Category Archives: Holidays

Why Bother With Family Gatherings?

Vanessa, our granddaughter, is our family’s very own Canada Day baby. Her birthday party is unique in that both her dad’s (my son’s) family, and her mom’s family come to celebrate with her every year. And then there are fireworks, all over Canada. When Vanessa was little, I’m sure she thought those fireworks were just for her. For the past twenty-seven years, we have gathered as a family to celebrate Vanessa and Canada. I am so grateful.

Why are these family gatherings important to me? Especially on Canada Day, there are always heaps of other places to be, events in which to participate.

My parents didn’t have family gatherings, but Bruce’s did. I remember the thrill I felt at the age of 18 when I experienced that first White gathering 55 years agp. I’d never been part of a large group in which everyone loved each other just because they were relatives and the focus was to have fun and eat lots. As the years passed, our group of five became the only family that lived away. Still, we came back to Lion’s Head for every possible holiday, so the kids could learn to love their cousins, and so I could once again feel that love that special family feeling.

I believe that God created us to be in relationship with God and with each other. Being adopted I learned the value of the family relationship, first in terms of my adoptive family, and later after I turned fifty in terms of my birth family.

Of course, every family doesn’t live up to this ideal. Some of us try our best and succeed often. Some of us pull away, because of distance, grievances, huge expectations that aren’t fulfilled, and more. Over my lifetime, I have learned a great deal about the extended family. At its best the family represents unconditional God-given acceptance. You are loved, not because you have done anything special, but rather just because you exist and belong to us. The goal of family is to support, celebrate and grieve with you, to be your anchor in all the storms of life.

I realize that we succeed as family because we are committed, and determined. It’s not easy to make time for family, give family a priority year in and year out. I know it’s worth it, totally and completely.

“…there should be no division in the body, but that its parts should have equal concern for each other.26 If one part suffers, every part suffers with it; if one part is honored, every part rejoices with it.” (1 Corinthians 12:25-26)

Actually I recommend you pick up your Bible and read all of chapter 12 and 13 of 1 Corinthians. In this part of his first letter to the people of Corinth, people gives a beautiful picture of what family CAN be. Thanks be to God.

 

When I Thought I Wasn’t Looking at You, Dad.

Father’s Day celebrations dominated my thoughts today. I felt called by God to consider my adoptive father. He was a good man, respected, and yet, for many reasons, he and I were not particularly close.

There is a beautiful poem available on the internet titled, “When you thought I wasn’t looking,” (author unknown).  When I think about my dad, I need to write a new version of that poem. It goes like this.

“When I Thought I Wasn’t Looking”

When I thought I wasn’t looking, Dad, I experienced you driving my sister and me into town for Sunday School at 9:30 a.m. You then returned to the farm, collected our mom, and returned for the 11:00 worship service. Dad, your commitment to Sunday worship as a family, is a strong part of my faith today.

When I thought I wasn’t looking, Dad, you wrote the cheque and put it in the offering envelope. It lay on the kitchen table every Saturday night, along with our Sunday School offering. Dad, your generosity to the church and its programs is the yardstick by which I measure my own.

When I thought I wasn’t looking, Dad, you planted a garden much too big for our family. You tended it lovingly. At harvest time, you took so much pleasure in eating the tasty vegetables, and just as much in giving them away. Every time I make a salad, I see you with a huge bowl of lettuce sprinkled with salt and vinegar. Dad, your love for your garden has shown me the wonder of God’s beautiful world. A tiny, spindly blueberry plant, baking in the hot sun, produces a whole handful of luscious berries. I take nothing for granted.

When I thought I wasn’t looking at you, Dad, someone crept into your garden and stole your entire crop of cantaloupe melons. I remember the tears in your eyes when you said, “If they’d only asked, I’d have gladly given them all they needed.” I learned from you, Dad, the pain that comes when we steal, lie, or deceive.

These are but a few of the things I learned from my Dad. We learn even when we think we are not conscious of what is happening. On this Father’s Day, I encourage you to go back through your memories. Regardless of who your father is, whether the world identifies him as good or not, there will be things you learned that have been helpful in your life. Give thanks for those things.

Even if you don’t know who your father is, you can give thanks that his DNA is part of you. Fathers, like mothers, have given us life.

When I thought I wasn’t looking, my dad taught me lots.

