Sunday, April 29, 2007

finding our own way......finding our own faith.

"Faith is a state of openness or trust. To have faith is to trust yourself to the water. When you swim you don't grab hold of the water, because if you do you will sink and drown. Instead you relax, and float. And the attitude of faith is the very opposite of clinging to belief, of holding on. In other words, a person who is fanatic in matters of religion, and clings to certain ideas about the nature of God and the universe, becomes a person who has no faith at all. Instead they are holding tight. But the attitude of faith is to let go, and become open to truth, whatever it might turn out to be."
Alan Watts, Philosopher

When I was very young, 3 years old I think, my father took me out for a paddle in a canoe. We were staying at a lodge in the Haliburton Highlands with my parents friends for a weekend. I don't remember all the far or how long we were canoeing when a storm full of gusts and waves kicked in. The canoe tipped over not far from the shore, but in deep water. For a stop gap moment, I was underwater thrashing until my Dad grabbed hold of me and pulled me up for air. Then, he managed to get me and him AND the canoe to shore.

Though it was probably a millisecond, time stood still. I can't imagine how freaked out my Dad was afterwards, but during the swim to the shore, he was calm and in charge. We walked back through the woods to the lodge soaking wet, in bare feet, me in his arms.

From then on I had an aversion to water and to boats for a long time. My Mom put me in swimming lessons, which weren't successful. One swim instructor even had the gall to throw me in. I guess she figured survival would kick in or something and I would magically begin doing the front crawl. Can you imagine a swim instructor pulling that stunt now? No, structured swimming lessons were not for me. I felt such pressure to conform.....the anxiety created by these moments are still real to me as I remember them.

One summer, when I was around 8 years old.......the sun came out and stayed...........and stayed and stayed and was hot for three months straight. Consequently, the amount of times hanging around pools, beaches, and such increased........opportunity with no pressure offered me a summer of playing in the water. I started with my big toe and eventually could put my head under water.

I learned to float and to trust that I was going to be alright when it was at my own pace. Faith in the water.....found me when I wasn't looking for it and when it wasn't being forced on me.

Canoeing came along the following summer when I went to overnight camp at age 9 for the first time. On the first full day of activities, my group had signed up for canoeing and I had to go. I was terrified as I hung back hoping that I could figure out a way of keeping my feet firmly planted on the safe ground. As everyone paired up and grabbed their paddles, this friendly burly male camp counsellor nicknamed Onions (I don't know why ) approached me to see if I had a buddy. I told him that I was too afraid to go out in the canoe. I told him what had happened to me.

Somehow, he managed to encourage me into the bow.........with lots of soothing words and he pushed off the shore and slipped into the stern. Onions continued to talk and to ask me questions which made the first foray less monumental... we were just having a nice conversation while we had an adventure. Along the way, he showed me how to hold my paddle which increased my confidence. He talked about canoeing as a journey. A fun journey, if you just went with the flow. And I was trust in the flow happened because of the trust I had in a leader with empathy.

Every morning, from that first day, Onions would seek me out during breakfast to ask me what activity period I was signing up for canoeing. Everyday, I signed up. Everyday, he took me out. Just me, and we would share the journey. One day, Onions paddled our canoe past the point which was the boundary for the canoe area.

He kept talking in his soothing voice as we turned the point, paddling out of sight of the camp shore. And there on a large rock jutting out of the lake was a Great Blue Heron, perched like he was waiting for us. We shushed and drifted and looked in awe of the Heron majestically still......a gift of faith. A life lesson in taking a risk and in stretching boundaries. Letting it flow.

Camp and I were a good fit. I loved it from the moment I set foot on the now very familiar path which led down to the girls tent line. I belonged. I felt safe. I made lifelong friends, and I always knew someone older was keeping an eye on me. Eventually, I grew to be the one who kept an eye. Eventually I grew up to be the Counsellor in charge of canoeing, mastering the art of paddling.............and finding a deep connection to the pull of the paddle through the water.

There is nothing more spiritually enhancing for me than a solo paddle in a canoe.....gunnels almost touching the surface of the water, leaning just right, slicing through the calm........the canoe and the water an extension of me. It only happens when you let go a bit.....when you don't try so hard........when you don't go looking for the perfect stroke. Just like religion. Just like faith.

