Taking a Risk

Taking a Risk by bott.richard
Taking a Risk, a photo by bott.richard on Flickr.

#projectlife365 #game

Sometimes it’s not a game. As I watch the Prime Minister’s response (or lack thereof) to the Idle No More movement, and the ongoing battle between the Ontario teachers federations and their provincial government, there are times it feels like people think life is a Zero-Sum game.

We need to be constantly working for Win-Win-Win.

Games can have winners and losers, because, in the end, it doesn’t really matter.

Life. It shouldn’t have winners and losers. Because, in the end… it does matter. A lot.

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HappyChild finds a portal

#projectlife365 #in_a_drawer

I’ve just started playing with off camera flash. I like the concept of HappyChild finding a portal when she opened the drawer, but I still need to work more on the execution. (And I’ve got to get newer batteries for my flash units. They conked out just when I was starting to get closer to what I was looking for!)

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#projectlife365 #resolution: Beginnings begin with endings…

_IGP1918

and good endings make fertile what comes next.

The thing about resolutions is that they’re as much about old ways dying as they are about new ways growing.

So. This year, I will fertilize my new beginnings with good endings.

(And two of my 2013 hopes are to take photos and blog daily. We’ll see if Project Life 365 helps me get my creative juices flowing – and help me be accountable to my discipline.)

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A response to “The Collapse of the Liberal Church”

Here’s the letter I wrote to the Globe and Mail at the beginning of the week. Didn’t make it in – I think I was too wordy. *grin*

As a minister serving in The United Church of Canada, I found Ms. Wente’s, “The Collapse of the Liberal Church” to be both frustrating and enlightening. Enlightening because it was a snapshot of how some outside the denomination see us. Frustrating because it really didn’t say more than many of us of various theological worldviews within the denomination have been saying for some time. Frustrating, too, because many of us believe that the United Church and other liberal denominations have something vital to offer to the Christian conversation and the world at large: a belief that Jesus Christ called his followers to look at everything through the lens of God’s love, and to live that love in every action and every moment.

Much of what we do is relevant only to ourselves. Sometimes, we make decisions that make no sense. But, sometimes, in our congregations and our General Councils, we take steps that resonate in the wider community. Who knows which of these the decision the upcoming General Council makes on the conflict between the people of Palestine and Israel will be? Perhaps in this, in another decision, or in the life of one of our congregations, someone will find their faith and hope in God’s love renewed.

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My Moderator Nomination Biography, Vision Statement and Thoughts

The Rev. Dr. Richard Bott

Biography

Richard Bott is passionate and confident about the future of The United Church of Canada. An enthusiastic user of social media, posting thought-provoking and often humorous observations about faith, church and family life, he is a keen liturgist who believes firmly that a good resource is meant to be shared. He even founded a website (ucc-resources.ca) for that purpose. He is committed to exploring good, thoughtful and transformative theology, whether it is orthodox, unorthodox… or other.

Born in Marathon, Ontario, Richard was raised in The United Church of Canada. His earliest memory of St. John’s United Church is of racing his brother, on their bellies, under the pews (his brother probably won). He preached his first sermon at 12 years old, served on the Church Board at 14 and became a presbyter soon after. Supported by his parents, he explored the other faith communities in Marathon, starting a life-long love of ecumenism and interfaith conversation.

Richard studied Sociology and Women’s Studies at the University of Ottawa/l’Université d’Ottawa (B.SS), Divinity at Queen’s Theological College (M.Div), and issues around developing structured supportive and caring relationships between clergy at Ashland Theological College (D.Min). A lifelong learner, he continues study in the areas of Adult Education, Leadership and Management.

While completing his theological education he served with Front Road United Church in Belleville, Ontario, and did his internship at Trinity United in Kirkland Lake, Ontario. Following his ordination by the Conference of Manitoba and Northwestern Ontario in 1994, he was settled to Trinity United in Iroquois Falls, Ontario. In 1998, he moved to St. Marys United in St. Marys, Ontario and in 2006 to St. Andrew’s Haney United in Maple Ridge, BC.

Richard has served in almost every possible capacity in Presbytery, including Chair of Pastoral Relations in all the presbyteries where he had shared in ministry since ordination. He has worked on a variety of Conference committees and served as President of London Conference. With General Council, he was a member of the UCCan/Roman Catholic Church dialogue, a writer and presenter with the Emerging Spirit team, and is one of the many consultants supporting the ministry of The Edge network. (An overwhelmingly complete curriculum vitae can be found at richardbott.com.)

