Thanksgiving Sabbath unrest…


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Yellow ribbons of remembrance hanging outside a NYC Manhattan church.

My Thanksgiving Sabbath rest began with a hot cup of coffee and a little book my dear friend gifted me with for my last birthday. My darling went to church. I didn’t. I’m hoping this day will continue with family time, perhaps a hike somewhere on this lovely day, and then it will culminate in us five gathering around a table and ordering turkey dinner (my darling’s idea to reduce the work and increase the conversation) and watching the sun set over the lake and behind the Monashee. We may or may not talk about why we are thankful… often that makes for discomfort and eye rolling on the part of our young adult kids.

So I read the little book from cover to cover. “A Liturgy for Sunday Schools,” published in 1842 by the Dioscesan Sunday-School Society of Pennsylvania, fragile, water spotted, smelling faintly of must and mildew, is only 36 pages long, and for the purposes of leaders leading children in the various services of the Episcopal church Sunday-School. An easy read.

As I sip coffee and read, I am touched by the deep reverence of the words, and the words themselves, some of which are no longer part of our language today are unique, special, resonant. My mind wanders to my perceptions around church history, the simplicity, literal, black and white, how it seeps into everyday life back then. I move to my own church history, its complexity, its greyness, and how it has for a long time been part of my everyday life, but now not so much. And how I miss it but no longer know where I truly belong, if anywhere.

And I begin to see my Sabbath unrest rather than rest, not always, but now. Do you experience this? What does it look like for you? Have you found a way to peace?

There are others who share my place, others who have written about it. One of my favourite books, “Skin Boat,” by Canadian author and poet John Terpstra, resounds deeply for me. The dance in and out of the pews and I want to end up somewhere, sometimes, and other times I am repelled by the thought.

Or another friend of mine who says he is allergic to church, breaks out in a sweat when he is there, and I get that. Because there is physicality, emotion and intellect involved sitting and listening to words that you can no longer accept in their entirety, or underlying dogma, or attitudes, all those things that begin to get to you like a bur under a saddle and you finally have to untether yourself and run free for a bit while your flesh heals.

It’s been a very long time since I’ve written here, and that’s partly due to feeling I have very little to say mixed with a bit of resolve and shame, but maybe it’s time to open up a bit, I don’t really know.

This blog is supposed to be about hope, and that hasn’t changed, and my belief in God hasn’t changed, nor my belief in who Jesus was and is and what he is about in the world. Jesus words (the red letters of the bible) speak precisely to how I want to live, but how I do that… that is the sticky point. I get hung up on the cast and hook, the doing what I do for the agenda/purpose of type stuff.

Yet my desire to live for God’s glory does not change. My desire to write my experience of the fullness of it, the spirit and humanity of life. My hunger for relationships that connect spiritually has not changed. My desire for spiritual formation, the integration of spiritual practice remains. I am becoming… but I do not know what.…

Anyway, I think maybe I’ll unpack some thoughts here over the next little while. I’ve done it before, HERE and HERE and HERE. Maybe it will take us to more clarity or more willingness to be unsure, more restfulness?

Here is a partial poem I’ve been messing about with on the subject… all I have for now:

This accidental architecture defines what belongs
and what is outside, romantic notions
of historic field boundaries somehow justified
by the latter commendations of sparrows and
and small creatures nested in crevices, hollows. How
we are drawn by longing then repelled by the lines drawn between us.

Build me not a wall but an altar, a holy well
set mid field and shaded by fairy thorn.

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begin with ‘j’ words…


446. judgement, jealousy,  justification… mine to own, my sinful nature to recognize, mine to gain freedom from. Naming them, and asking God to forgive. Again. Often. Again.

447. finding a jewel beside the bench by the lake, recognizing the metaphor in the single cubic zirconia in a cheap, rusted setting… seeing myself as tarnished, vintage, yet priceless in God’s sight.

448. that behind the heavy lowness of grey clouds, vapour that we cannot grasp or touch or break through often for weeks at a time, there is a glory of sun and warmth and potential for growth, within a vast blue of sky. That this is a season of waiting, perseverance, rest… and more.

449. wind crisp against my face, icing my skin, and the rush glow in my cheeks when I get back inside the warmth, teens and dog welcoming me home.

450. steam rising from a cup of hot coffee with milk and sugar, the warmth expanding.

451. son asking how my walk was.

452. that God can be found outside the walls of the church.

453. son studying hard for his finals.

453. daughter kissing me.

454. finding there is unity in marriage and creating new ways to get there.

455. deer nibbling shoots on orchard trees… following their tracks along my street.

456. iris poking up out of the snow as the mercury announces the possibility of Spring.

457. open mics, music and poetry… blessing God for creativity in all its forms.

458. the profound simplicity of my husbands words, “just breathe.”

459. telling God everything. Yelling sometimes.

460. remembering the naming of the gifts. Re-visiting this way of gratefulness.

461. that this world and these people are wonderland, the fullness of God’s glory, the echo of his voice, that my eyes become dull and my heart crusted over and my ears deaf, and I need to take time to remember all he has given.

That confession and turning is the restart button… that God’s grace is always waiting… and action always follows.

