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.)

Faith, Belief, and Memories of past adversity


One year ago, today, my husband was sent home from the hospital in the city. He’d had a gall bladder attack and landed in hospital on the 9th of February and after spending almost month there, doctors elected to send him to the city where there was better diagnostic equipment. But, after several weeks and a consultation with the cardiac team, it was decided he was at too big of a risk for surgery and he was sent back home. He’d been air lifted to hospital but we had to find our own way home. Thankfully a friend of ours was able to come pick us up and drive us home. It was a brutal trip. My husband endured it but was in pain the entire journey.

Less than two weeks later it happened again – another gall bladder attack. Once again, he was air lifted to the hospital in Edmonton. This time there was no choice in the matter, that gall bladder had to be removed. I remember sitting with two friends I’d made during his previous stay as I waited through his surgery to learn what the outcome would be. And praying, praying, praying. Needless to say, he survived the surgery. But the lessons I learned about faith in the midst of adversity have stayed with me.

Now, I have written about our experiences before, but as I sit here, I remember the fight to have him return home by plane or at least by ambulance where he could lay flat instead of enduring the long four-hour drive sitting up in a car. He’d just had surgery and was in no condition for that. Every day was stress filled as our local hospital insisted he be released because they didn’t have a bed for him. Back and forth it went with me being adamant that he could not face the long drive in an upright position; that he was still not well enough to come home. In the end he was air lifted back home and readmitted to our local hospital. He would spend a further few weeks there before finally being discharged.

Today we have the shadow of this corona virus hanging over all of us. But my experiences with my husband last year have strengthened my faith and my trust in a loving Creator who answered every prayer last year and during every day since. Yes, I’d had to fight for him, for us. Yes, it was hard. But it is during times of seemingly hopeless situations that hope is renewed, faith is renewed, trust is given. During those days last year, I spent many a sleepless night, often in prayer. Often a “peace beyond all understanding” settled over me. And so I write this, as much to remind myself as it is to share with you the lessons I learned: “God is not dead, nor does he sleep,” are part of the lyrics to the Christmas Carol, I heard the bells on Christmas Day, and these words came to me again and again as I faced the possibility that my husband might die. I also learned to “let go and let God”. I learned the value of prayer that keeps us going and sustains us, even in seemingly dire situations. And so, my friends, take heart. We are not alone. The Creator knows our every need, our every want and desire and sees the big, wide picture, while we see only a small part of it. I don’t know why this is happening. I don’t know why so many are sick or why so many are dying. But I will keep faith in the God who helped us through our situation last year, and who continues to sustain us today.

Stay well. Follow the regulations. Stay home and please, stay safe! As for me, I will continue to pray for you, for me, and for all peoples of our world.

Just checking in….do you have any scintillating news to share? I do not!


It’s been a little over a month of self isolation for hubby and I. It started on March 13th right after we got back from a trip to the city where he’d had a medical appointment. A couple of days before we left the news about the corona virus was beginning to get more intense. But the city of Edmonton had just two cases, that was on Tuesday by Thursday there were twenty. It was rather stressful being in the city as there were so many unanswered questions, there still are, I know. At any rate with hubby’s health placing him near the top of the list for vulnerability neither of us were keen on taking any chances at all. On 13th of March I also received word from my employer not to come in to work the next day. By Monday we learned the library would be closed until further notice.

So, what to do with all the time I now had on my hands? How were we going to cope? Except for missing my coworkers and the regular patrons at the library I am doing okay. It wasn’t a huge leap for us anyway because hubby’s health has kept us pretty much home bound for years now – so we had practice, not an awful lot of adjusting to do. It is only now, a month later, than I am beginning to chaff at the bit. How much television can one watch without going bonkers? I am not much for t.v. at the best of times, but have been watching much more than I usually do.

I am trying to keep busy sewing home-made masks for whomever may need them. (I need to double-check the site to see who is asking for them still.) I dislike house cleaning but I guess the place could use a spring cleaning. On a positive note I saw two Canada geese flying overhead this morning, a sure sign spring is on the way. I was thrilled to see them. I am looking forward to the spring weather, even if it only means sitting out on the balcony watching the world go by. Admittedly the world is going by at a snail’s pace so that may not hold my attention for long. Then again, I cannot tackle much that requires a lot of attention. My brain is doing the flickering thing like a light bulb about to burn out. Reading books is a challenge, for example, as I often have to read the same page several times before it sinks in. I am just too distracted.

Can you tell I am getting rather bored? What are you doing to handle the boredom? How are you handling this forced isolation? I find it more interesting to read the thoughts of others’ than to continue to sit with mine, which tend to run in circles more often than not the past few days. At any rate, I hope you’re all doing okay and managing the inertia this isolation thing has brought on (well, for me anyway). I would love to hear what you’re doing and how you’re spending your time. Take care everybody and stay safe.

Procrastinate no more


I am really good at procrastinating. It’s probably one of my biggest faults. In my own defense though I think it’s pretty common as we all deal with the fallout of this pandemic. Getting motivated to do even the simplest tasks seems next to impossible when you’re running on empty. Not long ago I read a news story of the shortage of masks and other protective equipment in hospitals seemingly everywhere. I have been sewing different items from dolls to bridesmaids dresses for years, though I haven’t done much in recent years. At any rate, I thought I would try my hand at making some DIY masks. My goal was to make a bunch to send to hospitals for our health care workers. Now, I am not an expert seamstress or sewer, but I felt it was a simple enough project that I could produce some reasonably workable items. I read up on it, downloaded a couple of patterns and was gung-ho to get right on it. After making a couple of proto-types for practice and feeling a bit more confident my sewing machine broke down on me. It was frustrating and also very depressing because I really wanted to do something to help. I am not mechanically inclined. My husband had a go at repairing it and I was delighted when it seemed he had fixed the problem – the mechanism that holds the bobbin had come apart. But it was not fixed, the area he had to work in was not conducive to bis large fingers. It fell apart again! However, a day or two later my daughter looked at it and following the diagram managed to put it back together. After trying it out on some scrap fabric I was delighted to have it back up and running. And then my procrastination demon kicked in, as well as that hateful inner voice that likes to undermine my confidence, (which is a large part of the reason why I procrastinate at times).

So, here we are a week later and I finally muster up the courage to try again. While the first couple of masks did not turn out perfectly, they are not too bad. I am taking a small break before I tackle them again. I think I have it down pat now and after sewing two different types have decided on the best of the two (in my opinion anyway). I am so grateful that my inner critic has finally been silenced and the procrastination demon sent packing. Wish me luck as I continue my mission. Below is a photograph of the finished product.

First attempt at DIY mask