Coming Home

You know Youtube has everything under the sun if you want to see or learn more about something just Youtube or google it. How it arrives at the gathering of a crazy amount of accessible information or tidbits on whatever is your fancy of knowing, I have not a clue. Information age is alive and kicking. But there are a couple of things things that I like to watch or listen to such as old music video clips or those planned/unplanned unexpected surprises of people seeing people or even masters seeing their pets. Hallmark moments!! The times when the heart meets the head and presto….tears of joy abound. I love that. It reminds me of the ending in the movie Love Actually at the airport where people greet people….where they have not seen each other for ages and hug. Glorious hugs. Crazy love. Tears of happiness. Jumping up and down. Shock and a burst of joyful sobbing. So many emotions run gamut across the faces of people as they meet after a few or even many moons have gone by for them.

Take for instance the military reunions, which there are a ton of them, old and more recent montages, of surprise visits from family or friends. It gets at my heartstrings every time. Some individuals have not seen their family in many many years, never mind months. They are deployed on missions that take them far far away to do their duty to own country and then all of a sudden you see them popping out of a Christmas box marked do not open until Christmas or they run across a sports event or tap them on the shoulder to get directions or are in a restaurant serving a meal at their family table. Or come into their own home, walk into the kitchen, and say hi. Can you imagine! It’s home.

That is what it feels like coming home. There is nothing like that moment when you find yourself in the arms of those you love or you walk across the doorstep to the smells and sights of the familiar. Ahh yes!! I could not wait to just feel the wrap of home surround me. As I traveled back home in early December after caring or gratefully visiting my Ontario family and friends, I thought of going down home. Back in my childhood that is what my dad would refer to our summer holiday visit to his homeland of NB….going down home. And now I have that same feeling because it has always held, the Maritimes, that down home feeling for me. Of course the closer I got to the bridge, the more I wanted to press on the gas. Thank the Lord for the super highway in NB….110 speed limit. Crazy smart I say.

Thankfully, it was a great drive, clear skies for the most part, dry roads and the beacon of light into darkness into light then to darkness (losing an hour or so) as I crossed four provinces to my doorstep. I have the trip down pat (bar outside of unexpected construction) of pitstops and service gas stations. I really like the Enroutes in Ontario, the rest stops in Quebec, and Big Stops in NB. Each provide the relief one needs. I do not take for granted the weather patterns across the provinces because they can get a bit harry at times especially in along provincial highway 20 up near Riviere de Loup then south toward NB. Don’t get me started on NB. You can find yourself in all kinds of weather states as one takes the super highway 2 — snowstorm, fog, freezing rain, wind gusts, sunshine, clear blue skies, and repeat. That is why it is important to know where the stops are along the way. Just saying.

But regardless I made it home safely. And this year it was particularly important to see how Fiona, the remnants of the hurricane weather that hit the island, and what it left in its wake. Coming over the bridge in late evening did not allow me to see what havoc the storm left in late September but in the morning….feld trees down. I know it does not compare to the unbelievable devastation that the souther states along Atlantic seaboard or the many southern islands countries either, and get yearly, but it did have a huge impact to many properties across the isle.

I cannot imagine what that would feel like, to leave your home for a bit and upon return there is nothing left. Can you fathom the magnitude of that feeling of loss and hopelessness! Holy lightning!! Holy moly! Holy to goodness!! It would be a Holy Lord or some facsimile there of. No words but a deep-seeded emotion within. Some people are stalwart in their ability to hold it in…I am not sure I would be. And yet, you thank the Lord of the many blessings you have. I think it is called life. Not easy to swallow the loss of the things but the preciousness of life and being safe. Oh my.

So home. Whatever that is to you! It comes in many shapes and sizes and ways I think. It can be a feeling. It can be a pair of arms. It can be a certain smell. It is different for everyone. I find it funny really. Not that I do not like or care about Ontario as I was born and raised there, but there is something about the Maritimes that draws me in and creates a home in my heart. It may be that time of my life where I appreciate my life more and the space and place I am in. I know that homey feeling from a hug, whether it be in the arms of my daughters or the little arms (or long arms) of my grandkids or that millionth hug from parents or siblings. Nothing like a big bear hug… brother gives great ones. ­čÖé Thanks, brother. Or that special someone(s) in your life who makes you feel safe and cared for.

Coming home. So glad to be here. Wherever or whatever it looks and feels like it, I pray for those coming home and finding home for themselves, especially at this time of year when shelter is needed and necessary. Blessings.

Let us pray for those who are in need of prayers and for those who are homeless. Amen.

Sharing the Season

It ’tis the season of Advent. A time of preparation for the coming of the birth of Christ as Christmas draws near. We are asked to pay attention to the little signs of life with Christ in and around us. Giving ourselves permission to take a few moments of each day to welcome the notion of the ‘coming’ of Him in our daily lives, preparing our hearts and minds to the true meaning of Christmas and Jesus’ birth. I think of that phrase I have seen numerous times over the years in capturing the reality of “keeping Christ in Christmas”. I wonder if I put out a survey and asked a question or two about Christmas and its origin to young and old alike…what would be the response. I am wondering what I might discover. Hope – joy – love – peace – glad tidings – a gift???

I try very hard to keep Christ in Christmas. I do a bit of a grr and growl when I see the sign Xmas. Or the notion that when you go out shopping or in public settings, the greeting has become a wee bit of a challenge. WHAT DOES ONE SAY? Walking with my faith, my story is centred around the sights and sounds of Advent, a season of preparation. It is a time to wish others a very Merry Christmas at least it comes out of me without thought. To prepare one’s heart and mind in hope, in peace, in love and in joy dwelling on Christ being in my life and how He is working in me. So I sit with that thought and wonder about sharing the season of Christmas. For that is what I am doing in this world of ours today. Right? Sharing the season, a season that is filled with many different interpretations and perspectives. And for some, Christmas itself is not a part of their world. For others it is Santa and reindeer and elf on the shelf and ho ho ho and lets not forget old Scrooge “Bah humbug” LOL. Yet I want to be true to me while honouring and respecting those around me. So….how does one share the season?

