Of Boogie Boards and Mermaids

The cure for anything is salt water – sweat, tears, or the sea.             Isak Dinesen

IMG_2157In three days time, I will be on the coast of North Africa. For thousands of years this land has intrigued and invited people to take part in the rituals and magic of life by the sea. Remains of ancient Roman villas, public baths and libraries remind me that others have walked those places before me. Their footsteps have all washed away, as will mine. But while I am in that space, while I am in any space I want to live and breathe the energy it gifts to those who are open.

I connect with Jill Davis’ line about the waves of the sea help me get back to me.

My grandchildren explore unmarked ruins, dip their toes into clear waters of the Mediterranean and barbecue hot dogs along blonde sandy shores. There is a sense of infinity as cerulean blue of sky and water blend into each other. Earth meets sky as thoughts of infinity and divinity merge together on the distant horizon … The land of hopes, dreams and mosaic memories.

And my bags are packed to the gills. Last summer I bought boogie boards for the grandchildren’s visit to my Canadian home, but we experienced end-of-summer-snow and warm campfires. Now the crazy thought to take the boards to North Africa had entered my head, and after a request for life jackets came from across the ocean, my decision was made. Even though my grandchildren live by the sea, my son-in-law could not find life jackets in the local stores. We may be over safetied here in Canada, but they are definitely under the mark. This just meant a second checked in bag … There are times I try to travel light, with only one checked in bag, but when considering gifts for the grandkids and their safety … some of the reasoning went by the sea side.IMG_2250

Certain things make me feel small – mountains and oceans are definitely in that category – especially oceans as they seem to have no beginning or end. Their vastness, can be calm or unrelenting. They not only make me feel small, but they give me a sense of the bigger picture, and my place in it. And the reality that all the trivial daily fussing is not worth its energy. There is a much grander scale of life beyond the routine. There is also an infusion of sacred in the ordinary. Mother Theresa said: We ourselves feel that what we are doing is just a drop in the ocean. But the ocean would be less because of that missing drop.

I can hardly wait to stand by the sea, to feel the water on my toes.

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Mermaid image by: quotesville.com

Jocelyn is the author of Who is Talking Out of My Head, Grief as an Out-of-Body Experience

Does God like chocolate?

And the most powerful episode in the history of mankind is pared down to chocolate Easter IMG_3963bunnies, passed off as a good story to bring hope to those interested or in need.

Kind words from a good man.

From cynics and seekers, to doubters, atheists, to the committed and the modern day pharisee, there continues to be argument  and debate as to the relevance of the story of Easter and the man behind it—Jesus.

Is the resurrection just a metaphor? Wishful thinking?

Or is it the ultimate Happy Ever After tale of genuine Love?

After the loss of two children, I know that I am not content to be satisfied with a pie in the sky story, poetic sentiments, the tooth fairy, or a whatever works for you. I am searching for Truth and Hope.

This past week I came across Eugene Peterson’s introduction to the book of Malachi:

Most of life is not lived in crisis – which is a good thing. Not many of us would be able to sustain a life of perpetual pain or loss or ecstasy or challenge. But crisis has this to say for it: In times of crisis IMG_2115everything, absolutely everything, is important and significant. Life itself is on the line. No word is casual, no action marginal. And almost always God and out relationship with God is on the front page.

But during the humdrum times, when things are as we tend to say “normal,” our interest in God is crowded to the margins of our lives and we become preoccupied with ourselves. Religion during such times is trivialized into asking “god-questions” – calling God into question or complaining about him, treating the worship of God as mere hobby or diversion, managing our personal affairs for our own convenience and disregarding what God has to say about them. Going about our usual activities as if God were not involved in such dailiness. ” 

Does God like chocolate? It goes rather well with red wine.

