I Hate the Mall

 

How do you celebrate Advent?

Advent is one of my favorite seasons in the church year. I love how it allows me to slow down and live in ways that are out of step with the culture during a season that can be particularly fraught with anxiety and busyness. I hate the mall at the best of times, but especially in December.

A number of years ago my church produced a book of readings and a series of podcasts for Advent.  As I was preparing to preach yesterday I was reminded of that experience.  It was the first time I'd ever been in a sound booth or experienced what it was like to be produced by a professional sound engineer.  I hope you enjoy them.

 

Click here to listen to the podcast.

Click here to purchase our Advent e-book.

 


Take the Doughnut

I’m not exactly sure when I first read Amanda Palmer’s book,The Art of Asking: How I Learned to Stop Worrying and Let People Help, but it was likely during the winter of 2015.

I blogged about the book in the spring of 2015 when I was delighted to come across a street performer dressed as a bride on the streets of Paris a few days before I headed out to walk the Camino de Santiago.

I re-read it about once a year.

And by “read” I actually mean listen, because I prefer the audiobook to the physical one.

Amanda’s voice infuses the text with warmth and humour and she periodically breaks into song. Plus her Neil Gaiman impression is delightful.

I re-listen to the book about once a year because I think it’s one of the best books on pastoral ministry I’ve ever read.

If you know anything about Amanda that may surprise you, it might surprise her even, but that doesn’t make it any less accurate.

In the book, she talks about Henry David Thoreau and the myth of the independent artist.

You may, like me, be most familiar with Thoreau’s work because it’s quoted in the film Dead Poet’s Society. He’s Mr. “live deep and suck out all the marrow of life.”

He’s also famous for writing about his choice to withdraw from society and live alone on the banks of Walden Pond.

But do you know the truth?

He wasn’t all that independent.

He borrowed the land from a rich neighbour. His friends had him over for dinner regularly and the women in his life delivered freshly baked goods every Sunday.

His mother and his sister brought him food every Sunday, including freshly baked doughnuts.

Doughnuts.

Mr. “I went to the woods to live deliberately, to front only the essential facts of life…” may have written those worlds while munching on a freshly baked doughnut.  A doughnut he didn’t make or even leave his desk to go buy.  It was delivered right to him.

Amanda then makes a strong and impassioned case that we should all learn to take the doughnuts.

People want to help, she argues. So learn to ask.  And learn to accept help when it’s offered.

Take the doughnut.

As I am writing this I am also sitting next to a body of water but I’m no more independent than Thoreau.

The cabin belongs to friends, and my mom delivered a care package full of food to my home just before I left to come here.  (No doughnuts, but there was a package labelled “spinach brownies.” If you think I am funny, you should meet my mom. She’s hilarious.)

I took the help that was offered.  It’s not easy, but I’m learning.

You may not know it, but you actually have a doughnut and I’m asking you to share it with me.

I have written 1.23 books, neither of which are published. You can read more about the first book here.

People who know about these things say that they’re good. Publishable. Worth reading.

But in the modern publishing world, that’s not enough.  Publishers also need to know that there is a critical mass of people who want to buy a book before they will be willing to publish that book.

And here’s where you come in.

I need to build the biggest list of potential readers that I possibly can.

You can be one of those readers.

I’m asking you to go to my website and sign up for my email list.

You’ll get periodic updates and I’ll never share your information with anyone.

This is the single more effective way to support my work.   It’s not just any doughnut, it’s a doughnut with sprinkles on top.

And I’m asking you to share it with me.


Pastoring While Female: Right Gifts, Wrong Package

The monk with the kind eyes…

Stop it.

The monk with the kind eyes…

Seriously, that’s enough.

The monk with the kind eyes…

 This is NOT funny.

The monk with the kind eyes…

Fine.  I give up. I’ll write the story of the monk with the kind eyes. The monk who, by asking one innocent question,  unveiled multiple layers of trauma and changed the trajectory of my life forever.

In the winter of 2016, I spent a few months as a short term scholar at the Collegeville Institute researching and writing about the varied ways that Benedictine spirituality has influenced my life and work.

As part of that process I committed to praying the Daily Office with the monastic community at St John’s Abbey.  2-3 times a day I put down whatever I was doing, put on layers and layers of winter clothing and trudged up the hill to the church.

I loved praying with the community, and I miss it to this day, but I also hold them responsible for inspiring me to write a book I definitely didn’t want to write.

We’d pray and I’ve leave to go back to my apartment to resume work on my project but instead of lines from the psalms or a new research question,  I would find myself mulling over the same line again and again and again: “The monk with the kind eyes…”

I made a valiant effort to shake off that line and the accompanying story from my own life, but finally it because clear that the only way to get the story out of my head was to put in onto the page.

I had no idea that it would become my book Pastoring While Female: Right Gifts, Wrong Package.

But it did. And I’m looking forward to being able to share this book with as many people as possible.

Pastoring While Female: Right Gifts, Wrong Package is a work of narrative nonfiction which, as the title suggests, tells the story of how I first became a pastor in a denomination that didn’t believe women could be pastors and then later found my way to the Anglican Church. In the specifics of my story are the universal experiences of many women whose lives take them outside of the expectations of traditional gender roles.

As a kid, I could imagine travelling to far-off kingdoms like the heroes in my favourite fantasy novels, but I could never have imagined becoming a pastor. Growing up in the Mennonite Brethren Church, a denomination that historically has not allowed women to be pastors, I simply wanted to love Jesus and help people. I’m not sure who was more surprised, me or my denomination, when I wound up serving as a pastor for almost 17 years before eventually leaving to pursue ordination in the Anglican Church of Canada.

This work of creative nonfiction tells the story of my unfolding understanding of my vocation and the challenges I’ve faced along the way as I’ve encountered people and institutions that were either unprepared or unwilling to accept that a woman could be a pastor. The narrative is supported with pilgrimage experiences—I travel to a Winnipeg monastery, where I learn about labyrinths; the Puye Cliffs and Chimayo in Santa Fe, New Mexico; St John’s Abbey in Collegeville, Minnesota; the Camino de Santiago; and to Banff and Calgary—and these pilgrimages help me process my vocational questions. The book is also quirky and humorous, featuring pop culture references throughout.

Although the book is finished I am now navigating the world of publishing and that takes time and patience. In the meantime, I’m also working on a second book.

If you sign up for my email list you’ll be the first to learn of any new developments on the publishing front and you’ll also be helping make it possible for me to find a publisher. Publishers want to know that there are people who are actually interested in buying a book and so the bigger my email list, the more likely it is that the book will be published.

And in the meantime, I will continue to work on my new book and will share snippets of that work and other related content. I’m looking forward to the conversations it will spark and the community that will develop in the process.

 


Where have all my footnotes gone?

Hello folks,

I've been hard at work this week uploading content to the website and it seems that in some of my sermons the footnotes have disappeared. It's important to me to properly acknowledge other people's work so I'm hoping to be able to add them back in over the next few weeks.

In the meantime, if you find something I reference and you want to know how to find it, let me know.

 


Camino 2015

In 2015-16 I took a two part sabbatical.  I walked the Camino Santiago in the spring of 2015 and then spent the first two months of 2016 at the Collegeville Institute in Collegeville, MN. It was there, while working on a different project, that the idea for my first book first came to me.

I blame the monks.

I blogged every day while I was on the Camino and periodically when I was in Collegeville. You can check it out by clicking here. 

My book Pastoring While Female: Right Gifts, Wrong Package has not been published but if you add your name to my email list you'll be the first to know when it is!