Showing posts from August, 2008

Turn Over

Monday we turned the program over to the participants. This morning Judy spent time teaching them about the four "G's" of teaching (Grab my attention, Give me something new, Get me to do something, Go made a difference) and she had a session on "The Planning Circle". After lunch four groups spent the afternoon preparing a workshop each on a topic that interested them. I spent the afternoon getting caught up with my blogs and being a resource to the groups as they may need me. Supper was one fine kind of time, me ol' trout! The four Newfoundlanders put on a traditional Newfie supper. We had coleslaw, eggs, baloney, baked beans (from a family recipe), and toutens (fried dough). There was even a little bit of fried cod too! I felt right at home. After supper we were each "Screeched" in. Now we couldn't use real Screech because of the age of all the participants so they made the worst tea I have ever had! We had to eat a piece of raw bal

High Ropes Day... or not...

So on Sunday we burst out of bed excited and terrified for the high ropes challenge day. A delightful breakfast was served by the staff at Canterbury Hills and then we set out toward the course. One small problem: the folk who were to come guide us and teach us failed to turn up. Either through miscommunication or disaster the events planned for this day had to be completely reinvented on the spur of the moment! Many of us were very disappointed. Many of us were extremely relieved (ok, I was relieved). But what came out of that day was something truly blessed and awe inspiring. The participants were given some initiative games to work through and we decided to move our evening Eucharist to the afternoon and to use the outdoor chapel at the camp we were at. The outdoor chapel is a beautiful space. Under the canopy of oak, beech, maple and other hardwoods is a space with rough wooden pews and a stone altar. The altar is a huge, single piece of stone set in the middle of a large

Retreat Day

Saturday was a time to be quiet and reflect upon what we have been learning and to so some more intentional learning. After a lovely breakfast of personally made omelets by Judy we were invited to a time of silence. During this time there were some workshops available to learn new skills normally practised in silence. Jenny ran a Brazilian yoga body prayer group. Grayhame lead a holy work group who prayerfully polished chapel vessels and space. Emma lead a praying in colour group. And Sarah lead a picture meditation group. I made myself available for spiritual care, confession, and quiet chat. While I waited for participants to come I spent the time in prayer during which I held each person in this program up before God. Lunch was spent in near silence - we only spoke the words we absolutely needed to. After lunch we were given some freedom to do some of the practises that were learned or to simply relax and rest. I fell asleep. I slept really well... too well as I missed t

Friday Night

On Friday night we sent the participants off to do whatever they wanted: shop, eat out, hang out with friends, ride the bus, whatever. The only rules were not to go anywhere alone and to be back by 10:45pm. The leadership team was invited to Fr. Bill's house for supper and conversation. Bill's hospitality knows no end! He fed us the BEST steak I have ever had! He went out and bought an entire tenderloin, cut it up into two inch thick steaks and BBQ'ed them to perfection with a lovely fennel marinade. Alongside this he served us a powerful Caesar salad with a dressing that he made himself from scratch. It was a delightful meal with true taste. After supper Bill opened his well-stocked humidor and the gentlemen had some lovely cigars - the ladies avoided them because they are smarter then us. I usually only have one or two cigars a year and this one was worth waiting for. We all left Bill's home feeling physically full of food and also feeling refreshed. Thank

Science & Theology

Friday morning (yes, I know today is Monday and I haven't posted anything this weekend but I've been on the road to Canterbury Hills... more on that later... so cut me some slack), so, after Fr. Bill cracked open our skulls and played with the goo inside by explaining the myth of redemptive violence we sat with Judy who talked with us about science and theology and how the two are related - in point of fact they are mutually dependant (see Einstein's quote about science and theology some time). I had a little problem with her presentation as it questioned the nature of Divine providence and the plan of God. You might have noticed in how I work that my way of living the Gospel revolves around "God will provide." This is not how Judy works... and that's OK. Judy's main theme is that God cannot know the future because it hasn't happened yet. I think that's too linear for God as God exists outside of time and within time and thus has all of time t

