God’s sense of humour

IMG_6283with god resized

When we had to move from the home I loved I was extremely disappointed. It was not so much the house itself, but the location. There were several mature trees on the lot and it was right across the road from a nature trail. And so, I prayed about it. ‘Please, God, help us find a home that suits our needs. Send me a sign when we find the right place.’  The new place is lovely – much roomier than our previous abode. I have to say the location is not nearly as ideal, but I had neglected to add ‘must have mature trees and lots of birds’. At any rate when we came to look at this house we moved into I had to laugh for on the wall were several biblical quotes, including “With God all things are possible”. Needless to say, we took the place.

But I have been missing the birdsong and the variety of winged visitors I had enjoyed at the previous address. Then a couple of weeks ago a pair of American robins built their nest in a flower box situated on the railing of my next-door neighbor’s front steps. It is literally a few feet away from us and I can watch her from the window very easily. It is as though the creator read my mind and granted me the beauty of watching this mama robin. A few days ago, the eggs hatched and now we are treated to scenes of both parents delivering food to their chicklets.

God goes by many names and concepts – whatever you may believe, I hope you see evidence of the creator at work and enjoy the wonderful sense of humor. I am grateful and feeling very blessed.

Fragility of Life

I woke up this morning and after my usual morning routine I opened Facebook. One of the first posts I saw was a news story about a wildfire burning approximately 120 km from here. I live in Fort McMurray and I was here when the wildfires swept through the city and caused an evacuation of about 88,000 people – many of whom never returned. Not a good start to the day (the news story I mean). It made me anxious. The next post I saw was about snow in Newfoundland, my native home. All I could think was I would trade the hot, arid weather we’ve been having for snow any time. At least I wouldn’t be concerned about a wildfire with that lovely white moisture falling from the skies. The weather network is forecasting rain on Saturday – just a couple of days from now. I hope we get a good downfall – one that really soaks the earth.

Last month I was reading news stories about flooding in various regions of the country and I guess those people would have been happy for the sun to come out and dry up all that excess water. Life is a funny thing. We always seem to want what other people have, but after the wildfires of 2016 I will forgive myself for that. There is still too much evidence of the devastation all over the city, so, yes, snow is preferable in my mind. It’s only May after all. Yet the temperatures have been in the 25 to 30+ Celsius range all week. I will be glad for the cooler temps promised for next week. Step outside our door and you will smell the smoke in the air – again, I dislike it intensely.

Still, I am a lot less anxious than I was a year ago, so that’s something. Last evening, I went to the funeral home to pay respects to a man we know who recently died. And to offer what comfort I could to his wife and my dear friend. Life is so fragile and so precious. Death certainly puts things in perspective. Fire, floods, earthquakes, etc. are part of life. So too is death – it comes to each of us and is our one and only guarantee. Today I hope to live my life in such a way that it is a help and maybe even a blessing for others. That is my prayer and my fervent wish.

The Lesson of Tragedies

I don’t know any of the people who died in a horrific accident involving a bus carrying a hockey team, the Humboldt Broncos, from Saskatchewan and a tractor trailer last evening, but my heart goes out to their families.  I cannot imagine the pain. So many young men on their way to play hockey – young men filled with hopes and dreams. Words fail me!

We assume we will live to old age and hopefully die a peaceful death, but for many this is not the case. It is not the case for the people on that bus; not for the many who have died due to fentanyl-laced drugs; not for the people who die by suicide; not for the many who died as a result of school shootings; or the many more who die from cancer and a long list of other diseases.

The thing is none of us have a guarantee on the number of years we will have here on this good earth. My baby sister died at three weeks old, a cousin at three years, my infant niece also only weeks old, and a nephew died of a brain aneurysm and his brother just six months later of cancer, my brother in an accident – the other driver was impaired.  All of these deaths, and more, have taught me that life is so precious. Yet, I often forget just how precious and fragile life really is.