Swimming has never been my forte, though I learned......sometimes pushing hard and forcing myself to learn how to master the strokes well enough to be considered as a camp counsellor. That was my goal. I even had a few mishaps in the water again....once being trampled by a bunch of enthusiasts running into the water while I was coming out. Pushed under, fighting the sandy swirling water in my face, pressure on my back by another.....I was saved quickly by Skip, the Camp Director, who knowing I wasn't a good swimmer had been keeping an eye on me vigilantly. He pulled me out by the scruff of my neck....swooped me up and out onto the beach in one move. This time, it didn't cause me such anxiety. For one thing, I was a much more confident swimmer and I was old enough to know that I was being watched over by someone I trusted as much as my father.

For the last few summers as a camp counsellor, I went full circle and was offered the chance to teach the little ones who were afraid of the water. Me, a sinker..........and a bunch of non-floaters. Inch by inch, everyday we took our time learning together how to allow the water to be trusted. Initially I could see them trying to grab on......slashing and splashing with anxious limbs. But after more and more opportunities when the sun shone and by one they found their own way to put their faces in..........only to pop up with a big glorious smile of achievement.

Sometimes we just need time to learn to take our own path, our own steps to meet our faith in the shallow end....or just around the point where the shore is left behind and a gift is awaiting sitting stoically on a jutting rock.

a few years after I had moved on from my world as a camp counsellor, I took a trip back to Camp to spend a few days just hanging and helping out with the kids and the counsellors, some of whom were little ones when I had worked there last. Naturally, I gravitated down to the canoe racks for a paddle, and asked a 10 year old girl if she wanted to join me. We grabbed a canoe and headed out, paddling towards the point with me silently wondering about the Heron who greeted me so long ago. I started chatting away, asking her questions about how long she had been at Kawabi etc. She told me that her parents had been camp counsellors there years before. It turned out her dad was Onions. I told her about his gentleness with a little girl who was very afraid.......and of the Heron as I felt a warming reinforcement of serendipty.

Saturday, April 28, 2007

new wings and a prayer

Wassily Kandinsky

I'm in the market for a new pair of wings. As much as am attached to the pair I own, it seems like I have to flap them more often to reach a point of take off.

They are comfortably worn lovely wings which have developed a multi-hued sheen .....if I look closely at them I can see paper thin layers of reflections, which peeled back carefully tell my story and of the others who have added to the sheen. If you look very closely, you can see the tiny nicks and tatters where enlightenment shines, but perhaps thats also where the air filters through slowing me down, forcing me to use too much energy.

My wings are my legacy, my individual unique fingerprint fabricated from taking part in life. They started off as tiny gossamer transparent wings fed and nurtured by my parents' unconditional love, by my grandmother who taught me how to explore the nooks and crannies of our neighbourhood by seeking the backroads less travelled. My wings stretched and grew as I did. The transparency began filling in with gorgeous rainbow colours, flashes of sparkle interspersed with earthy foundations.

They started off strong, and continued to develop strength with every connection I made with the outside world. Friends, sisters, aunts, uncles, grandparents, teachers, mentors, lovers, kindreds wove threads of strength into the character of my very own wings as I grew and they grew from childhood to adolescence to adulthood to becoming an adult.

With every life experience magical dust fell onto them.........some which weighed me down, and some which helped me to fly. They have been everywhere with me, carrying me across adventurous fields I sometimes didn't even know existed, in all kinds of weather. Miles and miles of fluttery fields captured in memories, captured in the layers and the sheen.

Wow! LOOK at them! I LOVE their colour; weathered blends of ripe open eyed living, of joy and grief and happiness and pain and wonder. Ah! the WONDER! Look at the nicks and tatters......where enlightenment meets grace. ... where the gusts between breaths harbour. Are the nicks and tatters the chapter headings of my learning?

New wings.........??? I dunno.

  • Where does one buy new wings? e-bay?
  • Should I test fly a few or should I be damn sure I know exactly what I want?
  • Do they come with training wheels?
  • Do they come with instructions?
  • What if I purchase them and find out a little while from now that my new wings and I clash? What then? Can I return them?
  • Do I really need a brand new pair of wings? How environmentally friendly is that?

I can't be tossing out a perfectly good set of wings that I have taken a lifetime to buff. Where's my head............lost in the clouds??

