Glimpses of the Holy surround us every day, every moment. To capture those glimpses, and bring hope to others, Ed Olfert began writing short stories – his own version of “Chicken Soup For The Soul” – which have been published in the Prince Albert Daily Herald. He writes about the generations that precede him and the generations that come after. The stories are about neighbours and friends, and include lives that we might not naturally connect to God, to awe and mystery. While in this constant search for Holy glimpses, life for Ed has become very good!
About the authors
- Commended, Spiritual, Hollywood Book Festival
- Runner-up, Spiritual, Great Midwest Book Festival
Ed Olfert is a master of finding the silver lining amongst the dark clouds of life. Through his regular column in the Prince Albert Daily Herald, he often gives a voice to the voiceless through his stories of working with those who have found themselves on the wrong side of the legal system. Olfert is a master of sharing about their human side, going beyond the label they have been handed by society. Ed Olfert grew up near Kerrobert, Saskatchewan. He found his bride, Holly, near there and they raised their family on the farm. Ed’s resumé includes mining, working as a welder, driving trucks, doing mechanical work, serving as house parent in a Christian high school, ministering a church, and operating heavy equipment. He lives with Holly in Laird, Saskatchewan.
Excerpt: And It Was Very Good: Everyday Moments of Awe (by (author) Ed Olfert; edited by Deana Driver)
I find myself in a season of awe.
I am an “Opa” to five little ones, ages one month to six years. They all live relatively close by. I am with them frequently. In their midst, I glimpse much that is Holy, much that is “in the image of God.”
My wife and children have suggested the adjective “besotted” be added to the Opa moniker. I plead guilty. It also challenges me to think a little deeper. What do I return to these delightful little ones in response to the trust offered to me?
In this city exists a Circle of Support and Accountability (CoSA) for high-risk released offenders. I have been a volunteer member since the beginning, over ten years ago. The offenders we support have typically served time for sexual violence toward children – some with few victims, some with many. Understandably, this is an offence that causes great fear, revulsion, and anger in the community.
My Opa role challenges me to contribute to a future that is safer, gentler, more human. The beautiful little ones deserve that. But in my experience of our systems of justice, and in the outrage from the community, I see little that takes us in gentler and safer directions. The recidivism rate for offenders in this category is alarming. Revolving-door imagery is accurate, coupled with the much more serious consequence of more victims. Meanwhile, demands for harsher penalties become a popular means to garner political support, but offer little to actual public security.
Correctional Services Canada is beginning to recognize that the most effective method, by far, to successfully rehabilitate sexual offenders into the community is found in models of Circles of Support and Accountability. CoSA is a means of offering an informed and caring group of friends. In Prince Albert, as core members and volunteer support members gather together, we frequently remind ourselves, “no more victims.” This remains central. But something else happens. Awe happens.
The offenders, or “core members,” come out of stories of dysfunction and often, victimization themselves. Core members share their stories hesitantly, with great trepidation. They seldom come with denial or excuses. As those stories are gently received, trust is tentatively offered, and the sharing grows in transparency and honesty. Rarely do these offenders find community that does not vilify them, but when they do, glimpses of profound growth appear. Relationships form. Our gatherings are filled with laughter, teasing, outrageous stories, and also with intensely serious conversation. Tears are not infrequent. Time is set aside for prayer.
When difficult times arrive, as core members are confronted, they are able to deal with that confrontation as being about their actions, not about their spiritual worth. A powerful indication of strength and trust was brought home to me recently when I was confronted by a core member, who challenged my actions. When I consider how limited the supportive community this core member has available to him, I am in awe of his courage. Feelings of confidence and self-worth lead to a determination to live honourably. The larger community is, unknowingly, the beneficiary.
I am the beneficiary as well. Core members bring richness to my life. They show me the determination of damaged spirits to take responsibility, to live in wholesome ways. They allow me glimpses into life stories that are vastly different from my own. They teach me about honesty, determination, about struggle and courage. They become close friends. The safer and gentler world to which our grandchildren are entitled comes a little closer.
When we look around us to catch glimpses of holiness, how much do we limit our gaze? How much do our assumptions, feelings of revulsion, anger, and fear shorten our view? It’s easy to find awe in the innocence and delight of the wee ones. Can the image of God be present when the picture is less than pristine?
A season of awe indeed.
"Evident in story after story, Olfert’s habitual non-judgement is ultra-inspiring. He recognizes that life can be difficult (indeed, he confesses that he suffers from depression and takes anti-depressants), and asks us to consider some challenging questions, ie: 'What are we prepared to do for the grandchildren of our enemies?' He sees holiness in unusual places: 'in sharing a single life jacket,' for example, and in a vandal with FASD who destroyed the church’s grand piano, and in a 'dusty warehouse'. What a gift to be able to see the good in others, rather than the foibles. I’m in awe of Olfert’s gift, and grateful that he’s shared it in this book … a book that I’d prejudged before I’d read a single word."
Other titles by Deana Driver
Don't They Kick When You Do That?
Stories of a Prairie Veterinarian
Tunnels of Terror
Moose Jaw Time Travel Adventure #2
Fun On The Farm 3
True Tales of Farm Life
Rebuilding a Brick Wall
Tunnels of Time
Moose Jaw Time Travel Adventure #1
Flight Volume 1
Stories of Canadian Aviation
Stories of Canadian Aviation, Vol. 2
The First St. John?Ambulance Therapy Dog in a Canadian Emergency Room
Skye Bird and the Eagle Feather
Fun On The Farm Too
True Tales of Farm Life