Blog: Highland Highlights
Summer is here and with it, for me at least, comes sitting at the beach (or deck, or backyard, or park) and reading a good book. The following are a few book reviews and recommendations from Highlanders to help you choose your next good read.
Sensible Shoes: A Story About the Spiritual Journey
--Sharon Garlough Brown (pub.2013)
This is the first in a four-book series, a fictional story of four women of different ages and stations in life who are strangers to each other and end up at a table together at a spiritual retreat. They become friends and companions supporting each other along their collective journey of spiritual practice and deeper spiritual formation. I found their everyday stories and struggles very relatable and they totally drew me in. At the end of each chapter, there are exercises to lead one in spiritual practice, and there are study guides available. Each of the four book titles in the series has some reference to feet or walking, the meaning of which become clear as you read. – Marg Neufeld
-- John Flanagan
This is by far my favourite book series, in total there are 12 books. The book series follows an orphaned boy named Will, who is the apprentice to the famed Ranger Halt. Each novel follows Will around the Kingdom of Araluen battling rogue barons, bands of misfits, and vikings. The story is full of action and adventure. There even is a more than one love story that takes place. All the books are very well written and easy to read. I love this series because of the relatable characters, the humour, the love stories and the adventure that keeps the reader on the edge of their seat. The genre is Medieval Fantasy.
– Chevelle Chapman
When the Heart Waits: Spiritual Direction for Life’s Sacred Questions
-- Sue Monk Kidd (pub. 1999)
This is the author’s autobiographical account of her own spiritual crisis and awakening. It leads us through the spiritual practice of ‘active waiting’. I read this book several years ago when I was myself going through a time of questioning and wondering and not knowing what next. I read it voraciously underlining so much that resonated with me or that was a new concept to me. It’s an easy read but so chockful of insight and challenge you want to go slow and reread. And by the way, it’s been lauded by Richard Rohr and Eugene Peterson, and recently recommended by Cathy Hardy at a Highland women’s retreat. It would work well for a group study; there is a guide available in the back of 2016 edition. This author also writes very good fiction.
– Marg Neufeld
Recommendations from the Rempel family...
Keep your eye out for future posts with more reviews and some recommendations.
What are some of your favourite books? Please share your recommendations in the comments.
Wisdom: Is that you, Wonder? Oh, you know what I want to do?
Wonder: Step back about 6 feet, you, know, for comfort?
Wisdom: Oh you are so funny! I sure miss seeing you!
Wonder: Me too, you better be ready, this won’t last forever.
Wisdom: I sure hope you’re right, but then, you usually are.
Wonder: I know. So tell me how have you been and how has your life changed with this whole virus thing?
Wisdom: I am doing well, but things have really changed for all of us, haven’t they?
Wonder: Remember some time ago when we were talking and this crazy Abe guy started singing, “nothing really changes, everything remains the same...” and whatever we were thinking at the time, we kind of agreed with him. But now it’s more like “everything’s really changed”!
Wisdom: Who would have known that the whole world would be living the same story? When has that ever happened?
Wonder: Never! At least not while I’ve been alive. It seems like we’re all feeling the changes differently, not just talking about countries, but people, even in my family.
Wisdom: It’s like each country and each person has their own personality and it comes out in how they deal with this.
Wonder: Yeah, well, what I missed most was how I didn’t have volleyball and didn’t get to hang out with my friends. The worst thing that was cancelled for me was sports, especially since all my favourite sports teams were doing so good. How about you Wisdom, what did you miss?
Wisdom: Well, I do miss getting together with friends and worship with our Highland community. You know, Wonder, I almost feel a bit guilty saying this, but it’s like I am on this lovely extended vacation with all kinds of space and time to do so much that I enjoy. It’s like a gift to me.
Wonder: I wouldn’t say it’s a gift to me. Well, it goes to show how different we are! But I like what you are saying about this time and space as an opportunity. Maybe, I need to focus more at the better things rather than the worse ones.
Wisdom: That sounds good, Wonder. No matter who we are it is so important for us to be able to, well, know and understand ourselves, learning to listen, be kind, and love ones self.
Wonder: Whoa Wisdom, now you’re taking this talk to a whole new level! Who has time for that?
Wisdom: I thought that you might, Wonder.
Wonder: Well, you’ve got me thinking.......like maybe I need to stop trying to make things “normal” and try to kind of let go of things that I’m so used to and just be and wonder.
