I have a book launch coming up on October 26th. This time I’m blessed to be part of a group of Writers. Two of my short stories were accepted for the Spirit of the Hills writers’ group anthology, Your ticket to the evening includes a copy of the anthology of poems and stories titled Hill Spirits IV. Entertainment for the evening includes a fabulous concert with a jazz combo, a classical duo and a blues singer along with readings by some of the anthology contributors. The evening begins at 7:15 p.m. at St. Peter’s Anglican Church, 240 College Street, Cobourg, ON. Please join me. We’ll have a great night. Tickets available from www.spiritofthehills.org
Our Mysterious Blessing
Thanksgiving for many of us means a table laden with steaming hot, delicious food, encircled by a beaming family, content to be together. We give thanks for needs met, and the abundance of blessings that fill our lives. Even as we celebrate, we are aware that we, the middle class, are the privileged. Giving thanks is easy, particularly in this land of milk and honey that we call Canada.
This year, I want to remind you of another reason to be thankful. This blessing is available to everyone, rich and poor, young and old, regardless of ethnicity, skin color, health and economic status. What is this mysterious blessing.
We can give, and not just money and material wealth. We can try a little kindness. We can give thanks to God for the privilege of volunteering. There is so much need in this world. Lonely people who need a phone call or visit, homeless seeking help and the gift of respect, teens desperate for a kind word, store clerks stretched to the end of their patience who need the blessing of your smile and your thank you. The list is endless. Those of us who are ill, shut-in, in hospital, are also blessed to give. We have the opportunity to offer the gift of compassion, love, a kind word. Even when we feel totally isolated we can still offer the gift of prayer.
This Thanksgiving, I challenge you to let go of the belief that gratitude only comes from what we receive. This Thanksgiving take time to give thanks to God for all the moments of giving you have enjoyed, all the prayers offered, money given, time volunteered over the past year. Loving and caring for others is an honour and a privilege. Jesus taught there is nothing better than to lay down your life for others.
Friday, Tom and I marched for Planet Earth in Vancouver, B.C. Never before have I taken part in a protest. This time I had to participate. Our climate is in crisis. Denial means death.
Joining the protest wasn’t easy. A cold wind swirled around us on our uphill walk and half hour wait for the bus. People poured past us as we limped down two flights of steps to the sky train. We let two trains go by. They were beyond full. We wedged ourselves into the third train, with Tom barely clearing the door. Only two stops, and we joined the sea of humanity flowing up the escalators to the exit turnstiles. We plodded along like worker ants towards city hall. There were speeches we couldn’t hear. A protest band played.
We waited, restless, until the crowd began to flow down onto the street towards the bridge. We walked. We chanted. We talked with young, middle aged and seniors. All of them worried, fearful of the future, determined to make a difference.
Our march was typically Canadian – full of passion, but governed by good will and good manners. My eyes filled with tears as I listened to young people crying out for change, demanding that our government take action. I was proud.
Our youth are giving us leadership. We have to keep the pressure on. My message to all of you, my readers is: God has given us an amazing world. It’s our job to care for it. We must do everything we can as individuals. We need to vote for leaders who will co-operate with one another, even step over party lines. OUR VOTE CAN MAKE A DIFFERENCE.
People of all faiths need to PRAY. Pray for our planet. Pray that God will keep us motivated. Pray that we will let go of selfishness and support efforts to save the world even though it will cost.
Pray that our leaders, both governmental and business, will have the courage to make policy and pass laws that will stop this climate change.
We need to SPEAK OUT. A sixteen-year-old girl has mobilized the world. Our own Canadian activist seventeen-year-old, Autumn Peltier is teaching the world that everyone has the right to clean safe water. She’s been nominated for the 2019 International Children’s Peace Prize. These two young women have already proven the power of one individual to make a difference. We can follow in their footsteps.
I have not been politically active since I was a young mother in 1971, but for this coming election, I feel that it is doubly important that all of us be educated voters. We’re only two days into this campaign. Most of what we are hearing is the party leaders slamming each other. Personally, I am more interested in a party policies than what the other guy did, especially when the policy pertains to saving our environment.
Yesterday, I received an email sent out by Clayton Thomas Muller, a First Nations environmental activist. He has compiled a list of thirteen candidates that he and his supporters have investigated and found to be truly willing to deal with the climate crisis. He says they are “bold leaders who will take risks, organize fellow Members of Parliament, and work across party lines to tackle the climate emergency. And, they’re running grassroots campaigns connected to movements in their communities.” I wondered if this was a “Green Party advertisement,” so I followed the link provided. I was surprised to discover that there were two parties represented among these candidates who want to save our planet. Here is the link for you to see for yourself. Here’s our list of candidates from across the country who will champion a made-in-Canada Green New Deal.
