25 December 2014

Silent Night

"Silent night, holy night"
Breathless anticipation
standing on the threshold of holiness
time stretching out
and yet
over in a heartbeat.
Tongues and hearts falling silent
standing on the threshold of holiness.

"All is calm, all is bright"
In the stillness of the hours before dawn
in the velvety darkness
in the light of the street lamps
sparkling snowflakes drift softly towards the earth.

"Round yon virgin, mother and child"
The mystery of the incarnation
the improbability
the impossibility
the glorious absurdity of it all

"Holy infant, so tender and mild"
It is easy to imagine Jesus as a baby,
innocent, helpless
growing into smiles and love.
What about Jesus as a 7-year-old boy,
full of energy and questions and pranks?
What about Jesus as a teenager,
testing limits, growing independence, swinging needs?

"Sleep in heavenly peace"
Sleep little baby, knowing you are loved.
Sleep exuberant child, knowing you are loved.
Sleep uncomfortable teen, knowing you are loved.
Sleep questioning adult, knowing you are loved.
Sleep patient elder, knowing you are loved.
"Sleep in heavenly peace."

14 December 2014

Reflections on the End of Term

Well… I survived!  I made it to the end of my first term of my M.Div., and I haven't run away screaming yet.

I submitted my final paper on Wednesday (and then returned a stack of library books that I had out for research), had the snow tires put on my car on Thursday, and then spent Friday and Saturday driving back to Ontario.  My plans for the next 3 weeks include visiting family and friends, reading a stack of non-school books, and generally trying to let my brain turn to mush after the busy-ness of the past 3 months.

Overall, I've enjoyed the past three months.  The school is a lovely place - there is a real feeling of community there - we are one family caring for one another, even when we don't always get along or agree.  It is a highly supportive place to be.  The community wasn't the reason that this was my first choice of schools (chosen for a combination of the ecumenical nature and the location); but it is the primary reason why I am glad that I ended up here.

That being said, I'm also very glad that I have my own apartment, and that I'm not living in residence.  It has been a big shock to return to school after 15 years away - trying to live in a residence room probably would have been a bit too much.  Instead, I have a beautiful apartment, a relaxing commute to and from school, and my cats can stay with me.

With every paper that I've submitted this term, I've had a fleeting thought that, "maybe this is the paper that will prove that I don't belong here.  Maybe this is the paper that will prove that I'm a fraud."  I don't mean this in terms of a sense of call - all term long (after I got through the first couple of weeks), I've felt very strongly that I am exactly where I am supposed to be, doing exactly what I am supposed to be doing.  Rather, it has been more in a sense of an academic fraud.  My undergraduate degree was in sciences (Physiotherapy, to be exact).  It was very much a knowledge-  and skills-based undergraduate degree.  This term, I have written more papers than I wrote in my entire undergraduate degree.  I also wrote my first academic essay in 20 years - last one was in high school English class.  Each time I have submitted a paper, I have done so with a touch of self-doubt that it wouldn't be up to the standard.  That was one of my big fears in coming back to school - I was worried that I would be able to keep up, academically.  But so far, I've received mostly positive feedback on my papers.  They haven't "found me out" yet!

And I have loved being back in an academic environment.  It is a privilege to be able to spend my days reading and writing and learning and generally stretching my brain.  Just think - I have 5 more semesters of this excitement!

And so my books are packed away, and my desk is tidied, all in readiness to begin my next term on January 5.  I loved all of my classes this term - I can't wait to see what next term has in store for me!

(desk and bookshelf, tidy and waiting for me when I get home)

5 December 2014


At this time of year I find myself bombarded with "Christmas' - usually in the form of poorly interpreted Christmas carols and seasonal songs in every public place, rampant consumerism, parties, stress, and and and…

In church-land, the four weeks leading up to Christmas make up the season of Advent, which marks the start of the church year.  Advent is a time of not-yet-Christmas.  Advent is a time of waiting, of preparation, of reflection, of expectation.  It is my favourite church season, especially in contrast with the "Christmas" in the world around.  Advent is a liminal time - an in-between time, on the threshold of something new.  Advent is a time to slow down and reflect.

I don't normally share my poetry with anyone outside of my journal, however here is a poem that I wrote a year ago, reflecting on Advent, and travel, and with a good dose of jet-lag thrown in.

This moment.
Outside of time
Outside of place
This moment.
What came before is finished
The future is yet to be.
this moment.
The past has been absorbed into our being
Standing on the threshold of the future.
This moment.
We are travellers together on the road
Each of us with our own path
yet led by one spirit.
Searching for light in the darkness
Searching for joy in the sorrow
Lives intersecting briefly in
this moment.

(my journal, where I sit to read and write and pray each morning)