A Resurrection Story

Mike Yaconelli was one of the pioneers of contemporary youth ministry.  He started a publishing company, wrote books and curriculum and travelled the world speaking to thousands of churches and youth workers and students.

When he was about fifty years old, he read some of Henri Nouwen’s books on spirituality.  And since Mike was kind of eccentric at times, he called up Henri to thank him for his book and asked if he could visit him.

Henri said yes.

Now, a little about Henri’s story.

An academic and widely read Christian author, Henri worked his way up to a teaching post at Harvard.  But while he was there, he wrote:  “Something inside was telling me that my success was putting my soul in danger.”  So he left, and spent the next ten years of his life at a L’Arche community north of Toronto.

L’arche are intentional communities of people with developmental disabilities and those who assist them.  Kind of like enVision, except the clients and support workers all live and worship together.

So Henri Nouwen left Harvard to go to L’Arche, to feed and wash people who had no idea what Harvard was and who had no use for the skills he had worked decades to obtain.

While not easy, his time at L’Arche became a gift.  It taught him what it means to be the beloved of God.

So it’s in this context that Mike visits Henri.

On his first morning, Mike sat in a circle with Henri, other staff and some of the core members at L’Arche.  Mike expressed his initial uneasiness with some of the residents who drooled, made grunting sounds, or rocked back and forth in their chairs.

When Mike was invited to explain the reason for his visit, he told the group about his hurried and harried life, about how he was trapped on a treadmill of speaking engagements, writing deadlines, managements hassles, travel, while also trying to pastor a church, work, and maintain relations with his wife and kids.  Finally, he told them he had come to L’Arche because he knew that the treadmill he was on was the same one Henri had escaped.  He confessed that he wanted to get away from it all, to withdraw from everyone he knew, to start over.  But he painfully admitted that he didn’t know how.  His life was out of control, and he badly needed help.

During a break, Mike was on his way to the washroom when one of the intellectually challenged residents approached him.  Standing uncomfortably close, he suddenly poked Mike in the chest with his finger.  “Busy!”  the man loudly announced, appearing proud of himself for having discerned Mike’s problem.

Mike admitted that instinctively he received the appraisal as a compliment.  “Yes, that’s right,” Mike replied.  “That’s exactly right.  I’m busy.”  After all, in Mike’s world the longer you work and the more exhausted you are, the more status you seem to have.  Nobody wants to be in the shameful position of having to admit they’re so insignificant that they don’t have too much to do.

While he was still acknowledging how busy he was, the man poked Mike in the chest again, this time even harder, and with his voice louder and firmer declared, “Too busy!”  This time Mike felt embarrassed and a bit annoyed.  “You got it, pal.  That’s my problem.”  But deep inside he wanted this harassing person to simply back off and leave him alone.

Until he looked into the man’s eyes and saw them filling with tears.

The resident began to cry in earnest now, and through his sobs he ask a one-word question that Mike insisted had haunted him ever since:  “Why?”

In that watershed moment Mike realized that was the question he come to L’Arche to answer.  Out of the mouth of this innocent, compassionate stranger with intellectual challenges had come deep wisdom.

It was resurrection moment.  At age 50.

Mike says:

“Finally, I accepted my brokenness… I knew I was broken.  I knew I was a sinner.  I knew I continually disappointed God, but I could never accept that part of me.  It was a part of me that embarrassed me.  I continually felt the need to apologize, to run from my weaknesses, to deny who I was and concentrate on who I should be.  I was broken, yes, but I was continually trying to never be broken again – or at least get to the place where I was very seldom broken…”

“At L’Arche, it became very clear to me that I had totally misunderstood the Christian faith.  I came to see that it was in my brokenness, in my powerlessness, in my weakness that Jesus was made strong.  It was the acceptance of my lack of faith that God could give me faith.  It was the embracing of my brokenness that I could identify with others’ brokenness.  It was my role to identify with other’s pain, not relieve it.  Ministry was sharing, not dominating;  understanding, not theologizing;  caring, not fixing…”

He concludes with this:

“There is an anticipation, an electricity about God’s presence in my life that I have never experienced before.  I can only tell you for the first time in my life I can hear Jesus whisper to me every day.  “I love you.  You are beloved.”  And for some strange reason, that seems enough.””

