Monday, July 31, 2006

Is Independence an Illusion?

Independence has always been my streak. Striking out on my own after listening to a different tune has always been an alluring beat to dance to. If I was to define my personality, independence would likely be an adjective at the top of the list. Just ask my mom! She would regale you with a story about taking me to school on the first day of kindergarten and me informing her that I would make it home for lunch on my own. No need to pick me up. Yup, as much as I enjoy being social, I am also content to hang out on my own.

However, is that really independence? Can one really be independent in the way that we define it? Autonomy, freedom and self-sufficiency are all synonymous with this state of being. It's obviously a preferred state...........not relying on others for our personal well-being........forging ahead alone and figuring things out all by ourselves..........

This notion is flawed. Sure we strive to accomplish goals and tasks on our own, but independence is an illusion. Consider someone like Bill Gates or Donald Trump. Consider a Prime Minister or President. Consider a successful novelist or artist, who though work mostly alone in their creative moments, rely on others for many facets of their artistic process. Gates and Trump couldn't be successful without support from family, colleagues, and the employees who make their "dreams" a reality. A politician may be at the top of his or her political hill, but they needed thousands of people to help them along the way.

It's funny how we tend to forget or deny the fact that if we live in a society, we depend on one another. We are all connected for various reasons and at various levels of attachment. It doesn't matter how stylishly rich or important you think you depend on the community, be it local or global............for services, safety, support, friendship.......gee everything from dry cleaning to dog training. And yet, we consider dependence as weak?

Dependence connotes an person dependent on another -- one family dependent on social assistance -- one public housing unit dependent on subsidized services from the government -- one elderly person dependent on their nursing care in a senior's home. The person, family or community that feels a sense of dependence more times than not feel a depletion in their self-worth. And, that's sad. But, once the scales tip to "favour" the giver, it's very difficult to tilt it back to evenness.

What we should be striving for is more of a balanced interdependence in our society, and an acknowledgement of the fact that true interdependence is the foundation of a functioning, healthy society. Funny, present day economic and political thinking projects the absurd idea that although members of a society depend on one another for goods and services, they can more or less conduct their business completely independently of each other, neither noticing nor caring for the needs of other people. How flawed is this? This is not an arrangement that will lead to greater freedom, health, or happiness. No, it will only lead to the inability to communicate and relate with one another. It will lead to anarchy through disrespect and individual self-promotion.

This isn't rocket science. Our well being and our survival depends on the interdependence with other people. Sure depending on people means asking for takes one to trust as well as to be aware that every now and then, you're going to feel vulnerable if you're on the receiving end. It may also mean a may have to do things for someone that you may not like. You scratch my back and I'll scratch yours.

Yes, we are all lucky to feel a sense of independence, self-sufficiency, freedom, autonomous ............liberated because we have been able to rely on the love and support of others and on our faith. Interactions with the people in our neighbourhood, with the people you meet during the course of your day, with family and friends......................all provide sustenance and connectivity that allow us to have both roots and wings. We need both. You can't fly without direction. You can't fly without fueling up every now and then.

Staunch independence is an illusion. Imbalanced dependence is unhealthy. Interdependence is what we must strive for because it is interdependence that feeds empathy, understanding, compassion, happiness and a sense of belonging. What can be more important?

"As long as there is poverty in the world I can never be rich, even if I have a billion dollars. As long as diseases are rampant and millions of people in this world cannot expect to live more than twenty-eight or thirty years, I can never be totally healthy, even if I just got a good checkup at the Mayo Clinic. I can never be what I ought to be until you are what you ought to be. This is the way our world is made. No individual or nation can stand out boasting of being independent. We are all interdependent." - Martin Luther King

Friday, July 28, 2006

Tomorrow is Always Fresh with no Mistakes in it.....

"Good friends are always together in spirit" - Anne of Green Gables

The heavens have opened up tonight. No thunder, no light show, just lots and lots of rain. That's alright because tomorrow will be fresh with no mistakes and hopefully no rain in it. WE are headed to Prince Edward Island for a quick romp on the the beach and a swim in the warm water. There is no other place quite like PEI, with it's red sand and it's fertile potato fields. As soon as one crosses the Confederation bridge from New Brunswick to the Island, there is a change in the air. Tranquility possibly?

Normally we spend a week on the Island with our friends and their kids. We all have separate cottages that are equipped with the bare TV, no phone................just a few board games and a deck of cards for evening fun. Kites, sandtoys, a bocci set and wiffle baseball are all packed to be used in the big field that overlooks the beach down below. Summer winds blow most days.........keeping the temperature just right and the bugs far away. Beer and wine flow as we all share our meals and catch up from a year away from one another. This year, we only have a precious weekend. But, we'll do our best to fill it with maritime magic. I'm keeping my fingers crossed for a beach fire tomorrow night under the stars.................which right now are hiding behind a bunch of rain clouds!

Last year right after we arrived, I had this urge to sit down to write in my journal. I hadn't written in a very long time. In fact, I had forgotten the pleasure of writing. I had forgotten that I had the ability to pull different combinations of words together in a way that pleased my palette. For whatever reason, the words came tumbling out. Every morning when everyone was sound asleep, I would tiptoe, tiptoe into the kitchen make a cup of tea, throw on my favourite jean jacket over my nightgown and step outside. Lily, my dog came with me and would fall asleep beside the Adirondack chair that became my writing vestibule.

Every morning my vista would alter.................the clouds were painted differently on the everchanging sky canvas...........sometimes the sunrise would be brilliant.............sometimes it would just gradually become lighter. The tides too played games. And while I soaked in the fresh air, the view and the tranquility, I wrote.

The words havent stopped flowing...................for that, I am grateful.

I look forward to sharing a fun weekend with my family and our good friends. And I look forward to my early Sunday morning vista viewing with Lily. I wonder what it will look like? I already know how it will feel. Like I belong there.

Wednesday, July 26, 2006

Comfort and Street Lights

Sometimes when I wake up in the middle of the night, I look out my living room window and take in the darkness littered with the lights of the city. My vista is comforting as I picture the people in their homes silently sleeping protected by the streetlights. I also know that there are others moms nursing their babies, parents up with a sick child, individuals fighting insomnia, artists in the flow working on a project, people fretting over big worries, workers going through their nocturnal workday............. all under the shimmer of the streetlights. We are connected by wakefulness. We are not alone.

I have been on the road these past 3 days meeting with individuals and sometimes their families who are applying for a disability pension. My role is to review their medical information, and complete a social type assessment to accompany their application.

