Church: 3 Ways To Get to Forgiveness (But I’m Still Kinda Mad About It)

It’s easy to stay pissed off. Bitterness is so easy. Sort of, ha.  Anne Lamott says, “Forgiveness is giving up all hope of having had a better past…Not forgiving is like drinking rat poison and waiting for the rat to die… ”

Where does anger fall into all that?

There is a wound. For many folks the wound includes fear – of hell, of God, of being punished and smote. There was exclusion (even if you were on the inside), conformity, obligation and above all – shame. Shame over our wants, our desires, our basic existence.

I’ve noticed three things that are helping me move through bitterness, toward forgiveness. Not because “Hey, no problem — all good!’ But because there is something in us that longs to be free. And that longs to be connected and loving. And staying with shame and bitterness is one sure way to keep yourself closed off from all of that.

First, know that it’s okay to be pissed off.

I’m not talking about clutching at past hurts. Like the time you were 13, and the preacher went on and on about the sinfulness of wearing big earrings. And there you were, channeling your best Pat Benatar.  But now you’re actually feeling super skanky. Plus you might be going to hell. Because the preacher said so. Because of the earrings.

Try not to waste energy on stuff like that.

I recently read an article about Jen Hatmaker offering free “Mom Hugs” at a Pride parade. Some responses to them were, “I miss this.” My mom doesn’t love me anymore.” “My Dad hasn’t spoken to me in three years.”

Maybe it’s okay to be angry that there are still people in our pews who stay busy thumping Bibles at the LGBT community and boycotting Disney films, but have nothing to say about parents disowning their gay children.  If that’s you, then maybe it’s best you just stop talking. Today.

Second, I try to recognize when I’ve lost some objectivity.

We all see things through lenses that were shaped by our experiences.   We can’t always tell if our lenses are cloudy, but a good starting point is to realize that we’re wearing them.

I can’t always pinpoint where the fear and shame came from.  I know that this was not everyone’s experience, but I also know it wasn’t just a figment of my imagination.  On the other hand, it wasn’t completely that either.  Of course I had many truly and loving and fun and sincere people in my life!  If I’m honest, I know that I can let part of my experience cloud my memory of the whole experience.

I went back recently, and felt only love. Real love. Not the kind we sometimes do that says, “So nice to see you’ve returned from the wayside…” (Thanks.)  Plus I didn’t burst into flames, as expected, so that was nice. But it showed me that with change, sometimes there is panic and confusion.  Sometimes things are lost or altered — and perspective can be one of them.  Like the Eagles song, “…I guess every form of refuge has its price..”

A wise friend on Facebook said, “I find certain subjects really get under my skin… usually because it triggers something unhealed in me.”

I sometimes wonder about Donald Trump, or our reactions to him. Trust me I’m not a fan, but why do I respond so strongly? Other world leaders do horrible things and my base reaction is a mild, “Okay, he’s a bit of a douche…”

But with Trump, it’s like physical anger. Does it have anything to do with the Christian support he seemingly receives?   My mind goes, “Okay, the same people that made a federal freaking case of Harry Potter movies and Starbucks cups voted this guy as their leader?  What? Just… WHAT?!”

Yeah, I’d say it has something to do with that. But maybe I’ve lost some objectivity when I put so much focus on him, and start to believe that every single person who voted for him must be some kind of closet white supremacist?

Third, something transformative happens when you start to think for yourself, when you open yourself to new ways of seeking God and his will.

There are two ways of not thinking for yourself:

One way is to blindly follow the people around you. Maybe this comes from a fear to think differently.  Maybe you never knew that you should?  Somehow there is the notion that a search for God, that is outside the standard train of beliefs, will somehow fast track you to hell.  But don’t you think that God can appreciate an honest search over an unquestioned belief?

The other way to not think for yourself is to blindly go against the people around you. Guilty, over here. Sometimes when we pull away from something, we pull so hard that when we break free we swing further than we meant to. Maybe that’s necessary, I don’t know.

All I know if that when someone tells me I shouldn’t do something, my inner Scarlett O’Hara digs her heels in and whispers, “It’s go time, ya’ll…”

This can be a handy party trick when its powers are used intentionally, and for the common good. But blind push-back is not wisdom. It feels pretty satisfying, but it probably won’t get you to truth.

