Monthly Archives: March 2016

Burials

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Here are some thoughts I shared this morning at the Good Friday service at The Church of Epiphany and St. Mark’s. There were seven of us sharing short reflections, each on a different section of the Good Friday story. Mine was John 19:38-42.

Burials are so final.
We see the body of the one we love, then close the casket, or wrap the body in linen cloths and spices.
We journey with the one we love to the closest cemetery available, and watch as their body is swallowed up by the earth, six feet in the ground, or deep inside a tomb.
We say our goodbyes to the one we love, with broken hearts and disbelieving minds.
But the burial forces us to believe, to know, that the one we love is really gone.
We saw them die, but we still thought they might suddenly come to. We saw their body, prepared for burial, but their presence in the room with us was still somewhat comforting.
But when the burial actually takes place, we know their gone.
We at the Dale have had this experience recently, with our dear friend Will, journeying with him from his death bed to his burial plot.
We’ve written messages and sprinkled tobacco on his casket.
We’ve thrown dirt into the hole where he now lies.
We’ve sought to honour his body well, like Joseph and Nicodemus sought to honour Jesus’ body well.
The body that Jesus chose to take on, so that he could come and dwell among us. So that he could show us how to live. So that he could die for us. So that he could experience all that we experience… including being buried.
And at the time, that seemed to be the very end of the story. The point of no return. The point where Joseph, Nicodemus, and probably John and all the Mary’s, including his mom, knew he was really gone.
Burials are just so final.

Homecoming

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Today one of our dear, dear friends came home to The Dale. And what a joyful homecoming it was!

This friend has been living in hospital since early last summer, battling a serious illness. He is no longer contagious, and is finally free to come and go as he pleases, as long as he’s at his  friend’s house (where he’s currently couch surfing) every morning for the public health nurse who comes to make sure that he’s taking his meds. While this may sound constraining, it’s far more freedom than our friend has had for close to a year.

When he walked into drop in today, he was greeted by numerous exclamations of surprise and delight. After I rushed over to collect my hug, I sat back and watched as he was bombarded with love. During announcements we made his homecoming known, and the room erupted in cheers and clapping. It was so beautiful 🙂

I’m very thankful for the return of this friend to our community.

I’m prayerful that he will make choices that will help, not hinder, his recovery.

I’m sad that he has come home to a community that contains six fewer members than when he left, including Cowboy, one of his very closest friends.

However, after the long string of goodbyes in the last year, it’s SO good to be welcoming someone back to the community… To be welcoming someone home.

 

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Another brutiful month

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It’s been a while since I last wrote here, and a lot has happened. To use a term that I introduced here a number of months ago, it’s been a brutiful month. Brutal and beautiful.

Brutal because we lost yet another friend- our beloved Clive. And this death has had a different sort of impact on us, because Clive took his own life. Folks in the community have been feeling stunned, and I still can’t quite believe he’s gone either. Erinn and I were allowed the privilege of hearing about the depth of his internal pain, but he tended to keep this pain under wraps, masking it with his hilarious one-liners and sunny disposition.

Clive loved to play the guitar and sing during our Monday drop-ins, and he and I tackled many a crossword together during our Wednesday breakfast drop-ins. He had a way of setting people at ease with his deep, soft, voice and wonky sense of humour. He was a skilled tradesman, making beautiful fences and decks all last summer, and training up some other members of our community to do the same.

Tomorrow we will hold a memorial service for our friend Clive. My hope is that it will be a chance for all of us honour him well, to voice how much he meant to us, and to gain a bit of closure for our friendships with him that ended so abruptly.

Because of Clive’s death, it’s been a brutal month.

It has also been beautiful in so many ways as well. We held our annual February Feast and Open Stage, which was a huge success. The kitchen crew worked their magic, there was enough food to go around, the Open Stage was a lot of fun, and a spirit of joyous celebration pervaded the evening. A local reporter came to snap a few pictures, and ended up staying for hours- he was enjoying himself too much to leave!

A few days later, Erinn and I went away for a 24 hour retreat. We cooked, chatted, planned, napped, walked, read and prayed, and it was wonderful. We needed this time, and thankfully it came directly before receiving the news about Clive. It didn’t make this news any easier to hear, but at least we were well rested before facing the emotional exhaustion that followed.

And then last week I was able to go away on vacation with one of my dearest friends. We enjoyed the incredible hospitality of my aunt and uncle, staying on their boat near Freeport, Bahamas. I am SO grateful for that opportunity to rest, read, swim and eat good food with family, and a friend who feels like family. She also recently had a close encounter with suicide, so we were able to talk through our feelings together and offer each other encouragement and solidarity.

So, after these past few brutiful weeks I am grieving, and I am grateful.