These interviews are always interesting, often very sad, sometimes uplifting, somewhat emotionally draining and thought provoking. They are also an opportunity to connect on a level that most people never have a chance to experience. I'm grateful for the opportunity on many levels, but mostly because the lesson of compassion is clearly mine for the receiving.

The people I meet with need help and need to tell their stories. They are not feeling protected by the streetlights................... they feel disassociated from others -- alone in their suffering and misunderstood, most likely living in poverty with their disability struggling to exist under dire circumstances. What they need more than a few extra dollars is to be recognized as a person living under the streetlights.

There's nothing more powerful as far as I'm concerned than making a heart connection with someone. Though there are times when I feel like I have heard too many stories all at once, that I have opened myself up too much to a point where I drag myself home feeling vulnerably emotional, I know that the compassion I've felt comes with a little gift.


Joy that I have met someone who has trusted me enough to share their sorrows, and joy that I have been able to turn on a streetlight for them so that maybe they can find their way a little bit more easily. So, the next time I wake up in the middle of the night and look out my living room window, I'm comforted to know that another person maybe protected by the light from above.

"Joy is the secret gift of compassion. We keep forgetting it and thoughtlessly look elsewhere. but each time we return to where there is pain, we get a new glimpse of joy that is not of this world."
Henri Nouwen.

Monday, July 24, 2006

Surprised by Joy?

Henri Nouwen writes: "The world in which we live wants to suprise us by sorrow. Newspapers keep telling us about traffic accidents, murders, conflicts between individuals, groups and nations and the television fills our minds with images of hatred, violence and destruction. And we say to one another: "Did you hear that, did you see that.......isn't it terrible....who can believe it? Indeed it seems the powers of darkness want to continue to surprise us with human sorrow. But, these surprises paralyze us and seduce us to an existence in which our main concern becomes survival in the midst of a sea of sorrows. By making us think about ourselves as survivors of a shipwreck, anxiously clinging to a piece of driftwood, we gradually accept the role of victims, doomed by the cruel circumstances of our lives."

"The greatest challenge of faith is to be surprised by joy."

Have you ever been involved in a heated discussion on the "ills" of this world only to be interupted by a child who is anxiously excited to share something with you? Have you ever been feeling down in the doldrums, when all of a sudden something occurs that snaps you back into a more positive frame of mind that puts your negative thinking state into perspective?

When was the last time you were surprised by joy? This was the example the leapt to mind when I first read the excerpt:

Last week, my family and I went with another family to a local provinical park that has a nice beachy area for swimming and a boat launch right by it. Our friends brought their little outboard boat for tubing. It had been a typically hot busy summer Saturday jammed with weekend errands and chores. The news was full of terrible grief predominantly led by the headlines from the Middle East which I had been listening to on the radio as I ran around completing mindless tasks. I was not in the mood to go even though I was so hot and needed to jump in the water to cool off. My mood and thinking were just not conducive and it just seemed like to much organizing etc. It was already late in the afternoon. I was supposed to be making dinner for everyone, blahdeeblahdeeblah.................bad mood and tired. Hey, I was great company!

So, we get to the beach.....hauling crap down to the shore...........tired and sweaty and thinking negative thoughts............... when I was asked if I wanted to hop in the boat for the first round of tubers. Before I knew it I was sitting backwards in the boat spotting my daughter and her good friend as they climbed up on the inner tube for a spin. It was my daughter's first time and her friend the "pro" was giving her instructions like "Don't keep your mouth open because you might bite your tongue off when we go over a big wave.........." you know stuff that creates a feeling of dreaded anticipation?

Then we were off, pulling the girls up and down the river. What I witnessed was pure unadulterated joy. Slipping and skipping and skimming the wake, bouncing and bobbing over the waves and holding on for their dear lives...........I could hear their squealing laughter over the din of the motor. Their faces exuded joy and I was completely caught up in the moment (almost forgetting that I was spotting) laughing along with them to a point where I had tears in my eyes.

"More, more, more...bring it on!"...............they shouted as they were flung off the tube.

According to
Nouwen, joy and hope are never separate. "Hope and joy are spiritual gifts rooted in an intimate relationship with the One who loves you with an everlasting love and who will always remain faithful to you."

Moments of joy are hopeful glimpses from God? I think so..................especially when they bring light to the dark shadows that can permeate our lives.

Saturday, July 22, 2006


"Girls only want boyfriends who have great skills...nunchuck skills... bow hunting skills... computer hacking skills..."

My father had a saying when we were young that came to mind yesterday while standing at a counter waiting for the stunned cashier to wake up and serve me. If we were loafing around looking dazed with that dopey look you get on your know that vacant look.............lost eyes, open mouth...............Napoleon Dynamite-like? My Dad would say:

"Close your mouth, you're catching flies."

Over the past couple of days, I have had the urge to blurt this out on several occasions. It's a funnier and more effective approach than barking out "Wake up, you stunned bunny. Get with the game."..........don't you think? Especially if you said it with the right tone and the right expression on your face. Like, how do you think a person would react if you approached them with a open smile on your face, direct eye contact and quietly spoke the words..............

"Excuse me. If I were you.....................I'd close your mouth. You're catching flies. Ah! There you go. Welcome back to the land of the living. Can I pay for my newspaper now?"

Or, you could put a twist on it and say it sarcastically like Napoleon Dynamite....... maybe with some eye rolling for effect.

"Close your mouth dude. You're catching flies. GOSH!"

Anyway you say's effective. It always woke me up from my stunned reverie when I was a kid. Snapped me back to reality. And, you know what? It's time to put it to good use with the service industry around here. It seems like every person I have had to do business with lately look like they were imitating zombie mouth breathers. To add insult to injury? Absolutely no eye contact.

It's an attitude that I abhor, and it's permeating the frontlines. There are stores that I will not shop in because of the rude attitudes I've encountered in the past. However, since I live in a smallish city, there are some stores or businesses that one can't avoid. You end up having to just suck it up and accept this rudely passive stance. Or, you can pour on the sweetness and try to connect with the bored sleeping shell of a person behind the counter.

And if all else fails -- "Hey wanna catch some flies? Then, keep that mouth open.......... GOSH"

I walked into a store the other day and was accosted by the oppressive heat in there. Since it was connected to a large grocery store that was air conditioned, it seemed strange. The 30 year oldish cashier person was sitting on a stool behind the counter reading a National Enquirer and not moving at all. Mouth wide open, glassy-eyed and kind of pasty looking, I automatically assumed that the quality of the air had zapped her energy. Hmmmm, I thought, maybe she's just finishing her shift and has had to sit in this stifling little shop for hours. Couldn't even lift her head up to greet me.............the ONLY customer.

