Monday, February 15, 2010

Switching platforms

Well friends,
I am switching to the wordpress platform.
You can follow my adventures over at:   
Hope to see you there!

Saturday, February 13, 2010

Skunk Snouts

Skunk Noses

Proving that there are regional differences, I now share a story that was told to me at Pleasant Grove United’s fall corn roast. Beulah, the organist of the church and church matriarch (in the best sense of the word) shared this gem with me.

When she was growing up as a girl on the Island, there was a real problem with skunks. To help allieviate the problem, people were offered $.10 per skunk snout. Now to paint a picture, Beulah, is a woman who certainly has a clear understanding of how things should be. Not a hard-nosed church woman, she is simply a strong woman who is clear about what should and should not happen in the church. And so it just amazed me to hear of a young Beulah sets multiple traps to catch skunks. On her way to school she would collect the traps that were full and take them to the river to drown the skunks. She would re-set the traps and head to school. She had a tin full of salt that she would put the skunk snouts in, saving them up so “it was a good pay-out” I nearly fell out of my chair! The colourful past of Beulah! Who would have thunk? Skunk Snouts.

Come together right now, over me

(Sidebar: is it cocky to use a Beatles' song to describe an event about me?)

For those who are unfamiliar with the United Church, this is what you need to know; we in the United Church we love a good covenanting service. A covenanting service is a way to mark the beginning of a relationship. Based out of the scriptural witness of Noah, Abraham and of Jesus, the covenanting service is meant to mark the entering into a relationship with a congregation and most importantly with God.

Having been placed on a five-point charge (meaning there are five churches), getting to my covenanting service took a bit of time. I hadn’t made it to all the churches yet, but had been working for three weeks before we could gather all the church communities together for the covenanting and what would be my first communion service (on the other side of the pulpit)

There are no words to describe what that Sunday was like. There is just no words I could summon that would describe the love and support that I felt that day. To have all the congregations in one place ... well it just doesn’t happen often. And to hear them speak of journeying with me, honouring this new learning relationship, brought tears to my eyes. And then to help lead a communion service...

Having never having helped lead communion from behind the pulpit, I had never experienced how amazing it was. (I know I keep saying that... but really what other word can you use?) There was this palpitiable sense of the sacred. Our Celtic forebears speak of times such as this as thin spaces, when the barrier between us and the sacred is thin. I am still floored that I am able to doing this as part of my job. I am such a lucky girl!

Here are some shots from the wonderful day. Can you see the nerves? On the left is me standing at the pulpit prepping before the service. The centre pic of during the actual covenanting at York United with my LST (Lay Supervision Team). The final shot is me, my LST and my supervisor Joy after the service.

Standing on my own two feet

I have been blessed to be a second generation minister (well third on my mom’s side, her grandfather was also a minister) My mother is a wonderful minister and I have been witness to that way that she has touched the lives of many. As I grew up, and came into my own in both camping and youth ministry, it was often for people after meeting me to say “Oh you are Cheryl’s daughter....I just love her. She is such a wonderful minister.” Even when I went to theological school, my mother’s legacy followed, as one of my professor’s went to school with her and led a youth group with her.

I have always has a love/hate relationship with my mother’s legacy. I am so proud of who she is, and am blessed that people often consider me in the same breath. But if I am honest, there are times when I wish that the first words weren’t “Oh you are Cheryl’s daughter”, but something like “Oh nice to meet you” or some such sentiment. Every person wants to stand on their own merits, not only the laurels of others. It didn’t want to have my ministry be seen as a reflection or copy of my Mom’s or anyone else for that matter.

I hadn’t realized that I would be afforded this opportunity during this internship.

When I attended my first presbytery meeting on the Island, something felt different. I met so many people and it took me a full day after the meeting to realize that I hadn’t heard the familiar phrase at all. And it was freeing. Whatever would come from my time out here would be based I what I did... myself. For better or worse, Cheryl’s daughter was no longer my chief descriptor.

I had the opportunity to find my own voice and style and do so without comparisons. I am still my mother’s daughter and am shaped by her ministry and how it played out in my life. But I have also discovered that I have my own style and presence of ministry and that it has been affirmed in my time out here.

Who knew that Presbytery would offer such a gift? Usually all it gives is a numb bum from sitting still for so long!

Mama Kirk and I on our road trip out to the Island

An Introduction to being a Hooker.

Yep, you read that right. I have become a hooker since I moved to the Island. Let me back up as explain before the wrong idea creeps in and someone reports me for deplorable behaviour on internship.