A bonus fourth thing:  I try to remember that we’re all human, and also I don’t know everything.  Which is probably a good posture to have on most days.

Philip Yancey writes about church wounds. “… women, much like this prostitute, fled toward Jesus, not away the him. The worse a person felt about herself, the more likely she saw Jesus as a refuge. Has the church lost that gift?”

Have I?

Anger has a place. Bitterness is not a place to stay.   I know that in the end, there is not much that can be gained from a widening gap between people. But there is something that can be gained from taking some space. Especially if that space gives you some quiet shelter — away from the shouting and pointing — to seek God, and practice some intuition.

And when you find that God is there with you, you might also find the courage and compassion to forgive yourself, release fear, and start living.

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Loving Your Shape (A Little Help Is Okay)

The Season is upon us and this means great food and festivity and the annual company Christmas party.

My work party is quite formal, and this year I bought a (sort of) new dress. The Mennonite in me is compelled to tell you that I found it for $8 at a thrift store. It’s black and lacey, with a kind of sexy funeral vibe. It’s made of a light, drapey material that hugs all your curves. Especially the extra ones.  Don’t worry youngin’s, you’ll know it when you get there.

As my friends and I were assessing this in the change room mirror, we all came to the same conclusion.

It was me who voiced it. “I’m gonna need some shapewear to… you know…”

“Hide some unfortunate truths?” said my friend, on point.

Exactly.

For those of you that don’t know, shapewear is like the girdles that women wore on ‘I Love Lucy‘ era TV.  Anyway… we head over to the department store, and I survey a onesie style shaper, which is very much like a swimsuit, with legs. So basically your grandma’s swimsuit.

I need help to reach them, and the sales lady sizes me up (literally), “You’re a medium.” I told her I’d better take the large, just to try. She’s like, “You want it tight — to make skinny.” (As she makes an hour glass shape with her hands).

Yes, right. Okay. No problem.

Now to be clear, this isn’t your grandma’s control top pantyhose. This is an industrial grade, 300-PSI, miracle of engineering. And it really needs a pit crew and some kind of wedge or alignment tool to help you put it on.

As it was, I fought my way into it, alone in the dressing room. And it DELIVERED.   Unfortunate truths were effectively hidden – or at least they blended into each other a bit better.

Soooooo… try to explain this concept to a man. It’s like trying to explain why it would be a good idea to do your own dental surgery. There’s mostly a look of horror, alternating with confusion and blank stares.

So after being told that my truths are fine, and actually quite loveable, I tried to explain exactly what shapewear can, and cannot do.

 

Shapewear 101:

  1. It cannot change you from a size 12 to a size 2. Nothing can (or should) do that. Not in the 2 weeks before a party, anyway.
  2. It cannot take you from an A cup to a DD. Nothing can do that. Nothing that doesn’t involve medical procedure. Shapewear can return the A’s to their original positioning, but that’s about it.
  3. If you hate your body, it can’t make you love it. It can increase confidence knowing that certain ‘truths’ are securely fastened and in the upright position. But if you just plain hate what you’ve got, even the best foundation garment can’t change that.

 

Embracing yourself, ‘warts and all’, comes from within.

We’re all advised to ‘be ourselves’, and I agree. But what does that mean? Am I being myself when I hide my unfortunate truths? I think so. Close enough, anyway – I just used a few tricks to make the best of what I’ve got. Truly being myself would not need to mean showing up make-up free, in my birthday suit.

One – nobody wants that. Two – it would be unfortunate to be fired (and arrested) before the salad is served.

There is stuff about me that I’m not a fan of. It is the stuff of full-length novels, not 800-word blogs… But anyway…

I’m a dawdler, and tend to run late.   Does that mean I just accept that I’ll forever and always be late for work? For me, that means I schedule time for dawdling in the morning, and I almost always early for work. So yes, I dawdle – but I try to rein it in enough to be a functioning adult.

I’m kind of a smart-ass. Does that mean I’m constantly shooting my mouth off at inappropriate times? Yes it does. I’m terrified when I’m making small talk with new people, because I will invariably say something ridiculous while trying to be charming. I might work in radio, but I will never be ON the radio. But I know that I also have a lot of great laughs with friends – it’s a love language.  And I’m trying to hone its power for good, and not evil.

