To have this pop up in my Facebook newsfeed today, October 17th, of all days (it would have been our 12th wedding anniversary) well, you both said it all.
When my husband Hans died 5 1/2 years ago, a part of me died too. But knowing what the future would have been like for him (skin cancer, then colon cancer, then esophogeal cancer diagnoses) and seeing him literally waste away, be unable to eat, live in constant pain, be unable to speak and knowing it would only get worse, as difficult as it was to accept, there was a deep sense of gratitude that his suffering was over and an inexplicable awareness that finally, he was at peace and that we would be “together forever” some day.
Thank you, Rabbit and Bear and especially Canadian artist Tara Shannon who created this lovely image.
When we die …. ahhh. When each of us dies, may we go into the hearts of those who have loved us so that “we’re together, forever.”
Little rock and stones I’ve found on local beaches have become transformed into what I’ve been calling Kindness Rocks (a play on the noun and verb).
I’ve painted, added words/phrases/images/colour and then hidden the rocks/stones outdoors (where they’re allowed) in the hope that finders, in the brief moment of discovery, will experience a gentle momentary respite from worry, fear, whatever is robbing them of smiling, enjoying the moment, celebrating life, sharing love.
Have I had fun making these? You bet! And I’ve been having fun hiding them and giving them away, too.
By the way, while there are no design “rules” for the Kindness Rocks, recently I seem to be focused on a theme: love … hearts.
The hope of the latest Kindness Rocks is that finders would share some love … hide the rock for someone else to find … do an unexpected kind deed for someone … tell someone how they are important in your life … smile at a stranger … wear a mask … get vaccinated.
I admit it, I’m a KISSer … KISS philosopher … KISS theologian … KISS human being a believer in living an approach to life reflective of “Keep It Simple, Sweetheart.”
The Apache Blessing’ resonates with my spirit: “May the sun … bring new energy by day. May the moon … softly restore by night. May the rain … wash away worries. May the breeze … blow new strength into your being. And may you walk gently through the world and know its beauty all the days of your life.”
The Blessing was supposedly written in 1947 by Elliott Arnold in his Western novel ‘Blood Brother’ and popularized by the 1950 adaptation of the novel in ‘Broken Arrow,’ a movie by screenwriter Albert Maltz. Whatever its original source, I love its simplicity and message.
May the simple gifts of sun, moon, rain and wind bless us in ways we cannot ask or imagine in terms of peace, hope, healing and goodness.
I love watching them poke their heads above the ground, changing their location every year, making their appearance in so many different varieties. Intriguing and delightful, they put a smile on my face.
What are they? Here’s a clue … it’s that time of year when dampness and earth combine and make …
Yes, I really do love watching the mushrooms poke their heads above the ground, changing their location every year in the back yard … intriguing and delightful. Each year, they put a smile on my face.
This year, two kinds of mushrooms have appeared so far: shaggy ink mushrooms and a variety of the boletus mushroom.
Author Munia Khan wrote that“if you feel all damp and lonely like a mushroom, find the thick, creamy soup of joyfulness and just dive into it in order to make life tastier.”
What delicious words!
For those who are feeling ‘all damp and lonely like a mushroom’ from personal or political stresses, may you “find the thick, creamy soup of joyfulness” and then “just dive into it in order to make life tastier.”
It’s Thanksgiving weekend in Canada. Last month, Thanksgiving (Chuseok Day) was celebrated in South Korea. Next month, Thanksgiving will be a holiday in the United States, Liberia, Grenada as well as China, Norfolk Island, Japan and Vietnam. In the midst of the Thanksgiving weekends marked by different countries at different times dates in the month of October, the “How do we give thanks” question arises.
But, how do we give thanks … when there is unemployment or illness in our family? … when there are senseless deaths caused by terrorists, drunk drivers, those wielding machine guns? … when abusive substances continue to attract and ruin lives? … when we feel depressed, spiritually dry, lonely or are grieving? … when hurricanes, tornadoes, typhoons, earthquakes, famine, mass shootings, violence, “isms” are prevalent? … when abductions happen and people of all ages are forced to become sex slaves? … when we don’t know if tomorrow will bring war? … when we don’t know when/if the pandemic will sort itself out and we can return to life-without-masks and social-distancing. … when we don’t know if there will even be a tomorrow?
History shows that there are always people who give thanks in good times and in bad times … like Henry.
Who is Henry? Henry was a farmer from a very remote area where people could only gather for worship at great intervals.On those occasions they would witness to the blessings in their lives since the community had last assembled.
