Wednesday, July 16, 2014

telling stories

This email conversation began in February,
after a morning coffee at City Perks
with a colleague and friend, Eileen Klassen Hamm.

Sent: February-12-14 9:34 PM
To: Darlene Klassen
Subject: why do we tell stories

Darlene, your question has been playing at the edges these days ...

why do we tell stories

 to remember
 an exquisite taste
 a tender touch
 an enchanting voice

 to remember
 who we are

 our bellies
 can't hold the laughter
 our lungs
 can't contain the pain

 the words
 need to breathe

 to speak splendor
 among the shadows
 to grasp life
 from the edges of hell
 to forge beauty
 out of sharp shards

 we must tell stories

emkh, 12feb2014

Darlene, February 13

 This is a gift.  A friend who responds to a morning visit over coffee
 with a poem.  A woman whose name tells a bit of a story.
 My mind kept going in the trajectory of your note ... and the line of initials for your name

 My name story is Darlene Gloria Krahn Driedger Klassen.  By the time I
 knew how important these last names were, I had let one slip away, and
 didn't know if I should hang onto the second.  Apparently I might have
 been a Valerie if mom's younger sister hadn't just finished naming her
 daughter Valerie.


 Why do we tell stories, indeed.

 To capture fleeting shadows
 And speak them back into the light

 to travel well-worn paths
 of meaning
 and stumble into the brush as we wander through the wondering of parts
 untold, and pieces that cannot fit


Eileen, March12 

My second given name is Mae, after my auntie Clara Mae. She was the oldest in my Dad's family, and she died of cancer when she was 13, making my Dad the oldest living sibling. As Dad and my uncle and two aunties become old, wise, generous souls, I am struck by the task of grieving someone I never knew. But surely, Clara Mae would have also been a wise and generous auntie. And all I received was her name.

we tell stories
to re-member ourselves

Darlene: (Somewhere in the midst of these conversations, I was reading 

Rudy Wiebe's "Big Bear", from the Extraordinary Canadians series ...)

There once was a baby boy born at Jackfish Lake, near present-day North Battleford, Saskatchewan, who would grow up to receive the Cree name Mistahimaskwa, Big Bear.  His father was Mukatai, Black Powder, a Saulteaux who had long been chief of a Plains Cree band, and his mother was either Cree or Saulteaux.  Her name was perhaps too powerful to speak aloud, because no one can remember it.  Her name is simply given as None.
...Mistahi Maskwa.  Maskwa meaning “bear,” but mistahi in particular, so together meaning “Much ... or A-Whole-Lot-Of Bear.”  Which, upon contemplation, could shape-shift into More-Than-Enough Bear.  

Darlene,  March 15  

Randy took me to a wonderful concert at the Broadway last weekend ... April Verch is a fiddling dancer whom I had never heard before, but Randy is great at discovering live music that feels like we are in someone’s living room and gives us a taste of travel to a different world. 

I’ve listened to fiddlers before, but have never been struck by the stories of the tunes… not the stories that the words tell, but the stories of the tunes themselves.  April talked about sitting for hours on the porch with one of the old fiddlers in her life so that she could learn his tunes.  His tunes were the ones he had played all of his life, and when he left this world, his tunes would go with him.  Her band discovered a treasury of old fiddle tunes that one of the universities in the deep south had recorded, and they sit for hours listening to the tunes and learning them.  They played fiddle, banjo/stand up bass, and a mean guitar.

Sometimes they sang –a rich celtic treble trio, sometimes she danced.  She said it was an Ottawa valley dance, born in the halls of loggers that came from Ireland and Poland and several other countries who eventually danced together to the same violins till their feet created whole new dance stories with a flavor of the Ottawa valley.

And I thought to myself – we never danced.  Thought it was wrong. 
Was it wrong to not tell stories with our feet or our fiddles? 

My dad did dance though.  In our kitchen, sometimes when he was happy.  Stamping his feet with his arms raised in the air – and singing “ hey a ho”.  And he would dance with the grandchildren on his shoulders … through the hall and the kitchen.   Come to think of it.  I had forgotten that.  And he danced at his son’s wedding, when his grandchildren pulled him onto the dance floor.  

... telling stories with our dances, our names, our lives ...

Thursday, July 3, 2014

why we stay

Morden sunrise

There is a restless wind this morning.  

My bike brought me home through the river valley after a wonderful morning visit, with light scents of wild roses now dominating the earlier spring's lilac and wolf willow. 

 I love this river valley ... this ever changing path of water that etches its trail on the land.  The river is high these days, attempting to assist the land up-stream to drain away the crippling excess.  
Our land runneth over.  
Water and wind re-arranging our carefully tended worlds.  

MB Mission has developed an inspiring video series entitled “This is why we go.”  I have watched the videos with gratitude, as they show such an interesting perspective of the life one of our students have lived during her internship.
The words "This is why we go” which scroll across the screen have bounced around in my mind, and then transposed to the thought ... “This is why we stay”.  Why are we called to this place called Bethany College, a cluster of buildings and a campus in the town of Hepburn, close to the growing city of Saskatoon, close to the northern communities and reserves which are shaping many conversations in our province, close to the river valley?  With a degree of separation, we have a chance to create a community, to invest in a community of faith that is focused on learning, on living out our faith.

Nurturing disciples, and training leaders to serve is our mission at Bethany College.  For many of us – for me, this is a mission that I would be pursuing even if Bethany was not my primary vocation.  I love the opportunity to launch believers into the direction and settings that we see God calling them.  When I worked at West Portal as a children’s minister, I loved finding that volunteer for children’s ministry, and putting them into their sweet spot where they would come to me months later to tell me about conversations they had with their Grade 5 boys, and watch them leading a group of young men towards Christ.  It was a privilege to train them as they served, giving them tools to do their work better.

At Bethany, we study, and live, and serve so that we will better understand and live out the purpose for which our God has shaped us.  We invite people to be still for a time; to study, to consider, to learn and grow, to prepare mind, heart and skills for serving Christ. 
We nourish and train, challenge and walk beside, and then – always – we launch.  
Ours is not a landing place for a long time.    

Why do I stay?  Because I believe that the world we live in needs disciples of Jesus Christ who love him wholeheartedly, who seek him, who obey him and live for him in all of the wonderful variety of vocations available – pastoring, teaching, global mission, local service, artists, builders, managers and entrepreneurs.  We need people who understand the scriptures and our times, and walk unafraid into these days because of the God they serve.  This is why I stay.  

We have just learned that Bethany will be able to open our doors for the fall, though with a significantly altered team configuration.  
We anticipate what God will do in all of our lives - whether we stay, or whether we go.  We grieve the losses, and pray that God would guide and direct us forward.  So many things are being re-arranged, re-configured.  
Praying for wisdom, grace and courage; and a strong, growing sense that He is faithful.