beach basilica

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The heavens declare the glory of God and the firmament proclaims God’s handiwork. (Psalm 19)

I’ve visited many basilicas in my life, including the four major ones in Rome. They are gob-smacking, architectural monuments. Domes soar in the air with no visible support. Massive columns and statuary remind us of our own littleness, and the grandness of popes, bishops and saints. The glory of God sometimes competes with the glory of man.

I can still be moved with the beauty of our churches, cathedrals and basilicas. But, my heart yearns more and more for the glory of God in the heavens and firmament.

Hubby and I retired to the southern shores of Lake Winnipeg in Manitoba.

(Manitoba is the province shaped like a mitt, smack in the middle of Canada. Lake Winnipeg is the largest lake, smack in the middle of the province. You can see it here.)

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Our home is actually on a channel surrounded by marsh land, with water access to the main lake. Here’s a recent photo. The Canada geese were having a late evening practice run for their trip south. (With apologies to my friends in the south. The kaka bombers are coming!!!)

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We’ve been blessed with a glorious autumn. Here’s a view of the marsh on a late afternoon walk.

IMG_3709Southern winds have lowered the main lake levels in past weeks allowing more access to the shore lines. Hubby and I have been exploring beaches just minutes away by car. I fill my mind with mental pictures, and my camera memory with photos.

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I’ve told this story many times. Please forgive me for repeating it. Many years ago, a well-intentioned priest told us in a homily that the most important place to be in the world was inside the four walls of our church. His words angered me, and still do. Yes, our churches and church communities are important, but they are not the sole pathway to God.

In these early autumn years of my life, I am finding God more and more in daily life. People and places, relationships and creation form my sacramental moments.

And, in these glorious autumn days, the beach is my basilica.

The heavens declare the glory of God and the firmament proclaims God’s handiwork. (Psalm 19)

 

 

sing a new song? yes, please!

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Sometimes we love a song so much we play it over.

And over.

And over.

The tune and words morph into an ear worm, burrowing deep into our memory. We hum it. We day-dream to it. Years later it has the power to move time and place into the present.

We can also easily tire of a song. We might have liked it once. Really liked it. Now, it fails to move us. Even worse, it may become annoying. We’re done with it.

SING A NEW SONG!

Psalms and hymns are filled with joyous shouts of “SING A NEW SONG!” Stop for a moment. I bet that a song or psalm phrase is going through your mind right now.

And yet, we are part of a church that tells us what to sing, when to sing, and how to sing. We sanctify tradition, equating it with holiness. We sing of new songs, but seldom sing new songs.

Dare we explore new ways of believing, praying and expressing our faith? Heavens, no, say the defenders of Mother Church. We still haven’t got over the Protestant Reformation when all those nasty men and women dared to stray from our centuries old tradition. Dared to question. Dared to seek personal paths to God and holiness. New ways are a threat to our unity, say the defenders.

This is what we have always believed.

This is how we’ve always prayed.

This is who has always led the prayer. Held the power. Made all the decisions.

WE MAY SING OF NEW SONGS,

BUT SELDOM SING NEW SONGS.

I’ve been dragging my feet to go to Sunday Mass for years. It’s only an hour of my life, I tell myself, but it’s a burden. I go because my hubby goes. Often, he goes alone.

I used to love the Mass, even attending daily when I could. I can sometimes stir up those happy memories, but usually the bad memories of past hurts take over. Where once there was nourishment, there is now a sense of purgatory time.

Long.

Tedious.

Not real pain yet suffering nonetheless.

Purgatory time.

I try not to blame others for my lack of enthusiasm. There is no magic priest. No magic choir. No magic parish. What would change this for me? How can I change? I’m not sure.

Is the song old, or am I simply tired of hearing it?

I NEED A NEW SONG!

I firmly believe that faith, like love, follows a circular movement of ROMANCE – DISILLUSIONMENT – TRUE JOY. I’m no stranger to disillusion in my faith life. I’m even more experienced in disillusion with the church. I’m curious to know where the disillusion will lead me at this stage in life.

What new songs will I hear?

What new songs will I sing?

What about you?

 

I believe…sometimes there IS only one side

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In my previous post I spoke of the need to find middle ground between ideological extremes. This is what dialogue is all about. But, what if there IS no middle ground? What if an ideology is not only wrong, but dangerous? What if there is nothing to dialogue about?

This past weekend’s events in Charlottesville, VA laid bare the ugly reality of racism and bigotry in America.

Nazi, white-supremacist, and racist ideology is WRONG. It is EVIL. There is no common ground on which to begin a dialogue.

Any decent person with a decent knowledge of history should shudder at the sight of swastikas and Hitler style salutes. The images dig up memories of one of the most horrific mass exterminations of human life, of hatred systematically acted out in the executions of millions of men, women and children.

And yet, there they were. Hitler’s ideological descendants.  Marching on the streets of small town America. Using their right to free speech to spew hatred of the “other”. Claiming that their own white, privileged lives were under attack. Flaunting the support of the man whom they helped to elect president. And, support them he did.

By claiming that “many sides” were at fault for the violence, Trump claimed a false equivalency between the alt-right, white supremacists and those who came to protest them in the name of basic human equality. Despite the back-pedalling of the White House, Trump had clearly shown where his loyalties lie. A man who based his political platform on name-calling, refused to call by name the evil of nazi, racist, white supremacy.

There are moments in history where dialogue is not the answer. When evil rears its ugly head, threatening the security of all, it must be fought. It is not the time for nice words. It is not the time for seeking middle ground.

After hearing Trump’s speech, hubby and I were both reminded of a dark chapter in our family history. One of our daughters and her friend were sexually harassed in high school. The harasser was obviously emotionally disturbed. We feared for the safety of the girls. We spoke to teachers, the principal, and the school superintendent. We went with the girls to the police to make a report. Nothing was done. The principal finally came back with a “solution”. Mediation! The perpetrator and his victims should sit down together and try to work together towards a solution.

We were gob-smacked. Mediation implies there are two sides to an issue. There WERE no two sides. The girls were innocent victims, whose school life had become a fearful hell of what might happen if this young man finally snapped.

Eventually, the perpetrator was removed from the school but our trust in the school system was broken. Any talk of respecting the safety and dignity of each student rang hollow. Words need to be backed with effective action, or they are worthless.

In his speech, Trump called Americans to unite. Unite with what? Hold hands with evil and join in a resounding chorus of Kumbaya? No. This is not a time for unity. It is a time to stand up, speak out, protest against, and do everything we can to ensure that NEVER AGAIN.

NEVER AGAIN, will good women and men sit back while madness and hatred is allowed to fester.

NEVER AGAIN, will a leader be allowed to shamelessly rally his minions to support a platform of “us and them”, a platform of supremacy for a few while millions of lives are deprived of basic rights and value.

NEVER AGAIN.  PLEASE, GOD. NEVER AGAIN.