At one such meeting, Henry stood and addressed the people in halting and simple speech:“It’s been a powerful difficult year out there. The fever took our eldest daughter. Then my wife took ill and is still in bed. The spring wheat crop was mostly ruined by floods.And, oh yes, praise God from whom all blessings flow.”
Then Henry sat down.In the midst of personal disaster, Henry paused and gave thanks.
Being thankful each day, takes discipline, especially when there are financial stresses, medical concerns, family problems, scary political tactics, environmental devastations, a pandemic and more.
How can we be thankful where there is too much that distracts us? Maybe we’re looking for the “BIG” blessings when there are many “LITTLE” blessings?
Think of all the gifts that come absolutely free to most of us. * If you had to pay for the oxygen you breathe at the rate oxygen cost in a hospital, how long could you continue breathing? * If you had to pay for the sun’s heat at the rate of today’s heating bills, how long could you stay warm in winter in the western hemisphere? * If you had to pay for each of your eyes, at the rate eye damages are awarded in court (about $50,000 for the loss of sight in one eye), how many eyes could you afford?
I believe that the Henry’s of this world live “Thankful Living” lives and I also believe that there are more Henry’s than we know!
At Graduation ceremonies several years ago, almost a hundred students filed into their High School auditorium. Speeches were offered, but because of legal issues and court decisions at the time in their area, no prayers or blessings were allowed to be offered in the school.
When the last student came to the microphone, the students in the auditorium all suddenly sneezed! The student at the microphone looked at the students, smiled, and clearly, slowly and confidently said “GOD BLESS YOU!” The audience exploded into applause. The point had been made.
A unique way to invoke Divine blessing on their future? You bet!
May each of us “sneeze our way” through our Thanksgiving (whenever they happen), and realize, that in spite of the angst and fear and unknown (in the world and our own personal stuff), there is always something for which we can be thankful and experience at least one little blessing.
Somewhere this day/night, there is a wee rabbit who utters a prayer for the two-legged creatures she sees on her travels.
“O Creator Of Us All, I pray for the two-legged creatures who foolishly ignore the signs that are all around. Signs which, if they aren’t acted upon, will result in even more damage to the environment.
Dear One Who Is The Truth, I pray for those two-legged creatures who hear truth about the coronavirus and climate change and yet choose to ignore it.
O Holy One Who Celebrates Life, I pray for wisdom and compassion for all in the two-legged world so the spread of the pandemic will be stopped and the devastation of this planet we share with them will not come to an end.
Thee Who Loves All Creatures, I pray for unconditional love to move in the hearts of those two-legged creatures whose hearts are cold and whose minds are focused on selfish ways.
May this prayer be heard and may the two-legged-ones exercise wisdom, compassion and kindness to us and to one another.
This day, this night, … Creator … Holy One … Hearer of Whispered Concerns … Listener of Unspoken Fears … Gentle Bearer of Grief remind the two-legged creatures that this earth is sacred the waters are sacred the sky is sacred the animal, plant, fish, mammal, insect kingdoms are sacred and they are sacred.
This day, this night, Sacred Friend Who Loves Unconditionally, remind the two-legged creatures of your call to them to be good stewards of the lands, the skies, the waters, each other, and themselves. And remind them that if they don’t change their ways they will not survive and neither will I.
Mmmmmm, what new challenges will be placed before me?
What new friends will I encounter?
Where will this month lead my creative soul?
How will I respond to the “still, small Voice within”?
What learning will there be if I
… face the challenges
… listen to that Voice within
… consider possibilities
What learning will there be if I
… don’t respond
… don’t face the challenges
… don’t listen to that Voice
… don’t consider possibilities
and see only problems?
There will always be problems
of some sort or another.
Fall has arrived! Autumn is here!
It’s a beautiful time of the year.
After taking this photo, I couldn’t help myself.
I ran down the path
playing with the fallen leaves
if only for a few moments,
returning to life-as-a-child
when life was uncomplicated, simple, safe, and secure.
May we all take a break.
Take a gentle deep breath from our belly.
Let our mind drift far, far away
from the political yuck, pandemic, global issues,
from the nasty social media, personal stresses and crises,
from the anger and fear and bewilderment
and for a few moments,
let our imagination take us to a place
where we scamper down a lane covered with leaves,
joyfully toss the leaves up in the air,
inhale the smells of this now-upon-us Season,
listen to the sounds under our feet and over our head
as we play
as birds fly south
as we laugh and breathe and take a break.
Signs abound in Nature and within us
as we move into and through the Autumn Season of our Lives.
There are times when we feel alive and vibrant
in body, mind and spirit.
There are times when we realize that the withering of skin,
the creaking of bones, the aching of muscles,
the forgetfulness that can come with the aging process are simply part of the Autumn Season of life.
