’t think anyone could overhear me but I have to wonder what any skier or boarder might have made of hearing those words coming from above – especially the line “Truly I tell you, today you will be with me in Paradise”!
St. Luke window; from Christ and Holy Trinity Church, Westport, Connecticut.
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Even more perhaps than hearers on Palm Sunday during these past two and a half weeks I have been transported back to those last hours of Jesus’ life. I have been with him in the upper room … and on the Mount of Olives … and in the courtyard round the fire in the high priest’s house … before Pilate and Herod … on the road to the cross. I have found myself thinking those words and reciting them in my head as I have driven the highways, as I’ve walked down the street, as I have lain awake at night and in my sleep. It has been an incredibly profound experience.
These words had to become my words if I was going to be able to tell the story. Someone said to me that they had found hearing it very emotional and I have to say it has been very emotional for me also. Somehow the Lord has drawn very close to me and is more real to me than he’s been for a long time. It is really beyond words. Among the many things this experience is saying to me is the need to get beyond the text, beyond the words on the page. Sometimes, often perhaps, when a text is read we are unable to hear the words, we just hear a text being read but we don’t get the message. Contact isn’t being made. And it’s not just about whether the reader is a good reader or not. In order for us to hear the story our lives have to
become entwined with the story so that it is our story as well. I think that is what has been happening to me as I have got inside the words of the passion story in the Gospel according to Luke in the New Revised Standard Version – they are not my words but they have had to become my words. I believe there is possibly a deeper and wider lesson here for us and for the Church as we try to convey the good news of Christ to a world that seems impervious, that seems often to be unable to “get it.” Perhaps it’s because often we are reading the story in our lives rather than telling it.
Angus Stuart Rector
IN THIS EDITION •
Report from the Wardens
At the Foot of the Cross…
Dress for Success
Climate Change and the Cool Column
Youth Group Updates
Nkhoma Hospital Appeal
Home Study Group
Spiritual Formation and Spiritual Direction
Grandmother of all Garage Sales
Third Sunday at Three Concert Series
From the damp and dreary; a poem…
Welcome to the Easter edition of the St. Francisin-the-Wood Newsletter! We hope that you enjoy this season’s selection of news and articles from the community of St. Francis and beyond. As you can see, we’ve made some changes to the layout and increased our picture quotient! We’re always on the lookout for interesting articles, stories and reviews for future editions; especially if you have pictures to go alongside them. Please send all contributions to the St. Francis Office: (email@example.com) The Editorial Team St Francis-in-the-Wood, Easter Newsletter Page 3
his is my first report to you as Rector’s Warden and to start with I would like to thank Peter Kains, the retiring warden, for his guidance and leadership while I was, so to speak, “in training”. I am pleased to continue working with David Thomas, our newly elected People’s Warden, as he has been a great source of support to me in the past year. I would also like to welcome Dianne Hill as Deputy Warden. Dianne is sure to bring a wealth of experience and ideas to the table. Parish Council will have a few new faces this year and I welcome you all to this important work. I hope that, together, we will be able to look back on 2007as another year of accomplishment at St. Francis. The roles of Wardens, Parish Council and members at large are very clear to me. We are all here to continue supporting Angus in his good works and ministry,
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which we all appreciate. Additionally the Wardens are responsible for all financial matters and we will continue to be vigilant in watching over all expenses, working together with our newly appointed Treasurer, Lionel Dodd. I believe that if we are sensitive to the needs of our parishioners, outreach efforts, education and spiritual growth, the quality of our parish life will continue to thrive. The Wardens and Angus meet bi-weekly to review our ongoing projects, events and future plans for 2007 to ensure that we keep up the good work of the Parish. David, Dianne and myself are always pleased to hear your ideas and suggestions and we encourage you to approach us at any time.
Maureen Jones Rector’s Warden
Tahirih of Persia
Hildegard of Bingen
WOMEN MYSTICS Instructor: Harold Rosen Community Interfaith Educator Master’s Degrees in Religion, Philosophy & Education
n this course we explore the lives, thoughts and deeds of six outstanding women of history. Their intellectual brilliance, spiritual radiance and moral courage overcame the barriers of their patriarchal cultures. They were provocative and influential reformers who could not be ignored or overlooked. Two were martyred, each wrote and spoke with power and eloquence, and in due course, all were officially or unofficially beatified. They shared a mystical, visionary and futuristic bent, but also made significant social impact in their turbulent times. Their lives span over 1600 years, and range from Middle East to West. We will examine their relevance to current religious, social and spiritual concerns. An informal lecture-discussion format will be used, with about six pages of handout material for each session. Sessions are on Wednesdays beginning at 6.45pm
Wednesday April 18 – Intro to Mysticism, Wednesday April 25 – Hypatia Philosophical Martyr & Sufi Poet
Wednesday May 2 – Hildegard of Bingen: EarthCentered Theologian Wednesday May 9 – Teresa of Avila: Guide to the Interior Castle Wednesday May 16 – Tahirih of Persia: New World Visionary & Martyr Wednesday May 23 – Barbara Marx Hubbard: Conscious Evolutionist Cost: $75 (or $15 per session) Call the Church Office to Register 604 922 3531
AT THE FOOT OF THE CROSS You may remember that in our Winter Newsletter, Anne Baird reflected upon Mary’s role in the Christmas story. For Easter, Anne returns to Mary, and looks at the events of Holy Week through her eyes.