The Myth of Redemptive Violence

Bible with Bill yesterday (Friday) was a remarkable learning experience for me. We learned about how this world of ours has worked for the last few millennia. The "Myth of Redemptive Violence" is in every sitcom, every comic book, every piece of fiction, it is everywhere and it goes something like this: Life is fine... along comes an agent of chaos... this chaos grows like ripples in a pond... then comes a moment of violence to stop the chaos... and then life is fine. Think about it. Let's look at Batman for instance: Gotham is quiet (life is fine). Then the Joker comes into Gotham and spins out of control. Batman watches the chaos being sown for a little while and when a certain line is about to be crossed, or has been crossed he swoops in and violently puts an end to the Joker's chaos. Then Gotham is quiet again (life is fine). Let's look at the life of Jesus (more specifically Holy Week): Jerusalem is quiet (life is fine). This Jesus man enters to the


Thursday was "Faith in Action Day". The participants signed up to go out from our place of learning and community and see places and people who are putting their faith into action. Some of the participants went to see a large downtown food bank, some went to see the London AIDS coalition and I took four young women to Stratford, ON to visit the L'Arche community there. L'Arche is an intentional community for those who are physically and/or mentally disabled. We began by hearing from two of the assistants who live with some of the core members in the community. Felix is a German man doing a year's placement for social service - a requirement for all people who live in Germany: you can do military service or public service or social service abroad. And we met Melody who told us a great deal about her story and how she came to be at L'Arche. We met a number of the core members, three of which have down syndrome, and we made cookies with them. The cookies

Clearing the Backblog...

Ok, ok, ok... I know I've missed a couple of days and for that I'm really sorry. The days are very full here and the moments to grab some time to blog are few. Thus, and so... let me look back a couple of days. Wednesday began with more mind blowing Bible with Bill. We cracked open some more of the Parables. Notably we looked at the Good Samaritan (Matthew 10:25). So many times we have heard this parable used to refer to someone who does a good deed for a stranger. The example that Bill used was helping an old lady carry her groceries home. What we discovered was that being a "good Samaritan" goes way beyond simple good deeds. The Samaritan in this story gets messy by coming into contact with a person who is half dead, bleeding and is probably a trap laid by robbers. He uses the most expensive things to help heal this half dead man, oil and wine were not cheap to come by. He puts this wounded man upon his own animal and thus becomes even more of a target fo

Theatre and Theology

This afternoon we engaged scripture through the medium of theatre and storytelling. We were broken up into four groups and each given a biblical passage to act out in the genre of Medieval Cycle Drama. Each group had to become a guild presenting the passage in their own style. Our group was given the passage of the visit of the Magi from Matthew's Gospel (2:1-12). The group I was found myself in was made up of four girls... and me. The guild that the group chose was "The Guild of Valley Girls". I can hear you beginning to giggle from here. One girl was our narrator. Three of the girls were the Magi. I was King Herod. We all assumed the role of a "valley girl," or in my case a "valley boy." I'm not so sure if I was playing Herod the Jewish king or Herod, Queen of the Jews. I must say I had a hard time staying in character because I wanted to laugh too much at the reaction of those watching our little Cycle Drama. I'm pretty sure that

Cliff's Three Rules of Biblical Interpretation

This morning we began with Fr. Bill Cliff once again who proceeded to enlighten us further as to how to make the scriptures open to us in whole new, and mind blowing, ways. His three rules for interpreting scripture are: 1. Scripture is always astonishing. If it is not astonishing you're not reading it right. 2. Scripture is never fair. 3. God always acts first. He used these rules to look at the Book of the Prophet Jonah - who we discovered is "the worst, best prophet ever." Fr. Bill told us "When you realize that the active agent in your life is not you, then you can become the 'worst, best prophet ever'! God is not interested in your ability nor your inability just your availability." This is a whole new way of looking at scripture for me. We also looked at Jesus' parables of the mustard seed, the treasure in the field, and the pearl of great price (Matthew 13:31 and following). Read by his rules we discover that in those parables God is

Mind blowing education...