Is it wisdom to ignore these signs?
Is it wisdom to focus solely on these signs?
How to maintain balance and acknowledge the the cycle of life? Perhaps trees and leaves can be our teacher.
When leaves change colour … the tree is still there.
When our face, legs, arms, neck, hands begin to wither
… we are still there.
When leaves fall
… not all fall at the same time.
When we rise from a chair or sofa
… stiffness doesn’t always remain with us.
Fall/Autumn is here.
Winter is coming.
In the meantime, if leaves and trees could talk,
perhaps they would remind us
to spread our branches
to acknowledge our natural beauty in each season
and to welcome life.
In Jewish tradition, a Tzaddik is someone who dies on Rosh Hashanah and is “a person of great righteousness” (the quality of being morally right or justifiable).
At the beginning of the Jewish celebration known as Rosh Hashanah, shofars are blown outdoors in many communities, signalling the start of the Jewish celebration. And that night in 2020, Justice Ruth Bader Ginsberg, of the Supreme Court of the United States, faithful adherent of Judaism, died.
Tzaddick. I think this fits RBG well. How she is missed – particularly recently with the way the Supreme Court dealt (or did not deal with) the issue of abortion in the state of Texas.
Rosh Hashanah begins this year, today. May those who are marking Rosh Hashanah at this time, discover a new sense of ‘possibility’, a new belief in ‘hope’ that RBG’s legacy will not end, and a renewed ‘commitment’ to their beliefs and dreams. And may she, of blessed memory, be lovingly remembered and respected by people of all nationalities, religions, political beliefs – including the Chief Justices of the Supreme Court of the United States as they consider the issue of abortion that has raised its head in Texas and is beginning to raise its head elsewhere.
May this be a blessed Rosh Hashanah for all those who mark this Jewish festival.
A public, unasked-for explanation, fwiw, as to what helped make my decision to be vaccinated.
At this time in our history, I believe it is important for me to remember that as I enjoy and celebrate the gift of life and want to live as long and healthy a life as I can, others do, as well. To that end, I am a member of a family, a community, a country, a planet and all of that is at great risk if the virus and its various strains are not eliminated or at the very least, severely reduced.
As someone who considers herself to be a spiritual person, I seek to “listen” to that “still, small Voice within” that guides my life which I believe is not a life to be lived in isolation, but to be lived in relationship with others.
It is concern for others that motivated me to set primary concern for myself aside, (possible side effects of the vaccination because of my compromised immune system) and be vaccinated, so that others may have a better opportunity to live.
That “still, small Voice within” reminds me of the importance of remembering that as I am in relationship with the Holy Other, the Creator, by whatever name one references the Source of All Being, I am in relationship with humanity and cannot live my life in isolation or selfishness.
This decision did not come lightly. But it is a decision that was made in peace and continues to bring me peace.
This past week … our local hospital had more COVID cases in our Emerg than it had at the height of the virus and every single one of those people was unvaccinated. This past week … a nine month old baby was diagnosed with COVID in this community. This past week … a children’s day camp admitted that children (ages 5-10) and multiple staff became ill and were diagnosed with COVID. Children under the age of 12 cannot (yet) be vaccinated.
The reality for me is – I am in relationship with each of those people, by virtue of our common humanity. I believe that to lean on my compromised immune system as ‘excuse’ (aka a reason for not getting vaccinated) is not kind or loving or respectful. I enjoy and celebrate the gift of life and want to live as long and healthy a life as I can. And I want others to enjoy and celebrate the gift of life and live as long and healthy a life as they can, so my decision to be vaccinated was not a difficult one.
I do not want to be a carrier of the virus to anyone. So I made the decision. And, I hope and pray, others will make a decision to be vaccinated so that the chances that they will be a carrier of the virus to anyone – me included – are greatly reduced.
We can’t change the minds of all who are opposed to getting vaccinated or think the pandemic is a hoax, but maybe the following will give encouragement and be a reminder that love shared with one another can impact the hearts of family and friends … one at a time.
This is a true story shared by a friend. Though the actual conversation wasn’t recorded, it’s close to what transpired and the outcome actually happened.
He said “I want to come and visit. I miss my family! How about I come next weekend?”
She replied “We’d love to see you. But, you know that we are vaccinated, have an eight year old who cannot be vaccinated. Mom is 79 and we’ve decided no one comes into our home who isn’t fully vaccinated. Let us know when you’re fully vaccinated and we’ll find a date that works. We’re looking forward to seeing you again, too.”
He said “I don’t believe in that pandemic stuff. It’s just like the flu. I don’t need to get vaccinated.”
