God’s sense of humour


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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.

Trials and tribulations


I am home again after a week with my family. It was so good to be with them and to have some true quality time with my younger sister. She and Chris and I spent all our time together as children and the bond we formed then has given us strength to carry on through this ordeal. The hardest part of the week was listening to a pathologist describe the many injuries our brother suffered – “any one of which would have been fatal”. And it was difficult to listen to the defense attorney’s attempt to blame my brother’s death on his heart condition – Chris had had heart surgery about 18 months prior to the collision.  The pathologist shot that theory to pieces.

The week was hard. It was also grace-filled with times of love and laughter in between the heartache and tears. Unfortunately in the months following Chris’s unnecessary death emotions ran high. One of my brothers was full of rage and pain and struck out in anger. His words and actions hurt the entire family. He did not join us at the court house nor at any family gatherings. He is missed. In many ways I feel like I lost two brothers as a result of that collision.  I am praying that we will be given the grace we need to move past the pain and recriminations.

Life is fragile. Life is also short, and, as in the case of my brother, Chris, can end at any given moment. None of us know when we will breathe our last breath. So I beseech you to be kind; to be patient; to be the best person you can be. Love and mercy are always needed.

For the love of family & friends


There are a lot of messages on social media promoting mental health and understanding – that is good! It is November and the Christmas season is fast approaching. Although it is a time of year touted as “family time” and a time of “peace on earth and goodwill”, for people suffering from depression and especially for those who are alone it is a very stressful time of year. The ever present messages exhorting us to buy this or that to celebrate Christmas are overwhelming. For people who may not have the means to buy the latest toy for their child or the means to travel to wherever “home” may be it can be very painful.

I remember the days when a death by suicide was hidden, if possible. It was so misunderstood and socially unacceptable that whole families were shamed at a time when they most needed love and support.

I think we are only just beginning to understand the torturous pain and unbearable challenges that people who die by suicide have been faced with. Mental health issues seem to be an ever growing challenge for society in general. So I do copy and paste messages that promote compassion and understanding. I think it’s important. But the bigger challenge lies with spending time with the people in our lives that are suffering. I hope each of us find within ourselves the grace and the patience and the compassion our loved ones need and deserve. Peace out….

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.

A Reflection: Trees


“A few minutes ago every tree was excited, bowing to the roaring storm, waving, swirling, tossing their branches in glorious enthusiasm like worship. But though to the outer ear these trees are now silent, their songs never cease.” – John Muir –

The city where I live is encircled by hills where trees stand along the ridges like silent sentinels. In full foliage they throw their shadows over the streets and give us protection from the heat of the sun. In fall their brilliant colour cheers the heart and makes saying good bye to warm weather a little less mournful. During winter with their branches frosted or ice laden a sense of fantasy and wonder is instilled. And in spring the first green shoots enliven us and breathe new life into our days. I love looking to the hills and to the trees.

Outside the city lays acres of untouched forest that bid me to come explore. I have always felt an attraction and affinity for trees. When I was a child I loved climbing trees – from their great heights I felt less small and insignificant. Now I stand at the base of the giant of the forest and feel  minuscule – a mere speck in the universe as I ponder the tree’s age and wonder about all it may have experienced in its long life. I think about all the small creatures it shelters and all the birds that have nested here.  ‘Grandfather’ I have named it, for it seems to harbor wisdom that only the eldest human might possess.

In my culture trees take pride of place at least once a year as we decorate them for the great feast of Christmas, when friends and family gather to share love and goodwill. Quiet moments staring at the twinkling lights of the Christmas tree are moments that link the years like a strand of brightly coloured beads.

Personally every time of year is a good time to celebrate trees in my book. For what can be more beautiful or graceful than the weeping willow or more statuesque than the Douglas fir? Trees of maple, oak, and birch that shed their leaves upon the earth creating a wondrous tapestry; Evergreens that comfort us with their greenery, even in the depths of winter; Trees give us oxygen, a means to keep warm, and shelter us from all life’s storms. What greater friend can we have than a tree?

Dark days remembered, courage celebrated


 

On this date – Sept. 11 –  the world was rocked by the attacks on the twin towers in New York and on the Pentagon. An attack on Washington failed, thanks to the courageous actions of passengers aboard United Airlines Flight 93 . It is to our generation much the same as the attacks on Pearl Harbour during the Second World War was to previous generations. September 11th is a date that will continue to be equated with senseless killing.  But, it is also marked by the heroic efforts of fire fighters and first responders as well as ordinary citizens. Today I will hold in my heart all the families affected by these heinous acts, and celebrate anew all the helpers that came forward.

But today is also the day in 2012 when my nephew died. He was a young man and father to two daughters. Todd was a very quiet man. His mother tells stories of how he never complained; stories about his stoic acceptance; stories of his hopes; stories of a life ended much too soon.

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Todd came to visit us the month before he died. I had invited his cousins to come for a family dinner. We all knew how serious his illness was. He had cancer of the esophagus, which made it very difficult for him to eat. I had consulted him about what kind of foods to prepare, but when it came time to eat he could not. As this hateful disease progressed he would have good days and bad days – days he simply could not eat anything. As it turned out the family dinner fell on one of the bad days. I remember him sitting quietly in the living room, a mere few feet away from where we gathered around the table. I remember how every mouthful I swallowed went down like lead. Food did not taste good and it just felt so wrong to be eating when he could not.

I also remember his smile and the way he joked with all of us after dinner. It actually turned out to be a fun evening, despite the awkward dinner – awkward for the rest of us, Todd seemed fine, waving away my sorrow that he could not partake. Except for the fact we all knew how seriously ill he really was it could have been just another ordinary day. I think that was the blessing Todd left us all. He smiled through the pain and met with courage all the challenges of this dreaded disease. So rest in peace my beloved nephew, you will live on in our memories and in our hearts. And thank you for showing the rest of us how to face adversity: with grace, courage, and indomitable humour.