 

 

 

The Impossible Is Happening Everyday!

Balancing Rock
Picture taken by Chris Oates

When we were in Vancouver, our Grandson Chris took us for a walk along Vancouver’s English Bay, to watch the sunset. Even though it was cold, the walkway along the ocean was busy with people soaking in the sun’s last rays.

“Look,” Chris said, “they’ve been balancing rocks.” He hopped over the sea wall to take a picture. All along the shoreline was a trail of large and tiny rocks standing on their edges and points. I have tried this myself. Determination, patience, skill and belief in the impossible are required to balance a rock on its point so solidly that it survives the force of the spring breeze.

When we, as individuals, put that same kind of determination and faith into our efforts for peace, we too leave a trail, a trail of kindness, acceptance, forgiveness, that is even more beautiful than the stone sculptures we saw with Chris. Too often, we feel as if our peace paths are washed away by the sea of fear and violence that seems to be flooding our world.

As I studied Chris’ picture, I remembered a headline from the Vancouver Sun:

“Water, Water, everywhere but is it safe to drink?” The article stated that IC-IMPACTS, a Canadian international bilateral research organization has teamed Canadian engineers, research scientists and business people with their counterparts in India to develop cheap, safe water purification for isolated villages in India and in Canada. For me, this bit of news speaks of practical efforts for peace that are happening on a large scale.

In our world, where fear seems to be the biggest commodity sold, and isolationism is accepted wisdom, it’s wonderful to learn about co-operation between countries for their common good. There are wide trails and narrow trails. gradually building a network of love in our world.

As I gaze at Chris’ picture of the impossible, I am reminded that even though we may feel that our values of loving and caring for others are being put to death, resurrections, small and large, are happening the world over. God’s new life is coming. With God, anything is possible even peace. Let us celebrate Easter this year, with confidence, because we know that with God, anything is possible, even world peace.

 

 

 

 

 

Saying Goodbye – Flying Home

Today began at 6:00 a.m. We wanted one last hug from Dave, Joanne and Jenna. They leave for school every day at 6:30. I learned that saying goodbye that early is just a little easier because sleepiness clouds my ability to feel. After everyone left the house was silent, too silent. We had intended to go back to bed but we didn’t. I worked on yesterday’s blog and we packed.

We didn’t bring our luggage scale and Dave doesn’t have one. We reverted to using the bathroom scale. It worked as we were not overweight at the airport.

We left for the airport at 3:00 p.m. in Jonathon’s flashy BMW, our last opportunity to live as the rich. I wrote that statement and thought, no that’s not right. Although we are considered Middle Class in Canada, we live as the ultra rich every day, compared to most of the people here in South Africa and around the world. I’ve always known that. Now, I have a deeper knowledge and an even stronger desire to share my many blessings.

Rain poured down all the way to the airport. Traffic became more and more congested. We were both glad we had left early and Jonathon was driving. The trip took a good half hour longer than expected, but we arrived with heaps of time to spare. A friendly and helpful man offered us a cart, loaded on our bags and took us to the check-in. We gave him 20 rand ($2.00 Canadian). He was delighted and so were we.

Took a while to go through security and immigration. Lots of people are travelling. Terrorists are certainly not keeping any of us home. We had brought a snack, so once inside that was our first task. We wanted to use our last few African Rand so I invested in a Hagendaz milkshake – 85 Rand – the Canadian Equivalent $8.50. That was obviously a poor investment as it was gone from my body before the end of the day. It did satisfy my desire for something sweet, taste delicious and may still be around in a few extra fat cells. After eating, we talked with a friendly french couple who assured us our ten hour lay over in Paris would give us plenty of time to hop the train to downtown. I’m wasn’t so sure. We decided to check out the weather in Paris. If it’s pouring rain, we might as well just stay at the airport. At that point, all I wanted to do was get home.

I was cold, so we decided to buy me a South Africa sweatshirt. The stores were ultra chic. Sweatshirts were not on the agenda. After asking at several places we were directed to a sports shop that specialized in souvenirs for South African rugby. There wasn’t much choice. I paid the equivalent of $55 Canadian for a white Springbok (that’s the name of the national rugby team) sweatshirt. I just pulled it on over the light sweater, and t-shirt and camisole I was already wearing. It felt good to be warm.

Food on the plane was great. I enjoyed my fish and potatoes and veggies. The salad was good too. When we bought our tickets originally Tom had ordered gluten free for me. They are doing a grand job with that.

