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December 20, 2010

“Prairie Christmas” fromToronto Star. Sunday, December 19, 2010.

Filed under: Uncategorized — Anne Hines @ 11:24 pm

Christmas in rural Saskatchewan. Here in Lucky Lake (pop. 275) our tiny village is dressed for the holidays in crisp new snow. Frost on trees glitters like twinkle lights in the clear prairie sunshine. It’s a Hallmark-greeting-card perfect vision in white. But I, I must admit, am feeling a little  blue.

A few months ago, I moved from downtown Toronto to serve as a United Church of Canada minister. Being clergy of any kind isn’t easy. When I worked in retail, my job description was clear. Sell stuff. If I managed to do this without anyone yelling at me, I exceeded expectations. As a writer, the bar of success was set at “write something.” This was also clear. Though not always achievable. But as a minister, job success is now defined as “do good things.’ Some days I’m not sure what that is.

The fact is, I now live with the most self-sufficient people in the world. By the time I visit someone sick, they’ve already entertained twelve relatives, sixteen neighbours and every one of them has brought soup.

And, I learned quickly that my world is not their world. For one of my first church services I hit on the bright idea of demonstrating the interconnectedness of humankind by bringing in a world map and a variety of foods from different places. I would have the children show on the map where each food comes from. I confidently held up the first item. “Where does cheese come from?” Jesse, aged eight, raised his hand, Saskatchewan.

Me: Well… or Holland.

Jesse: It comes from Saskatchewan.

Me: Some cheese comes from Holland.

Jesse: My grandma makes cheese. She comes from Moose Jaw.

We then went through rice cakes (northern Saskatchewan), salami (the Pajunen family farm), perogie (Audrey Weir’s house) and sauerkraut (every single woman living within a forty mile radius).

By the time we were done, I had managed to demonstrate that all food comes from rural Saskatchewan… and that ministers from big cities know nothing.

All this means that I often wonder what I have to offer people here. Which is too bad, because in a short space of time I’ve come to love and admire these folk immensely. What can I give them that counts as a “good thing”.

Then, I hit on a perfect plan. A Christmas Eve service in a local barn.

Mary and Joseph would arrive at the farmhouse, Mary astride an actual donkey. The homeowner, following the Bible story, would play the innkeeper, pronouncing that there was no room for them inside and sending them to the barn for shelter. It would be magical. Bethlehem meets rural Saskatchewan. It would show people here their world in an entirely different way. The only problem was, once again I didn’t realize where I was.

I arrived at the home of Barb Moebis, who had kindly lent her farm for the event, and proceeded to rehearse Barb on her role as “innkeeper.”

Me: So, Mary and Joesph arrive at your door. You know what to do.

Barb: I invite them in.

Me: No, you send them to the barn.

Barb: But I invite them into the house first, right?

Me: You don’t invite them in.

Barb: Likely they’ll want some dinner. Or a warm coat.

Me: No dinner. No coat. And no telling them you think you know their cousins in Regina either.

Barb: So, just give them a little snack then.

Me: No snack. There’s no snacking in the Bible. There’s manna, but that’s a whole different thing.

We finally compromised. Mary and Joseph will ask for room at the inn. Barb will send them away in a stern voice. But first, she’ll tuck a packet of homemade biscuits and a thermos of coffee into Mary’s lap.

As I left the farm, I have to admit I felt a certain defeat. These are wonderful, warm people for whom doing good thingscomes as easily as breathing. Or knowing when it’s OK to drive your snowmobile up Main Street. What could I possibly have to offer?

I stopped at the post office for mail and news. A clutch of older men were standing around planning the success of their beloved Rough Riders in 2011. One man stopped me, “I heard you’re doing some kind of thing in a barn,” he said. I nodded half-heartedly. “Well, that’ll be interesting,the man mused. It’s been a long while since I was in a barn and didn’t have to do chores.”

It wasn’t much. But it was something. And when Christmas Eve comes and I stand outside Barb’s house crossing my fingers that she doesn’t insist Mary, Joseph and the entire watching audience come in for “a little something” I will cling to the fact that I gave people a chance to… well, maybe to see their own world in a slightly different way. Which of course is what they give me every moment.