Wishing you a Thoughtful Easter …

 

 

 

Our Daily Becoming

The person inside struggles to get out
Eyes open … head shakes in terror … non-recognition … fear …
IMG_5790And my heart drops to my toes … this is not my friend
The next day …. I see her in those same eyes, my friend has returned
The intensity of the ICU waiting place…
The question lingers for me, Where has the she been in this time of unconsciousness? … while body fights for breath, tracheal tube blocks words from lips … but, this last evening, she responds with slight smile, the eyes are hers … lips shape words that cannot yet be voiced.
Intensive care—a reason for the name. Three other heavily monitored people share this sacred space … under heavy equipment security … machines record and alarm. The machined man diagonally across … at one point … seven staff members rush into his cubicle … curtains close to keep us out … and yet in the crack I see … syringes inject another fight for life. And the next day another body occupies the bed.
And sometimes I want to ask the nurses not just to look at the machines, but to look into my friends’s eyes … to know the person inside …. the beautiful person she is … and I cannot ask them that, as they are busy saving lives … but I myself can do that, I can look into her blue eyes and express caring.
… jazz vespers at church next to the heart hospital … as the melody begins … the minister speaks of the music’s power that transcends the cares and speaks to the soul … and it does.
And back to hospital room, back to hotel … and we discuss on patio in beautiful evening, in beautiful city, under full moon the heavies of life … over white wine … and we contemplate the recognition of who is the person … and how we have been challenged with the homeless people, the nameless faceless people, the hospital bed people, the walking on the street people… and a mouse sneaks along the edge of the patio … we are startled … no screams, but we do move back one table… and then someone else asks us “Do we have change so he can buy something at McDonald’s?” And we cannot walk by him, he has entered our space … I ask him his name, he is Keith … we ask if he has a place to stay, as my friend is looking for change … and gives him a bill … he assures us he will not buy wine … and she hands him the bill … he leaves and we look at each other and marvel at the day … so many people on this planet … our desire to be known … our desire to be cared for … our gratitude in life … being one of many walking the face of this city, this planet … from long hospital corridors, to musicians on the street, to biking the city, to our friend … the intricacies, delights and beauty of the day.
Wow, was all we could say … and God is good.

Our Daily Becoming
 
Adam Clay
Like animals moving daily
 through the same open field,
it should be easier toIMG_5734 distinguish 
light from dark, fabrications 
from memory, rain on a sliver 
of grass from dew appearing 
overnight. In these moments
of desperation, a sentence
 serves as a halo, the moon 
hidden so the stars eclipse 
our daily becoming. You think 
it should be easier to define 
one’s path, but with the clouds 
gathering around our feet,
there’s no sense in retracing 
where we’ve been or where 
your tired body will carry you.
Eventually the birds become 
confused and inevitable. Even our 
infinite knowledge of the forecast 

might make us more vulnerable
 than we would be in drawn-out
ignorance. To the sun
 all weeds eventually rise up.
 Poem from Poem-a-Day/ Poets.org by Adam Clay
  
 
 

The Waiting Place

Sometimes-I-feel-like-Im-waiting-for-somethingThe Waiting Place

According to Dr Seuss, it is a most useless place … the waiting place where people are just waiting.”

The place where plea bargains happen, oaths to the Creator made, and life priorities re-evaluated.
But when your back is up against the wall, desperately wanting an outcome …
The messages kept coming back as prayer requests …
Mom’s not well, she’s being admitted.
It looks like endocarditis
(an infection of the heart’s inner lining)
Antibiotics not effective …
Medivac’d in the night to a bigger cardiology centre

(They are all displaced-this is not even their home province)
Surgery scheduled, cancelled, then rescheduled
Twelve hours in surgery …
Bleeding, she had to go back to OR …

With those texts as background, I picked up a book … Moving the Hand of IMG_2878God, by John Avanzini(1990). The book disappoints, and I argue my way through the introduction, I don’t see God as Formulaic, as one who cannot see through this as attempted manipulation.
My friend’s life hangs in the balance. She is younger than I, she may not know she is in the waiting place … where is one’s spirit when drugs render unconsciousness? Her family gathered are also in that waiting place. Waiting for good news, waiting for improvement …. waiting for the rain to stop.

The sign should read: WELCOME TO THE WAITING ROOM…
Waiting feels helpless, we are geared to do something.
Pause, Breathe …
When Life is heavy and hard to take, go off by yourself. Enter the silence. Bow in prayer. Don’t ask questions: Wait for hope to appear.
Lamentations 3:28, 29. But how does one wait with hope?

