This evening is in a way a day of closings. It’s the end of the week, and the end of the 2010 Winter Olympics in Vancouver. I think our television has been on almost nonstop for 17 days now. And it’s been good seeing our Canadian athletes doing so well. 14 gold medals, more than any country has ever won in any winter Olympics. I think the early glitches of the games were pretty much forgotten as we showed the world how we party at home. People in the street spontaneously singing the national anthem? That’s pretty remarkable for any country anywhere, I’d say. And of course, we made sure to remind the world that hockey is our game. I might have over-tweeted that point, but there it is. Here we are being Canadian… thoroughly proud to the core of all our athletes who scored a podium finish, and feeling sorry for those who didn’t, whether those others are Canadian or not.
The day began with “Family Church” or “Kids’ Church” wherein those from our home fellowship who have young kids get together to do something as families, usually involving a meal and some teaching for the kids. We started with French toast with blueberries or apples and cinnamon with whipped cream and some Olympic highlight viewing on television. We’ve been building a timeline on a huge scroll — we began in September with creation, and are now up to the crucifixion and resurrection, taking the entire Bible chronologically. Today we used the Easter Mnemonics that we’ve done before with the kids for Easter. We’ll come back to the exercise when it’s actually Easter, but for now we need to move on in our timeline. At least we timed Christmas to hit the right timeframe. After doing that, the kids drew their illustrations on the big scroll.
We had time in the afternoon to go for a nice walk down the La Salle river and back before settling in for lunch and an epic hockey game. Saying too much about that would be impossible for some and redundant for others, but it was a good game for the spectators followed I think by a countrywide party.
This evening before the closing ceremony for the Olympics started, I stepped out to St. Benedicts Table for the Sunday evening meeting. So often on Sunday evenings it feels like it’s been a long day and there on the verge of what often promises to be a long week ahead. Especially during the winter months, it’s rare to feel like going out — in today’s case after having just gotten home not long before. This Sunday evening however, we were marking the completion of Beautiful Mercy: A Book of Hours, a project of St. Ben’s that’s been more than a year in the making. My own contribution was a meditation for Vespers during Christmastide. The book provides artistic contributions (writing, artwork, music) directed at the seven daily offices, one set for each of the seasons in the church calendar. So yes, there’s another book out with a contribution of mine in it.
The official launch is set for this Tuesday evening at McNally Robinson in the Prairie Ink cafe at Grant Park in Winnipeg. This format allows for not only some readings, but also performances from some of the musical contributors, including Mike Koop, Gord Johnson, and Steve Bell. A Winnipeg Free Press story gives more detail on the project, and I’d encourage anyone in the area to come down for the launch on Tuesday. The price of the book may sound a little steep, but it’s an exceptional volume — handsomely bound in a simple cloth hardcover with full colour glossy pages throughout, and includes a CD of the music that accompanies certain entries to make it a multimedia project.
So that’s what got me out to St. Ben’s tonight… I’ve been anxious to actually get my hands on a copy of the book. I overcame that feeling where you want to be in a certain place but don’t have the energy to get yourself there — which usually means you don’t get off the couch. And I was sitting in my pew thinking about this, and about how it feels as though you’ve entered a space as you take this time on a Sunday evening at St. Ben’s. It’s a space that’s created, carved out of the week’s calendar as a protected space where outside cares and concerns are not allowed to intrude. And in this space, you have a brief spiritual encounter that by transcending time and space will somehow sustain you through the week ahead by reminding you that a space like this is more accessible than we realize.
A short while later I came to the realization that one of the week’s texts was from Matthew 23, and Jamie Howison was talking about how a hen protects her chicks, and this imagery came back to me of how sacred space is protected for the God-encounters we need so badly to sustain us.
Later still was a quote from Calvin Seerveld comparing an offering of art to the worship of Mary as she poured perfume on Jesus’ feet. Art is important, which was a reassuring reminder for our book launch. If I can get my hands on a copy of this quote, I’ll post it… it struck me as profound.