Dubious Distinction


Hey folks. Hope you’re all keeping safe and healthy. I haven’t been here in a little while. It’s been a bit of a crap show the past few weeks. For one thing, the city where I live made the dubious distinction of becoming a location with the highest rate of infection on the north American continent – not a label one would want to celebrate. We had a scare when both our daughter and our son were exposed to people who tested positive for covid. I was on pins and needles for a bit until they both got tested and had negative results (the one time I celebrate the negative). My daughter works with the public and my son in the oil field where there have been many outbreaks.

On a positive note, both hubby and I have had out first vaccination. Our son will receive his later today and our daughter later in the week. This third wave has been pounding our city with a ferociousness and brutality the first waves did not. The variants have featured heavily in that. I am grateful that the age for immunization has been lowered in our province. I am hopeful that will make a big difference. The median age in this city is 32 so as soon as the bulk of the population are vaccinated, the better.

I know I am far from alone in feeling overwhelmed by the ongoing pandemic. I hope that the situation is improving wherever you may live. I am praying for India, especially, as I write this, but for our whole world in general. Stay well, my friends, stay safe and may you have the support you need until this beast is beaten back and hopefully decimated permanently.

Writing away the days….one year later


I know I have been M.I.A. a fair bit this past couple of months or so. I have been hijacked by the characters in the book I’m writing. I have read of such occurrences, but never experienced anything like it. I started out to write a short story then the ball started rolling quite quickly and over 500 pages later . . . and there you have it. I am enjoying the process. It’s my first attempt at writing something longer than a blog post. I’ve written a fair amount of news stories and a scattered magazine article or two or three, or more but nothing that compares to my present attempt. I’m having fun with it, even if sometimes I want to tear my hair out. I love finding the perfect word or phrase to express what I want to express. It can be challenging, to say the least. It is helping with the long hours of this pandemic – I wonder how many new books, artwork, and things of a creative nature will come out of this downtime around the globe? That’s the silver lining in every dark cloud, I think. The pandemic has led to a lot of difficulties in so many ways. I hope it has led to renewed creativity as well. Boredom is a great catalyst for action of some kind or another. So, that’s what I’ve been doing with my time. How about you?

20/20 vision


Twenty-twenty, the year was a roller coaster, unfortunately there seemed to be more downs than ups. Or were there? It was a year that I learned (once again) to take one day at a time. Do you remember the jokes about 2020 and perfect vision? I’ve been thinking of that quite a bit, because, after all, the past year did deliver just that. It made us realize that people should always come before things; that money will not solve all our problems, no matter how many dollars we throw at them. It made us want to hold our dear ones closer and made us appreciate them all the more. As the economy was shut down and more people had to work from home; as all forms of entertainment were brought to a stop; as places of worship also closed their doors; as every bit of life we had become used to became turned upside down, it forced us all to look at our values and at what we had once given priority to and it made us take a second look. Did we learn anything at all? I hope we did. I hope the lessons of the year 2020 remain with us for life.

I know for many people it has been an extremely painful year. Many people have lost loved ones and could not even say a proper good-bye. Many lost jobs or homes, some lost both. Yes, 2020 has been a year of intolerable loss, grief, and sadness. But I hope it made us all re-examine all that is truly important in life. I hope it made us realize how much we’ve taken for granted for too long. I hope it shook things up enough to cause a change of heart in us as individuals, and as a society. I hope we do not go back to the way things were pre-pandemic. I hope we change for the better in the way we treat one another, and particularly in the way we treat the most vulnerable. I hope we have increased respect for the people who work with the public in every sector from health care to grocery store cashiers; from janitorial staff to cooks and chefs; from the poorest to the richest. May we treat one another kindlier and with utmost respect. I hope 2020 has taught us that, and I hope we remember well the lessons.

May we move into 2021 with eyes that see clearer, ears that hear better, and hearts, though bruised, that love more fully and with a mind set and new resolve to do better.

To home-school or not? A very thorny question!


We are social beings by nature, but has this pandemic caused us to become anti-social? And what about the little children growing up during these anxiety-producing days? Are we raising a generation of children who will be less inclined to socialize than previous generations? Are we projecting our fears on our children? This was a discussion recently brought up by a friend of ours. Technology had already been making parenting challenging as so many children spend more time on tablets and cell phones playing video games than physically playing outside with other children. What unseen mental health issues may lay in wait? Should school, with the opportunities for children to interact with others, be seen only as germ-infesting buildings where the virus will play greater havoc? Oh, don’t look at me. I have no idea what to do for the best. But our friend did bring up some important considerations as parents are faced with making decisions regarding sending their children to school or opting for home-schooling. I am so glad I don’t have to make choices of this magnitude. Choices that will have far-reaching consequences. Not an easy call to make. We look to government for answers, for guidelines. Too often our governments fail us. The choices we make will reverberate through time and we will only know the answer in a future that is too murky to even guess at. May parents and teachers be given the insight and wisdom to make good choices.

