It’s Been a Long Day

started at 2am.

You know, a “white night”. (Which is kind of strange, since the only thing falling from the sky around here is rain… and a lot of it.)

All-nighters aren’t necessarily a bad thing. One can get a lot of work done, I guess.

A while ago, I learned that if I looked at the clock (which is across the room, so I have to make a conscious decision to look at it) in the middle of the night, and realized it was less than 10 minutes after I looked at it the last time, the probability was that I was not going back to sleep. So I might as well get up.

There’s quite a bit one can get done in the still of the night:
getting my Library up-to-date (and in a safe off-site location!;
writing a letter of apology;
clearing out part of my home office for an elliptical trainer (ok… I didn’t get that one done, just started);
tied up a few loose ends on a couple of projects;
read three quarters of a book.

Maybe I should be sleepless more often.

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It Seems Only Right

that today’s writing be about one of my heros.

Madeleine L’Engle – a thinker extradrdinaire, a writer fantastic.

I was seven years old when my dad, an elementary school teacher-librarian at the time, introduced me to her book, “A Wrinkle in Time”. It was my first exposure to real speculative fiction – stuff with depth and meaning. After gobbling up her series of books, I found my way to Heinlein’s “juviniles”… and more… and more.

All of her writing, both her fiction and her non-fiction, was firmly based on her faith. It was never overtly Christian, but all the themes were there. I liked that – a lot. I think she was one of the people who helped me understand that science and faith were not in opposition… and I have tessered through my life.

When I graduated from Queen’s Theological College with my Master’s Degree in Divinity, my parents wanted to give me a gift. Sometime that year, I had noted that Madeleine was going to be teaching a week-long writing course at Vancouver School of Theology, at the end of June. All three of us had sighed, “Wouldn’t it be wonderful to be able to…”

So I was more than a bit shocked when my parents presented me with the gift of the travel and tuition for the course.

It was overflowing – nearly double the maximum number of students. We were set up in teams, writing daily, sharing our work with each other, listening to and learning – not only from Madeleine, but from each other. Eight of us would have the chance to be in a “master class”… having our writing read by her each day, wither her thoughts, comments and suggestions written in the columns.

I have those sheets, with her distinctive hand-written comments, safely sealed and in a display frame. I was one of the very lucky ones.

In our final time of sitting and chatting that week, she sat quietly looking at me for a few moments. Breaking the silence, she said, “Richard, I don’t expect that I will ever have the chance to see your writing published. It’s good. Very good. But there is only so much energy for creative sharing that can flow through any one person… and if you are going to be a good minister and priest, that’s where you’ll focus – and they will be so fortunate.”

She was right. Most of the time, my writing has been focused in congregational life.

Since then, I’ve been carefully reading all of her theological-reflection writing. Her words have called me back to my purpose, again and again.

The world has been more beautiful because of the gift of Madeleine.

Blessed tessering, sister.

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Some Definitions

So:

Theism is “belief in the existence of a god or gods, especially belief in a personal God as creator and ruler of the world.” (The Free Online Dictionary)

Deism is “The belief, based solely on reason, in a God who created the universe and then abandoned it, assuming no control over life, exerting no influence on natural phenomena, and giving no supernatural revelation.” (The Free Online Dictionary)

One definition of non-theism is offered by “certain Liberal Christian theologians, including Episcopal bishop John Shelby Spong (who seeks to build on the ideas of the late Anglican bishop John A.T. Robinson) define a “nontheistic God” as “the ground of all being” rather than as a personal divine being. Spong refers to a theistic God as “a personal being with expanded supernatural, human, and parental qualities, which has shaped every religious idea of the Western world.” (Wikipedia)

Panentheism “is the theological position that God is immanent within the Universe, but also transcends it.” (Wikipedia)

Process theology… well… I’ll get back to that one. *grin*

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My Name

is important to me.

There is a lot of living that has been attached to the name Richard Bott – things I’m glad that that I’ve attached to it… and things I’m sad I’ve attached to it.

In the end, however, I’ve done the attaching.

Part of the reason I post my name on my blog, and have used my name in the various fora of which I’ve been a part – like the WonderCafe, or United Online – is because anonymity, for me, would make it far easier for me to say something unthinking and hurtful.

By posting under my own name, I have to consider what I’m saying… and whether I really want to have those words connected with who I am.

If not – I probably shouldn’t be writing them.

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At The Top

of my WordPress dashboard is a little tab marked, “Write”.

So I’ll do that.

I just finished a few weeks away from the congregation. I was glad to be away. I’m even gladder to be home.

The first five days were in North Bay, Ontario, for a five-conference stewardship event entitled, “For Such a Season”. Shannon and I were the worship facilitators, along with the fabulous minister of music David Ambrose. It was a great conference… and Shannon and I found out that our ability to work in team has continued to develop well since the last time we did team facilitation at a conference. The feedback, so far, has been excellent.

One of my great joys was meeting Emily Sayers of the Indigo Girls. Her dad, Don, was the theological reflector and a theme speaker for the event. He and Emily did a great concert together – and she had some powerful words of consideration and challenge for the church.

After that, we drove west and visited with family for a week or so. It was good to see my brother, sister-in-law, sister, her partner, our parents, and various nephews and nieces. It was also great to lay around doing as little as humanly possible. *grin*

Then it was down to London, where we spent a few days visiting with friends from Southern Ontario. I wish I could have seen more folks… but I wasn’t feeling well, and we ran out of time.