It is not only sharing the season with others but living amongst the paradoxical commercializing mad drive of Xmas; the secularization of Christmas traditions and practices. Accepting the invitation to do the good deeds for others; and all in between. I love it all. Toggling between the human and divine of Christmas as it has such fervour and joyful glee all on its own. Can I get carried away? Lose sight? Be in the tizzy of preparation during Advent and yet at the same time be thinking of what is going under the tree for those I love? Yes yes and yes. But is it not all good? Is that okay?

Yes I think it is. The traditions that are set forth in faith and one’s own family traditions from western societal Christmas secular celebrations brought down over the years should come together as an acceptance. Finding traditions that honour the spirit of giving whether it is under the family tree or the most wondrous spiritual experience of giving a gift to those in need. These traditions take a lot of time and energy but in the end, does it not remind you of the Advent seasons candles lit….hope, peace, joy and love. The most ordinary acts of love and joy become extraordinary in the act of sharing in the season.

Simple acts that bring joy. Not necessarily for you (oh I do love to give though) but for the receiver. Taking my own children and then my own grandkids to an Angel tree to select a family name to get gifts for them or going to the store to pick items for the Christmas Cheer Drive donation box. Not own table but another. How can you not be enraptured by the spirit of giving and love for one another. I think about my grandkids or daughters, opening up a gift given to them, and their eyes light up, their mouth forms an “oh” or sometimes a tear is shed.

However we come to this place of celebration I pray for the goodness that is the in this invitation at Christmas time. Being filled with the essence of breathing life into the spiritual being in each of us. I think of that beautiful song done many moons ago “It’s Christmas Time” by Band-aid in the mid 80’s. I just watched it play again. In that, it speaks to me, my heart and mind and the wonder gift of giving. Many talented and inspiring voices come together to raise awareness of the preciousness of life. Gift of life is not to be taken for granted.

Sharing the season, it can be life changing in the lives of people all around. Blessings.

Let us pray for those whom are in need of our prayers this day. Amen.

Snow!! Already?

Oh my! Oh my! Is it too early to speak of such a thing, I wonder? I was expecting it soon but not today. I mean lets face it, there are things in life that you look forward to, but not, at the same time. What’s it going to be like this year? For shiver me timbers mine eyes are deceiving me!! For what to my wandering eyes should appear but little pellets of snow I fear. Snow! Boo to the woo. I cannot give a woohoo just yet. I watch as a gentle smattering of snow falls, cascading down in a way that you cannot ignore. Not big soft white fluffy ones but a multitude of smaller deliberate statement snowflakes, coupled with a kick of cold wind, to give the first snowfall its place of presence. Oh I can see and feel you first snowfall. Ah yes, the first of many.

I should have known when I stepped outside this morning to let Maggie out and to put paper/plastic in the recycling bins that snow was coming soon. There was frost on the windshields of parked cars, icy patch on the driveway, and a quick in and out for Maggie from her morning constitution. Proof in the pudding wouldn’t you say? No, it is not a negative thing but more of an attitude adjustment to the first snowfall. As an aside, I pray for the drivers out on the roads to be cautious. I am sure there are people probably already looking up when the ski lifts or rinks are ready for public consumption. Yeah that would a hard no. Well I should not say that because I think I am going to give skating ago this year with my youngest granddaughter. Fingers crossed. It will be a first to get on the ice and not, I pray, fall flat on my behind or heaven forbid do a face plant. Yikes!! I should not say that too loud. Right? Where is the wood to touch?

I do like the snow but I would not say I love it by any stretch of the imagination. It can be harsh and bitterly cold to the extreme. Hence the fashion sense of myself has a more of a Thomas and the Snowsuit look rather than the runway of a Ralph Lauren apparel. Sorel boots (which I have had the same pair, army green, since I began to teach in mid 80′), big parka, thick gloves and scarf. I like to be warm and comfy over coif and silk. That is my jam. The whole ‘pins and needles’ feeling in fingers and toes is a no-go thank you very much. I guess that is why I stopped doing cross country and downhill skiing. Cross country for the cold toes for sure but downhill…well let’s put it this way, cold toes yes but I never graduated from the bunny hill. LOL.

Speaking of cold toes, yes skating can bring about that too. But for some reason I can ignore it. After I go around the rink, I mean go a round and a round and a round again CW, never going anywhere, my toes seem to adjust or something. Which takes me back to those wonderful Friday nights as child when my mom (bless her heart) would drive my siblings and I for twenty minutes down the road to another town so that we can enjoy the delights of indoor skating. Where we lived it was a tennis court converted into a skating rink or the Thames River nearby; both requiring consistently cold temperatures. Not always accessible. But indoor skating! Cool bleachers, treats at snack bar, heated waiting area and music. Hip hopping tunes. Sooooo good.

Yet skating on the pond or on an outdoor rink gives me a feeling of freedom. The cold air nipping my cheeks, giving them a rosy healthy look (be careful of frost bite) and hearing the sizzling and hissing sounds of the skates on ice as an echo. Things seem crisp and sharp even when sun is bright and shining, I am invigorated. And at night, so different than in an indoor rink, the silence of the moon and stars lights the way, casting an amber glow across the frozen ice. It is a breathtaking moment actually to be out on the ice, at night, with only the silence as music.

