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Wednesday, October 13, 2004


Oh Deer!

I got up v early today to head to Banff and have a day just to clear the head and to live something of a Zihuatanejo experience, a completely exhilarating day. Not just that it was a restful day but it also felt like it was a day of meeting Jesus.

So I got a ride from a hilarious guy called Brent. He’s part of the Calgary Urban Monastery team and I stayed with him and his preggers wife Carlee last week when I arrived. They are a great couple with a grand sense of faith and humour. Road trippin’ across here before sunrise felt mental, especially in this big truck that Brent has for his work with Bobcat. We listened to Our Lady Peace on the way there and the shimmer of the mountains as the sun began to think about rising was something else. On arrival in Banff, Brent stops only so much as to find an elk besides us peacefully eating the grass outside one of the many hotels here. It’s mating season and Brent tells us not to stay too long as they get very aggressive, even on some occasions charging cars and damaging the bodywork.

Having been dropped off a la Wrigley’s Spearmint gum advert from 15 years ago, the stranger walks into town. Funny thing is that everyone’s a stranger in this town. However that’s the joy of the place that people have centred on this site to marvel at God’s creation and enjoy the Hot Springs nearby.

I turn to a local diner for an authentic North American breakfast before heading up on my hike up Tunnel Mountain. One of the smaller mountains, I’m hit by the realisation that often my mountain in life is smaller than that of other people but that, it’s still a mountain. Before setting off, the local tourist office tell me some tips to watch out for bears, cougars, wolves and elk, all of whom can be quite aggressive. So I’m told to make noise as I hike, so I start off singing some worship that quickly turns into crazy old songs that I remember from when I was a kid. One such song was Valderee, valdera … a knapsack on my back …and as I go a wandering… Oh the joy. It was by now getting quite warm and the views are spectacular. I spend a couple of hours at the top of this peak looking across the Bow Valley down into Banff and just enjoying the place of crystal clear thinking. One can see why Moses heard so audibly from God on the top of Mount Sinai.

On my way down I was conscious of wanting to meet with the world, the ascetic is all very well but only in the context of the intimacy with God time transferring across to our contemporaries. I start to walk up to the Upper Hot Springs here in Banff for some soaking time. With our new building in Reading to house a well, I was conscious of the healing of going to the hot springs. It certainly helped those bones of mine, so much of the time hurting from my body’s fatigue. Whilst there I decided to pray that God would provide someone at the springs that I would need to help and that would need to help me. Nowt happened up there, however a woman who I was sitting beside in the hot tub, followed me down off the mountain through the woods. Then, a family of deer, who didn’t really like the look of me, accosted me. I can understand why, but suddenly I was stopped in my tracks and the lady behind me caught me up. She too was a little startled at this and we both sat tight as this deer 2 feet from me, gave me the evils. After a couple of minutes they walked on by. We were then able to get going and I then was able to start chatting with this lady named Sharon.

Sharon’s a care worker from Connecticut. We talked at length for a while all about what each of us did, and I told her I worked for a worldwide prayer movement at which she was really interested. She had a background in the church; she went to various Baptist camps as a teenager but seemed very much an occasional worshipper. We talked a bit about God, she then says to me ‘Can I pay for your bus fare back in to Banff?’ She said that it was the least she could do, as she hadn’t put any money in the local church coffers recently. When I tell her that God had told me that her being there with the deer was a time where we were both able to help each other and it was something of an answer of prayer, she was not at all surprised and said ‘well if you’ll talk to God, I guess you got to expect Him to talk back’. Over the next 15 minutes it really seems that God had me there to reinvigorate this woman’s faith. She has been serving for years and seemed pretty dry and she seemed genuinely thankful for our conversation, and yet it was her who shouted my bus fare. Thanks Lord.

It was now time to scoot back on the Greyhound to Calgary. Wow, I love the Greyhound. I have to admit my opinion of this was very prejudicial. Sorry to be such a snob. This was great, comfy and yet cheap as chips. I got to sit next to a 60 yr old lady who was charming and was travelling from her home in British Columbia to Winnipeg. That’s a mental journey lasting 2 days pretty much. On arriving in Calgary I finished off my Sabbath experience of a day by watching some baseball having a beer downtown. I must remember to make my Sabbath like that more often, and for that I’ve got my life completely wrong. This whole thing of spending time with God, his creation and then just running with it without just being laid up in bed is surely better. I must not let myself get laid up in bed and spend my Sabbath burnt out from the rest of the week. Sabbath was meant to be rest not distress and catch-up. So all in all this is part of me maturing. Understandings as I carry on more in ministry this need to rest. For me that’s more than most, but God’s cool with it, it just needs to be me being cool with it.

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