With a ridiculous amount of plagiarism from Breaking the Rules:  Trading Performance for Intimacy with God by Fil Anderson, The Rabbi’s Heartbeat by Brennan Manning and Holy Weakness by Will Braun (Conspire Magazine Spring 2009).

Cardboard Boxes, Lifeboats and Weeping: Thoughts on Palm Sunday and Fear

Luke 19:28-44

My friend, Michael Hryniuk, has his PHD in Christian spirituality and Psychology, or something awesome like that.  And he’s also a phenomenal spiritual director.  And he tells the following the story.

He was teaching a class of masters level students in Washington DC, and the students kept asking during class:  “Is this going to be on the test?  Do I need to know all of this?  Is this for marks?”

And Michael, this deep theologian looking to nurture the souls of his students, got a little tired of this question.

“Why?  Why does it matter?”

“Well, because I need to get a good grade!!”

“Why does that matter?”  Asking university students this question leaves most of them flabbergasted.

“Well, if I don’t get a good grade, I won’t be able to get into the doctorate program I want to!”

“Why does that matter?”

“Well, then I won’t get the good, high paying job that I want!”

“Why does that matter?”

“Then I won’t be able to live the lifestyle I want!”

“Why does that matter?”

“I need to provide my kids.  I need a decent house.  I don’t want to have to eat dog food when I’m retired.”

“Why?  Why?  Why?”

It kept going, until it got here.

“Well, I need good marks because I don’t want to end up living in a cardboard box under a bridge.”

“Well, why does that matter?”

Silence.

“Because I’m afraid that I will be a failure.

If I’m a failure, I’m afraid that nobody will love me.  I’m afraid that I will not be loved.”

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Today we read about the crowds adoring Jesus.  We even re-enacted them.  Blessed is the one who comes in the name of the Lord.

I think the crowds were afraid.  I think the crowds, in their joyous celebration of Jesus, were deeply, deeply afraid.

Blessed is the one who comes in the name of the Lord is taken from Psalm 118.  A psalm that intertwines God’s love enduring forever with cutting down our enemies.

Give thanks to the Lord, for he is good;
his love endures forever.

10 All the nations surrounded me,
but in the name of the Lord I cut them down.

25  Lord, save us!
Lord, grant us success!

Blessed is the one who comes in the name of the Lord.

It was written by a people in the midst of a struggle with very real enemies trying to kill them.  Not pretend enemies like people who vote differently than you or your neighbours because their dog keeps going to the bathroom on your lawn.   Enemies that would actually kill them.  It was written looking to God for strength and leadership, looking for God to fulfill his promise that Israel will be a chosen people, blessed, God’s light to the world.

When the crowds were crying to Jesus “Blessed is the one who comes in the name of Lord,” they were afraid.  The biggest military the world had ever seen had their boots to the throat of Israel.   The biggest empire the world had ever seen was occupying Israel.  The Romans were everywhere.  Where was God?  How can we be blessed with a boot to our throats?  Has God given up on us?

Has God given up on us?  Where are you God?  There’s all this chaos around me, I feel lost.

I’m afraid.

But here comes Jesus!  Lord, save us!  Lord, grant us success!

All their hopes and dreams came out here, looking to Jesus as their king.  He will come and make things right.  He will come and throw off the yoke of oppression.  He will cut down our enemies.  We will be saved!

It’s kind of like being in a lifeboat, and they were going to be saved.

__________________________________

Here, let me explain.  I’ve said it here before, but I think it’s worth saying again:

If there was a lifeboat adrift at sea, and in the lifeboat was a lawyer, a doctor, a child, a stay at home mom and a bartender, and one had to be thrown overboard to save the others, which person would we choose?

It’s one of these terrible exercises where we start judging and classifying others and justifying the choices we make.  Assuming nobody offers themselves, we would immediately look around and start proving why we deserve to be saved.  I’m a mother.  Kids are the future.  I can do this and that and that is why I am important.  Every decision we make becomes a justification for how we live.

