Tuesday, November 17, 2009

Eulogy for my father

Thank you so much to all of you who have come here today to honor my father or to support me and my mother. Each individual life can be compared to a pebble being cast into a body of tranquil water. Even the tiniest stone when it hits causes ripples upon ripples to stir the whole body. Never does one’s life not deeply impact things seen and unseen. It is encouraging to see that even though Norm was a complainer that his life held bearing more than I will ever know.

Norman Bertram Magder was 61 years old and he just about made it to his 62nd birthday. Survived by his cousin Robert, his sister Rosemary and me his only daughter. My dad’s family come from Eastern Europe and extend from a Jewish background. Norman’s grandfather was Joseph Cohn who was born in Lublin, Poland on July 17, 1889. His parents immigrated to Toronto when he was two years old. His great-great grandfather was Rabbi Judah Ha-Kohen of Budvic, Lithuania. Nettie Temes Cohn was born in Brooklyn, New York in 1894. Her parents were from the province of Galicia in Eastern Europe. The family moved to Toronto when Nettie was still a young girl. Joseph and Nettie were married in Toronto on June 25,1919. Nettie became a well-known caterer in Toronto. Her specialty was apple strudel.
I did not have the whole of 23 years to become acquainted with my father so sadly, I do not know him as well as I wish I did. Regardless there are a few specific details that I have undeniably inherited from him.

I have never known my father with a full head of hair. Lets be honest, my mother never knew my father with a full head of hair and they met when she was 24 years old. That persistently sun kissed-bronzed bald surface of his was the envy of many supermodels dreams. He left me with a love for the sun, little jewish ringlets on the sides of my face and beautiful five-head that I will never again be ashamed of.

When Norm was not working hard at his job or enjoying fellowship around the poker table, he was constantly watching sports. My desire to spend time with my dad developed in me a competitive edge and a love for (some) sports. I do not know if my dad was a rigorous athlete, but he certainly was knowledgeable about the things he cared most about. (He will be happy to know that the Flames are doing pretty well this season). When I told my dad that I joined our prestigious floor hockey league in my first year of college I could see his subtle interest. This year when I called him up to tell him that we won the equivalent to the Stanley Cup, his subtle interest swelled to a teeming pride.

When I was a little girl I saw my dad as a suave, cultured man. When he lived in Vancouver and Calgary he was connected with many high rollers and those in big business. He had a deep appreciation for other cultures, especially the cuisine part of the culture (as most could tell by his plump rounded center). However infrequent our time was together, the most memorable moments were spent enjoying delectable, mouth-watering food. He knew every exceptional restaurant from the hole-in-the-wall Vietnamese joint, to the lavished fresh seafood locales. It did not matter if we went to Tim Hortons to enjoy a coffee (a custom he fulfilled a number of times a day) or if we enjoyed take out sushi at the house, my father instilled in me a great love for food and fellowship.

There are many tough situations I have walked though in my short 23 years on this earth. In all honesty this is the most devastating and disorienting circumstance I have had to face. Death is one of the only things we can know for certain will come to pass, yet there is never anything that can prepare us enough to absorb the feeling of loss. My father is gone and the world as I see it will never be the same again. Although I have experienced some lasting memories with my dad my deepest laments are that he will not see me graduate with my degree in the spring. He will not be there to walk me down the aisle at my wedding. He will never experience being called grandpa.

In the end however, there is hope for the future. Hope seems to always be mixed with disappointment and the despair can sometimes seem to overshadow the expectation for the good that is to come. This is one of those times. But hope will always stand in the end. I will deeply miss my father but I can stand here today and say that I know that the Lord is in control and His plans are always good.

Friday, September 25, 2009

Learning is Incarnational

In my last semester of College I took a class called Integrative Seminar. The purpose of this class was to look back on the many topics that we have discussed in previous years and re-examine our thoughts towards them. It is Socrates who said, “the unexamined life is not worth living.” How necessary it is to not simply buy into culture but to be courageous enough to examine who we are, why we think the way we do, and if our culture is functioning in a right and truthful manner. Facing ourselves is neither easy nor pretty, but in order to become whole we must!

If I could pick an overall thesis for a liberal arts education at Eston College it would be to, “learn how to incarnate Truth by weaving together one’s belief and behavior into a consistent whole, whereby one’s life engenders a humble openness, a worldview sufficient to answer the questions of life, and an ability to engage a broken world.”

So. Where does that leave me now?

I am finishing the degree that I have started by embarking on another adventure with LifeFORCE Teams UK. Meditating on this idea of an integrated life makes me wonder, how does this actually work? Our intentions can be so fragmented from our actions; we are broken humans. Spending this year in Walsall, England is not a year allotted to finally “figure out” how to become an integrated whole. It is a year of beginnings. The nature of fusing the most important things together with how this shapes one’s life is a long process of challenges to one’s current worldview and relationships with people who will help embody this integration.

Most of the things I am doing for my internship are new things. I do not know if I was designed to do them or not, but this is the time to find out. I will be working mostly with students ranging from the ages of 4-18. Assemblies, RE classes, enrichment courses promoting a holistic lifestyle, dance, art, networking, community development. Fun, vulnerability, humility, failure, learning, reading, interacting, sllooownesssss.

Here's to weaving. Cheers.

Friday, September 18, 2009

epic or not

Most friends I have from college would tell you that it is rare when I allow others to read my writing. This is not because I believe I am a spectacular orator or author, quite the opposite really. Inscribing one’s thoughts for anyone to read is unnerving because one is left exposed and vulnerable. There is risk because once words are written down (static) we feel that we hold some sort of control over them. There is susceptibility too because the message that one wishes to convey will always be interpreted differently by each person who hears or reads it. I used to be overcome to the point of defeat when looking at my inability to communicate the thing that I so desperately wanted to be understood. Miscommunication is a regular occurrence and it is indeed frustrating. Frustrating but unavoidable. One’s history, culture, and experiences help form the filter by which we interpret everything. Therefore certain words I say may have connotations that can either open you up or close you off. I have no control in the situation; I am vulnerable.

Within the surmountable and ever-increasing world of blogging there exists an expectation that each entry will contain some nostalgic bit of literature. Whether one teaches, preaches, writes, converses, or blogs, each is tempted to avoid vulnerability by hiding behind elegant phrases or “original” ideas. A friend and I were talking in the summer and he encouraged me with this: “What has been will be again, what been done will be done again; there is nothing new under the sun.” Ecclesiastes 1:9. Thanks Jesse. I do believe in creative imagination that should be utilized, however there is a certain pressure taken off. Everything I might say here likely has been stated before and that is okay. Some things I might say will be misinterpreted and could offend you and that is okay. Not anything I might say will be a hidden or contrived version of me; this I will try most assuredly to maintain. I cannot promise nostalgia; indeed I might be boring or silly to read! Either way it will be me and if you are daring I would ask the same from you. Thanks to Jordan and those of you who have not been afraid to let others into your world of thoughts; you have encouraged me to do just that. Thanks to my friends and family who will be reading this at home in Canada. I love you and miss you. Thanks for journeying with me.