Look at me toting the joys of the first snowfall. Come on down little ones. You, snow are coming anyway, so make the best of it. Snow? Already? Yes. Bring it on. Blessings.

Let us pray for those who are in need of our prayers today. Amen.

Hail!!! Caesar.

That is what I would be saying to him today. Hail. Caesar. Not a greeting or a halloo. No. More like, it’s hailing. What!! Apparently I did not read my phone app nor the clouds properly outside for hail came a flying down while out for morning walk. I thought for a moment I was imagining things as I felt a drop of something hard fall upon my hand. Bird doo doo does not feel like that (personal experience). But I checked the temperature before going out and it read a balmy +6’C or for those imperialistic minds like my dad, 42’F. Hat and mitt kind of weather maybe as the wind could get up so off Maggie May and I went for our morning walk.

I really like the morning for walking because it is fresh and dewy. Although I have noticed lately that the sunrise is coming later and later which in turn means thatI go out a bit later. Why? Well for one thing I cannot see the leavings of my dog as she parks herself for her morning constitution. And for another, God for bid, a skunk or raccoon!! But also, one thinks about safety. Even though I dislike immensely Maggie May’s yip and pip that she does often, especially inside, she senses and forewarns. It is the other 95% of her yip that leaves you grrrring like a leaf falling, mice droppings, an ant crawling…what she hears with those little ears must drive her crazy. It does me. LOL.

But today all is good. When looking up at the sky the clouds were beautifully layered and billowed. I wish I had my camera but I probably would not have captured its impression. Shades of grey-white pillows, blanketed across the sky, soft and downy look to them. I have never seen clouds quite like that before. And yet eerily spooky as well with the overcast of grey and gloomy morning light rose. It would be a perfect Halloween morning, ghoulish and dreary, soon to be upon us. I cannot believe we are half way through October!!!

Anyway I think I need to freeze the image of these clouds in my mind because they brought hail. What kind of clouds do that? It was surreal because I thought my body was being babyish as the sting of it, what I thought to be, rain. Rain does not hurt. Nor is it whitish. And it does not ping and bounce.

I started to laugh because I am in the middle of my walk with traffic lights and busy morning traffic and other people walking their dogs and few trees overarching the sidewalk. And my dog was doing a dance of sorts. Well I guess she was trying to dodge the ice bullets. LOL. I guess our walk is going to take on a new pace. Sorry Maggie no peeing for you. Pulling down my hat, putting my mitts back on, and holding tight to the leash, I turned my face up for a few seconds enjoying the crazy and smiling. Why not?

You just never know what to expect. Expect the unexpected. Thankfully I did not run into the huge wild turkey that roams freely in the neighbourhood for the last couple of years. I wonder what it did when the hail came out! Oh well. Nature takes care of its own. Now back at my daughter’s place safe and sound, I look outside the window now as I contemplate the day ahead, and the sun is shining!! Seriously. All that for what? The clouds are still there but now dispersed, thinned out, and scattered. How does that happen? Mother Nature you are at it again. I guess life is to be enjoyed no matter what. Hail to the hail. Kicked up my walk a notch or two. Haha. Blessings.

Let us pray for those who are in need of our prayers and for the joy of the unexpected. Amen

FYI: Hail comes from cumulonimbus clouds (computer dictionary).

A Grateful Smile

Not sure what gets my funny bone or a warm fuzzy going in me until it happens. It does not take much to make me smile or chuckle which I am appreciative of. I am heading down one of the streets in Barrie and the wind is up. The leaves are swirling and twirling around, like big colourful flakes. No I am not going to say the “s” word. Anyway I felt a big silly grin spreading across my face as I drove down the tree laden street. I felt like I could stop, get out of my truck, and hold out my hands, to catch the leaves in mid air. My granddaughter did that the other day. An invitation to be a part of nature as the wind becomes visible in its waking of the senses, a gust of cozy. Lovely.

Well it’s that time of year with my favourite meal being prepared. Turkey turkey turkey. I cannot believe that Thanksgiving has come and now gone with only the evidence of a lasting bulge in left overs inside the fridge from the joyous preparation of many hands!! Roast turkey, veggies, cranberries, yorkshire pudding, a bit of stuffing, pickle tray…yum ditty yum yum. And to top it off, a decadence of sweetness. Something about the sights and smells in preparing makes me giddy inside not withstanding an increased waistline. Of course all that work into preparing and then what happens. Turkey language is so apropos…gobble gobble gobble. Mowing in 15. Seriously. And don’t pat the tummy. LOL. Why does one eat so much dinner at one sitting. Dessert anyone? Hahaha.

I am recalling the weekend with a smile in my heart. There is so much to be grateful for and to remind me of welcoming the little chortles, special moments and witty instances wrapped in a weekend of thankfulness. Yet it is a smile wrapped up in a cocoon of paradox. For one, getting up at the crack of dawn on Friday morning of Thanksgiving weekend to head up to my sister and dad’s place so I can be with our 86+ year old dad who waits impatiently for the arrival of the captured audience….moi! LOL. Oh dad, I can retell your stories for the most part and when he forgets, I just give him a prompt. And then he goes off again. Am I a glutton for punishment? You bet. It just amazes me how one of his stories, unrelated and not even in same time frame, fits into the next ten or so stories repeated again over the course of the weekend….yeah been there done that love you dad. It’s all good.

I came early so that my sister, bless her heart, could go with her husband to his brother’s funeral on Friday and not worry about anyone or anything; just to be present. But then, in the next breath before leaving, she talks about Thanksgiving, who is coming, and what is being planned. At the same time as we look at Saturday with the family, I hear my dad say, “What the ‘H E double hockey sticks’?” loudly. His bag with his flange had leaked. And my sister who has been changing it for over two years, my mom for many years before her, was all dressed up (she looked lovely by the way) ready to leave. It’s you and me dad. Go sister, I got this. Well, I have changed the flange once. Yikes!