We might not always love every one of our truths – our shape, our talents (or lack of), our past, our compulsions or hang-ups. But we can work with them, find the good and embrace them as part of us.

I’d like to say that it’s easier to find grace for myself than it is to wrangle my truths into the Fortress of Nylon. It’s not.

But it does feel a lot more like freedom.

Good Timing

I woke up at 4:20 and looked out the window. It was snowing – really snowing!! YAAAAAAAAS!!!! I love running in snow!!! It’s so pretty and snow-globey and Narnian.

I ease into my morning routine of coffee, dawdling, and meditation, and I get out there. Thankfully, it’s still snowing. The first thing I feel is how the snowflakes kinda pelt your face, and sting your eyes. I had forgotten about that part. It’s pretty – but like tiny Polly Pocket daggers that constantly stab your eyeballs, making it hard to see.  No problem.

There’s a couple of inches of snow in some places. That’s okay. This is still fun – I’m still having fun!!   Okay, no I’m not. This is difficult. I am not a fan of difficult.

I think back to my exhilarated, “I love running in snow!!!” exclamation and I hear the voice of Rubeus Hagrid from Harry Potter, “I shouldn’t have said that. I should NOT have said that.”

I love to run. It’s not hard for me to go. It’s safe to say this isn’t bragging, because one – it’s not pretty.   A purist might not even call it running. It could be described more as jogging. With walk breaks. And swears.

I just love getting out there. It’s not really about discipline or willpower. Because while it’s easy for me to saddle up in runners in -20 at 5:30a, I absolutely CANNOT get myself to do something a simple as returning a library book on time.  And I work in the same FREAKING BUILDING.

Anyway… I get through the snow with my walk breaks, and my swears and my near slips… And wouldn’t you know it, one block from home — guess what happens.

Guess.

Runner’s High.  Really??!!  Runner’s High is euphoric and you feel like you can run forever. To be clear, you can’t – but it feels that way.

Well that’s pretty bad timing.  Oh well.

You know how we all have things we’d like to change, or improve. Now.  Either we’d like to get rid of something life-sucking – like procrastination, or country music. Or maybe we’d like to develop something creative and constructive – like playing the harmonica. Or finding a hobby doesn’t involve a credit card.

I don’t know if it’s just me, but I can’t seem to organize my habits. And that’s not to say that I’ve never developed any. I just can’t seem to figure out the process.

I used to struggle with a need for stuff, namely the Jones’s stuff.   It was a problem, but now it’s just not a thing. I’m even happy for the Jones’s.  Or I think they’re ridiculous.  Either way, I don’t want their stuff.

For a long time, it seemed like I’d never be able to quit drinking. Now, when I get the urge, some long lost voice of truth says, “I dunno if you really wanna do that… You know how you do….“ And I listen to it!! It’s the weirdest thing. It’s not willpower – it’s something else.

I don’t understand it, and can only imagine that it is some kind of God thing. And yet… I can’t fathom why She would wait so long on some of these things…

Right now I’m trying to quit sugar, or at least most added sugar. I’ve got no off switch here. I’ve done it in the past, but I keep coming back. I don’t know if it’ll ‘take’ this time. In a way, it’s comforting to think that the timing is not in my hands. But mostly not, because I want to be in control. *insert maniacal laughter*

Anne Lamott writes, “The road to enlightenment is long and difficult, and you should try not to forget snacks and magazines.”  Absolutely!!!

What I know about running, is that I love the process more than the outcome. And through loving the process, the outcome is a by-product.   Okay, maybe not buns-of-steel level outcomes… But other stuff — like mood lifts, and calves that don’t fit into most styles of boot. Dammit.

I try to put process over outcome when I go about seeking God. If we embrace the process of seeking, without putting demands on the timeline, we are open to experience even tiny glimpses of God.

Some of us have burning bush moments, but I think most of us experience God in the everyday things – sunsets, kindness, Fleetwood Mac songs. It’s these tiny glimpses that make us keep reaching out, even though the effort doesn’t always look very pretty or perfect.