t the foot of the cross stood three who were faithful to Jesus till the end: John, the beloved disciple, Mary Magdalene, and Mary, his mother. Other followers had fled. Most disciples were hiding. Surrounded by enemies, mocked by a jeering rabble, Christ hung in agony on the cross, suffering the most painful and humiliating death Rome could devise. Powerless to intervene, or even to mitigate his anguish in any way, the three stayed, offering the only comfort they could. They shared in his death, refused to avert their eyes from his torment, or to leave him alone with it. Their silent witness and passionate solidarity with one rejected by the world, (at that moment, even by God), was an The Pietà, by Michelangelo act of incredible courage and love. Especially for Mary. As a mother who has participated in the trials of my own children, my heart breaks for her. What a roller coaster ride she had with Jesus! My maternal experiences pale in comparison. From the annunciation at the tender age of 15, her hastily concluded marriage with her fiancé, Joseph; the birth of her son in a stable, the miraculous visitations of angels, shepherds and Magi, and the flight into Egypt to escape the murderous intentions of Herod, her life was turned upside down. The prophetic utterances of old Simeon and Anna regarding Jesus’ extraordinary but alarming mission, must have provoked anxiety as well as pride in a young mother’s heart. And the episode when Jesus,
aged 12, deserts her for 3 days on their annual Passover pilgrimage to the temple at Jerusalem, where he dazzles its learned scholars with his intellect, must have raised more fears. Confronted about his thoughtless behaviour, Jesus is astonished and unrepentant. “Did you not know I must be busy with my Father’s affairs?” he chides. How painful this reminder of his special destiny must have been to Mary! There followed a blessed respite of some 20 years, in which, so far as we know, Jesus returned to Nazareth, and was a model son. He mastered the carpenter’s trade. After Joseph died, he must have helped support his widowed mother – an essential filial duty at a time when family was the only form of social security. But when Jesus reached the age of around 30, his “silent years” came to an end. Leaving Nazareth, he went into the desert where he wrestled with and overcame the temptations of the devil. Baptized by his cousin, John, in the Jordan, and acknowledged by God as his “beloved Son, with whom I am well pleased.” - his public ministry began. Mary must have felt proud, and vindicated in all she had suffered on his behalf. But if she rejoiced, it was short-lived. Returning to Nazareth to preach, he was rejected by the very people who knew him best. (“A prophet is not without honour except in his native place and among his own relations and in his own house.”) He left Nazareth, never to return again. We don’t know how Mary lived in the years after Jesus left home. We do know she was present at his first miracle, when he turned water into wine at the wedding in Caana. Clearly, she had great confidence in her son! Despite family and friends who thought him mad, believing that he should be seized and restrained for his own safety (and to spare them embarrassment), she supported him totally. “Do whatever he says!” she ordered the servants at the wedding. Sublime confidence! Jesus scolds her,
saying his time has not yet come. Still, he fulfills her expectations. The water is turned into wine, and Mary’s pride and joy in him must have known no bounds. There followed an extraordinary, heady period in which growing crowds of believers followed him. They all wanted something. Bread. Healing. Freedom. A Saviour. A warrior king, who would drive the Romans out of Palestine, and restore the kingdom of David! How proud she must have been as she followed his career! Even at a distance, she must have heard of his exploits. Yet there were ominous signs of a gathering storm. Jewish religious leaders, jealous of his growing reputation and enraged at his criticism of their hypocrisy, conspired against him. Mary must have worried that his fame made him a lightning rod for many malevolent forces. Despite her knowledge that he had been born to this unique destiny, she must have longed for the peace and tranquility of the silent years. It was not to be. The roller coaster continued. The triumphant entry into Jerusalem, when his exultant followers believed they were leading the warrior Messiah into his temporal kingdom. The Last Supper, when Jesus declared his kingdom was not of this world – thus sealing his fate with the ambitious Judas. The retreat into Gethsemane, where he was betrayed, not just by Judas, but also by the disciples who could not stay awake with him. The fiasco of a trial where the Pharisees demanded that he be found guilty, not just of blasphemy, but of conspiring against Rome. The ridicule. The beating. The crowning with thorns. The horror of the crowd. Only yesterday, they had proclaimed him king and saviour. Now, they howled for his crucifixion, preferring freedom for Barabbas, a notorious criminal and murderer, to freedom for Christ. The dreadful journey through the streets of Jerusalem, where he bore his own cross to the place of execution. The nailing to the tree. The long agony of crucifixion, naked, and despised by all.