Needless to say, life has a way of throwing in lemons and oranges and apples….so juggle. ‘Git er done’ as my dad would say!! Let me just say, I am on pins and needles this week as I do not want my dad to be frustrated with my sister for leaving him to me. Because if the flange leaks before the seven days…..grrrr. The elderly have a way of making you feel oh so good bad rotten horrible then at some point loved. Yep. Hey so far so good.

My sister was getting cheeky with me the next day. Or maybe it was me with her. It is such a crazy feeling within when you go from a solemn occasion to setting the table for a family gathering with gratitude and thanksgiving on the menu. How does one jump from one excursion playing havoc with emotion to a polar opposite? Yet it happens daily for the most part. I guess it is the gift of life, a contrariness of a yin and yang in being.

Anyway, my sister knows I have a thing for clutter….next to none is my thing. We have shelves and cupboards and drawers for kitchen items. I like a clean counter for some reason. But my sister, it is not quite a priority, not even on the rung of the ladder so to speak. Needless to say I could not help when after cleanup from a Thanksgiving deliciousness that I spread my hands and torso across her empty island (hey I am clean) and float in the joy of tidy. It was like nirvana….praise the Lord for He is good… a big smile and chuckle on my face. She turns her head looking at me and knew immediately what I was doing. She did not find it funny at all (but laughed anyway). My brother in his helpful way took a picture of the bare island for me as I know when I visit the next time, it will be clutter a la carte.

Finding a way to have that grateful smile within. I think about my mom who I got to spend time with this Thanksgiving weekend, listening to her laughter, not saying much but her eyes did. How she could tell it was me as my face was covered in a mask and shield as Covid amongst staff is high an nursing home. No matter, I got the green light to visit. And so I babbled on, she fell asleep, I touched her hands, she woke up, I said hi mom, and repeat. I know she would not be partaking at the family table but she was certainly amongst us in spirit. And best feeling as I pushed her wheelchair to the dining room to go for her midday meal, I told her I would see her soon and threw her a kiss and a wave. She watched me and smiled and moved those fragile arms of hers up, doing the same to me.

And then to top it off, I got a little note from my 12 year old grandson (which I cannot believe how old he is nor that he is taller than me as well) saying, “I love you more than Thanksgiving dinner”. I am telling you. I read that late Sunday evening before I hit the hay. I send him lots of short notes (no narrative Rara) to tell him I love him. But out of the blue I see a text from him with that message. A grateful smile. No words. He knows how I love Thanksgiving dinner for many many reasons especially because we gather together….a table filled with love around it. He could not have given me a better gift of love as he knows me as I know him.

There is so much to be grateful for which reminds me to count ones blessings. The recent cataclysmic crazy work of Mother Nature has truly put an extreme demand on what one is to be thankful for. I am not sure some people are ready for that with all the suffering and losses. Thinking of those of PEI, there are still people without hydro. Then you turn on the national news and heart-retching stories from the havoc to what once was….how does one hold onto and be able to share a grateful smile? Give a smile to another in a humble thankfulness? I have no answer except to offer up prayers of hope, strength and courage.

I count my blessings every day even in the hardships. Life is a paradox which invites a grateful smile. Can I but see the goodness already present in my life? Oh I hope so. I truly do. Peace and gratitude to all.

Let us pray for those who are in need of our prayers and heartfelt warmth of gratitude for blessings present in our lives already. Amen

Fall’in Again

It’s fall!! Oh it is the beautiful gift of fall. And the beginning of October!! Holy goodness gracious, time flies. That is okay for the glorious sights and smells of autumn are upon us. Walking through a park in the northern heart of Barrie, you cannot help be in awe of the trees and flora that show the season of fall drawing near. Slowly but surely signs of transformation from a collection of fine shades of green attire to the colourful ensemble of aura and delight. A delight of multicoloured hues and tones of autumn fare that peek through the lush landscape of trees, greenery and bushes. Or the fallen leaves laying dormant ready to be awakened for play by young and old alike. How many times have I veered off a groomed path to find the joy of the soft crunch of leaves echoing beneath my feet. Love that sound. You can never be too old to be a kid.

Taking a walk this morning with the early morning dew glistening on the expanse of green grass while pushing a stroller and pulling a stubborn sniffing pup, I look up and see wonder. A wonder that comes every year without hesitation to share generously its brilliance and resplendence. The park bespeckled with a pot-pourri of trees from all parts of the globe are to be enjoyed by the many. I haven’t a clue what many of the names are. I am laughing because I remember the many annual projects in grade school in which we had to identify plants, especially weeds. But not so much identifying trees. Hmmmmm. That is too bad. Thank goodness the park patrons had the foresight to put the names under many of them….oak, ironwood (never heard of it), maple, elm, fir, ash, poplar, willow.

I feel so small amongst the stature and strength of many of the trees grown here. There are a few of them that are huge in girth and height. Beautiful to look at. Have you ever just stood and looked at such wonder. They reach for the sky while standing so stern and erect. Even when the wind comes in….love that sound by the way….you get a feeling of protection and shelter from the elements. I am sure the squirrels and chipmunks are having a hay day as you see them flit and scamper about, gathering their bounty of food for the months to come. I have to laugh because some of the squirrels get kind of cheeky as a few them do not even move as my crew draws closer to them while holding their food treasure. Hahaha. Maggie May, my not so quiet dog, does not even seem to phase them. Funny that.