I’m not sure these things happen on our timing. I’m not sure we can force an experience without conjuring our own feelings and ideas of God.

The best we can probably do, is be open to taking notice.

What Not To Do

It was the day after Halloween and I was at work, nursing a pretty decent sugar hangover.   Well I wasn’t nursing it so much as I was stoking it up. Like you do. What else can you do when you’ve got a headache and brain fog? You try to take the edge off by swigging back more of what got you there in the first place.

My phone rang and I picked it up to a cheery voice on the other end…

Cheery: How are you?

Me: Hmmm… I’m kinda tired.

Cheery: Too many kids?

Me: I guess so…

*Silence*

Me: Ooooh. You mean Trick-Or-Treaters…  No, I wasn’t actually at home.

Oops.

Serious brain fog. Soooo much sugar. By the end of the day I was eating Rockets faster than I could unwrap them.   You’d think that’s not possible, but you’d be wrong.

WHYYYYY always with the sugar?  You’d just THINK with all the information and effort that I could just GET IT, and take it easy on the sweets. But I don’t. I mean, I GET it. I just don’t DO it. And it’s not like I haven’t read up on How to Not Be A Raging Sugar Addict.

We love our ‘How To’ articles.

Check out wikiHow if there is something that you want to know how to do – I promise you’ll find it:

How to train for a marathon…  How to tell if a rock might be a meteorite…  How to tell if a kiwi is ripe…  How to categorize serial killers (yyyep, that’s there).

Self-Help books are a 2.6 bajillion dollar a year industry.  Yes, bajillion.  Okay, I was too lazy to do the research, but we know it’s a lot.

I’m not knocking it. I read butt-loads of this.  Memoirs and research-based books. This is all good stuff.  And I’ll probably keep buying them.  I enjoy connecting with other people’s stories, and plucking out tidbits that I relate to – tossing out ideas that I don’t.

We all want to be better – and we should. It’s called growth. This is healthy.

But sometimes we cross over into something that is a little more crazed. We find ourselves grasping at something out there, just beyond our reach. A rabid panic that’s frothing after the unspoken and unattainable goal of How… To… Be… Better… NOW.

There is a lot of information on what to do when we have goals or habits we want to achieve, but the tricky part is how to actually doooo it.

A friend suggested that maybe I write a ‘How To’ blog. About something.

The thing is, that the list of things I know how to do is ummmm… It’s a short list.  Writing a blog on How to be a Smart-ass just didn’t seem overly practical. And besides, smart-assiness really seems to be more of a built-in trait, as opposed to something you hone.

One random thing I know is how how to do is ‘How to Dress for a Run‘. I’ve run in all the Manitoba weather.   All of it. And I know what to wear. I know it.

How do I know? From a million runs where I was either too cold, or too hot, or too slipping-and-falling-on–my-ass.

This is what I call a knowing. I don’t really have to think about it.  I’m confident in what I choose.  Do I still get it wrong sometimes? Sure. But not often.

But I don’t have a lot of knowings.

So maybe the best blog for me to write is a “What NOT to do.” Because I’ve done it all wrong at least once. If there’s a way to do it wrong, I’ll default to it – eating, parenting, friend stuff, work stuff, ANYTHING to do with housecleaning.

I don’t recommend it, BUT… Sometimes something has come from this.

Disclaimer: This is not intended as a substitute for medical advice. Or ANY advice. This is just what doesn’t work for me. You may need to find your own bad ideas.

The point is to pay attention, and start to know yourself. And even if you’re not paying attention, know that you will eventually just get too tired to care.  And it’s at that point, that you are probably in a good space to be shown something. 

And when you are, there is a chance that you catch a little glimpse of what is true for you.

There have been a lot of times where I grab a book or blog and think, “This is it. This is what will fix me.” It doesn’t really work that way.

But something in another’s story might catch my attention, as something that’s inside me, but I haven’t seen yet. Maybe just a glimpse. But it’s a start, and once you catch a glimpse, you are on your way to a knowing.

But don’t get too hung up on arriving at the knowing. I think there are very few things that we can know here on earth. Really KNOW. There is something freeing about being okay to just follow after the glimpse. See it once in a while. Sometimes maybe not for a long time.

