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May 26, 2010

Boldly going where… well, not so boldly… but going…

Filed under: Uncategorized — Anne Hines @ 11:25 am

In every life, we are offered opportunities that have the potential to transform us entirely. Usually these experiences come in the form of a challenge, maybe look like an obstacle. Always, they are events that require us to dig deep inside for sources of strength we didn’t know we possessed, act with a fearlessness we didn’t realize ourselves capable of and cause us to cry out, “I will do this thing or I will… well, not do it.” And when these moments of challenge, of transformation of opportunity occur there is only one thing we can hope for. That if we keep quiet and do nothing it will all go away.

It’s this kind of life challenge I’m contemplating this morning. I’m sitting on the floor of my tiny city house, in my tiny city workroom surrounded by mounds of packing boxes. This weekend, after nine years of study and practice, I’m being ordained as a minister in the United Church of Canada. And then, my church is shipping me off to Lucky Lake.

It is the practice of my church to send first-time ministers to places that can’t otherwise get a pastor. Now, pause and think about this for a moment.

First time charges are churches that are so desperate to get a worship leader, they’re prepared to take someone who has only recently learned how to conduct a baptism without coming dangerously close to drowning the baby. The practice doll I was given in class (yes, we really do this) was pronounced “most likely to not survive the service” by the rest of my classmates. First time ministers are also famous for having taken many courses on The Process Theology of Saint Paul but not having a clue how to fill out the forms for new congregational members. We can read scripture in the original Biblical Hebrew but some of us have no experience in talking to someone who’s wife, mother, father or friend is dying. In other words, the reasons we are sent to places that can’t otherwise get a minister is, simply, they’re prepared to take us and teach us. So while we hope to be a gift to them, their patience, care and experience will almost certainly be a gift to us.

I am being sent to Lucky Lake, Saskatchewan. Lucky Lake is west of Regina. A few weeks ago I was only vaguely aware that there was anything west of Regina. In my world, middle and western Canada has consisted of Toronto, places slightly outside that still look like Toronto, then… um… and then Calgary where my sister, Kathryn, lives and Vancouver where my friend, Marni, lives. About a month ago, I suddenly became aware that, in fact, in the middle of all of that, west of Regina and south of Saskatoon is Lucky Lake, Saskatchewan. Which is next to Beechy, Saskatchewan. And not so far from Birsay, Saskatchewan. Each of which has a church that needs a minister. Which, come July 1, is me.

You can see a video of the main street of Lucky Lake on U-tube. It takes about two minutes. Which I believe is about a minute and a half longer than an actual tour of the main street of Lucky Lake. It is not a large place. A friend pointed out yesterday that the population of Lucky Lake is about equal to the number of people shoved into five city buses during rush hour. The only upside to hearing this is realizing that, for a whole three years that I’m there, I won’t have to be one of the people shoved into a city bus during rush hour. This is an appealing idea.

I must admit however that I am daunted. By “daunted” I mean I am “freaked out, terrified out of my mind and can’t believe this is happening to me.” I’m a city girl. Mind you, I’m slightly more country-savvy than a friend who, after hearing where I was going, called to say, “I looked on a map of Saskatchewan, but I couldn’t find Rural anywhere!”

Of course as soon as my friends and neighbours heard what had happened they hurried over with only one thought in mind. To make it worse. One neighbour, who grew up in Moose Jaw eyed my Smart Car. “You taking that?” I said no, I was planning to buy something larger. “Well good,” she replied. “Because we have mosquitoes bigger than that.” Another friend, who hails from Swift Current , SK, scoffed, “Mosquitoes? Forget it. You won’t even notice the mosquitoes.” … thank goodness… “You’ll be too busy fighting off the grasshoppers.”

While I am moving to Lucky Lake, my partner Liz is staying here. Liz is used to the amenities of city life… like employment. So, on June 25, we’ll drive out together and she’ll fly back on July 4.

I keep telling people who ask, “What the heck do you have to move to Lucky Lake, Saskatchewan for?” that I’m going to do God’s work. At least I trust I am. Though, truthfully, there seems to be a whole lot of God’s work to be done right here or at least within commuting distance of my spouse, house, friends and family.

But the fact is, sometimes we’re required to venture forth in order to grow our souls. Venturing forth can be an inside-us thing, like confronting a fear or opening our hearts and minds to love more widely, more bravely. But it can also be an outside thing, that voice of adventure calling us leave behind what we know and what we place around us to make us comfortable, to explore new worlds and learn new ways of being. I think moving to Lucky Lake, Saskatchewan will, for me, be both. At least I hope so.

So, I am going to be a United Church minister in Lucky Lake, Saskatchewan. And in Beechy, Saskatchewan. And in Birsay, Saskatchewan. The universe is holding out to me one of those rare, grand, precious and terrifying opportunities to be transformed or, at least, to know the world in myself in another way. And I am taking it. If anyone wants to buy a 2006 Smart with low mileage and a sun roof, let me know. I’m heading out to grow my soul. And it appears I’ll be needing 4-wheel drive to do it.

COMING SOON:

I’m moving to Lucky Lake, SK, but Liz is staying here. With all of our furniture. So, I’ve begun
The Great Furniture Scrounge.

Are there depths of beg/borrow and stealing I won’t stoop to? Can I talk my next-door neighbour out of her living room couch? Do you really need the office chair you’re sitting on or could you bring it by my house tonight?

This and more… next week…

Cheers to all,

Anne

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