Category Archives: Reflections

Good words

from Henri Nouwen

Fruits That Grow in Vulnerability
There is a great difference between successfulness and fruitfulness. Success comes from strength, control, and respectability. A successful person has the energy to create something, to keep control over its development, and to make it available in large quantities. Success brings many rewards and often fame. Fruits, however, come from weakness and vulnerability. And fruits are unique. A child is the fruit conceived in vulnerability, community is the fruit born through shared brokenness, and intimacy is the fruit that grows through touching one another’s wounds. Let’s remind one another that what brings us true joy is not successfulness but fruitfulness.


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This waiting season

Advent is drawing to an end – to the climax of Christmas day when we celebrate the birth of Christ.   I thought I would share the final essay I submitted for my Theology class since I now have been marked on it and that bit of anxiety and waiting period is over for me.  If you want to read it all, click on  continue reading   (sorry for the American spellings – the school is USAian).

We Wait in Expectation

Almighty God, give all of us grace to cast away the works of darkness, and put on the armor of light, now in the time of this mortal life in which your Son Jesus Christ came to visit us in great humility; that in the last day, when he shall come again in his glorious majesty to judge both the living and the dead, we may rise to the life immortal; through him who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit, one God, now and forever. Amen.[1]

Recently, I was asked to reflect on the purpose and meaning of Advent with some young children from the neighborhood around our church. The children had no idea that a season of Advent existed. Their preparations for the coming season of Christmas were centered around what they wanted from Santa not on the coming celebration of the birth of Christ. Anticipation and waiting meant counting down the days till Santa came.

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We Remember

The other day in the pet store I had my arms full of special goodies for my Koi that are now residing in a small (10L) aquarium for the winter.  The alternative to this kind of crowded existence was death by freezing so I figure they have it pretty good.  However, the aquarium was getting sort of polluted and I decided that I’d also better invest in some kind of creature to destroy the algae.  I was sort of thinking snails but it seems that there are fish that do this job.  Not cheap fish either.  So I was shelling our $15 for one little black sucker and also grabbed some more filters and a piece of driftwood from some exotic country.  The walking encyclopaedia of fish knowledge  salesperson assured me that if there was insufficient algae, the algae eater would also derive some nutrition from the wood.  Now my aquarium is home to 6 Koi and one black algae eater, three rocks and one hunk of driftwood.  The water is now clear enough to see all these fish through the glass thanks to one little black fish.  Amazing.

While I was at the till making my purchases, a girl of about 8 years was fiddling with the display of poppies on sale for Remembrance Day.  She must have been in the store with an adult who had disappeared or who may have dropped her off for a fun time there while they shopped nearby for more adult toys.  (It is right next door to Future Shop)  She was just hanging around the till and looked a bit bored.  She looked up at me (I was wearing a poppy) and asked, “What are these for?”  I was at first a bit stunned.  Didn’t she go to school?  Don’t they teach kids anything in school anymore? Maybe she is one of those kids who doesn’t listen?  How could she not know what the poppies were for?  So I explained to her that they were to help us remember the people who had fought and died in the great wars so that we could live in a safe country in freedom.  She heard the “war” word and immediately asked if they were evil?  I assured her that no, they actually believed that they were fighting against evil in those wars. 

But, Oh dear.  I am not sure she got it at all.  She was muttering “evil” under her breath as she wandered off.

And perhaps she is partly correct.  All war is evil, even for the good causes.  Peace between all is how God intended humankind to live.  But I guess we have managed to mess that plan up fairly well.  So we have wars.  People fight for the rightness of some cause or government.  And much pain is experienced by both sides in the process.  Sometimes, I suppose, it is necessary to fight for what is right, to keep evil at bay.  Someday we may learn to settle things without resorting to war but meanwhile… 

Until then we must not forget the gift of freedom others long ago fought for, for the many soldiers who have died to maintain peace in far off places, and all the innocents that died in the crossfire.  We must remember and pray to God for better ways for nations to work things out, for God’s love for others to control our leaders decisions and for an end to cruelty and hatred for people different from ourselves.

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From Proverbs 8 (ESV)

22 "The LORD possessed me at the beginning of his work,
   the first of his acts of old.
23Ages ago I was set up,
   at the first, before the beginning of the earth.
24When there were no depths I was brought forth,
   when there were no springs abounding with water.
25Before the mountains had been shaped,
before the hills, I was brought forth,
26before he had made the earth with its fields,
   or the first of the dust of the world.
27When he established the heavens, I was there;
   when he drew a circle on the face of the deep,
28when he made firm the skies above,
   when he established the fountains of the deep,
29when he assigned to the sea its limit,
   so that the waters might not transgress his command,
when he marked out the foundations of the earth,
30then I was beside him, like a master workman,
and I was daily his delight,
   rejoicing before him always,
31 rejoicing in his inhabited world
   and delighting in the children of man.

And from John 1:1-5

1 In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. 2He was in the beginning with God. 3 All things were made through him, and without him was not any thing made that was made. 4 In him was life, and the life was the light of men. 5 The light shines in the darkness, and the darkness has not overcome it.

It is hard to entertain new names for God.  And yet Wisdom is not exactly a new name.  My theology prof recommended reading these two passages together as a devotional reading.  So I did and as I read, I also read with the hope behind the words of Proverbs 8: 17  “I love those who love me,  and those who seek me diligently find me.”

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Two Old Men

I sit beside two
Old men
Who talk.
The value of words
And music
Can’t be overestimated
Among the young,
Their students.
And my listening
Does it count as
Or is it only my
Wishing for company
And finding it
In the overhearing?

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I sit here

and I ponder; how does one pass on values?  I must pass on a practice.  That is easy enough.  We begin booking patients with the new guy and I cut back my hours so that if they need treatment, they make the next appointment with him. 

But values and the uniqueness of the practice that is linked to how we care for our patients – that must be passed on too.  And can it be?  Is it learned by watching?  Or is this something that is just there inside the individual?

Fortunately, I think I have some good material to work with.  That is one of the reasons we took on this particular young guy.

I suspect there is no clear cut answer.  But it is something I must work at answering. 

So, I sit here and I ponder and pray that somehow it can be done.

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I think I have been silent here too long. 

My excuse is that I don’t have the energy to say anything significant.

Which probably means that I need to take some time to just distance myself from the books I am studying and begin to participate in life again.  I need to watch a good movie or something. 

Maybe it is just time for a good long vacation.

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