Perhaps it's not the wings............perhaps its the need to approach the wind currents from a different angle so that the air flows through the nicks more effectively. Perhaps my wings just need a bit of crazy glue along the edges to help direct them across new fields, and a little bit of dusting from those around me to help along the way.

That's all I need.............that and a prayer..........oh, and could I possibly have a wink from the Cosmos?

For more creative wings, check out Sunday Scribblings..........
ps. Laini, my warmest wishes and congratulations on the publication of your book. May it soar across a painted sky.

Friday, April 27, 2007

thought du jour.

“If you lose hope,
somehow you lose the vitality that keeps life moving,
you lose that courage to be,
that quality that helps you go on in spite of it all.
And so today I still have a dream.”
Martin Luther King

Don't you love the word VITALITY? It jumps right out at you with a fresh lime scent! Vitality should always be written out in with a big broad marker in bright GREEN.

It's a wide eyed open stance that dares you to dive right into something challenging and life affirming. Vitality comes alive when hope is fueled by dreams. My hope and my dreams sustain me. My hope and dreams are attainable. I too still have a dream..........LOTS of them.








Focused.................. attainable goals.......

Vitality turns ordinary into extraordinary

Just a few thoughts after a great morning of writing reports and feeling like I'm getting a handle on the paperwork. My post last night, and the experience I had yesterday seemed to be a tipping point in my decision to make a decision.......... I don't know what my options are, but I do know that I feel less stuck with just the knowledge that I have the beginning of a plan again.

I feel good.........affirmed...........visible...........and worthy. I'm off to a fresh start meeting. Who knows if and/or where it will lead.

Thursday, April 26, 2007

spilling some beans.......

You know you're in trouble when you can't settle down enough to watch a mindless yet exciting hockey play-off game. I've been pacing around aimlessly all evening..........flitting from one activity to another, one chore to another and not accomplishing squat. No, I'm definately unsettled. My brain seems scrambled and wired, but my body feels heavy and slow.

I will take a page from Pip and list the 5 emotions I am feeling right now.

1. drained
2. pissed off
3. frustrated
4. growly

Not an upbeat list, n'est pas? It is an honest assessment.

This morning, while enjoying my first cup of tea, I read this small piece by Henri Nouwen which has remained with me all day and is the impetus for this post......

Writing to Save the Day

"Writing can be a true spiritual discipline. Writing can help us to concentrate, to get in touch with the deeper stirrings of our hearts, to clarify our minds, to process confusing emotions, to reflect on our experiences, to give artistic expression to what we are living and to store significant events in our memories. Writing can also be good for others who might read what we write.
Quite often a difficult, painful or frustrating day can be "redeemed" by writing about it. By writing we can claim what we have lived and thus integrate it more fully into our journeys. Then writing can become lifesaving for us and sometimes for others too."

How I wish I had met this man. More often than not, I have read something Nouwen has written and am blown away by his insights and the timeliness of my reading/finding it.

So...........tonight I write for all of the above reasons.........and to settle the unsettled.....and perhaps to find some meaning.

I truly have a love--hate thing happening in my workplace. I love the work with clients, especially when I am on the road, which I was during the first three days of this week visiting them in their own homes...... my post on Monday was an exceptional situation. Most of my "home visits" are nothing like that.

I love counselling and meeting new people. I love helping the ones who need help, learning from them all and hearing their stories so that I can relay them onto paper to advocate on their behalf. I also love teaching and facilitating, which I don't get to do as much as I would like, but when I do have the opportunity, I am more alive and focused than in any other work activity besides counselling. It's a natural fit for me.

Unfortunately, I am working out of a poisoned environment that I can't seem to rise above. It is dysfunctional on so many human resource levels that even the air in the building seems to be tainted. Since moving over to this building to be on this new "team" (and I use the term with a sarky tone) I have tried time and again to find resolution, to find a way to make it work. Not a damn thing has worked. I hate the place. It sucks my energy and literally leaves me in a mindless disarray. I have yet to reach the level of productivity I once had before I was moved out of my original team "family." It's like I'm working on one burnt out cylinder when I enter the building. I'm firing on all cylinders when I'm on the road or engaged with the clients. I'm firing on all cylinders when I'm in front of a group facilitating. In fact, I arrived this morning freshly fired up from three days on the road, with the zippy energy to deliver a workshop during a team meeting. By noon, I was completely void of all zip..........and filled with disgust and rage.