We’re all in a lifeboat, deeply afraid that we are the ones who are going to be thrown overboard.

And this is not that far off to how we live our day to day lives.  We come up with all sorts of reasons why we are important and worthy of love.

We do it with our sports.  The Bombers win?  We won!  The Roughriders lose!  Ha!  You lost!

At our best, we compare about things that we do or don’t do.  I’m a good boss.  I’m a good employee.  I’m a good parent.  I’m a good child.  I’m good at making money.  I’m good at spending money.  I’m a good hippy living off the land.

At our worst, we compare things like appearance, skin colour, gender, marital status, intellectual ability, culture, religion.

It’s this entire rat race proving that we are better than everybody else.

Why else do we spend thousands of dollars on clothes?  Why else do we compare how big our TV’s are?  Why do we get so mad when people cut us off?  Why do parents brag about how high their toddlers can count or how little TV they let their kids watch?  Why do we make fun of people when they have old cell phones or put spoilers on their mini-vans?  I am important. I am more important than that person.  I should be saved.  I am worthy of love and life.

Because we are all in a lifeboat, and we are all deeply afraid that we are going to be thrown overboard.

________________________________

The Israelites were afraid of getting thrown out of the lifeboat.  Their identity was wrapped up in one of God choosing them and being blessed, but their experience was something very opposite.  They felt that they were the ones being tossed out of the lifeboat.  Being occupied by a superpower kind of messes with your mind a little bit.

But look!  We’re saved!  We won’t get tossed out of the lifeboat!  Here comes Jesus!  And look!  He’s riding a donkey!  Just like it says in Zechariah!

Zech 9:9

Rejoice greatly, Daughter Zion!
Shout, Daughter Jerusalem!
See, your king comes to you,
righteous and victorious,
lowly and riding on a donkey,
on a colt, the foal of a donkey.

And that text comes right after a prophecy pronouncing God’s judgement on Israel’s enemies.

But I will encamp at my temple
to guard it against marauding forces.
Never again will an oppressor overrun my people,
for now I am keeping watch.

They were thinking:  God will punish those who oppose us.  They will pay for all the pain they’ve caused us.  God will drive the Romans to the sea.  God is on our side. We will win.  We will not be thrown out of the lifeboat!

Jesus, the king, is coming, and never again will an oppressor overrun us, for now God is keeping watch.  We no longer have to be afraid.  We will not be thrown out of the lifeboat!

But they were wrong.  They missed it.

Jesus approaches the city of Jerusalem on his donkey.  And he cries.  He weeps for the city.

“If you only know what will bring you peace… You’re can’t see it.  You’re missing it.  You’re going to get destroyed, because you did not recognize God coming to you.”

You’re afraid.  You are looking in the right place, you are looking to God and to me, Jesus, but you are letting your fear rule and are missing the point.

You’re looking for a king, a conqueror, someone who will come and defend you, someone who will stick up for you at the expense of others, someone who will drive your enemies to the sea, someone who will prove that your fears were right.  You’ve missed everything I’ve said and done for the past 3 years.  You are living in fear.  And it will destroy you.

The people worshipping Jesus with palm leaves were living in the house of fear.  And he wept because of it.

_________________________________________

Moving from the house of fear to the house of love starts with this:  Do not be afraid.

We read the phrase:  “Do not be afraid” over 50 times alone in the Old Testament.  It’s spoken to Abraham, Hagar, Moses, the Israelites, Joshua, David, Elijah, Daniel, and all sorts of kings.

The same thing occurs in the New Testament.

An angel appears to Zechariah, and says: Do not be afraid.

An angel appears to Mary:  Do not be afraid.

An angel appears to Joseph:  Do not be afraid.

An angel says it to the shepherds:  Do not be afraid.

An angel appears to the women when they find the empty tomb:  Do not be afraid.

Jesus says it to his disciples after walking through a locked door: Do not be afraid.

The apostle Paul hears it:  Do not be afraid.

Even the book of Revelation, when John sees a vision of Jesus, the first thing Jesus says is:  Do not be afraid.

