The Making and Meaning of Life – Br. Curtis Almquist

Br. Curtis Almquist

Psalm 4
1 John 3:1-7

In Psalm 4, which we just sang, there is a wonderful phrase: “You have put gladness in my heart, more than when grain and wine and oil increase.” “Gladness,” in the Hebrew, is often translated as “joy.” Our word “gladness” comes from the Old English meaning “bright, shining, gleaming, joyous.” God has put gladness, joyfulness, into our heart, which is a wonderful elixir when life feels desolating. Gladness, joyfulness, is a gift from God. Which begs the question: How do we cultivate and appropriate the gift of gladness that God has already put into our heart?

For one, you don’t have to wait until everything is peachy. You don’t have to wait until all the bad stuff, all the bad people, all the suffering is over… and then you can get in touch with gladness, with joyfulness. No need to wait. Gladness and joyfulness are “alongsiders.” In the scriptures, so often we read of suffering and joy coexisting, which is a paradox. Often the depth of one’s suffering will forecast the height of one’s forthcoming experience of joy. The psalmist writes, “Weeping may spend the night, but joy comes in the morning.”[i] Read More

Finding God in the Marsh – Br. James Koester

1 Kings 17: 7-16; Psalm 4; Matthew 5: 13 – 16

If it’s true that in spring, a young man’s fancy turns to love, then in summer, this young man’s fancy turns to … the beach. And not just any beach, a particular beach, Lumsden Beach.

As a boy, I grew up spending every summer at our family cottage at Lumsden Beach on Last Mountain Lake in southern Saskatchewan. The lake itself is long and narrow; stretching about 60 miles from one end to the other, but at its widest point is barely 1.5 miles from one side to the other. Our cottage is near the southern tip of the lake and a couple of miles beyond us the lake literally disappears into muck, and weed and marsh before coming to an end in the open prairie of the Qu’Appelle Valley.

In the last number of years the marsh at the end of the lake has been restored and the area has become home once again to many bird species including piping plovers, whooping cranes and pelicans.  As dusk falls at the end of the day, it is not unusual to see flocks of pelicans heading down the lake from their fishing spots, to their nesting ground in the marsh. It’s truly a magnificent sight as these large, unwieldy birds fly gracefully down the lake heading home to the marsh for the night.

Like all marshes, this particular marsh plays an important role in the ecosystem of the lake. It provides a home for rare and unusual birds, as well as the not so rare and not so unusual. It’s a wonderful place to catch frogs or watch birds or maybe even spot a beaver going about its business. The marsh provides a whole other world to explore that is neither lake nor prairie as it acts as a threshold from one to the other and back again. Like so many other similar places, the marsh at the end of the lake is a place of discovery and mystery simply because it is a place of transition. It is a threshold one must cross to get from lake to prairie. It is a liminal place that one must enter in order to pass from one to the other. It may be just a marsh at the end of the lake, but it’s also a place of discovery, a place of mystery, a place of encounter. Read More