Today, the rubber met the road. I realized I'm in a no-win situation.......

As part of my job responsibilities (which after 7 months are still being defined and clarified...........why this is taking so long is beyond my comprehension) I was first up at the unit meeting to provide my team with some insights and information on Learning Disabilities and Attention Deficit Disorders. Many of the people we work with and/or their children are diagnosed with these labels. My team, who has NEVER had ANY type of training in human relations or relationship building, had requested this topic and were keen to engage in a facilitated discussion. It was the second such opportunity for me to share some of my knowledge and to be useful to my new team. The last topic I covered was a very beginning view of what schizophrenia is. They had found it helpful, and since then they have all arrived in my office individually to ask me about a particular client they had encountered, or to talk about their own personal experiences with family members etc who have been diagnosed with some form of mental illness.

So, I'm up in front of this group of 8 people including my supervisor who is sitting in direct line of where I am standing. I begin by starting a conversation on the basics of communication.....verbal vs. non-verbal......... of how sometimes people with serious learning disabilities lack the skill to effectively read non-verbals.........that the term "learning disability" is an umbrella term which encompasses many language or numerical glitches in learning. We talk about how a person with a learning disability most often scores high on an IQ type test, unlike someone who is developmentally delayed. One of my colleagues asked many questions about Attention Deficit Disorder and whether or not someone diagnosed with that also has a learning disability. I knew he was asking from a personal perspective. Both of his sons have been diagnosed with ADD.........he shares his frustrations with the school system.

The session is going well...............I LOVE the interaction..........I can see they too are firing on different sparks...........they are making connections.........examples of encounters they have had with clients who couldn't read, or couldn't follow instructions are shared............

AND all the way through this lovely hour, our supervisor sits directly across from me with her whole body turned away. When she is sitting forward, her arms are firmly crossed and her facial expressions depict something close to disdain. She wiggled and jiggled and crossed and uncrossed her arms. She harrrumphed and hemmed and hawed........ she did her non verbal best to disrupt the flow of the session.

AND THEN.....AND THEN.....she abruptly stood up in the middle of the session and left the boardroom. The woman bolted!!

This rude and immature behaviour is not new to me. It is the type of behaviour I have been experiencing for months now. I was initially shocked by her disrespectful rudeness and the reaction from my colleagues....HER staff was immediate........."what the hell was that all about?" "What is her problem?" "I can't believe how rude she is to you."

Calmly (don't know where the calm came from because I really had the urge to follow her and choke her........I think I was comforted in knowing I hadn't dreamt it, and that others had seen her behaviour that perhaps the calm came from there) I continued with my session after I shared with them how relieved i was that they had seen it too.

Afterwards, I was livid. The list of slights, disruptions, of being ignored and treated rudely, of interuptions and lack of knowledge or interest regarding my role or the skills I can bring to the table......the fact it took this supervisor 3 months to request and read my job description and my resume.........the forgetting of sending me emails to inform me of a meeting and then showing up in my office to tell me I had been missed........the ongoing bullshit because, as my colleagues stated, I somehow threaten her..........the bad chemistry and personality clash we have both felt since the beginning......GROWS and GROWS and GROWS............!! When she is around, she is loud and obnoxious. Her laugh is a cackle that reverberates off the walls......I'm not kidding. She gives me headaches and triggers my own disgust for incompetence.

In the past 15 years, I have had ONE ONE!!! supervisor who was an effective leader, who knew how to work with people. It blows my mind the level of incompetence of management. It blows my mind that the root reason for the anchorlessness of this office I am in is the result of the misfiring of management cylinders.

Here's an absurdity......... As I was out on the road for 3 days, my supervisor along with all her flunky co-horts were taking a 3 day Management workshop delivered by the guru himself, Stephen Covey. oooooooooooooooo, that worked out well!! So, the first order of business is to disrupt your newest employee team member during a workshop in front of her colleagues. I wonder what chapter of highly effectiveness that is!! Sweet Jesus!! I tried to settle and realized I couldn' I acknowledged that this situation is not going to get any better, that I am not AT ALL interested in "talking it through" or "figuring it out through some form of mediation with her" I accepted the fact that this woman for whatever reason doesn't like me and I know I can't stand her.......... I realized it's time to take action. Knowing how I could very easily really mess things up if I opened my mouth and followed the venom sitting in my heart, I chose to get the hell out of the office this afternoon and contact someone who may be able to help me. At the very least, he can point me in a different direction and offer some guidance as to how to deal with this nasty situation from an HR perspective.

