Monday, July 18, 2016

In the Mood for Walking

The Metro Morning radio program of the CBC broadcasted from Rouge National Urban Park on the eastern edge of Toronto.It was Healthy Parks, Healthy People day, so why not do the show from one of the newest national parks?

 Host Matt Galloway extolled the beauty of his live location and interviewed a number of guests including an aboriginal leader, a park photographer, and a volunteer guide.

Image result for matt galloway rouge park

Matt also spoke with a rep from a program called Mood Walks which sounds excellent:

Mood Walks is a province-wide initiative that promotes physical activity in nature, or “green exercise,” as a way to improve both physical and mental health. Led by the Canadian Mental Health Association, Ontario, in partnership with Hike Ontario and Conservation Ontario, Mood Walks provides training and support for community mental health agencies, social service organizations and other community partners to launch educational hiking programs, connect with local resources, find volunteers, and explore nearby trails and green spaces.

Image result for mood walks

I think many of us would agree that walking not only serves as physical exercise, it is good for our mental and spiritual health. Of course I would add cycling and paddling to walking and hiking, but the intention is the same. Getting out in the natural world, what we as Christians sing about as "God's Wondrous World" connects us with something and someone greater than ourselves and expands our processes for thinking and learning and praying. I've often benefitted from a walk as I sort through a sermon or ponder what direction to take in day-to-day ministry. I gain a clarity which I don't get from staying glued to a computer screen. Our two young grandlads are out in nature a lot, and they are happy lil' dudes.

What should we call the equivalents of Mood Walks in the church? Spirit Saunters? Paddles to Ponder?

Since my computer was commandeered by Microsoft a few weeks ago I can't embed links in my blogs, much to my frustration. You can cut and paste these if you like to hear the CBC program or learn more about Mood Walks.

My mood would lift if some of you would comment. Does this sound like a worthwhile program to you?

Sunday, July 17, 2016

Chow Down

Today we'll hear Luke's version of the meal Jesus ate with the sisters, Mary and Martha. You know the one. Mary yaks with Jesus and Martha ends up grumpy because she's doing the cooking. There are an impressive number of meal stories in the gospels. Jesus eats with the wrong crowd and religious leaders are scandalized. Jesus tells a parable about a banquet prepared for the mucky-mucks, and when they don't show the "least and the lost" are invited to chow down. And the last supper Jesus eats with his followers becomes The Last Supper, one of our two Protestant sacraments.

Meals bring people together and opens their hearts through their stomachs. I've mentioned that we've eaten at the Belleville mosque twice now and the Middle Eastern food was so good Ruth joked that she might be compelled to convert. Here is a story by David Farley in the New York Times which touches me:

Twice a month Anna Gyulai Gaal, a Hungarian-born journalist, turns her apartment in the Neuk├Âlln district of Berlin into a supper club through the dining service, and calls the get-togethers Refugee Dinners. Her friends and strangers alike sign up and pay 35 euros or about $40 to partake in a multicourse feast that goes beyond the plate and the palate.
The cooks are Syrian refugees, women who have just arrived in Berlin after making the arduous trek across the Mediterranean and through Europe. Because of their refugee status, the cooks are not allowed to work and earn money, so Ms. Gyulai Gaal gives them the money she earns from the dinners.
Guests mingle with the cooks, hearing about the uprooted lives of people most have only read and heard about in the news: life in the refugee camps, what they left behind in Syria and, what the voyage was like to get to Germany.

Ms. Gyulai Gaal’s dinners aren’t the only events in Berlin that celebrate collaboration with refugees. The nonprofit group Give Something Back to Berlin puts on the Refugee Cooking Group, weekly dinners where Berliners and the newly arrived cook together, chat and share stories. Uber den Tellerrand organizes cooking classes led by Syrian and Afghani refugees in the Sch├Âneberg district.

Have you experienced meals which have opened you to others and changed attitudes. Can you recall meals that have been spiritual experiences? Would you be inclined to participate in a meal or cooking class like those described?

Saturday, July 16, 2016

Don't Mess with O Canada!

I am reluctant to admit that I agree with Don Cherry, but perhaps he agrees with me. Don is annoyed with Remigio Pereira, one of the Tenors (formerly known as the Canadian Tenors.) Remigio's career circled the bowl when he inexplicably altered the words of  O Canada before an audience of millions watching Major League Baseball's all-star game. It was so bad that many Americans took notice. While singing a solo verse of the anthem, he changed the lyrics "With glowing hearts we see thee rise, the True North strong and free," to "We're all brothers and sisters, all lives matter to the great." What the?..."

