Open Letter to Faith-Day Attendees | Calgary Catholic Schools–Oct 31

Greetings to all who will be attending Faith Day on October 31st!  (Calgary Catholic Schools)

picmonkey_imageI have sung at two of your events in the past, so I know what an enthusiastic lot you are, and I’m really looking forward to this!

I was born in Calgary in 1960 and therefore I have a natural affection for your city.   But also, when I was a young boy, my mother was terribly ill with crippling depression and anxiety disorder.  She spent many months in a hospital in Calgary, and nothing seemed to help until she received a visit from a kind Catholic priest whose gentle faith helped her cope and restore.

The twist to this story is that we were a Baptist family. In fact, my father was a Baptist minister who started Fairview Baptist Church in Calgary in the late 50’s.  It is quite astonishing that this beautiful encounter between Fr. Don O’Dwyer and my mom happened at all, given the still very clear dividing lines between Catholics and Protestants back in those days.  However, it was that man’s bold kindness that not only helped my mother, but also began an opening in our family to a rich faith tradition we were otherwise closed to.  And now, here I am coming to sing to you almost 50 years later.

Kindness, it turns out, is the theme of this year’s Faith Day.  In preparation, I wanted to share a song with you all (see below). The lyrics are adapted from a stunning prayer by St. Teresa of Avila (1515-1582), whose life and writings have had a deep effect on my own faith and prayer.

What is worth noting, is that the root of the word “kindness” is “kin.”  Kin-dness is not a flat or sentimental “niceness,” but rather, it flows from a deeply internalized sense of kinship which, I believe, lies at the heart of love.   This is worth pondering, especially in an educational environment that, in response to the problem of bullying, has largely opted for the low bar of tolerance.   My goodness! What a sad reduction of  the highest human achievment: Love.  In a recent conversation with author/speaker Tim Huff, he asked if I could imagine Jesus saying, “a new commandment I give unto you: that you tolerate one another as I have tolerated you.”  No! Never!

Kin-dness is not a flat or sentimental niceness, but rather, it flows from a deeply internalized sense of kinship.

This kin-ship however, runs far deeper than between human persons alone.

nokomis_original_the_great_motherCanadians in particular, have deep resonances with kin-dness; it is embedded in our history with First Nations people whose Indigenous intuition spoke of a whole created order with deeply familial connections.  Indigenous tradition honours, among others, “Grandfather Sun” and “Grandmother Moon,” whose luminous oversite guards and guides our way. And whenever harvesting a plant or animal,  reverential thanks is given (traditionally) to our “brothers and sisters who give us life at the cost of their own.

(Above image copied from NOKOMIS)

St. Francis of AssisiThis, of course, resonates with our Christian faith as well—in Saints like Francis, whose prayer/poems celebrated “Brother Sun and Sister Moon,” and whose Canticle of the Sun (in concert with the relational wisdom of Indigenous peoples world-over) may well be the good medicine our society needs right now to turn our hearts toward the kind of gratitude, humility and restraint that will allow our planet to restore and renew from overuse before irreparable damage takes place.

And then of course, there is Jesus himself, who, by calling God Father, taught us that kin-dness  resides at the deepest level of God’s very constitution.  Self-donating, mutual kin-dness,  it could be said, is the fundamental DNA of God and all that flows from God. 

It’s a good word. It’s a good focus for a Faith Day, or any day.

Again, I’m looking forward to it  🙂

 

Steve Bell / Oct. 15

 

BTW – I’m writing this on the Feast of St. Teresa of Avila, whose prayer inspired this song:

 

KINDNESS  song written by Brian McLaren

Christ has no body here but ours
No hands no feet here, on earth but ours
Ours the eyes through which he looks
On this world with kindness

Ours are the hands through which he works
Ours are the feet on which he moves
Ours the voices through which he speaks
To this world with kindness

Through our touch, our smile, our listening ear
Embodied in us, Jesus is living here

Let us go now—enspirited
Into this world with kindness.

 

kindness-coverKINDNESS appears on Steve Bell’s album of the same name.  More about the album HERE….

15 thoughts on “Open Letter to Faith-Day Attendees | Calgary Catholic Schools–Oct 31

  1. Hi Steve,
    I received this post on my face book. From there I checked out your concert schedules and noticed you will be in Calgary on December 5th. Our son Matt and his wife Mercedes live there. Mercedes is from Mexico and is Catholic so I think this would interest them. I sent them a message about this. How very exciting. Kindest regards to your family and God bless you as you continue to work for Him.
    Wendy Kroeker
    PS: My husband Ron and I enjoy your music very much.

  2. Hi Steve,
    Thank you for the new perspective on kindness. It will help in better describing what kin(d)ness is in my lessons.
    Looking forward to Faith Day!

  3. Hi Steve: So excited to have you come back to CCSD’s Faith Day! God speaks through your music and your stories and touches people to their core. Can’t wait!

  4. I am excited that you will be at Faith Day once again. Your words and music touched mt heart the last time you were here. I wish you could share your spoken talent with words and your music with the young adults that in this day and age need to hear it.
    I am also looking forward to Faith Day. Thanks for coming to our school community once again

  5. Hello Steve, If you are the same Steve Bell my friend has raved about I am so looking forward to hearing your songs and stories. I have moved around many times in my lifetime and I am always a little envious in some ways of people who have grown up in on place. I have been blessed with many adventures during that time. Thank you for filling our day with your gifts and talents.

  6. Hi Steve,
    Welcome back to Calgary Catholic! I am excited in anticipation of your visit next week. I have attended many of your performances over the years since my first encounter with you at Faith Day! I always leave renewed and inspired. God Bless you and your ministry!

  7. Steve, I am excited you are coming to Faith Day, each time you have been with us it was inspirational. I am also grateful for Gary sharing your blog. I really enjoyed reading your thoughts on Kindness and look forward to hearing the song in person.
    I look forward to reading your other blog posts. Thank you for sharing !

  8. Hi Steve,
    I am looking forward to see you and I am sure you will inspire us all with your stories. I hope you will have time to sing the song that made me want to know who you are , my favorite song is,” Wings of an eagle”

  9. Hi Steve,

    I just chatted with my twin sister, Glynis, who saw you last night in Red Deer. She’s your biggest fan in all of Canada! 🙂 Thanks for your amazing kindness to her….. Her enthusiasm prompted me to get on your website again. Hey, maybe someday we can get you down to the States. It would be great to hear you in South Dakota! Blessings to you, your family and your team.

    Glenda N.

  10. We are so blessed to have you join us once more Steve. I think you’re going to have to become an official member of our CCSD family! Looking so forward to hearing your wonderful stories and songs!

  11. Hi Steve,
    As with the two times I have seen you before, I thoroughly enjoyed our time with you! You are one amazing storyteller. I am hoping you will turn you talents to a children’s album with simple songs our kids would be able to sing. For example, God is a Good God is one I have been singing with my kindergarten kids. I hope you will be back soon to entertain the staff of CCSD!

  12. Hi Steve;
    I was not able to attend Faith Day this year and I was terribly disappointed. When I saw you last, many years ago I bought two of your CD’s. They are almost worn out from over play but your beautiful lyrics and soothing voice along with the reassuring message that God is with me and it will be okay have gotten me through many dark days especially in the past five years. Thank you for sharing your stories and your talents. You certainly model our guiding motto – Seek Justice, Love Kindness and Live in God’s Love. Blessings to you and your family!

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