Archive for November 2009

Journal # 7

November 14, 2009

October 11, 2009: TAHNKSGIVING.  I can easily say, “This year the meaning of Thanksgiving took an entirely different perception, a reflective and a fulfilling one”. This year, it was not about who is coming over for supper or where we can plan to go for some R. & R. It was about being thankful from the heart for what I have. Fulfillment of the heart and not the stomach.  

            After 15 days of not seeing Gary, he arrived back in Portland on October 8th, which made my Thanksgiving week-end begin even earlier.

            As I begin to write this journal, I am reminded of the very first time I was introduced to this holiday called Thanksgiving. It was in Orange County, California, November of 1983 (American Thanksgiving). I remember it was also the same time I learnt about hugs. When I had extended my hand to shake the hand of the lady whose house we were visiting, she said, “In America we do not shake hands, we give hugs”. Twenty six years ago, I thought that was such a weird thing to do, now I am the queen of hugs – I think hugs are therapeutic and wonderful…   

            In California, Thanksgiving seemed to be about stuffing turkey and mashing potatoes and adding all the trimmings – just like everywhere else where Thanksgiving is celebrated. In Quebec, as the years passed, I started to become more aware about the harvest and celebrating God’s abundance. Hence, being thankful for all the abundance that we have and take action to do something about those who do not have enough. Now, 23 years later, I actually got to see the harvest bursting at the seams of the fields. In “my backyard”, farmers working tirelessly; pumpkin patches raging with color; corn hiding in the husks; and the golden fields glistening  the countryside. What beauty, what splendour!

            All this abundance sparked in me the desire to make pumpkin and zucchini breads. I did not want to waste the pumpkin I had used for “show and tell” at church on October 4th. I took advantage of the knowledge all around me and asked, “How can I cook a pumpkin to make it ready for use in a bread mix”. The response was wonderful, so, I chose the easiest way to cook the pumpkin and make bread. So it was, all systems go.  On Saturday evening (October 10), Gary and I started to make a recipe (from the internet), which continued into another batch and another. We baked pass midnight. It was fun and most of all meaningful. From fresh pumpkins and zucchinis; flour and eggs; we got these freshly baked breads. What a gift, what a memory. I think, school had kept me too busy over the past four years to be able to have fun like this. 

            Another element that was an addition to this year’s Thanksgiving was a Baptism that I was part of in the pastoral charge. When I say, “part of” I do not mean that I did anything big at the time of the Baptism itself,  but I was involved in getting to know the child and the parents from the first day I walked into the church. It is over a month now that I have gotten to know them and this has been a great joy. To be part their journey and them becoming part of mine. The Parents, and the Godparents alike declaring their commitment to bring up this child in Christian Faith. Committing, claiming, and celebrating –  this is Baptism. The community where the child is baptized, also promises to help raise this child with the same values of this intention. After all, it does take a village to raise a child not just one family.           

            The Baptism was great and the baby was not bothered by anything at all… She was right at home. After the worship service, the plan went forward, Gary and I left for Laval (Montreal). I wanted to take advantage of the long week-end and spend some time back home. This was my first time going back since I moved here. My in-laws invited my sister for supper to surprise her with my visit. When Gary and I arrived home, she was already there. It worked. All her neighbours and friends were in this conspiracy, but she only suspected something was up when she arrived and saw that daddy had the big table set for five people and she asked, “why 5 places daddy?”  

            After an amazing supper that dad and mom had planned and prepared, Gary and I decided to take Maya for a walk. My arm was in Gary’s arm as Maya was pulling both of us. We were walking through the streets when an overwhelming joy of fulfillment took over my whole being. Tears filled my eyes as I told Gary, “This is the Best Thanksgiving Ever honey, thank God and thank you”.

            What a paradox. It is one of the hardest times in our lives that we are going through, but yet it is the best Thanksgiving ever.  Gary and I always said that when the time comes and ordination takes place, in 2011, he would quit his job so that we can settle wherever the church sends us. Half of our plans went fast forward without our consent – Gary’s job was terminated in July, and I still need two years to complete my program. This seems like a cruel joke. On top of it all, we need to live apart for eight months. How can I be part of a relationship where my partner needs me the most but yet I leave and move away to do internship?

            I think, paradox must become our friend in times like these. Particularly when we are facing the unknown head on. Bill payments and lack of finances create stressful environment around us but how can we see the opposite of that? Only through God’s grace. We must find it, it is there for the accepting. For every descent there is an ascent. God says, “I am with you”. People in the community, the pastoral charge have truly become the family who lifts me up. Every time I receive an encouraging e-mail, a phone call or a personal comment from a congregant or even strangers who just visit the church, make my joy overflow. They remind me that our work is not in vain. God’s grace is at work. There is no dollar value to attached to that. Our commitment to our Creator, the Sheppard of our Hearts is not in vain. Even when we are in the valley with different stressing issues, our needs are met. The luscious green grass is abundant in the valleys where we are found. We need to stop longing to be on the top of the mountain and look down to see that all that we need is right in front of us. 

            I pray that your Thanksgiving 2009 was a great one and that you are able to TRULY keep that momentum going throughout your daily life and thank God for the air you breathe, the commotion you hear, the spiders you see, the food you taste, and a hand you hold or a hug you get. Find fulfillment in the simplest things of life, because Grace is simple and free. Allow the author of life work in you, through you and mould you into the heart of Jesus to make a difference in this world. Become to others what you want others to become for you. AMEN.