He has been vilified since as a racist and unpatriotic. The accusation of racism is related to the Black Lives Matter slogan and the fact that some people -- mostly entitled white people -- are inclined to splutter that all lives matter.  Honestly I figure this was a dopey and earnest moment which backfired terribly on Remigio. The other tenors aren't speaking to him and he has gone on Facebook to apologize to Canadians. people of colour, and the universe.

I think Premier Kathleen Wynne got it right when she commented that Black Lives Matter, even though all lives matter, just as it's important to have a Pride Parade despite some of the same critics asking why there isn't a straight parade. Hey, weren't all parades "straight" parades until the LGBTQ  community had the courage to take to the streets in marches and parades?

Black Lives Matter is an important movement, even though I may not want to hear some of theincendiary rhetoric from some members or may wonder about the confrontational tactics of others. Whenever a group of people is marginalized and even persecuted they need a voice and often a movement as a rallying point in their cause for justice.

More and more pastors in the States are openly supporting the Black Lives Matter  movement and we might ask as Canadian Christians how challenging racism and is given a voice here.

As for Remigio, shall we just let it go? Let's be Canadian and politely accept his apology. His career and livelihood shouldn't be defined by one line in a song. But HEY ALL YOU KIDS OUT THERE --DON'T DISRESPECT THE NATIONAL ANTHEM THAT OUR SOLDIERS GAVE THEIR LIVES FOR!!!


Friday, July 15, 2016

An Open Letter Countering Islamophobia

Image result for Rose hamid

Franklin Graham is evangelist Billy Graham's son, and unlike his father a pathetic ambassador for Christianity. He has lauded Russia's Vladimir Putin for his persecution of the LGBT community, and endorsed Donald Trump for president. He is also a Muslim hater of the worst kind. I rarely do this, but I figure that this letter from Rose Hamid says it all about those who pretend to follow Christ as a pretext for exclusion:

Reverend Franklin Graham,

Can we talk? You seem to have confused the horrific actions of some who claim to practice Islam, with the actual teachings of the faith. In regards to the massacre of 49 people at a gay bar in Orlando you recently posted on your Facebook page, “What Omar Mattan did was following the teaching of the Koran.” That’s just not true. The Quran prohibits such heinous actions, as Islamic organizations and scholars have consistently proclaimed.
I grew up Catholic but left the church for a variety of reasons. When I started my family, I studied a lot and chose to follow Islam. The things you are saying about Islam do not match what I’ve learned. 

You’ve said “They (Muslims) hate the God of the Bible, and they hate those who follow Him”. But the Quran refers to Jews and Christians as “People of the Book”; they are those who have received revelation from God; the same God that sent revelation to Abraham, Moses, Jesus and Muhammad. (Peace be upon them all). The Quran says “Verily! Those who believe and those who are Jews and Christians, and Sabians, whoever believes in God and the Last Day and do righteous good deeds shall have their reward with their Lord, on them shall be no fear, nor shall they grieve” 2:62

You’ve said “If you’re an American, they hate you whether you’re a liberal or conservative.” However, there are over 3 million American Muslims; we are part of the fabric of this country. American values are in keeping with Islamic values; such as the idea that all men are created equal and freedom and justice for all. There are people around the world who are angered by America’s foreign policies, but that doesn’t mean they hate what our country was founded on.

You’ve said “They want you to be subject to Sharia law and the god they worship.” There are absolutely no instances of Muslims trying to institute Sharia law in America. The Quran says “There is no compulsion in religion”. (2:256) 

You’ve said “Women of the world, Islam wants to put you behind a veil of horror.” And “Honor killings are a practice of Islam”. Although it is true there are women in majority Muslim countries that are treated appallingly, it is in spite of Islam, not because of it. People take things out of context in order to justify following their pre-Islamic barbaric customs. Islam actually granted women rights hundreds of years before they were granted in the West: such as the right to own property, to an education, to participate in public discourse, to choose their spouse, to get a divorce, and many others. 

You’ve said “The god of Islam requires followers to die for him.” And “The Koran teaches followers of Islam to kill and destroy nonbelievers.” That is not an accurate interpretation of what the Quran teaches. Yes, there are people who take Islamic teachings out of context to justify committing heinous acts for their own geo/political gains, but they don’t represent Islam any more than the KKK represents the teachings of Christianity.