I believe she was there. That she followed Jesus as closely as she could through his final journey. That she followed him through the streets of Calvary. That she stood steadfast to the bitter end– a presence so important to him, that in his last breath, Jesus commended her to the care of his best friend, John. Mary survived the horror of her son’s suffering and death. She lived to know the joy of his certain resurrection, and to meet her risen son. To see the fulfillment of God’s promises. Today, she is rightly revered throughout the Christian world. At Easter, I love Mary’s example of the selfless mother who never seeks to sway her child from his chosen path. I admire her ability to accept God’s will for her, and for the Son she bore, in simple obedience, faith and trust. Even when it cost more than she could humanly bear. Her final mother’s vindication with the resurrection of her beloved son, our Saviour and Lord, was justly and gloriously earned. May we all learn from, and follow, insofar as we are able, the path she showed.
Where was Mary during Holy Week? The Bible doesn’t tell us much. But we do know she was at the foot of the cross. I believe she was present in Jerusalem during the most critical events of those dark days. Nazareth was fairly close to the holy city. And Mary’s anxious ears, surely, were keenly tuned to everything concerning her famous son. Had she missed anything –good or bad – family, neighbours, and friends would soon have brought it to her attention. Bad news travels fast. Statue from Mission San Diego de Alcalá
CLOSET ENCOUNTERS— NEARLY NEW CLOTHING MINISTRY
any thanks for the continuing support so many of you give to the Clothing Room at Covenant House. All the donations of clothes are much appreciated by the young people.
DRESS FOR SUCCESS I have recently heard of a wonderful group who collect clothes for a program called “Dress for Success”. It helps low income women to make tailored transitions into the workforce. Some of the clothes brought to our Covenant House Locker suit older clients with a different lifestyle ….. I will be selecting some of these for Dress for Success. If you have some suitable items – please bring them to the Covenant House locker in the gym at St. Francis. Dress for Success, a non-profit organization – see www.dressforsuccess.org— first started in New York in 1996. There are now seventy five locations
worldwide, three in Canada. The Vancouver chapter opened its door in February 1999 and operates out of space donated by the Royal Bank at West Hastings and Granville. They outfit each client from head to toe for her first interview, including make-up and hair consultation. Once she gets a job, she is entitled to a small working wardrobe. More than 2,500 organizations throughout the world send women to Dress for Success for professional apparel and career development services and an average of 1,500 women a year are now being outfitted for new careers by Dress for Success. How to get involved with Dress for Success: • Volunteer at Dress at 685 West Hastings, Vancouver • Donate clothing, shoes or accessories such as handbags and jewelry • Conduct a suit, shoe or accessory drive at your place of work.
Clothing drive at Dress for Success in Vancouver
Mary Ann Sweeny
SPECIAL EVENTS The last quickly.
December came and went in a flurry of activity. Together with the Advent Sundays we had the Children’s Christmas party which was a great success thanks to Ainslie who always entertains the children in such a creative manner. Christmas Eve was a long day for Caitlin and many of the choir members who had put in about nine hours before the evening was over. Thanks to Christine and Angus who opened their home and in comfort we were able to keep the choir nourished with food while they kept us nourished with wonderful music. January bought us a “slow down” in activities which I think was enjoyed by all. The next well attended and really super evening was the Youth’ “Pancake Dinner”. Phil came up with the idea of a “up market” crepe dinner and although I did much of the cooking most of the work was done by the youth group.
Thanks to you all for setting up the tables, helping in the kitchen and serving. It was fun for me working with you all and getting to know some of you a little better. A special “Thank you” to Aaron who helped with all the serving.
More exciting and fun events are coming so Please mark these dates in your diary. 5:30am Easter breakfast.
April 28th we will be having a car rally and more details of that will be coming shortly. May 27th is the church picnic and June 24th is a strawberry tea “with a twist”
Louise Selby Special Events Coordinator
FRONT LINE OF CLIMATE CHANGE By John Vidal. Reprinted with permission from the Guardian Weekly
herbahadur Tamang, a schoolteacher in Khetbari, a village in southern Nepal, explains what happened on September 9: "During the night there was light rain, but when we woke its intensity increased. In an hour or so the rain became so heavy that we could not see more than a foot or two in front of us. It was like a wall of water and it sounded like 10,000 lorries. It went on like that until midday. Then all the land started moving like a river."