When I asked her for what I wanted, which was situated behind the counter, it took all her oooomph to put down her alien landing trashpaper, get up off the stool and moaningly turn around to read the item. "Poor thing..............I'm thinking. How inhumane to have this woman work in these conditions......... " She didn't even have the energy to pull up the back of her jeans so that her butt crack didn't glare white and buldgy at me. Yes, the woman had plumber buttitis. So, I commented to her:

"Wow, working in here without any airconditioning must be awful. It's so stuffy."

(grunt, moan, mumble) "I turned it off," she replied. "I'm allergic to air conditioning. It fills up my sinuses," she continued while she took mouth breaths, talking very slowly like it was painful. Still no eye contact, as she frigged up the cash register while ringing in my one item purchase.

"Oh, that must be awful, especially in hot weather like this."

"Yeah whatever."

Oooooooooooooo........I'm going to run right back to this place again. How pleasant.

It can work the other way too.............custmomers can leave a cashier with a gaping hole mouth stance..........which eventually will lead to the "lost in the ozone" look........

Normally, I approach a sales person or cashier with a smile and a warm greeting, more so if I have just witnessed a stuck up customer who treated the employee with an attitude that somehow the customer thinks they are better than the person on the other side of the register. And more times than not, I get a look of gratitude mixed with a knowing look from the cashier that tells me something like .......... "I'm glad you saw that, and thank you for being kind............." Then, a conversation ensues that can cover almost any topic, usually some kind of local newsy thing.

This actually happened at Walmart the other night. The shopper piled her load of goods on the conveyor belt never looking up, never acknowledging the person in front of her (whom she was crowding) and never acknowledging the older woman who was processing her purchases etc. I may have even heard her grunt. When the cashier couldn't find a bar code on the item and had to phone for price verification, the customer showed her displeasure quite openly..... to a point where she even made me uncomfortable. The cashier lady was visibly unnerved by the rudeness. And while we all wait for a price check..............

Harumphs and demonstrative displeasure exuded out of every fibrous pore of the condescendingly rude shopper's body. Excuse me? Who picked up the item without a pricetag?? And where does she get off thinking she's any better than anyone else? Was she brought up as a princess to feel a sense of entitlement and then things went awry to a point where she has to shop at Walmart with us plebes? Oh, I had a variety of questions I wanted to ask her...... some loaded comments too. Instead, I decided to be really nice to the lady behind the cash register because she needed a bit of a boost.

What does it say about a community when people can't be civil, or when people are walking around catching flies? Nothing good...............that's for sure.

Thursday, July 20, 2006

The Great Escape Remake, Starring Steve "McQueen" Harper

Filming has begun on a remake and redo of the infamous WWII movie, The Great Escape. Instead of a Stalag POW camp filled with a variety of nationalities who had banded together to fight off the Nazi's and Colonel Klink............ the script writers have decided to film it in real time under present day circumstances.

While planning the shoot to be held in Afghanistan, it was quickly decided to turn sights on the Middle East. Word was out that a bombing raid was about to take place between Israel and Lebanon, with a bunch of other hot-headed countries looking on.

Quickly, the Producers started their search to find the right person to play the baseball throwing Captain Hilts, aka as
"The Cooler King." But, they didn't have to look far. For there on the horizon, just below the Peace Tower was the perfect match........Canadian Prime Minister Steve Harper. Calm, cool and collected, Steve was the unassuming unanimous choice. It was decided that there would be no tunnelling, since they needed to get the people out of Lebanon by boat and then plane.

Arrangements were made to fly the new Cooler King and his motorcycle driving wife Laureen to Cyprus with their government plane to whisk a bunch of harried Lebanese Canadians home to safety.
Harper got word of the exciting opportunity while attending the Rat Pack G8 Summit where a bevy of colleagues clamored for the chance to play the other roles in the movie......... or at least have a walk on part. And since their own countries were arranging for an evacuation via boat and plane, it only made sense to the Producers to include them as well...........

So, co-starring in the remake will be Dubya from the US of A replacing Charles Bronson, Tony from the UK taking on the Richard Attenborough role .................. Jack from France, Vlad the Impaler from Russia, and Angie from Deustchland will also have cameos.

Naturally, it's been a harried shoot, given the time constraints and the need to film while the evacuation is in progress. Word has reached this intrepid journalist that 63 lucky Lebanese individuals made it to the tarmac, boarded the Cooler King's plane and have now taken off to greener pastures.

We'll have to wait to see the "dailies" to assess the credibility of this remake and the quality of the dialogue, but word has leaked out that the actors playing the role of the evacuees are whinging and whining about the amount of time it took for the Canadian government to organize their free trip home.

The editors may have to tone it down a bit, but chances are the media back home in the true north strong and whiney will be more than happy to spin a negative spin on what in reality is the biggest evacuation exercise in Canadian history................all done within 9 days of the first bombing.

Though I'm not one to give away the end of a movie, I'm just too darn excited not too. Cameras are set up along the runway of the Ottawa airport for the touchdown of the evac plane, where Steve will hop on a motorcycle to take off for home. The twist? His wife will be driving. It's her Harley.

The movie should be out for the Christmas rush..........................let's hope the Cooler King gets some kudos..................or at least a new ballglove to work in for his efforts.

cue up the theme do do do do do do do do do do do!

Wednesday, July 19, 2006

Coming To a Town Near You..............

Today's post? A rant on extremist tactics. I can't promise it will be linear because rants often take you to brain destinations unknown, but I will do my best. hmmmmmmmmm where to begin..........

Sometime late Sunday night morning or Monday morning a non-descript bus rolled into my town, filled with a group of people, young and oldish and a bunch of billboard sized placards. Greeted by a local crew, they set about preparing for their information onslaught to unsuspecting members of the community. They rallied around the downtown core near the Morgentaler Clinic just before the workday traffic began, lining up along the busiest streets of the city, holding up their 6X4 foot placards for the world to see. What was displayed on the placards? Disgusting photos of mutilated fetuses, supposedly from an abortion.

With no way to avoid the barrage of images, people in cars...........families with young children included.........were forced to drive through the invasive scene. The next morning, on the local CBC station, the story was broadcasted and an interview was set up with the individual in charge of this group who call themselves......."Show the Truth" and the City Mayor. I listened intently along with my husband, both of us realizing that it was probably the same radical group that had parked themselves outside of Union Station in Toronto last year with their lovely photos that we tried to avoid after arriving into the city on vacation with the kids. The photos are so disturbing and graphic (and are not of a fetus in the early stages of pregnancy, but rather an almost full term fetus that was most likely miscarried) that we had both felt sick the first time we saw them.