What you are saying about Islam is dangerous for Muslims, America and the world. Your words fuel hate towards the other and become recruiting tools for terrorist organizations.

We live in a country of diverse people with different ideologies and religions, yet we are founded on the principal of uniting for the common good, “E Pluribus Unum”. We can’t do that if we look at people who are different than we are with hate. I pray you will agree to meet with me so we can listen to each other. I think we can both agree that God is love and love conquers hate, let’s use that as a starting point.

This post originally appeared in the Charlotte Observer June 15, 2016

Thursday, July 14, 2016

Expectations for Peace-making

"From everyone to whom much has been given, much will be required;
and from the one to whom much has been entrusted, even more will be demanded."

Jesus of Nazareth

I get regular email reminders of the work of the Global Peace Index which has been published by the Institute for Economics & Peace over the past decade. The IEP describes its mandate in this way:

The Institute for Economics and Peace (IEP) is an independent, non-partisan, non-profit think tank dedicated to shifting the world’s focus to peace as a positive, achievable, and tangible measure of human well-being and progress.

Once again Canada ranks in the top ten nations using a range of criteria measuring peacefulness. While we might consider North America to be generally more peaceful than other regions of the world our American neighbours rank a rather dismal 113th and Mexico at 140 of 163 nations included. Almost precisely 50% of nations trended toward being more peaceful in 2015 while the other 50% became less peaceful.

We are so fortunate folks, to live in this country of relative peace and prosperity. I have reported on the Index in past years and I am repetitive in my reminder that we have been immeasurably blessed, so we must set high expectations for our generosity and compassion and peace-making.

As Canadian Christians we are called to work on behalf of First Nations peoples who do not experience equality or peace, and to welcome refugees. We can support federal government initiatives for women's health in developing countries. We simply can't be smug about our relative peace and prosperity. If we aren't sure about this, we can simply turn to the gospels and read the words of Jesus.


Wednesday, July 13, 2016

National Parks as a Sacred Trust

In a couple of weeks we'll be heading to Atlantic Canada, God willing, and if our itinerary goes as planned we'll spend some time in Fundy National Park. Over the years we've visited  roughly a dozen national parks including Gros Morne and Terra Nova in Newfoundland, Keji and Cape Breton in Nova Scotia,  Forillon in Quebec, Pukaskwa in Ontario and several  in the West, including Pacific Rim.

All of them have been remarkably beautiful, including Fundy, where we have camped several times. While my art history background has taken us to a number of famous European and North America churches, our parks are cathedrals of Creation, and places where we experience the grandeur of God.

I've taken a quick read through the recently released report Protecting Canada's National Parks: A Call for Renewed Commitment to Nature Conservation prepared by CPAWS, the Canadian Parks and Wilderness Society. On the website CPAWS states that "Our vision is to keep at least half of Canada's public land and water wild — forever. We focus on protecting large, connected areas of Canada's wilderness"

The writers express concern that our national parks are becoming tourist venues with encroaching development. This emphasis on commercializing our parks rather than sustaining diverse habitats appears to be based on the desire to generate revenue.

In recent years, CPAWS has observed a major shift in how Parks Canada is managing our national parks, moving away from its priority mandate of nature conservation, and towards a greater focus on tourism and marketing, increasing visitation, and revenue generation. This shift in priorities has resulted in developments being approved behind closed doors, with inadequate regard for how they impact on parks’ ecological integrity or for public input, and financial decisions being made that undermine the Agency’s conservation and science capacity.

I'm glad this group is making us aware that environmental science and habitat preservation are being pushed into the background of priorities. CPAWS isn't calling for the elimination of tourism in parks but the stats show that certain parks such as Banff are being "loved to death" by a growing number of visitors. Roughly 12 millions people visit Canada's national parks each year.

When we visit Fundy this year we'll delight in its beauty, head out for a paddle, and remember that all our parks are a sacred trust.


Tuesday, July 12, 2016

Anglicans & Same-Gender Marriage

Cheryl Taylor and Jennifer Smith hold hands as they arrive for the Grand Pride Wedding, a mass gay wedding at Casa Loma in Toronto, Canada, on June 26, 2014.

Great news! This blog entry is not accurate! After revisiting the count the vote passed and the Anglican communion in Canada has approved same-gender marriage. I have since chatted with the couple mentioned below about the surprising --providential?-- change of outcome.

