"Lord, grant that we may always be right, for thou knowest we will never change our minds."
Old Scottish Prayer

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Good morning, and I hope you are finding your way in this new year and new decade. I excused myself from a meeting last night because my travel and meeting schedule was to take me away from home one too many evenings this week. I regret that my usual "dutiful" self usually goes to such meeting because, well, because I said I would. However, the evening at home with my wife was quiet and lovely and I'm much happier having spent the evening with her. I was reminded too of the words of a friend and teacher of mine, Rabbi Dr. Robert Daum at a university convocation address some years ago. Although a couple of his references are linked to then contemporary issues, his point is clear for all leaders, and so here is Robert's text from that convocation in full, and I note his brilliant brevity:

"Robert Alter and other biblical scholars have noted that there are a number of sophisticated literary devices employed within biblical narratives. Knowing how these devices work can deeply enrich our reading of a biblical text. One example will suffice: The first words uttered by a character in a particular scene or in a whole narrative are often very significant. The first question posed by God to humankind after the first humans have tasted the “forbidden fruit” characterizes in a fundamental way the relationship between God and humankind. The question consists of a single word in Hebrew, although (not surprisingly!) it requires three words in English translation. The question is “Where are you?” or, in Hebrew, Ayeka? [Genesis 3:9] It is a question posed to the core of our being by the One who sees us for who and what we are, and it remains unanswered.

Where are you  while some leaders in our society, whether out of ignorance or cynical machinations, spread the lie that homosexual priests are more likely to molest children than heterosexual priests? Where are you  while some analysts split hairs over which civilians it is acceptable to attack, and which civilians it is not? Where are you  when, in our own communities, mosques are defaced, synagogues receive bomb-threats, and Sikh Temples are desecrated by thugs? Where are you  when some in our province propose to subject to a majority vote the constitutional rights of our First Nations minority? And where were we all  when women were disappearing one by one from the streets of the Downtown Eastside?

The question reverberates not only in the social arena, but also closer to home. Where are you in the development of your own spiritual practice? Where are you in the task of theological reflection and construction? Where are you in your lifelong relationship with the sacred texts of Scripture? What new insights have you contributed to the tradition transmitted to you by your teachers? And, as you faithfully prepare to head out to your third or fourth meeting of the week, where are you in the upbringing of your own children? Where are you in your relationship with your life partner, in the blessing of sharing life’s pains and joys with your own family?

“Where are you?” Ayeka? It is the first question that we were asked when we came into this world, and it is the last question that we will be asked when it is our time to leave this world. May our lives constitute a response worthy of the question and worthy of the Questioner.""