Monthly Archives: January 2015

Art doesn’t judge.


Just over a month ago I was gifted with two tickets to the Toronto Symphony Orchestra. I asked a friend from Sanctuary, who adores classical music, to join me. He did, and we had a wonderful time. He knows far more about classical than I do, and enjoyed it on a deeper level than I think I’ll ever be able to. It was a joy to be with him, seeing him soak in the piano concerto, as at home in Roy Thompson hall as he is on the street. He belonged there, and the music welcomed him in.

Today I went to the Art Gallery of Ontario with a friend from The Dale. Someone had gifted her with a family pass, and she was having a hard time finding someone who wanted to go along. Eventually she asked me, and of course I said yes! Again, this friend knows way more about art than I do. We spent a long time looking at the model ships, and she taught me a ton about them, having made some herself when she was younger. We cruised around the halls of this grand gallery and soaked in the beauty. Again, my friend was totally at home, and the art welcomed her in.

I love having these experiences with my friends. I love being welcomed in by the art, to enjoy its beauty, with no questions asked.This reminds me of the Source of all creativity, who created us with the longing to create, and to enjoy the creations of others. The Source who welcomes all of us in.

Another brutiful year


It’s a new year. Christmas has come and gone again. A friend from my Sanctuary community, Maggie Paul, shared a new word with me just before Christmas that I found/find incredibly helpful when thinking about Christmas, the new year, and life in general: brutiful. This word is originally from a blog called Momastery []

The word brutiful reminds us that many things are simultaneously brutal and beautiful. This is similar to the idea I was trying to get at in my last post, when I talked about grief and grace living side by side.

I found Christmas Eve at the Dale to be brutiful. Brutal that so many of our friends were already in hibernation mode, hunkering down and attempting to ignore the holidays altogether. Brutal that the festive season brought up so much past hurt and current pain for so many of us. And beautiful that a group of us came together to enjoy a warm, yummy breakfast and a gingerbread house that we had created a couple of weeks before. Beautiful that two 12 year old “elves” (Erinn’s daughter and her friend) handed out gift bags to the folks who had gathered. Beautiful that the number of bags was exactly the same as the number of people.

Once I started thinking in “brutiful terms”, I saw this paradox everywhere.

A friend called me throughout the holidays to update me on his efforts to secure a room in a rooming house for another friend in the community. Brutal that a small, windowless room without kitchen facilities is currently the only feasible option for this friend. But beautiful that members of the community are looking out for one another, and allowing me the honour of being kept in the loop.

A friend fell off the wagon after being sober for over a month. He came to talk to us because people told him we were worried about him. We chatted for a while, and it was brutal to see him intoxicated when I knew how desperately he wanted to not be. But then he got quiet, looked me straight in the eyes and whispered, “Jesus loves you. He really does, you know.” Beautiful.

So here we are in 2015, a year that we know for sure will be brutiful. Brutal isn’t nearly a strong enough word to describe today’s shootings in Paris. And yet we know that, somehow, beauty will keep surprising us throughout the year. We may need to train our eyes to see it, but it will be there. By the grace of God, beauty remains.

Lord give us the wisdom, courage and grace we will need in this brutiful year ahead.