Years, says Ganga Rana, who has lost all but 200sq m out of 2 hectares of land to the river and has moved to another refugee village, hoping to be resettled. "More water is definitely coming off the mountains. I am scared. I think in two years the river will take everyone's fields," she says. In the south villagers have observed plenty of small signs of climate change. One notes that wild pigs now have their young earlier, another that some types of rice and cucumber will no longer grow where they used to. A third says that the days are hotter and that some trees now flower twice a year.
When it stopped raining, Mr Tamang and Anecdotal observations are backed by the rest of the villagers barely recognised scientists who have recorded in Nepal some their valley in the Chitwan hills. In just six of the fastest long-term increases in hours the Jugedi river, which normally temperatures and rainfall anywhere in the flows for only a few months of the year world. Worryingly, at least 44 of Nepal's and and is at most about 50m wide in neighbouring Bhutan's Himalayan lakes, Khetbari, had scoured a 300m-wide path which collect glacier melt water, are said by down the valley, leaving boulders, trees the UN environment programme to be rising and rubble in its path. Fields and so rapidly that they could burst their banks terraces had been swept away; the within a decade. When this happened in irrigation systems built by generations of ÂŠ Graeme Robertson 1985, a 15m wall of water cascaded down a farmers had gone; houses were destroyed. Mr Tamang's house was marooned on a newly formed valley causing damage as far as 80km away. Engineering work is under way to lower water levels in island. some lakes while others are urgently surveyed. Khetbari expects a small flood every decade or so, but in the past three years there have been two large Less dramatically, the annual snow melt, which has ones. "The floods are coming more severely more long provided Nepalese farmers with predictable frequently," said Mr Tamang. "Not only is the rainfall amounts of water at almost set times of year, now far heavier these days, it is also coming at different comes up to a month earlier. This alarms rice farmers because the previously equally regular monsoon rains times of the year." are now coming later. Drought is killing off the young Nepal is on the frontline of climate change and plants, lowering crop yields for people who already variations on Khetbari's experience are now being live on the edge of hunger. recorded from the freezing Himalayas in the north to "Unless the country learns to adapt, then people will the hot plains in the south. suffer greatly," says Gehendra Gurung, a team leader Tekmadur Majsi, whose lands have been washed with Practical Action in Nepal, which is trying to help away by the Tirshuli river, said: "The rains are people prepare for change. In a series of projects increasingly unpredictable. We always used to have a around the country the organisation is working with little rain each month, but now it's very different. It's dozens of the most vulnerable villages, helping them more concentrated and intense. It means that crop to build dykes to protect people against floods and to yields are going down." He now lives with 200 other set up early warning systems. It is also teaching people to grow new crops, introducing drip irrigation refugees in tents by a highway. and water storage schemes, trying to minimise The Tirshuli, which rises in Mustang and flows into the deforestation, which can lead to landslides, and introducing renewable energy. Ganges in India, has moved nearly 300m in four
"The effects of climate change are now being observed in most every areas of Nepalese life. Malaria and other diseases are increasing as infectious insects extend their range; farmers are finding pests they have never seen before; extreme fluctuations in river flows play havoc with hydroelectric supplies," says Mr Gurung. "It is even leading to a change in architecture. On the north side of the Himalayas, which is normally in the rain shadow of the monsoons, people are finding that their flat mud roofs are unable to keep out the more intense rains, so they are changing to pitched roofs." Some people who have begun to adapt already see the benefits. Davandrod Kardigardi, a young farmer in the Chitwan village of Bharlang, was taught to grow
THE COOL COLUMN
have joined with Sophia Roberts to form the St. Francis Environmental Unit.
The purpose is to find ways to make St. Francis more energy efficient; to link with the Diocese on environmental initiatives; to bring and spread ‘cool’ ideas; and generally to help us all to walk more softly upon the Earth. Already Sophia has organized a new supplier of recycled paper for the office and (under Bob Hutchinson’s watchful eye) in weeks ahead we’ll be taking advantage of the BC Hydro Powersmart incentive programme to switch to compact fluorescent bulbs in the nave, narthex, gym and elsewhere as appropriate. After that… further projects to be determined! We will try to ‘lead by doing’ and by finding out and discussing what others are doing and we might follow. It would be good to see St. Francis recognized as an active participant in the Green Parish Accreditation Programme at Synod this Spring. Ideas welcome to firstname.lastname@example.org or on 604 925 2682!
