Day Four

I am looking forward to going home. If I had more energy I might even hurry home. But slow is the order of the day. Everything I do; make tea, pack up, clean up, is performed with ritual-like deliberation.

The slow passing of the days has given me a taste of what days must be like lying in a hospital bed or sitting in a prison cell. My energy, that quickly evaporates with short exertions, gives me a glimpse into the life of my elders. These experiences of empathy, and the continual flow of prayers for the people of my flock, tell me that I am indeed – a Pastor. (A fact that I’m often in doubt of.)

The visions, the songs, the impressions that God has put into my heart and imagination assure me that, in addition to a Pastor, I am also an Artist. In fact, calling myself an Artist clears up for me the experience I’ve known repeatedly over the years. The experience of feeling like I don’t fit in; of wondering why I don’t seem to see things the way many people do; of hiding and protecting the fact that I’m so easily hurt – and angered. All of these experiences are quite easily handled by the statement “I am an Artist.” Easily said, perhaps, but not a hat that I comfortably wear out in public.

Paddling home I sing a few songs just to see if the words are still there – and they are of course. Knowing that God will provide the words is the grace I depend on. “Be who you are, do what you do.” says the Christ “and let me do the rest.”

And what about my adolescent grace? Cleaning up the lines of stones, before chucking each one into the lake, I take a last look at the power they hold in me. I remove them in reverse order, starting with the ones who’d blessed me. How fortunate to have known so many encouragers and companions who were/are so generous. And how fortunate to find that what I’ve offered, has been received as a blessing by others. Blessed to be a blessing.

I acknowledge how much I have also learned at the expense of others. May the hurt I’ve caused be a place where God’s healing can be felt in their lives. And finally, I come to those who’d hurt me. As I toss them into the lake, one by one, I let them go. As I come to one of the biggest rocks I say “You were just being who you are.”
“Yeah – a prick!” says someone else. “Fuck ‘em.”
I laugh and toss it in the lake with the rest.
Maybe there’s a bit more healing still to do eh?

When I return to this spot a year from now, will I be more of that new person - born again on this rock? Will there be a season of fruit to show it? I’ll keep reaching back here for what I need. One hand on that steady head to lean on – the other gently supported by that smart young native fellow. I’m not ashamed to tell you, that I called upon that young native friend to help me carry my packs and kayak back over the portage. Just when it seemed I’d have to drop and flop, there he was. We made it the rest of the way with a song.

If you’re still with me, reader/friend, then let me say thanks to you. Sharing these words, and the story they tell, is the way I promised to honour your faithful prayers and God’s good gifts to me.

I should also let you know that upon crossing the hearth of home I expected to find Carol worn thin by solo parenting. Instead, she was fresh and happy. Her comment was “You should ask people to pray for us every time you go away.”

I hope this journey has been worth your time. Perhaps, like the memories of other trips we’ve been on, you’ll remember the bad patches as challenges faced, and the best parts will not fade with time.

Psalm 40
Thanksgiving for Deliverance and Prayer for Help

5 You have multiplied, O LORD my God,
your wondrous deeds and your thoughts toward us;
none can compare with you.
Were I to proclaim and tell of them,
they would be more than can be counted.
6 Sacrifice and offering you do not desire,
but you have given me an open ear.£
Burnt offering and sin offering
you have not required.

7 Then I said, “Here I am;
in the scroll of the book it is written of me.£
8 I delight to do your will, O my God;
your law is within my heart.”
9 I have told the glad news of deliverance
in the great congregation;
see, I have not restrained my lips,
as you know, O LORD.
10 I have not hidden your saving help within my heart,
I have spoken of your faithfulness and your salvation;
I have not concealed your steadfast love and your faithfulness
from the great congregation.
16 May all who seek you
rejoice and be glad in you;
may those who love your salvation
say continually, “Great is the LORD!”

Translation from The Revised Standard Version

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