Dark days


Cold heart without empathy

Power has rotted your soul

And lost you your humanity

As you sit on your golden throne

And cast others into a hell

Of your unfeeling choosing

No caring exists in you

What will it cost?

This ambitious climb you’re on

Where people crushed beneath your feet

Have no recourse at all

Warnings come from all corners

Still your heart is hard

Your ears deaf to intense pleas

And neither entreaties sweet

Nor humble begging heard

Corruption fills your veins

Where once warm blood did flow

Your mind turned black and rotten

What hope survives is in this only fact

That one day you too shall fall

From your gilded altar

No cronies then

Nor bloodless worshippers

Primed to do your bidding

You alone shall drink the bitter wine

Of acrid fruits you sow

And know the heavy discontent

You’ve woven across the land

Like some vast and stinking cloak of darkness

The once proud bird of prey will seek you out

For all the hurt bestowed

As it stretches forth its talons

And confines you in its grasp

Woe to you

Oh pitiless one

When that day does come

 

 

Two years since the wildfire


I wrote this yesterday, but was without internet due to moving to our new home….

3 May 2018 Two years since the wildfire

Last night our friend who rents the basement suite of this house accidentally set off the fire alarm while making toast. We have moved into a new home and the fire alarm is very loud and a disembodied voice instructed us there was a fire – there wasn’t. It was just smoke from overcooked bread. We were surprised to say the least as the siren continued for a minute or two. We had just gone to bed. And until I heard the voice saying, “Danger! Fire!” I thought my daughter had inadvertently triggered the door alarm. I did not panic, but as I think back it is interesting to me that the alarm did not trigger any “fight or flight response” especially on the eve of the two year anniversary of the wildfires. But afterward we all laughed about it and went back to bed. I was comforted with knowing if there ever is a fire we will get an instant and noisy warning – no one could sleep through that alarm!

It’s been two years since the wildfire that was nicknamed “the beast” roared into our city and caused the evacuation of approximately 80,000 people. Shortly before that event I had been out picking up household goods. Outside the store there were literally thousands of white feathers in a long row beside the building. White feathers (or feathers in general) are said to be a sign that angels are near. I was amazed at the number of feathers laying on the ground. As I think back on those feathers I cannot help but think angels certainly were nearby when we evacuated the city. There were no direct fatalities as a result of the wildfire. Sadly, two young people were killed in a collision as they were driving to Edmonton, so the wildfire did cause deaths albeit indirectly. It remains a source of wonder that more people were not killed. The wall of smoke on the edge of town was so intense that we literally could not see past the hood of the truck.

I wrote this poem and posted it on the first anniversary of the wildfires. I consider it to be divine intervention and the fine work of first responders that kept nearly everyone safe that day. I am adding my poem, ‘A thousand feathers’, as a tribute to all the angels, ethereal and otherwise, who helped us escape the flames.

 

A thousand feathers

A thousand feathers lay upon the ground

It may be there were thousands more

I did not stop to count them

But left them to be carried in the breeze

As I hastened on my way

And I wondered as I scurried

why

It seemed as though heaven’s angels

Had been stripped of their attire

Perhaps exchanged instead for that of steel

Did they fold their wings around us when we had to flee?

That day hell’s inferno came to be

And flames encircled on every side

Licking at our heels as we sought to leave

Did angels see us through the wall of smoke

Where daylight failed and darkness

Tried to steal our hope and faith in all we believed

Yet hell itself cannot succeed

When a thousand feathers lay upon the ground

And angels fly with agile strength

To do battle in our name

May 2, 2017

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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 in regards to 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.

Eleven months gone


Today marks 11 months since my brother was yanked from our lives. He was killed in a horrific and totally preventable car accident. It has been eleven months of soul searching and dealing with the turmoil of emotions that his sudden passing left in its wake.

So this morning I wrote my victim impact statement and all the while I wrote it I was wrapped in a sense of unreality – a dream-like state. It still seems so surreal. How can words ever convey the impact his death has had? And does anybody outside of family and friends even care?  I so desperately need to know that it matters – That his death will count for something. My brother was killed when an impaired driver crashed head on into my brother’s van. It adds salt to the wound, his needless and preventable death.

Yet thousands are killed on the roadways every year. What will it take for people to take the message to heart – impaired driving tears families apart every day – both the families of the deceased and the families of the impaired drivers. I would not wish this pain on anyone. So please, do not get behind the wheel of a car if you are impaired in any way. Don’t text and drive. Don’t drink and drive. Don’t take drugs and drive. Just don’t!

Angels among us


Thirty-one years ago my mother died of cancer. The days leading up to her death were painful, as the impending day approached. But they were also days of love, grace, and peace. My mother exited this world in the same way she lived – with faith and dignity and an all-consuming love for her family. She was my first example of an angel in human form. No, she wasn’t perfect. She had her faults, as we all do. But she was exceedingly kind and gentle. I am grateful for the example she left us on how to deal with the hard times and how to live life gracefully and prayerfully. I will always be so very grateful to have been mothered by such a woman.

There are angels among us. I truly believe that because I see so many examples of it in my daily life.  Such as the smile and antics of a little child that brings joy and laughter. Some examples touch my heart so deeply – like the homeless man who is a regular patron at the library where I work who brought gifts of candy to thank us for helping him; Such a small thing, but yet also such a big thing.  I am grateful when I am feeling harassed and hurried in the grocery store and people let me go ahead of them in line – they are angels in human form.

Last year when we had to flee our city due to a wildfire I witnessed more examples of loving care than I can count. To record them all would create a book! Yes, there are angels among us. So, today as you go about your day, I invite you to notice all the small acts of kindness, the person who holds the door for you, the stranger on the bus that smiles and greets you, the driver who lets you in on a crowded highway, the list goes on and on and on. And I am thankful for all of them!