Unfortunately we were unsuccessful in avoiding them. So, when the representative from this misnamed group stated that they weren’t going to be protesting again, we breathed a sigh of relief and got on with our morning rush out the door, into the van and away to drop the kids off at daycamp and to head to work.

Heh heh……….

Before we knew what was happening, we visually slammed into the protesters, with no way of avoiding the onslaught. Show the Truth had lied and shown up with their disturbing doctored photos lining the one way thoroughfare that we drive down everyday. My 8 year old son was the first to read the bright yellow sign indicating that abortion photos were being displayed………. Of course this sign was place RIGHT BESIDE the fetus photo, not a block away. And of course, my curious son wanted to know what an abortion was. My 12 year old daughter was there too, trying not to look at the appalling graphics, but also wanting an explanation. I was so shocked and upset by their display that I had to leave it to my husband to explain it in terms that would be understood.

Some more questions arose as we were stuck sitting at the lights surrounded by a sea of extremists…………and their children for God’s sake! (there were children under the age of 10 standing there helping to hold up this placards. How sick is that?)

After dropping the kids off, I headed into my office absolutely livid. I blasted into the lobby fuming and barking out my disgust, thinking that I either march over to the extremists and let loose with a barrage of my own, or I write an email to the CBC. My husband, who was just as upset over it had the desire to purchase some water balloons and lob them at them (even when he is angry, he has the ability to think up absurdly comical ways to express himself….. I love how his brain works) I decided to write this email………. It was read this morning on the radio.

"I listened to your interview this morning with the anti-abortion extremist representative and Mayor Brad Woodside. The descriptively graphic details used by the representative were appalling and yet predictable as she attempted to explain her group's tactics by showing doctored photos of fetuses along one of our cities busiest streets. One of the analogies she used was of playground bullies. If she doesnt think her tactics are not bullying, I don't know what is.

She was also asked if they would be protesting again today and she stated no. However, before my husband and I could find a way to detour the area, we were inundated with a dozen or more of these 6 ft by 4 ft posters of fetuses invading our morning drive. It would've been bad enough if we had been driving on our own. However, our two children, age 8 and 12 were in the car with us.

Not only did the photos frighten and horrify them, they wanted to know what an abortion was. My children don't need to know this information, and I thoroughly resent this abusive invasion that we experienced this morning. So, instead of starting out their day at summer camp on a positive note, we sat in the parking lot and attempted to give them enough information for them to absorb while reassuringly try to move the topic onto more suitable morning discussions. I had to say goodbye to them wondering what they are thinking and if our explanations were enough to quell their concerns.

I commend Mayor Woodside for speaking on all of our behalf this morning. He did a fine job in explaining that the issue isn't regarding people's belief systems. This issue is the approach that this extremist group is taking. As far as I'm concerned, it is totally unacceptable.

It is akin to pornography. Their plan to shock and awe backfired miserably because it left me disgusted and angry.

Put them back on their bus and get them the heck out of our city."

As I had mentioned in a previous post on
Extremism, I take offense to that line of ambushing tactics. I don't care if it's environmental extremism or animal rights is counterproductive, dangerous and immoral.
I believe in the right to protest, and in the right to share one’s opinion. But, when the line is crossed like it was with these activists……… when they decide that it’s their responsibility and right to blast my children with horrifying graphics on a subject that they are not old enough to comprehend………..they crossed the line. BIG TIME.

My children, like all children probably can’t remember what it’s like to live without terrorism. Planes smashing into buildings? Yup, that can happen. Bombs going off in subways? Yes. 10 year olds dying of cancer? Yes. Grandparents getting gravely ill and their parents worrying about them from afar. E-coli, AIDS, West Nile, Pedophilia in the neighbourhood, family pets dying, wars, hunger, tsunamis………………all graphically displayed……… all events that have generated questions and discussions in the car, on the beach, at the dining room table. Most of these topics are unavoidable, though I wish we could so as to maintain their innocence just a little longer.

As parents, it is our responsibility and choice to teach our children about the issues of the world. News, wars, illness, death and destruction……..all brutal realities that our children are learning about at a much faster pace than we ever did and it is up to the parents to monitor the learning, not a bunch of strangers with a political mission.

The Abortion activist/extremists boarded their bus last night and are off to continue their Maritime tour. Heads up! They’re coming your way. Better go out and purchase those water balloons.

Monday, July 17, 2006


Last week at lunchtime, I stepped into a local used bookstore for a quick look see....... I was in the market for a book on Leadership and thought maybe I'd get lucky and find a used copy. This particular store is a jumbly haphazard mess of various genres stacked way up to the rafters and bulging at the seams. You have to be in the right frame of open non-judgemental "I'm up for a mystery tour" kind of frame to enter this place. Turned out, since I wasn't too rushed, my brain was in that gear. Unfortunately, the specific book I was looking for wasn't around. Instead, I stumbled across a jewel tucked away under a bunch of university text books, written by a spiritual writer named Henri Nouwen.

I was first introduced to Nouwen last fall when I read a book called
Soul Survivor by Philip Yancey, and have been intrigued since then. Yancey writes a whole chapter on Nouwen and the power of his words. My husband and I have talked at length over the winter about wanting to read something of Nouwen's works and there I was....................with one of his books in my hands. Here and Now: Living in the Spirit found me.....................and I brought it home.

It is a gentle meditative book that encompasses a variety of his personal reflections all lovingly couched with his religious beliefs, and an invitation to use his thoughts as a jumping off point to write your own reflections. It took a matter of minutes for me to be immersed in his stories as well as flying through my own personal encounters and stories when I found myself lost in thought wondering about a little girl named Jenny. It is Jenny whom I want to write about today.

I was blessed to have had the opportunity to find my first real full-time job at the Hugh MacMillan centre in Toronto. It is a well regarded rehabilitation centre for children who have disabilities of all severities. I was hired to start up and run a "sensory stimulation" program for kids who were multiply handicapped, through a "Child Life/Recreational therapy" department. This was way back in the 80's, when this type of program was truly in it's infancy stages. I had just completed running a successful summer daycamp program (also a new concept back then) for the kids at the Centre, and had fallen in love with the idea of putting off my Master's degree for a year to tackle this challenge. It was the best decision, because it allowed me to learn a powerful lesson.

