Saturday, December 19, 2009

Me and my friends. No, I'm kidding! May we not lose our sense of ha ha this Christmas.

Merry Christmas

I awoke this morning poised to write an annual letter come blog recalling my year and sending out tidings for the feast of the Incarnation (see title). This I will do, but before so I must discharge my momentary angst.

This morning’s (December 19th) news is depressing. Coming out of a global financial crisis, which made many of us realize the need for stronger international ties –even governance- (I owe my conversion to Benedict XVI, Caritas in Veritate) the global community showed her incompetence in the form of a sketchy 11th hour deal on climate change. While I appreciate the fact that a deal was made, this one will do nothing to slow the polar thaw. Hardest for me to accept is the lack of enthusiasm for change demonstrated by my own country, as well as the giant directly to our south. Alberta’s tar sands have brought prosperity, but, surely, we will pay for it.

Reflection on consequence leads me to a question: Is Armageddon imminent? I try to believe that the Second Coming will be to a completed kingdom of peace and harmony, but it seems the world is racing toward total self-destruction. Perhaps we will soon identify with St. Paul and the early church who anticipated, and readied themselves, for a judgement day they believed near at hand.

As Advent people we are journeying toward presence –that is “presence” not “presents”. And presence was something I learned a lot about this year. The Clinical Pastoral Education program, endangered as the polar bear, was the most formative ministerial experience of my life to date. I spent three months at the University of Alberta hospital learning how to connect with self, others and God (and better do I see the connectedness of these three). Of cherished memory are laughs with my hospital colleagues, as well as the reality checks found in ministry and group reflection. The truth may hurt lest it also liberate.

Speaking of freedom, I said goodbye to Newman Theological College in 2009 -they even gave me a degree. Warm thoughts go out to the few friends I made through studies. Formally or informally, I consider all partners in ministry and companions on the road of life.

No longer a student, ministry, it seems, became my energy and stress this year. So fortunate was I to get out and meet new people in places such as Victoria, Calgary, and St. Albert. As anyone who has traveled knows, western Canada is a large and sparsely populated region. For that reason we experience cultural nuances from one city to the next. In every part, however, I have discovered spirits of inquiry, openness, and dedication. Resting on our basic drive to survive, which includes the urge to compete, gain and consume, is a want for inner peace and tranquility. It is the latter that keeps me employed. Thank you God for creating people in your own image!

2009 was not all work and no play. On Labour Day weekend, I attended just the fourth Dupuis Family reunion in about 20 years (Dupuis is the maiden name of my Grandma Ducharme). Always fun is it to be in the Okanagan Valley with aunts, uncles, cousins and their kin, not to mention my immediate family whom I see more often. So revealing at family reunions are the affects of nature. People get older. They get wiser. They get stronger, and they get weaker. They get faster, and they get slower. They stay up later, and they go to bed earlier. They party harder, and they party less. Praise God people change! I quote a rhetorical old friend: “If all people were the same, and stayed the same, life would be boring”.

Before signing off I must acknowledge the people who teach me who I am on a daily basis. To my dearest friends, loved ones, and especially my Franciscan community: God Bless! The Spirit of the Lord shows herself to me through you.

May the peace of the Incarnate Word be with you always!