Do not be afraid.

Your identity is rooted in the love of a creating, redeeming God.  Do not be afraid.

Even if you live in a cardboard box under a bridge, you are loved.  Do not be afraid.

Even if you are worried about being thrown out of the lifeboat, do not be afraid.  You are loved.

You don’t have to live in the house of fear.  Jesus invites us to live in the house of love.

John 15:4 “Remain in me, and I will remain in you.”

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But this identity of being beloved even if we are living in a cardboard box under a bridge is incomplete if it stops there.

It should lead us to fruitful living.

John 15:5  “If someone remains in me and I in him, they will bear much fruit.”

This is why Jesus was weeping.  The adoring crowds were right in worshipping Jesus.   But they were wrong in their expectations.

It starts with our identities as God’s beloved.  But it ends with how we love others.

About how we serve.

About how we consider others better than ourselves.

About how we do to others what we would have them do to us.

About we do our best to do justice and love mercy and walk humbly.

The last shall be first and the first shall be last.

One of my favourite authors said this week “I would say that the powerful, revolutionary thing about Jesus’ message is that he says, ‘What do you do with the people that aren’t like you? What do you do with the Other? What do you do with the person that’s hardest to love?’ . . . That’s the measure of a good religion – you can love the people who are just like you; that’s kind of easy. So what Jesus does is takes the question and talks about fruit. He’s interested in what you actually produce. How do we love the people in the world that are least like us?”

Luke 9:23-24 “Whoever wants to be my disciple must deny themselves and take up their cross daily and follow me. 24 For whoever wants to save their life will lose it, but whoever loses their life for me will save it.

We don’t lose our lives for ourselves.  We lose it on behalf of others.

Kind of like Jesus this week.  Losing his life for others.

The good news is that we believe in something more powerful than evil.  We believe in something more powerful than death.  We believe in something more powerful than fear.

We believe in Jesus.  In God with us.  With all of us.  Regardless of our beliefs or perspectives or actions or failures or mistakes or sins or opinions.

It’s this belief in Jesus that helps us move from the house of fear to the house of love.

And we do this in full trust that God is telling us to not be afraid, that we are beloved, and because of that love we will have more and more love to give.

“If you alone find inner peace, thousands around you will be saved.”  St. Seraphim of Sarov.

So ride on King Jesus.  Nothing can hinder thee.   We are not afraid.  We believe in you.  We believe in love.  Come and fill our hearts with peace.  Ride on.

Thank You

I sent the following to everyone who emailed me, texted me, messaged me or commented on my blog…

Thank you for your comments on my blog.  I wasn’t exactly expecting to go “mini-viral” with it or to get so many comments and emails, so I’m sorry that you are getting a form letter instead of a personal one.

As I wrote at the top of my blog, I often find internet conversations to be unhelpful, so I have decided to not publish any comments on this post.

If you wrote a letter of support, thank you.  I am truly overwhelmed by all the support and prayers.  Truly.  Your affirmation and gratefulness have humbled me, and I have shed many tears over the past 48 hours.  My hope and my prayer is that we can all have conversations about bullying, religious freedom, hermeneutics, sexual orientation and responding to government legislation in the context of meaningful relationships that lead to life.

May you continue to love mercy, do justice and walk humbly.

If you wrote a letter disagreeing with me, thank you.  I treasure those voices (and prayers).  I understand that on any given issue in our world there will be divergent voices.  For you too, my hope and my prayer is that we can all have conversations about bullying, religious freedom, hermeneutics, sexual orientation and responding to government legislation in the context of meaningful relationships that lead to life.

May you continue to love mercy, do justice and walk humbly.

As usual, I am always available for coffee (or a caramel latte).  And I am still offering to pick up the tab.  However, due to sheer number of responses I have received, plus the fact that we are walking this journey as a local church, I will have to prioritize my time.  Family first, then existing relationships, then local people, then others.  I ask for your grace and understanding (although the many offers of food from yantzied are tempting).