Jenny was an 11 year old little girl, who despite her severe physical and cognitive limitations, was full of joy. When I first met her, however, she sat in her encumbering wheelchair lost in her world, with a look of resignation and boredom. Despite the fact that this institution was a rehab centre, Jenny had been "living" there for close to a year. She attended "school" and all types of recreational type programs in the evening, but she lived on a ward with no privacy and with not a lot to stimulate her. I had no idea how I would reach her, but I knew that she had more potential than she was exhibiting. From the very beginning of our relationship, I decided to ensure that Jenny would attend and be involved in any programs that I was providing. She would be my assistant so to speak.

I saw my role primarily as an entertainer; someone who "brought" the world to these kids because they weren't able to go out to the world themselves. It was a critical part of their rehabilitation and therapy, and definately the most fun part of their daily routine, which consisted mostly of medical interventions, orthotic and seating fittings, speech therapy, physical therapy..........the gamut. At the end of the day, my colleagues and I would show up on the wards with various activities lined up for all the patients. I was given my own playroom which I decorated with the idea that all senses must be respected and addressed. Bright colours, textures, music, fresh breezes, sand and water and a big blow up mattress, tasty treats, books and puzzles and crafty supplies were all there for our enjoyment. As well, a weekly trip somewhere fun in Toronto was arranged. Out in the back garden, we had a firepit, shady trees, flowers and a vegetable garden. Even the fence was decorated with colourful strips of cloth that blew in the breeze. Musicians, dancers, crafts people and other enthusiastic volunteers came and went. It was a magical place, that came alive because of the Child Life program.

When I first began working with Jenny, she refused to even wheel herself and I told her that I refused to push her. At first, she didn't know what to think of this or me, because she was so used to being completely dependent. Everyone did everything for her. It was easier, right? So, I turned into a game. Either I would run ahead 10 feet and hide in a doorway or I would pretend to be chasing her. Like a toddler, she loved the surprise and would startle at me jumping out with a big "BOO" and then would start laughing joyfully at the fun. Before too long, she anticipated my game and would wheel herself more quickly to find me. A game of hide and seek.............a first for her and a huge step towards Jenny finding some motivation. The game turned into progress. I would often find Jenny exploring her home on her own, waiting for me to arrive for our evening of fun.

For a whole year, we were inseparable every evening. Our bond grew to a level of comfortable love. Even if I was working with an older group of kids that were higher functioning than Jenny, she was by my side. If I wasn't able to give her my full attention, my assistant was still a part of the group interactions. At times, if I was working with another child who was multiply handicapped and needed my full attention, I would set up a tub of water and toys on Jenny's wheelchair tray, put on her favourite music and situate her nearby. During those sessions, Jenny would often sing garbly words while she contentedly played. Every now and then, she would stop and call my name out in a tone that always tripped me up to thinking that what she was going to follow up with a string of words that formed a ponderous question.

"Yes, Jenny"............... I'd reply and wait to hear what she had to say...............

"Um.........." and then a long garbly worded question would follow.
It would make me laugh, because I just figured that one day, clarity would happen. I also wondered if only I could understand her own language. She was saying something profound amidst the gibberish. What I did know is that we were both happy hanging out together. What I did know is that I had opened a few doors for her to follow me through.
Henri Nouwen writes about finding God and the Holy Spirit in the individuals in our lives that are less fortunate..........whether it's financial poverty or whether its because of a disability. Through his experiences, he learned that it is through working with people that we are blessed. We are not the ones to provide the blessings. It's the other way around.
I was blessed by Jenny. She taught me the same lesson that Nouwen writes about. My year with this little girl who for the most part lived a life that was limited in many ways showed me the face of God. Through her trust, her infectious laugh, the sparkle in her eye and the smile that would spread over her face when she saw me enter her room every evening, Jenny reinforced the lesson of appreciation, kinship and love. She always made me smile, and continues to warm my heart many years later...........
Thinking of you Jen.................

Sunday, July 16, 2006

Ghosts Are Haunting again.............

In my neck of the woods, you can sign up for a late evening stroll downtown with a young actor dressed in a period costume and hear the stories of the ghosts that haunt this fair city. For example, the wife of Bishop Medley, builder of the Christ Church Cathedral in Fredericton, is said to haunt the grounds there. People have claimed to have seen her crossing the lawn in front of the Cathedral. Stories have also emanated out of the old jail and Officers Square where the last man was hung for his crimes over a hundred years ago.

Ghost stories intrigue...........they capture our attention and our inherent interest in the netherworld.....but do they tell the truth, or do they promote myths?

The rivers, especially in the winter are full of low moaning wails coming from under the ice which have been heard by selected individuals........the ancestral river ghosts are our link to the past. One of the most famous river ghosts is the Dungarvon Whooper, who whoops and groans along the shores of the Miramichi river. The story that has been passed around over the years is that of a young, Irish cook in a logging camp near Blackville, N.B. They say the young cook was a mysterious character who often spoke about the money belt he carried. He, along with the boss of the camp stayed behind while the men went out to work everyday. One evening though, the men returned to find the young cook dead on the floor. The boss simply said he had died. But the man gave no further explanation.

When the workers buried the young cook in a snow bank, they noticed his money belt was missing. Soon after, they were haunted by weird screams and cries, which today, many claim can still be heard coming off the river. People believe that the cook wants his money belt back and is searching for the man who killed him. The Miramichi is a well known fly fishing river. Salmon, though not as plentiful as days gone by is the ultimate catch. Early morning quiet wading while fishing is the best time to hear the whooping and wailing of the Dungarvon Whooper echoing through the misty morning fog.

Most communities have a rich history replete with tales of tickling terror, stories that ripple up the spine. But, do most countries have a ghost that haunts the whole "home and native land" like Canada does? Possibly, but I just don't about them. I do know about ours, however. Because every month or so, the mainstream media aka the CBC lift the ghost out of his Chestnut canoe and wave him around like an icon. There were two spottings last week alone............

A new Canadian opera will focus on an iconic figure in Canadian politics and history — Pierre Elliott Trudeau. "Trudeau is the perfect subject for an opera," George Elliot Clarke told CBC Radio.

"He was a Shakespearean character — there's no doubt about it. I mean this was a guy who lived a great romantic adventure. He appeals to me because he is partly an artist. He's someone who was a writer, an intellectual. He was an active academic. He was also a traveller, an explorer in a sense of wanting to venture off into the unknown," Clarke said.

Clarke believes opera can capture the exuberance and passion of Canada during the Trudeau years, as well as some of the many changes that were happening in society. And he's keen to portray some of the contradictions of Trudeau the man.