I imagine that as we get older, we find more knowings. But for every knowing, we’ve probably let go of 100 things we thought we knew, or thought we needed to know.

Which might be a worthwhile trade.

Chronicles of Neubergthal: We Effed Up

So in early spring my daughter Maxine, and I purposed to attend as many of the ‘Thursdays in the Village‘ nights as we could.  We’ve been to a Weed Walk and Bread Making Workshop.  We listened as our First Nations neighbours to the east shared stories.  We sat in a circle listening to poetry and story-telling.  We learned how to felt wool and darn socks.  And mostly, we felt community.

So tonight we headed over for a fermentation, tea-making, something-something we don’t really care… We just like to learn new things and connect with people in an old-timey way.  And, when it boils right down to it, we like to do these mother-daughter things together.

After an omelette supper at my place (I am lazy), we left in separate vehicles to meet at the  Neubergthal Commons for the Wild Tea Fermentation, whatever it was…

Maxine arrived ahead of me.. Most of the events are held at the Altbergthal School.  There was her car.  And mine.  And that’s it.  No problem.  Sometimes they do stuff at the Community Centre, or the Friesen Housebarn.

I said, “Let’s check out the other places… if no one is there, let’s come back here and sit under the cottonwood… “

And here’s why I said that…

Last Sunday Maxine, and my brother Dave and his family, took some time to visit Geraldine Yvonne Mcmanus at Spirit of the Buffalo Camp and resistance against the Line 3 pipeline (near Gretna).  I have not been there, but here is something that Maxine shared about Geraldine.  She says, that Geraldine says that the trees are alive and they speak to us.  Her words were something like, “If you’re ever feeling angry or upset, go sit under a tree for an hour, and see how you feel.  You try it.  Just try it.”

This is how Maxine and I ended up on a Thursday evening, just the two of us, sitting under a giant cottonwood on a Thursday night in Neubergthal.  You couldn’t have asked for a more beautiful night.  The wind was warm, and if you know Cottonwoods, they have a special sound, even when you don’t think the wind is even moving.

We talked.  And we were silent.  We asked questions of God.  And we didn’t have answers.  But we have seen signs.  And we were okay with it.  And we cried.  Well, I cried.

And for crying out loud, eventually one of us really had to pee.  And guess who of the over-forty, having had several children one of us was going to have real issues if we didn’t think of something soon.

As far as we could see, we (by we, I mean, I) had one of two options.  I could head out behind the barn and hope for the best (but apparently, behind the barn was quite open to the neighbouring volley ball court.)  Or I could ask one of the neighbours.

We opted for a neighbour because with iPhones and social media these days, you just never know… And the LAST thing me and my kids need is a picture of my lily-white behind plastered all over Instagram.

So we headed over to some place that looked like someone was at home.  And of course we could use their bathroom… And of course we were invited to sit on the porch.. And we went through all the essentials of who my parents are, and if my dad is still farming…

And after a while, another couple, out for a walk, showed up… And more lawn chairs were set up to accommodate…  And there were deep discussions on who came from where, and how all the ‘problems’ of Neubergthal were solved on this porch…

And because we came from west of Hiway 30, were we the types who put fruit on their vereniki?  I explained that we generally did NOT put fruit on our vereniki, but my mom would try to sneak some in sometimes and we ate them, and secretly thought that was okay, even though we were officially opposed.

Darkness fell and the neighbours figured it was time to go home, so Maxine and I decided it was time to leave, too.  I said I had left my car keys on a picnic table and we joked about how they’d get stolen.  As if.

But when Maxine and I lingered at the Commons, chatting and saying goodnight, our bathroom reprieve host drove his truck over to see if maybe I actually wasn’t able to find my keys…  He just wanted to make sure we were okay.

We were.

This is the Village of Neubergthal.  And this is many folks in all corners of the place where I live.

And maybe the trees speak.  They did tonight.  I heard them as I sat with Maxine, and as we sat with the neighbours.  I don’t know how to describe Kindness that is felt in someone who invites you, a stranger, to sit.  Or checks on you to see if you found your keys.

It’s not forced.  It just is.

Our host on Thursday nights often says that he believes that the people who show up to a thing, are the ones who were meant to be there.  I think tonight was no different.

