My hand rested on the shelf of books and I looked at the title of the volume under my palm. It was the same book that I'd remembered.
Another time, in the same small library, I'd pulled the book off the shelf and read it straight through in one evening. I'd resolved to live my life differently. To remember Sabbath… rest. Balance, rhythm, and the health and joy of God's gift of the Sabbath.
One class from my MA studies at Eastern Mennonite University's Center for Justice and Peacebuilding which continues to stick in my mind is a course called "Narrative Negotiation." We learned about the roles of worldviews in negotiating solutions to conflict and how sometimes it's not the issues or proposed solutions that cause a problem in carrying out a successful negotiation, but because groups are coming from completely different ways of seeing the conflict.
Much has been written on this blog about the stories we tell. This narrative perspective is becoming a stronger one in many fields of study, including therapy, education, conflict resolution, and negotiation.
My impression of AoyamaGakuin University in Tokyo was a college trying to keep its identity as a Christian college on a growing campus with increasing diversity. They seem to be doing a good job of balancing and finding integrity in the shifting realities, and they're not the only Christian higher education institutes to be dealing with this question of identity.
The view was breathtaking. On a clear day, from the 52nd floor, they said we should be able to see Mount Fuji. It was too hazy that day, though. All we could see were the blocks and blocks of concrete, towering buildings, and grids of traffic.
We were on the island! The train had risen about the surface of the water out of the underwater tunnel that had taken us a half hour to traverse. We looked at the rural villages, the mountains, the fields. This was Hokkaido.
Every now and then a familiar story comes to new meaning. A recent re-reading of the story of Bartimaeus in Mark 10:46-52 pushes me into an area of discomfort that challenges my identity and my understanding of our identity as a faith community. It makes me question our responses to Jesus' unexpected ways of transforming people. It causes me to wonder how good my vision is after all.
Procrastination happens for a reason. A quote I saw once suggested that often, it's because I don't give ourselves enough between projects to fully rest and enjoy the sense of accomplishment before starting the next. I feel reluctant to begin something, not because I'm not interested, but because I'm still not finished with the past project. A project is not complete until it includes the rest.
At a seminar on cooperative organizations in Saskatchewan, Harold Chapman, a 93-year-old professor, historian, and writer, told us the history from the inside of his involvement in cooperative organizations as a consultant. He talked about values and principles at the heart of this organizational model, and the challenge that it evolved in response to.
It was hard to know this Christmas how to hear the familiar story. Every year I look forward to advent, to hearing about Mary and Joseph and the new baby, to reflect again on what this story means for me and my community -- and how I live my life differently because of it.
Over the last year or so, I've appreciated the paintings, poetry, and musings of Jan Richardson on her blog, paintedprayerbook.com. Recently, one post caught my attention, "Salted with Fire." In a space of transition and waiting in my life, with many uncertainties as to what life will look like even a year from now, her description of salt in a potters' fire resonated with me.
Pastor Ishiya met us at Fudoin station and we drove the ten minutes up the hills, through the back streets, until we arrived at a traditional Japanese house - Hiroshima Mennonite Church. Although only 9:15am, the sun was hot and bright on our necks, and with relief we stepped inside the cool building.
We sat in a large circle in the lounge, some sitting straight with legs crossed, others stretched out on the carpeted floor. One by one we passed the "talking piece" and we invited to say a few words about the experience of the last few weeks.
Looking back, it was one of the most energizing and renewing courses that I've taught so far. The combination of my co-facilitator, the participants, and the content was great, but more than that was the space that we created together.
Mr. Koh's story powerfully demonstrates the complexity of forgiveness. On Oct 9, his house was broken into and his mother, wife, and son were brutally murdered. Later, the person who committed the murder, a man named Young-ChulYoo, was caught. It was discovered that he was actually a serial killer who had committed a series of cruel murders of other innocent victims than Mr.
Most of us had never heard of the tiny island off the coast near Hiroshima called Okonoshima. In fact, we discovered, it was also erased from many maps on purpose. Yet in this tiny space of just 4km across, things happened which still affect lives around the world today.
Many churches are exploring the what 'formation' means in their life and work. At First Mennonite Church in Winnipeg we are doing the same. Here is a sermon I preached on the theme. I would welcome any comments or feedback.
The texts were 2 Samuel 12:1-7a (Nathan confronting David); 1 Kings 3:16-28 (Solomon's judgment between the two mothers)
It took two weeks and some intense times together, but by the second "cultural night" of NARPI (Northeast Asia Regional Peacebuilding Institute), groups were no longer isolated by country or regional cultures. A Mongolian and Japanese team did a dance, Korean and Japanese women led a song, and Chinese and Mongolian participants were the emcees. Yet the richness of each person's identity was clearly present.
It's hard to hear the stories. The images are sickening. My imagination cannot grasp the kind of suffering the people of Hiroshima endured and even survived. My faith in humanity shakes when thinking of what humans did to each other and to creation.