When I turned on CBC radio at 5:00 AM (ya, I'm up far too early some days) I heard that the Anglican Synod had voted against supporting same-gender marriage by a "frog's hair," to use a friend's expression. A two-thirds majority by clergy was needed and narrowly missed --by a single vote.

 I was saddened to hear this, for a number of reasons. I realized that an aspect of the decision has to do with the Canadian Anglican communion's relationship with the world-wide church, which is much more conservative in some regions.

I'm also disappointed by this outcome because it isn't just status quo, it is actually regressive. The Anglicans are another Cheshire Cat denomination akin to the United Church in their disappearing act in Canada. The United Church made the decision to allow same-gender marriage more than a decade ago, and some would argue that it hurt us. Yet neither the Anglicans nor the Presbyterians are faring any better than we are.  If there is a hope that this will mollify some members, it is a hollow victory at best. I don't believe that this is more biblically or theologically faithful and will not be a hopeful message to a culture which has largely accepted same-gender marriage.   

I am also thinking of an Anglican priest acquaintance who is married to his male partner. I can only imagine that this will be disheartening news for them as a couple. The decision won't be revisited until the next synod in 2019 which is a long time.

Meanwhile, a number of Canadian bishops say that they will ignore this synod decision and support same-gender marriage.

After the vote, Bishop John H. Chapman released a statement to the Anglican Diocese of Ottawa, saying he was "extremely disappointed" by the vote."It is time my friends. It is past time," Chapman wrote, supporting a move to allow same-sex marriages in the Anglican Church."It is my intention … to proceed with same-sex marriages immediately within the Diocese of Ottawa. While no clergy will be required to officiate at a same-sex marriage, those willing may do so with my permission."
So where does that leave the Anglican church in Canada?This feels like a "hung jury" to me, without a clear outcome or direction.

We can continue to pray for reconciliation and respect for our Anglican brothers and sisters. What are your thoughts about the outcome?

Sunday, July 10, 2016

AIDS/HIV in the 21st Century

In the past thirty years huge strides have been made in addressing AIDS/HIV. What was initially a death sentence has become a manageable if not yet curable disease. Much of the fear and stigma has been overcome as well. When I first worked with those living with AIDS/HIV in the late 80s many were unwilling to let others know of their specific illness, even in death. Now we are aware of prominent figures such as Magic Johnson, former basketball great, who has lived for 25 years with HIV. Of course Johnson is wealthy and lives in North America. Those who live in developed countries have access to drugs which allow for reasonable health. This is not the case in developing nations.

Image result for magic johnson hiv status

The World Council of Churches made a statement recently calling for a renewed effort to combat AIDS/HIV.

Despite huge progress since AIDS was first identified 35 years ago, the threat of AIDS still haunts much of the world. 21 million people currently have no access to treatment of HIV, and AIDS-related illnesses are now the leading cause of death for adolescents in Africa. More than 2 million people are newly infected annually. The world is facing the catastrophe of 6 million AIDS-related orphans, and this figure is growing.
These shocking statistics are part of the reason why, at its Central Committee meeting in Trondheim, Norway at the end of June, the World Council of Churches (WCC) reaffirmed its commitment to eliminating AIDS as a public health threat by 2030.

We can be grateful that this organization of Christian denominations has moved beyond the harsh moral judgement of the first days of AIDS to act as a conscience for a world which in some respects has moved on from the intense awareness of the impact of this disease.

Today the gospel lesson is the parable of the Good Samaritan in Luke. We are called to bind up these wounds of affliction as people suffer globally.


Saturday, July 09, 2016

The Kult of Hatred and Fear

I have no idea when I first heard of the Ku Klux Klan or saw images of their ominous yet comical looking outfits. I was born in the mid-50s which means they were still a menacing presence in American society, and still up to their murderous activities.

Actually, Canadian society as well. You might recall me writing in this blog about a Bridge St member telling me that when she had cleared up some family papers she discovered a matter-of-fact reference in her late grandmother's diary to her husband heading out to an evening Klan meeting. This was in Southwestern Ontario, not the Deep South, and hardly what we might imagine as a KKK hotbed.

The Klan was racist and anti-Semitic, and thank God it is long gone. Except that it isn't. There is concern that the racist blather of Donald Trump and his ilk has emboldened those who either never really let go of the false religion of racial superiority and those who figure that they need to rally around the cause.

To be fair, every few years there is an article about the resurgence of the KKK and it hasn't really gained any traction. We do need to be vigilant about any group which espouses an "us and them" ideology.

