Thursday, May 30, 2013

It's Time To Start Again

Every day for me is an opportunity to start again, to repent and return to just being the perfectly okay imperfect being that God has seen fit to make me. 
 
The first thing I need to repent is the title of my Blog.  I have loved using abbreviations and acronyms since I started writing.  My earliest attempts at poetry were always signed 'LC' - Love Conquers - the naive fulcrum of a personal theology I adopted after reading 1 John 4:7-12... 
 
7Beloved, let us love one another, because love is from God; everyone who loves is born of God and knows God. 8Whoever does not love does not know God, for God is love. 9God’s love was revealed among us in this way: God sent his only Son into the world so that we might live through him. 10In this is love, not that we loved God but that he loved us and sent his Son to be the atoning sacrifice for our sins. 11Beloved, since God loved us so much, we also ought to love one another. 12No one has ever seen God; if we love one another, God lives in us, and his love is perfected in us.  
 
I started writing poetry as a way to express thoughts and feelings that I was afraid to share with others.  'LC' wrote about fear of meaninglessness in/of life, the depths of anxiety, desperate loneliness, terrifying times of psychological dissociative episodes, hatred of a life where the constant and unending bullying of others made stepping out the front door the hardest part of every day, yes, and of love too... 
 
But only 'LC' could, by the grace of God, write such things. 
 
I lost faith in what God could accomplish, even through love, by the time I was 10 or 12.  I learned by that point that the world was a cruel and unjust place where the meek inherited nothing but cruelty and disdain from the powerful.  I made my peace with that.  I became more dedicated to my faith.  Jesus was beaten and crucified for being himself, why would I expect any different?  This devotion to BEING the suffering servant, destined to be crucified by everyone at all times gave me a sense of peace and I dedicated my life to God though a decision to enter the priesthood.  I watched priests (one in particular) being crucified by the churches they served and it seemed a good fit.   Yes, God still loved me, and I revealed by devotion through my scars, physical, emotional and psychological. 
 
Let me add a quick word here to clarify one thing.  None of this cruelty was at the hands of my family.  You of my kin who read this, have no doubt, you have been and always will be my family, no matter how far we may drift from one another. 
 
I started my first journal not long after starting university.  It's name?  Thoughts in Progress - a catchy title.  It allowed me to write what I wanted to write behind the relative safety of suggesting both that my words nothing more than 'thoughts' and that if they seemed to offend or if you disagreed, they were only 'in Progress.'  Indefinitely Under construction like early WWW pages that never found completion.  Thoughts In Progress - Tip: the name of my favourite family cat.  Tip used to watch me write poetry in my room.  She could keep secrets. 
 
So, this all to say, my thoughts are no longer in progress.  They are my own.  In the words of the great pragmatic philosopher, Popeye, "I am who I am." 
 
And that is why, over the past 5 years, my writing has almost completely ground to a halt.  I find it harder and harder to write behind acronyms and masks and deception (mostly self-deception). 
 
I am who I am. 
 
I am a Christian, unashamedly professing that Christ has revealed to me that God IS love and that God's mercy and grace are far greater than I ever imagined. 
 
I WAS a victim of physical bullying from ages 9-14 and intimidation until the end of high school - scarring me in ways that I still haven't been able to process. 
 
I have been clinically diagnosed with Generalized Anxiety Disorder, Agoraphobia, Social Phobia.  I have lived with panic attacks, dissociative spells and crippling fear of everyone outside my own door to the point that I have been a prisoner in my own room, especially in university.  I have been disappointed by prayer's inability to 'heal' me, as well as medication's untenable side-effects.  I have found cognitive therapy and adopting the mindfulness techniques of various branches of Buddhism to be my doorway to wholeness. 
 
I am husband to the most wonderful and beautiful of all women, Sandra - may the Great Sophia always shine through her. 
 
I am father to the greatest gifts of love that God has deemed to bless me with - William and Peter. 
 
I am who I am. 
 
My prayer is that you will find the grace to know, love and be yourself as well. 

Tuesday, May 28, 2013

Reflecting on AMO Clericus - Day One

The military loves its acronyms.  Anglicans do too. And so the AMO - Anglican Military Ordinariate - is a natural product of that intersection.  This week I have the privilege, during the course of our annual CF Chaplain Retreat, of meeting with the AMO to share our stories, pains, joys and vision together.  Those present make up a comparatively large group - 35 priests, with over half of our number (mostly reservists) unable to attend. Over the course of two 'denominational days' within the larger CF Chaplain retreat, we each have the opportunity to touch base with the foundation of our faith which makes Chaplaincy possible - our specific faith communities and traditions. 
 
This is always a significant teaching-point for those inside and outside the military.  We are not non-denominational chaplains.  There is no such thing as a non-denominational chaplain.  We are chaplains.  Our role - serving those who serve - may be universal, but our individual faith traditions are vital to our identities.  In the same spirit that we seek to defend and facilitate the rights of each and every CF member to live their own spirituality to the fullest, we are each called to be who we are to the fullest, whether that be Anglican, Jewish, or Humanist. 
 
So today and tomorrow I am meeting with my Anglican colleagues, my Ordinariate Bishop, The Right Reverend Peter Coffin and invited guests to reflect, recharge and stand together as those who recognize that 'being Anglican' is a part of our identity.  We are a varied group, from many parts of Canada and the world, bearing 'subtitles' like 'High Church,' 'Low Church,' 'Liberal' and 'Conservative.'  We form a unity out of our great diversity - a sign of God's grace, in my humble opinion.