October 16, 2010

Howdy Pardner! and a SK primer from Toronto Star newspaper, October 10, 2010

Filed under: Uncategorized — Anne Hines @ 2:31 pm

Greetings again from God’s country!

As I write today, the sky above my house is filled with snow geese making their twice daily journey from the marsh north of town to the cleared fields to feed. Line upon line of geese cross so close overhead I can hear the beat of their wings. On Main Street one day last week I had to pause in mid-conversation due to the din of their honking. It’s an awesome event every time.

Our local fisherman/hunter/hell-raiser/heart-of-gold import from the US, Terry Shaughnessy shoots geese and serves them up at community suppers each Tuesday night. So far we’ve been treated to spagetti with wild-goose sauce, wild-goose Tex Mex meatloaf and we’re looking foward to wild goose cutlets this week. No five star city restaurant turns out more delicious meals than Shaughnessy serves up to some 200 people each week, and he does it all in aid of local charities.

I’m working, writing, preaching, visiting and feeling blessed to be living amid wide open spaces, fresh air and warm-hearted folk. I’ve ridden on a combine, bought a cowboy hat and joined in conversations about whether shooting a moose that’s wandered into town is still good sportsmanship or if you have to shoo him into a field for it to “count.” Strangely, while the question of what was sporting was hotly contested, no one seemed troubled by any possible safety issue that might be involved.

I’ve been too busy to blog (please see list of preaching, visiting, participating in moose-related discussions etc. above… ) but did recently contribute a piece to the Toronto Star which I offer below.

Cheers till next time and may all your wheat be grade A!

Anne-of-the-prairies Hines

(From Toronto Star, October 10, 2010)
Today, I’m musing about that old saying, “You never know where you’re going until you get there.” Last May, I was happily living in Toronto. Then, I was ordained as a United Church minister and our head office determined that since I have decades of experience living and working in a major city, the best place to post me would be small-town Saskatchewan. In a few short months I’ve gone from “Hey, there’s a parking space!” To, “Hey, there’s a car!”

My friends were concerned. One called insisting, “I checked the population of this place you’re going to. There isn’t one.” This is not quite true. Lucky Lake, Saskatchewan has almost 300 people. The town motto is, I’m told, “Lucky Lake. We’re not the middle of nowhere, but you can sure see it from here.”

My new ‘hood is certainly a change from Toronto, but if you look for the positives in any situation you’re bound to find them. So far, my list includes:
1
2 *Lucky Lake, Saskatchewan is almost never likely to be chosen to host a G20 summit.
3 *You can drive your car for an hour here and actually get an hour from your house.
4 *Then, there’s the question of air quality. We have it.

And while the learning curve has been steep, I’ve now got a little local knowledge to share with anyone ready to trade in reasonable cell phone coverage and take-out lattes for breathtaking quiet and a big- screen sky.

A trip to the bank, post office or grocery store takes the same amount of time here as in the city. Not because you’re standing in line but because you’re stopping to chat. There are no friendlier, nicer people anywhere. The height of incivility is to pass someone on the street without waving. I have finally mastered the art of the two-digit-finger-raise while driving which means I am no longer gesturing wildly from my car causing passersby to wonder if I’m having a seizure.

When visiting, it is considered polite to enter by the back door. I don’t know why this is. Every house has a front door but they are used so rarely you’d think they would have evolved out of them by now.

If you wake up at 4:30 on a summer morning and hear the crop dusting plane roaring six inches over your house, you know it’s going to be sunny. Otherwise, there’s no need for a weather report. Just look across the prairie and see what’s coming at you.

In Saskatchewan they play many sports but there’s only one Team. “Go Riders” is an entirely appropriate phrase to use as a greeting, farewell, indication of general goodwill, or condolence for the loss of a loved one, aimed at focusing the attention of those left behind on what really matters.

The Team is never, ever losing. They are “just not winning yet.” Lately, they have been “not winning yet” by a long shot.

You do not joke about The Team. A couple weeks ago I asked in our local Co-op whether, given how poorly they had played that day, Rider merchandise was now on sale. I now know that this is not funny.

The only thing rural Saskatchewanians take almost as seriously as The Team is politics. A recent local obituary read, “Our dad loved prairies sunsets and watching Conservative politicians go to jail.”

