Sunday, 6 June 2021

In the Name of Jesus

Isn’t it incredible what harm can be inflicted in the name of Jesus?

The residential schools in Canada were funded by the Canadian government and were run by churches.

In the name of Jesus, they were established to forcibly convert and assimilate First Nations, Métis, and Inuit children; to convert these children to Christianity and to assimilate them to English-speaking, Euro-Canadian culture.

In the name of Jesus, Indigenous youths as young as 3 years old were torn from the arms of their parents, removed from their homes, and denied the comforts of familiar language, customs, clothing, and culture. 

In the name of Jesus, the first residential schools were established by Catholic missionaries.  The Roman Catholic Church operated many of the schools, and the Anglican, United, Presbyterian, and Methodist churches were also involved. 

In the name of Jesus, over 130 residential schools operated from the 1830s to 1996 and they existed in every province and territory in Canada except for Prince Edward Island, New Brunswick, and Newfoundland & Labrador.   There were 15 in Ontario alone. 

In the name of Jesus, the first residential school – The Mohawk Institute - was established by the Anglican Church in 1831 in Brantford, Ontario.   It is now run by the Woodland Cultural Centre; I’ve driven past it many times on the way to soccer practice with my kids. 

(The Mohawk Institute; photo credit:  Wikipedia.ca)

Isn’t it incredible and horrible what pain, trauma, hurt, and horrors can be inflicted in the name of Jesus?

Today, many Christians will be attending worship services – online, in person, via zoom, at drive-in church – and I pray that this sobering truth is considered.  In the name of Jesus, Christians are capable of inflicting great pain and, in doing so, can gravely and seriously misrepresent Jesus and his beautiful, life-giving gospel message of hope.

Jesus gave the Bible to teach us how to live; He even gave summaries because He knows that humanity is prone to misunderstanding.  He summed up His law and directions in this clear, direct, concise way:

LOVE GOD

LOVE OTHERS.  (Matthew 22: 37-39)

Micah 6: 8, reminds all Christians that God requires us to DO justice, to LOVE kindness, and to WALK humbly before God.

Christians, MORE THAN ANYONE ELSE, must represent the love, kindness, compassion, and self-sacrificial tenderness of Jesus to others. 

Jesus always had time for the little, the lost, the lonely, the rejected, the despised, the outcast.  He called the little children to come and be with him.  He spoke to a Samaritan woman when no other self-respecting Jewish man would; he touched lepers and the dead to bring healing and health; he gave up his life to bring hope to humanity. 

Jesus would never have hurt or abused Indigenous youth.   

Christians must stop misrepresenting Jesus; must stop making the gospel message repulsive to their neighbours, communities, and nation. 

So today, I’m calling myself to represent Jesus well. 

To show love like he showed love; to extend grace and kindness as he would have; to write and speak words that are winsome, and beautiful; to live a life that illustrates a gospel message that is always always always healing, hope-filled, life-giving, and full of love.

 

 


Sources:

·          https://www.thecanadianencyclopedia.ca/en/article/residential-schools

·         An Overview of the Indian Residential School System - by the Union of Ontario Indians based on research compiled by Karen Restoule

·         Wikipedia online




Friday, 4 June 2021

We Need to Talk About This Dark Secret


We need to talk.

We need to talk because I’m pissed off, sick, and sad.

About a week ago, I first heard about Canada’s unearthed tragedy.   I’ve been processing it, grieving it, and researching it ever since.

The remains of 215 children were discovered in a mass, unmarked grave on the grounds of a former residential school in BC. 

I’m sure you’ve read or heard about this news, but can we just let the horror of it sink in for a minute?

The remains –

The remains of CHILDREN –

The remains of children in a MASS, UNMARKED grave…

These are words and these are realities that should never be strung together.  These are words and realities that make me feel sick and deeply deeply sad. 

I hope you feel the same way.

I hope you are upset, sickened, and disturbed. 

The remains of these children were found buried on the grounds of a residential school and the more I learn about these schools, the more I realize they are a macabre part of Canada’s dirty, dark, sinister past. 

                                       Former Kamloops Indian Residential School.  (Photo credit:  BBC Canada)

Residential schools were established to forcibly convert Indigenous youth to Catholicism or Protestantism as well as assimilate them into what the European settlers were deciding was Canadian language, culture, and customs.  The ultimate goal was to “kill the Indian” in every child.  The schools were federally funded and church directed.  They operated from 1831 - 1996. 

                                            (photo credit National Post)

I was attending school during those last years.  I graduated from High School in 1996, but the teaching techniques at my school were nothing like those used at the residential schools. 

