Refuse to be Passive

Archive for August, 2011|Monthly archive page

Life After Death

In Uncategorized on August 30, 2011 at 8:37 pm

I most definitely believe in life after death. I think I always have. Maybe my concepts of what heaven or the renewal of the earth will be like have changed and developed, but I’ve never doubted there being life beyond death.
Today I was reading a book called Love Wins by Rob Bell. In Christian circles it’s quite controversial. I am not finished reading it yet, but feel that he brings up rather interesting points. I can see how what he writes is controversial. Much of it flies in the face of what the ordinary, layman Christian has believed for centuries. The concept of going back to the base scriptures in their original languages and looking at the etemology simply hasn’t always been an option. And education was not available to the degree that many people would have developed the academic desire to go digging. And even fewer were looking to go into a radical framework concept that could challenge how they viewed the faith that was so integral to them. Even now, Bell is attacked for what he puts forward. But isn’t one of the best ways to learn and enlighten oneself to step out of your comfort zone and examine different ideas? I’m not saying you have to agree with Bell, but don’t bash him just because his ideas make you uncomfortable.
That turned into a bit of a tangent, but back to the concept of a life after death. This is never something that I’ve truly doubted. This evening, after reading a portion of Love Wins in the chapter on hell, for a fleeting moment I had the very real thought, “What if this is it. What if there is no life after death?” It’s not even a concept Bell is arguing for, and yet it popped into my head. It was momentary, as I said, but for that moment I had an overwhelming sense of loss and uselessness. What is the point in life if there is nothing beyond it? What is the point in working towards death? How can one even live a full life believing that this time is all we have? How can one live without living for something greater than oneself?
I believe that we are called in this world to start working towards the reclamation of creation, as well as working on ourselves to become as we were originally intended to be– loving creations in relationship with a loving and merciful creator, God. Without those two things, what is the point? I find myself breathing a sigh of relief that my faith in life after death has not actually been shattered. But that momentary glimpse into a life without something more just makes me feel sad for those who live life that way.

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A day better than I deserve

In Life in General on August 26, 2011 at 8:09 pm

Have you ever had a day that was so filled with good things that you couldn’t help but thing, “I don’t deserve a day this good.” I had a day like that today. The funny thing was, it was all due to events that I knew were going to occur, going in a different direction than I’d originally intended. For example, I wandered too far down the street to get to the bank because I wasn’t paying attention. As such, I passed the Salvation Army Thrift Store, which was having a one day sale, with many of their clothes on for 2 dollars. Therefore, I wandered into the store and bought two skirts, capris, and a blouse for $8. I needed new clothes but had been holding off on buying them because I’m on a tight budget. Well, pretty much any budget can handle $2 for a piece of clothing. I’m thrilled!

What else? I had a job interview at a local independent coffee shop. They have great coffee and when I went in there two days ago to drop off a resume, the owner/manager had been very nice, but non-committal. The next day I got a call from the other manager for an interview, which occurred today. The interview went well, and I got a free americano out of the deal as well. Now I just have to wait and see what happens.

I had another interview at a local Japanese restaurant where I was applying to be a server. I guess that the owner of the restaurant didn’t read it very closely, because he thought I’d been applying for kitchen staff. That being said, he asked me for why I was getting into culinary and where I was hoping that would lead, so I told him my story and mentioned that someday maybe I’d like to own my own bistro. From there, things took a bit of an odd turn. He told me that the reason he’d invited for an interview was that in his 27 years in the business, he’d never seen a resume as well put together as mine. He said that his restaurant wasn’t the right fit for me, due to my true passion for food and my commitment to the culinary industry. He felt his restaurant wouldn’t give me the best learning experience I could have. As such, he asked me what type of cuisine I’d wanted to work in, I told him, and he said that he would use his contacts to hook me up with some of the quality restaurants around town. He would use his contacts to help me get a kitchen job, even though I have little experience and my knife skills haven’t been developed yet (class is still all theory). That being said, I think I’m going to have to start practicing my knife skills at home! So, I didn’t get the job, but I got something better, I got connections. Whoot! After all, it’s not what you know, but who you know.

And then the rest of the day was just lovely. I stumbled across a book at the library that I’d been meaning to read. I took the dog for a walk along the lake shore. I traipsed through a bunch of stores looking for kitchen shoes. I got two chapters of reading done in my text. I’ll get those two chapters done in my workbook tomorrow. Have I mentioned that it’s just been a really good day?

I feel truly blessed and look forward to see how these new developments work out. God is gracious, compassionate, and never ceases to surprise me.

In Life in General on August 24, 2011 at 8:25 pm

It’s the first time in days that I’ve actually felt like taking the time to write. Between 4 hours of classes per day, and often another 4 hours of homework, plus being involved in my community, and pounding the pavement to try to find a job, writing often just feels like another thing I have to do– a chore.