Neubergthal Culture Day is September 15th.  They will host music, seminars and and artisan market.  Andrew J. Bergman of “The Daily Bonnet” will be there (I want a freaking autograph), as well as The Letkeman Brothers.

We’ve been there the past two years.  It’s beautiful.  It’s fall.  It’s our heritage.

Chronicles of Neubergthal: Darn/Knit Workshop

First off, I am tremendously appreciative of the clever title of this workshop.  But I have to confess that there was an exact moment during the evening where I actually caught on to it.

Darn/Knit.  Darn. Knit.  Darnit.  DARNIT!!!!  I’m sure my eyes got wide as the realization overtook me.  I know — when it comes to smarts, I’m often half a bubble off plumb.

On a July Thursday in the Village, Anna-Marie of Reclaim Mending was on hand to walk us through basic hand stitches on how to mend a sock.  A real sock!  With a real hole!

I have heard of darning, but I didn’t think anyone did it anymore.  Also, I thought you had to be a master needler (there’s probably a better word), to do it.

As it turns out, people DO still do it, and you DON’T have to be a master needler.  I don’t think that’s actually a thing.

I snooped around Anna-Marie’s website and found her super-happy picture, and read about her memories of her grandmother, her love of sewing and creativity.  I read of her dedication to justice surrounding issues of fair and ethical fashion, as well the environmental effects of consumerism.

Which are EXACTLY the same things that were important to our Mennonite forebearers who also made a priority of mending things, or buying used.  Making things last.

There were about a dozen of us sitting around the table.  We’d all brought something broken — most of us brought socks, or a T-shirt.  We were learning to darn.  I was mildly disappointed at the lack of cussing puns, but we were all reasonably polite company so I held back.

As per usual, our host asked us to go around the table and introduce ourselves, say where we’re from, what brought us here.  A few folks around the table darned regularly, and wanted to improve, or share what they knew.  Most of us had never darned, except in the cussing sense.  Personally, I came for my usual reason — to learn something new and to be around people who love what they are doing.

As we stitched away, we shared stories and laughs and I realized that this is why people in the olden days had sewing circles.  Or more recently it might have been known as a Stitch ‘n’ B!#ch.  It was good community.

I have a lot of memories of my maternal grandmother.  She was an excellent (except a stronger word) seamstress, knitter, needle-pointer.  All the cloth-y things.

I remember her setting me up with some needle point on a hoop.  And I worked on it so carefully, only to find that I had stitched it to my pyjamas.  She tried teaching me to knit, and it was tricky because I was left-handed.  But I managed to eek out this square of knitting — the beginnings of a scarf, so I thought.  When I showed it to her, she noticed a mistake, and so she took it all apart so I could start over.  Yeah.  I was disappointing.

We have largely lost (or left) the art of fixing things.  Busy lives, consumerism, keeping up with the Joneses — it all pushes us more and more towards a throw-away culture.  So much of what’s on the market has been designed to break, or wear out quickly.  If it can even out-last our craving for the next ‘better’ thing.

But not that Thursday in the Village at Darn/Knit night!!  That Thursday we were inspired to try something new, look at our clothes and our purchases, and ourselves differently.  We were taught a skill, and we discovered another thing we were capable of.

Anna-Marie talked about kintsukuroi, the Japanese art of ‘repairing pottery with gold or silver,’ and understanding that the piece is more beautiful for having been broken.  That there is beauty in a repair — a patch, some darning, or some golden glue if you’ve got it.

This is good news for those of us who feel like we’re just barely holding our broken pieces together.  Or we feel like we’ve got some loss, some gaping hole that leaves us exposed and cold.  Or we’re afraid that if we ever do get those pieces back together, it’ll still just be a mess.  But maybe it will be like threads, carefully laced together.  Beautiful.

Anna-Marie did say that there are some holes too big, some damage too extensive.  These items can’t be darned.  There’s just not enough of what’s left to hold it together.  That happens too, and maybe they could have been tended to sooner.  But they weren’t.  And so we need to find another way.

I don’t know how many of us will continue on with what we learned… I haven’t actually totally finished my sock… DARNIT!!!!  (ok, I’ll stop)

But maybe we can take the time we had in the village, and let it shift something inside us.  Help us think twice about what we need.  Think twice about what we buy, how it was made, how it affects society and the earth.  Think twice before throwing something out.