For me, the main message of Mr. Clayton Thomas Muller is to teach us to be politically knowledgeable voters. His group are encouraging other independent sources to document and publicly identify any other candidates worthily committed in a similar manner to the environmental cause.
Here is my hope: that both you and I will take some time during this election campaign to check out all of our local candidates. Are they aware that our earth is in crisis? Are they willing to work across party lines to deal with this crisis? As voters, we need to let go of party loyalty. We must each award our vote to the candidate who will stop the squabbling, the put downs. We need representatives who will get down to the business of leading us to maintaining our beautiful world. We need representatives that will put people first, rather than influential corporate interests. We need representatives who are courageous enough to listen and debate in parliament rather than yell, and mock, and oppose on principle. There must be more than thirteen candidates across this country who truly care.
One thing the internet does is bring reviews to our fingertips. Reviews, positive or negative, are powerful in today’s world. We need a new roof. Who do we hire? In the past we would have called friends for their recommendations. Today, we surf the internet for roofing companies. The wise customer will look beyond the company’s own advertisements to what is often called “Google reviews.” The hope is that these would be independent, and therefore honest.
I think reviews are equally valuable when it comes to the Christian faith. We hesitate to actually own our belief. Even at church, we struggle to give a review for God. At coffee hour we seldom hear, “I felt God’s presence last night as I gazed at that spectacular sunset. I’m so grateful for the beauty of God’s creation.” Or “I couldn’t have survived this past week, without my faith.” Or “I believe God sent our friends Susan and John to visit last night because God knew we needed them.” We’re afraid to speak such things. Someone might be offended. It’s not polite. We don’t want to be labelled, fanatics.
Every word and action, positive and negative, conscious and unconscious, is a review, a witness for living a life of faith. Even our lack of words and actions are reviews for God.
Now that’s a huge responsibility. That may be why some of us hide our faith life as much as possible. We hide our acts of kindness in friendship, or neighbourliness. We walk strong without identifying the source of our strength. We go to church, but never invite others. We give God thanks everyday, but never tell anyone about God’s blessings. Then, we wonder why negative reviews of Christianity have permeated out society.
We can remove the power of those negative reviews. We can flood the world with identified Christians working for peace, caring for the hungry, befriending the poor. It won’t be anything new. We’re doing all these things already. All we need do is identify ourselves and our motives. We live a life of gratitude to God for all our blessings. We serve others as a response to that gratitude. Those good reviews are easy. We can do it. Let’s start today.
“We are therefore Christ’s ambassadors, as though God were making his appeal through us. We implore you on Christ’s behalf: Be reconciled to God.” (2 Corinthians 5:20)
I’m having a grand time with my sisters, swimming in the club pool for an hour each day, sightseeing, walking, lunches out, and movies back at Gayles. This is our yearly sisters’ week. It’s great. My new cover photo was taken at Goderich beach. Gayle brought her scooter so we could wander the downtown hub. It’s lovely. Lunch at Westside Willie’s was delicious and the service fabulous. It’s been a grand day.
Wrote this blog first thing this morning. It surprised me when I read it. I told myself, “You can’t post anything that political.” Is this really the inspiration I asked for in my prayers this morning? Guess it must be. It sure flowed off my fingers unto the keyboard. So here it is. If you have comments, no matter how critical, I’d love to hear them.
Listen to the Wisdom of Our Ancestors.
Today, I read the Broadview Magazine article “Listen to the Knowledge Keepers” by Dave Courchene, an Anishinabe Elder. Dave says:
“What humanity needs most now is to learn the rules of conduct we must follow in defining a sustainable relationship with the Earth and each other. Some examples include: don’t take more than you need from the land to survive, because if you take too much, your greed will increase; treat all life with respect, and abundance will return to you; and show gratitude for whatever you receive from life, and life will return its blessings.
Simple principles: why can’t we follow them? Is it because our greed is already totally out of control? As I read this article, I thought, I’m one of the converted. That’s why I subscribe to and enjoy Broadview. I know already that our aboriginal peoples have wisdom. It’s not new. The same wisdom can be found in the Bible, the Koran, the Talmud and other sacred writings. The Book of Genesis 1:28 says, “Take charge! Be responsible for fish in the sea and birds in the air, for every living thing that moves on the face of Earth.” For centuries we in North America have ignored the wisdom offered by our ancestors and our aboriginal brothers and sisters. Now, our children are offering us the same wisdom. It’s the young people that are rising up and pushing us to do something about climate change.
And still, I have conversations with people of my own generation who are denying that our greed is leading us into sure and certain annihilation of all life on our planet. This week I talked with a man who was convinced that our refugees arrive with the right to vote. He railed at their taking something that was rightfully his. He had no interest in checking his facts, or rather lack of them. We are so gullible when it comes to believing negative statements, and so slow at taking in wisdom for our lives. God must weep at our inability to help ourselves, to listen to the knowledge keepers of every tribe and nation. What will it take to wake us up?