Today we met the Reverend Canon Bill Cliff who is the Chaplain and Rector here at Huron College. He will be teaching us about how to study the Bible. His manner of teaching is extremely helpful. I think I learned more useful information about Biblical study in an hour and a half than I did in my entire master's degree! He's that good. One thing that I found to be extremely "mind blowing" (which seems to be the phrase of the community) is a totally new way to look at the story of Zaccheus. He was the man who could not see Jesus because he was short in stature. So, because of the crowd Zaccheus climbed a sycamore tree to get a better look at him. Fr. Bill explained that this quite obviously meant that it is Jesus who was short in stature. Look at it again. Zaccheus could not see Jesus because HE was short in stature. The person being referred to in the HE is Jesus! This caused me to, in a matter of a few short seconds, re-envision the physical person of Jes

More photos...

For some more pictures of my antics at Ask & Imagine please click HERE

Sunday... the first day... and it was good

We began this day with a slight shift in focus we left behind telling individual stories and began telling the story of this community here. We were challenged with a number of group activities that were designed to show us our strengths as a whole group. One activity in particular was extremely challenging and a bit complex to explain via this medium. What I will say is that after we completed it successfully we were told that this group was the first group to finish it successfully on the first try in the history of A&I! We were so encouraged by this that we did the exercise again and made it much harder to succeed... which we did! This group is a strong group of communicators. We also discussed the nature of being a community and what that might look like for us. Judy lead us through a remarkable presentation about what a community is and how we live it. After lunch the participants wrote their covenant together. This covenant will be the guidelines by which we will li


Saturday morning was a time to polish off the preparations for the arrival of the participants. They began arriving in fits and starts - one here... two there... and then the crew arrived from the east coast - 8 strong! The rooms began to fill up and people began milling around and meeting others. The group as a whole seems to be quite strong and quite mature. I am getting the feeling that there is nothing they can't do as a group. It's quite exciting. The afternoon and evening were spent in "getting to know you" exercises that were designed to be fun and challenging. I now have 14 new names added to my brain, with 14 new faces and 14 new personalities. Some of them I have met before but am able to see them in new light and with new eyes as they take their place in the community we are building. We were orientated to the program, to the house and to each other. And then we fell into bed. The day was filled with laughter, thought, conversation and holiness.

First Photos...

Right, I've just processed a few early photos of my time here at A&I. I'm going to post them on a different page which you can find HERE

Friday... the day before it all begins...

Friday was a day of preparation, discussion and exploration. We prepared by discussing "Living on the Edge: Boundaries, safety and the care of souls in the 'thin places'", getting rooms set up, making name tags for the doors, organizing the kitchen and dining room, writing a workshop on worship, etc. We welcomed two other team members in Janet, our quartermaster, and Sara, who will be helping us make our aprons for cooking. In the late afternoon we departed from the campus to go to visit Jenny's aunt and uncle on the shores of Lake Huron. After getting only slightly lost on the way we arrived in the midst of a pine forest. When I got out of the car I hear an oddly familiar sound... waves crashing upon the beach! Judy said, "That sound is not the ocean, it is a lake!" After a delightful meal we all decided to venture down to the beach. At first I was a bit hesitant as beaches and I are not the best of friends and I live on the Atlantic Ocean - I h

The hard thing is...

... creating a space to write about what I've done. Ok, deciding to write my blog entries before I go to bed is probably not the best decision. The days are filled with tasks, reflection, tasks, eating, tasks, laughter, tasks and then off to bed. Thus I am going to have to find a different time to write to you all because when I get to look at my bed all I am really capable of doing is falling into it. Let me look at my experience of Thursday. The afternoon was spent learning about an accessible means by which we can engage in theological reflection - using a hula-hoop. We all used the event of getting ourselves here to reflect upon. I found it interesting in how so many of the stories intersected at various times. My trip, as you have read, was not the smoothest... but it was not the most complicated either. Emma actually got here - all the way from England - without a ticket! Rather late into the evening the team gathered in the living room and we formed a drum circle.