Driving in rural Saskatchewan requires a certain amount of flexibility about what is considered a road. A road is, “Any surface you can drive your car over without actually damaging the wheel base or getting stuck so bad that someone’s Cousin Ed can’t tow you out attached to the back of his combine.” This includes, but is not limited to, dirt paths, lawns, pasture and mud flats. It also includes the many farming grid roads where a popular summer pass-time is fishing tourists out of the ditch who hit the gravel too fast.

A highway is “any surface made of any material that has a line drawn down the middle of it.” There are also roads designated for “seasonal” use. Having driven several of these, I’m hard pressed to say what season they’re for. So far I’ve ruled out spring, summer and early fall.

All directions are given in miles. All car odometers are, of course, in kilometres. GPS will be useful here the minute they can be programmed to locate, “The farm Don Erikson had before the second to last time the Jenson’s shed caught fire.”

The pluck that keeps folk here driving like rockets down “nearly a road” is the same spirit they bring to the rest of life. Recently, I commented to a farmer about the devastating amount of rain that’s fallen on rural Saskatchewan lately. He smiled, “Oh well, it doesn’t do any good to complain.” This was not a philosophy I have been acquainted with. Local wisdom goes, if you want to make sure money, forget farming and head for the casino. You’ve got a better chance.

When it comes to meals, timing is everything. Dinner is what you eat at noon. Supper is what you have around 6 PM. Lunch refers to any food eaten at any time that is not dinner or supper. Unless you’re in a city such as Saskatoon or Regina, in which case dinner is at 6PM, lunch is at noon and supper doesn’t exist.

Everyone here cooks, bakes, cans, pickles, plucks and preserves. Everyone shares. One of our local hunters even brought me roasted crane. It tasted like steak. Soon Canada Goose hunting season starts. In the city, we could only dream.

Are there downsides for me here? I miss my partner, Liz, who stayed behind in Toronto. She’s used to the luxuries of big city life. Like employment. And last night, I was sitting at home thinking, “I am 50 years old, living thousands of miles from everyone I love, in a house I don’t own, eating leftover crane. This is not really how I saw my life working out.”

Then, I slathered a neighbour’s cucumber jam onto someone else’s fresh baked rolls, walked outside and was treated to one of those spectacular prairie sunsets. Sometimes the middle of nowhere is a pretty fine place to be.

July 9, 2010

Greetings from God’s Country!

Filed under: Uncategorized — Anne Hines @ 11:57 am

I’ve arrived in Lucky Lake, Saskatchewan and can honestly say I love it here. The people are lovely, the praries are breathtaking. Of course it’s so green here this year folk are calling it “Little Ireland.” No flooding where I am, just miles and miles of glorious scenary.

On top of all that, two days ago I had an epiphany. I suddenly realized the reason for ten year old boys.

Having known many ten year old boys, I confess I’d been a bit foggy on this in the past. In the years I taught Sunday school, for example, I recall trying to referee a staging of the Easter story featuring Christ’s Walk To The Cross in which every male ten year old participant wanted to be a court solider and no one wanted to be Jesus. The upside of this is that at least it shows that they knew the story.

The reason the boys wanted to be soldiers of course is that they’d get to hold spears. Or something that looked a little like a spear. Or something that didn’t look like a spear at all but which, if used to poke the small girl in front of them who was pretending to be the grief stricken mother of God she would spout real tears and it would be very satisfying.

No one wanted to be Jesus. I finally coaxed little Raymond Mooney into the role on the condition that Jesus would also get to carry a spear. At that point, the theology of the Easter story started to get a little murky.

But two days ago, it suddenly hit me why we really and truly do need ten year old boys.

I am now ensconced in my new parish in Lucky Lake, Saskatchewan. Liz and I arrived in Lucky Lake just over a week ago to find the manse full of church ladies cleaning. As we walked to the door I heard one lady say, “Oh look, here comes the minister!” and I looked around to see who she meant. This was not an auspicious beginning.

Eleven days, one funeral, a health care centre service, some pastoral visiting, my first committee meeting and having filled out all necessary documents to now be a resident of SK, however, I’m feeling quite settled in my new charge. Yes, living in a small centre is a change from a big city. In a few days I’ve gone from saying, “Look! There’s a parking space!” to “Look! There’s a car!” I find I no longer bother flipping on the weather channel. Here, we just gaze a hundred miles down the prairie and see what’s coming at us. And, I’ve learned how long I can expect a car in SK to stay clean. As a rule, the front end will be covered by a thin layer of dust before the back side has actually left the car wash.