Tomorrow, I meet with the one and only Manager I worked with whom I have complete regard for. I am so looking forward to spilling my story..........I am so looking forward to spending time with someone who respects me and knows my talents.....who will encourage me again, and listen with care and concern. He answered my call to be rescued. Thank God, because quite honestly I have been living in the Twilight Zone and was beginning to believe it was normal.

So..........................I have spilled some reflections............I have used up some words........ I have put some linearity to my puffy eyed thinking............through the writing, I am now feeling

1. less angry
2. more drained, but in a good way. I think I can go to sleep now
3. motivated
4. hopeful
5. thankful for being able to laugh at the absurdity of life.

Henri Nouwen is right.......writing can redeem a difficult and painful day. In fact, now that I have some perspective, I can honestly state that I most definately had a better day than our friend Hugh Grant. Unlike Hugh, I just spilled the beans. I didn't toss them.

I'm now off to watch the end of the hockey game.

bloggie interview.........

"Kenju" Judy posted interview questions and her answers last week on her blog and invited anyone who wanted to be "interviewed" to let her know. So, I jumped on board, hoping I'd get a knock on my door so we could chat in person.......alas we live too far apart. So, Judy offered up these interview questions for me to answer. Thanks Judy.

How has your education had an impact on your life? Do you wish you had studied something else?

Yes, my education has allowed me the opportunity to build a career I am proud of. My graduate degree is in counselling and assessment (IQ testing, Emotional Assessments....I even completed a whole course on the Rorschach which is good fun at parties) which I have been able to parlay into a variety of different jobs.....everything from teaching adults to assessing the developmental milestones of babies. My focus in my studies was on children, but when I graduated there were no jobs that were an exact fit to my expertise. Because of this, my career path led me to working with adults, though I did for a time teach early childhood education courses at the local Community College, which I LOVED.

Do I wish I had studied something else? Much of what I do during the day is related to career counselling, though for the most part it's personal counselling. Because I have the chance to help others explore their options, I have an open door to reviewing many different careers. An area I have always had a personal interest in is political science and international relations, which to me is a combination of history, sociology and psychology. Its all about how humans interact, which is what counselling is all about. I'm happy with what I have studied, and feel like I'm in the right field, and will continue to be an armchair politician. :) Well.......................maybe one day I'll leave the armchair and throw my hat in........maybe one day.

What type of music would you write, if you could compose?

I would like to compose melodies that would be sung out loud and with feeling. Standards come to mind.................a song that Sinatra could've brought to life. Fly Me to the Moon.............................

What one color do you never wear or have in your home? Why don't you like it?

Peach. Besides red, most of my clothing are earthy colours........they suit me. Chocolate brown, deep greens and blues...........I don't like pastel colours on me. They wash me out. Same with my home. Can't stand peach or light mauves. Ick.

If money were no object, what would be the first thing you would buy?

4 airline tickets for me and my family to see the world........................

What experience in your life has enriched you the most?

I can't pick one experience. My husband and I will be celebrating our 20th wedding anniversary this year. We have shared many enriching moments together, most definately top of the list is the birth of our two children and learning to be parents. Moving away from our families when we were first married and forging a life together in a different province without daily support at the beginning solidified our partnership, and allowed us to see and to rely on each other's strengths. We grew as a team of two more strongly because of it, I believe.
As an individual, I have had many and will continue to have many........some more obvious than others..........some pronounced, some subtle. One clear turning point in my life was the 4 months I spent backpacking through Europe. But, by far, the most important experience that has enriched my life, and continues to feed my foundation as an adult were all the summers I spent at Camp Kawabi...............both as a camper and a camp counsellor. Just thinking about it makes me feel GOOD!

If you were able to have dinner with any two people in the world, who would you choose and what would you ask them?