I have heard the reply when asked how things are going, “same old shit, different day”. It is easy to feel cursed. It is easy to be swallowed by negative thoughts and emotions. But life really is a blessing. And, after all, even shit can be used as fertilizer to help plant life grow, perhaps the “shit” in life can even help us grow as long as we hold on and learn the lesson it comes to teach.

The impact of thoughts and words

“Be careful of your thoughts when you’re alone. And be careful of your words when you’re with people.”  Author unknown

I love this concept. It is so true. Your thoughts can have a domino effect, one tumbling into another into another. Negative thoughts can cause a lot of harm – to ourselves and ultimately, to others.  Conversely, positive thoughts about ourselves, our families, friends, and coworkers build us up and help us act kindly; to be gentle with ourselves and with others.

Negative words, cruel words, words that wound deeply are to be avoided. Sometimes anger can cause a lot of harm because we are reacting to a perceived injustice.  So choosing our words wisely is a very good idea.

Sometimes life throws a wrench into our carefully laid plans. When this happens I try to see the lesson I need to learn. Sometimes the most painful of events lead us to the best situations and circumstances for our greater good. Change can be painful, but if we can find the silver lining; meet the challenge; overcome the obstacles, I think it can make us better people. But, we need to be open to receive the blessing in disguise.

Better, not bitter

I want to get a handle on all the stress, but it’s not easy. Life sure has been challenging the past few months. Part of me is very angry that a doctor released my husband from the hospital despite ongoing serious issues. Health care seems to exist only for the rich and famous these days – but I’m not bitter.  Actually, I am bitter. I am bitter about all the injustices that go on in this world and I am fighting to let that all go. It isn’t easy. Stress is a noxious poison that infiltrates life and sucks out all the joy.  I am searching desperately to find a silver lining in the cloud that has enveloped my spirit.

Stress is contagious – all the more reason to shake it off, if I can. I do not want to poison the people I love with my anxiety and worry. I want to be a better person – a person who lifts others up – not bring them down.

I am trying to respect my husband’s wishes not to be bundled off to hospital once again. On the other hand I feel ill equipped to deal with all the issues he is having. I won’t bore you with the details, but let’s just say they are significant, and a huge worry for all of us. So I called the health care line and spoke with a nurse – she advised taking him to emergency, but he does not want to go there.  And so here I sit, biting my nails and wondering how to convince him that would be for the best. He simply doesn’t want to be poked or prodded any more – he had two weeks of that. And I suspect that some of the issues are due to the cocktail of prescription drugs he is consuming by doctor’s orders.

Human beings are more than the physical self. We are also spiritual, emotional, and psychological – these needs also must be met. How to balance all these needs is something I am wrestling with at the moment.  I will give it a little more time, and I will pray for guidance. And hopefully, in the long run, I will be better and not bitter…and so will my husband!

Social media – only as good or bad as the person using it

I haven’t posted for a while. There has been a great deal going on in my life.  If you follow this blog you know about my brother, Chris, and the collision that took his life a little more than a year ago. You will also be aware that his death was caused by an impaired driver and the next trial date is Monday, the 8th.  It has been an incredible amount of stress for my whole family.

On New Year’s Day my husband ended up in hospital. He is very sick. I have been stressed (naturally) but I just wanted to take a minute to thank all the people on Facebook and other social media who have been exceedingly kind. The messages of support and positive energies have buoyed my spirit, even when I feel like I cannot go on.

Social media has the potential to do a lot of good. Of course there is always a flip side. Not long ago I learned about an instance where somebody was using it to spread hate, mistrust, lies, and general negativity. There’s a name for that – cyber bullying, and we are all familiar with the consequences – in the extreme people have died by suicide due to the harshness and the hardness of some hearts.

You reap what you sow; what you give out returns to you. Some people call it Karma.  I am a firm believer in that. I believe in the power of prayer and positive thinking.  And I believe in doing good whenever and wherever I can.