Children attending the residential schools were forcibly removed from their families and everything that was familiar.  They endured beatings, physical, emotional, and sexual abuse, and rape.   According to the Department of Indian Affairs (1907 report), 90-100% of children suffered physical, emotional, or sexual abuse and there was a 40-60% mortality rate.

Now, my school had the strap hanging in the principal’s office where it hung ready to smack any errant student.  I even remember being slapped full across the face by a teacher in front of my entire class, but our school NEVER ever had a mortality rate. 

And the more I learn about these residential schools, the more I realize how much I DON’T KNOW.  I did NOT learn about the residential schools and their attempts at Indigenous cultural genocide.  I was too busy going to my private, Christian school where I was allowed to maintain any custom carried over from my dutch motherland.   No one took me away from my parents, beat me, sexually assaulted me, despised me or tried to “kill the Dutch” in me.

I asked my husband if he remembers learning about the residential schools.  He did not.  His first exposure was through the 2016 album released by The Tragically Hip called “The Secret Path”, a 10-song album dedicated to the story of Chanie Wenjack, a 12 year old Anishinaabe boy who had run away from a residential school in 1969 in Kenora, Ontario.  Chanie died attempting to walk the 600km home. 

                                                    (photo credit:  amazon.ca)

I asked several friends if they learned about the residential schools.  One remembered two short paragraphs in a thick history tome.   That’s it.

My son, however, knew about the schools.  “We learned about them in our history class last year,” he told me.  I threw up my hands and rejoiced.  Good! 

WE NEED TO KNOW THESE THINGS.

In the words of Martin Luther King Jr., “Nothing in the world is more dangerous than sincere ignorance and conscientious stupidity.” 

Let’s not be part of the danger or part of the problem. 

Let’s not be ignorant any longer. 

In light of this, I will be dedicating several days to researching, educating, and calling myself (and you, if you want to join me) to action.

My friends, let’s keep talking.



#womenencouragers #nomoreignorance #residentialschools #grievingourpast

#letstalk





Friday, 23 April 2021

From Languish to Lavish

 

What happens when a LANGUISHING heart taps into LAVISH love?



Last night, I read the word “languishing” in an article written in the New York Times.  This morning, I read the same word – “languishing” - in the book of Psalms in the Bible.  When a word I haven’t heard before or in a long time is suddenly repeated around me, I sit up and take notice.  I believe it’s God giving me a cosmic tap on the shoulder and I’ve learned to pay attention. 

Languishing means to be weak, to droop, to be exhausted, to feel forlorn or depleted.  It’s how many of us are feeling right now as we trudge slump-shouldered into our second year of Covid lockdowns and isolations.   We feel stuck, cut off from the life we want to be living.  Our days have lost their lustre.

“Hey mom!  What are we doing tomorrow?” my kids will query night after night.

“Same as we did today, guys…” I drone wearily night after night.

Adam Grant’s article* nailed that feeling I feel; Yup, I’m languishing.  How about you?

If I were an electronic device, I’d plug myself in and charge up my batteries.  If I were a gas tank, I’d glug gas into me real quick.  If I was a cluster of drooping yellow tulips, I’d scream for water. 

It’s quite obvious that I am in need of a fill-up, a charge-up, a replenishing.  But batteries, gas, and water won’t suffice.  So where on earth should I turn?  Where on earth can I go?  Where on earth is the answer?

There are many distractions on this earth that may give us some energy, lift, and thrust but are they enough to let us fly?  To truly grant flourishing and prosperity at a heart and soul level?

Nope.  Though the distractions of good food, great company, a solid education, engrossing entertainment, sensual sex, happy holidays, amazing art and literature will hold and fill us up for a time; they are all finite.  They end or run out and cannot sustain us through the whole season of our complicated, messy, constantly-changing, roller-coaster life. 

Which is why I am suggesting we plug our languishing hearts into the lavish abundance of God’s love.  His love is profuse, extravagant, sumptuously rich, unreasonable, and endless.  It never runs out and when we fill-up with His love, our cup runs over.   That means we will have more, more than enough. 

God’s love can hold and fill us up for all time.  And it fills us with this strength-inducing thing called HOPE. 

Not so much a hope that our circumstances will change; not so much a hope that covid will end and we can collectively rip off our masks and hug and congregate once again; but, rather, a deeper and longer-lasting HOPE that no matter what happens, we are loved and looked after.  A HOPE that even if Covid goes on for forty more years, God has a purpose and a plan for all this and for every single one of us.  For me and for you.   A hope that God will see us through this time. 