It is so easy to get bogged down with all the negativity and sadness in this world. Yes people can be rude and unfeeling, but they can also bring great gifts, the greatest gifts that lift us up and allow us to smile again, to hope again. Today I will remember my mother and give thanks for her and for all the angels among us.

Oh the joys of moving


If you read what I write I thank you.  We are in the process of moving to a new place and life is extremely busy at the moment.  Life is an unending series of adventures in this woman’s life.  I am looking forward to new experiences, new learning, and new friends. Wherever you live, whatever occupies your time these days, I wish you peace and joy.  I’ll be back!

Shout out to Front line workers


I work at the front desk at the public library in my town and I have to say I enjoy my work immensely. I love helping people and like to think my efforts make a real difference in the lives of our patrons. I worked in retail for a good part of my life and have always enjoyed meeting new people and learning a small bit about their lives. There is nothing I find more distasteful than overhearing anybody disrespect people working in the service industry – whether it is a counter person at a fast food joint, a fellow co-worker at the library,  or the secretary in the doctor’s office. I am grateful to say I have witnessed very few such situations.

I honestly have found that the overwhelming majority of people are absolutely awesome. I had cause to reflect on the goodness of people and the sheer joy of working with the public the other day at work when a regular patron I had not seen since before the holidays gave me a hug and wished me a happy new year.  She has such a big, warm, and beautiful smile – it is always a joy to see her and even though I do not know her well I am always appreciative of her open-hearted kindness and friendliness.  I was tired that day and not feeling good. I was just a little under the weather. This woman did more to lighten my spirit and sow a seed of generosity than she will ever know. I treasure all such moments like these. It is a testament to how we can each make another person’s day a little brighter.

Never underestimate the power of a smile or the little gestures that can turn a person’s day around. It is like a small pebble thrown into the water. It has ripple effects we may never know about. Respect and human decency – that’s what it’s all about. So this is a shout out to all people who work on the front lines wherever you may be employed. What you do matters and this is my salute to you. You are awesome!

Never forgotten


I was 12 years old, my friend perhaps a year older; she was a year ahead of me in school. Her name is Gloria Scanlon. I think of her often. She befriended me at a time when I was experiencing culture shock after our family moved to Ontario. I was extremely homesick and missing my old school and friends. She defended me when the bully of the classroom would pick on me. In many ways she was my hero. She died when a drunk driver hit her and her pregnant sister-in-law as they were walking to a store.  I remember her face. I remember her funeral. And every year when the organization against drunk driving, MADD, go into high gear to kick off their red ribbon campaign, I am reminded once again of Gloria.

Today I have more reason than ever to think about the victims of drunk driving. Despite millions poured into a public awareness campaign to combat impaired driving people continue to climb behind the wheel of their vehicles while under the influence of alcohol. I don’t get it. Perhaps I never will. On November 19, 2016 my brother was driving home from work, headed north. At the same time a 36-year-old man who had been drinking was driving southbound.  There was a collision. My brother was killed. The other driver is facing charges. And my family is left to grieve. My brother’s children have been left fatherless. Why? Why, after decades of hearing and seeing the message, “don’t drink and drive” do people decide to do just that. Why?

I may never know why. But I do know this: Gloria will never be forgotten. My brother will never be forgotten. I will share their stories. I will work toward finding the answers, not only for my family, not only for Gloria, but for every single person affected by senseless tragedies such as this. They will never, ever, be forgotten.

Bitter pills


I just read a news story about a man who brutalized and later murdered his wife, while forcing his 4-year old son to watch. He has been granted day parole after serving 14 years of his life sentence. It is a sad reflection of the Canadian justice system. I truly believe in the inherent goodness of humanity. I believe in second chances, but violent criminals such as this deserve no less than to spend the rest of their lives in jail. This man had a history of violence and I think that should have been taken into consideration. Bad enough he murdered his estranged wife but to force his child to watch defies explanation and makes mercy for him impossible to muster. Every particle of my being is enraged. The injustice and blatant callousness of our so-called justice system toward this woman’s children who live in fear of this man defies logic.

As a female who has grown up knowing there is no real safety, no real protection allotted my sex, this is one more example of how vulnerable women can be. Peace bonds are useless, it seems, And answers to domestic violence are convoluted, as impossible to unravel as a spider’s web.

This man walks free. His children do not. It is a bitter pill to swallow.

http://www.cbc.ca/news/canada/newfoundland-labrador/daniel-benoit-dale-ogden-1.3830655

Giving thanks this Thanksgiving


aaaaaa-beautiful-trail

 

Where to start and where to begin? I have so much to be thankful for…first of all for my husband and my family (of course) and for my lovely little Callie-cat who brings so much joy to my life; for sisters and brothers, aunts and uncles, cousins, nephews, nieces and more. I am thankful for friends near and far and for the wonderful people I work with.  I am forever grateful for fire fighters that saved the greater part of our city when “the beast” came roaring through.  I am thankful for the sincerity and kindnesses of strangers both at home, across the nation, and the world during that time of fear, stress, and anxiety. You helped me realize anew just how good people really are.

I am thankful to live in this beautiful province in this beautiful country in this beautiful world. I am thankful for the wonders of nature that beckon to all of us to sit and be still a while…to embrace the changing seasons and to celebrate all wildlife, all flora and fauna…it truly is a wonderful world.  For little blessings and for large, for kindnesses extended to me and mine, for love in all its wrappings…today I give thanks from a full, nay overflowing heart…my cup runneth over