I’ve already learned how to do a proper two-fingers-raised greeting to fellow motorists. My first efforts to be properly friendly involved waving frantically as other cars passed which, this being Saskatchewan, led more than one person to pull over to help, concerned that I was obviously having a seizure.

There are challenges to my new life. I’m waiting for a new fridge to come because the one now was originally purchased, I believe, by someone in the time of Moses… who was looking for something inexpensive. 24/7 it cycles through “low, mind-numbing droning sound,” “alarmed, as if Pharoah’s army is attacking, screeching wail” and, usually reserved for the hours between 2 and 4 AM, “loud, angry at the world sound.” On a recent visit to Wallmart in Saskatoon I bought sleeping pills for the first time in my life, reflecting that it’s not a good thing when you have to drug yourself to be able to deal with your appliances. Mind you, I had a food processor that nearly drove me to drink… but that’s another story.

Mostly though, I love my house and my town. I have slightly overgrown flower gardens that glisten and gleam in the early morning sunlight. I have quiet around that stretches for days. I wake up to the sound of birds rejoicing to find it’s morning again and that it’s good to be alive. The people here offer kindness as easily as they smile and breathe. I have neighbours who stop to pass the time of day and to share a joke or ask me if I need anything, anything at all.

And, I have an extensive… extensive… “God almighty you have a lot of room here”… stretch of lawn.

Which is why, two days ago I discovered that the job even comes with the rural SK equivalent of a fitness membership. It comes in the form of the aged gas powered push mower I found in the manse garage.

My gas mower (once a neighbour very kindly taught me how to start it) makes a sound that is slightly more outraged and aggrieved than my refrigerator. I quickly learned that there are certain conditions it simply refuses to be pushed over. These include large clumps of dirt, small clumps of dirt, entirely flat and totally even dirt, sticks of any size, shape or description, and grass.

The only way to convince the machine to move at all is to stand with the push bar at arm’s length, shove one’s rear end as far out as possible and heave yourself at the mower as if you’re trying to straighten out a tilting brick wall. By doing this over and over you can easily mow about a foot and a half every half hour. And needless to say, this is a tremendously entertaining position for the neighbours to watch the new minister slogging her way around her football-field sized yard in.

There are upsides to mowing at about the same speed as the grass is growing behind me. Mostly though, these are for the deer flies. Rather than having to chase me around the yard, they’re able to dine in a leisurely fashion. I believe this is Saskatchewan’s version of the Slow Food Movement.

When I finished, my yard looked like a farmer’s field. Row on row of healthy, high tufts of grass showing that I haven’t quite grasped the art of where to place the mower at each go-round.

But, I have suddenly realized a healthy, high appreciation for ten year old boys. Obviously they are sent to us because only someone with that kind of energy and spunk can possibly take care of my mowing needs.

Today, I will trot downtown (six stores, all of which I can see from my front step) and post an ad for the most hyper-active, overly energized ten year old boy this town has to offer. For payment I am prepared to offer something in the range of “whatever it takes.” Plus, he can have all the sticks he wants off my property to take home and use as spears.

Cheers to all and will write again next week,

Anne

If you’re in central Saskatchewan, please come and see me at any of the following church services:

Sunday, July 11 Beechy United Church
Sunday, July 18 Birsay United Church
Sunday, July 25 Lucky Lake United Church

All services start at 10 AM.

June 24, 2010

The long-promised, though not-very-good ordination photo.

Filed under: Uncategorized — Anne Hines @ 7:03 pm

Technology is not our friend. Or: Gin and tonic… the new breakfast food.

Filed under: Uncategorized — Anne Hines @ 11:01 am

First up, Liz and I leave tomorrow morning at 6 AM to start our drive to Lucky Lake. I am not sure why we have to leave at 6 AM. I mean, if we want to keep from getting stuck in traffic on Hwy 401, we have to leave… well, never.

There’s something about a road trip though, that requires one to leave early. The first coffee of the day cradled in the car cup holder, the sun still low enough in the sky that the day seems new and fresh and full of possibility. The houses you pass quiet, most still dark. The rest of the world asleep. But you, you are beginning an adventure.