In addition, Richard sings enthusiastically and on key. He speaks English fluently and French better than he thinks. What he is really fluent in, however, is figuring out ways of helping the structure of the church live out the ministry to which it is called. He enjoys exploring The Manual, seeing in it a reflection of the covenant we have made with one another to work together in the faith we share.

Richard tries to be a faithful child of God and disciple of Christ in his life. He is grateful that The United Church of Canada has been a welcoming place for him to use his gifts and skills to help others and the church he loves. He feels called to let his name stand for Moderator and celebrates the wider church’s willingness to discern whether he is, in fact, called to the role. (His 9-year-old daughter, Rowan, thinks he is crazy to be doing this, but is willing to share her dad with the church.)

Vision Statement

Not long ago, a colleague looked at me with some despair and no little frustration, saying, “We’re screwed.” I understand the feeling; I just don’t believe it’s true. I’m not being Pollyanna. I believe that The United Church of Canada has a lot going for it, not the least of which are people across Canada who are living their lives out of a deep sense of faith and a deep connection to this United Church. Working with both rural and urban congregations, I regularly see the energy and commitment that is poured into this ministry by clergy and lay-folk alike.

Here comes the “but.”

I’m not at all sure that many of our congregations or the denomination as a whole would be able to say why we pour all this energy in. I don’t think we could articulate how our actions and our beliefs work together. I’m not sure we could easily name what we believe.

About God.
About Christ.
About ourselves.

For me, the purpose of church is deceptively simple: to help people enter into and deepen their relationship with God (and, if we’re a Christian church) through Christ. How we state that – and how we live it – is going to differ from community to community, congregation to congregation, ministry to ministry. But I’d like to suggest that is why we exist.

For a long time we’ve been quintessentially Canadian, defining ourselves by what we aren’t, rather than by what we are. It’s time we take a look at what our actions and our words say about who we are, individually and corporately. It’s time for us to be comfortable, when invitation arises, to share who we are as God’s people in Christ’s love through the life of The United Church of Canada.

We. Are. United. Alleluia!

We have a unique voice and a unique way of living as people of God and Christ-followers in this weird and wonderful world! Throughout our story, the people of The United Church of Canada have shown that they are prepared to look at everything – our traditions, our history, our beliefs, our actions, our polity, even scripture itself – through Jesus’ “lens of love”. His invitation to love God, neighbour and self with all that we are and all that we have, along with his command that we love one another as he has loved us, has led us into difficult and amazing places. Often we have accepted his challenge and found ourselves in places of doing all we can to mend creation with justice, hope and peace. Thank God!

It’s time for us to celebrate who we are as “God’s People United.” To do that, we need to set aside time to understand our individual and communal faith stories. We need also to explore where those stories fit with Christ’s story. To be able to invite others into whatever it is we are, we have to have some idea of what it is we’re inviting them into. To be able to learn from others about their faith and ways of interacting with the world, we need to have an understanding of our own.

No matter what part of the theological tightrope we’re dancing on in this big tent, who we are would benefit from building in intentional time with God every day. What would it mean for us if we worked together to be:
Uplifted and challenged in daily conversation with God;
Nurtured by regularly gathering to worship;
Inspired through daily conversation with scripture;
Transformed through service to God’s creation (human and other!);
Engaging ourselves and others in relationships based on faith and exploration;
Devoting our resources to God’s mission.

Our task is not to save our denomination.
Our task is not to save our structure.
Our task is not to save our buildings.

Our task is to continue to be God’s faith-filled people in a changing world.

I believe that the people of The United Church of Canada – its congregations, special ministries, partnerships, conversations, working groups, committees, Presbyteries/Consistoires, Regions/Conferences, and General Council – have a vital part to play in what is to come.

Why me??

When I look at all the nominees, I know that they are people who I respect greatly and would support as Moderator. So, why me?

I love who we have been and who we are right now, and am truly excited about what we could become. I understand myself to be a leader in the church. I’m someone called to find the words to describe where it seems God is pulling us, then to build conversation and collaboration to test that vision, refine it, and then help us to live it.

Like most of us in the church, I don’t agree with everyone all the time – either theologically or practically. In the past, I’ve used my skills as a facilitator, mediator, and dreamer to listen and help different groups in the church live out their ministry. If I were to be called to the role of Moderator, I would use all of those gifts and experiences to help us in the challenging and exciting conversations – and to take faithful action, no matter the difficulty.

