On the afternoon before the opening weekend of Living from the Heart at Bethlehem Centre on Vancouver Island, I took a walk around Westwood Lake to allow my jostled soul to settle. That morning, I’d read the poem Vessel by Steve Garnaas Holmes. It invited me to be a vessel that opens to God’s light. I echoed that desire and sighed. Would I be settled and open enough to let light in?
I set an intention to notice whenever I was feeling anxious and to invite myself to relax and open to God.
Because of COVID, we had distanced fixed seating. So every time I sat down for our gatherings, I returned to the same two participants on either side of me. They were so lovely, I felt like I was coming home each time I sat between them.
Saturday evening before we began, I got chatting to the woman on my left. I was so relaxed that I forgot I was the one who was speaking first. As soon as I realized it was me that was on, I looked at my watch. We should have started five minutes ago! I got everyone’s attention and asked someone to relight the Christ candle and sound the singing bowl. After a moment of silence, I opened my binder and suddenly realized I had missed reviewing this section of notes when I went over the course content the day before. I stumbled through an explanation of assignments and then accidentally changed the order of what we were doing next, which affected my co-facilitators, Audrey and Brent.
At the close of the evening, I apologized to them for messing up. Audrey told me not to worry about it. Brent just smiled and said, “Oh, you wonderful human.”
The next day Audrey led us through a prayer of imagination. In it, I met Jesus who was so kind to me. When it came to the part of the story where Bartemeus followed Jesus, I looked up at Jesus. Life would be so much simpler if that’s all I had to do.
Jesus looked at me and smiled, “Just to let you know, I’m a wonderful human too. I don’t always know where I’m going, and I might make some mistakes along the way.”
But you are Jesus and Jesus was sinless, I thought. Then the penny dropped. Mistakes are not sins. Not doing things perfectly is a part of being human. It’s how we learn and grow. It’s how the light gets in.
Later that day we played Leonard Cohen’s Anthem. I heard Jesus again in Cohen’s gravelly voice, “Forget your perfect offering. There’s a crack in everything. That’s how the light gets in.”
Forget your perfect offering.
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On October 20, 2020, Archbishop Melissa Skelton came to St. Stephen the Martyr to dedicate our Pet Memorial Garden and our newly erected statue of St. Francis. In her homily, she talked about her own dog, Teddy. “At first I felt completely incompetent to care for him. But over time I learned more from Teddy about standing my ground than I had from any assertiveness training. I learned more from Teddy about curiosity than any class I had ever taken. I learned more from Teddy about constancy than I had learned from some of my relationships with human beings. And this is to say nothing about what I learned from Teddy about devotion, about physical closeness, about being alert to the natural world, about finding peace in the midst of anxiety, about joy, and about play. I learned a lot about play!” Then, during the reception, we were delighted to meet Teddy.
Anyone is welcomed to have their pet’s ashes interred in our memorial garden. Arrangements can be made by contacting firstname.lastname@example.org.