I am writing this to humbly ask, if you are a spiritual person, to pray and send positive energy to my husband. He really is gravely ill and I am casting a wide net to enlist all the spiritual power I can. So thank you for reading this and if you are a follower, please know I appreciate you.

May you know light and love and all things good and life-giving.

The mystery of Christmas peace

It was a much nicer Christmas than I expected it to be, especially since the week before we heard from the crown attorney’s office asking for a meeting on the 29th of the month – sending us all into a bit of a tailspin and bringing all the pain of the trial and Chris’s death back fresh once again. For those of us outside of the province, we will be taking part through a conference call – which is a good thing; at least we will be able to participate in whatever is to come.  I did not want to write about my thoughts or feelings in the days leading up to Christmas. It should be a joyful time and I did not want to cast a shadow over it for others. But it was hard. I think our whole family felt like we were being drawn back into the darkness of pain and grief with that impending meeting. It also left us all wondering what was up now – I guess we will find out Friday morning. I know that many of us, if not all, were dreading another Christmas without our brother and worrying about the impact it was having on his children.

But the mystery of peace at Christmas time seemed to percolate through the negative thoughts and feelings and overcame them. At least, that’s how it was for me. From deep sadness to inexplicable joy as Christmas approached. Now, don’t get me wrong – grief is also a mysterious thing and could trip me up when I was least expecting it, but in the end I was able to rise above it – thanks to the grace that Christmas brings.  And family – that blessing that buoys us up and helps us keep going.

I hope you all had a wonderful Christmas.  And may the deep and abiding peace of Christmas remain with us all throughout the New Year.  Merry Christmas and as Tiny Tim said, “God bless us, everyone”.

Seeking Christmas Spirit

It’s hard to explain to anyone who has not experienced it – this dark cloud that has cast its shadow over everything magical and good. Christmas has always been my favourite time of year, but it is exceedingly difficult to get into any semblance of Christmas spirit this year. My brother’s death on the 19th of November last year did not conjure as  deep a darkness that following the trial of his killer has this year; The next court date is the 8th of January when the defense will do their best to plant seeds of doubt in the judge’s mind.  That date looms over me like a huge black mountain and seems impossible to scale, or to set aside. God knows I am trying. It is a bitter pill to swallow, this knowing that the defendant will be celebrating Christmas with his loved ones while we, the family of the man he killed, do our best to put aside the pain and anguish of our brother’s needless death. Life is not fair – but then who ever promised it would be?

I have read stories that tell us that we agree to certain conditions and circumstances before we are born on this earth. That is a comfort to me in a strange way. I can imagine Chris making the decision to be the one to die in order to save the lives of other people who were travelling the highway that day – one of which was a young mother with her three children in her car.

Chris possessed a generosity of spirit that is hard to convey. He was a truly selfless person in many ways. And he was very kind. So I can totally imagine him agreeing to play the role of victim in this scenario. Ah but he was more than the victim of an impaired driver. The many people who approached me and my sisters and brothers following his funeral attest to the mark he made on this world. And not in any big splashy way, but in the small acts of kindness he performed daily. It is this knowing that gives me comfort that no criminal trial or any amount of anguish can ever take away.

Putting up the Christmas tree

We put up the Christmas tree last evening and started decorating the house. It’s not finished yet. There are lots of finishing touches yet to be done, but I have to admit there is something about placing treasured ornaments on the boughs that gave me a much needed lift. The past month has been very trying. As I placed owl ornaments on the tree I thought of Chris – he collected owls. Was there some cosmic spirit at work that moved my daughter to give me owl ornaments? She bought them a few years ago – long before the tragic events that took our brother from us. Now I see owls everywhere – they have become quite a fad in recent years. Owls represent wisdom and a spirituality that lies within the dark of night. May this dark night usher forth the faith and wisdom we all need in our family and in our society and may the peaceful spirit of Christmas bring us all solace and good will.