What would I hope to do as Moderator? I’d hope to support our ministers and lay people with the resources and the passion they need to articulate their faith in God through Christ’s love, so that we might actively and intentionally live into, invite into and share into God’s abundance.

I believe we are God’s People United – children of a loving God and disciples of Christ. Whether or not I am chosen by the church to minister in the role of Moderator, I will continue helping the church to celebrate that reality.

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From dust…

Fireworks in the night sky.
“From dust you come and to dust you shall return.”

It’s usually said solemnly, as a cross of ash is placed on someone’s brow. The dusty ash often comes from the palm fronds of the previous year’s commemoration of the Palms and Passion.

But I wonder…
what if the ash came from somewhere else?

What if the ash came from a display of fireworks, bright and alive in a crisp, dark February night?

What if we gathered it together, strewn by the wind, into a cup, and darkened our foreheads with it?

Lent may be a time of penitence, but penitence doesn’t always require solemnity. Turning around – repenting – is an action that takes energy and life. Sometimes it takes tears and laughter – both in bright bursts and in sustained glow.

What would it say to us if, as that ash were placed on our skin, we felt the presence of the Holy Spirit flashing in the night – if we could feel our faith bursting forth in response?

Would that change how we say, “From dust you come, to dust you shall return?”

Would that change our, “Amen?”

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Bread

We really don’t know how it is we are fed.

We often don’t know who baked the bread.
We often don’t know who milled the grain,
kept the cows healthy,
gathered the salt,
or planted the seed.

But we know

    this

the Divine Presence is in
the planting and the growing,
the harvest and the mix.

God’s love, God’s will,
God’s very Be-ing
permeates that loaf…
even as it fills you
and me.

And, with the bread,
as the bread,
in the bread,
of the Bread,
we are blessed.

Saved or consumed.

Broken or whole.

An ‘alleluia’ of life.

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Instituion. Church. Body of Christ.

I understand that rules are necessary, really I do.

Even as an individual, we set guidelines and directions for ourselves. Lines we won’t cross. Values that are important to us.

When we put to people together, they set boundaries and rules, conventions that help them work and live together. Most of the time those are unwritten. Sometimes we put them down on paper (or on screen.)

A more formal structure becomes important when a group gets larger than can know one another well. Larger than, oh, a dozen, let’s say.

When those little groups become larger groups, and when those larger groups become groups separated by a number of variables – distance, culture, gender, language, theological understanding or economic realities might be a few – that structure is part of shared identity.

All of my life I have been part of the structure of one part of the Body of Christ – The United Church of Canada. In some ways, it’s part of not only my religious identity, it’s also part of my personal identity. I’ve been an interpreter of the rules; as a minister in congregation, as a parliamentarian, as an arbitrator and conflict resolution facilitator, as one who has chaired committees and Presbyteries and gatherings of a Conference.

I’ve seen the Spirit move in and with and around and through those rules (and the interpretation of them.) I believe that God works with the structures we have created to help us live out our covenant relationships.

There is a “but” here.

But I’ve also seen places where the values espoused by the structure of the church and the values espoused by part of its body are radically different. Institutional structures tend to favour stability. They tend to favour actions that maintian. They tend to look for ways of building conformity.

Sorry. We tend to favour stability. We tend to favour actions that maintain. We tend to look for ways of building conformity.

But, what do we do if the Spirit moves us (and with us) into a place that is not stable? Where maintainence means constant change. Where conformity means stasis, rather than safety?

What do we do with our rules when our rules were built around a different reality – when our structures are built around a certain way of living out those rules, and that way of living out doesn’t work for the reality we seem to be living?

*crunch*

I think we need to recognize that our structures are not immoveable objects and our ministries are not irresistable forces. The ability to change is built into both our structures and our selves.

If we don’t get entrenched in this or that being the only way. It may be the only way we can see. That’s ok. Each of us has our own blindspot. But we need to recognize that there are almost always possibilities we can’t see – possibilities that can be played with to speak to the concerns of structure and ministry.

I also think we need to recognize that neither our structures nor our ministries are perfectly understood. That whole, “through a mirror, dimly,” thing. We need to find the places where our core values mesh and the places where they don’t… and we need to find ways of trusting one another in the process of discussion and action.