Can I Trust You?
Dear God
I woke with knots in my stomach … so many questions whirling my head …IMG_0001
can I trust You with the knots?
Heavy heart as her life hangs in the balance … machines breathe for her
Can I trust you with that?
Life not being what I or they thought it should be or would be…..
Can I trust you with the future?
Despair and doubt want to hinder any Bold prayer
Can I trust you with that?
Even as I speak these words I KNOW without a doubt, I have no one else that I could trust these things to, so why do I hold back?
Can I trust you with that?

And your answer is a Resounding—YES YES YES!

I stretch lame hands of faith, and grope,
And gather dust and chaff and call
To what I feel is Lord of all,
And faintly trust the larger hope. Alfred Lord Tennyson

Disarmed by a Compliment

Disarmed by a Compliment
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The two dollar girl had a four dollar complaint about the service in the McDonald’s drive-through. It was so slow, it felt like my hair greyed faster than my order … I tried to maintain a positive outlook as the five cars ahead of me stood still, I had places to go.images
After ordering my creamed coffee and muffin, I turned the car off, opened my book, moved ahead, turned off, moved ahead, paid the $2, foot on brake, half page read.
Then I practised my lines as to how I could kindly let them know how slow the drive through was, and offer suggestions for improvements, as opposed to just grumbling about how ridiculously lead footed they were. Should I remind them of a former policy If it’s not ready in 2/3 minutes it’s free? As my car inched to the second window a paper bag and coffee shot out at me and the young lady smiled and said, “Nice short hair, it takes talent to do that.”
Complaints died on my tongue, I said thank-you, and sped away with a big grin on my face. And I marvelled at the young woman’s words, my guess was that she had something pleasant to say to each customer as they pulled through, especially those kept waiting.
IMG_5022And I was thankful as I reached the garden, first that I was kept from speaking my feeble complaint, shoes removed, for I felt I was on holy ground … I was given a second chance to be a better person than the grumps that wanted to burst forth. I have seen how bad it looks with complaints about poor service. (I know there is a legitimate time to complain—this was not it.)
Not only that, but for the past four years I have been quoting John Piper’s mentor, who told him to “ruthlessly eliminate hurry.” That day I was helped in eliminating hurry, it’s been a little tougher to eliminate impatience.

Sam Harris, an American neuroscientist, author, and philosopher, shares his concept of the present moment and why it matters to live in the now rather than wait for the “now” of the future. It’s worth the click!

http://www.wimp.com/alwaysnow/

Hope Springs a Leak

IMG_2833Is Hope more than wishful thinking? … more than the carrot dangled? … waiting for spring to arrive after the long winter?
The dictionary defines hope as: the state which promotes the desire of positive outcomes related to events and circumstances in one’s life or in the world at large.
The news on the TV screen at the Winnipeg airport, while waiting for my flight to Calgary explodes with the story of five young people stabbed to death at an end of term university party. Shock, disbelief!IMG_4352
The city of Calgary’s worst mass murder ever.
The grey clouds of mourning have hung over the news, the city and the skies. One more tragic read for the masses, but a lifetime of dashed hopes for the families and close friends of the five.
Where are the spring flowers for this situation? Delayed, due to an extension of winter.
Feeling along with the heaviness of the loss of a child, the clock radio woke me to a strange mixture of music. In the one ear I could hear the Third Day song Nothing Compares, and just below that a rap artist was going on about the strife, misery and hate that seems a frequent topic of rap. The mixture confused me, momentarily as I had not knowingly set my alarm. Then as I recognized the first song, I thought it was brilliant—the words of hope, of the greater good written/sung over top the disappointment in life. And then I realized it was a tuning problem … I was on the airwave border of two radio stations that were competing to outshout each other. What an image of what is happening every day. Listen to the news at night and we can get the overwhelming sense of despair … watch the National Geographic or Discovery channel and I sense awe as I view the incredible beauty and strength of whales breaching in the ocean, or time lapse photography of flowers unfolding.
Simone Weil has said that there are two things that pierce the heart, beauty and affliction(sorrow). Restated as moments we wish would last forever, and those we wish had never begun.

IMG_2836This is the Easter weekend, and this is the ultimate story of the resurrection of hope over the sorrow of death.
The promise of new life erupting after the long winter.
May it be so for the families in sorrow.
I am waiting for these crocuses to return.