So as I stare above, I see fall in again. Red, gold, orange, yellow and yes a bit of brown, the harvest of glory bespeaks in the leaves….fallin’….it’s time. The clock waits no one as do the seasons. It is amazing to me how the cycle of the seasons portray an unbelievable landscape to occur and hopefully to enjoy. Not only that, depending on where you live, fall comes early. BTW Don’t go by the stores for the seasons. Seriously. I just went to one of the Dollar Stores this week and if we go by merchandise, it seems summer fall and winter are on. Yes in deed. I can get a few items for the summer and hey there is autumn and fall delight decor, coupled with the eerie boo and howling of Halloween, and lo and behold, Christmas decor!!! Are you kidding me!!! No please don’t go by the Dollar stores for teaching the seasons to your kiddies or grandkiddies. Hold on thankfulness, keep back ghoulies, and hush about 85 days until Christmas (that is my crazy wonderful sister reminding me LOL). Sheesh it is only October 1st!!!

Thinking of the trees and me basking in their beauty, I cannot help think of the storm of Fiona that created such havoc along the eastern coast recently. My heart renders a deep sense of loss for and from nature. For nature as in storm and then nature as in trees and brush and earthen flora have left such mayhem and confusion and frankly disbelief to communities that have never seen the like. Having watched and listened and studied the devastation to the place where I hang my hat, PEI, and to Cape Breton, eastern NB, and the painful breadth and depth of destruction to those along the western coast of Newfoundland up to Quebec…heartfelt prayers. Where to start? Tears and a deep breath.

I do not think one realizes just how much you see but do not see really until it is gone. A few years ago, in Goderich, my old hometown of many many moons ago, a tornado ripped through the town coming up and out of the lake. Homes, buildings, historic sites and of course nature were ravaged and pulverized in many parts of the community, tearing down that which had been in existence for decades and decades, if not longer. My dad and mom took me for a drive as they lived just a few km down the road, not even knowing it happened at the time. I felt tears fall upon my face as dad went up and down the familiar streets. I remember thinking why did I see so much space, bare space, as we drove around. It was the huge towering trees, cascading their splendour over the avenues and streets, gone. Just no more. Holy to all that is mighty and God, what happened! No comprendez.

Now, I am grateful to see nature, trees in particular, and be amongst them. Not to be taken for granted. I have noticed that some of trees have died too, a natural act of nature. But somewhere near by, a seed has been planted, continuing the seasons of nature. And wondrously, I know that humans have the capacity to rise above the ashes. Maybe not today nor tomorrow but one day. So I look at the trees before me as I welcome the fall in mourning this morning.At some point today I am going to hug a tree. Probably one that I can wrap my arms around as some of those are big honkers. LOL. Although maybe they need a hug too. I already hugged my mom as best I could in her wheelchair (boy I miss your mom hugs, mom). But I feel the need for a strong hug, giving me strength born from roots deep in the earth from God’s Creation. Yes. Blessings.

Let us pray for those whom are in need of our prayers. Amen.

Hope in the Storm

I just got off the phone with my younger sister, who lives on PEI, and smiled with happiness for her and her family. Why? To begin with, I realize the surrounding circumstances today are nothing to smile about as the storm of storms hit the lands of the Maritimes, Hurricane Fiona. You betcha. It literally ripped its breadth and depth of wind, rain and storm surge steadily and violently throughout the Maritime provinces and eastern Quebec. The little nuggets in hope rode on the curtails to said storm. So I do a bit of a happy dance.

Why? She called me to let me know in an excited voice that “We’ve got HYDRO. Move out of the way hubby I’m taking a shower.” LOL. Yep priorities. No shower since Friday and it is now Monday night, Peppy Le Pew eat your heart out. When something is taken away from you, something you take for granted possibly, you appreciate it so much more. I am thinking to get her to forget the horribleness of storm and find a bit of hope….hydro = shower (did not even wait for water to be fully heated up). LOL.

She took me back to that time a few years ago, when I had the privilege to go to Kenya to help build schools with the Free the Children organization. Life changing. Life many areas where water is a precious natural resource but sorely lacking in good drinking and bathable water, one should not take for granted. The rule was we could have a shower every three days even if we stunk from the daily sweaty work of lifting or carrying heavy rocks or pushing a loaded wheel barrow of gravel, or digging ditches that would eventually serve for laying pipes down to bring clean water to rural communities. And let me tell you it was not a hotel kind of shower at all where you can run it for a bit in a tub with a shower curtain and fan going. Nope. Outside in the elements, a small green canvas tent, velcro taped, with a small area to place dry footwear and clean clothes and then step to shower area.

The makeshift shower itself was made out of what looked like a cut in half punching bag filled with warm glorious water with a spout on bottom and held up by chords at top. Unbelievably and most kindly, it was heated by one of the local Kipsigis men in the community whose job was to stand by a barrel behind the shower area (four showers in a row), fill the barrel with water that had to be brought up from who knows where, heat it with gathered wood (also not plentiful) and then take bucket of water and pour it in the top of the shower container. I remember.

The crazy unprecedented storm that has swept through and left hundreds of thousands of people without hydro and a chaotic mass of losses since the early of the earliest hours of last Saturday morning, you find your “shower”; in other words, the hope in the storm. I watched tirelessly since Saturday morning, trying to get any news of what was happening. Jumping from Nova Scotia to PEI to New Brunswick to Newfoundland, the news reporters tried to relay what was taking place. Of course the irony was that it was a serious storm where one should not be out and about. But the paradox of the situation was the contrary actions witnessed.

Each Premier and other official spokes people and news reporters relayed constantly to the public. Basically read my lips they were saying …. STAY INSIDE. STAY HOME. Did we not just go through a pandemic? A pandemic which was invisible to witness for many. Hard to stay away. So a hurricane, cyclone, storm of storms….not going to happen. Humans are cut from the same cloth. Nosy. It is like telling a bull to stay put as the bullfighter whips around the red flag. No means yes in the human world. Got to know. Right? I think people are naturally drawn to the drama or need to know. A catch 22 novelette. The safety of the people versus the surreal happening to their very lives. I would even say it is a need. And after witnessing the real fall out of the aftermath of Fiona. Oh my, I get it.