Each Monday, at York United, the Monday Group meets. It is an open time for people of the community to come together for fellowship, fun and crafting. I rather naively showed up during one of my first weeks on the Island, unsure what to expect. Not being a crafty person, I brought some letter writing materials to fill the time.

I remember distinctly those first moments. Most of the women there had already settled in, sitting with burlap material stretched across frames, working and chatting. I walked around the room, looking at these mats that were made by pushing strips of fabric through the burlap, creating the most beautiful designs. I sat in awe at the speed at which their hands whirled as the shared the news of the community. I think I spent that first Monday just watching... and almost got away with it, until one of the Hookers (they took that name themselves) looked at me and asked: “And what are you working on? Are you just sitting there?” I sheepishly replied that I am not very crafty and that I was enjoying watching them work. This did not satisfy her. “Oh well, we will have to fix that. We will make a hooker of you yet!”

If only I knew then....

(I will try and track down some pictures to show you the glorious crafting experience that is rug hooking)

One... Two....Three....

One of the wonderful sights that I can see out of my front bay window is the Covehead lighthouse. Situated in the National Park, the lighthouse was actually built in memory of American sailors who died in an awful sea gale there in the 1800’s. Build to prevent the same devastation again, the Covehead lighthouse shines on guarding the North Shore. My mother and I took a day, touring through the park and found ourselves parked and wandering around the lighthouse. The road that brings you to the lighthouse has a bridge on it.

On that bridge, stood two girls. They stood perched on the bridge, trying to jump into the water, being egged on by the boys who had clearly already jumped in. There they stood, starting into the water, unsure if they could jump. They would crouch down, as if they were going to jump and would chicken out at the last moment. Mom and I stood there watching, waiting to see if they would jump in or climb back over the guard rail and admit defeat. I was rooting for them to make the leap... even if only to prove they were just as tough as the boys.

And then quietly, the younger of the two reached her hand out and looked at the other girl. In unspoken words, they clasped hands, saying through their actions that together they could do it. Alone, the jump was too big, too deep and overwhelming. But together, together they might be able to do it. They both crouched down again and counted out-loud “One... Two... Three... Go!!”

As they plunged in, screaming the whole way, I thought that was just what I needed to see that. Here I was about to start something new, feeling rather alone on the edge. My mom would be leaving and then it would be just me on this 5-point charge, figuring out this ministry thing. But as time would quickly show me, I was not alone up there. The whole of the church community was up there, waiting to take my hand and jump in. We would jump in together. I shared this story with each one of the churches as I started my time with them. Inviting them to take a leap of faith with me.

Green Gables; A dream realized

First, I should confess I have been an Anne fan since I first read about the iconic red-head when I was in grade two. Practically, every summer since then, I have returned to Green Gables, following in the adventures of Anne-Girl and Gilbert. I have always felt a certain affinity to Anne (clearly, look at the name of the blog) and have often been teased about it by friends and family. So, of course, when I found out that I was moving to the Island, I began dreaming of finally standing in front of the house that I had dreamed of and loved since childhood.

On my second day in the Island, my Mom and I trekked out to see Green Gables. Mom had warned me not to get my hopes up; remembering that it was not in great shape when she and Dad visited it many years ago. And I heard her warning, but couldn’t help but feel my heart pound with excitement as we left. As fate would have it, my house is a mere 15 minute drive away from Cavendish. (!!!)

We arrived bright and early, hoping to avoid the crowds of end of season tourists. We started out touring through a visitor’s centre with information about Anne’s creator, Lucy Maud Montgomery. My stomach flipped with Joy. After touring through there, you are invited to watch a video, narrated by LMM’s grandchildren about the site and Anne. As I sat there, I became overwhelmed. The reality of a childhood dream hit me. As tears began to fall down my face, I realized that Green Gables, really represented how far I had come and what a journey I was about to start. I tried to hide it, as there were others with us. But try as I might, as we excited the theatre about to see Green Gables, I couldn’t stop. Mom and I stopped, so I could collect myself before we saw it. See below for evidence of how that went....

Of course, that did not last long.... as soon as I saw it, I was reduced to a crying child. I was so moved and it couldn’t have been any better! In fact, it exceeded my imagination... and that is saying something, as I have a fabulous imagination, if I do say so myself. There was an odd sense of home-coming and proud newness there. We spent hours meandering that day. I spent a large chunk of it crying.... I am who I am, an Anne-fan who had her dreams realized as she crossed the threshold into a place and province that would change her forever.