On “Holy Insecurity”


“This is the kingdom of God, the kingdom of danger and of risk, of eternal beginning and eternal becoming, of opened spirit and of deep realization, the kingdom of holy insecurity.” – Martin Burber

If there is one thing that is true about this Coronavirus, it is in this quote from Martin Buber. When the world is shaken to its core and all seems dark and dismal. When sickness and death surround us. When we hit rock bottom. It is then and only then we begin to realize our powerlessness. It is then we are opened to throw ourselves on the mercy of a higher intelligence, a merciful divinity. It is then we begin to search the mystery of the Divine One. For surely these days are filled with “holy insecurity”.

A little over a year ago I was in Edmonton with my husband. He was so sick I was convinced he could die, and probably would die. It was a time of great stress, great insecurity, and many questions and doubts. Yet, against all odds he made it. He survived. My weak faith became strengthened through these days only to be tested once again as the Coronavirus plagued the world.  Fear ruled for a while. Anxiety reigned supreme. But then, out of the darkness faith was once again reborn.

I live in Canada, but news of the horror presently taking place in the United States and around the world has me very concerned. Yet in these times of great suffering, death, and loss of every kind a quiet, still voice reassures me: we are not alone.

 As I sit with the mystery that is God, I am comforted. The world has seen other great plagues and during those times surely people felt insecure, anxious, afraid. Surely it was an opportunity to turn again, to become, to learn and live and come to greater understanding, insight and wisdom. People ask where is this God? Where is this love and mercy? And I think to myself: it is in the kind ministrations of health staff. It is in the compassion and care of family members and friends. Sometimes it is in the kindnesses extended by strangers. It is in the patience and endurance of people who, perhaps, do not share our convictions, opinions, or faith traditions. It is in the trust of a child and the wisdom in the eyes of the old. And, it is in abundance in nature.

I sit here and I pray: May the Divine One bring us all we need. May we know the comfort of loving hearts and hands. May we know justice, kindness, patience, friendship, and help in all our needs. May we be granted the gifts of trust and perseverance. May we sit with this “holy insecurity” knowing we are held in infinitely tender hands by an intelligence that is far greater than our human understanding.

Amen.

Back to work


I am back at work and missing the extravagance of time to read your blog posts and respond in a timely manner to your kind comments on mine. The library is not yet open to the public and I don’t know yet when it will be. (If you didn’t know that’s where I work, at the local library.)  There is just a skeleton crew at work right now and I miss the staff who have yet to return. It’s nice to be able to see regular patrons, if only from the proscribed social distance. We are doing curbside pick up. Patrons order their books, movies, games, etc. online and come to the back door where they have to call in to let us know they are there to pick up their holds. Items are then checked out on their account and put in bags which are then placed on a table outside for them to retrieve. It’s interesting, but also strange being in a library empty of people, except for a few souls. I am grateful though that the director and powers that be are taking a very slow and careful approach to re-opening. There is a lot to consider and several changes are in the works to deal with this new ‘normal’.  Things will never be the same. Still, I am hopeful. I am also a bit nervous. But so far, so good. Life will, no doubt, look very different when all is said and done. Yet, there is much to be grateful for and many blessings to count as we navigate our way through these deep waters. Stay well my friends, and stay safe.

Topsy-turvy World


Since this pandemic struck the world has seemed to turn upside-down. But I think one of the silver linings is the enforced change in life itself. We cannot know what the future holds and this has caused us to take one day at a time. And that is not such a bad thing. Yes, it would be good to make plans again, especially for such things as weddings, vacations, and the like. Yet, living one day at a time has advantages too. We tend to savor the good things, knowing just how fragile life really is. And we become more courageous in our day to day living. As the pandemic continues to follow us like the proverbial dark cloud we begin to adjust. The fear loses its iron-clad grip, even as we continue physical distancing and health protocols. We’ve become more aware of all we’d previously taken for granted like the company of family and good friends; like the hugs from those dear to us; like the simple pleasures such as neighborhood gatherings; like the freedom of any social gatherings at all. We have taken so very much for granted.

 The pandemic came and forced us to really look at our lives and all the blessings we often overlook. What once seemed like a daily grind: the alarm clock going off in the morning; the drive, walk, or commute to work; the daily tasks wherever we might be employed, now all of it seems more like a daily blessing instead. At least, for those of us who were gainfully employed. Of course, there are many who were considered “essential workers” such as medical staff, delivery people, food processors or producers, grocery store workers, and more, who have worked tirelessly throughout these weeks of lock down So many of these people we have also taken for granted. When this is all over, and I fervently hope that day will come sooner rather than later, I hope we no longer take so much for granted. I hope we continue to take care of one another. I hope our eyes are fully opened to the magic and the mystery of this marvelous thing we call life.