We need to be ready to dive into each other’s vision – and to be overwhelmed by each other’s hope and each other’s pain.

But we also need to be ready to be changed, mightily, by that pain, hope and vision.

Our rules need to be tempered by prophetic challenge, at the same time that the prophet needs to be willing to see God’s presence moving and hear God’s voice speaking within the structure itself.

Life is change.

Abundant life is abundant change.

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When badges ruled the blogs

An entrance sign on a gray background with fencing and chain.
An entrance sign on a gray background with fencing and chain.
There was a time, not that long ago, when many blogs were covered in badges. They’d talk about our affiliations with different groups: “United Church Blogger”, “Debian Rules”, “Knight of the Cubic Table of Fnarr”.

In some ways, I’m glad they’re gone. Many of them were not particularly beautiful, and some blogs were just covered in the things. As you can probably tell from this space, I’m somewhat of a minimalist. There’s something beautiful about a blank canvas. All of the possibilities, I guess.

One thing I did like about the badges is that it told me, at a glance, what people thought was important enough to share with the world. At a quick read, I could see what they wanted to share. For the most part, I just took it as a starting place. Reading what the writer wrote was actually the test of our connection. But the self-labeling had its uses.

I’m finding that I’m asked to self-label all the time. This week, I got asked if I would consider myself to be “progressive, liberal, or evangelical.” I’m afraid that my response wasn’t helpful. I said, “Yes! I also consider myself to be process and United.”

I really don’t think those perspectives are mutually exclusive, nor do I think they’re points on a spectrum. I think they’re places to start a conversation. Places to begin to understand one another.

In many ways I am progressive.
In others I’m liberal.
In others I’m rather conservative.
In some I’m quite evangelical.
In others I’m rather quiet.

But, really, in the end, I’m me.

Beloved child of God. Trying to understand what that means through being a disciple of Jesus of Nazareth, who many of us call, “Christ.” Taught by people of many faith traditions and of no faith traditions.

So. Who are you?

What badges do you wear that could be the starting place for us to get to know one another?

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How do we decide?

Black and White pedestrian crossing signOver the past few weeks, I’ve been part of discussions in the congregation with whom I serve, as well as with other congregations, about ministries which are taking place, or could be taking place. Often, we get bogged down in “stuff”. The “stuff” feels important – where will we find the money, or the staff, or whatever – but I believe it actually keeps us from recognizing the questions that are even more important.

The ones that need to be answered first.

When debating the life of a congregational ministry the first question that must be answered is this, “Do we believe this ministry is God’s desire?” Not an easy question to answer. It’s one that many of us, especially those of us in the “mainstream” denominations, tend to shy away from. We don’t want to presume that we know what it is that God wants. And yet, I believe that, in a Christian faith community, uncovering and discovering what we understand God’s desire to be is central to any action we take. We need to presume.

There’s a second question: “Is it Gods desire for us?” God may want someone to be doing that work, but it may not be us. It may, simply, not be our ministry. It may be someone else’s. (“No, David, you aren’t going to build a temple for me. That’s going to be one of your kids’ jobs.”) The thing we have to be careful about with this question is making sure that we don’t turn away from difficult ministries that God is calling us to, because we think someone else can do them better. Someone else may very well be able to do them better. If this ministry is God’s desire for us, we had better connect with those that are already doing it, or could do it better – because we’re going to need them. We’re going to need their partnerships, their ideas, their resources, their goodwill, their help and their love. We’re going to need their disagreement and their challenge.

If God wants us to be doing this ministry, we’re going to need all the help we can find. Whatever that ministry might be.

I think the third question is, “Is it God’s desire for us to be living out this ministry right now?” Sometimes there are great ideas and great possibilities. And, sometimes, those great ideas and great possibilities are something that God is calling us toward. But we also need to realize the complexity of – well – everything. The people who are here, with their gifts. The wider community. The price of tea in China. Sometimes, the bits and pieces that are needed aren’t lined up to live out the ministry. Sometimes, the bits and pieces are things that we have no ability to get lined up. They’re out of our control. If we’ve answered “Yes” to questions one and two then all we can do in this case is to get lined up what we can line up, and watchfully wait as other pieces come into alignment.

If the answer to any one of these questions is “No,” then we need to seriously consider why it is we want to be doing this ministry. Perhaps it is the ministry of someone in the congregation, but not that congregation’s ministry. Perhaps it is someones’ Call, just not ours. We still have a task to do. We need to help that person, or that group, to live out their ministry. We need to support. We need to challenge. We need to love it into being.