She replied “It’s your decision. We’d love to see you, but won’t until you are fully vaccinated.”
He said … after a long silence “Are you serious?”
She replied … “Yes.”
He said “I’m family. You don’t want to see me? What about Thanksgiving and Christmas and Mom’s 80th birthday?”
She replied “It’s your decision.”
He’d had a similar conversation with her husband, many times and continued to refuse to get vaccinated. This time was somehow different.
Several days later, he phoned and said “Okay. I’ve made the appointment. I’m getting my first vaccination on Monday. Let’s talk about a visit at Thanksgiving.”
And that is how it can be done. One way to change hearts and minds … one at a time.
The wind blows. Floods and rising waters continue their devastating invasion. Smoke from nearby fires is frighteningly strong. Lungs ache. Eyes burn. Breathing is compromised. Evacuations continue. Families fear losing their homes, livestock, pets, livelihoods, lives. Those who survived the fires now face homelessness, poverty, an uncertain future. Painful tears.
The wind howls. People frantically trying to get into an airport and on a plane to safety. People huddle together, stranded on the tarmac in the hopes that they will be able to get on a plane that will rescue them from death, rape, torture. Painful tears.
The wind resurfaces. New strains of the pandemic virus erupt, overloading hospitals, exhausting front line workers, terrifying parents of children under the age of twelve unable to be vaccinated, causing polarization in families where some decide to be vaccinated and others decide the pandemic is a hoax. Painful tears.
The wind changes direction. Young men and women brought to their new country as babies or children face deportation. Infants, toddlers, children, youth, separated from their parents continue to be incarcerated, uncared for, unprotected, terrified. Painful tears.
The wind that has blown for decades continues to blow in new ways as unmarked graves of children in residential schools are found – as memories of childhood experiences of abuse in residential schools bubble to the surface with the discovery of the graves – as the reality of murdered and missing indigenous women continues to sink in. Painful tears.
The wind still blows. People are standing up, speaking out, making their opposition known, not only in peaceful ways, but in not-so-peaceful ways. Nuclear threats beg the ‘is war on the horizon?’ question. Ordinary citizens ask why the law seems to serve and protect the most powerful, but not the vulnerable, not the land, not the environment. Painful tears.
The wind of ill-health continues to disrupt lives. Addiction, chronic illness, mental illness, overdoses, accidents, loneliness, aging, grief, and increase rents that are impossible to meet forcing businesses to close, people out of their homes and on to the streets. Lives, finances, health and relationships are compromised. Painful tears.
Painful tears continue to fall from eyes, covering faces and continue to fall from hearts, covering souls as the sacrifice of those who died, so there might be life and freedom to vote and express opinions, often seems lost in rhetoric and anger. Painful tears.
Tears. Far too many painful tears at this time of fires and floods, rape and torture, hurricanes and starvation, earthquakes and tornadoes, political lies and abuse of power.
May painful tears be diminished by naming the fears (not letting them fester, or stifle conversation) about global warming/climate change, the pandemic, bullying, abuse, political decisions … and by taking action.
Let painful tears flow and motivate to let in Light.
Elizabeth Barrett Browning wrote “Earth’s crammed with heaven each common bush aflame with God Yet only he (sic) who sees, take off his (sic) shoes.”
If Divine Presence is everywhere (“every common bush”) can it be surmised that there is *nowhere* that Divine Presence, God, the Creator isn’t?
I love reading the letters “n o w h e r e“
They can say “no where” AKA “it cannot be found.” They can say “now here.” AKA “it is evident.”
Many want to believe in miracles yet few believe they exist. To them, miracles are … “no where.”
Maybe they are looking for the magnificent, the stupendous, the WOW.
And in doing so, miss the miracle-in-the-ordinary … the “now here.”
When we take our ‘shoes off’ and become like a child about to wade into a cool brook, we see the minnows in the water the eagle flying overhead the smile on the faces of those around us
We hear the laughter of others and breathe fresh air into our lungs
We experience the Divine-in-the-ordinary, in the commonplace, in the mundane, in “every common bush.”
Miracles. I want a miracle for my friends, diagnosed with final stages of cancer. I want a miracle for my neighbouring country in the death-throes of political upheaval. I want a miracle for the world in the midst of a pandemic. I want a miracle for the people of Afghanistan and Haiti. I want more than glimmers of hope. I want miracles. I want to experience “each common bush aflame with God.”
I guess it’s up to me and each of us to find the glimmers of hope in ‘possibility’ and not inevitability.
I guess it’s up to each of us to decide whether it’s “shoes on – or shoes off.”