A small blip on this first leg of the journey was a spill. As usual they offered me tiny bottle of red wine (equivalent of one healthy glass), free on international flights. I saved it to drink in the middle of the night when I would be restless. The time came and I poured my wine and set it on my seat tray for sipping. A little later I asked Tom to get something for me from his seat pocket. In the process he jostled my tray. You guessed it. My new sweatshirt, my light sweater and my beige jeans were all christened. Oh well, it may wash out.

Food on the plane was great. I enjoyed my fish and potatoes and veggies. The salad was good too. When we bought our tickets originally Tom had ordered gluten free for me. They are doing a grand job with that.

The Flight from Johannesburg to Paris went on forever. We both decided that overnight on the plane is not really our style. We just don’t sleep. When we arrived in Paris at 6:00 a.m. we just couldn’t face going anywhere. We laid down on the floor and slept for a couple of hours or more. That used up too much of the time we could have used to take the train into Paris and look around a bit. Next time we will plan a stopover for 2 or 3 days.

The flight from Paris to Toronto was fine. I even slept for an hour on the plane. Our bodies seemed to respond much better. We talked with a family, and two different single people, all returning to Canada from India (their place of birth). We thoroughly enjoyed our conversations with these nice people.

The arrival in Toronto was crazy. One of the airport workers said that 5000 passengers had all arrived at almost the same time. The line ups were long. We did an endless spiral dance to get to the customs machine and we were fortunate. Being Canadian citizens we could use the machines. Once past that point the customs people just looked at our Pass Ports and our landing card and waved us on. By the time we got to baggage, it was no longer rolling round and round. In fact a lot of the bags had been taken off the carousel. I guess the baggage crew were trying to get ready for the next plane.

We are home. Hallelujah! We had a marvelous journey that we won’t ever forget. And we are grateful and delighted to be back in good old Canada. It’s fun to travel and it’s fabulous to come home.

Tom’s brother Bob came with our car to the airport. The fact that he can store our car at his condo for three weeks and is our airport taxi, is so very helpful. We are truly blessed.

All in all, even though its a grinding trip home from Johannesburg, I know we have sent an abundance of God’s light of love out to the world in large doses today.

Over the last three weeks we have met a multitude of friendly caring people. God loves variety and I am grateful. Our world is amazing. Thanks be to God.

 

 

Wednesday Feb. 23 Lesedi Cultural Village

At the entrance we were greeted with a group who sang and danced as they extended a warm welcome to us.

Today we were tourists and we had a grand time. After our trip to Klip Town Youth Program, where we experienced real life in today’s South Africa, we thought it would be good to experience some of South Africa’s history.

Lesedi Cultural Village is located in the heart of the African bushveld amidst the rocky hills within the Cradle of Humankind, a World Heritage Site. We visited five traditional homesteads inhabited by Zulu, Xhosa, Pedi, Basotho and Ndebele tribes who live according to the tribal folklore and traditions of their ancestors. Lesedi means “Place of  Light”. I struggled to receive the everflowing fountain of information that was offered because my hearing was defeated by the speed of speech and the lilting accent. I heard enough to learn a little, and there was lots to see. And then there was the dancing. The young people of the village were energetic and skillful dancers. Tom and I thoroughly enjoyed the show, the lunch and the overall experience..

Like good tourists we shopped. At this point we are familiar with the items that are every where and the ones that are made by artists. The selection at Lesedi Village was excellent. We purchased a number of gifts for family and even something for ourselves. We made the shopkeeper so happy that she gave us a zebra key ring.

We had a successful day. Dave picked us up and brought us home. This time it was our job to get supper. Tom and I had a grand time making pasta, salad and garlic bread. Two teens from the Ethiopia International School arrived today for a Music Program event  at the school here. They are friends of Jenna’s and are staying here with Dave, Jo and Jenna til Sunday.  It felt a little like preparing for family gatherings at home.

Tomorrow we pack and leave for the airport at three. It will be good to get home, and yet it is hard to leave. South Africa is amazing. There’s so much more to see. Our time with Dave, Joanne and Jenna has been precious. We will return for Jenna’s grade twelve graduation. They will be home come summer. That helps so much.

You can pick out the Joys that lit up my life today. One not mentioned, of course, is that we are both feeling much better.