We need to test. We need to be ready to say, “You know, we got this one wrong.” We also need to be ready to say, “Yes. Heard that one loud and clear, God.”

If, of course, we believe we should be aligning our work with God’s.

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Behind the times

I just realized that it’s been a few months since I’ve posted here. I spend far more of my time “microblogging” over at Facebook and on Twitter. The hardest part, right now, is finding time to sit and write. Really write.

General Council Executive has decided to keep the General Council offices somewhere in the Greater Toronto Area, perhaps connected with one of our congregations. It will be interesting to see what happens with the way ministry is expressed (if anything), when the offices are more congregationally connected.

At St. Andrew’s, life goes on. We’re prepping for financial stewardship visits – using a “home group” style that we’ve not tried before. It will bring together small groups that will take a look at what our finances have been used for this year, what we’re planning on using them for next year, and to give people the chance to ask questions about our ministry in general. It should be interesting, especially with some people’s frustration around our movement away from passing the plate.

“Life goes on.” That’s quite the way to describe it. Pretty accurate, though.

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Moving Church House?

A black rubber sandal sits on a frozen lake.
Walking on Thin Ice (Richard Bott CC-by-nc-sa)
There’s a bit of a debate going on in UCCan circles at the moment. The lease on the space that houses our General Council (think ‘national’) Offices is coming to its end in a couple of years. The debate? Should our General Council offices (“The Ship”, “Church House”, “GCHQ”, “3250”, etc. etc. etc.) stay in the Greater Toronto Area, or should they move.

For the past 17 years they’ve been located in Etobicoke. Before that, they were at was 85 St. Clare Ave. – the heart of downtown Toronto. The question is, what’s going to happen next? Where will General Council Offices be?

The denomination’s magazine, The Observer, wrote an article about the location discussions at the General Council Executive meeting. A group from Winnipeg has designed a beautiful website, to help showcase their community as a possible place for the offices to be.

As I listen to the commentary, I hear things like, “Decentralize!” and “Why do we need General Council anyway?” From my perspective, if we are going to be a national church then we are going to need national organization of some size – large or small. Organization means people and people need space in which to do their work.

I recognize that there are many different variables that people are going to want to consider: our desire to keep/change current staff, many of whom would not choose to move away from the GTA; our rural/urban divide; stewardship of finances and other resources; stewardship of relationship; questions about ‘image’ and ’empire’; geography and distance; relationship with other denominations and communities; wondering about the effect of architecture on mindset – and more that I’ve not thought about, I’m sure.

There are great reasons for moving the General Council offices – to Winnipeg or elsewhere. There are great reasons for keeping the General Council offices in the GTA. I’m not sure that a “balance of pros and cons” is going to help us make the decision. In fact, I think I can be even stronger by saying that I don’t believe that balancing pros and cons will help us make this decision.

Whatever the decision, there are going to be people who believe that the wrong one was made.
Whatever the decision, there are going to be people hurt by it and there are going to be people helped by it.
Whatever the decision, there will be a level of chaos, both for us as individuals and us corporately.

Recognizing that, how do we go about making a right decision – one that is just and loving and lives out Christ’s call? By making sure that the process is just and loving and lives out Christ’s call.

So – for me – that means speaking truthfully about what I’m seeing and hoping for, about the possibilities of being in Winnipeg, or Ottawa or Waterloo or Toronto. It means listening to my words and trying to hear them through the ears of someone who holds a different perspective, before I hit the enter key or open my mouth. It means being ready to accept whatever decision the people we have entrusted to make the decision make – even if it’s not the one I would have gone with.

And it means trusting that God works through all of us.

I wonder how we’ll do with this one?

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9/11/2011

A dark sky with slivered water underneath.
Dark Sunset (Richard Bott CC-by/nc/sa 2.0)
I hate to say this, but in many ways I’m glad I’m not responsible for worship leadership this coming Sunday morning. I’ve been watching colleagues – both in The United Church of Canada and in a variety of other denominations – struggle with what to do on this 10th anniversary of the attacks on the World Trade Centre’s twin towers and on the Pentagon in the United States, and the deaths that arose from those attacks.

I’m glad I’m not leading worship, because I know that there are people who want to commemorate that day.

