Restriction Reflection – part 2

One of the things that I find most difficult during these times of restriction is the way we are not permitted to attend funerals and visitations. Not that I have a particular fondness for those types of events. For the loved ones of someone who pass away, it can be such a very difficult time and who am I to intrude on their loss? But it feels like the right thing to do – to be there and shake a hand or give a hug or relay a memory. Some funeral homes have adapted with the co-vid situation by providing online streaming services and that is helpful but it is simply not the same. Interment ceremonies have been restricted to the barest number of family members.

It is not that I really find such joy standing in a receiving line ready to offer my condolences. As much as I can be accused of being verbose, I find I am usually at a loss for words. Really good words. I want to say really good words. Words that would encourage or offer insight or wisdom. Usually, I just mumble something that I can only hope is appropriately sympathetic.

I also find that the older I get – or maybe it is the ‘mental-pause’ that I am currently mood-swinging my way through – the easier I find it is to cry. For most of my adult life, I have not generally identified as a crier. I like to be a little more in control of my emotions – especially in public. But now I tear up at commercials, choke up during sad movies and I even quaver at the patriotic singing of ‘O Canada.’

So when a dear man from our congregation passed away I wanted to do something but I didn’t know what. The church often does it’s best loving through casseroles and pots of soup but I thought I would try something different. Since the private interment was at a cemetery just down the road I decided that I would just stand – far back – and just be there. No interacting – just standing quietly and respectfully and prayerfully. Then I thought I would make a sign to hold as I stood. That meant I had to find words that would represent a little bit of what our whole congregation was feeling.

20200417_121933_HDR_1 (1)
It seemed to be appreciated by the family – especially by those who could not be there.

Screenshot_20200417-190533

Wil and Sharon also came to stand.

* * *

There have been more losses since then – some were expected and some were a shock. I find that I really do ‘weep with those who are weeping’ and I still don’t have the perfect words to say. But I suppose life is really just full of hellos and goodbyes. It does feel good to be a part of a faith community that shares our goodbyes as a family – a church family – and I am blessed to be part of a wonderful one.

Mrs. Verdonk passed away last week. She was a past member of our congregation and a wonderful role model. She had a servant-heart and blessed many while she lived. I learned so much from her.

20200511_142416_HDR

Since the graveside ceremony was close by once more, I made another sign and went to stand. Quietly, respectfully and prayerfully and it felt like an honour to do so.

Screenshot_20200513-172828

It just seemed like a good way to let the family know that, as a congregation, we loved the dear soul that was their mother and she will be missed. May God grant comfort to those who mourn.

Confessions of a Street Walker – Part 27

It is possible that you have seen a rather peculiar woman walking around the streets of Hamilton over the last five years. If you have, I hope you gave a wave…because I am she.

walking-feet-clipart-qsdkpvj

Most of last summer and fall I spent on the sidewalks of Ancaster and Dundas. I have a few left to do but most of them have been covered. I confess that I stayed off of the rural roads over the winter because I usually found the shoulders weren’t wide enough to hold slushy piles of snow and me.

My walking project moved along fine over our cold Canadian winter but there were some weeks that the sidewalks were too snowy or icy. It was those weeks that I stayed very close to home or went to the mall to get my 10 miles per week done. When the sidewalks were clearer I also got most of Binbrook’s built-up area done.

I am really enjoying the warmer spring weather. Now, because of Co-vid 19, we are all supposed to be distancing ourselves from one another. I am happy to be able to walk on the ruralest of the rural roads of the greater Hamilton area where I am not even close to being close to anyone.  As it is with most of the rural routes the difficulty remains with where to leave my car while I am out walking.

Last fall I did some walking in rural Mount Hope and Ancaster. We have friends who allowed me to park in their driveway whilst I trompled my way down the country roads in their area. Thanks Gord and Glenda! They were lovely roads with their own charms.

Some notes on those walks:

20191105_082342-COLLAGE

The lower right map shows a part of the road that I missed. An accident on Highway 6 forced me to detour and head east and add another 3 miles to my walk that day.

20191028_135454I was tempted to jump in the back of the wagon but they were going in the opposite direction.

I passed a baked goods manufacturing facility I know as Oakrun Farm Bakery. I don’t know what they were making the day that I was walking past but boy did that ever smell good.

I was able to stop by a cemetery where Danielle’s body lies – I confess that the tears still flow and I am thankful for such a peaceful place.

I was walking down a very quiet road when a car pulled over. It was my friend Diane who lived nearby.  It was nice to see a friendly face.

I have taken to wearing a hi-vis vest as I want to be as safe as possible on country roads. I am presently wandering around rural Binbrook.

Screenshot_20200331-214423

A windy day in Glanbrook near the city boundaries. I confess that my attempt at a selfie thumbs-up appears only moderately successful.  :  )

Restriction Reflection

One of the things that I really miss regarding the Co-vid 19 epidemic restrictions is my church family. We belong to Immanuel Christian Reformed Church in Hamilton Ontario and it has been my church home for pretty much all of my life.