Here are some pictures of Lesedi. During our visit we have taken several videos. I don’t know how to upload them. Guess you’ll just have to come visit us to see them.

Greeters
Entertainment Center

 

Special Firepit – Cross means they build fire on the side that is sheltered from the wind.

 

Garden

 

House with low door is much safer from invasion. Warrior has to put his head in first, risking the inhabitants chopping it off.

 

A Tasty Treat that all of us declined.

 

Entrance to Zulu Village

 

Sacred Ring – When you go on a journey, pick up a stone from outside the ring, spit on it, and throw it into the circle asking for a safe journey. We all did it.

 

Heaps of Shopping

Another Super Day

Beach Volleyball – Lovely South African Summer

We’re tired tonight mostly because we spent most of the afternoon sitting in the sun, watching our amazing granddaughter Jenna, play beach volleyball. We are proud grandparents. Jenna is an elite athlete. It’s always fun to watch her participate in her sports. The tournament was held at the German International School of Johannesburg. Among other things, there was a beautiful 25 meter pool, with lanes delineated ready for racing. Today, there were no races, so I had a swim between Jenna’s games. Jenna must have inspired me, because I swam 500 meters – 20 lengths of that pool. We didn’t bring a towel. In this beautiful African weather, the solar dryer did the trick.

Before the tournament we shopped in the Rosemount Rooftop Sunday Market. We are slowly gathering together our souvenirs of this trip. When we arrived back at Dave’s, we were thrilled to have almost an hour long conversation on Skype with Bonnie , Boris, and the children Lise and Alex. Another dose of home which was needed. Supper required little effort, as we had heaps of leftovers from last night’s party.

Now we’ll crawl into bed early. Those night’s are needed. Tomorrow, we return to being tourists as we travel to the Lesedi Cultural Village, a world heritage site.

My moments of joy started with Joanne our amazing daughter-in-law. She volunteered to drive us to the rooftop market, making herself late for Jenna’s tournament. She helped with the bargaining when we purchased something. While I was swimming, she went back to the city to get us all some lunch. She brought me rice cakes iced with yoghurt that are delicious, cheese and a gluten free granola bar. She always ensures that there is food for me without gluten. I know that requires extra effort. She is special and caring and very kind.  Of course, there is Jenna. Watching her, talking with her, just being able to spend time with her, is a total joy. I have to include the swim. It felt so good to stretch out my muscles in the water.

Lots of light emanated from me today. I am truly grateful.

Jenna’s solid serve just over the net, difficult to return.

Another Two Days Have Flown Away.

 

Arriving Cape Town, still fighting jet lag.

Another two days have flown away. This is a spectacular trip. It’s hard to believe that I was afraid of this journey.

The flight from Johannesburg to Cape Town was less than two hours and felt like ten minutes. Our seatmate was interesting, fun and helpful. Her career is in marketing and she works for a travel agency in Capetown. I asked her about the best things to see and do in Cape Town and she wrote us out an affordable list. We talked of careers, my books, and faith. Of course, I gave her a card and told her about my books. It was so helpful to say, “They’re available on Amazon.” Maybe if I tell enough folks that, I’ll sell some on Amazon, and Amazon will begin to recommend my books. Regardless, Candice with her willingness to share, her great conversation, and her ready smile, added a large portion of joy to our world and I am truly grateful.

Sunset showing World Cup Soccer Stadium Cape Town

This trip to Cape Town is just over the top. Where do I begin? We are staying in Woodstock, a suburb of Cape Town at a wonderful Air b&b run by Leonie. I’m sure there is no better place to stay in Cape Town. We have a good size room with ensuite in which we are very comfortable. It comes with breakfast served when we need it. This morning that was 6:30 a.m. Leonie takes great delight in helping us plan our day. She delivered us today to our bus tour pick-up point for 7:15 and was disappointed when the tour bus returned us just one block from the b&b. She helped us choose a place for supper, waited till we had a rest and showered and drove us to the restaurant as well as returning to pick us up. She did the same last night except when she picked us up after dinner she drove us to see the sunset from the Lion’s Head look out (a local tourist spot).

Last night we had supper with a lovely young German couple. Judith a surgeon, and Norman, a banking loan officer. We laughed, shared stories and generally enjoyed each other’s company. Tomorrow evening we’re having dinner together to celebrate Valentine’s Day.

