A boyfriend from long ago finds you through Facebook. Despite memories of a bitter breakup, you decide to accept his request to be an online friend. After a while, his messages start to sound suicidal. You suspect he is toying with you, but you worry he may be serious. How do you handle this?
It’s the afternoon before Christmas and you are alone at the office, finishing some urgent work. A courier arrives with a gift basket. Normally your office donates gift baskets to the local food bank. But you haven't bought anything for your mother yet, and she would love this. Time is short. What do you do?
Your elderly neighbour’s poodle is sick and suffering, and you can hear it whimpering in the backyard. You’ve asked him several times about whether he plans to put the dog out of its misery. But he lives alone and says he can’t bear to let go of his faithful companion.
What do you do?
Your mother always hosts Thanksgiving dinner and insists on making everything herself. She considers this her “gift” to her children and grandchildren and is offended by offers to help. But last Thanksgiving, her increasing forgetfulness resulted in an unstuffed turkey, over-boiled veggies and a burnt pumpkin pie. Everyone went home hungry.
Do you step in?
Your church spent a year raising money to send a young MD in the congregation to volunteer abroad. But her destination hospital now asks to use the funds to buy equipment. The doctor argues the trip would be both spiritually rewarding and an opportunity to share her expertise. How will you spend the funds?
Your best friend, a widower, has a new love in his life. You dated her for a couple of years before meeting your wife five years ago. Every summer, you host a couples’ spiritual retreat at your cottage. But your wife is uncomfortable with your ex being part of this year’s entourage. What do you do?
Your sister-in-law lends you a novel she recently finished. Tucked inside, you find a business card she likely used as a bookmark. It’s for a divorce lawyer, and a date and time are written on the back. You didn’t know she and your brother were having problems. The appointment is tomorrow. What do you do?
You discover you’ve been passed a counterfeit $20 bill. You stuff it into your jacket and forget about it. One day, you’re jogging far from home when your cellphone rings. Your spouse has been rushed to hospital. You need a taxi fast but have no wallet. Do you use the fake bill?
Anne Bokma left the Dutch Reformed Church as a young adult and eventually became a member of the United Church and then the Unitarian Universalists. Having long explored the "spiritual but not religious" demographic as a writer, she decided to immerse herself in practices — like hiring a soul coach, secular choir-singing and forest bathing — for 12 months to find both enlightenment and entertainment.
Founded in 1829, The United Church Observer is the oldest continuously published magazine in North America and the second oldest in the English speaking world. It has won international acclaim for journalistic excellence and garnered more awards for writing than any other Canadian religious publication. Read more...
Editor/Publisher: Jocelyn Bell
Managing Editor (Print and digital): Kristy Woudstra