on remembrance

I do not end seasons of my life well. I either miss them, like I did for both my graduations. Or I pass so quickly onto the next that I fail to close and integrate the last well. I don’t take the time to sit and breathe, to remember, to gather stones and build an altar, to write obituaries or sing songs of celebration. And so I hold in my hands a life of disconnected memories, of events that exist in isolation to each other, of learnings and pain and growth that has never been well-integrated and assimilated into my very sense of self. My life lacks closure. My life story doesn’t follow a logical timeline – in the telling of it I draw together strands and feelings and impressions that never quite coalesce. There are years of missing data. Gaps in my memory and consciousness. I found myself with losses that I’ve never mourned, pain that I’ve never integrated, questions that were never resolved that I don’t have the ability to accommodate well. My history is adrift.

These past two years I have been learning how to pause and MARVEL and how to stop and MOURN. I have learnt the value of a drinking a glass of red with friends and remembering what our lives held in the vintage year. I have learnt the value of gift-giving to mark an end and how words of affirmation and appreciation can release someone to the next journey. I have learnt the value of showing photographs and telling stories to mark births and deaths and weddings and graduations and celebrations. I have learnt the value of return and how powerful the little act of remembering can be in releasing us to live fully present. I have learnt the value of attaching physicality – a picture, a gift, a retelling, a token, words written, a stone picked up from the road – to remembrance. I always thought of memories as anchors – “don’t dwell on the past”, I remind myself. But indeed there is great value in returning to the past periodically; not to be consumed by it, but so that it doesn’t drown us. I am learning how to end seasons well and how to return to them rhythmically.

Husband-man and I were privileged to have time while back home to sit and pause and remember and reflect and debrief our time at The Simple Way. As we cast our eyes back over our time, we hold in tension how incredibly rich and beneficial it was with how hard and challenging it was. It was one of the steepest learning curves of our lives and there is much we have grown from and in, learnt, and new things that have been sparked in us (or old things that have been fanned into flame). We carved out space and sat in beautiful places and drank coffee and jotted thoughts and names and stories down. We asked what did we learn, what could we have done better, what do we miss, what’s sparked in us, who are the people that shaped us.


The next few blogs will be on some of our reflections. As we have launched into this new season, these are the things that we hold to, some of the many things that have been (re)sparked in us:

We long to continue to do life through regular community connection with like-hearted people – Christ-followers and disciple-makers.

We long to be in a place where we can continue to engage well with our surrounding neighbourhood.

We long to have a space where we can practice hospitality.

We long for opportunities for Brett to operate in his primary gifting – speaking, writing, and online ministry.

We long for stability and healthy balance in our life-rhythms.

We long to say “Yes, lets!” more to opportunities and experiences.

We long to have married couples and culturally diverse individuals speaking into our lives and journeying close to us.

We long to learn how to be more open-handed with our time, our energy and our resources – and to encourage others to be likewise.


14 thoughts on “on remembrance

  1. I was about to leave work read like two topic sentences and decided I need to read the whole thing : ))

    Loved this reflection: “I always thought of memories as anchors – “don’t dwell on the past”, I remind myself. But indeed there is great value in returning to the past periodically; not to be consumed by it, but so that it doesn’t drown us. I am learning how to end seasons well and how to return to them rhythmically.” Thanks for sharing Val–not sure if you and Brett knew but the idea to live on the streets was birthed on the ride back from the Simple Way last August–peace to you both!

  2. I think this is fantastic. Apart from the bit that says “like-hearted people – Christ-followers and disciple-makers”…if I’m honest. I FEEL “like hearted”…as I do with much of the stuff that Brett writes. But I’m neither of the last two things anymore (Christ-follower or disciple-maker). That part makes me sad. The fact that “like-hearted” only includes a certain kind of doctrine. I’m excluded from “like-hearted” because I don’t believe something that may or may not have happened 2000 years ago. Actually, I believe that a Jesus who believes in people would probably feel the same way. It’s a kind of paradox. And I reluctantly click…”post comment” coz this sort of thing never has easy outcomes.