Cape Town is heaps of fun. Today our bus tour took us to see the Penguins. This is breeding season so those inquisitive birds were all sitting very still on their eggs or caring for their new hatchlings. Afterward we went on to the Cape of Good Hope. I remember in about Grade Six social studies learning about the explorers Bartholomew Diaz & Vasco Da Gama. To actually travel to the southern tip of Africa wasn’t even on my radar when I was a kid. Today, I was thrilled to stand there and look out over the ocean. There just aren’t words to describe the feeling.

Our little bus had 22 occupants 17 of which were under 30. We travelled with the backpackers. Needless to say, my knees didn’t allow me to cycle up hill for 5 kilometers, or climb about a half a kilometer of steps. I did manage to the last 100 or so and made it to the light house to look out over the Cape. The bus carried me and a few more over the rest of the trip. Tom of course, cycled and climbed.

We totally enjoyed the young people on the bus. They were interesting and helpful. I wouldn’t have made it all the way up to the lighthouse without the support and encouragement of Anna from Brazil.

Tonight’s supper was in an authentic African Islamic restaurant which serves Cape Malay food. My taste buds delighted in a dish named Bobotjies. The flavours were delicate and delicious. The sauces obviously gourmet. The name of the restaurant, Biesmiellah, means the Grace or blessing said after the prayer at meals. It was truly an experience of God’s Grace.

We have had a grand day. So many people have filled our lives with joy that you must all be feeling the amazing vibes all the way back in Canada. Tomorrow will be the same.

My friend Nancy emailed pictures of Montreal’s snowy streets. I have to tell you all that South African weather is the best in the world, 25-28 degrees Celsius in the daytime and down to 17-19 at night. It’s fabulous. Ooops maybe that didn’t add to your joy.

I hope you enjoy the pictures.

Bus Tour – Very Windy Day Boat ride to see seals a true rock and roll. Seals enjoyed rain and wind. They had no problems.
Proud papa keeping eggs warm.
Look at me! Look at me! I laid an egg.
Get out of here, you miserable bird!
Aren’t I just the cutest bird you have ever seen?
I skipped the first 1000 + steps and stairs up to the lighthouse and rode the Funicular.

At the lighthouse overlooking Cape of Good Hope.  I’m halfway up the last 100 steps. I stopped to rest and Anna, age 20, told me “You can do. Of course you can.”

I made it and joined Tom at the top. I limped down. It was a long way back to the funnicular.

 Cape of Good Hope. We are here.

Two days on Safari

Pilanesberg Gate

We have been blessed, truly blessed. Two days on safari in South Africa, is, for many people a dream come true. The animals have been amazing. A highlight for me happened when the elephant we were watching started to walk casually toward us. As he got closer and closer, he seemed to be looking straight at me. I heard the tour bus ahead of us start up and watched it pull forward out of the elephant’s way. Our motor started up as well, but our bus didn’t move. The elephant kept coming. His tread measured and slow. In my mind I heard, “Take all the pictures you like. I’m special.”, as he lumbered past at the most two feet in front of our bus. This majestic, awesome animal walked by just four feet from my seat. (Of course, we were in the front seat.)

There were other times when it felt as if the animal was actually posing for our picture. Here they roam free in a 550 square kilometer game park. These animals are wild. That’s for sure. And yet, at times it felt as if there was a connection. I’ve added some pictures for you to enjoy. On our evening drive, there was a time where pictures couldn’t happen. We joined a collection of about five vehicles sitting in the dark. “Lion’s,” our guide said. “There’s a family of lions here. Two cubs and a Mom and Dad. They made a kill yesterday and have dragged the carcass into that thicket. He shone his light on a collection of shrubs. The lion’s were well hidden. We sat in silence and listened. We heard the cubs mewing. We heard  the sounds of lion’s at play, of Mom encouraging them to settle down, of Father losing patience and roaring, but not a fearsome roar. No it was more a “Come on kids, settle down” roar. We heard them crunching bones. Experiencing the family was a special gift.

During the morning when we were out with Dave and Joanne, we saw zebras. Two particularly touched my heart as I watched them, possibly lovesick teenagers, standing close, nose to nose and side to side. It was neat. In fact it was the families and their interactions that touched my heart and filled it with joy.