fruit and, against his father's advice, planted banana trees. It has paid off handsomely. "Rather than cereals, like rice and wheat, which need water at precise times of year, I am now growing bananas and vegetables," he says. His father now sees the wisdom of the change and is backing him. But Nepal needs help adapting, says Mr Gurung. One of the least developed countries in the world, its emissions of damaging greenhouse gases are globally negligible, yet it finds itself on the frontline of change. "Western countries can control their greenhouse gas emissions, but to mitigate the effects will take a long time, he says. "Until then they can help countries like Nepal to adapt. But it means that everyone must question the way they live."
usy times for the youth of St. Francis – whether that’s building pasta towers, flipping and serving crepes to raise money for charity or munching on pizza and discussing the nature of God! As well as meeting on Monday afternoons for our sports and social times, the Junior Youth now have their own study and fellowship group on Sunday mornings. So far we’ve explored what it means to be a kid, to be at school and the way we treat our friends. We also made the colourful banners and flags used at the Pancake Dinner and during the rest of the subsequent Lenten Appeal. Speaking of the Pancake Dinner… We had a great time running our Shrove Tuesday event, which this year was a fundraiser for the Nkhoma Hospital project (which you can read more about elsewhere in this newsletter) with the help of Louise Selby, we were able to have something which looked pretty much like a gourmet crepe night! And, of course, we had a crepe flipping competition because, really, how could it be Shrove Tuesday without one?
Our first series of Ignite, our new Senior Youth discussion group, also gave us some food for thought. Entitled Big Questions, we’ve gone back to basics
looking at God, Jesus, the Holy Spirit, the Church and the Bible and reintroduced ourselves to them. The second series started this week with a short course for this year’s confirmation candidates (which will be taking place at Christ Church Cathedral in Vancouver on April 29th at 4pm) Our Spring schedule is now available. Junior Youth (Grades 5-6) can join us every Monday afternoon from 3.30-5pm and Seniors (Grades 7-12) from 6.308.30pm for dinner and our theme nights. We began this week with Environment Night, a session looking at global warming. Future nights for this term include Game Show Night, Park Night and the long delayed Laser Night. All are welcome to Monday groups; whether you’re part of the church or not. And if you’re a slightly-older-than-youth type or person who’d like to join us for an evening to hang out and help out with some of the kitchen work, do let Phil know! Our discussion groups take place on Sundays (during the 10am service for Juniors and at 6.30pm for Seniors) and, for all the latest news and updates of what we’re doing, get in touch (email@example.com) and come visit our website at: http://www.youthinthewood.wordpress.com
NKHOMA HOSPITAL APPEAL
is name is Dr. Raynier Ter Haar and he lives in Malawi East Africa with his wife and 6 children, two of them adopted Malawian twin boys. He is a doctor in a hospital called Nkoma. He is a friend of the Hutchinsons, which is how the Social Concerns Committee and Youth Groups at St. Francis heard about him. He came to speak to us one Sunday and show us photographs of his life’s work. With humble clarity of the impoverished situation at Nkoma Hospital he turned our hearts. We saw his need in this poor hospital where basic medicine, care of well trained doctors and nurses, beds and operating tables, is poignantly lacking. Our Advent hearts opened to help Raynier and today we have raised over $23,000.00 to send back to Malawi with him. He takes back a marvelous gift of money and good wishes, and we feel blessed to have been able to give such generous support.
Children from Nakhoma’s Orphan Care Project
Raynier will now have the funds to purchase items on his wish list for Nkhoma Hospital, such as: medical supplies, a portable operating light, an operating Gyne table for fistula repairs and some suction machines. Thanks to the generosity of our parishioners there will be enough money to go beyond the basic wish list. In a country where there is one doctor for every 50,000 patients, where 960 mothers die for every 100,000 births, and where 50% of children die from malnutrition, Raynier will have difficult choices made a little easier thanks to our Lenten gift of love, care and respect for a warm-hearted doctor who chose a life of medical ministry in a beautiful but desperately poor country. The Youth Groups and Social Concerns Committee is thankful for all the support given to this project by everyone at St. Francis. For more information about the work of Nkhoma Hospital, visit their website at http://www.nkhomahospital.org/
Penny Collett, Chair; Social Concerns Committee
ST FRANCIS HOME STUDY GROUP
ince this Home Study Group began we’ve done Book Studies, a Video Study and Bible Studies. We like variety. We took a break before Easter so that we could join John Kessel’s Lent Studies – What’s Rite with the Eucharist. This has been a great introduction to the history and background to the Eucharist and now we plan on looking more closely at the Eucharist liturgy we use at St. Francis. Sometimes words used regularly ‘roll off the tongue’ and we can miss the richness of its meaning and the impact that truly believing and understanding what we say can have in our spiritual lives.