I struggle because, as terrible as it was, and as horrendous the deaths of all those children, women and men and the grief that their families and friends live is… it is one drop in the ocean of death caused by humankind’s ability to hate those who are Other.

In my lifetime (1968 to now):
Between 1.5 and 3 million people were killed in the Cambodian Genocide.
Between 500,000 and 1 million people were killed in the Rwandan Genocide.
Between 176,000 and 400,000 people were killed in the Darfur conflict.
Massacres of Hutus by Tutsis and Tutsis by Hutus (approximately 150,000) in Burundi.
Between 26,000 and 3 million people in East Pakistan/Bangladesh.
Between 20,000 and 80,000 people in Equatorial Guinea.
Between 18,000 and 183,000 people in East Timor.
Between 9,000 and 30,000 people in Argentina.
Between 7,500 and 8,000 people in Srebrenica.
Between 2,000 and 70,000 people of the Falun Gong in China.

And how about the actual, declared wars, during my lifetime:
Second Congo War – between 3.8 and 5.4 million people killed.
Vietnam War – between 2.6 and 6.0 million people killed.
Second Sudanese Civil War – between 1 and 2 million people killed.
Iran-Iraq War – between 500,000 and 2 million people killed.

And let’s not forget…
the Iraq War – between 98,000 and 654,000 people killed;
the War in Afghanistan – approximately 25,000 people killed.

And, yeah, I know that getting numbers from Wikipedia doesn’t always work, but if the numbers are even one-tenth of what they show, they would boggle the mind.

This, of course, doesn’t include deaths caused by famine, by economic policies, by climate change.

Or by crime.

Will I remember take a moment a lift up a prayer for the children, the men and the women who died on 9/11/2001? Of course, I will.

But I’ll do it in it’s context of all death that is caused by our human inability to live with, to love, and to lift up our neighbour.

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Roads not travelled.

A fog-enshrouded, snow dappled pathway beside a series of leafless trees - somewhat spooky.
Take this path? (Richard Bott CC-by/nc/sa 2.0)
I’m sure all of us do it. You know, think about the roads and paths we didn’t take. Look back over our lives and wonder, “What if I had…?”

In some ways, it’s a fool’s game. What is, is. We can’t go back. There aren’t any “do overs.” Just the ever-present now. And yet…

Although there have been good and bad times in my life, times I would love to revisit (more as a tourist than a player), I really don’t think I’d want to lose who I am, and who is in my life now. My partner. Our daughter. Being in BC. All of the experiences of being a minister in The United Church of Canada, here, in St. Marys, in Iroquois Falls, in Kirkland Lake. The relationships and friendships.

Even more than revisiting some of those times, what I would truly love is the chance to meet the ‘me’s who would have grown out of other decisions. The Richards who chose to walk other roads.

I wish I could have the chance to listen to what they learned and to see how this choice made that difference.

In the last little while, I’ve been reconnecting with people from different times in my life. My highschool daze, my university years, my time as a newly forming minister. In the process of feeling out the possibilities of friendship again, I’ve found myself in conversations that call for remembrance and repentance, and – perhaps – for reconciliation.

Even if these moments of reconnection do not grow into renewed friendship, the ability to repent – and the ability to release both my own Self and the Other – is well worth looking back on the path I’ve taken.

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In Life, in Death…

A red bicycle is locked to a gray pole, sitting on an asphalt sidewalk. In some ways it feels kind of strange to add my words into the millions that have already been tweeted, posted, written and spoken about Jack Layton. Many people in many places have written about him, his life, his love and passion, and his charisma.

I am deeply thankful for all of those things about him – and I am deeply thankful for his leadership.

There have been a number of commentators wondering about why there is such a public outpouring of grief over his death. It’s strange, but I’m not finding our collective grief surprising at all.

Jack Layton – in life and in death – embodies many values which Canadians hold dear. He was a likeable politician. He had a kind of “derring do” and a willingness to drop his visor and tilt at the monsters he saw in the world. He was a politician with chivalry and respect for his opponents. He was a team player who also valued leadership. He could be tough and nice and laugh at himself and try to change the world.

For many of us, he embodied what we like about being “Canadian.”

When I think about the communities in which I have lived, I realize that there have been people in each of them who are embodiments of our Canadian-ness. When some of these women and men have died, the community has grieved – not only the loss we have in their death, but the loss of the “embodiment.”

Jack Layton was one of those. And his community – Canada – grieves.

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