What do you do during tough times?

Illustration: Shutterstock
Illustration: Shutterstock
Published July 9, 2016

Anglican Journal interviewed some members of General Synod 2016 about how they will cope if deliberations at their meeting get heated. Responses:

Bishop Jane Alexander, diocese of Edmonton
When things get tough, I like to play the cello, so in coming here I rented one from a music store. I picked it up on my way from the airport-he’s called Florian. I always call my instruments names. He’s in my room, and so when things get heated… in the gap, I’ll go and play some Bach to myself [The Cello Suites] and I’ll feel a lot better…I play the cello that only my teacher would love and probably not very much [laughs].

Margaret Jenniex, lay delegate, diocese of Central Newfoundland
When I get frustrated, first of all I rely on my God. That’s the first thing I do. I pray when things get tough. From that, I find things that will help me find a solution to the problem because let’s face it, if I can’t solve the problem, then I just try and move forward in positive directions.

I do fun things, go out and have coffee with my friends-anything that will help me get through things.

Coadjutor Bishop Bruce Myers, diocese of Quebec
I think that even if things don’t get tough, something I turn to often is-and it will sound stereotypical to say this-is prayer, a particular kind of prayer. What I bring with me usually when I travel is an Orthodox prayer rope, partly because it’s very portable and it’s a rope with a hundred knots in it, and I say the Jesus prayer with each of those knots. It’s a kind of meditative prayer, a centring prayer, and in times of pressure or anxiety or trouble, it has a nice, calming effect.

The prayer simply [is]: “Lord Jesus Christ, Son of God, have mercy on me, a sinner.”

When you say that prayer over and over and over again, and you’re passing the knots on each finger with your prayer and breathing, and sometimes you’re focusing on a candle or an icon, it has this wonderful effect of…creating a still space, sometimes in the midst of a storm. I also find it helps restore perspective in the midst of a situation.

But it’s something I pray even when things are going perfectly fine. It’s kind of an attempt to answer the Scripture’s call to pray without ceasing.

I brought it along with me to General Synod and it’s a kind of thing where you don’t need to go to a chapel…you just hold it in your hand while you’re in the middle of a legislative session or even a conversation about something-a tangible reminder of how prayer is something that we can do in all times and in all places, and it’s prayer that should be guiding all of our deliberations and discernment and decisions here.

It was a gift from a Romanian Orthodox nun I studied with years ago. It’s her prayer rope, and so it’s also got some sentimental value-and being an ecumenist, it’s also a gift that we’ve received from the Orthodox tradition that we can integrate into our prayer lives as Anglicans.

Archdeacon Lynne McNaughton, diocese of New Westminster
Get enough sleep. Get into this time zone…I look forward to the worship because that energizes me, that’s what centres me. I’m not so much the person who goes away into a quiet place by myself-I like to be with people and worship together…I find most of what happens at General Synod is actually very energizing. You picture the church and all the booths of PWRDF, our global mission-those kinds of things-and having the balance of talking to people and hearing about those things, one to one. I like that. So when the debates get intense and if I get frustrated or anxious about something, I might go for a walk. But I also find it helpful to go and talk to other people. I’m not really anxious about this General Synod at all…I think we will figure out a way to be the church we need to be in this synod. We’ve got the spaciousness of time this time. Ottawa [Joint Assembly 2013] was too rushed. This one, I think, we’ll work it out.

Jason Antonio, lay delegate, diocese of Qu’Appelle
I guess my goal here will be to read my Bible as frequently as possible. I’ll attempt to make a goal of getting up in the morning and reading it before I do anything else. That should set the day for giving me strength and allowing me to understand what the Lord Jesus might want me to do.

I’ll also rely on more experienced veterans and clergy bishops who are full of wisdom and can provide guidance on what to do or [offer] another word of encouragement on how else to approach a situation.

Bishop William Cliff, diocese of Brandon
My personal thing is you have to have a prayer life. I pull back from the immediate conflict that’s going on and sort of centre myself back in what Jesus commands us to do as disciples and focus on that commandment…I hold on very tightly to St. Paul’s admonition that we can’t live as if we have no need of each other; that we have to embrace one another all the more strongly when we disagree, listen more intently.

I’ve been spending a lot of time thinking about Romans 14 and how nothing is unclean in and of itself-that’s what St. Paul says. What I’m looking for is a really good discussion in which we realize that we should be tending to one another rather than fighting for a position or an idea where we want to stand. I really want the church to embrace this future together and recognize that we’ve actually been in all kinds of places and in all kinds of issues in the past, and we’ve come together and we still can be that now. So when it gets tough, I focus on the fact that we all need one another. I need the other and I can rejoice in that because that’s where Jesus is-it’s always going to be in the other.

Archdeacon Larry Beardy, Anglican Council of Indigenous Peoples
When things get tough, we come together…It depends what it is. If it’s something that affects me personally, I would ask for help. I will talk to somebody…[Indigenous people] have been living a tough life for 500 years. We’ve survived. We’re very resilient. We face things head-on. If we weren’t tough, we wouldn’t be there. We’re still around.

Editor’s Note: Jason Antonio is from the diocese of Qu’Appelle, not the diocese of Saskatchewan as reported earlier.


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