Although having said that, it is not fair really. For time and time again I have heard the stories on news and social media, helping thy neighbour. So getting out there when one shouldn’t, are we not all neighbours? In times of suffering, tragedy, catastrophe, celebration, we go. So maybe it is a bit of both. Nosy neighbouring.

I do have to laugh though because one news reporter on Saturday was sharing what he could report to the public and he stood outside a Tim Horton’s. It was the only Tim’s in NS opened (not sure where) that had hydro too!!!. And here was the reporter reporting that we are to STAY HOME. But the line up for Tim’s was down the road and around the bend on Saturday morning. What the goodness and all that is holy!! Did they not just get through a scary ordeal? Well the hope of Tim’s being open….there is the shower for them? What do you need after the storm? My dad and I laughed at that. Seriously. What were they thinking?!

With a silent confession of deep prayer, I am seeking forgiveness to not being there to do my part in cleanup, supporting others and having these selfish thoughts here. I do want to wrap my arms around my daughter and grandkids, sister and family and friends from the island. But for whatever reason, just like in 2019, I missed the huge storm of Dorian; my hydro out for a week. I have a feeling this one will be longer. For whatever reason, outside of one tree down blocking my lane, and hydro line to my house down by fallen tree, my home survived. I have nothing, absolutely nothing to complain about. That is my shower.

So with heartfelt sympathy and prayers for the days and weeks and months ahead for the Maritime people, to pray that they find strength and courage to face what is before them. My heart hurts for the losses that have unfolded in the last few days. I guess when it happens somewhere else, it is like an event. It does not seem to resonate. But the thing is all of these events are not just events to those involved. They are a forever, a hit to home. It goes from outside surreal to inside real in a heart beat. Life changing. One 94 year old man I listened to being interviewed today said it for me, “I have never seen anything like it. ” And with a pause, looking directly at the camera, he said with a hitch in voice, “I do not want this to happen again.” You said it young man. You said it.

I cannot begin to imagine the waking eyes. There is a resilience that comes with tragedy. Not sure how it comes to be but it does. The capacity of the human heart gives hope in a storm. Blessings.

Let us pray for those in need of prayers. for the families and communities affected by Hurricane Fiona and for the human capacity to love thy neighbour always. Amen.


You know when you plan for something and it does not quite work out the way you had hoped. There is an anticipation that comes inside you that gets you excited or hopeful of a something different. You make plans to do something out of the ordinary, envisioning scenarios of what might take place. Your mind takes on a life of its own. Then voila…a curve ball or maybe a spit ball in this case. An unexpected turn of events which of course you have to change your course of thinking and action. Unprepared for the detour, there are feelings that are attached to the plan. One’ s that you can fully appreciate because you were really looking forward to do ‘whatever’ it was.

Those sensations rising up inside you can be described as a wee bit of a tsunami. LOL. Not funny at the time mind you. And you feel the need to express yourself to let those feelings out. It is not good to hold it in but there are times when we do so as not to hurt another person’s sensitivities. So you go find a space to let out the pent up emotion. It might come out like a growl….. GRRRRR. Or maybe the ever popular expression of “are you kidding me??”. Me, I don’t do the swearing as i am a Family or PG rated person but the a ‘go to’ for many individuals would be the bucketful of curse or swear words. Be that as it may, I prefer to revert to the phonemic verbiage of nonsensical wordage. Words that come out of the mouth and sound like “sheesh”, “huh”, and a favourite of mine “harrumph”. It is wondrous expression of phoneming a colloquial English language in the heat of the moment. Yeah? Yes.

I have to say that I like that word harrumph just as an aside. I have to laugh because I really had to look up the spelling of it. Harrumph does exist along with many synonyms that go with it….LOL. So if one is in a real mood to explode due to an unexpected change in plans then one can resort to mild forms of the #@*# such as Tut, yada yada yada, phooey, Boohoo, uh-uh, OW, TSK, OOPS, uh-oh, achoo, Hah, blah, Bam, UH, whoops, ZZZ, shush, Cor, er, DUH, Tut. Who would have thought!!!

But really at the end of the day, it is an “oh well” with a shrug. A shrug of the shoulders and deep sigh knowing full well as John Lennon has often been quoted as saying, “life happens to you while you’re busy making other plans’. FYI: Quote supposedly is coined by a fella Adam Saunders in 1957 from Reader’s Digest. Anyhoooo…. I guess it comes down to looking at one’s plans of whatever and whenever and however and then smile. It’s all good.

For you cannot do anything about the unexpected. Can you? Maybe it is the human failings in us where we cannot so easily roll with the punches or accept what is? Life happens. It really does when we want to do one thing and something takes place that really we cannot do anything about. And it sucks, big time. But oh well. What do you do when you live in a shoe? Well, you walk. It cannot be helped that someone got sick or got called away or had a conflict or a meltdown or got the call ‘need to take a raincheck’ or mom said no. All valid, all real, and all hopelessly inconvenient. And so….ugg. harrumph. grrr.

So how to let go? How to turn a lemon into lemonade? How to accept the inevitable? How to remind oneself that it’s all good. Maybe come up with the silver lining attitude. There is a reason for everything even if the reason is not evident at the time.

