She placed the dime she’d found in the tray upon the shelf
To join its many fellows – little shining tokens of love and blessings here
Signs sent to remind her, we never walk alone
White feathers on the mantle
Reverence in her heart
she takes one down, her fingers caress it, smoothing out the fibers
Remembering all the times, the locations, and the stories
They each appeared as if by magic to instill confidence and give comfort –
Reminders of divine grace, of power and gentle might
She returns the feather to its place and raises upturned palms
She worships not the plumage, nor bright and silver coin
They are but signs that represent calmness in the storm –
A gentle guidance that has never, ever failed her
And she is attuned once more
connected to the Creator’s love and power
Born again once more in every atom of her being
Renewed and strengthened by loving Spirit of wisdom
“Out of massive suffering emerged the strongest souls; the most massive characters are seared with scars.” – Khalil Gibran
When I was a little girl we lived in rural Newfoundland. In the back of the field beautiful sunflowers grew tall and I loved them. So, this spring I decided to plant sunflowers of two different heights in the corner of the back yard. The seed packets read that some will grow to be as tall as 3.5 metres (approximately 9 feet) and the others would grow about 2 feet tall. I had this vision of how the flowers would look with the high board fence behind them as I planted them. Unfortunately, mother nature delivered a punishing rain on the weekend and the deluge caused flooding in parts of town. In my garden some of my sunflowers took a beating and are now bent over as if the weight of the rain was too much to bear. I spent the past hour propping them up and tying them off with fishing line in an effort to support them.
I cannot help but think how people are like that. Some people grow stronger when tested by life. Others need supports until they can gain their feet and their strength. We are, each of us, individuals. Some of us are much more resilient than others. I hope that there are helpers for those that need it. I hope that whether we are the ones reaching out, or the ones offering assistance, that we each find the strength we need, whatever life may dole out.
“It’s your reaction to adversity, not adversity itself that determines how your life’s story will develop.” – Dieter F. Uchtdorf
“The best people possess a feeling for beauty, the courage to take risks, the discipline to tell the truth, the capacity for sacrifice. Ironically, their virtues make them vulnerable; they are often wounded, sometimes destroyed.” – Ernest Hemingway
And so you are gone
You slipped away
Leaving us your words of wisdom
Brutal honesty coupled with humility
You took us on your journey
Through pain and heartache
Through joys and thanksgiving
And I just want your loved ones to know
To all the strangers you made your friends
You are gone
But your words live on
And I am grateful for that
For your life, for your courage and tenacity
And here in Canada
Where fall is descending
And the days grow shorter
I remember you
With each little bird that visits our feeder
On its way south to warmer climes
Well that date is nearly upon us – that date that I suspect most, if not all, of Fort McMurray has been anticipating with a sense of dread and anxiety. Personally, for myself, I will be glad when the 3rd of May has come and gone. Memories, both sweet and bitter, fill my mind. It’s hard not to relive that day with so many media outlets reminding us daily that the one year mark is quickly approaching. I spent most of March and April dreading the reminders of the most frightening day of my life.
But today I will hold the most treasured memories close to my heart: The calmness and determination of my husband as he drove us out of town, my daughter encouraging me with her strength and dry sense of humour; Hugging my son and his wife when they met us in Anzac with their little dogs dancing in the back seat of their car; The memory of getting text messages from my sister-in-law and my nieces letting me know they all were safe; the memory of running into two young coworkers at a restaurant we’d stopped at during the scramble to get out of the fire-ringed city. How delighted I was to see them and the sheer relief that these two, at least, were safe. Trading news with them of other coworkers and breathing a sigh of relief that most, if not all, were accounted for. The memory of the countless text messages from family and friends offering their support, in every way imaginable. The memories of the abundant kindnesses bestowed upon evacuees and the outpouring of love from across the country. The hugs from fellow citizens and the sincere wishes shared for a safe harbor and to have all needs met.
When push came to shove the ultimate goodness of humanity came to the fore and that is worth remembering and cherishing. Anniversaries of horrid events such as this or the death of a loved one do make us dread certain dates, but in the end it is the love given and received that counts and what buoys us up and helps us to continue on with life. I will always and forever be very grateful for these gifts, given freely and without expectations.