We’ll begin again on Tuesday 17th April at Ian and Marilyn’s home and, as always, we shall start off with supper at 7 p.m. Watch the Bulletin for details or call Marilyn on 604.922.1616
SPIRITUAL FORMATION AND SPIRITUAL DIRECTION
any of you may already have heard that Jeanette Stigger (a familiar face to many parishioners) and I are involved with helping to organize the upcoming Spiritual Directors International Conference Coming Home to the Cosmos, which is being held in Richmond, April 11 – 15. This commitment has meant that I have cut back on teaching classes this winter. The energy awareness classes have continued once a month which we have all enjoyed and learned much. We will continue in some form in the spring. I’ll keep you posted. I am particularly interested in the conference as the work of the keynote speaker Brian Swimme, who “is a mathematical cosmologist who brings a meaningful interpretation of the human as an emergent being within the Universe” relates very closely to energy awareness. Brian Swimme, in his DVD, The Powers of the Universe, speaks of how all of creation, from the smallest particle to the largest galaxy, is influenced by the same forces or powers or energies of evolution. He invites us to grow in awareness of them so that we can more consciously participate with them. For me, this relates to our spiritual journey as he encourages us to be conscious of how the powers of the universe influence us personally, to find and to take our place as a part of creation and to participate through our choices. Brian Swimme names 10 energies or powers which I will summarize very briefly. For me, naming the powers helps me to identify where I am in my growth process and informs me of some possibilities of how I might participate in it. Seamlessess: everything is a part of the one body of creation. Centration: energy that focuses on the individual parts of creation
Allurement: energy that draws parts (individuals) of creation together. Within the relationship both positive and negative influences are present. The interactions within the relationship shape the individuals. It is a creative process. Emergence: Through the interactions of the power of allurement something new emerges. Homeostasis: As something new emerges a container or structure is created to hold and nurture it creating conditions so that what is “new” can flourish. Cataclysm: The ‘new’ creation reaches a peak of stability and the structure or container can no longer hold the ‘new’ and the container begins to and then does collapse. Synergy: with the collapse of the container the “parts” are able to combine and to relate in new ways. Transmutation: as the individual “parts” are able to adapt to the cataclysm and allow the parts to combine and to relate in new ways through synergy they can then let go of what is not working and keep what is. The individual changes. Transformation: the individual change causes a change in the larger system. Interrelatedness: is about care; the universe cares about survival and supports what is life-giving. Radiance: the above energies are integrated/ embodied and are experienced as radiance – energy that radiates from the body that has integrated it. adventure we are all invited to participate in. It is not easy and it is rich. Be merciful with my brief summary which in no way is complete. On the DVD each one of these “powers” is talked about for about an hour. If this twigs your curiosity at all I am hoping to find a time when the DVD can be viewed over a number of afternoons or evenings. If you are interested please email me at firstname.lastname@example.org and let me know if afternoons or evenings work best for you. You may be wondering how Brian Swimme’s 10 powers of the universe relates to an experiential class exploring and growing in consciousness of energy. First I want to give an answer to, “What is energy?”
Peter Hodgson, in Winds of the Spirit: A Constructive Christian Theology, writes, “Spirit is an immaterial vitality that enlivens and shapes material nature… Energy is simply that mysterious power that is active and at work in things, and that power is God as Spirit.” I need to add that, to me, God is indefinable. We can use words and images and reason to help us create an environment for us to be open to experience a touch of God but I don’t think we will ever “get it completely.” Both Swimme and Hodgson speak about the ongoing processes of the being and becoming of all things that will forever remain a mystery, but like all good mysteries there are clues that guide us. I want to introduce a part of the model of spiritual formation, Energy Awareness, I practice and teach and link it to Brian Swimme’s work focusing on the power of centration. I choose this particular power as many of you may already be familiar with Centring Prayer which is a prayer practice that many groups are using when they gather together. Centring is a key skill we practice in the model I teach. Two other skills I teach, grounding and personal space, are a part of the power of centration. For Brian Swimme, centration is “a way in which the universe centres on itself.” At one and the same time the power of centration holds together all of creation as one entity, centring on the whole, and at the same time centres on the very smallest aspect of creation, centring on the parts, “aiming to create a form to carry on life.” All parts belong to the one body and everything makes a difference.