For those of you who have expressed interest in our church, you can get all the info you need at www.gracemennonitesteinbach.ca (I am away this weekend on a youth retreat, but will be back the following week).  We are not perfect, but we seek to be a faithful community of Jesus followers.

For those of you content at your current church, may you believe that God is active and present in your context, and may you continue to live in God’s “upside-down” kingdom.

And for those of you who are on a “vacation” from church (or sworn it off entirely), my hope and my prayer is that you can find good faith experiences and communities in our world, and look to them for hope.

Grace and Peace,

Kyle Penner

Lord, make me an instrument of your peace.
Where there is hatred, let me sow love;
where there is injury, pardon;
where there is doubt, faith;
where there is despair, hope;
where there is darkness, light;
where there is sadness, joy.
O Divine Master, grant that I may not
so much seek to be consoled as to console,
to be understood as to understand,
to be loved as to love.
For it is in giving that we receive,
it is in pardoning that we are pardoned,
and it is in dying that we are born to eternal life.   – Prayer of St. Francis

How my faith has shaped my response to the conversation about Bill 18.

I am a pastor in Steinbach.  Steinbach made headlines about Bill 18 recently.  My letter to the editor of the Carillon was published.  I was asked to be on CBC and CTV about that letter.  This is my story.

(As usual, internet conversations are often unhelpful.  If you want to talk, I’ll pick up the tab).

_____________________________________________

I was at a youth pastors meeting and a month ago and was given some articles and cards stating one church’s opposition to Bill 18.  One article specifically said:  The biggest threat to Gay Straight Alliances is conservative, religious groups.  And this was given to me by a conservative, religious church hoping to prevent Gay Straight Alliances.

So I kind of knew a conflict was brewing.

There was an information and prayer night at the local, private, Christian school.  I went to that meeting with mixed intentions.  One person said I was going looking for ammunition.  Okay, I can admit that.   But I also went since I am a part of this community and wanted to get a feeling on how people felt.

At the meeting, I realized what it was like to be an outcast.

We clapped for the politicians in the front row.  Twice.

My friend and I were the only ones that we could see not clapping.

And then we were invited to acknowledge that we were there for Jesus.

And the entire auditorium rose to its feet for a standing ovation.

My friend and I did not stand up.  We did not clap.  My faith in Jesus is the most important thing to me.  And I sat with my arms crossed and a scowl on my face.  I sent a text:  “Jesus is now getting a standing ovation.”  “Oh my”, was the response.

Did I pull a Peter and deny Jesus?  No.  I said, “I love you Jesus, but I am not standing up for you in this way, in this place.”

We left before the praying started.  I didn’t want to say anything that would make the people next to me mad.

After the meeting, I could not believe that everyone was hiding behind the language of religious freedom.   And nobody was talking about the suicide rate of GLBTQ kids.  Brutal.

So I wrote a letter to the editor of the local paper in an attempt to highlight the fact that GLBTQ kids have a suicide rate 4-5 times the national average.  And the suicide rates of gay AND straight teens goes up in communities that aren’t considered supportive (you can read it 2 blog posts below, after the labour haikus).

In my letter, I was hoping to frame the question of bullying in a different light.  Instead of talking about religious freedom and morality, the baseline should be:  How do we keep kids alive?  Instead of figuring out which Bible verses say what, we should start with “The Bible wants to keep everyone alive.”

And so my letter was published.

Some of my thinking was this:

– Jesus always took the side of the poor, the outcast, the oppressed, and the marginalized.  Often at the expense of the religious leaders who followed the rules.  In this case, who is on the fringe?  That’s where I need to be. – me

– Folks didn’t have an encounter with Jesus and walk away saying, “Man, he sure doesn’t like gay folks.”  – Shane Claiborne

– We are allowed to comment and protest and influence government legislation.  I do all the time.  But this one is different.  Sexual orientation is not a choice.  There is no “love the sinner, hate the sin” option here. No choice.  – me

– “I believe that when we treat homosexual people as pariahs and push them outside our communities and churches; when we blame them for who they are; when we deny them our blessing on their commitment to lifelong, faithful relationships, we make them doubt whether they are children of God, made in his image.” – Steve Chalke

Well, then, apparently my letter didn’t work.