Link to the Third Day song that played … I didn’t recognize the rap song, so cannot give you that link—you get to play it over your own selection of disappointment.

You win some, You lose some

Lost $20 today … the complaint of the new Canadian money is its slipperiness.IMG_4194 I went walking along the river, scrambled down the ice bank with camera to get a better picture, as recently arrived Canada Geese honked my intrusion. The plan was to pick up a few groceries on the way home, so I had slipped $20 into my back R hand blue jeans pocket. When I reached for it in the store, it had disappeared. But, we did have the return of limes today only—77cents apiece.
Recently my almost 5 yr old lightly freckled grandson lost his second pair of croc-wannabes, in as many months. As the not-quite-24-hrs-old shoe of the replacement pair, dropped from his foot off the ferry, into the swirling waters, his mother wanted to tell the distraught little boy to throw in the second one as well, at least someone might have the chance of a pair. His tears kept her from saying it.
An article in the UK daily news reported the amount of time spent looking for various items. I feel better and worse when I read the stats, better because I’m not alone, worse, cuz I could be doing something else with that time.
Top seven items lost—in order:
1. Mobile / smartphoneIMG_9728
2. House keys
3. Car Keys
4. Paperwork
5. Sunglasses / spectacles
6. Purse / wallet
7. Lip balm

That looks like my list … but I also tend to lose my perspective on the importance of the lost item, especially in the immediate moment. On average we spend seven to ten minutes a day looking for lost items. I’m not the only one to use my landline to locate my cell phone—regularly.
“Spending so much time hunting for lost items is a shame since the same research shows that we only laugh for around 6 minutes a day, visit other people for 21 minutes, make love only for 2 minutes and 42 seconds a day and spend only 2 weeks of our lives kissing another person.”**
Hmmm, I might have some catch-up to do.

What I also believe is that while we all lose things,
we also become what we search for.

When you search for truth, you become more truthful.
When you search for excellence, you become more excellent.
When you search for love, you become more loving.
When you search for compassion, you become more compassionate.
Searching for meaning, life becomes more meaningful.
Searching for kindness, grace, joy and peace, brings it about.
And as we search for beauty….we become more beautiful, and so does our life.
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And Easter is coming soon, I can hardly wait to search for my chocolate, I’ve hidden it already!
**Read more about lost items at: (a car was listed as #19, ahead of the e-reader at #20.
Read more: http://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-2117987/Lost-today-Misplaced-items-cost-minutes-day.html#ixzz2y6qniYy9

A Season for Everything

IMG_3452Ancient words revisited, There is a time and a season for everything under heaven.
There had been times long enough to wear the sad coat, which hung permanently in the closet, but now was the season of spring, lighter clothing, and spring skiing is the best with plentiful snow, warm air, bright sun. She challenged herself to try the new run, but even as the chair lifted her high, very high it seemed, she sensed a dizzied panic rise in her throat. Her IMG_3437arms couldn’t reach her pocketed camera to take this shot, immobilized by the height. She briefly wondered what would happen if she failed to raise the bar, and unload. Perhaps she could just get “lifted” back to the base, and either loop up again, or feign injury and drop off.
But no, dutifully she hoisted and followed the “prepare to unload” rules to a tee, and nervous knees brought her to the edge … as she watched red agile jackets and boards surge over the brink and disappear. Who’s idea was this?
IMG_3686Breathe deep, and look around; mountain tops returned her gaze-this was no bunny hill, no green runs from here. And other less ancient words came to mind, from her ski instructor friend a life-time ago …. The mountain will unfold. Get to the edge, and the way will be revealed, go slow, gain confidence, and the mountain will unfold. Some trails you avoid. IMG_3688A smile of remembrance, a turn of the ski, and side to side she went, she paused at the first bend to glance back and photograph the run she had just come from. The trail unfolded in delightful ways, and at the bottom, she decided to give it another run.
The mountain did unfold in many ways, it had before and it would again. This was the time and season.

