Monthly Archives: March 2017

The Spiritual Discipline of Letting Go

A lecture on ‘letting go’ had me riveted to the hard pew on Sunday morning. As my eyes glanced across the familiar tangerine and teal stained glass windows, my thoughts reviewed my inner life.   Purging has been a lifelong practice for me but has never caught up with my ability to acquire, to accumulate, to pile up possessions or offenses. Yet again I realize I need to weed out the garden of my heart. Some dandelions that seemed useful perhaps for tea drinking have actually become entrenched in my mossy green lawn. Their roots have strangled my grass and some of my reasoning about words and deeds I have heard and observed.

Some of my formative years were spent in my grandmother’s house in Scotland. Every spring and autumn what we called ‘McGuinty’s closet’ would get some spring-cleaning attention. This walk-in closet held layers of belongings decades old. Only the things close to the door were gone through and given away. These were mostly children’s clothes too small for the new season.

Last Sunday’s guest talk was no mere spring-cleaning or polishing up of what was there near the door of our hearts and minds. It was like our moving day to me. Long held possessions of hurts, and ways of doing things a certain way, were to be let go of or group life would fail. That was the message, yes.

My mind goes today to a large outdoor sculpture that used to be in Vancouver called “Device for Rooting out Evil.” It was a hut-sized 3D silver church sitting upside down on the landscaped lawn. The steeple had been dug into the ground. The first time I saw it I felt angry, was this an insult, I thought. As the work penetrated my thinking, as all good art will, layers of understanding emerged in my mind. I wondered, is this rooting out of evil, to be of the church by the church, can it be.

Let it begin with me, yes. I carry my hurts rattling along like tin cans on festive streamers attached to a wedding car. But this is not happy. Yes, I have a muffler silencing them, as any good Christian would, but what if I were to detach from them and drive along free, unencumbered to my future. Unencumbered, is this the freedom of forgiveness that the cross symbolizes, I muse.  I wonder if this is part of the power of spiritual disciplines: to hold sacred space for inner movements toward God.

I will be free of that which so easily besets me. I take out my steeple and dig it out, this memory of unintentional hurts. So, what if someone said this or did that. I choose to be over it by the power of the Spirit.

Book of Philippians

 I gave up all that inferior stuff so I could know Christ personally…

I feel spring-cleaned and ready for Easter. The intriguing thing for me, as one who holds a graduate degree in the art of spiritual formation, is that the church changes will come now by way of ‘new’ (but ancient) spiritual practices and disciplines (perhaps mingled with art practices) that have become my life’s work. God’s ways are of course higher than mine. I really love spring, especially the outrageous pinkness of spring in Vancouver’s Cherry Blossom Festival.

Book of Isaiah

Behold, I will do a new thing; now it shall spring forth; shall ye not know it? I will even make a way in the wilderness, and rivers in the desert.



Cutting, Crocheting, Same Thing?

So I have addictions in my family.

I do.

Recently I have been creating textile art projects – knit and crochet. I had also read an article about ‘cutting” and wondered how people do this. I heard a speaker talk about ‘cutting’ as a way to counteract psychological pain. I still could not get my head around actually taking a box cutter and doing controlled cuts: the blood drops, the permanent scars, the hiding of the body. How does one hide one’s arms – from everyone?

The other night as I continued to crochet long after my shoulders and neck hurt. And went back to it again the next pain-filled day. A question came to me: “Is this any different from ‘cutting’, really?”

Well I have been creating ‘Circle Flowers’ for a pop-up love gifting. At least my pain is producing something good, I thought, ‘Cutting’ is just destructive and a call for help.

It was then that I saw them as the same. The meaning is mixed – perhaps because a moral judgement is irrelevant. I am no different. Perhaps my scars will come from carpel tunnel.

So I find myself wondering: “What pain am I trying to counteract?” and “Am I addicted now to creating beauty?” and “Am I damaging my neck to crochet for so long?” again “Why do I have to do this?” and “What am I hiding?”

Life is complicated. ‘Handle with Prayer’ is the old saying. I also practice contemplative knitting. I contemplate God. I contemplate myself. I pray. Is this contemplative knitting becoming an addiction? Can I tell the difference or is life a mash-up of healthy and destructive habits with a permeable line between?

I am not ready to look at my other addiction, Netflix, no.

Anyway, here is an image of my small ‘Circle Flowers’ installation as a love gift for all those engineering students at UBC who need some art love. Maybe, somehow, if anyone cuts with all the stress of midterms, the art love will give them a reprieve and with prayer, some healing – as I am healing in rest today.

And by the way – Happy International Women’s Day!

Christians for Biblical Equality – academic accessible ideas on Christian Feminism


“Circle Flowers Installation by DS at UBC”