Well, letting go of the disappointment to one’s plans takes a hot minute for sure. And some people are really really good at it. Bless their hearts; while others, not so much. And that is okay for one can only be oneself. Here are some thoughts to consider on your plate with a bit of wit on the side:

EI People Deal With Disappointment

Take a moment and …..wallow. (yes gotta be real before adulting)

Do a reality check….is it that bad? (yes but no)

Go high when hit with a low blow. (not getting high; take the high road)

Don’t stew in negativity. (roast in positivity)

Put things into perspective. (who peed in your soup?)

Develop positive thinking muscles. (wonder what they look like)

Breathe your way to a clear mind. (watch out for hyperventilating)

Plans change. Plans derail. Well, harrumph. Blessings.

Let us pray for those who are in need of our prayers today. Amen

Loss and Wonder

How does one’s heart feel jubilant and defeated at the same time. Does that even make sense? One minute it is in a euphoric state – hearing about the celebration of my grandson turning 12. Yes indeed. Holy moly where did that time go? Digressing here. It was only yesterday, a September Friday morning to be exact, when I got a phone call saying I needed to get home. Leaving a meeting to attend something of a miracle, the birth of a baby boy, my first grandchild to my second oldest daughter. Her first as well. Oh the worry and excitement at odds within me as I think of her going into labour. And now 12 years later, on this beautiful Sunday morn, my grandson welcomes in his birthday with all the hopes and dreams before him. Happy Birthday young man….woo to the hoo of you. Unbelievable!! Blessings abound.

Flip side. I’m reading in a text from my youngest sister, who by the way tried to call me and then texted me. My eyes bugged out with a hitch in my breath as I began to read her text. My oldest sister was putting her dog down today. What? What! What?! No comprendez. Seriously. I was just at my sister’s this past weekend. I left Sunday afternoon. It is now Tuesday afternoon. Jasmine, her dog, is/was a schnoodle cross same as my own dog Maggie May were month a part in birth; turning 9 years this coming fall. But they were just playing together, running around, barking in the fenced backyard while we watched on Saturday afternoon. So what the ever loving world happened?

My heart took a jolt. I know how much my sister loved her Jas. She was just holding her in her arms on Friday night, spoiled puppy dog. LOL. Obviously the best feeling as master and faithful companion snuggle. I should have taken a picture had I known. Did Jas know that her body organs were slowly shutting down? I did think that she seemed to be a bit slower coming down the stairs over the weekend despite her running outside. And her control of her bowels, well let me just say it was way off too as I had the distinct displeasure of stepping in her urine near the bathroom door, my dad’s room and then on the carpet next to front door. Thanks Jas. I just had a shower. Joking aside, the urine plus the four spots of vomit in front of dad’s room, the bathroom mat and at her dish did seem to be a little disconcerting. Dad put it off saying she must have eaten something off. I knew she had a serious form of diabetes as my sister has been giving her two needles a day for the last few years.

Yet Monday evening after returning a phone call to my older sister, she revealed that she just took Jas in to vet hospital and they are keeping her due to being so dehydrated and wanted her to be monitored over night. Then Tuesday morning, trying to be a good sister with a good memory (yikes), I sent a text, checking in. I had not heard anything back until I read a text from my younger sister stating, “do not call our sister. She needs to process. She is putting Jas down at 2:30 this afternoon.” Are you kidding me?!?!

Loss. It comes in all forms. Nothing prepares you. I realize that it is a pet, not a human. But to many many many people, pets are the ever lovin’ moon and sun and sky. And my sister is the whisperer of whisperers of animals especially dogs and cats. FYI: Not bees or ants or wasps or mice. Her heart is so full of love for the four legged and also the two legged feathered friends too. The loss is huge and I can feel across the airwaves. As she texts me, “how does something so small leave such a big hole. I feel so so empty”. I do not know my sister. Unconditional and faithful pet love maybe.

I am looking down at my own dog, in similar greyish white colouring to Jas but so different looking too. Jas was thin, longer legs, supple wiry body, with crazy looking fur doo while Maggie May is more stocky, short legged, no tail with curly poodle fur doo. They sort of, a bit, kind of, got a long. Haha. Because they were yippy. Yes, yippy!!! The wind blew, a leaf moved, a person walked by on the sidewalk a block away, a honked horn, a….you name it. Yippy yip yip. Not to make light of it my sister but you can do a wee bit of a happy dance now. Outside of dad or hubby talking up a storm as per usual, you get some much needed peace and quiet too. Please remember she did a lot of the jolt-and-jump-out-of-skin kind of yippy, waking you up out of a dead nap.

My heart hurts today. I cried after I got over the shock. For it reminded me of my own cat Marble whose body began to shut down too. The blessing in all of this for her dog (and for my cat) was that they were not alone. I remember like ti was yesterday. And all the feelings resurrected in me as I listened to my own sister try to voice what she could not articulate. It is not a time for words my dear sister. Loss is loss.

And yet wonder comes with it as well. For in the loss, the beauty and gift bestowed upon you (and I) and so many people too is that you got to enjoy this four legged rug rat. LOL. Why the big hole you ask? It is the wonder of life. The reality that the life span of a pet will generally be less than own human life. So expecting it to happen – yes. But when, that is the question. Why? That is another question. It is like a wonder and awe of the beauty of companionship. Maybe the hurt comes from the unbelievable bond between human and pet, an unconditional love and acceptance. No matter if you stick the needle in her folded neck skin, she comes back for a pat and treat and cuddle. Really!!

I mean think about it. Depending on your habits that dog followed. You have to go to bathroom, s/he is right there; kitchen, there; bedroom, there; dining table, there; at front door, there. In fact s/he is in every minor or major event in life including moves, relationships, divorce and even when kids grow up and leave. Yet, not everyone understands or relates. Which is okay too. But one thing I did learn today was that my sister, who had a St Bernard, Barney, many years ago, had kept her dog alive for another month even when he was in bad shape. No matter how hard it was for my sister, she could not do that again. Grateful my dear sister, for Jasmine is not suffering anymore. She could not tell you but she did show you. Tears drop here.