Gee, I wonder if they will portray his arrogant true colours and his disdain for the unintellectual masses? Will there be a soprano soliloquy performed while paddling through the northern wilderness where he questions his decision on sending in the troops to tackle the FLQ? What about a chanson de la coeur, with a simple spotlight on him as he waxes poetic about his romantic trysts with Lois Lane and Liona Boyd? Hey, maybe Liona could play her harp in the background.

"He's a figure about whom it is almost impossible to say anything definitive, because he is …encompassed by so many contradictions, but that's what makes him interesting," Clarke said.

OMG! Trudeau put to music! Plans are underway to have Trudeau perform duets with Maggie T. and even his buddy Fidel Castro. Who knows, maybe there will be a rockin' opera piece with members of the journalistic corps singing the back-up doo-waps. He loved them all so. I wonder if there will be a piece written about his love child?

The second sighting was cloaked in a story about a film portrayal of Talbot Papineau, which is to be played by none other than the ghost's eldest, the future Prince of the Liberals......our very own Justin T. The Torontocentric grit leaning CBC, known for their balanced documentaries, especially the ones directed by Terrence McKenna, are already splashing out a promotional pitch that it's a destiny kind of thing that Justin will mark his acting debut (well I actually think he donned his acting debutante suit when he performed in front of a live mourning audience. It was cloaked as a eulogy and marked him as the future Prince of the Libs) Mr. Papineau was a dashing Quebecker who was bicultural, bilingual, charismatic, a foe to Quebec nationalism and a visionary for Canada. In fact, he's been dubbed the Pierre Trudeau of his time by the producers of this dashing documentary. ugh.

Jeffery Simpson, one of the only level headed columnists for the Globe and Mail, wrote a brilliant piece yesterday dispelling this fiction. Turns out, Papineau, a World War 1 hero fought and died in the line of duty. On the other hand: "the young Trudeau railed against Canada's participaton in the First World War, opposed fighting in the Second World War, espressed anti-Semitic views, admired right-wing authors, believed in every French-Canadian nationalist myth about the evils of les anglais."

Simpson also writes............ "The war and its atrocities seldom penetrated his consciousness, exept to enrage him that war might mean mandatory military service. Already an accomplish polemicist, he gave slashing public speeches and wrote cutting satires against the war, Canadian Prime Minister MacKenzie King, and of course, conscription."

So, where's the common ground here? Oh, they were both bilingual.

This country has suffers from an virus of epidemic proportions; collective amnesiatic vapors, when it comes to Pierre Elliot Trudeau. His ghost reinforces the ailments by sprinkling myth dustings across this vast and magnificent land, and renders Mr. and Mrs. Canuck gaga.

Ghosts tell us stories of our past. It's important to remember however that with any good story comes a heaping helping of exageration. Whether its the Dungarvon Whooper or the Pirouetting PM, we should make sure that we arm ourselves with a vaccine to ward off the giggling gullibilities.

Now it is the time of night
That the graves, all gaping wide,
Every one lets forth his sprite
In the church-way paths to glide.

WILLIAM SHAKESPEARE, A Midsummer Night's Dream


"Nostalgia is just a mild form of depression."

A good friend sent me an email yesterday that contained this quote she had heard while listening to a documentary journalist on the CBC and she asked me if I agree or not. Hmmmm.....given that the both of us have just experienced the epitome of walking down memory lane last month while attending our Kawabi reunion, it was an morsel to ruminate over....... and of course, I did. Gladly.

Prior to her question, I had always considered nostalgia in a positive light. A daydream of good things from one's past. A longing to revisit a special moment in time that produces an uplifting memory thought. Nostalgia seemed synonymous with sentimentality......... a tonic for the blues, not the blues. A little bouquet of forget-me-nots wrapped in a piece of tissue. How could that be considered a mild form of depression?

Ah........but that's just surface thinkin' . Turns out there's a history and a story behind the origin of the word......... The word nostalgia was originally derived by a medical student, Johannes Hofer, in 1678. Nostros means returning home. Algos means pain and longing. He used it to refer to a "pain a sick person feels because he wishes to return to his native land and fears never to see it again." Once coined, it was used as a medical term to describe un maladie du pays (country sickness), which sounds very much like a mild form of depression or homesickness. It became an ongoing reference to a mental illness often associated with soldiers right up to the American Civil War.

Eventually, nostalgia wasn't considered a disease but rather a stage of the process that led to a more serious level of depression. Melancholy going bad...........

Now? We all experience fleeting feelings of nostalgia. The present definition is associated with a fond memory....... though if one gets stuck in the past, longing and reminiscing and pining wistfully, it still can lead to a despairing state of mind. I guess it all comes down to the reasons one keeps reaching for a tender moment in the past. If what you are looking for is an escape hatch from your present day dilemmas, it's fine in small doses. But, if pining for the past is consistently used as an avoidance coping mechanism .........well.....................the present day bad stuff just doesn't get addressed.

If on the other hand, one takes a walk down memory lane to revisit good times, than I still believe that it is a wonderful pick-me-up.
Who doesn't like a great conversation with old friends that is filled with laughter and "remember when" reminiscents? These stories are the glue that may have bonded you in the first place. If the seduction of nostalgia is kept at bay, if the memories are recognized for what they are? There's no harm done.

It's a means of rehooking with who you are, where you've come from and what "ingredients" have helped form who you are now. Yes, we tend to look back on the "good old days" with a rosy tinged glimpse, and the older one gets, the easier it is to fall into the well of "back then." Developmentally, as we grow older, reviewing our lives is a large part of learning and of coming to terms with whether or not we've been successful (in our own eyes) in our lives.

Living in the present is obviously what we need to be striving for. But, sometimes there are days when we need an anchor from our past to get us through a rough patch. History is a learning tool. Nostalgia enhances that tool by providing soothing sparkle.

So, Murf................. when I think back on our shared moments, whether it was orchestrating an outsupper for our group of girls on the barge, or whether it was the day we spent cleaning the craft shop at the end of summer.........talking, listening to music and enjoying the task at hand, knowing full well that we were in our own "secret garden" spot tucked away behind the painted rock, nestled in the woods...................or whether it was the day I spent sailing with you and E-or in Victoria all those years ago...................I nostalgically smile knowing that I only share those moments with you. It is what links us as friends. That ain't depressing! It's tonically uplifting.

Hey Murf? Remember Dan Delaney's photos in the Depot? :)

Better yet..........what about the time we spent in the Karaoke bus? You better remember that nostaligic moment. It was only a month ago and definately a keeper memory! heehee

Thursday, July 13, 2006

Your Mother Wears Army Boots.