And maybe don’t be too quick to write ourselves off, either.

Chronicles of Neubergthal: Weed Walk

 

weed  noun  \ˈwēd\ :  a plant that is not valued where it is growing and is usually of vigorous growth  (Merriam-Webster)

Personally, I like the description on the Neubergthal Heritage site that describes a weed as simply, a wild plant.

If you walk down any country road in summer, you can come across some of the prettiest flowers you’ll ever see, growing wild.  Some of these are technically weeds, I suppose.  But no one would argue their beauty.

A few weeks ago, Thursdays in the Village hosted a ‘Weed Walk with Laura Reeves of Prairie Shore Botanicals’.  Laura is a botanist with over 20 years experience.  She received her BSc. (Botany) from the University of Manitoba in 1997.  Listening to her is speak is fascinating.  She has a wealth of information on wild plants; but to me, even more fascinating is her natural curiosity about the living world.  She spoke about the different plants she has tried in different forms — teas, flours, meal.  She speaks in a way that feels as though she is simply driven to see what happens…

To be clear, she absolutely did stress the importance of knowing what you’re eating.  And she also did say that stinging nettle is edible (wait, what??!!), and completely handle-able, if you know how to do it.  Maybe don’t quote me on that, I wasn’t writing stuff down.

As she spoke, she was so excited about everything.  And it made me wonder, what draws someone to this?  What is it in a person that causes them to look at a weed and think, “I wonder how that would taste in a cupcake?”  And how is this urge strong enough to actually try it?  And then build a business around it?

Does everyone have this?  I don’t think everyone is necessarily drawn to be a weed gourmet.  But I think everyone is drawn to something.  Something that catches our attention, and lights this little flame of curiosity and interest to try it out!  And try it again.  And even when it doesn’t work, to try it in a different way.  Laura spoke of cookies that tasted like fish, and of her body being pretty annoyed after eating too much of something.  But that just seemed to be chalked up to experience, and even the opportunity to adjust your taste buds to see if maybe fish cookies aren’t so bad?

As a farmer’s daughter, I would have said that weeds served one purpose:  Battle.  And that’s fair. My dad’s daily battle with weeds kept a roof over our heads and even the odd luxury like a Sony Walkman, or a trip to Mexico.  I don’t mean the sandy beaches kind of Mexico.  More like the Chihuahua-destined road trip to visit ‘frindchoff’.

The weed walk didn’t necessarily tell me that we should push for some kind of trade embargo on Treflan.  But it did show me how to look at things differently.  Who decides what’s a weed?  What makes a plant ‘unwanted’?

I don’t think I’m especially drawn to weed harvesting.  But I was drawn to her excitement and curiosity and adventurous nature.  We might not all have the same gifts, but Thursdays in Neubergthal give me the gift of happiness and openness to try new things.

Some of us have been told that our gifts and interests are weeds.  Unwanted, faulty, fruitless — choking out some of the more saintly gifts.

As a society we are often quick to over-value some things, and under-value others, especially our own individuality.  What if finding our groove isn’t selfish?  What if it doesn’t matter so much what our groove is, as long as we run with it?  What if we’re supposed to run with it?

What’s the thing that fascinated you as a kid (or adult)?  Animals?  Engines?  Time Travel?  Samurai swords?

Were you told it was weird, or a waste of time?  Did it get stifled by convention or practicality?  Maybe we can’t all build a career around our interests, but we can all carve out a chunk of our lives to pursue them.

One of the best things I’ve ever read is a quote by Howard Thurman, “Don’t ask what the world needs.  Ask what makes you come alive, and go do it.  Because what the world needs is people who have come alive.”

This is what we experience every week in Neubergthal.  People who have found their thing, and come alive in it.  It is energizing to be around people who love what they do.

Take a look at what you love — Weeds?  Running?  Baking? Juggling?  Don’t be too quick to dismiss it.

Find that thing.  Do that thing.  And share it, even if it’s only with one other person.  Even if it’s only with your dog, or your diary.

Don’t listen to the voice that tells you it doesn’t have value — even if sometimes that voice is yours.