 

The other most important part of this safari is being with Dave and Joanne and Jenna. This has been a special time that will live in our hearts forever. We’re not only experiencing their passion for animals and safari’s, but we’re sharing thoughts and stories. Our family traditionally gets together regularly to celebrate the good things of our lives. This is a memory to add to the pile that is special. Today I have so much joy that the world over must feel a lightening of whatever darkness hovers.

I hope you enjoy my pictures as much as I have enjoyed taking them.

Here I come. Get out of my way.

 

He was just four feet away. Nervous I didn’t get him in total.
He kept on walking.
He stopped and turned to say goodbye.
Mom and baby Frankolins take over the road.
This beautiful big zebra stood at the side of the road waiting for us to take his picture.
Zebra Friends
The Giraffes are so graceful.
Baby Leopard Tortoise – He and his Momma were on the side of the road.
Male impala
Springbok is the national animal of South Africa.
Blue Wildebeast family having a rest on the road

Lonely male Blue Wildebeast, sometimes called Gnu

Spread Your Wings and Fly!

Sun is pouring in the plane window. It has to be the middle of the day but my body feels like it’s deepest night. I finally slept for an hour or maybe two. Not enough my body is screaming. Yet sleeping sitting up is very difficult for me. It will be ten p.m. Tuesday (I think), Johannesburg time when we arrive. The eight hour time difference is not going to keep me awake. Of that I’m sure.

Once again, I have a lovely lady sitting beside me. Leslie is from England and is coming to South Africa to visit family. This plane is stuffed full and yet is extremely quiet. The screen on the seat back says we have 5 hours and 50 minutes flying yet. Through the plane window, I can see a brown ocean beneath the whispy clouds – the Sarah Desert. It’s just not clear enough for a picture.

So far, today’s addition to the world’s joy is Leslie and our chuckles over space, food, even our politics. I desperately needed this blinding sunshine. It’s bringing heat and summer to me through the plane window. There is positive energy here on this plane. Strangers visit, laugh and sympathize. Cabin crew smiles and accommodates. We are blessed.

I may be an exhausted snowbird but I am a snowbird. Hallelujah! As Ann Murray sings, “Spread your tiny wings and fly away”. And of course you know that if I could I would bring you all to fly away with me. Mind you Dave, Joanne and Jenna might be overwhelmed.

What will I do differently this year?

                                    The following is taken from my book,                                    “Dipping Your Toes in Small Group Devotionals.”
01-january-00-title-copy-copy-copyWhat will I do differently this year? Is there anything I can actually
change? The Biblical story about the Wise Men seeking Jesus tells us,
 “having been warned in a dream not to go back to Herod, they returned to their country by another route.” I’m sure they just wanted to return home as quickly as possible. The familiar roads would look very good to them. I smile when these Wise Men do as they’re asked without even one question. Maybe it’s the warning that makes the difference. After all, Herod’s reputation at the time was dreadful. He gave the order to chop off heads at a whim.

Most of us are not nearly as compliant as those wise folk.
When the suggestion is made that we do something differently,
we often refuse. After all, we’ve always done it this way. Why
change? Even when what we’re doing is unsuccessful, we find it’s
difficult to try something new. Today, we receive a constant barrage of warnings:
Global warming will destroy the earth as we know it.
Change your ways!
Society is becoming obese. Stop eating so much fast food.
Change your ways.
Our health is at risk. We need to exercise. Change your
ways.
Our churches are shrinking not growing. Change your
ways.
They make no difference. We continue to resist change. We don’t
even want to think about a new path.

Will we travel down a new path in 2017. Will I eat less, exercise more, go to bed earlier, be more diligent about caring for the world.
Can you make a change in your faith life – read Bible regularly, attend church, care more.

Instead of believing that change will cramp our lifestyle, we can see the adventure change offers.

Change begins with one small step, one random act of kindness, one day of exercises. Starting small may leave us open to God’s help.

You can go into the year on a new path. Remember, with God’s
help the ripple effect of your effort will change the world.

Discussion:
What new path do you think God has for you this year? What effect could it have on you, your family and community, and your world?

Prayer:
Gracious God, you have blessed us with the gift of this New Year
of living and loving. Forgive us for our mistakes of last year. We
list them now in the silence of our hearts…

Merciful God, forgive us all that is past. Open our minds to new
paths. Keep us aware of your presence with us as we journey. We
pray in Jesus’ name. Amen.