Wisdom: Yeah, it’s like maybe we need to learn to walk in the dark rather than going for all the light switches before we adjust.
Wonder: Wow, so even in the dark we could still see. And even find new things out about myself, and how I should treat others, and yeah, wonder about God. Not being so busy, maybe I could practice that more, even in the day light.
Wisdom: Now, you’ve just taken things to a whole new level.
Wonder: You do this to me. Now here’s something for you to think about. So for you, this Covid time seems like a wide open space of freedom, even a gift! And then there’s those who feel like prisoners in a cage. Now in all your wisdom, how do you free people from their prisons? Or help them in their prisons?
Wisdom: An easy question. Haha. At least I have you working with me. Here goes. Everything about this season tells me of the important need to practice living in this “in-between”, embrace the now!
Wonder: I’ve heard someone, I think maybe it was J, speaking of “kingdom living” as both, “already” and “not yet”. That’s what you’re talking about isn’t it? It’s about fully embracing the here and now. That kind of living can get your imagination brewing on the “not yet” of our journey together.
Wisdom: That is so wise, Wonder. You’re right, it’s not skipping the scary and dark time but living into it. We have already seen the beauty of people responding in love during this difficult time. Let’s not just be restored to how we were before this started but be transformed.
Wonder: Restored, Transformed, those are big words. I’m with you, let’s go with transformed. Sounds like that’s the work of love.
Wisdom: I’m all in. Let’s practice loving ourselves, our neighbours and God in our beautiful world?
Wonder: And if God is like we imagine and talk about, we know that God is in the middle of it all with us. And yeah, to be free, I guess it’s good to not pity ourselves so much. I’m thinking of the hundreds of thousands of people that have suffered and died and all their families and friends who will miss them forever. We can sit quietly remembering them.
Wisdom: Now I know what I’ve missed. These wonderful conversations with you! We are so rich, actually we’re lucky bums!
-- Abe Buhler
The protests regarding racial injustice in the US invite us to live and feel and grapple with realities in our own community. Here are two suggestions:
As a first step, give some time to do a bit of learning. MCC offers many helpful resources. Here’s a good place to start: https://mcc.org/stories/ending-racism. Another helpful resource is a series of teachings on racism offered by Cedar Park MB Church in Ladner, BC. You can find those here: https://cedarparkchurch.org/sermons/unravelling-racism/.
Second, and perhaps most importantly, pray. Acknowledge the pain and suffering that exists; the psalms are especially helpful in offering up our laments. And in addition to praying for people and events in the US, pray for our indigenous neighbours in Canada, as well as our Asian brothers and sisters in the Lower Mainland. Dave Chow, who is the pastor of Killarney Park MB Church and has spoken at Highland, sent out this note this week:
At one of our last ZOOM meetings, some of us at church admitted having had racist things yelled at us, or insinuated at us (the most subtle are “mean looks”, the most blunt were words people chose to say or yell at us, like “Go back to where you came from!”). Some of us have Asian ethnic backgrounds—Korean, Japanese, Philippine, Vietnamese—but some of us of Chinese ethnic extraction were born in Canada.
In these past few weeks during this COVID19 pandemic, when we hear an audible taunt, when we see a furtive look, or are a victim of an accusation—“You’re responsible for COVID19!”—it hurts. Now, we are not facing the same severity of the victims of the terrible "Black Lives Matter" killings, nor the residential school horrors faced by our First Nations friends (and who continue to experience systemic racism here in Canada). But our history – not just in Canada, but in Vancouver, in particular—is marred with anti-asian racist policy and anti-Chinese racism-fuelled riots.
Let the COVID19 period be a moment in time when the church is seen and heard as people who love generously, and who stand courageously with victims of racism.
In 1539 Menno Simons offered these words: “True evangelical faith cannot lie dormant, but spreads itself out in all kinds of righteousness and fruits of love…it clothes the naked; it feeds the hungry; it comforts the sorrowful; it shelters the destitute; it aids and consoles the sad; it does good to those who do it harm; it prays for those who persecute it; it teaches, admonishes and resources us with the Word of the Lord; it seeks those who are lost; it binds up what is wounded; it heals the sick; it saves what is sound; it becomes all things to all people. The persecution, suffering and anguish that come to it for the sake of the Lord’s truth have become a glorious joy and comfort to it.”
As we seek to be peacemakers in the days to come, let’s trust that the Spirit will illuminate the ways in which we might make these words our own.