I am wildly excited. I turned a corner in the past week, suddenly finding that I’m done with whining about what I am leaving behind and, instead, am eager to explore and embrace what lies ahead.

But that’s tomorrow.

Today, I am musing about that old adage, “If you want something done right, find someone a whole lot more competent than you are to do it” … it’s something like that.

In my last few posts I have promised that soon, very soon, really, really soon, almost immediately in fact, this time I really mean it, no, I do… I would put up shots from my ordination ceremony. Posting photos seems like a perfect way to reach out to my friends who want to share in this special event, be able to see the culmination of my many years of study and training or who are refusing to believe it happened without visible proof.

My problem is… well, where do I start, really? My problem is that I’m worried that, in my new parish in rural SK, if I pass out because my lungs are unused to fresh air, will my congregants be prepared to rush me to a medical centre so someone can administer smog? My problem is that we’re leaving in less than 24 hours and I still haven’t put together my emergency kit, nor do I know if I have time to get to Starbucks to get what I need for it. My problem is that I already suspect I might love Saskatchewan so much I may not want to come back. But, I know my friends and family will come to me. Several people have already made plans. So far, no one has booked a visit between January and the end of April, but I’m sure those dates will go fast. So, if you’re a relative and reading this, reserve soon or you might find it’s mid-February and you’re not getting to vacation in middle of Saskatchewan. Do you really want to have to deal with that kind of disappointment?

However, my photo-posting-and-why-that-hasn’t-happened-yet problem is that I still haven’t learned how to download from my camera. I am sorry for this. After all, a promise is a promise. If we don’t have trust we have nothing. Which means that at the moment, gentle blog readers, you and I have nothing. I am hoping to change that. For sure. This time I mean it.

I do know that the first step is to get my camera and my computer talking to each other but frankly, I’ve left them alone on several occasions and they seem to have made no progress together whatsoever. This feels very much like all the times I’ve thought of an idea for an article that will write itself, then turned on the computer and been disappointed to find that it hasn’t.

The fact that we can now view our photos on a computer is a wondrous thing. And to do this, all I have to do is figure out what software program is compatible with my digital camera, find the right place on the manufacturer web site, download a program, find it’s the wrong program, download another program, find it’s also the wrong program (but that I now have access to Tetras is eighty seven different foreign languages), call technical support, find that the wait time is 127 gazillion minutes due to an unexpected number of calls requiring them to need more than one operator who is currently off getting a latte, try downloading another program, find I can no longer locate my e-mail account but now have a lovely “Sony Cyberspace” icon on my screen, click on that and the whole thing shuts down. Finally call my daughter to come over and fix it all and wonder if 9:52 in the morning is just too early to start drinking. In the olden days, I would have had to take a film to the drugstore and hand it to someone.

What’s important though, in any frustrating situation like this, is to consider what we’ve learned. So far, trying to set up my photo program myself has taught me a) never to try to set up my photo program myself, b) If you mistake the camera battery for the memory card and try to jam it into the little slot on the side of the computer things are almost guaranteed not to go well, c) 9:52 AM is not necessarily too early to start drinking… but it makes it difficult to achieve anything useful after about 10:52 AM, and finally, d) technology is not our friend.

The upshot of this (no pun intended) is that I still have no photos posted. But, my daughter has promised she will sort it out for me this afternoon. And I plan to hold her to that.
Because, of course, a promise is a promise.

June 15, 2010

Mosquito busting, why you should never, ever say “Toron…” I mean, the “T” word and The Meaning of Life. Where else can you get all this in one place?

Filed under: Uncategorized — Anne Hines @ 9:46 am

In today’s blog I will explain the meaning of life. So really, by rights it should be a lot longer. And I should be able to find a corporate sponsor.

But first an update on my move to Lucky Lake.

Thanks to Rev. Jordon up in Saskatoon who informs me that the best way to discourage mosquitoes is by changing what you eat. Apparently, the little critters love the scent of sweet fruits such as apples and grapes, but not the smell of citrus fruits or garlic. This is either excellent advice or she’s just trying to see if she can get the new girl (that would be me) to wear a string garlic cloves and orange peels around her neck. Frankly, if the insects are as bad as I’ve heard, I may give it a try.