What's with the hoopla over a head butt? Why is it that the guy who did the butting is the good guy, while the receiver of the infamous butt is getting all the flack? Why is this such incident evolving into an inquiry? Am I missing something here?

Granted, I'm not totally up to par on my soccer knowledge, though I did make a concerted attempt to watch some of the games and learned a lot in the process. My son, who soaked the FIFA World Cup up like a desert does water AND like every other sport that catches his eye, sat with me during many of the penalty kick excitement and explained some of the rules behind adding time to the clock when the clock ran out, what the different flags mean, etc etc. He also informed me early on in the matches that the guy to watch was a French player named Zidane, or Zizou to his myriad of fans.

Zidane is often considered to be one of the best footballers of his generation and one of the greatest of all time. A midfielder, he is known for his elegant dribbling, passing ability, shot accuracy, shot selection, control. His abilities have made him one of the game's finest players of his era. The Wayne Gretzky of soccer, with a John McInroe temper, perhaps?

So here he is in the last game of his career with the World Cup trophy up for grabs. The game is tied 1-1 and a nasty player named Materazzi from the opposing team hurls an insult at him that supposedly was so daringly despicable, that Zizou completely loses his focus, his cool and his restraint and whacks the player with his head. Thump!

Turns out, Materazzi struck the lowest verbal blow and called Zizou’s momma a bad name.

Excuse me, but aren’t a bunch of awful insults and threats bandied about during a sports match? Do you think a baseball Catcher in the last game of the World Series isn’t going to try his very best to bug the shit out of the Batter? Didn’t we all learn how to do that in little league? Unnerve your opponent! Psych em out!

The substance of the argument remained debated for a few days after the match. Newspapers had lip readers for goodness sake try to interpret what Materazzi had said. They came up with different interpretations, ranging from racist remarks concerning Zidane himself to obscene and insulting comments about the women in his life. I even read somewhere that an Australian lip reading expert was convinced Materazzi yelled something about a hamster. Ooooo that would unnerve even me!

Materazzi finally this week admitted that he did insult Zidane, but stressed that the insults were similar to the insults hurled out all the time………..the run of the mill trash talk that most often goes unnoticed He insisted that the insult was not racist in nature, nor did it involve Zidane's mother.

Zizou, winner of the Golden Ball award for best sportsman, retatliated by apologizing to the kiddies of France who have all been scarred over the incident (Gee, think of the post traumatic stress disorder epidemic if they had witnessed the baring of Janet Jackson’s breast……….too horrible to contemplate, really) and then stating that he didn’t regret his actions because if he did then that would mean that his opponent was right to say what he did.

Well, we’ll see Zizou. Right now, your country forgives you, your President applauds your passion, and your sponsors are sticking with you. We’ll see. Poor sports don’t win in the end. What a shame that this giant of the sports world will be known for time and eternity as a hotheaded head butting golden baller, and not for the monumental achievements on the field. He will be the butt of jokes for years to come as his name will become synonymous with selfishness in a team sport.

Hey let your team down. Your maman still loves you.

Wednesday, July 12, 2006

Blissful Ignorance or Empowering Knowledge?

This morning while visiting my familiar blogstops, I was struck by a poignant post written by my Finnan friend. Simple, straightforward........ yet it stopped me in my tracks, and brought me to a place of awareness that I had been trying to avoid.

Over the past few years, we have all witnessed through the media horrendously violent attacks by Islamic terrorists. Pictures, descriptions, detailed analysis, journals, diaries, inquiries, editorials, videos........all have inundated our personal peace. For the most part we have viewed them one country at a horrifying and brutal bombing at a time.......... encapsulated as single devastating events. Because we naturally (and I believe mostly to protect our hearts and to protect ourselves from being overwhelmed by fear and sorrow) view these killing events individually and don't connect them to previous bombings, the scope and magnitude is softened somewhat. We read about it, absord the atrocities, discuss it, grieve it and and unbelievably move on to some extent.

Today, I read his list.......................of Islamic terrorist atrocities that have occured separately but in reality connected. The list magnifies the evil. It magnifies the fact that we are living in a world that is unpredictable and horrifying. We are forced to be aware of the realities of dangerous terroristic actions, when really it would feel so much better if we could remain ignorant of it all. Wouldn't it?

Innocent of knowledge. Ignorant of the big bad world our there. Is it better to remain ignorant of the realities that we face? Is ignorance bliss or is that an oxymoron?

I have always been someone who loves to learn..........who craves knowledge. Curiosity is my middle name. Nosey Parker is my nickname. I voraciously read information, most of which is only helpful playing trivial pursuit, but there isn't a cereal box that I havent the back of. I'm a media, TV, internet, magazines, newspapers...........all there for me to access. Interactions, discussions, lectures, interviews.............all feed my insatiable desire to learn. But, the biggest light bulb moment I had with respect to learning and acquired knowledge happened while backpacking through Europe many moons ago.

I realized that my level of knowledge is a mere teaspoon of water from the Atlantic. Compared to the ocean of information out there, I know diddlysquat. And the more I try to learn, the more I realize that I have more to learn. I believe we have all had this particular lightbulb moment. It's a bit daunting, to be sure.

Benjamin Disraeli wrote: To be concious that you're ignorant is a great step to knowledge. It is this conciousness that allows us the opportunity to choose a path to knowledge and understanding.
Remaining ignorant will never resolve a problem. And a problem as enormous as the unrelenting Islamic terror attacks will never be solved if we remain ignorant to it. Who knows if we will ever find the solution to dealing with this monumental threat. But, the only way we can try to fight back is with learning new means to deal with it and learning the most we can about the motives behind the attacks, and the people who give up their lives for the sake of their religious beliefs. We need to understand where their hate festers. We also need to learn from history. Learning is a continuum of past, present and future.

Knowledge is empowering. It is enlightening, and hope inspiring. It is also anxiety producing too. However,ignorance will never bring peace. Knowledge and new learning is the only logical option. And as we absorb the atrocities of yet another massacre triggered by Bin Laden and friends, this time in Mumbai, we best choose the path of knowledge..........aware, alert and awake.

"The evil that is in the world almost always comes of ignorance, and good intentions may do as much harm as malevolence if they lack understanding." Albert Camus

Monday, July 10, 2006

On Empathy and Compassion

"When one is in an intense state of hatred, even a very close friend appears somehow “frosty,” cold and distant, or quite annoying. If one harbors hateful thoughts, it ruins one’s health. Even if one has wonderful possessions, in the moment of anger one feels like throwing them or breaking them. So there is no guarantee that wealth alone can give one the joy or fulfillment that one seeks.

