Archive for June, 2006

Graveside memories

Saturday, June 17th, 2006

Yesterday I was officiating at a graveside service. 

Committal services follow a certain pattern, often called ritual or liturgy.  The words were all written out.  I had rehearsed the talk.

We arrived at the cemetery and stepped from the lead car.  A drop of rain fell.  A few followed but the sky was dotted with puffy clouds.  The type that don’t drop buckets — maybe just a few little spits.

We gathered in a procession to the graveside.  The spits became more intense.  The point of turning back had passed.  We stood under umbrellas as the rain continued.

And not just continued!  Intensified!  I saw a few pieces of hail land at my feet.  I opened my folder and read loudly and quickly, as the ink got wet.  At one point I asked if people could hear.  Some could — others mentioned later they could only assume what I was saying when my head appeared from under the umbrella.

The words were hearfelt.  The actual committal was short.

We came back to the reception — some went home first to change.  My suitjacket was still wet hours later.

Some say the best way to make memories is to experience the unusual. 

My memory bank has this one indelibly etched!!

Gracious people

Thursday, June 15th, 2006

There are just people!

People who live by grace.  No matter what comes their way!

Perry is a good friend, and our church custodian.  Today we were preparing for a large funeral to be held tomorrow. 

At one point he is fielding questions about sound.  Then the arrangement for lunch.  Then finding additional seating.  Then being sure the air conditioning is set.  Then mopping the floor.  Then chatting with people.

There are not many who can do this with grace.  Who can encourage you even as you interrupt them.

So, to Perry, thanks!!

A day of doing!

Wednesday, June 14th, 2006

There is a saying that first you must be before you do.  And so I have spent time in my life figuring out big questions.  Philosophizing.  Who am I?  Why am I here?  What has God got in store for me?

But, somedays I just answer the question, “How are you?” with the phrase, “I’m alive and well.”  Those days I don’t spend philosophizing — I just am!  And I just do.  And when 18 hours are done and I fall asleep, I sleep!

Well, today was a doing day.  As I prepare for the next few days activities, I’m moving from one opportunity to the next.  I’m neither discouraged or elated.  I just am!

And God is there.  And I am there.  And that is enough.

Some days are just that way!

Snow in June??

Tuesday, June 13th, 2006

Take a look!!

NO, it’s not snow in June.  Fuzzy poplar seeds not so popular with those with allergies!!

Dr. Lloyd Orthner passes away

Monday, June 12th, 2006

At 6:30 this evening, Lloyd Orthner passed away.  Funeral arrangements are pending.

Life goes on!

Monday, June 12th, 2006

Yesterday in church the announcement was made.  I have moved from “interim senior pastor” to “senior pastor”.  We are no longer here temporarily  — this means a “longer term”.  The announcement pointed out that I’m not the “senior” pastor just because I have white hair!

At the same time, we are flying by the seat of our pants.  We are in waiting mode as Lloyd Orthner, one of our congregation, continues to deteriorate from cancer. 

We pray.  We visit.  But the hardest thing to do is plan!  Which brings to mind that scripture  “Do not worry about tomorrow, for tomorrow will worry about itself.” (Matt 6:34)

Ever wonder?

Saturday, June 10th, 2006

Yesterday I sat with someone.  A stranger to me. Her brother-in-law is dying.  She and her husband had come to be with the family. 

As we talked, I realized that she was from Regina.  I had lived in Regina for almost two decades.  She graduated high school with a good friend of  our family.  We remembered together two and a half decades ago, when a motorcycle accident claimed the life of another person we had both known.

Ever wonder when a big world becomes a small village?

The hospital!

Friday, June 9th, 2006

I am not a fan of hospitals.

Perhaps my childhood memories crowd in too closely.  I am told (and I think I feel it in my bones) that I cried as I was taken to a hospital when I was around two years old.  My parents could not stay — I think this was back in the days when visiting was very strictly enforced.  A snowstorm came and I was stranded at the hospital.  My parents sent in their hired man to bring me back to the farm — they couldn’t get out of the homestead.

Around the age of 9 or 10, my middle finger was pinched between the folding seat in our station wagon.  There was blood and a new shape which I couldn’t quite envision was my finger.  I was rushed to emergency.  There I sat while a worse casualty was attended to.  Apparently a tire had blown up in his face and spatters of blood covered his body.

Again, a few years later, a strange virus attacked me.  No one knew what this alien was!  So, off to the hospital for tests.  My mother accompanied me.  We wandered through tunnel like halls and sat in stiff backed chairs.  Blood was taken and fear seemed to exude from the walls.

My first years of ministry I did the required hospital visits.  I learned some etiquette and proper procedures.  My heart was with the people, but my guts churned with the smells and sights of the hospital.

Now, I’m relearning.  Again, my heart is with the people.  And I have personally sat through extended hospital stays.  My wife had open heart surgery and for 18 days recuperated.  This past year my brother died of cancer.  A friend, Mary Muir, exited to heaven after a struggle with cancer.  And now, Lloyd Orthner, is fighting deadly cells in his body.

I sense that listening is paramount!  Sometimes I need to be sensitive to activities, prayers and quietness that will provide spiritual care — more than merely performing certain pastoral rituals.  And in my heart I am praying and crying.

So I walk a hall, to a room, to a bedside — and there trust God to provide . . . for them and for me.

When I was young!

Thursday, June 8th, 2006

Let’s just pick an age — any age!

Can you imagine where you were when you were 17?  Can you think back to 1994?  What was the sun like on your 21st birthday (if you aren’t that old yet, just wait!)?

As I open my memory box, I can bring back visual images and even smells.  As I age, I’m sure that my stories I tell to my friends are embellished.  That’s why oral history must always be balanced with archival records.  Or so I learned when I went through archival studies!

So imagine this story.  Believe as much as you want!

When I was about to go into grade 11, we moved.  From Toronto area to Regina, Saskatchewan.  My parent’s “house to be” was not yet built.  We needed a place to live.  The apartments were only so large — and by that I mean not large!  There were nine of us altogether in what I remember as a one bedroom apartment (it was probably two bedrooms). 

Mom and dad were wise.  I wish to be as wise as them in my old age. 

They sent us off separately to camp — freeing up vital room.  When we came back, we were able to move to a small rental home with a little more room.

Funny, but the most memorable times in life are often the most squeezed, exhausting and disconcerting times.  And I wouldn’t have missed it for anything!!

So this is Milden??

Wednesday, June 7th, 2006

Our regional pastors got together in Milden, Saskatchewan yesterday and today.  This is officially called a Strategic Planning Network (SPN) meeting.

We talk lots.  About our church plans, about our personal lives and about what God is doing.  Sounds spiritual (and I suppose it is).  We also played golf — I’ve hit a golf ball better with my shoe — my score for 9 holes was 59.  Highest score wins??

So here is Milden!!  Those two farmers there are actually pastors!!