My church family has been so very instrumental in shaping me into the person I am today. They have been a huge part of my faith journey and have helped me grow up. They rejoiced with our family and they also wept with our family.  Even the people who have come and gone – we are still connected. I very much miss communing with the saints who gather there.

That first week that we had restrictions, our Sunday services were canceled and our building was closed. We met as a small group that we are a part of called a Faith Family. An emailed liturgy was provided and our tech-savvy hosts had queued up the songs for us to sing along with. It was good to be together.

Then, even those small gatherings had further restrictions.

Fortunately, our church staff is managing to video-record replicated services with an appropriately socially distanced media crew (awesome job – thanks guys) to maintain a  sense of community for us. We get an email with a link and we join with many of our congregation on Sunday morning and meet digitally for worship.

20200329_103136_1

We can even go to the service in our pajamas.

20200329_102958_HDR(but we won’t – because Martin would never go to church in his pajamas)

 It does feel a little strange to worship with just the two of us but we are grateful for the attempts to keep us connected. It is good to pray for ourselves and others. It is actually good to be able to pause the service for discussion and that is a feature that would be difficult to use when worshipping in person.

Hearing from our amazing pastors and some of our wonderful musicians helps bring some of that feeling. I love the fact that Martin often plays some of the songs we sing at church but there is nothing like singing together in our sanctuary.

20171225_154307_HDR

As we approach Easter we have been focusing on the theme of Lament and it sure seems applicable given our current situation. Last week we had a video testimony from a courageous young mother who so eloquently described her lament. We were inspired by her words and pray for her often.

I typically take sermon notes in a journal that I bring to church with me. It can look like I am doodling my way through a sermon but I find it helps me concentrate. I find that I can also look back and remember much more clearly after I have taken notes.

Sermon Notes

So we will wait. Until this is all over.

How will it change us? How will it change me?

That is yet to be seen.

But we do not wait without hope.

And it is this hope which fills us with joy despite our circumstances.

Andrew’s Amazing Tower of Teeth

So I belong to an awesome Facebook group called Weird Secondhand Finds That Just Need To Be Shared and the things posted on that site can range from wonderful treasures to oddities of epic proportions.
It is a badge of honour to find the weirdest of things. I think I have a weird thing that just needs to be shared. I will let you decide.

Before I tell you the story I will have to give you some background.
A number of our six children had to have orthodontic braces. Too many teeth and not enough mouth was the prognosis for most of them and so we spend a good number of years trotting our offspring off to a wonderful orthodontist (Dr. Taylor was great!)
For each child, the process started with a mould taken of the dentally-deficient child and then braces were applied. After a number of years, the teeth were brought into line and then another mould was made so that one could see the difference that our +$4400 investment made. And now for the story.

A number of years ago our last child flew the coop and made us empty nesters. This occurrence was not met with tears as I was too busy doing the happy dance. Don’t get me wrong, I love my kids but they had grown up and they all started their own lives and families. That is a good thing.
When each child left they were supposed to clean up and empty out their rooms so I could repurpose the space. So when Andrew left I began cleaning out his closet. I have no idea how or why but Andrew’s dental moulds made their way into our house. We didn’t steal them but I can’t see how we would have taken them home on purpose. Either way, there they were up in the back of his closet behind some video games. The closet was not well lit and so I did have quite the fright looking at a bright white pair of teeth staring at me (actually teeth don’t stare – eyes do – but I think you get my drift)
Now possessing three such sets of bicuspidical delights is strange enough and I don’t know why it behooved me to stack the moulds and create a teeth tower, but I did. A few sticky dots and voila. From the malocclusion at the top through to the dental treasure at the bottom, this crowning achievement gets to the root of things.

20200321_150533

I don’t quite know what to do with my statue of teeth.
If I wait long enough, my kids will have to go through our possessions when dividing up their inheritance. Maybe Andrew will get them back.

So what do ‘ya think? Weird enough?

New Years Resolution – February 2020

My brother Jeff and I have kept a New Years Resolution to watch a movie together once a month since January 2019. We alternate choices and it has been fun.

20200227_103022

The movie this month was Jeff’s pick and he chose Rocky. Last month’s choice was mine and I chose Chariots of Fire so I suppose this could be a ‘sports’ theme or a ‘Best Picture Oscar’ theme or a ‘men in shorts’ theme. We will see if we can make the theme last for the entire year. I suppose the next choice will, more or less, cement the theme with which we will select movies with – or not. It depends if Jeff will play along.

Screenshot_20200227-202915

I can’t say I remember if I had ever seen Rocky. I was certainly aware of some of the scenes as they are fairly iconic but I couldn’t remember the ending. Will Rocky win or won’t he?

==
Paulie: [talking about Adrian]  You like her?
Rocky: Sure, I like her.
Paulie: What’s the attraction?
Rocky: I dunno… she fills gaps.
Paulie: What’s ‘gaps’?
Rocky: I dunno, she’s got gaps, I got gaps, together we fill gaps.