IMG_3493 Continue reading

What’s Love Got to do with it? Feb is Apple Month

IMG_2977My quirky sense of humour can get the best of me … Life is too short to take things too seriously. I wanted to write well on the theme of love, but the line “What’s love got to do with it?” kept popping into my head. February has been seen as the “Love” month for as long as I can remember. But my curiosity wondered why the Co-op store back in Manitoba also had Feb as Apple month. Why would you feature apples after five months in cold storage? While trying to find out if Apples are still featured, I checked out a website for National Awareness Themes, and Love did not officially make it on the February list, although it appears to be an American based list. Canadians do have a few of their own themes—Heart and Stroke Foundation promotes Feb as Heart awareness month. Home base for love is the heart, although it may not be the literal pumping muscular organ. One disturbing statistic found on the Heart and Stroke website is that:IMG_2959
“Every 7 minutes in Canada, someone dies from heart disease or stroke” (Statistics Canada, 2011c).
Although love covers a multitude of sins (isn’t that scriptural?) it may not clean out your arteries. So if an apple a day keeps the doctor away, perhaps a hug a day, may keep the love flowing. It is sad to me that heart disease is one of the leading causes of death. I wonder how that statistic would translate for the spiritual heart?
My wish is that I will Live every day of my life, not merely be alive. And loving is a healthy exercise for the heart.

If your curiosity is piqued read the featured themes for the month of Feb. While we are inundated with things we need to be aware of, take heart, you don’t have to try to remember any of these themes.

So “What’s love got to do with it?”
Everything, “the earth is full of his unfailing love.” Ps 33:5 NIV.
Lukewarmness I account a sin, as great in love as in religion. Abraham Cowley

February is known as:
Age-Related Macular Degeneration Awareness Month
Black History Month
Body Awareness Month (I am quite aware my body ain’t working the way it used to.)
Electrical Safety Awareness Month (Not sure how to plug into that one.)
Heart Disease Awareness Month (Heart And Stroke in Canada)
Heartworm Awareness Month (for the dogs)
Low Vision Awareness Month (If you can’t read this one press where?)
National Cancer Prevention Month
National National Awareness Month Awareness Month (Is that like a double negative?)
National Pet Dental Health Awareness Month
Safety Awareness Month
School-Based Health Center Awareness Month
Sinus Pain Awareness Month (March just wasn’t good enough for them…They moved)
Termite Awareness Month (I would prefer not to be aware of termites)

IMG_3205While running late may not qualify for cardio, showing love after Valentine’s Day is good for everyone’s heart.

THE BIG PICTURE – size small

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       In the end what matters most

             How well did you live

            How well did you love

      How well did you learn to let go.              Balinese proverb

I get these moments of great clarity when I feel as though I have conquered the mystery of life. The younger I was for these aha moments, the more open I was to accept them. The experience that comes with aging has clouded my clarity with skepticism.

While it was still dark this morning I woke with a sense that I should write down some of these thoughts I’d had … and then I realized I have often felt that way, and frequently I have written the ideas down. Sometimes I have been delighted, at other times I wondered what made that seem so brilliant in the night?

Breathing, living, loving …. as I mix this into every day life of eating, sleeping, interacting, I see that we are all searching for a deeper meaning, for more aha moments … I think we want our lives to be a part of something bigger. (I want to stay in the AHA)

One of my favourite walks takes me up a ridge, and from where I can see the Rocky Mountains span the horizon. When I have these times of feeling too suppressed in my little life I climb the ridge—I call it my perspectives walk.

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A bench waits for me, it overlooks the town and the mountains in the distance, and I ask God to have tea with me. Often I just sit there, sometimes I read, sometimes I listen to music, sometimes I write …. but I need to ponder the vast solid rocky mountains, the bigger picture … and when I look down at my town, I see the little vehicles like Tonka trucks along the roadways, busy little ant like people scurrying about with all the tyranny of the urgent, and I am reminded of the verses:

I lift up my eyes to the hills, where does my help come from  Psalm 121 NIV

For even if the mountains walk away and the hills fall to pieces,                                                             My love won’t walk away from you      Isaiah 54:10 The Msg

After pondering the truth of these words, I am able to descend, for I have gained a new perspective on the immensity of life. I carry those words with me … till next time …  like everyone else, I have a standing invite to sit on that bench. And what surprises me is how seldom it is occupied.