Loss and wonder. Life has such a funny odd way of showing us a humbleness. In faith, God takes care of all living creatures and brings comfort during our time of need. We draw strength. There is no time line for grieving nor healing. But for me I want to pray for my sister this day and the days ahead. The loss of Jas, your faithful and ever present companion, is real and beyond thinking. In this moment, I offer you words only as I draw comfort in some of the Scriptural passages that may relate to you my sister, a pet owner and to your Jas, your dog, and the loss of her.

Psalm 22:24 For he has not despised or disdained the suffering of the afflicted one; he has not hidden his face from him but has listened to his cry for help.

John 14:27 Peace I leave with you; my peace I give you. I do not give to you as the world gives. Do not let your hearts be troubled and do not be afraid.

Isaiah 41:10 So do not fear, for I am with you; do not be dismayed, for I am your God. I will strengthen you and help you; I will uphold you with my righteous right hand.


A Prayer for the Loss of a Pet

Lord God, Bring comfort and healing to those who are mourning the deaths of their beloved pets. You know their pain, for you lost your own beloved son. You know the depth of sadness and grief your children feel when they lose a dog or cat who was so dear, near, and special to them. You know the emptiness of a home that no longer has that furry little (or big!) creature; you know the emptiness of a heart that longs for the comforting touch of a beloved cat or dog. I thank you for the gift of our pets, for the love these creatures give us, for the life that they offer, and for the chance to love them like we love nothing and nobody else on earth. I pray for comfort, peace, and healing as we let go of the cats and dogs that we loved so dearly. Amen.

Taking for Granted

Returning once again to my old province of Ontario, after spending a lovely summer on the PEI (my newer homeland), I certainly take for granted the blessings I have been given. The bittersweet taste of leaving something good to go to something good. Another of life’s paradoxes. Don’t you find that when you make a decision, there is a domino effect that you cannot grasp until you are in it. I think one of the pearls of wisdom from my dad that I walk with in my life is knowing a decision today should not haunt a person tomorrow. It is not a haunt so much as a wish to be more of a Hermione, a Jeannie or a Samantha -blink eyes, twitch nose or use a time turner. Why? Being in two places at once to embrace the joys of goodness – my family and friends.

But alas my joy has to come from wherever I am and from within me. And the journey to get there, short or long, I need to be mindful that I do not want for a moment to take for granted that which has been bestowed upon me. My mom who is in a nursing home has just finished her isolation period after a second bout of covid-19, even with four shots and a fifth one coming I hear. The nursing/retirement home had a huge number of cases, staff and residence, a few weeks ago. The stringent protocols, thankfully, ensued and now as I sit across from her, holding her hands, a tear catches on my cheek.

I am so grateful to be able to touch her, rub her hands, and intertwine my fingers through fingers that are now filled with arthritis. Sheesh. Sucks to get older. and Boy I miss her hugs. She would wrap her arms around me so tightly that it was like being wrapped in warmth and sunshine. Then her hands would hold mine for a moment or five with a little squeeze before she let me go. Unknowingly, it was just the boost I needed on many occasions to be able to once again feel strong and secure in facing the day.

There I sit with her for a few hours, having to wake her up again, and say “hey mom, I’m here for a visit. Is that okay?” She would stare at me and then her beautiful smile would come out and then nodded slightly saying, “Yes”. Until the fourth time of waking her up, she said “who are you”? Slice. Oooh that hurt. But okay mom. “It’s me, Karen, your daughter.”

But no matter, I sing songs (thankfully she only has one roommate to hear the off key noise) to her, put lotion on her hands, lift her thickened calves for exercise, brush her hair, and natter away about her family stories. Sometimes I can feel a bit of a squeeze from her fingers as I hold her hands. That makes me think she hears me but of course I can’t remember what I just said so I can repeat it. Holding on to the woman who has been my mom for 62 years. It is in these time there is no taking for granted. At all.

No one knows the plan for our life except God. It reminds me of Garth Brook’s line in his song The Danceand now I am glad I didn’t know, the way it all would end, the way it all would go.” Is that not the truth? I would not want to know because how would one act knowing that. It is in these moments the comfort and strength of the Lord and the hymn Be Not Afraid also comes to mind. “Be not afraid I go before you always, come follow me and I will give you rest.”

Life is so precious, fragile and brief. And so in the time one has on this earth, how does one spend it? Who knows what will happen tomorrow? Even today for that matter. I look at my granddaughter who I am taking care of right now as daycare is not as accessible as it should be including space and affordability. That is something for another day. Anyway, there she is, a two year old tasmanian devil. LOL. She has a set of lungs when things are not going her way. Ear piercing let me tell you. And try to stop her from falling on the ground, drama city, in a pile of sobbing while keeping her from kicking me. Yowee!! Oh how I wish that one could always have what one wants little one. Well not really but it sounds good. Haha. But there she is, with her little hands and feet, motoring around, not a care in the world except to make her presence known. Her face scrunched and fierce but no tears. Crying and no tears. Interesting. She is beginning the life given to her while her great grandmother is on the other end of this wondrous life cycle. A lump comes in my throat.

So I am gong to take the words “who are you?”and the infrequent but beautiful smiles during my many upcoming visits with my mom and hold her hands. And I am also going to take the piercing cry of my granddaughter (while holding or watching her cry for those many minutes) as her mommy leaves her to do what she needs to do to make her daughter’s life better because life cannot be taken for granted. There is value and worth in who and what are in our lives.

Blessings this day.

Let us pray for those who need our prayers today and to appreciate this life given.