Now, normally I use writing to clear my mind and organize my thoughts. Lately, that desire hasn’t been there. In the past couple of weeks I’ve started 3 different novels and can’t get into them either. It’s making it difficult to spend any time relaxing. I only follow a few TV shows, so for the most part I’m not doing that. It takes a darn good movie to keep my attention these days. So what do I do? Have I mentioned homework and looking for a job? Also, it’s amazing how much time transit takes from one place to another when you’re working with your feet or a bicycle.

I had my first job interview today at a new restaurant that’s opened in the neighbourhood next to mine. It went alright, but I’m not expecting to get the job. That being said, it wasn’t one of my top picks for places to work, so it made for a great practice ground for getting back into the feel of doing interviews. I’m still holding out hope for a few other places, and have an interview at one on Friday. Fingers crossed!

On a school related note, Tuesday took my class on a field trip to the Fairmont Royal York to tour their kitchens, then to the Redpath sugar factory museum, which I could have used more time in, and then to the St. Lawrence Market. It was a delightful day. Did you know that the Fairmont Royal York’s kitchens span two floors? It’s a little bit crazy and more than a little intimidating. We also got to go up to the roof, where the hotel has their own small garden and bee hives so that their restaurants can harvest what’s in season for in their kitchens. From herbs to flowers to veg, they’ve got an impressive array of items, including a fig tree! And who doesn’t love that they get their own fresh honey to be used in vinigarettes and such?

Here’s some pictures of my day abroad. I’m uploading them in the midst of a whopper lightning and thunder storm. Let’s hope the power doesn’t go out!

Sadly, I have no pictures of the kitchens at the Royal York, but there were a few things that really impressed me as far as the kitchens went. One of them was the size of their soup cauldrons. I lie to you not, you could fit your kitchen stove in there. Quite amazing. They do all their own pastries, butchering, etc. etc. It’s really quite the operation.
As for the St. Lawrence Market and Redpath? Well, I forgot I had my camera with me. Maybe next time.

A New City

In Life in General on August 21, 2011 at 12:37 pm

I love exploring a new city. I love wandering the neighbourhoods, getting lost, and then finding myself again. I love to glut myself on the myraids of architecture that surround me. I love to see what old buildings have been converted for new uses. I love thinking I’ve got a neighbourhood figured out only to discover that I missed an entire section of it.

Today, my sense of curiosity meant that it took me roughly two hours to walk home from church. I wandered up side streets, through parks, checked out a vintage clothing store, a specialty cheese shop, and made mental notes of cafes to try once my budget allows it.

On Friday I checked out the neighbourhood adjacent to mine, called Liberty Village. I discovered an old industrial building that had a covered walkway in it. The building has been converted into botique shops from salons to bakeries. It was delightful. Liberty village has no shortage of lofts and warehouse conversions. It also has no shortage of bistros. There is character in Liberty Village that is all it’s own. It is an industrial conversion site amidst neighbourhoods of old brick rowhousing, semi-detached, and thin, tall detached homes. Actually, while I enjoy my neighbourhood, I would love to live in a loft conversion in Liberty Village. The entire neighbourhood has the vibe of someplace that’s revving up for greatness. Hopefully that greatness will extend itself into my neighbourhood, which is in sections going through a revitalization and regeneration process. However, it’s in a much earlier stage than Liberty Village is. That being said, I think if I were to stay here for the next ten years, I’d see drastic changes happening in my neighbourhood and it will become a cleaner, more upper class neighbourhood as the old houses get bought out and fixed up. After all, it’s within biking distance of the downtown core– actually, you can walk it easily too if you have the time. Part of me is really excited to see what happens there. But for now, I’ll enjoy the occasional wander through Liberty Village, complete with it’s old converted red brick factories covered in vines, and the great little shops that have moved in to become a part of that community.

The death of the church?

In Life in General on August 15, 2011 at 7:44 pm

I must confess that sometimes I despair the future of the church. As a newcomer to my neighbourhood in Toronto, I decided that I would try out the two local protestant churches before spreading my net for a home church a little further out. After all, Christ calls us to be his hands in our communities where we live. What better way to get involved in one’s neighbourhood than to attend church there?

As such, last Sunday I went to a quaint, brick Anglican church. I noticed almost immediately that it was dying. The congregation was small, even by summer standards. The majority of the congregation was beyond retirement age, and those who were younger did not make up a substantial enough portion of the church to keep it alive as the older generation dies off. Actually, I’m surprised that with so few members the church is able to keep its doors open at all.

This Sunday, I attended the Presbyterian church. It was once again, a lovely brick building. Inside the architecture was delightful, and my insides swelled with happiness upon hearing the first hymn come to life on their full sized pipe organ. But once again, the congregation was small, dwindling, and dying. Maybe 10% of the church was filled. It made my heart hurt a little. Beyond that, the preaching and singing were do dismal, I had to force myself to remain for the entire service.