Thanks also to former Regina-ite, Lorne, who has cautioned me, once I’m west of my provincial border, not to use the “T” word to tell people where I’m from. “Just say you’re from Ontario,” he says. “People don’t mind Ontario… well, not much.”

Next, I’m preparing for my move by making a list of thing I’ll be able to do in Saskatchewan that I can’t do here in… um, the “T” place. So far I have:

Drive my car for twenty minutes and manage to get further than two blocks from my house.

Take a deep breath.

Stay tuned for more.

Finally, the moving truck comes tomorrow to haul away the furniture I’ve collected for my new home. I’ve renamed Liz and my house Noah’s Ark. We now have two of everything.

And now, for lesser issues. The Meaning of Life.

A lot of people have asked me why I’m leaving those I love most in the world and a place where I fit in, where I understand how people live and what they need, to go 2,700 km away to a place where I know no one at all and don’t have a clue about how to serve or support. I continue to tell people that I’m going to do God’s work. But I know, as I’ve said in a previous blog, that God has more than enough work right here in my city that I could be doing.

The reason I am going far away from the place I know and the people I love is this.

I continue to believe that we’re put on this earth for one thing and one thing only. And it’s not to achieve financial security or buy a Hummer or finally match the colour values in my living room. At least I hope it’s not. There’s nothing wrong with doing those things at all. They’re just beside the point.

The main and most important thing we are put on the face of the earth to do is this. We are here to grow our soul. The Buddhists put it slightly differently. They say, “This life on earth is tenuous and easily lost. The time for spiritual learning is now.”

Fortunately God, or however we choose to call the Helpfulness that exists in the universe, is ready and able to help us with this important task. It places relationships and other challenges in our lives to help us. Usually, we do not like this. Because often the ways we’re shown to grow our souls are hard for us. Sometimes even hurt a little. Which just goes to prove that whoever says that religion is a crutch is wrong. A spiritually aware life is not for sissies.

Growing a soul involves meeting small, difficult, challenges every day. Choosing compassion over anger. Forgiveness over resentment. Understanding over judgment. Frankly I, for one, don’t always manage it. Then there are the bigger and even more difficult challenges. Losing a job. Or a loved one. Struggling to heal a relationship. Or to see God’s loving hand in dark days and troubling times. For me, growing my soul has involved accepting myself as gay, supporting my child as she transgendered, committing my time and talents to serving my church and its people. And that’s just in the last fourteen years. But the result of trusting that God knows what my soul needs to grow has been the same each time. Greater peace. Wider love. More joy.

I know enough about the ways in which God nurtures and tends our lives to know that it rarely happens without some growing pains. My task is simply to stay curious about what God knows I need now.

So, today I’m packing my final boxes of stuff for my move. Knowing that wherever I go, the people I love may not go with me, but God does. Lending me strength. Promising me wonder. Ready at every moment, to help me grow my soul.

Coming tonight: Ordination pictures. Almost for sure this time.

June 3, 2010

Have nothing. Will travel.

Filed under: Uncategorized — Anne Hines @ 8:50 am

A few things to remember from an old Saskatchewanite:

Deet is perfume
A mesh hat counts as high fashion
The other driver is not waving you on, she is swatting at a mosquito
When you hit –50 Celsius and have to factor in the wind chill, there is no natural number that accurately conveys the temperature
It is acceptable to wear Sorrels and snow pants to a wedding, funeral, housewarming party or grocery shopping
Saskatoon sounds like a swear word in Greek

Say hi to the wheat for me!

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

April 12, 2010

Update and events: April 12, 2010

Filed under: Uncategorized — Anne Hines @ 8:46 am

This week in HineSight:

The weekend of April 16-18 I’ll find out where in Canada I’ll be sent for my first charge as a minister. It could be anywhere. Am I worried about this? Well, ministers are in the faith business after all. I have to trust that I’ll be sent where I have the most to offer and the most to learn. I trust we all find ourselves in such places, always in fact.

Having said that, in church yesterday as we were singing a hymn that goes, “I will go where the spirit leads me,” I found myself thinking, “So long as it stays within a 60 km radius of downtown Toronto.” It’s not that I’m tied to this city, but I am fond of my partner Liz and we’ve decided that, wherever I’m sent for this three year contract, she’s going to stay here so we can keep the house until my younger daughter is through university.