And I get it, hope might feel risky right now.  Many of us have had our hopes dashed over and over again over the past year.  Hope for that surgery that was planned.  Dashed.  Hope for covid to be over.  Dashed.  Hope for this birthday to be celebrated with friends.  Dashed.  Hope to sit bedside in the hospital with our loved one.  Dashed.

Hope might feel risky right now because we’ve been anchoring it into the slipperiness of circumstances.  What we need is a firm and secure holding place to grow our hope from.  What we need is the rock-like solidity that is God and his beautiful, glorious, lavish love. 

My friends, let’s tentatively tip-toe our languishing hearts and drooping shoulders into the lavish abundance of God’s love.   Let’s plug in here and wait for the fill-up of HOPE to happen.   It may take a while to charge up, fill-up and renew your strength so just keep plugged in and wait for it.  Wait for it.  Wait for it.  Wait for it.

And, even if covid continues, let the HOPE growing out of God’s love allow you to flourish today.


 

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.

 

 

Be gracious to me, O LORD, for I am languishing; heal me, O LORD, for my bones are troubled.  My soul also is greatly troubled.  But you, O LORD - how long?”  Psalm 6:2,3

 

See what great love the Father has lavished on us, that we should be called children of God. 

1 John 1: 3a

I waited patiently for the LORD; he inclined to me and heart my cry.  He drew me up from the pit of destruction, out of the miry bog, and set my feet upon a rock, making my steps secure.  He put a new song in my mouth, a song of praise to our God.”  Psalm 40: 1-3

 

*New York Times article referred to:  “There’s a Name for the Blah You’re Feeling:  It’s Called Languishing”  by Adam Grant

https://www.nytimes.com/2021/04/19/well/mind/covid-mental-health-languishing.html?smid=fb-share&fbclid=IwAR1OeLi1YWzF_6LIKzGZqWtFRycrVNuMv2LoEviXF4P14Ywy9EZV-sNf15o


Tuesday, 20 April 2021

The Sound of Snow

 What sound does a snowflake make as it swirls toward the ground?
Rain pitters, patters, splashes, and sloshes.
But a snowflake lazily drifts, floats, spins in a silent lavish audacious dance toward the earth.
White blanketing the pear tree blossoms; burdening the daffodil heads with glistening weighted drops; coating miss kim lilac branches with intricate lacy cold.




Today, it snowed and more snow is on the forecast for tomorrow.
What do you get when you cross a spring snow storm with a lockdown, I wondered in annoyed and frustrated irritation today. It all seemed like a cruel joke and in retaliation, I decided to not go outside any more today.
"Take that, Outside! No walking with you!" I sneered.
Every year, I laughingly count on that One Extra Surprise Snowstorm that arrives late in spring. Every year I wait until mid May to wash the winter gear and fold it all away for next year. But every year, Spring lures me in with her seductive flowering trees and bulging green tree buds and shy lily shoots. And this year, it happened again.
After all, the maple and willow trees had adorned their green haloes; the magnolia trees were bursting with pale pink blooms; deep purple hyacinths clustered fragrantly in gardens; and bold yellow forsythia flowers colored bare branches.
Plus, it seemed Iike a warm and gently arrived spring would be a wonderful trade-off for our current pandemic-flavoured, locked down state of existence.
But, no. Snow seemed to be the cruel joke of the day and I scowled fiercely at it all day.
Until tonight, when Outside beckoned.
I love love love being in nature; it's my Outdoor Therapy because when I'm in nature, I'm surrounded by God's creation, I feel so close to him, and I spend much of my walk talking with Him (well, when I'm not chatting with the neighbors. Hi, Linda!)
On my evening walk, snowflakes swirled around me, coating my eyelashes with wet cold.
And it was so peaceful and beautiful and wonderful that I wondered what sound does a snowflake make as it swirls toward the ground?
Do you know?
It makes no sound. No sound at all.
And with the loud silence, my heart felt peace.

