Skip to main content


I had to take Jazz to the vet for a shot yesterday morning. I asked Dean if he wanted to come with me and he said no, so I bundled her up in her cage and we trundled off to the garage. Our garage opens with a keypad, so I held Jazz's cage in one hand while I entered the code and got the door open. Our car fits rather tightly into the garage, so I struggled with the heavy cage as I dodged a hanging bike and opened the back car door a crack to wedge her cage through the opening without scratching either the wall, the car door, the leather seats, or myself. Not an easy feat. Finally, we were on our way and Jazz serenaded me with her rendition of "I Know Where We're Going and I Don't Like It!" all the way to the vet's office.

I won't regale you with all the details, but because of the slushy mess on the ground and a large bag of cat food that I acquired at the vet's, more awkwardness ensued in various parking lots. I finally got Jazz in the door of our condo and grabbed the shopping bags to head to the grocery store for much-needed supplies. Dean was still not dressed, so I deduced that he would not be accompanying me on this errand either and left in a bit of a huff. As I pulled out of the driveway and onto the street, I heard a strange noise. I kept driving, and soon saw my neighbour running towards me, waving her hands. I was dragging a Christmas tree under the car (someone had dumped their tree right at the edge of the driveway and due to the angle of the road, I had not seen it sticking out). I pulled over and thankfully, it dislodged itself, but my annoyance was increasing.
I complained to God about how Dean wasn't there for me that day when I really could use the help. And then I stopped. I was sure that Dean could make the same complaint about me many times, but he never did. And I was sure God could list countless times when I did not make myself present for him. Sigh. I was whining and making things more difficult than they needed to be, certainly, but there was something else at work here. Demanding that another be present to me sort of defeated the gift of their presence. And if being present is indeed a gift, freely given, why does it seem like such a hard thing to do sometimes? A task that I often drag myself to, knowing that it will require a lot of energy?

Perhaps being present is not as hard as I think it is. When I am busy or tired, I tend to see being present to someone as one more thing I have to put effort into, something I have to make happen by pulling myself into the moment and hanging on tightly so as not to be distracted. It becomes another burden and more work added to an already overworked schedule, but it is the responsible and right thing to do, so I oblige. And I sigh. And now I realise that I had it all wrong. Being present with a person is (for the most part) not an intense effort. It is simply letting go of everything else.

Sitting down in a chair is not a heavy labour; it is letting go of standing. Sleeping is not hard work; it is letting go of consciousness. Being with God does not take concentrated effort; it takes letting go of everything else that demands my attention and instead, coming into the state that I was made to be in. Being present touches on something basic, important, and vital to our spirits because it reflects God's own identifier: I AM. It is ceasing to be caught up in the past and future, not looking at the "still to be done's" and the "what have I done's," but being present to a person who is right in front of us. To put it another way, we are "I AM-ing" in imitation of the ultimate I AM.

Sometimes being present does seem to necessitate pushing away all other distractions and urgencies, but this is not because it is inherently a labour-intensive task; it is because we have become so entangled in the un-present that we have to fight our way free. Being present was never meant to be this big deal; it is supposed to be a natural, joyful, frequent occurrence. When we have a hard time falling into bed or sagging into a comfortable chair, our muscles must be taught again how to let go instead of living in tension. Lying in bed in the morning just after I awake is one of my favourite times because there is an endless, peaceful quality to this undefined moment before the rush of the day kicks in. Lying there does not require a strong grip; it just requires that I not move from that spot.

Let me not move from the spot where Jesus is, always present, always I-AMing, always inviting me to join him. Let me learn to fall and sag into his presence.
This is a photo of the end of the celebrations on Christmas day. I noted the moment with a photo because it seemed important to savour.


Popular posts from this blog

what does the cross mean?

Words which we use a lot can sometimes become divested of their depth of meaning. In the Christian tradition, we talk about the cross a lot. We see visual representations of the cross in prominent places in our gathering spaces, we wear crosses around our necks, some get crosses tattooed on their bodies. The cross is a ubiquitous symbol in Christianity, so lately I have been asking myself, what exactly does the cross mean? For the most part, the cross as portrayed in contemporary Christianity is a beautiful thing, festooned with flowers and sunsets and radiant beams of light (just google cross or cross coloring page). But in the first century, the cross was a symbol of disgrace. To the Roman empire, this ignoble instrument of death was for those who were traitors and enemies of the state. We are many centuries removed from this view of the cross as the locus of torture and death and shame. The fact that Christianity has made the cross a symbol of hope and beauty is a good thing, but p…

stained and broken

Recently, I was asked to speak at another church, and the passage of Scripture which was assigned to me was John 1:6-8. "There came a man commissioned and sent from God, whose name was John. This man came as a witness, to testify about the Light, so that all might believe [in Christ, the Light] through him. John was not the Light, but came to testify about the Light." (John 1:6-8, Amplified Bible)

The first question I usually ask when reading something in the Bible is this: What does this tell me about God? Two things are immediately obvious - God is a sending God and God wants to communicate - but there is a third which merits a bit more attention. Though God could communicate directly with humanity, sending truth and love to every individual via some divine mind-and-heart-meld, God chooses to send messengers. Not only that, instead of introducing Jesus directly to the world as the main event, an opening, warm-up act appears as a precursor. What is the point of incorporati…

the songs we sing

NOTE: I am going to make some pretty strong statements below, but understand that it is my way of taking an honest, hard look at my own worship experience and practice. My desire is not to be overly critical, but to open up dialogue by questioning things I have assumed were totally fine and appropriate. In other words, I am preaching to myself. Feel free to listen in.


When I am in a church meeting during the singing time, I sometimes find myself silent, unable to get the words past my lips. At times I just need a moment of stillness, time to listen, but other times, the words make me pause because I don't know that I can sing them honestly or with integrity. This is a good thing. We should never mindlessly or heartlessly sing songs just because everyone else is. We should care deeply about what we say in our sung, communal worship.

At their best, songs sung by the gathered body of Christ call to life what is already in us: the hope, the truth, the longing, t…