The Dalai Lama and Jesus Christ. I would ask them to tell me a story. Then, I would sit back and listen while we enjoyed a bottle or two of wine....oh, and some bread for the storytelling journey.

Do YOU Want to be interviewed?

Leave me a comment saying, "Interview me."
2. I will respond by asking you five questions. I get to pick the questions.
3. You will update your weblog with the answers to the questions.
4. You will include this explanation and an offer to interview someone else in the same post.
5. When others comment asking to be interviewed, you will ask them five questions.

Thanks Judy. That was fun.

Wednesday, April 25, 2007

rosie, rosie, rosie.........

Looks like Rosie O'Donnell is leaving The View. Yes, it's true. She's handing in her coffee mug and will not pass Go.

Not that I watch the show since it's on in the middle of the day....... in fact I don't think I'd watch the show even if I was home in the middle of the day. Whenever I have found myself home, however and have sat down to watch it, I was left unimpressed with their bantering babbling. It drove me crazy!! It seems to me though that Barbara's pet TV show got a big boost from allowing Rosie to join the buffet table daily this year,'s often been the lead story on the news that counts......Entertainment Tonight........ The dog fight between O'Donnell and Trump was one for the books. How pathetic. Why don't the two of them learn something from Saint Oprah and go open up a couple of schools.

I was a huge fan of the Rosie O'Donnell show a few years back when she hosted a variety show in the mornings. Home on maternity leave, sleep deprived and stuck on the couch nursing an insatiable (albeit very adorable) infant son who preferred little mouse naps over a long snorefest, there were days when an hour with Rosie O'Donnell and whoever her guests were was a saving grace. She was enthusiastic, bright, funny and played the role of excited host to a "T." She single handedly brought back the variety daytime talk show..........a la............OK..........I'm going to show my age here........... just like Mike Douglas and Merv Griffin. Music, comedy, a little soft shoe, and a gabfest chat with a famous or not so famous person.

I loved her quirks........her gushing of Broadway shows........her love of toys and treats........her over the top enthusiasm of her favourite reality shows.........her hilarious crush on Cruise and adoration of Barbra Streisand. She cracked me up. She seemed harmless and funny with her repetitive themes, songs and monologues.

Before she knew it......Emmy's were garnered, buzz was created, stars were clamouring to get on her show. A Rosie Doll was created to offset the Barbie craze and it sold out. She jump into the magazine competition pitting herself and her name against Oprah and Martha, and was keeping pace!! She was a huge hit because people could relate to her. She seemed like an inoffensive open book with a big heart who loved to give stuff away.

Then.......something snapped.........or maybe it was just too darn hard to play a role and not yourself.......(though at the time I didn't see it as a "role." I assumed I was watching the real Rosie) . All of sudden, everybody's bud turned a corner and ended up in a field of ongoing controversy. All of sudden, her big infectious laugh and supposed love of life....her schtick got her schtuck in the muck.

Barking at Tom Sellick about guns.........(well, I agreed with her, but she was completely over the top .......) and put Magnum P.I. in a corner with her blasting diatribe on gun control.

Then, Vanity Fair published an article about her tyrannical tantrums with the Magazine staff. Testimonials from these staff littered the article and it left a big black tarnish on a self created image.

All of a sudden............anger filled her sentiments...........her true colours? Who knows, but the anger and vitriol that has bellowed out of her in the past couple of years has been downright nauseating. I turned off and tuned her many others.

The mag folded, and Rosie went on to host cruises and lobby for gay rights all the while barking too loudly and offering up her opinion on anything and everything............ until the one and only maven of bogus news, Barbara Walters came a calling.

The View needed her..........but they needed the angry bitchy woman and not the facade. They wanted her to stir the pot, to be controversial. Unfortunately her sense of entitlement shown through. It was like she had a right to yell and shout out her opinions because........well........she was right and they were wrong or something. I don't know.

All year...........all we have read about Rosie is her rude tug of war with Trump which went from titilating initially to bizarre to baffling to boring to incessantly ridiculous. It was like watching two adult/children continually yell out......

"I know you are but what am I?" over and over and over again....................

Enough!! She's rude. Who needs a rude talking head TV host? They really are a dime a dozen these days and NONE of them are worth watching., after slamming Rupert Murdoch (another friend of Walter's), Rosie is hanging up her cleats.