It’s been a tough few weeks. Moving is never fun but I am so very grateful for the people who stepped up to help. Family and friends are definitely the super glue that holds me together. Through good times and bad times they’ve been there for me to lean on, or to help celebrate life’s joys. I feel like I have been walking along a razor’s edge between these seemingly opposite emotions – one minute happy the next grief-stricken once again. Because you see, it was my younger brother, Chris, who so often stepped up to help us, whether it was moving our belongings or something as simple as a ride to the airport, he was always there for us – it’s been four months now since his death, and not a day goes by that I don’t think of him. Even through the exhaustion of moving, or perhaps especially because of that fatigue, he sprang to mind frequently. I remember when he helped us move and also made sure there was a hot supper waiting when the last load had finally been dropped at our new place. I not only appreciated his strength, I was inspired once again by his thoughtfulness. He was an amazing brother and friend. I miss him.
So, for what it’s worth – I am back! Thank you for reading my blog and I will spare you further exposure to my grief. For those of you who know my family you know Chris was killed when an impaired driver crashed into my brother’s vehicle. So, once again, I implore all of you – never get into a vehicle with an impaired driver; and be careful on the highways and byways, for I would not wish this pain on anyone. Stay safe my friends.
It’s been said that the deeper the darkness the brighter the light shines. It seems like my world is in that place of darkness. The pain of losing my brother has been followed by the hospitalization of my husband. Worry has tried to keep me off balance, but I will not let it win, nor any other powers of darkness. How I react to it all is my decision, my choice. And I refuse to let it break me. Not this time. I intend to be a source of comfort for my family and a source of strength.
Winter is cold, but we can be kept warm. The fire blazes brightly in the hearth. Blessings flow even through the rain of grief and stress. As someone once advised, “look for the helpers, they will appear”. So today I will give thanks for the helpers and for all the well wishes and messages of love and support we have received. The light does indeed shine brightly in the darkness.
“You gain strength, courage, and confidence by every experience in which you really stop to look fear in the face. You are able to say to yourself, ‘I lived through this horror. I can take the next thing that comes along.” ~ E. Roosevelt…..
I love the above quote by Eleanor Roosevelt. I think it perfectly sums up my fellow citizens of Fort McMurray. Every day I see so many people at work who are struggling with various challenges since the wildfires disrupted our lives. Most do not share their stories and most people will never know what hell they may have faced fleeing the fires or the heartbreak they have experienced. Most will never know the courage it takes just to rise and face the day. It is just one of those things – the ‘you had to be there’ kind of things.
I count myself most fortunate and blessed that I did not undergo any severe trauma, but I know many did. The fact that they can muster the courage to get up and get on with living marks them as true heroes in my book.
I don’t know how they do it. They amaze me. Some face the day white knuckled and with grim determination. Others bring a wry sense of humour to the situation. However they do so, I admire them, these men and women with strength and courage that have no match, except perhaps for those who have survived war zones or other equally horrendous circumstances. They encourage me with their fortitude, for they are living examples of indomitable mettle. Mettle that has been sorely tested and shown to be stronger than anything that life can throw at them. I thank them for showing the rest of us that we can survive and not only survive – we can overcome.
“Perseverance is the act of true role models and heroes.” – Liza M. Wiemer
Photo by Hannes P. Rudolph
They sit in the fire towers day after day and month after month, these remarkable men and women who scan the landscape tirelessly for signs of smoke and fire. And they do this in isolation – spending their time with only the company of nature to break the monotony of solitude. I think it takes a special kind of courage to spend vast amounts of time alone – so much time in seclusion would drive ordinary people mad. At least that is my opinion. Don’t get me wrong, I do like to have quiet moments, time alone to reflect on life and love and all things meaningful. But I am no hero. I do not feel I have the strength of mind to be a recluse, even if it’s only a temporary thing. However, the men and women I write about are heroes. The work they do is not glamorous or thrilling but it does save lives – whether animal, bird, or human. They also save vast tracts of wilderness from the inevitable destruction of fire.
After the wildfires that swept through Fort McMurray this spring I have found a new appreciation and deeper respect for the women and men who climb their towers several times throughout the day to scan the forest surrounding them for any indication of flames – whether caused by lightning strike or the careless act of a human being. These men and women are our first line of defense against the ravages of wildfires. It is they who first sound the alarm, these sentinels of the forest green. I salute them and I thank them for their vigilance and perseverance, these unsung heroes.