What makes a good day?

As I swing my legs out of bed every morning, along with a loud grumble from a sciatic nerve from hip to heel, I experience a moment of curiosity. What new thing will the day bring, what will be the blessing?

Saturday, June 17th was such a day. It began a little sooner than most. By shortly after 6am, I was in my son-in-laws farmyard. Later that day he was flying to Vancouver, where a sibling is dealing with critical illness. A sprayer operator was on site to spray his crops, and I received a quick lesson in hauling water from the farm dugout, to minimize delays. It was also a time to share the stress, to offer hope in the reality of grave sickness. It was a moment that blest the day.

Shortly, I was home, briefly. Holly and I headed south to Regina, three and a half hours away to attend a funeral. A cousin’s daughter in law, someone we had never met, had died at the age of twenty-four. Cancer doesn’t care much. It seemed good to show our support for extended family members that we know and love. As we sat waiting for the service to begin, in a large and very full church, the curiosity gene raised its head again. What would be learned here? In this denomination, different from my own, what would offer the picture that could be mulled over on the trip home, in the days ahead. What would be the blessing?

The most striking moment for me was the moment at which the deceased’s parents rose and moved to the front. In the reading of scripture, in the telling of stories, in moments of laughter and in the pauses for tears, these parents gave thanks for the daughter they had claimed for twenty-four years. They extended that thanks to all who gathered with them, to their son-in-law and his family, to the church who had stood with their daughter through her years of struggle. They shared their appreciation with the medical professionals, some of whom were present, for the expertise and compassion they had brought to their daughter’s life. The friend groups, the prayer groups, all were eloquently held up and given thanks for their presence in the hard journey of this family.

This was again a moment that blest the day. I imagined myself in the hard story that this family was enduring, and asked myself, would I be able to stand before hundreds and hundreds, and publically give thanks? Would I be prepared to share amusing stories, would I be able to allow tears their time and then move on to gratitude? Here were folks who embraced the spirituality that their faith community offered, and turned that spirituality into strength, into thankfulness, into celebration. I was in awe.

June 17th was not yet done. On the way home, we stopped in Saskatoon for a farewell that was somewhat less emotionally charged. Dave Feick, an old friend, was resigning from his director role with Micah Mission, a restorative justice organization based in Saskatoon. For over a decade, Dave and Micah Mission have worked to create relationships between offenders, almost exclusively sex offenders, and support communities. A striking initiative that Dave had begun was an annual one-day fishing trip to a Saskatchewan lake, which included both released offenders and volunteers. I’ve been privileged to be on a number of those excursions. And on this evening, as both released offenders and volunteers gathered to express thanks to Dave, the day received one final blessing. Watching the relationships, the caring that was extended, offender to offender, offender to volunteer, and both groups toward Dave, was moving to the point of tears.

Even though this a familiar world to me, I can never quite understand the freedom that the guys have felt on those fishing days, where they can lay down their fears of being accosted, recognized, hated. Everyone knows something of their story, why they are involved in this group, and yet they are accepted. Yet they are loved. Yet they are equals.

I have not yet discovered another path that leads to peace, safety, integrity, more effectively.

June 17 was a pretty good day.