Yesterday afternoon, I was blessed to attend a gathering out in Langley hosted by my good friend Kathleen. It was a great day of fellowship under the warm sun, as over 50 people (ranging from the age of 13 months-old to 50-something years-old) ate, drank, laughed, sang songs, and swam.
I knew the majority of attendees through youth and young adult ministry in the archdiocese. We had a wonderful afternoon of connecting and catching up. Topics ranged from my missing family to my concussion to what they had been doing all summer to what kind of jump off the diving board makes the biggest splash.
I’m not sure how many of them knew (or cared) that I was going to be there as many of them seemed pleasantly surprised when I arrived. Or at least they did a great job in faking it.
Today, my lovely wife Gail and I celebrate 15 years of marriage as we received the Sacrament of Matrimony on Saturday, July 8, 2000 at St. Paul Parish in Richmond on a beautiful and sunny day.
On our 15th wedding anniversary, here are 15 things I’ve learned about through marriage; they are all essential aspects of our union. This isn’t an exhaustive list, and some of the things might not ring true for other couples.
But these are things that I believe we hold true and dear to our hearts. Some of these things I’ve learned directly from Gail, other things more indirectly. She may have even learned a thing or two from me. And we’ve learned many of these things together as a couple.
Remember the good old days when we would get to know someone better by spending time with him?
Like in the same physical vicinity as him. And actually talking to him.
Not via text. Or Twitter. Or email. Or Facebook.
One-on-one. Face to face.
I’m not going to go on an anti-social media rant or diatribe here. Obviously, I see its merits and understand the blessings that come with it.
But I also see the challenges. In an effort to be more efficient with our time and more strategic in our approach – whether in youth ministry or in general life – we sometimes get caught up in the quantity of our relationships and not the quality of them.
I’m in Ottawa this week for the biennial National Youth Ministry Conference put on by the Canadian Catholic Youth Ministry Network (CCYMN). By virtue of my position as the Director of the Office of Youth and Young Adult Ministry (OYYAM) for the Archdiocese of Vancouver, I’ve been part of the CCYMN since its inception in 2005.
Prior to the weekend conference, the Directors and Coordinators of Youth Ministry and Young Adult Ministry are gathering for a few days for our Annual General Meeting. It will be a great chance to pray, to share, to network, and to discuss issues that we face on both national and local levels.
At the opening session of the AGM, we broke into small groups and talked about the conference theme of “Be Still and Know That I am God” from Psalm 46. The responses from my group members were not surprising: we are all busy balancing family and ministry (and other things) and it’s a challenge to just “be still”. Yet we collectively realized that it’s vital to our ministries and more importantly our health, our relationships, and our overall well-being.
I told my group that while I acknowledge the importance of being still, it actually isn’t really on my radar or a priority for me…at least currently. I certainly wasn’t suggesting that I was busier than anyone else, but I did offer that I’m not wired to “be still”. When at home, I do my best to make sure that I’m truly present to my wife and kids in all ways: physically, mentally, emotionally and spiritually. But when they go to bed, my first thought isn’t always to join them (it doesn’t help that my wife Gail often goes to bed before sunset but that’s not the point here…haha). I do my best work when I’m working well into the night, or more accurately, well into the next morning. Sometimes it’s ministry work and other times it’s creating written and video blogs on the Vancouver Canucks (my other passion besides family and faith).
Granted, I’m not getting any younger so I certainly don’t have the stamina that I had 10 or even five years ago. I know that my wife Gail would like me to get more sleep but it’s hard, especially when I’m excited about what I’m working on. And I realize it’s always the same routine in the morning: while we’re scrambling around trying to get the kids ready for school, she still takes the time to read the blog or watch the video that I had finished just a few hours prior. Even when I can tell that she doesn’t care, at least she pretends to. :p
So I admit: this theme of being still is going to challenge me and stretch me. Obviously, I recognize the value of slowing things down and simply resting in the Lord. I, like many others, often catch myself being more “Martha” and less “Mary”.
But I must remember that I don’t always have to be “chasing after” God or “seeking after” Him. There are times when I need to just get over myself, be still, and let Him find me.
Husband, Father, Youth Minister, Speaker: Lover of God, Family and the Canucks