She needs therapy............or at least some happy pills, and a new taste of the real world.

hmmmmmmmm........ funny thing.......though you'd never in a million years find Rosie and Ann Coulter in the same room together, I think you'd find them on the same page in the dictionary under the word "Bully."

Tuesday, April 24, 2007

me, you, we and winning the cup.........

bunched up belonging

For a while, I have been sideswiped by different thoughts and feelings about the the meaning behind "sense of belonging," which have been driven out into the open through the life events in and around me. My questions and observations continue to feed my reflections, continue to add to my understanding of what it really means. Personal insights......where I fit and why.....where I want to fit and why... where I don't fit and why....... have filtered out as well. Though I'm left with a market basket brimming with thoughts, I want to try to encapsulate some of them.

What is belonging? Is it crucial to feel like you belong or can you live without it?

Is it a place where you can feel a sense of security, a sense of self? I think so.

Belonging is the life affirming glue which pulls together communities, teams, families, groups, congregations.

If I was to describe who I was, I would most likely use labels which identify my personal connections......all of which point to where I belong.

Wife, Mom, Daughter, Sister, Friend, Counsellor, Teacher, Colleague, Neighbour, Gospel singer, Tri-athlete, Gum chewer.......... they all point to a sense of belonging........hey, even Blogger!

OK.......I'm not a tri-athlete nor am I a gum chewer............well I am a gum chewer who doesn't sing in a gospel choir.

But then.......these labels don't even scratch the surface do they? They don't explain the roots and nuances of the relationships which would impact yours and my own understanding of significance. PLUS.......I can't be any of those things or play any of those roles successfully or effectively if I didn't have a comfortable core of me as a human being.

A human being clarifying her faith. We are human beings learning to live our faith. Now, that's a thought....

Belonging is where one emotionally and spiritually feels at home......
a place where we have the confidence to test out new waters,
to stretch in new directions,
to be able to let out big sighs,
deep cries,
loud whys.

a place where we learn
to connect
or to disconnect with others
and then reconnect again.
It is a place where we can safely learn how to deal with and resolve conflict

Belonging is where we learn what love feels like.
It is where trust is born.

It is where we can look around and say to ourselves..........
"Yes......WE fit."

A couple of weeks ago, I sat in a boardroom surrounded by a group of people whom I've shared much with and they with me. There was an unspoken bond shining through smiling eyes as we shared lunch. It felt right. Like the others, I felt the right fit. I could be myself........let my hair down so to speak. A combination of the right chemistry and years of accumulated shared experiences have allowed the belonging glue to work it's magic.

Last week, different boardroom and different individuals where we had come together to celebrate a co-worker's pending retirement. There was a completely different feeling to the chemistry......a kind of repellent instead of an attraction. Though many of these people have worked together for many years, I didn't get the sense of belonging emanating from the others.

Personally, I felt like I had intruded. I certainly didn't want to stay long, and I had no antecdotes to add to the punch. But then again.......NO ONE did. How strange. It seemed awkwardly dysfunctional, and I think it stemmed from a complete lack of cohesion which happens if there is no sense of belonging. With no sense of security, people kept their guards up. I was in the majority who held back the urge to bolt. does one create a work environment which will nurture a sense of belonging? Sometimes, it just doesn't happen. The chemistry isn't there. You see that with sports teams. Your team could have the very best, most remarkable set of individuals dressed in the same jersey, but if things don't gel, the team will be cellar bound.

However, if the team has a few leaders who have the right chemistry to encourage openness and the desire to understand one another, the same drive, philosophy and approach to the game......IF they are willing to learn, share, teach, and be patient with a new team player who is just getting their footing..........they may not have be the hardest hitters or the best runners, or the ones with the golden gloves.........but they will find themselves in the World Series...........or the World Cup, or the Stanley Cup.....or, or, or........ You always hear the words in the championship player's interviewers include........we ALL worked took the whole team to believe in ourselves etc.......indications that there was an enormously keen sense of belonging.

Too bad we can't bottle its essence.

Maybe sense of belonging is simply a level playing field where everyone has a role to play, and where each role is connectedly interwoven with another role. Where one individual comfortably can rely on another to support and encourage......where there is trust to reciprocate this.