Then it was back to Toronto, drop off the car, pick up the plane… and come home.

Its good to be back…

and I can’t wait to get started.

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Care To Comment?

I’ve been working on designing a brochure that our Greeters (who differ from our Ushers) can give to people who are guests with us in our Sunday worship time – specifically people who may have little or no church background.

A number of people have read and commented on it. I’ve been handing it out to people I know who are not church connected, for their suggestions.

If anyone here would like to give it a read and tell me what they think, that would be wonderful!

“Welcome to St. Andrew’s Haney United Church” < - .PDF alert!

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So… There’s a New Book Out

published by the United Church Publishing House. It’s called “Arts and the Spirit: the role of art in faith formation”, edited by Mary Anne MacFarlane and E. Ann Fleming. I was going to tell you how excited I am to have written a chapter for it – Picture This: Digital Presentations.

I’m still excited… but… having read the rest of the book, I’m even more excited about the ideas the other writers are suggesting. (St. Andrew’s is going to have some fun with this stuff!)

Cover of 'Arts and the Spirit'

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Shannon Is

now involved in a part-time ministry – for the next month or so. She’s doing the administrative oversight of a congregation whose minister is on leave. Its about 12 hours a week, on top of the worship leadership supply she’s booked for until June.

Its great, in many ways – she’s having a great time (including getting to chat with people over age 4. *grin*)

But we had forgotten what it was like to have both of us working. Ah, the joy of multiple schedules.

Thank goodness: a) I’ve got a whack of hours banked; b) I can do a boatload of work on my laptop; and c) my hours are pretty flexible.

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Hear, O Israel The Lord Your God, the Lord is One

Virginia Tech lecturer who saved students buried in Israel

Librescu, a 76-year-old aeronautics engineer and lecturer at the school for 20 years, died trying to barricade the door of his Virginia Tech classroom to keep the gunman, Cho Seung-Hui, away from his students.

Blessed be God, forever and ever.

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It’s 8am

Shannon is at her mom’s (the two of them went to the ballet, last night).

Rowan is just beginning to wake up. (Which is good, because we’ve got swimming lessons in an hour and fifteen minutes!)

And I am just realizing that my writer for this week didn’t send me anything for the prayer brochure. Something that I missed in my overall ‘building of schedule’ stuff.

Ack! Agh!

I guess I’ve got some writing today.

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Creative Chaos

Those of you who have known me for a while (hi, Mom and Dad!) know that I regularly walk a fine line between ‘creative chaos’ and… well… ‘just-plain-every-day chaos’ in my life.

Organization has not been one of my high points. Now – I want to be clear – things are done, and done on-time… and usually relatively well-done, as well as being completed… but never quite as good as they could be, if a certain level of organization and structure was imposed on my flow.

I am an Enneagram Type Seven, who is hitting that point in my life where the ‘fall-back’ ways of taking care are no longer working. Unless I do something pretty drastic – really fast – those “coping” mechanisms are going to be my downfall.

And I’m going to hurt a lot more people than just myself.

So. The holiday time was quite helpful. I was able to (well, pretended to, at least) do a mental walk through of those places in my life in which I need to do some work. Some of them I need to do more thought about before I spend any time writing about them… but one of the majors is the creation of an organization form that works with who I am.

As I’ve stumbled through the web, I came across various and sundry posts on GTD (Getting Things Done). Based on what I read, I created a process that works to move things out of my head into one – central, easy to access – place.

Those of you who know how much of a techno-geek I am may be quite surprised to find out that, while my calendar is web (and PDA) based… my capture device is a stack of index cards (held together by one huge binder clip)… and my beloved fountain pen. (Though I’m going to move to one of my fine-tip pens, I think.) In my ‘capture device’ are a series of ‘next action’ cards, which help me to figure out – well – what my next action needs to be. Each of them is context based – computer, phone, office, phone, home, etc – and, depending where I am, I pull out the cards relating to that context, and get to work.

I’ve been using this practice for the past three weeks… and I can’t believe how much better I’m sleeping, how much more I’m getting done, and how much more of it is relevant to the here and now.

I’m sleeping better because I don’t wake up thinking, “AUGH! I’ve got to remember X.” X is already written down, either as a ‘next action’ or as a ‘project’ (a series of multiple ‘next actions’). Each morning, either at the office or at home, following my morning reflection and prayer time, I do a review of the cards, to see what can be done in the contexts of the day, what I have time to do, what I have energy to do… and what has to happen.

While I don’t think I’ll become a GTD fanatic… its definitely making a difference to how I do what I do.

And its helping me to see that I need to say, “No.” to some of the requests that are falling in my lap.

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We Received Our Passports Today

along with a letter from the adoption agency, letting us know that our file was one step closer to being sent to China.

Now that we have our passports, we can ship off the covering pages, bringing us one step closer to the ‘they also who serve, who only sit and wait’ part of our lives.

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Cha-cha-cha-changes…

You may have noted that my blog’s look has changed – again.

My most wonderful host – she who has given me space to blather on (sometimes silently, sometimes incessantly) – Jen of the peacefulwaters – moved to a new ISP. As things got reset and transferred, I decided to do some thinking about what I want the ‘space’ to look like… and what I want to do here.

So. For some reason, I’ve decided to go with a nice, gentle ‘blue’ theme. 🙂

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