Is this going to work? I figure it will be like every decision we make, it will have good parts and bad parts. The bad parts (in this case, missing Liz, finding ways/times to be together, not having someone to
remind me to change my toothbrush, socks… the list goes on…) are usually easy to spot. The trick is to look for the good parts.

I’ve got a few things coming up in the next two months before I’m shipped off to the wilds to die from loneliness and want of access to fresh pasta… I mean, to take up the service of God, of course. If you come to one of these events, please be sure to say “hi.” And, if you have questions about anything, let me know.

Also, coming soon: I’ll post favorite columns from Metro as requested by readers this past week.

Guest preaching,
April 18
TORONTO
Kimbourne Park United Church
416-461-7200

Guest preaching,
May 9
TORONTO
Glebe Road United Church
2 Glebe Rd. East
(South of Eglinton, off Yonge)
11:15 AM

Guest preaching,
May 16
TORONTO
Guest preaching,
Glebe Road United Church
(as above)

Writing Workshop,
Saturday, May 15
TORONTO
University of Toronto
Contact me for time/info

“Writing for her life: writing your way to yourself”

As anyone who has read my book Parting Gifts: notes on loss, love and life will know,
I started writing to help myself recover from depression. I have come to believe that
doing anything creative is healing, nurturing and helps us learn who we are and what
gifts we have to share with the world. In this workshop, I’ll discuss (and we’ll try out)
easy ways to get those creative juices flowing and to use writing to find your own way.

February 15, 2010

Anne Hines’ Published Works

Anne Hines

Once described as “Canada’s answer to Irma Bombeck,” Anne Hines began her writing career as the humour/lifestyle columnist for Canadian Living magazine before spending six years as a contributing editor to Chatelaine where her humourous articles on everyday life appeared regularly. Recently, her weekly HineSight humour column appeared in Metro, a national commuter newspaper.

Anne has published five books including three novels; Fishing Up The Moon (Pedlar Press, 1998), The Spiral Garden (McArthur & Co, 2005), and Come Away (McArthur & Co, 2007), as well as a collection of nonfiction humour, A Year In HineSight (McArthur & Co, 2002) and a humorous spiritual autobiography, Parting Gifts: notes on life, love and loss (McArthur & Co, 2009).

Anne has a Masters of Theology degree from the  University of Toronto; Emmanuel College. While in school, her goal was  “to graduate while there is still religion.” Having managed to do that, she is now serving as a United Church of Canada minister in rural Saskatchewan and contributing regular updates on her adventures in small town living to The Toronto Star.

You can contact Anne Hines through email here.

Praise for Anne Hines,
“The mind behind The Spiral Garden has a fine intelligence, a delightful sense of humour, very liberal views, an impressive knowledge of religions, and is unabashedly Canadian.” – Globe and Mail

“[The Spiral Garden is] An intoxicating mix … Hines distills her impressive academic, spiritual and literary knowledge into a provocative cocktail … zips from laugh-out-loud humour to profundity and back again.” – Quill and Quire


Click on a book cover to learn more about Anne Hines’ works or scroll down for upcoming events and updates.

Fishing up the Moon

Fishing up the Moon:

“A humourous and insightful story about finding the wisdom in our own hearts.”

The Spiral Garden

The Spiral Garden:

“The hilarious, critically acclaimed novel about religion and spirituality …and how to reconcile the two.”

A Year in Hinesight

A Year in Hinesight:

“Canada’s answer to Irma Bombeck” offers up wit and wisdom on everyday life. From four years of columns in Canadian Living and Chatelaine magazines.”

Come Away

Come Away:

“Neslted between two of the most formidable voices of the the Old Testament, Ecclesiastes, which does not love women and Isaiah, which loves them less, is one short book which has disturbed clergy and baffled Biblical scholars for over two thousand years. Song of Songs, also called The Song of Solomon is an erotic love poem.”

Parting Gifts

Parting Gifts:

This book is about loss.
In an average day, I lose my scissors, my car keys, my grocery list, my patience and my mind. In an average life, almost all of us are destined to lose our way, our bearings, our youth, our hearts and our heads.

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