Soli Deo Gloria,

Lesley-Anne

Vintage Disney Posters

Vintage Disney Posters (Photo credit: cattias.photos)

Thanks…giving…


368. his left and my right and fingers intertwined press flesh to flesh

369. sitting by my reading mother, reading

370. anticipation of Thai food and conversation with family

371. daughters pretty toenails in a new fall colour

372. daughter picking some cords on her electric guitar

373. being asked, saying yes

374. wine tour, corn maze, cidery, and the mercury holding at 18 degrees C

375. his dress shirts fresh from the wash, hung to air dry

376. enthusiasm of dogs

377. views to mountains, vineyards, orchards

378. long light pouring into the garden

379. eyes to see a photograph worth taking

380. stillness, time to listen

381. ambrosia apple with cheddar cheese

382. small talk

383. hydrangeas fading from chartreuse to sepia

384. the question of do you want to play some pool… delivered with a shy smile

385. a holiday weekend to remind us what matters… and to be thankful for what matters

The First Thanksgiving, painting by Jean Louis...

The First Thanksgiving, painting by Jean Louis Gerome Ferris (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Naming one thousand gifts… day 5


68. sounds of new construction hammering the distance

69. Emmy dog curled up by warm rocks in watery sunlight

70. blueberry pancakes griddle brown

71. fixers… vets and docs and dentists and car mechanics

72. tired beauty of tattered curtains in empty farmhouse window

73. Eames designed lime green chair

74. God provided window of opportunity

75. amped up guitar practice next room over

76. reading on the back porch

77. leftovers

78. working out the details, making it work

79. email

80. the millisecond it took for the cyclist going the wrong way on the sidewalk to safely pass my car

Corn Griddle Cakes

Corn Griddle Cakes (Photo credit: ulterior epicure)

Naming one thousand gifts*… day 4


50. vine lines roll over vineyards, sweet tendrils reaching

51. sun pulling steam from wet tarmac

52. moving through the landscape… by foot, by bike, by car

53. knowing God hears me

54. red hawk passing overhead

55. the smell of clean laundry

56. family

57. new words

58 last words and prayer wish of a friend, that we would all… “Be there”

59. time together, time alone

60. Emmy dog greetings

61. second, third, fourth… chances

62. writing poems

63. reading poems written by others

64. connecting with friends and friends in waiting because of the internet

65. soft rain deep soaking mountains heavy in trees

66. two guitars waiting against the music room wall

67. silence

* The concept of naming one thousand gifts is not mine, it is one that I learned in the pages of Ann Voskamp’s book “One Thousand Gifts”. The website of the same name can be found here. When I spoke of her book here on my blog post “Soon and very soon we are going to see”, I implored you to run out and buy a copy of Ann’s book. If you haven’t done that yet… PLEASE DO! I have since bought a couple more copies, given them away, continued to read and re-read my copy, and realized a deep call on my heart to begin to write down and name and own a thankfulness around the things that God fills my eyes and heart with each moment of every day.

So I continue to look and see that God is good in the hundreds of millions of intricate details of my life. I caught a glimpse of my face today in the rearview mirror of my car, after seeing items 50, 51 and 54 and I was smiling… that Mona Lisaesque smile that says so much… hmmm… perhaps the fullness was showing…

On the path, looking,

Lesley-Anne

Naming one thousand gifts… day 3


32. blue and red spinnakers on distant sail racers

33. light and shadow playing in the trees

34. Japanese paper thin petals of Oriental Poppy

35. hearing yes to your question

36. discussing new ways to be healthy

37. having your Dad say he’s proud… of you

38. forgiveness

39. being OK with being who you are

40. friends who text me at 6 am… because they are up praying

41. giant peaches and retro beach towns

42. ducks that eat from my fingers

43. sunshine over soccer pitch

44. caramel eyes and velvet ears of Emmy dog

45. fresh strawberries over greens

46. eating together at the big table

47. the sound of the dishwasher running

48. coffee date with my husband

49. a lifetime of books, how the old ones smell

Sunday Soliloquy of Thanks


This soliloquy says it all for me… as I read it my heart begins to melt from the me focused, entitled, selfish one that I often am, to a thankful and grateful version of myself,  because of all that my God has lavished upon me.

These are the words of David, but also my words for Thanksgiving Sunday 2010.


Psalm 16 from The Message

A David Song

1-2 Keep me safe, O God, I’ve run for dear life to you.
I say to God, “Be my Lord!”
Without you, nothing makes sense.

3 And these God-chosen lives all around—
what splendid friends they make!

4 Don’t just go shopping for a god.
Gods are not for sale.
I swear I’ll never treat god-names
like brand-names.

5-6 My choice is you, God, first and only.
And now I find I’m your choice!
You set me up with a house and yard.
And then you made me your heir!

7-8 The wise counsel God gives when I’m awake
is confirmed by my sleeping heart.
Day and night I’ll stick with God;
I’ve got a good thing going and I’m not letting go.

9-10 I’m happy from the inside out,
and from the outside in, I’m firmly formed.
You canceled my ticket to hell—
that’s not my destination!

11 Now you’ve got my feet on the life path,
all radiant from the shining of your face.
Ever since you took my hand,
I’m on the right way.