Wednesday, 7 April 2021

Covid Can't Steal My Joy

 

  • I hear them before I see them.
    Actually, I'm sure the entire neighbourhood hears them because they are loudly laughing and shrieking with delight. They run outside on stocking feet to bounce boisterously together whenever they can. All four of them.
    I watch for several seconds from behind the screen door before I sneak out into the sunshine to shoot a video.
    It's important that I really see and remember moments like this. It's important that we all do.
    Why?
    Because we can get laden and weighed down by the negatives, grievances, and general suckiness of this world. It's easy to be heavy-hearted after hearing about the Provincial emergency and stay-at-home order here in Ontario. It's easy to become frustrated, angry, and depressed. I know I am.
    And all that negativity sucks the air out of the room, doesn't it? It distracts us from seeing the raw beauty that is still there, from witnessing moments of exuberance and unbridled laughter, from glimpsing snapshots of delight.
    Covid has stripped down and stolen so much from us over the past year; but guess what? It doesn't get to steal our joy!
    Nope-on-a-rope!
    Joy is rooted in an unshakable and audacious confidence that God is still in control of all these things, all these days, all this covid. Joy is a condition of the heart that overflows and spills over into the words we say, the things we do, the thoughts we harbour. Joy is not slippery like happiness because it doesn't hinge on our circumstances looking a certain way. This means that even if you and I are not happy about the lockdowns and stay-at-home orders dictated by covid, we can still find joy.
    Listen for the laughter. Look for the beauty. Seek out the signs of spring. Experience the delight. Remember these moments and two-hand cling to joy.
    .
    .
    .
    "Weeping may tarry for the night, but joy comes with the morning." Psalm 30:5b
    "Trust in the Lord with all your heart, and do not lean on your own understanding. In all your ways acknowledge him, and he will make straight your paths." Proverbs 3: 5,6

Thursday, 1 April 2021

All Shook Up! (an Easter Reflection)

 

It’s April 1st, but I’m not laughing. 

The sun’s out, a long weekend stretches ahead, but I’m unsettled.  I can’t stop thinking about a tale of two cities.

There’s the city of Jerusalem circa 33 AD that's "all stirred up" when Jesus rides into town.

And, in a vast contrast, there’s my city which is currently in a grey-lockdown level of shut-down due to covid-19.

 

A city stirred up and a city shutdown.

 

I worry that all our Easter celebrations will be cancelled for the second year in a row and my heart feels heavy.  There have been rumours of people quarantining; of schools closing early; of numbers in Ontario rising and these feel like the ominous precludes to the impending doom of further shutdowns.

 

And I wonder how to get stirred up about Easter when my sentiments feel like such a far cry from the long-ago sentiments of those who welcomed Jesus into Jerusalem.   They were loud and boisterous.  They were exuberant and joyful. They waved palm branches - a beautiful symbol of victory and peace - and shed their cloaks to lay before Jesus and the donkey colt he rode in on. They cheered "HOSANNA" and welcomed Jesus as if he was a conquering hero.


They were not despondent, discouraged, or disquieted.

 

So, I do a little word study because word studies make me happy (also cheerful, gleeful, and delightedly jovial).

 

Some etymology work unearths the fact that the "stirred up" in the story of Jesus' Triumphal Entry comes from the Greek word seiō which means to shake, agitate, tremor, or quake.  The Bible uses this same word (seiō) to describe the earth shaking after Jesus died or the guards trembling when an angel appears to roll away the stone from his tomb. 

 

If being stirred up means to be shaken up and agitated, then I think Hamilton just might be a city that is simultaneously shutdown AND stirred up.

 

In Jerusalem, the source of the agitation was Jesus.  He was ushering in hope and victory at a time when there was oppression and defeat.  In Hamilton, the source of our agitation is covid-19.  It ushers in despair, uncertainty, and divisive opinions at a time when there was seeming comfort and peace. 

 

In both cases, people are unsettled, and this is always a good time to sit up, take notice and seek answers. 

 

Covid has exposed the transience of this world.  It is susceptible to sickness and death.

Covid has exposed our love of the comforts in this world. 

Covid has exposed our argumentativeness and inability to listen to one another.

Covid has exposed the fact that our hope cannot be found in this place called earth.    

Covid has unsettled us, shaken us up, and caused despair. 

 

And the wonderful thing about all this agitation is that it makes us look long and hard for hope, peace, and comfort. 

 

Which was ushered in by Jesus long ago. 

 

Jesus gives hope for humanity. 

Jesus died for the sins of all who believe in him and then he rose again. 

Jesus conquered sin and death.

Jesus promises peace and rest and an end to despair. 

Jesus is the point of our Easter celebrations even if church is cancelled, dinners are postponed, and we can only see loved ones while masked and standing 6 feet apart.

 

The Easter weekend is almost here.  Are you feeling shaken up?

There is hope for you and me today and it’s certainly not found in this covid-contaminated place.  There’s hope today and it’s found in Jesus. 

Monday, 11 February 2019

She Who Has Ears......