Everything matters. Each of us matters and because each of us matters we are encouraged to “identify the elements that enhance our own journey into our self.” To live with the question, how is the universe centring on me, what is being asked of me? helps us to name our place, our calling. It is not something beyond our own lives but is intricately woven within it. Often it is already there and we simply have not seen it. Many people confuse centration w i t h s e l f absorption, however, it is more akin to the first two commandments. Love God and love your neighbour as yourself. Our love of God, which is in all of creation, moves us to love God in our self and in others, including non-human others. Our concern is for the individual and the community. Being open to growing in consciousness of self and others and our place in the larger community helps us to become aware of the power of centration and enables us to participate with it. Centring, a skill taught in the energy awareness classes, supports us in this endeavor. One of the easiest practices that helps us to centre is being aware of breathing. Through centring we can quiet our mind, “Be Still and know that I am God,” and see life through a non-judgmental perspective. Other words for this are compassion, empathy and acceptance; acceptance being very different from agreement. What is, is. From this place we respond to and within reality. The power of centration helps us to know who we are as a part of creation and helps us to take our place.
Another aspect of centration is boundaries, which contains the energy of our personal space. Just as the earth has an atmosphere that regulates the inflow and outflow of energies from the earth to what is beyond the earth so we have a boundary that regulates the energy that is around us. It is a part of our form. The Celts were very aware of this energy. St. Patrick wrote, “Christ ever with me, Christ before me, Christ behind me, Christ within me, Christ beneath me, Christ above me, Christ to my right side, Christ to my left, Christ in his breadth, Christ in his length, Christ in depth.” The Confessions of St. Patrick, p. 81. In the energy awareness classes I teach we explore this field that surrounds us, to learn it’s qualities, to learn how to allow spirit to move through it, to cleanse it, to nurture it, to heal it and to align it with God’s will for us. Our personal space contains us, nurtures us, protects us and helps us to be ourselves separate from creation, an individual, yet intricately connected and knowing of our dependence on it. As we grow in awareness of our relationship with our self, with other and with God, we learn our place and can take it with the inner authority following the example Christ gave us, Mark 1:22 They were astounded at his teaching, for he taught them as one having authority, and not as the scribes.” This authority is not about right and wrong, about happy endings or agreement but about living one’s truth and allowing ourselves to be shaped by the spirit of God in our relationships with others in our life and living. It is about living in the mystery of life, an adventure we are all invited to participate in. It is not easy and it is rich. Centring, grounding and personal space are three skills that support us to grow in awareness of who we are so that we can more consciously participate in creation. One of my delights in teaching energy awareness classes is being a witness to revelation, “the revealing of something previously unknown and or a divine or supernatural disclosure to humans.” (Concise Oxfored English Dictionary). The experiential nature of the class allows us to plumb our depths, to know our self and other’s in new ways, and to support each other as we learn and grow all within the embrace of Love. If you have any questions or comments feel free to contact me, Mary Millerd, at email@example.com.
For further reading: Brian Swimme, The Universe is a Green Dragon. Diarmuid O’Murchu Evolutionary Faith Robert Quinn Deep Change Thomas Keating Open Mind Open Heart If you are interested in the possibility of gathering to view and discuss Brian Swimme’s DVD, Powers of the Universe, contact me at the above email address
he Spiritual Directors International Conference is holding an event open to the public for anyone interested in Spiritual Direction, called: Companions of the Sacred Story: The Art of Spiritual Direction, on Thursday, April 12, 2007 from 7:00 – 8:30 held at The Best Western Richmond Hotel, 7551 Westminster Highway, Richmond. If you are interested in learning more about Spiritual Direction please join us for an engaging conversation with facilitator Bishop Michael Ingham and representatives from six faith traditions. The presentation will conclude with a time for questions and answers. People of all spiritual traditions are joined in their experience of something awesome, mysterious and very real beyond the material world. With this experiential reality comes a profound desire to know this sacred mystery more deeply, more intimately. All traditions provide encouragement and guidance in this process of deepening, and they do this in their own unique and trustworthy ways. When we use terms like spiritual direction, spiritual accompaniment, or spiritual friendship we are referring to that process of enabling another to gain ever increasing intimacy with the sacred source of life, the holy presence that is the very ground of all things. Our hope in offering this evening program is both to introduce to a broad audience the fact that there is something to which we refer as 'spiritual direction', as well as to demonstrate something of the diversity of approaches to the practice of spiritual accompaniment.
GRANDMOTHER OF ALL GARAGE SALES! Saturday, April 21, 8:30 a.m. to 2 p.m. 2309 Inglewood Ave., West Vancouver What could be better than enjoying a garage sale of quality items and helping a worthwhile charity at the same time? The North Shore Gogos are holding a garage sale with all proceeds going to support African grandmothers who are raising children orphaned by AIDS. In Sub-Sarahan Africa alone, 13 million children have been orphaned by AIDS – a higher number than the total of every under 18 year-old child in Canada, Norway, Sweden, Denmark and Ireland combined. The newly formed North Shore Gogos operate under the umbrella of the Greater Van Gogos, more than 100 Lower Mainland women who have chosen to support the Stephen Lewis Foundation’s Grandmothers to Grandmothers Campaign. Gogo means grandmother in Zulu. Currently, more than 140 grandmothers groups across Canada are involved in this campaign which was launched in March 2006 on the eve of International Women’s Day. Items for sale include furniture, household goods, books, games and toys. Browse, buy, or drop by and learn more about the North Shore Gogos. Coffee and baked goods will also be for sale. For more information about the Grandmothers to Grandmothers Campaign go online to www.stephenlewisfoundation.org or call (416) 533-9292, ext. 234. Please contact either Hilary Carpenter (604) 922 9557 or Susan Cooper (604) 925 5796 for more information.