This is going on my front door in the morning because if I were a parent or grandparent with young children … or had a loved one living with me who had a compromised immune system this is what I would want to put at my front door
And besides … I am my own ‘loved one with a compromised immune system.’
I welcome visitors on the deck, at the front door, out for a walk, but not in my home at this time unless they are fully vaccinated and even then, I’m putting a hold on that for the time being.
I don’t live in fear I live in reality. And the reality is that even being fully vaccinated, not everyone is fully protected and could be a carrier of the virus.
This virus is not only spreading, but mutating.
Trying to keep my mind off the terrible news about Afghanistan, Haiti, people dying from the heat, floods, tornadoes, fires (too close to home this night), and the overloaded hospitals due to unvaccinated people become ill with the virus, I decided to “create something.
This. And it will go on my front door in the morning after I laminate it.
And if you believe in the power of prayer, please pray for our world and in particular the people in harm’s way. If you don’t believe in the power of prayer, please send gentle, kind, loving, positive thoughts their way.
fleetingly the years fly by marked by flames atop woven pillars so many so fast so soon while I ponder the aches and stiffness and forgetfulness and at the same time rejoice for I am here to see the candles flames atop woven pillars
Respect. Songs have been written about it. Parents teach their children about it. People expect it.
But what is it – what does it involve – exactly?
How about “regard for the feelings, wishes, rights, or traditions of others”?
Bishop Greg Rickel (8th bishop of the Diocese of Olympia, WA), listed his “Ten Rules for Respect.”
From what I understand, he really does follow these rules. Wouldn’t our world be a much kinder and safer place if everyone followed them
If all leaders (be they Bishops, CEO’s, politicians, office managers, store owners, parents, etc.), showed respect using Bishop Rickel’s rules, people would feel supported, encouraged, trusted.
The cycle of respect in the businesses, constituencies, congregations they serve, and families, would keep flowing.
Here are Bishop Rickel’s Ten Rules for Respect which are a model of behavior for us all in our interactions with others. All that’s needed is to put our own name in place of “Greg”.
1. If you have a problem with me, come to me (privately).
2. If I have a problem with you, I will come to you (privately).
3. If someone has a problem with me and comes to you, send them to me (I’ll do the same for you.)
4. If someone consistently will not come to me, say “Let’s go to Greg together. I am sure he will see us about this.” (I will do the same for you).
5. Be careful how you interpret me. I’d rather do that. On matters that are unclear, do not feel pressured to interpret my feelings or thoughts. It is easy to misinterpret intentions.
6. I will be careful how I interpret you.
7. If it’s confidential, don’t tell. If you or anyone comes to me in confidence, I won’t tell unless a) the person is going to harm himself/herself b) the person is going to physically harm someone else, c) a child has been physically or sexually abused. I expect the same from you.
8. I do not read unsigned letters or notes.
9. I do not manipulate; I will not be manipulated; do not let others manipulate you. Do not let others manipulate me through you. I will not preach “at you.” I will leave conviction to the Holy Spirit (she does it better anyway).
10. When in doubt, just say it. The only dumb questions are those that don’t get asked. Our relationships with one another, at the end of the day, are the most important things, so if you have a concern, pray, and then (if led), speak up. If I can answer it without misrepresenting something, someone or breaking a confidence, I will.
It was near the beginning of the pandemic … most people were social distancing and mask-wearing.
Standing in line outside the health food store, the woman ahead of me were social distancing and wearing masks when a fellow appeared … no social distancing … no mask and kept getting closer and closer to me. I asked him to please step back to the place marked on the ground so we could be social distancing. And that’s when it began. “Oh, you want me to step back because of COVID19? That’s all ridiculous stuff.” He was adamant that there was nothing to be concerned about. “Even if COVID19 is real – there’s Hydroxychloroquine.” He was belligerent. He began shouting that the tv station he watched and the medical doctor in the US who had been interviewed on one of their recent shows, had since been silenced because they were telling the truth
He shouted “Who to believe?” That was the Million Dollar Question then – and now.
“I’m not afraid” he said. “I don’t believe this COVID19 is real.”
When it was my turn to enter the store, I noticed that he entered shortly after and overheard him say “What do you have that will increase my immune system? I don’t want to get sick.”
So much for thinking COVID19 is “ridiculous stuff” and disbelieving COVID19 is real. He doesn’t want to get sick. He doesn’t want to die.
But, he’s not going to wear a mask. He doesn’t observe social distancing. But he was in a health store looking for “something” that will keep him healthy and increase his immune system. Harumpf! How about wearing a mask and observing social distancing, sir? That will keep you healthy.