Yes I have a heart. I've been tested.

Yesterday morning very early, I was on the road to the hospital for a "test." One of these hoops the medical profession make you jump through so that they can find whats going on in the invisible insides of you. Having tests have long ceased to be a part of my life and apart from some early childhood health issues, I've been puttering along quiet nicely thank you very much. In fact I was proud of the fact that I was not on any medications of any sort. But that's a hill I need to die on, figuratively I might add. :)

Anyway after an hour drive and some change of clothes I was led into a darkened room and lay on a table where I underwent an ultrasound.

Comedy Randall wanted to take a pic of the ultrasound screen and pop the ultrasound results up on Social Media and ask for possible names. Comedy Randall noticed that the target of the ultrasound, my heart, didn't look like a heart at all. I wondered how Hallmark had hoodwinked us all into a different version of what a heart may look like. That was a huge branding success.  Of course funny Randall wanted to make comments to his evangelical friends that he saw no Jesus in there and what would that mean.

But as the 30 minutes continued on and I got past the comedic posturing I became sort of awe inspired by this muscle inside my chest that has been pumping and beating and keeping me alive for 53 years! Thats crazy. This thing inside of my chest that I was seeing on a screen for the first time, is the one thing that keeps me going, keeps me alive. There are no redundancies built in, this is it.

That really silenced my comedic thinking and the true awe-ness of it all just settled on me in a good appreciative way that made me feel deep gratitude. Then things in my head took another turn. I realized that the thing I was seeing on the screen pumping and moving in rhythm would one day just stop. Stop. Be done and done for good. Now that was kinda deeply moving. I get pretty used to this body just carrying on as it has done in the past. Used to it in ways that don't let me think about what it will be like when the physical parts just stop doing what they are doing. But seeing the physical plant and activity needed to keep me moving and breathing made me realize that there is really and truly a pump down in my chest that's keeping me alive, and that pump shall one day be done - worn out, kaput.  Well that was quite a downer, in a good thoughtful way though.

People much smarter than I am have written and thought much about us as beings. That yes we do have a physical body and physical dimension to us, but that the larger part of us, the truer part of us is in some form, spirit.

This physical plant I live in, though it is amazingly and wonderfully made, is but a small portion of who Randall Friesen is.  I think there are ways that we can see that even if we don't believe in a God who loves us. Things of eternity and intimacy, things of the human will and the power of desire and the greater power of love. There are things at work here that are simply not to be seen or found in any ultrasound or body scan. Things not even of the physical brain that can get ill and die, but things of the spirit that remain with us even after mental or physical illness.

These are the questions that force us if we are honest, to ask and look and search for more to this life than what we see in the mirror or on an ultrasound screen. But we must be honest in our searching and pursuing, because if we are not, we begin to lie to ourselves and when we do that, we will believe any little thing we tell ourselves. Then we lose our way.

No, there's more to this all than just blood and skin and a 53 year old heart that may or may not need some attention. I believe this life is all about honestly searching for those answers, and if we search with integrity and simplicity, Hope and Peace and Love will be found.

After forty five minutes of scanning and some personal deep revealing thoughts, I got up and got dressed and headed back to the field with a much greater appreciation for this domicile the God of Hope and Peace and Love has given me to inhabit for all these years.

Christmas Wonder and Der Friedensfürst

When Lauralea and I were living in Aylmer Ontario and we were serving in the lay pastoral ministry there at the Aylmer EMM Church, Christmas season was full of wonder.

At that time the worship there was a mix of High and Low German and English and Lauralea and I loved being in the church choir because these people knew how to sing. Each year in December the choir director would have us turn to the Advent and Christmas songs in the Gesangbuch and we would practice and prepare for the season.

However, there was one song that was reserved for Christmas morning, Der Friedensfürst (Prince of Peace). At the end of the Christmas morning worship service the hundreds who had gathered knew what was coming. Anyone who knew the song was invited up to the choir loft to sing along that great seasonal mennonite anthem. Some years it seemed as though most of the congregation came up and joined us to worship in song. The first notes would be played by the pianist and off we would go.

Singing that song was an experience of the Spirit and of worship, and I knew that because I didn't even mentally understand all of the german words I was singing. There was deep wonder there that this Prince of Peace came for us all, even for me and we were freed to worship with all of our hearts and voices. And worship we did.

Yes, wonder was there.

This was a bit of what it was like.

When the snow costs something

Winter has come to the field and this time I fear, it may be for the winter.
There are still friends here who have hundreds of thousands of dollars of crops still out there beneath the snow and ice. That's hard to watch.
And the value of many crops have been driven lower and lower so that even with the crops that were harvested, they are getting less and less return on their product.
It's a year I am glad I'm not a farmer.

But tonight it looks quite beautiful out there.

Welcome winter. I hope you are nasty enough to kill off many many mice, but gentle enough for those of us who need to be out in you not to suffer much.

Vacation. Last Day.

The first two weeks of vacation were really quiet enjoyable.
Hillary is in a new place in downtown Winnipeg which meant lots of good walking and city life.
Visiting with friends and old mentors was really great.

Thomas and Terri Lynn are just starting to create a life together in Saskatoon that will, I suspect, be a blessing to many many people in the years to come.
It was really good to spend time with mom and the siblings in Saskatoon. And fun to be in that place as they voted in a new mayor and city hall. (Yes, I said politics can be fun.)

It was turning into quite a good vacation.
And then I got the flu.

After eight humbling days with the flu, I was pretty much willing to go to the Doctor. That was yesterday. That turned into a day of many blood tests and x-rays, urine donations and electrocardiograms. Today the Doctor wanted to see me. There are some things we need to look at and work on, but I should live a while longer.

And... tomorrow we are back to work.

I say that in spite of the flu that came to stay for the long visit, it was a good break. I'm ready to get back at it. I've learned some lessons and thought some things through. I've seen some new ways to work and gained some new perspectives.

So here we go tomorrow.
And here's to another good year in this field.

Vacation. Last Day.

Vacation. Day Two.

1. I started to play again today.

The church I serve has been changing over the past while and its changing for the better. It's becoming  a church of people with honest life struggles, some of which look to have no easy answers. So this year has been much busier for me and one of the ways I can tell that is that my Ham Radio logbook hasn't had a new entry since before christmas.

Amateur radio is one of the ways I play and have some fun. But I haven't really played with that in a long long time.

But today I finally got my 2-meter Kenwood radio installed in the van and that was fun. Now I can play while on the road. That's great, a good start.

2. I was contacted to write a Christmas piece for a denominational magazine.

This, is cool and a good challenge for me.
I enjoy writing but that discipline has really sort of dried up for me in the past years. My Spiritual Director has been inviting me to re-engage and consider this part of my life again and I am excited by the possibilities.

So then this invitation came today. Pretty encouraging opportunity.

Day two. Check.