Grandmothers from Gogo outreach project in South Africa; © Jenny Parsley
THIRD SUNDAY AT THREE CONCERT SERIES
here is one concert left in the second season Concert Series: Sunday, April 15th at 3 pm UBC Opera Ensemble under the direction of Nancy Hermiston. At that time we are excited to introduce Lloyd Burritt the local composer of a new opera The Dream Healer opening at the Chan Centre next spring. The Dream Healer is based on Timothy Findlay’s novel by the same name. UBC Opera will do a very short selection from that opera as an introduction to the work at the end of their performance. The composer will speak to it as well. Our last concert with the Malcolm Aiken Jazz Quartet was a howling success, and as it was the day after St. Patrick's it seemed appropriate to have Guinness and chips. Unfortunately, spring break takes its toll and so the audience numbers were just half our usual numbers.
year will be the first to see next seasons line up, and of course the first able to purchase season’s tickets. On that note, an enormous thank you to those who have supported us with season’s tickets, just as a show of support. This provides us with guaranteed funding for the artists. More importantly, thank you to those who grace us with your presence. It is lovely, and fun to see you once a month. I am thoroughly enjoying not only the excellent eclectic selection of music, but also the fun socializing afterwards. Such a lovely interlude on a Sunday. For those of you who have not come as of yet, consider suggesting a walk around Caulfeild Cove or Lighthouse Park to some friends and/or family, followed by an hour or so of diverse but exceptional music plus camaraderie and refreshments after the performance, and then Sunday potluck dinner at your house or theirs. Could be a fun thing to do once a month don’t you think?
We are almost complete with our third season’s selection of performers that will be the most exciting yet. Those in attendance at the final concert for this
UBC Opera Ensemble
o many of us have found a Home at St increased their pledge, while another 40 families Francis whether we are relatively new or long or 31% held their pledges constant, and another since established with a rich history of memories 13 new families represent 10% total pledges and experiences with the parish. As a parish received. While we are only slightly under the 135 family we come together in unison as pledges received last year, we are hopeful that a companions on a journey along a course that few more pledges will be received this spring. nurtures and Your gifts of support enriches our provide reassurance spiritual growth. that the operational There is a 2007 Pledges Received requirements and resounding the myriad of fruitful commitment New programs at St. 13 a m o n g s t [10%] Francis will not only parishioners to be secured for the fortify a level of Increased year but ensure they involvement and Held Constant 64 40 continue with the commitment to [51%] [31%] positive momentum support a Decreased carried over from last d i v e r s e 10 [8%] year. collection of programs, to On behalf of all of us help others in at St. Francis, we need either also wish to show express our sincere within or outside the walls in community through our outreach pursuits. Amongst all these appreciation and extend a special thank you endeavors one constant recurring theme prevails: acknowledging John Windsor for his tireless efforts, focused commitment, and passion in St Francis Cares. leading the Stewardship campaign over the past Your show of support and generosity during the 3 years. 2007 Stewardship Appeal has been exemplary. As presented at Vestry, we have received 127 As your new members of your Stewardship pledges for total giving of $270,745 which Committee, we are privileged to have this represents a healthy increase of $20,878 or 8.4% opportunity to serve at St. Francis our new from 2006. Moreover, also very encouraging, we capacity and we welcome the year ahead. Thank have seen the direct payment option rise to 64% you once again for your generous and of total pledges providing St. Francis with a unwavering support during this yearâ€™s campaign and throughout the balance of the year. secure financial base for 2007. As of the date of this report, 64 families representing 51% of the pledges received
Scott Dean Mark Ballard Stewardship Co-Chairs
From the damp and dreary, a poem It was as if the mountain were ridding itself of the waste of winter snow. as if shedding grateful tears for the rest and respite of the passing dormant season as if perspiring from the exertion of compacting rocks as if the mountain cried, yearning for the as yet undelivered promise of spring as if salivating in anticipation of blossoms as if Holy Water spilled from 1,000 spear-pricked wounds It was then a miracle, the inorganic had become animateâ€Ś.again