Only a spontaneous feeling of empathy with others can really inspire us to act on their behalf. Nevertheless, compassion does not arise mechanically. Such a sincere feeling must grow gradually, cultivated within each individual, based on their own conviction of its worth. Adopting a kind attitude thus becomes a personal matter. How each of us behaves in daily life is, after all, the real test of compassion."

The Dalai Lama

Since the morning a couple of weeks ago when I spent it with a group of 10 year old boys listening to them and trying to help them express their sorrow and disbelief of losing a friend, I have thought a lot about empathy. Interwoven in their intimate conversation was a determination to design personal cards for their friend's family and to find some kind words that would help this family cope with their loss. Their thoughts tumbled out......... snippets and remembrances of what a friendly guy Ryan was and what an "awesome" hockey player he was..... and deep thoughts about what Ryan's family was going through and what could they do or say that would help. One little guy suggested that he offer his hockey card picture of Ryan to them. Another wrote a poem that listed Ryan's many wonderful traits. They all agreed that they would let his parents know that they would never forget their friend. They would not let their memories of him disappear.

It was powerful and emotional. In my role as counsellor, I was able to distance myself enough to be able to gently lead the conversation without getting pulled into the sorrow. What almost did me in however, was the level of empathy these boys exhibited. It left me feeling honoured to have witnessed their honest compassion. These boys are gifts, blessed with the ability to walk a mile in someone else's shoes and the self-comfort to be able to express their feelings. Pure innocent compassion.

Since then, I have been more cognizant of empathic encounters and discussions. I've looked for it in my colleagues and it is there displayed daily in the tone of their voices when they are telling me about an encounter with a client in crisis, and in the actions they display when going beyond the requisites of their "job." I see it shown in their interest in the lives of eachother........keen to know how someone is coping, or how an important event went. Empathy that leads to connectivity is all around us, if we are open to seeing and feeling it.

Can you be too empathic? What happens if you feel too much empathy; when the intensity of the emotions envelope the two people? Taken to the extreme, we lose our boundaries as emotionally separate individuals. And when that happens, nobody wins. We are responsible for owning our feelings. If we're too deeply involved in another person's emotional state, we lose perspective of the situation and awareness of our own feelings. If we take on someone else's response to a situation, we lose our own personal response in the process. It's so important to maintain a sense of self when trying to help someone. If the balance is lost, so is the capability of giving help and support.

Like anything, there's always a happy medium......... a way to maintain respect for the feelings of others without making them your own. In the book, The Art of Happiness, the Dalai Lama discusses his belief that empathy is the cornerstone of connecting with others. It is empathy that can "level the playing field" because it sends the message to the other person not only that they are understood, but they are validated. Commonality, without losing your own viewpoint, allows one to also look at a situation from another person's perspective. By so doing, it helps you develop an awareness and respect for another persons feelings, with in turn will lead to reducing conflicts and problems with other people.

We are not born with the ability to be empathic. Children are taught this skill through modelling and social interactions with the trusting people in their lives. If the wee ones are shown compassion and empathy when they needed to be loved and understood they in turn will eventually learn to reach outward to others. If they miss out on this type of nurturance, they will grow up void of an open heart and the perceptional motivation to want to feel for someone else. The little boys whom I had the opportunity to spend some time with? They have learned this lesson because they have been shown it over and over again in their lives.

Kindness begets propels the circle of compassion.

"If you want others to be happy, practice compassion.
If you want to be happy, practice compassion."
The Dalai Lama

Sunday, July 09, 2006

Rumblings of Discontent.

One of my first posts when I entered the blogland foray was a piece I wrote on my discomfort with the United Church of Canada and how far off the path of religion it had tread. It seemed to me that the underlying raison d'etre had evolved from a place of worship where lessons from the Bible were centre stage to a drop in centre for potlucks. Get togethers and chinwags on the issues of the day, and not on the lessons of Jesus Christ are the sign of the United Church times. Now, it seems to be perfectly clear that this organization, one that I was fully involved in as a young person has taken things much further than I can accept. Instead of a santuary for prayer and developing stronger faith, it is now a community centre for left leaning mouthpieces bent on using the church pulpit as a Speakers Corner for espousing their political opinions on various events happening in the world.

Last week, Leaders of the Toronto section of the United Church of Canada loudly jumped into the Middle East conflict by passing a motion calling for a one-sided boycott of companies and products from Israeli settlements on occupied land. The timing of the Toronto branch comes on the heels of a broader boycott against Israel by the Ontario wing of the Canadian Union of Public Employees. In a distortion of historical fact, CUPE officials likened Israel's treatment of Palestinians to South Africa's abuse of blacks under apartheid. This comes as Israel has left Gaza, is preparing to quit parts of the West Bank, and Israeli Arabs do vote and sit in Israel's parliament.

Although only the 300-church Toronto Conference, not the United Church as a whole, has urged this boycott, it has smeared the church's image with a black mark right across the country. With the annual General Council meeting next month the serious mark will grow if the national church even attempts to wade into a discussion on this issue.

Not only am I appalled at the actions of both groups, the church reps and the union reps, I am in total disagreement with them.

Maybe it's because of this upcoming meeting that nothing has been communicated from Head office..........there has been nothing written by the Moderator, Peter Short??? I have a great deal of respect for this Leader and believed that he was redirecting my church back to it's religious roots. Based on the sermons I have the opportunity to listen to and read about, Reverend Short is a person with deep faith, unafraid of sharing the lessons from the Bible; teaching his Canadian congregation the messages from Christ. He is an eloquent speaker and a beautiful writer. Why then is his pen silent? I have been waiting all week for some reassurance... that the Leader of a once predominant church in this country would take the reins and quash this strident group of political disturbers.

The silence is deafening. It tells me that the United Church of Canada is a sheep that has lost it's way. It has transformed into another left leaning political party who's mission statement includes the importance of learning how to make mushy casseroles for basement potlucks and how to be a mouthpiece for the Socialists in this country.

I once fit here. This was my church. It was my spiritual home. I was baptized in this church as a young child. I proudly chose to be a confirmed member as a teenager. I was married in the United Church. Now, I don't belong on many levels. Now, the United Church has fallen off the map of credibility.

Membership has it's privileges? Not to use your membership to jump into the political foray of the Middle East. Not to make protestations that don't pertain to the church as a whole. NO!

I think it's time I set mine aside and walk away. It makes me very sad indeed, but I can't live with that tripe. Yes, it's time for me to find a place of worship where it feels more spiritually in tune with who I am and who I want to be.