==

Bodyguard: Did ya get the license number?
Rocky: Of what?
Bodyguard: The truck that run over your face.
==

Sylvester Stallone wrote the screenplay and had to pitch the script more than 150 times before someone showed interest. During that time, he was so broke that he had to sleep at the bus terminal. Finally, there was an offer to buy the script but they didn’t want Stallone to star in the movie. Stallone refused the $300,000 offer because he believed he was the best choice to play Rocky Balboa. He was eventually allowed to star in his own film which went on to earn over $200 million at the box office. Rocky also captured a Best Picture Oscar in 1976 and spawned 7 sequels. The rest, as they say, is history.

Sermon Notes

So Martin and I ran away from home but we are back now.

It was fun to stay with Fred & Amy and then visit with Henry & Janet and then Dick & Kathy. We even got a chance to see Mark & Heather. Down to Florida and back, we managed to put lots of kilometres on the new (to us) car.

The part of the trip that I want to write about was the church service we attended last Sunday. Our church has a number of missionaries whom we support. One of them is Pastor Mark and Resurrection Life. Pastor Mark is one of our past pastors and it was hard when they left as we missed them. I especially missed Heather as she came from a different background and it was a breath of fresh air when she shared of her thoughts and ideas – I enjoyed her perspective. It was good to see where they are now. Resurrection Life is a church plant that worships in an elementary school near Raleigh in North Carolina and we were able to visit there before heading home. We pray for them regularly and it was good to be there.

We arrived early and we appreciated being able to just sit and observe what this congregation was all about. The auditorium filled slowly and it was fun to people watch. You could tell it was a congregation of some really nice people. They are lucky to have Pastor Mark (and Heather) ministering among them.

While we were waiting for the service to begin, I noticed a young lady sitting two rows ahead of us and she was drawing. Now I like to take notes during the sermon by using interesting lettering or by drawing pictures. Despite the fun I am having with some stealth art projects, I am under no illusion that I am an artist. I am really not very good at it at all. I simply enjoy it. It often helps me concentrate with what is being said, and it helps me to recall it better once I have written it down. That said, only a few people usually get to see what I have drawn.

A page from my sermon note journal.

20200226_154103

After watching the young lady for a while, I went to have a few words with her. I guess I just felt it was important to encourage her to keep on ‘arting’.

It was a good service. We sang with them, we listened with them, we prayed with them and we shared communion with them. We regretted not being able to stay for the potluck lunch which followed but home was beckoning.

Before we left, the young lady handed me a piece of paper on which she had written a verse – for me – to keep.

20200226_153932

What a kind thing it was for her to share it with me. To me it was more than just a verse. It was a sharing – it was an offering – it was a welcome. I hope that I expressed my gratitude sufficiently and I hope she continues arting. Even if it was only for a couple of hours, it was lovely to be a part of that caring community.

Stealth Art # 6

Artist Anita strikes again. To fully tell this tale to those uninitiated in abstract Canadian Art, one should first have a little bit of background. It is duly supplied below:

* * *

Voice Of Fire is an abstract painting of acrylic on canvas made in 1967 by Barnett Newman. The painting is made up of three vertical lines that are all the same size. The stripes on the outside of the painting are blue and the one in the middle is red. It was created as a commission for Expo 67 in Montreal. Voice of Fire is 18 foot long when measured vertically and was shown alongside other paintings that represented American progress, which was the intention of the painting.

voice_of_fire_photo-croppedVoice of Fire

It was loaned to the National Gallery of Canada in 1987. It became a a permanent part of the gallery in 1989 when the purchase of Voice of Fire cost the gallery $1.8 million. This acquisition of the painting caused a lot of controversy geared mostly by the doubts of the artwork being seen as genuine art. The artwork increased in value, going up to a staggering $40 million. Controversy ensued once more a few years later in 1992 when Voice of Fire had been discovered as being hung upside down after it had been loaned and then bought. Despite this controversy, the painting remains in ownership of the gallery.

* * *

One morning this winter, Artist Anita was sitting at home sipping a cup of coffee and she was suddenly struck by a bolt of inspiration. She recalled a Canadian art controversy from years ago and, unwilling to let controversy dampen her art in any way, she confined herself in her attic to create another masterpiece. After minutes of artistic work she produced her latest creation.

voice_of_fire_photo-cropped

Fire of the Voice

This is clearly not an ersatz replication of the Voice of Fire. The stripe goes in a completely different direction and notice the title and it’s simplistic addition of the word ‘the’ and the movement of the words ‘fire’ and ‘voice’. This evolution represents the movement of an endemic society filtering our united diversity and turning it on it’s head, or rather, it’s side. The trek was made to McMaster Innovation Park where there is already hanging some mighty fine art. Artist Anita found a nice little corner for her creative work. Avoiding any chance at further controversy, Artist Anita has made ‘fur darn sure’ that the Fire of the Voice has not been hung upside down. 

20200211_104736

It might not be displayed there for long. It seems a cleaning lady was eyeing Artist Anita’s art with amazement (or maybe suspicion). 

20200211_104557

Artist Anita proudly awaits the accolades that are sure to come, until then she will be relegated to wait for inspiration to strike once more.