The RM of Hanover passed a motion opposing Bill 18 for “religious freedom reasons”. The city of Steinbach passed a motion opposing Bill 18 for “religious freedom reasons”.   I know that there were thousands of letters being written to MLAs and that the local school division trustees were getting tons and tons of angry letters for not opposing Bill 18.

On Wednesday morning, after the city passed that motion, I was giving out hugs to people with gay friends and gay family.  My hairdresser said that if she hadn’t ditched atheism for Christianity 3 years ago, this would be the final nail in the coffin.  She would never consider a Christianity like this.

And the worst part is that nobody was publically connecting the dots.  The issue is not religious freedom.  The issue is that some people think being gay is a sin, and thus we can’t have clubs in our schools promoting sin.

I remember being in my church office on Wednesday and jumping around (like I had to go pee) telling my co-workers:  “I want to fight!  I want to fight!  This has to stop!”

I wanted to be a voice for the oppressed and marginalized.  Some of my thinking was:

– “As long as Christians are more dedicated to stand up for “truth and righteousness” than speaking out against injustice & hate, we will not be seen as a people of love. People will not see Jesus.”  – Jamie Arpin-Ricci

– “In the end, we will remember not the words of our enemies, but the silence of our friends.” – Martin Luther King Jr.

– Mother Theresa’s response to abortion this:  “We’ll take your children.”  I wanted to shout to the world, “If you church doesn’t want anybody who is GLBTQ, we’ll take them.”

And then Thursday happened.  The Winnipeg Free Press ran a sermon from a church in town that kind of went off the rails.  They put the pastors picture on half the front page.  In the morning, when I got my newspaper, I spit out my coffee in shock.

CBC and CTV contacted me.  I had written a letter to the newspaper, so somone sent them to me for an interview so they could hear a different voice in the community.

This was my chance.  24 hours after saying I wanted to fight, I had the chance to be on 2 news channels plus their radio affiliates.

I wanted soooo bad to get on TV and say, “We’re not all like this!  I support Bill 18! And a message to all the GLBTQ kids out there… You are not alone!”

I bounced it off our lead pastor, our church chair, our administrative assistant, the mayor who referred them to me, my wife, and others.

I declined.

I told the reporters that I wanted to be a positive voice in the community, and that I would be saying all those things on Sunday.  But it would happen in my church and in the context of relationships, where we care for each other.  And not in an 8-second sound bite.

I don’t regret that decision.  If I had gone on, despite my best intentions, despite the best intentions of the reporters, I would have been the “anti-ranting” pastor.  I would have ramped up the rhetoric.  I needed to be better than a sound bite.

Two of my Mennonite friends with different sexual orientations than me wondered how people would hear hope, or where the Christian GLTBQ kids would find Christian leaders to support them.  Most of my Christian friends wondered how the world would know that not all Christians are like that.  Many of my Steinbach friends wondered how the world would know that not all Steinbach-ers are like that.

I’ll live with that tension for quite a while.

But I hope that by not shouting from the television, and investing in the hard work of relationships, and belonging to a church that doesn’t offer judgement, the people who need hope and affirmation can find it.  In a more meaningful way than a sound bite.

_______________________

And one final way that my Christian faith has influenced my response to the conversation about Bill 18.

For lent, I have been getting up early and praying.  As I am not a morning person, it has been quite the discipline.

At first, many of my prayers were ones for forgiveness.  Calling people homo-phobes or bigots or cowards isn’t very healthy, so I confessed.

And then after a while, my prayers changed.

This past week, they changed from confession to almost exclusive prayers for the church that made the headlines, the pastor, and the people who go there.

–  Love your enemies.  Do good to those who hate you.  Pray for those who persecute you. – Jesus

– Pray for people who make you angry.  If I hate the haters, I become what I hate.  – me

And my prayers haven’t been filled with an agenda.  I haven’t prayed that certain people would change, or that the legislation would be passed, or that certain people would shut up.  My prayers have simply been, “Bless _____.  And ______.”