Day Two

I woke up refreshed and ready to meet the challenges of the day as the Leadership Team begin to really bond and form our own community. I am getting to know Jenny, Grayhame, Mike, Emma and Judy very well now and can say we will be a very effective group working together to help the participants work through their questions. We are an extremely diverse group of people. Jenny is a theatre professional who also works for St. Clements (a downtown Toronto church) as their Youth Worker AND is the new Assistant Director of Ask & Imagine. Grayhame is a postulant working toward ordination currently working for Huron College. Mike is also a theological student who is working at a funeral home for the summer. Emma is from England and is working very hard learning about what different words mean here in Canada (like trunk, bill, cheque, etc.) and what those words mean in England (like boot, note, bill, etc.). The day has been spent preparing and learning about the A&I experience and

... A connection at last!

I know you have probably been waiting with bated breath for my next instalment. Well when we arrived we found that the router that used to live in the residence has gone missing and so we had to wait for a new one to be delivered which it did just now and so I now have a connection to you. The trip from Toronto to London was extremely eventful for me. When someone says, "The traffic is bad in Toronto" they are right. I have never seen so much traffic in all my life - all travelling at high speed. The highlights for me are thus: Upon rounding a corner and ascending from a concrete jungle I was presented with a spectacular view of the CN Tower. I was heard to utter the following, "WOW! That's the CN Tower! And it's really BIG!" This delighted the rest of the occupants to no end. They giggled with, what I like to think was, glee. I do hope that they were not laughing AT me. We travelled through the bulk of Toronto, Hamilton, saw the turn off for G

The Value of Communication

Ok I got on the plane at 5:30am, it took off at 6am it flew for two uneventful hours and landed at 7am (don't forget the time difference). I quite happily found my luggage very quickly and then went looking for my ride. No sign of my ride. Ok maybe traffic is bad - which I have found out is pretty much always the case in Toronto. I waited... and I waited... and I waited... After two hours I dug out Judy 's phone number and frantically called her. "Um, Judy? Yeah, I've been in Toronto airport for the last two hours and am a bit worried that something happend to my ride." Judy informed me that she wasn't expecting me to land in Toronto until 10:30am. This is when I realized that I had not communicated the change in my travel plans to her. Originally I was to leave from Sydney, NS layover in Montreal for a couple of hours and then arrive in Toronto... I changed this last week so I could go to a meeting in the Halifax area. This explained why I was sitti

At the Airport

As I type I am sitting awaiting to board my air plane for Toronto. After a night of fitful sleep, it is hard to sleep in an unfamiliar bed, I fear it is far too early in the morning for this night owl but the excitement and anticipation are flowing through me like a good cup of coffee. Check back tonight and I'll have some stories of my travel and some first impressions. Until then... E+

Going to Ask & Imagine

Ok, I'm all checked in to a hotel just outside the Halifax Stanfield International Airport . My flight leaves tomorrow morning at 6am and I have to be there before 5am... I have a 4am wake up call scheduled. I am very excited about being part of this year's Ask & Imagine. For more information about the program please visit their website at I am going to try very hard to get daily updates as to what I got up to so please stay tuned to this blog for my impressions and observations. I left Sunday morning after a very moving liturgy during which we commissioned Maggie MacKinnon to go forth from the parish and be immersed in the A&I experience. I'm going to rest, relax and sleep today and tonight for tomorrow I hit the ground running. Please pray for A&I, for Maggie and for me as we take part in this life changing event. Blessings, Elliott +

What me preach again?

I have had the pleasure of supervising a student for the past number of weeks and she has been doing the preaching. After this week I will be away again and I talk about that in this week's sermon. Thus for those of you who are interested HERE is this week's sermon. See you all in September.