Friday, February 27, 2009

and Canada, eh?

I just received word that my ministerial standing has been transferred from the Virginia region to the region of Canada. It has been a long process. But I can finally claim the full name of my denomination, the Christian Church (Disciples of Christ) in the United States and Canada.


Our neighborhood (or rather, our neighbourhood) is fantastic. We live in a part of Edmonton called Oliver, adjacent to downtown, and filled with stores, museums, galleries, restaurants, churches, and bus stops where we can catch a ride to any other part of the city. I love this neighbourhood.

One of my favorite places here is a delightful little tea house just blocks away. Steeps is an "urban tea house" with several locations in Western Canada, but the original is the one near us. Steeps is steps from the best yarn store around and our insurance agent. It's one of those places filled with eclectic, mismatched furniture, artwork by local artists, and floor-to-ceiling shelves filled with hundreds of varieties of tea (three entire shelves dedicated to varieties of Earl Grey). Tea is served in a french press, and you must go to the sideboard to pick out which tea cup you'll drink from. While you're at the sideboard, you can pick up a scrabble board, or as we did, connect four.

On Friday nights, there is live music, of the mellow, coffee-house variety. Still recovering from my cold, I wasn't up for a wild night on the town. So Steeps was absolutely perfect. My Beloved and I played games, read the paper, talked, laughed, listened to a school teacher from Ft. McMurry sing, and drank delicious tea (mine was a fruity blend called "Creativity", and Craig chose one that smelled like a campfire).

I think this is the perfect beginning for a marvelous weekend.

Thursday, February 26, 2009


From the Greek pathos (suffering) and gen (originate), a pathogen is that from which suffering originates.

You know, this is not exactly my model of ministry.

So instead of spreading my sniffly-sneezy germs to already sick patients, I am home with my sniffly-sneezy self.

Wednesday, February 25, 2009

Steaming Heap of Walking Compost

A patient received some difficult news today. The results of the various tests have come back and surgery is no longer an option. In his mind, his death is imminent.

"I'm a dead man walking," he said to me. "You're looking at a corpse, nothing but a steaming heap of walking compost."

With such vivid metaphors, he continued to express his grief, rage, frustration, and despair. "What's the point of it all? There is no point. I'm going to die. We're all going to die. Ashes to ashes. Dust to dust. We're born, we suffer pain and loss and rejection, and we die. You, me, everyone - all nothing but walking compost."

I couldn't help but think of the smudges on the foreheads of so many Christian people today. It's Ash Wednesday. And so many who profess the Christian faith have been marked with ashes, smudges into a cross. They have heard the uttering of the words, "Remember you are dust, and to dust you shall return."

Death is certain. For me. For you. For the man who heard the difficult news today. But while I can empathize with him, I cannot share his present belief that this certainty of death makes life meaningless. If anything, the uncertainty of tomorrow gives me the opportunity to grasp today with passionate abandon: to love deeply, to be completely honest with myself and others, to release anger and guilt and those life-sucking bad vibes. If I am nothing but walking compost, I want to be the richest, most stable, most nutrient-filled, most purposeful biodegradation of organic matter I can possibly be.

Tuesday, February 24, 2009

Brrr... It's cold.

We're back to -20 and below temps. This is what -25 looks like.