Journal #15

February 16, 2010: Shrove Tuesday and Gary’s birthday, what a crazy day… Being apart from my husband, friend and confidant on his birthday, I somehow felt inadequate – Mixed feelings all around. Much of my day went by thinking how can I plan a Shrove Tuesday Supper with the youth group in Seeley’s Bay on this day? There was no way to escape it as it was a Tuesday and the next day was the ecumenical Ash Wednesday Service in Portland. Yes, I wish we could drop all our commitments at the drop of a dime whenever we want to, but life does not function like that, especially the life of a minister. I guess this is where sacrificial living walks in.

I know he was home in Montreal and I wish he was near, especially when I know he loves pancakes and maple syrup too. For some reason he could not get here, but we had celebrated his birthday the week before. I was also going back to Montreal in a few days. I cannot say that I totally ignored his special day. But being apart on a special day always makes you feel a bit “different”. A part of me wanted to go to Montreal to be with him, another part of me wanted to stay here and see “God at Work” through the Youth Activities and other events. Moreover, the Ecumenical Ash Wednesday service was something I had never experienced, let alone a Shrove Tuesday Supper.

I made it through the day and went to Seeley’s Bay for Shrove Tuesday Supper. The youth were serving, and they were so great at their job. The supper was only $5.00 per person. $4.00 went to Haiti’s relief fund (a total of $300) and $1.00 was given to the Youth to decide how to use that for a ministry of their choice.

After the supper was done, we had a short Ash Wednesday Service where the Spirit of God was definitely present, at work and everyone was aware, from the youngest youth member to the mature congregant. I am glad, I was part of it.

The minister who led the service took all of the little heart shaped papers which we were given in the beginning of the service and asked us to put it in a play dough and he made that play dough into a nest with branches. The symbolism was giving our hearts to God and embarking on a new journey in the beginning of Lent. This was something that we all needed to do, young and old, minister and congregant. Many tears were flowing as the hearts were being given to God and many were anointed with the ashes mixed with olive oil. This made us all aware what we need to take time to be “holy”.

There is power in symbols and rituals when we do them attentively and willingly. Being aware is very important. The trap of having rituals become something regular takes away the sacred experiences that we need to have to rejuvenate our hearts.

The next morning, The Ecumenical Ash Wednesday service was another heavenly experience. Being brought up in a family where my grandmother taught me that no other denomination is correct except ours (Protestantism), I find myself dumbfounded with other denominations’ rituals and ways of worship. In its own way, I find each denomination has its beauty and it reaches to those who choose their way of worship when it comes to a point in an individual’s life. Our neighbouring Anglican church and us gathered in the Portland church’s sanctuary and enjoyed a beautiful service where God’s presence was evident.

Why do these two days stand out for me to think back and write? Because I learnt through it all, even though we may not be happy with every single thing that we have to do on our schedules, however, if we make God our priority, and keep our word – carry through our commitments, we are blessed more than words can say.

Yes, I was away from Gary for his birthday, but God was with him and I. With the youth who experienced a sacred moment, they will not forget that day – it is engraved in their hearts. The Ecumenical Ash Wednesday Service was truly a moment where God’s banquet was at hand to all the people. Where the blessings of so many people have been if we had not gone ahead with our plans, just because I wanted to be with my husband? Yes, family is first when time and space permits, however being 250 kilometers away from home it was impossible to be at both places. Therefore, I chose God and Gary supported that decision 100%.

Sometimes choosing what we do not want to do is the price we pay for discipleship – It is so worth it. Knowing that we can float in the buoyancy of the presence of God makes it all worth to JUST TRUST. Amen.

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