Last week I attended chapel and heard a very inspiring message from a woman who's had cancer. Looking young, vibrant and beautiful, I would never have known she was sick if she hadn't shared it. But there were many days when she was neither vibrant nor beautiful, and struggled to know where her worth lay then. A woman of faith, she strongly believes in the inherent worth of all people, but when she could not contribute to the family, to her business, nor be productive in the usual ways, she emotionally, if not mentally, questioned her worth.
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A friend recently asked me how my back was. “Good,” I replied. “No more pain; that’s over with?” he responded. “I wouldn’t say that, but it’s better,” I answered. This led to a conversation about the healing power of positive thinking, and how proclaiming my pain-free present and future self could help actualise it. My friend expressed surprise that that my strong Christian faith didn’t result in a more positive response towards my own healing, and that he, with less faith, might have more hope.
This week, I was invited to give a Facebook Live interview to share some of the stories and experiences I've had travelling in pursuit of peace. I had the chance to explain what motivated me to start CryPeace, some of people who have particularly touched and inspired me, and my hopes and dreams for the future. Brief highlights include:
I live in a wonderfully walkable neighbourhood in Toronto, the largest metropolis in Canada, so I tend to shop close to home. But a dry cleaning emergency this month led me to another pedestrian destination, Roncesvalles Village, during my lunch hour today. I was thrilled to find an adjacent eatery with healthy, vegetarian options. As I left with several meals to save time for writing and photography, I put my change in my pocket.
Trees and paths
Leaves and needles
I collect burrs like badges on two wheels
Three million neighbours and no one knows I’m here
except the squirrel ignoring me in the twilight
up hills which hid the ravine
Gentle drops and warm wind, slough off the day’s cares
as I race the downpour to my door
It’s January 1, 2016 – a new year. I started it wonderfully, in my prayer chair. For Christmas, my friend gave me "Thomas Merton: A Book of Hours.” It has prayers for every day of the week, dawn, day, dusk and night. Reading the dawn prayers today started my year off beautifully.
We sang Hillsong’s Oceans (Where Feet may fail) on Sunday; it’s a beautiful song about following Jesus onto the water. It alludes to the Biblical passage in which Jesus walked past the disciples on a stormy sea, while they struggled against the wind in a boat (Matthew 14, Mark 6, John 6).
Envisioning the scene, Jesus is on the lake; I’m on the shore. If I’m going to follow Jesus, I’m going to have to get my feet wet.
It’s Maundy Thursday, or Holy Thursday in the Christian calendar — the beginning of Easter, our most sacred holy day. The whole weekend is devoted to remembering Jesus’ teaching, betrayal, death, and resurrection. From Thursday to Saturday, we will keep vigil, reading Biblical records of this weekend’s events over two millennia ago. We will pray, fast, repent, and remember. We do this to reground ourselves in God’s word, God’s love, God’s sacrifice for us, and the sacrifice that God requests of us.
It’s Good Friday, the day Christians remember the death of Jesus. To remember more vividly, I prayed the stations of the cross at a Catholic church. The prayers led us in imagining ourselves as bystanders of Jesus as he carried his cross to the place of his execution, then envisioning Christ’s presence in our daily lives and relationships. At the end of the prayers, we made our way to the cross, kneeling before Christ to pray our silent prayers.
It’s Easter Saturday — the day after we commemorate the death of Jesus. Jesus is in the grave. It’s the Sabbath, the day of rest, so his friends cannot embalm him, or prepare for a funeral — it would go against Jewish law. But how necessary was that enforced rest for them. They must have been exhausted with shock and grief.