Perhaps….


Complaining seems to be as much a virus as Covid-19 and, although not fatal, can be debilitating. I know I am just as guilty of complaining from time to time as the next one, but experience has taught me that it is not good for my mental health and, since my mental health impacts my physical, emotional, and spiritual well-being, not good overall. And who likes to sit and listen to somebody who is given to whining and complaining? Not many people. As the saying goes, ‘misery loves company but company does not love misery’. Ain’t that the truth? It is so easy to get trapped into a cycle that can quickly become a downward spiral into depression. At least that’s been my experience.

 I have been making a concerted effort to pay close attention to my thoughts and to guard against negative thinking. It’s not easy at times such as these when there are so many unanswered questions concerning the corona virus and its impact on life as we’ve known it. Yet, life itself is so fragile. Not one of us have a guarantee we will be here tomorrow. There is so much we have taken for granted in the western world. ‘First world problems’ is a phrase I often see bandied about. Such things as not being able to visit the hairdresser or go to a concert or out to dinner.

Perhaps this virus will help us learn more about ourselves, about our values, about what is truly important to us. Perhaps it will help us learn that social connection is much more important than we’d previously realized and treasure time with loved ones and friends much more deeply. Perhaps we will learn that care of our health and the health of others is more important than that trip to the hairdresser or to see a movie. Perhaps we will learn that life, all life should be valued, including that of the planet itself. Perhaps it will help us turn over a new leaf, to realize we are not the be all and end all of the universe. Perhaps we will become less self-centered and less selfish. Perhaps it will make us all better people, more caring, giving, and loving. Perhaps this is a golden opportunity for self growth and growth of society at large. Perhaps …..

“There are no great limits to growth because there are no limits of human intelligence, imagination, and wonder.” – Ronald Reagan

“A battle lost or won is easily described, understood, and appreciated, but the moral growth of a great nation requires reflection, as well as observation, to appreciate it. – Frederick Douglass

For Brittany


I never really knew you well

But I remember the young girl

With the bright, wide smile

Speaking poetry with a put-on accent

That made us grin and giggle

You were a delight and a total ham

Drinking up the accolades with relish

No false humility there!

It has been many years since we met

Yet, that one meeting had an effect

And you are remembered fondly

I know you now through stories told

By those who know you much better than I

Of your struggles and your pain

And of how you’ve soldiered on

Through it all

May you marshal your courage once again

To meet this new and foreign terror

That has swept the lands

And invaded your every cell

I think of you as you were then

And pray that young girl that lives within you

Gives you strength to beat this thing

Be well, young friend, be well

_____________________________________________________________________________

Over the past weekend we learned that a young woman who has struggled with type 1 diabetes, kidney failure, and other health issues has been diagnosed with Covid-19. She has been through a lot in her young life and if you will, I invite you to join me in praying for this courageous young woman for her recovery and for good health. May God bless Brittany.

The “C” word


Yes. It is getting old. But we’re alive. We’re safe. And there is still social media, at least. The past several days I have been doing a bit of spring cleaning. My husband asked me why I was doing it “because nobody can come visit, no one is going to see it”. Well, yes, that’s true. But I cannot live in a cluttered house. I have trouble relaxing fully. All I can think of is the jobs and chores waiting to be done. It makes me antsy, even though housework is something I truly abhor. Anyway, it was time and it was something to do. Air conditioners are ready to go, well almost, but close enough. And, in the ultimate insult, it snowed last night and early this morning. Mother Nature is thumbing her nose at me, I think. It won’t last. Already it has melted off the balcony and the green space is quickly beginning to look green once again. It’s one of the pitfalls of life in Canada. Spring can turn back into winter in a snap. It’s not that cold outside. However, you do need a jacket if you venture out.

This morning I made bread for the first time in over twenty years. It was a good day to do it. Nothing like a bit of comfort food on a cool day. It turned out pretty good considering I am out of practice. Have I bored you silly yet? How are you filling the hours? Are you looking forward to a lifting of the regulations around Covid-19? I have to say I am nervous. And I wonder how long I will continue to feel fearful of strangers in the grocery store. Are you nervous at all? It used to be fear around the “C” word referred to cancer. Not any more. Although, of course cancer continues to be a very serious disease, it’s potential to end a life in a very short time frame pales in comparison to the new “C” word. Unfortunately, it will be with us for a long time yet to come, even after a vaccine is found. That’s the reality as I understand it. Reality bites sometimes. Somehow, we will get a handle on it all. Somehow, some way, we will go on with life. In the meanwhile, I will imagine visitors oohing and ah-ing over my delightfully clean home. No, not really, but I am looking forward to seeing family and friends once again and hugging them very tightly – whether the house is cluttered or not! (Clutter, another “C” word I dislike, and I like the reality of it even less.)