I am regularly struck by how Jesus breaks down barriers of ethnicity and gender and religion. He welcomed women into his circle and cautioned about the false god of wealth. Our faithfulness to Christ's message is need now, more than perhaps in decades.

Friday, July 08, 2016

Visual Arts & Faith

Those of you who've attended worship services I've led through the years know that I am inclined to incorporate visual images in my sermon and other aspects of the service. Some are projected or displayed on screens, as is the case at Bridge St. I accepted a call here on the condition that visual display be installed, and we have five large high-resolution monitors in the sanctuary.

Faith and the Arts: A Fragile Friendship

We have been creative with drapings reflecting the changing church year, and employed a swath of blue cloth pouring out of the baptism font. We've grouped various breads by the table on Communion Sundays and in  a couple of congregations we placed electric breadmakers around the church so that the worship space was filled with the aroma. Recently we had a display of photographs and a dress on Aboriginal Sunday as a reminder of the REDdress Project.

I was surprised to see an article in Christianity Today recently about a growing trend in the United States to employ/call "arts pastors" whose specific role is to incorporate and encourage the arts within congregational life. Surprised? More like blown away! I have served several congregations with a half-time music director or, in the case of Bridge St, a music minister with a Masters of Sacred Music. Never had I heard of an art pastor.

There is a long history of the Christian church sponsoring the arts and expressing faith through visual images. In some respects it is uniquely Christian because of Jewish and Islamic prohibitions regarding graven images. Sadly, in the past century there has been a diminishing commitment to incorporating visual art in worship spaces and next to no money to commission art, except perhaps in the Roman Catholic tradition. The modern sanctuary  of the congregation I served in downtown Sudbury did have some impressive doors and other pieces commissioned specifically for that space. Below is the door to the Peace Chapel in St. Andrew's Place, created by Quebecois artist Jordi Bonet.

Image result for jordi bonet doors

I have enjoyed pastoral ministry and the art of preaching through nearly four decades , but I would leap (or at least hop awkwardly) at the opportunity to be an arts pastor. So many people tell me they are visual learners and that the images I use open their imaginations. I'm convinced that what happens in my brain and spirit in the presence of art is a spiritual experience. If only we had a greater commitment to the visual "Word of God" as well as music and spoken word.


Thursday, July 07, 2016

Peacemaker, Warmonger

Image result for tony blar peace envoy

Since stepping away from politics in 2007 former British Prime Minister Tony Blair has included a role as a peace envoy in the Middle East as part of his portfolio of involvements. Blair is a practicing Christian who debated atheist celebre Christopher Hitchens in Toronto a few years back and he read the luminous love passage from Corinthians at Princess Diana's funeral in Westminster Abbey.

Yesterday Tony Blair, Christian and peacemaker publicly apologized for being a warmonger -- sort of. As the Chilcot Report was issued with its condemnation of Britain's involvement in the invasion of Iraq Blair apologized as so many leaders do, accepting responsibility for entering into an ill-advised war while justifying his choices at the same time;" I did it because I thought it was right and because I thought human cost of inaction would  be greater for us and for world in the longer term."  The Chilcot Report includes these points:

       The UK chose to join the invasion of Iraq before the peaceful options for disarmament had  been  exhausted. Military action at that time was not a last resort.
  • Military action might have been necessary later, but in March 2003: There was no imminent threat from Saddam Hussein; The strategy of containment could have been adapted and continued for some time; The majority of the Security Council supported continuing UN inspections and monitoring.
  • Judgements about the severity of threat posed by Iraq's weapons of mass destruction - known as WMD - were presented with a certainty that was not justified.
  • Intelligence had "not established beyond doubt" that Saddam Hussein had continued to produce chemical and biological weapons.
  • Policy on Iraq was made on the basis of flawed intelligence assessments. It was not challenged, and should have been.
  • The UK's actions undermined the authority of the United Nations Security Council: The UN's Charter puts responsibility for the maintenance of peace and security in the Security Council. The UK government was claiming to act on behalf of the international community "to uphold the authority of the Security Council". But it knew it did not have a majority supporting its actions.
  • Despite explicit warnings, the consequences of the invasion were underestimated. The planning and preparations for Iraq after Saddam Hussein were "wholly inadequate".
  • The government failed to achieve the stated objectives it had set itself in Iraq. More than 200 British citizens died as a result of the conflict. Iraqi people suffered greatly. By July 2009, at least 150,000 Iraqis had died, probably many more. More than one million were displaced.
I actually think Tony Blair is an honourable man, not a war criminal, yet what a cost in this conflict which resulted in the deaths of hundreds of thousands and which destabilized the Middle East. The existence of ISIS was likely made possible by this futile war, and both Blair and Bush must shoulder blame. Blair did say yesterday that  "the decisions I've made, I have carried with me for 13 years, and I will do so for the rest of my days."