I’ve been following Common Prayer, A Prayer Book for Ordinary Radicals.  This was one of the prayers this week:

–          As the morning casts off the darkness, Lord, help us to cast aside any feelings of ill will we have might harbour against those who have hurt us.  Soften our hearts to work toward their conversion and ours.  Amen.

I am as broken as pastors who go viral for all the wrong reasons.  I must pray for them, even through clenched teeth.  I’ve been telling people this week, “I really need Jesus this week to help me love my enemies.  I’m having a hard time doing that.”

And strangely, after a week of praying for people who make me mad, it’s becoming easier.  It’s a miracle <smile>.

Lord have mercy as we walk together from here.  Lord have mercy.

Kyle

PS – And please, will somebody remember that in communities that aren’t supportive, the suicide rate of GLBTQ kids goes up 20% and the suicide rate of straight kids goes up 9%?  Thanks.

Labour Haikus

My son was born on February 28th at 8:20 pm.

At that point, my wife had been having contractions for 36 hours, with a 12 hour break in the middle (long story).

Because we weren’t expecting such a long labour (with a break in the middle), a bunch of our family had all gotten together and were waiting.

So me, being the dutiful husband, son, grandson, brother, and uncle, I had the task of keeping the rest of my family updated.

Instead of answering 15 texts every 2 hours all asking, “How’s it going? Is there progress?” I decided to be pre-emptive and text them before they could text me.

However, the idea of sending texts like “3 cm dilated” or “30 second contractions 4-6 minutes apart” or “waiting of the doctor” for hours and hours seemed quite tedious and un-creative.

So, I decided to keep my family updated with haikus. Despite not sleeping for two straight nights, with my right hand I haiku-ed and with my left hand I got squeezed ridiculously hard.

Haikus are a form of Japanese poetry. I exclusively used 3 line haikus, with my only limitations being 5 syllables for the first line, 7 syllables for the second, and 5 syllables for the third.

These are my haikus:

February 27, 6:16pm
Hospital again
Hoping for better results
Ready for baby

February 27, 9:17pm
Contractions again
Let’s get this show on the road
Trying to sleep now

February 27, 10:36pm
Ashley still sleeping
Being checked every hour
Slowly but surely

February 28, 1:30am
Contractions aren’t fun
How do we manage the pain?
Bring on the morphine

February 28, 7:48am
Morning family
Sleep and morphine make good nights
Hoping drip starts soon

February 28, 8:58am
The drip has started
Everyone is doing well
Soon we will meet him

February 28, 10:47am
Slowly but surely
They’re increasing the dosage
Ashley hates haikus

February 28, 11:15am
They don’t make dads food
Who wants to help a dad out?
And bring me lunch?

February 28, 12:30pm
Getting more intense
Hopefully by supper time
I will meet my son

February 28, 12:57pm
The wrong thing to say
“It’s going to get eas’er”
She called me a jerk

February 28, 1:56pm – Kira’s haiku
Baby please come soon
Make this haiku madness end
Please just make it end

February 28, 2:20pm – Kira’s haiku
Just kidding Kyle
New dads should do dad-like things
Keep on haiku-ing

February 28, 3:01pm
Kira likes haikus
Baby’s taking his sweet time
Doc coming soon

February 28, 3:33pm
Daniela is great
She laughs at all my lame jokes
We’re glad she’s here

February 28, 4:07pm
Labour is painful
I’d be whimpering a lot
Ashley is strong

February 28, 4:09pm – Al’s haiku
Go Ash go
We can hardly wait to hug Fred
Luv you lots

February 28, 4:15pm
Al is haiku-ing
He has mad poetry skills
You should haiku too

February 28, 4:24pm – Kira’s haiku
Hey, I haiku too
No love for my writing skills
Now who’s the jerk, yo?

February 28, 5:40pm
I’m banned from haikus
It’s time for me to focus
Time to meet my son

February 28, 8:20pm
Zachary Micah Enns Penner was born.

Key: 
Ashley – Wife
Kira – Brother’s girlfriend
Al – My father
Daniela – Our nurse
Fred – What my family called my son before they knew his real name