Red flags

Red flags. Of all the marches and rallies held around the world the one that caught the attention of people around the world was the one held in Sandy Cove. A small group of women and men in beautiful Sandy Cove marched in support of women’s right, human rights, around the world. It was very moving and unexpected to see these people on what for me is familiar terrain.

In 1990 I was the supply Minister in Digby and Sandy Cove as I waited for my fiancé Kim to graduate from seminary. I was paid and expected to work as a full-time Minister, I lived in the manse, and did everything an ordained Minister would do less the Sacraments. I was a bachelor and accepted dinner invitations whenever they came, I had no food in my fridge, it was a highly social time. So even though I was only there the one year I got to know the people of Sandy Cove and Digby in a very authentic and full way. When Kim and I got married at the end of that year we had Tony and Victor play the accordion and mouth organ at the service. Sandy Cove will always have a special place in my heart.

So when I heard that Sandy Cove was the source of this inspiration for women around the world I was mighty impressed. Good on them! But why did that effort have such an outsized effect? I am convinced it was the unexpected aspect of this small march in this small community. I know from my time in politics that when a letter (handwritten) or email or phone message is received from someone who never writes, who never complains, who is obviously moved to advocate by something other than self-interest or a hardwiring as a complainer the MLA or MP and their staff notice. Such a person has an outsized effect with their letter or call.

As a Minister I too notice the call or email or letter or comment that comes from the unexpected source more than the repeated complaints from the likely sources. Truth be told with many regular complains from the likely sources there is a kind of banter that is almost fun. I know what is coming, they know the response and others sit back and watch. It is a little like Question Period. Now I know that is not always the case, sometimes these complaints and complainers are anything but fun and they can make like very challenging.

But the critical feedback I tend to pay closest attention to comes from those who never say boo, who are more apt to passively sit back and be supportive. When s/he says something I notice. You could say this is the nudge of the Holy Spirit, and you would not be wrong. The Bible is full of examples of the Spirit coming when we least expected it, from sources we least expected.

Recently someone told me the services are a little long. This has long been a complaint about services I plan and lead. The good news is the same person feels the services are good, my presentation thoughtful and engaging, even stimulating, but long. The reason for this is three-fold, I share too many announcements (my bias is everyone should know everything), I preach too long because I use no notes and often go off on tangents as I am speaking and I often fail to tell others involved in the service that they are speaking too long for fear of being a hypocrite as I speak at length. Still the services are too long and when not addressed it can lead to people coming less often to services. I need to be attentive to this and because the latest feedback came from an unexpected source I am more apt to act.