And for me, those were the only church options in my neighbourhood. How can we be Christ’s hands if his body is not present? How are those in my neighbourhood to know the love of Christ when the churches have such difficulities meeting the most basic of their expenses? How are members of the community who want to inquire into the faith meant to find a place to do so? They certainly aren’t going to wander out of their normal life realm in search of a church. No, they’ll try to find other things to fill the God shaped hole in their heart.

That being said, it looks like I too am going to be looking further afield for a home church. Part of it makes me sad, but the other part recognizes my need for community in a new place. I will still do my best to love those I meet in my  neighbourhood, but church will have to take place elsewhere. I don’t really want to go to a mega church, but finding a small healthy church seems to be a challenge these days. Pray for guidance for me as I search for the church that God wants me to make home.

Here Comes the Rain

In Life in General on August 7, 2011 at 7:10 am

It’s raining pretty well outside. The first time since I’ve gotten to Toronto. Apparently it’s been a dry summer for them. Apparently I brought Edmonton’s weather with me. The air is muggy. You take a shower, get out, dry off, and feel like you need another shower. Your skin becomes sticky in no time flat and when in a public place, you pray that your deodorant is working well, and that everyone else’s is too. There’s church this morning, and I’m not exactly sure what time it starts. I think it’s 10:30, but it may well be 11. That being said, I don’t really want to show up half an hour early, only to have to hang out in the rain for half an hour. I was intending on going to the Anglican church and checking that out, but maybe I’ll opt for the Presbyterian, as I know for a fact that they start at 11.

Although Sundays are typically a day of rest, I think that a bit of my afternoon will be spent prepping and priming the floor of my bedroom. I really want to get as much of it done as possible, before I have to get going with all my school stuff.

It’s hard to believe that I begin culinary school tomorrow. I’ve been dreaming about this for a few years now, and the time has finally come. Amidst the rolling thunder, and the sound of raindrops landing on leaves, I can’t help but feel calm, no sense of trepidation at the upcoming day. Although I’m not really sure what to expect, I think that coming into this process as a mature student may give me an advantage. Hopefully I’ll be able to work quickly, accurately, and with a cool head, even though the heat in the kitchen will undoubtedly become intense.

But for now, I focus on the falling rain, watering the earth. When I look out and see how God takes care of his creation, watering it, providing it with sun, I know that he is a loving God. I know that he cares for his creation, and he also cares for me. He has allowed everything to click into place to make this life change a possibility. I have to believe he will bless me in it. Granted, I have yet to do the job hunt, and I’m a little nervous about that. But I’ll wind up where I’m supposed to be. I’ll put in the leg work and let God take care of the rest.

A happy Sunday to you all. May it be a day of rest, peace, and anticipation for the week to come.

Noise in the Night

In Life in General on August 3, 2011 at 8:08 am

The noises of Toronto kept me up last night. The air was hot and humid, stifling attempts to fall into a restful slumber. I could only seem to doze off, just to awaken again. The stairs in my house creak, and so every time a roommate goes up or down the stairs, I wake up. Every time rumbles over the tracks at the end of my street, I wake up. I’m paranoid about my home not being safe at night, not because of my housemates, who all seem to be lovely people, but because I’m scared some crazy will come in off the streets and alight with my new-to-me bicycle. It’s amazing how paranoia can rear it’s ugly head when you’re in a new place.

 

My bike will be my primary form of transportation until the snow falls, and I’m feeling rather protective of it right now. Although it’s an older, refurbished hybrid, it gives a smooth ride, has a great cushioned seat, and all the gears work. It’s precisely what I wanted to find when my father and I went shopping for it. I have my fingers crossed that it won’t get stolen. I’ve bought a good bike lock, so hopefully that will help.

 

Today, I plan to take my bike uptown to go to the college I’ll be attending and finish off the last of the paperwork to enrol me for next Monday. It should all go smoothly, and I’m not particularly worried about it. I’m also hoping to get a start on washing down the walls in my room as prep for painting. This room badly needs a paint job, and although the plaster is cracked and previous paint jobs had left odd blobs that should be sanded down, because we think there is lead based paint underneath, a surface sanding will have to suffice. In just a few short minutes I intend to head down to the hardware store to do a bit of shopping. I’m thankful that I don’t have to pay for the supplies myself, as I’m a student on a budget. Other goals for today include finding an internet café where I can print off resumes so that I can start the job hunt, as well as finding a thrift store so that I can pick up some much needed shorts. Apparently there’s a decent Value Village nearby.

 

Today will be tiring, undoubtedly, but I look forward to it with anticipation. Wish me luck as I go into day 2 of a new adventure.