    1. Ah David, thanks for stopping by again. So grateful for the support. I actually like your comment a LOT and absolutely hear you on that. I didn’t mean to exclude anyone including you from the like-heartedness with that description. Let me try and explain – the last two years we have been honored and incredibly fortunate to meet many folk from very different walks of life and backgrounds and faith (or non-faith) traditions and this has definitely added to the richness of our lives. I love that I can count amongst my like-hearted friends punk anarchists and buddhists and a wanna-be-monk and vegetarians (!) and atheists and agnostics and even one or two people who post cat videos on facebook (!). One of the things we did begin to miss this year is the deep connections with people who share faith with us amongst the myriad other things we have in common. So YES we want to be connecting with like-hearted people broadly – folk with a passion for community and justice and life to the full and silly interweb videos of hilarity and people we can wrestle with and disagree with and figure life out alongside of. But we also long (after what felt like a bit of a drought in some senses) for more connection with folk who are also Christ-followers and whom we connect deeply with in that regard. So it’s not an either/or. Just us saying that we’ve felt lacking at times in that particular area and want to make space to nurture those connections. You’re not excluded from like-hearted at all and I am sorry you felt that. Never the intention. Comment-on, like-hearted friend!

      1. (Hm…I hope this doesn’t sound or come across as “Of course I’m not racist. Look at how many black friends I have.”)

  3. ps…maybe, I should have written this to Brett as I’ve had more conversation with him. Sorry Brett for not doing so although I’ve probably implied something similar to you I think. It kind of came out here and it’s a bit too late to stop it now.

    1. I’m sure Brett will jump on right after he get’s back from hockey and echo a lot of what I’ve said.

      Now if you’d told me I’m from the devil cos I hate animals cos I don’t have any then I might have been a little angsty…

  4. 🙂 Hey, thanks for your generous response Val (if you are indeed “amazed”). I know where you’re coming from. I think I may have said to Brett that the Interettyweb is a public place, so probably a bad place to have conversations with very specific tribes. Unless you make it clear that this is JUST for that group. Or somehow found a way of keeping us out. Ha! 😉 That’s actually not a bad thing either. We all need to talk to the people that totally GET us. I’m glad you’ve got people like that! 😉 I’m still looking (not a plea for help, just an honest assessment of my strange life).

  5. On the hating animals thing…I’ve killed goats…not intentionally, but it happened. You can rest easy on the “you’re from the devil” thing!

  6. “(Hm…I hope this doesn’t sound or come across as “Of course I’m not racist. Look at how many black friends I have.”)”. No, it didn’t.

    1. well clearly you need some more black friends David otherwise i don’t know if we can stay related… but ja i think Val said it really well for both of us at the top and i echo all of that without the lame-assed attempts at bringing some form of duck humour into that comment because apparently that’s a myth [sad face] – i don’t think that generally we post stuff that is Christ-follower only altho for a lot of my writing that is the intended audience because of the specific nature of the content, but the sad reality is that so often the not Christ-followers produce a lot more Christ-following kind of lifestyle than the Christ-followers and so we definitely should be learning from ‘outside of the camp’ so to speak and we definitely have a heart for everyone to live as Jesus did and would, as we believe that is a good way to live but for those who profess or attempt to follow Jesus, well it is meant to be in our DNA and should be mandatory and so that is often where we are directing our challenges or calls… hope that makes sense and we have both loved the interaction with you and friendship that has grown and i always appreciate your comments whether i always agree with all of them or not but you generally make a lot of sense and so it is much appreciated and sorry if you do feel excluded by our language or focus. trying to please everyone [or anyone of late it feels] seems to definitely be a DTYCLE or maybe most. much love, b

  7. No worries Brett. The whole thing of inclusive language is a bit of a hot potato in my head. Sometimes it comes close to becoming a chip…of the “on the shoulder” vareity. I wouldn’t want either of you to become too careful about phraseology just because I might be in the room! (Not that you strike me as someone who loses sleep about stuff like that. Haha!). And to be honest you are both clearly people who DO want to break down communication barriers anyway. I’m enjoying getting to know you. Hopefully we’ll get to meet for real at some point.

  8. Completely off topic here, but you have amazing handwriting!! It looks like its from an old-fashioned manuscript on art.

    Would you be so kind as to show us some more of it. Awesome!

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