There is an election coming this fall. Could we, just for once as a people, respond to the environmental crisis in our world and vote for those who would risk real action? Could we just for once forget the squabbling and name calling and look at policies? This time we need to listen carefully. What has our present government done to save the environment? How have we reacted? Who is willing to do even more?
Yes, action is tough. In the short run it might raise our taxes, cause job loss. We now have no choice. We have to stop talking about how awful it is that Nestle’s takes millions of gallons of our precious fresh water from the ground, pays next to nothing for it and sells it back to us for $1.75 and more for a pint plastic bottle. We have to stop ignoring the scientists. It’s good that we’ve made some little changes, but that’s not enough. We need leaders who are courageous in fighting this battle, whatever party they represent.
God gave us the job of caring for this beautiful earth. Let’s choose leaders who will help us.
Are You Ready?
My brother-in-law, Bruce, spent thirty years restoring his “Vicky”, his Crown Victoria classic car. When he died, he was almost finished but not quite. Occasionally, over the years he would take “his Vicky” to a classic car show, but when questioned there was always something else that needed to be done. Her transformation wasn’t quite complete.
In some ways we are like Bruce’s beloved Vicky. God spends our lifetime working on our transformation. Sometimes, we may seem to be finished but not quite. We never attain perfection. The difference is that Bruce’s Vicky was passive, waiting for Bruce’s decision around what needed to be done next. As God’s beloved children, we are not created as passive beings. We are humans blessed with the gift of free will. God’s transformation for us is much more difficult for God. God has the power, the love, the wisdom to do anything God wishes, and yet God waits. God waits for us to understand, to willingly make the choices needed for our transformation. We are a team with God, whether or not we want to be.
The miracle of life lies in the fact that God is always ready and waiting for us. God will lovingly work with us to enable us to become the best that we can be, in life, in death, in life beyond death. We are not alone.
For I know the plans I have for you,” declares the Lord, “plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future. (Isaiah 29:11)
I wrote this poem while attending the Keene United Church worship service held at Larryland in July. I didn’t take a picture of the creek/river at Larryland. I promise you it looks somewhat like this picture and is just as lovely. I’m not a poet, but my time at Larryland opened me to God’s inspiration. When I copied my poem into the blog program, the lines came out double spaced and I don’t know how to change it. Maybe this crazy format will enable you to read slowly, stopping to picture the scene. Enjoy!
Ripples sparkle, dance
Carrying the invitation
Play with me.
Tree’s, tall grasses,
Even the rocks,
Are calling me.
God’s peace is here.
Receive God’s healing
For just this hour
Soak in beauty.
We’re one with God.
Stop, rest, smile,
Open your eyes
To truly see.
For precious moments,
To hear, to touch,
To taste this place
To worship God.
Last fall when we re-sodded the back yard, our garden swing was left leaning up against the side of the house. This spring I suggested, “Let’s give that old swing away. We never use it.”
Tom frowned, “Maybe.“
A few weeks later, I stood on our freshly painted deck and said, “Let’s try that old swing here. We could roll out the awning and enjoy the rain.”
Tom surveyed the width of our deck, shook his head and said, “Swings pretty big but let’s try it.”
Son Dave, helped carry the swing round to the deck. Once in place, I flopped down on it. “Yes,” I said. “This is good. It just needs a few flowers.”
Today our long-forgotten swing brings a patch of paradise to our home. A colorful basket of geraniums and petunias hangs in one corner. Purple and white Lavatera and clemantis peek through the slats in the railing. Purple, white and yellow flowers spill from the mouth of our old chimenea, another one of those things we haven’t used in years. Bright red geraniums are growing from its chimney. Overhead, white fluffy clouds sail slowly by. In every direction God’s beauty shines radiantly in the summer sun.
August is just beginning and i already I’ve spent hours in that swing, meditating, writing, reading or visiting with friends and family. For the first time, since we moved to Peterborough five years ago, I feel as if I have truly come home.
I believe God knew what I needed and offered it. The deck, the swing, the chimenea, they had all been with us for many years. They have come together with my love of flowers to create my summer sanctuary. I didn’t plan it but I love it. My friends tell me I’ve slowed down a little and I have. Each day I step away from the world for a little while and rest in my summer sanctuary. When I return, life feels better, more peaceful, more precious. I give God thanks every day for this blessing.
Today I’m thinking about you. I wish for you a sanctuary tailored to your needs. I didn’t plan mine. It feels as if it just happened. But of course it didn’t. My suggestion to you is that you keep your heart open for a quiet place, inside or outside. In this crazy world we need our sanctuary places, our places where it feels easy to practice recognizing God’s presence. It doesn’t require a big expenditure. It might require some repurposing of things you already have. I suggest you join with God in creating your special place, your peaceful place, your summer sanctuary.