Christians have long debated the possibility of a "just war" as a lesser evil in certain circumstances. I do have great respect for those who courageously serve a greater good. Still, violence, including military conflict is a sin which generates its own blinding energy, at times causing decent human beings to engage in terrible acts.

We can pray for those who are mourning in Britain over the loss of loved ones in a conflict which should never have taken place. Thank God the Canadian government and Prime Minister Chretien exercised restraint.

What are your thoughts about all this?

Wednesday, July 06, 2016

A Solemn Eid

Eid. A few years ago this word would have meant nothing to me. Times change. Not only have I become more aware of aspects of Islam, including the fast of Ramadan, I know people who have observed this month. The Al Mansours, the Syrian refugee family we sponsored, have been observing Ramadan and today they celebrate Eid al-Fitr which is the "festival of breaking of the fast" which often includes gift-giving.

Some Muslims here in Canada have decided not to celebrate Eid today in solidarity with those who are mourning the death of loved ones who were killed in suicide bombings in Baghdad, Iraq. More than 250 died in the senseless, cowardly attacks. Here is a portion of the CBC report on Canadian Muslims who will take a more solemn approach to this day. the wake of a devastating attack by ISIS that killed more than 200 people in a busy shopping district in Baghdad on Sunday, many Muslims in Toronto say they have chosen not to celebrate the holiday. Hassan Jaber, an Iraqi-born mechanical engineer who lives in Ajax, Ont., told CBC News he was appalled at the timing of the attack, the deadliest seen in Baghdad in years
"We can't celebrate and be happy and walk around smiling when 230 men and women were killed for no reason," Jaber said. "I'm not celebrating Eid this year, and I know a lot of people that are doing the same thing."
He said the attack proves that the so-called Islamic State is anti-Islamic.
"What more proof do you need than them targeting their own during their own blessed month?" Jaber asked.Another Muslim in mourning as Ramadan ends is Fahad Al, the humanitarian co-ordinator for the Canadian Aid Organization for Iraqi Society Rehab.

I tweeted the reminder yesterday that hatred is indiscriminate and the brutality of ISIS or Daesh targets Muslims, as well as other religious groups. It is demonic and has nothing to do with God, however we describe God.

As Christians we can also choose to be mindful of those who lost their lives in Iraq and pray for peaceful coexistence with our Muslim brothers and sisters in this country.


Tuesday, July 05, 2016

Water, Water...

 On the last day of the festival, the great day, while Jesus was standing there, he cried out, ‘Let anyone who is thirsty come to me, and let the one who believes in me drink. As the scripture has said, “Out of the believer’s heart shall flow rivers of living water.” Now he said this about the Spirit, which believers in him were to receive; for as yet there was no Spirit, because Jesus was not yet glorified. John 7:37-39

Quinte Conservation has been sending out reminders that the hot, dry weather has significantly affected water levels in streams and rivers and lakes. We are encouraged to be mindful of our use of water, which is always a good idea in this country where we tend to take water for granted.

In this heat birds and bees come to our bird baths for a splash and a drink. Our backyard is becoming brown, other than around our raised vegetable beds which we still water. Our small front lawn is quite green because it is watered daily by our next-door neighbour. Because of the shape of the properties on our court his sprinkler system waters our lawn and a portion of our driveway. It drives me a little crazy when we are attempting to be careful --hey, not only to we have multiple-rainbarrels, we recycle dishwater for watering.

We also love being on the water, either in our canoe or in our kayaks. We paddled an unassuming section of the Salmon River on the weekend and the Bay of Quinte last evening. The river was quite low, yet there was so much happening. There were many herons and kingfishers and an osprey.

The turtles were festooned on logs like performance art, we watched a furtive muskrat enter its bank home, and a water snake popped up its head between us. Last evening we saw many of the same birds, and in the water a number of large fish, likely carp. Water means life for so many creatures, and it was captivating.

As Christians we are aware that Jesus used the metaphor of water to describe himself and the possibilities to be refreshed and enlivened. We can't forget that we are literally dependent on water for life as well, and our care for it is an aspect of what it means to be faithful.