Thoughts and Prayers


I have been thinking a lot about thoughts and prayers after the backlash following the horrific shootings at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland, Florida. It is not hard to understand the anguish and the anger that follows such a senseless and tragic catastrophe.  My heart goes out to the people in this community and to the American people as a whole. “Thoughts and prayers” have become a terrible cliché after so many mass shootings. It seems trite and useless, I am sure. The phrase that is meant as an expression of sympathy; as an expression of unity and empathy has been viewed as an insult to many when government action is not taken.

I am a child of the 60s and well remember the student protests of the Vietnam War; to racial segregation; to injustices in general. I remember the sit-ins that were met with armed soldiers in some cases. The movie, ‘The Trial of Billy Jack’ springs to mind. We were the generation that wanted real change – and many of us still do. Sadly, violence is too often the response to a peaceful demonstration for change in many places in the world.

Yet, we are God’s hands. However, we have to agree to be just that. We have to ‘put our money where our mouths are’ and take concrete action to give legitimacy to our thoughts and prayers.

I am Canadian, but the coverage of the most recent school shooting has been massive here. It has eclipsed the very real issues around human rights that we face in our own country. When a farmer can kill an indigenous youth and be exonerated something is terribly wrong. My heart aches for the American people, but it also aches for all Canadians and for humanity in general, for all those who are living with injustices of every kind.

“More things are wrought by prayer than this world dreams of” – Alfred Lord Tennyson. I believe in the power of prayer; in the power of positive thought; in the inherent goodness of humanity. But our prayers must also incorporate the will to do something, to be God’s hands in this world.

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The blessings of friendship


“The friend who can be silent with us in a moment of despair or confusion, who can stay with us in an hour of grief and bereavement, who can tolerate not knowing….not healing, not curing…that is a friend who cares.” Henri Nouwen

Refecting on life - photo by Anastacia Hopkins

I once read somewhere that ‘some people make life better just by being in it’ – that resonated with me.  I am blessed to have many such people in my life, but I am thinking of two friends in particular who have been loyal, caring, supportive and kind throughout the past several years; And the past two in particular. Friends may come and friends may go, but some become like family – people who have your back when you’re up against a wall. I am so grateful, so very, very grateful for these wonderful, warm, and caring friends. Naturally they seem to have no idea how special they are. The truly humble people never do, do they?  And the thing is they have so much stress going on in their own lives, yet are able to reach inside themselves to provide the support I need when I need it. Other times it is the shared laughter and pure joy in living that they abundantly share. The gift of time; the gift of self – that’s what it’s all about, right?  I am grateful. I am grateful for friendship; for people who are willing to sacrifice for others; for people who give me the strength to keep going – no matter what their own circumstances. God bless them all!

Winter walk


 

Today is the first day of the Alberta Winter Games 2018, with each community planning their own activities to celebrate winter play.  It is a perfect day. The sun is shining. It is relatively mild with just a touch of a breeze – perfect weather to get out and enjoy winter sports. I am not much of a sports fan, but I do enjoy a walk in the woods. I am posting a few photos I took this morning – nothing spectacular, but I hope you enjoy them nonetheless.

Winter in Fort Mac: not as cold as you think


 

Before my son and brother convinced me to move to Fort McMurray I was wary. I was wary of the frigid temperature that can dip to -40 Celsius.  It took a lot of persuading on their parts to sway me. Eventually they succeeded and this is my third winter in the ‘frozen north’.  On a positive note, the cold temperatures mean there is far less snow to shovel, and seriously, there are not that many days when the thermometer dips to such lows.

For the most part I enjoy living here – cold weather aside.  I am blessed to live across from one of the many Birchwood Trails that crisscross the city. I have had the good fortune to see deer, coyotes, rabbits, and a variety of birds. There are also bears, foxes, and assorted mammals that inhabit the area – though I have not seen any of these. Being a nature lover this is as close to heaven as I can get whilst living in a small city.

Every place I have lived in this fair country has offered its share of pros and cons and while it is very cold here at times, the kindness of its people and the joy of having the opportunity to explore the trails more than compensates.  I count myself most fortunate to live here and call it home.

Wishing you blessings


Do not let the world silence your voice. Your life, your experiences, your thoughts and feelings are valid. You matter. Never forget that. These are some of the things I would tell those who have lost all sense of hope. Empathy, kindness, compassion and love sometimes seem like they are in short supply. But it is the gentleness we seek that we can find within. Be gentle with yourself today. Be as kind to yourself as you would be to others. It is easy to let hurtful words and actions reverberate through our minds; wounding ourselves anew with every echo of past hurts. Hold on, for this too shall pass. Nothing lasts forever, not even the coldest, the most bitter of winds. I am wishing you many blessings as you travel along your path.

Let go, let go


Let go, let go

Fear

A heavy and grotesque gargoyle

Perched upon my shoulder

Its sharp claws digging into my flesh

Making me weak

Anger

A boiling cauldron of toxic soup

Bubbling and spewing forth hateful thoughts

Making me weak

From deep within, though soft and low

A voice repeats

Let go, Let go

But I hold tight to my pain

Feeling justified

Feeling righteous

White-knuckled I scream

At all the injustices done

And the voice whispers again

Let go, let go

With herculean effort I toss them high

The fear and anger and burdens heavy

I watch them go

Lifted higher and higher

I watch them burn as they near the light

To finally explode into a million pieces

What sweet relief

To finally let go

And I thank the voice

That guides me true

And brings me back

To life anew

The Scourge of Diabetes


I have learned a lot about diabetes over the past number of years. It is an insidious thief, stealing good health bit by bit – eroding it much like a river erodes the banks that attempt to keep it in. I have had many people tell me to “make” my husband eat this healthy food or that. First of all no one can “make” another person do anything they do not want to do. If you think you can you are seriously mistaken. Secondly diabetes is also affected by the ravages of stress on the body. I have seen my husband’s blood sugar levels spike time and again due to stress and unwelcome, and unanticipated events – like my brother’s sudden death.

Diabetes attacks every major organ: heart, kidney, lungs. It also attacks the eyes, the stomach; in short diabetes can be a death sentence, but only if it is not managed. Food is one thing we can control, life events we cannot.

We are not simply biological. We are emotional, spiritual, and psychological as well, and all these realities interact in ways both helpful and not. If one aspect of our being is affected by illness every aspect is.

Enough said!