I've got two of them right here on either side of my head.  They're cute, a little flappy and adorned with silver loops. 
I call them my ears and I'm quite partial to them.  Honestly, they're cute!
But vanity aside, the real reason I love them so much is that they are super great information absorbers.  They just take in all kinds of audio info like talking people, melodic tunes, podcasts, and indicative noises to alert me to stuff.  Blinks and tings and blurbs and burps and fiddle-dee-dos. 

And yet, these flappy and silver-looped things called ears don't always work so well because there are times when I'm sitting there and just not hearing a thing.
Like when my husband and oldest son start talking hockey stats or trading deadlines.  My ears are right there being all flashy but it's like they refuse to take in or process any of that hockey-trading-information.  It's like they're straight-arming all that audio info:  "Hey now, you ain't wanted here!" and shooing it back out the ear canal:  "Git!  Git along now."  (my ears apparently have a  southern accent). 
And I know I'm not alone.  I've noticed that every single person can be Engaged or Not Engaged by what is going on around them.  And it seems that Interest is at fault.

Well, duh, you are all thinking.  Obviously when I'm interested in something, I'm engaged....but humour me for a moment. 

Because in a classroom or homeschool room or any learning environment, aren't there certain particulars that we just want every single student and child to know and learn?  Aren't there?

Like, I want every one of my kids to learn how to write her 1-2-3s and A-B-Cs.  I want all my children to know how to read and write and do long division without a calculator and write an essay and identify all the parts of the digestive system and be able to understand Salvation and Redemption and the Grace-of-God and also know all about all the continents and where they're located.  Right?

But one child took to reading and writing with little to no assistance and another loves math like he was born with the multiplication tables on his newborn lips and yet another loves solving any dilemma involving computer technology and another one.....pushes his books away angrily.
Frustrated.
Upset.
Annoyed and unwilling to do anything more.
And doing that downward spiral thing that kids do when they just can't get the information to flow far enough down their ear canals to get processed by the brain.

Interest is not piqued here.  His angry face and folded arms are clearly indicating not only a lack of interest but a mounting frustration.
And frustration seems to build a wall that blocks out everything.
There ain't no learning happening here, folks!
Except for the part where the child is processing this: "I'm stupid.  I can't do this.  This is stupid.  I hate it.  I hate school.  I hate learning." 
EEK, right?

This is not the lesson any parent or educator or teacher wants her student/ child to take home.

So, how do we get a child to learn in this situation?

Bring in singing goats?  Tickle torture? 
Nopety-nope-nope.

If the material isn't piquing the interest.....we gotta raise the interest another way.
Dr. Seuss did this with his uproariously hilarious word-play.  He saw beginner readers for kids that were so blandishly boring that he thought kids might object to learning how to read simply so they could avoid finding out more on the lives of Dick and Jane.

"Look, Dick, look," said Jane blandly.
"See Spot run," commented Dick mildly.
"Run, Spot, run," countered Jane in a monotone.
Spot can run but not well. 
Spot has died of boredom.

"Snort!" thought Dr. Seuss when he read these hideously dry readers; then he word-crafted and spun tales about Cats in Hats and creatures who Hop on Pop.  Today, my reluctant reader giggled his way through both Dr. Seuss books.  Giggled and then reached for more.

Learning can be so so so much fun. 
Sometimes it's in the material but sometimes .....sometimes it's in the way the material is presented.  Let's never lose sight of that!
Not as teachers or pastors or speakers.

Back to the unmotivated learner....

My reluctant reader is also a reluctant writer.  So we turned his lesson into a game. 
I gave him a list of words.  He had a short checklist of what was needed in the writing assignment.  I then found some candies and hid them in a tupperware container that we renamed "Ye Olde Treasure Chest". 
"Okay, buddy," I sang out in an overly cheerful way, "If you can accomplish these tasks in ye olde writing assignment, you can win the treasure!  Argh!"  I presented the checklist and held my breath.
Would it work?
Would his interest be piqued?
Could we learn through game and fun and tomfoolery?

And then.....his eyes lit up.  He unfolded his arms and snatched a pencil from the table and began scrawling.  Writing.  Trying and pushing himself.  And checking off his list until he was done and done and the treasure was in his wee hands. Argh!

The best part?  Success fuels success.
He was done and feeling good about accomplishing his writing assignment.  And that good feeling carried through math and reading and 18th Century Philosophy Class.  Okay, I'm just kidding about that last one!

Perhaps having ears isn't enough.  We need Interest to be roused to usher all that information along to our brains.  Sometimes that interest is natural.  And sometimes we gotta inspire interest through games and challenges and stories and all around tomfoolery.
I'm pretty sure that would work for me. 
As in, I'd learn hockey stats in exchange for Ye Olde Treasure!
How about you?