Kinda like the whole Body of Christ thing. Gee, if we could get that one working, we'd win every Cup, now wouldn't we? Hmmmmmmmm, that's a good goal for an enthusiastic group of human beings with many far reaching talents to strive for. How wonderful it would be to drink champagne from that Cup.......or perhaps we could fill it with delectable Cointreau? :)

Monday, April 23, 2007


messy heart

He's a "product" of the social services system in the 70's. Abandoned by his mother at age 3, along with his brother a year old, he was locked into the house with a bag of marshmallows thrown at them just before the door was slammed shut to sustain them until his father came looking.

The terror has never left him. Actually, the terror continued to physically and emotionally abusive foster parent at a neglectful experience after another.......his father was too ill to care for the little boys, and died when this man was 9 years old. On the day of his father's funeral, the scarred little 9 year old boy got drunk for the first time.

Alcohol was the most accessible self-medication..........he filled cheeze-whiz jars and took them to school...........he sniffed airplane glue from bread bags. He remained psychologically numb and stoned to survive........... sometimes he lashed out with such rage that everyone thought he was crazy.

A friend of their father's took pity, and tried time and again to provide some semblance of order and normalcy through shelter and warmth and food......but by then the boys were out of control. Children's services was often called to intervene by finding yet another foster home where abuse was rampant.

Now, the little boy is a 43 year old recluse who lives in a shack not far from the centre of the city. No running water, no toilet sink........trash bags and empty plastic containers are piled high in the dooryard. The stench from his home of 7 years is so rank that it fills the inside of my nose seemingly permanently. And I'm sitting outside. He tells me he doesn't want me to see the rotting mess inside. I look at the front of this shack which is 20 years past its due date and can't believe someone has been living in it for 7 long years.

So, we begin our conversation......outside in the warm warm sun........sitting on sturdy metal and arborite kitchen chairs made a generation ago, surrounded by trash and empty beer bottles. Between us is an amplifier and his extension cord reaching out through the ripped screened front door......flapping in the breeze...... we ignore the trash, the waste, the falling down shack.......we tune out the incessantly yappy dog who lives next door.

He tells me parts of his story.........the reasons behind his diagnosis of post traumatic stress disorder, social anxiety disorder, agoraphobia........claustrophobia......physical pain from old fights and car accidents.....he shares some of his pain..........he looks twice his age.

I listen, encouraging him to tell me his story, but wondering how much of it I can absorb. It's just so horrible.

Somewhere along the way, we find a common ground in writing. This man is a poet and a song writer. He loves to write letters........40 page letters to his sister who lives in Ontario. Their mother took her and left him behind at age 3. His sister has stored all of his writing for him in a safe filing cabinet.........scores of paper filled with his thoughts, his angst, his ideas, his life.

He used to be in a band until the home he was living in 7 years ago burned to the ground shattering his already shattered psyche. Now, he can't cope with crowds or others around. He must live alone......he must generate his own tune.....his own pace. His medication allows him to find some balance, though he is now afraid of becoming addicted......."tethered" he the psychotic drugs.

No one or nothing will control him again........he will go to his own beat.............never again will he feel cornered or emotionally bound. He never wants to feel trapped or addicted.

He writes and writes and writes.........we agree that writing is a stimulant.........and then he cycles out into the countryside everyday to feel the wind on his feel the elusive freedom he craves........He is a complicated broken man with a fighting spirit who despite his reclusivity, he wants to make sense of it all................yes.

After an hour and a half, my intuition tells me to wrap it up.....too many half-buried stories....too much reminiscing........rage may start surfacing.......

I explain the disability application process to him........the premise of our meeting....... and then we say goodbye. I tell him genuinely how glad I am that we brave he creative.......

Then, I get into my car to drive to my next appointment feeling drained overwhelmed and angry at a system that completely failed this man....angry at families and how deplorable they can be to one another....angry at the inhumanity he has endured all his life.

Deep breaths.........blow it all out.........

This is Canada? This man lives 15 minutes from a capital city and he has no running water or amenities? This man has to pay RENT for that rancid hovel........WHO is the landlord who refuses to purchase lumber so this man can fix the rotting flooring? Who is the landlord who threatens to sell the place before he spends a nickel to turn it into a rentable cabin? I curse the landlord under my breath and wish him sleepless nights until he finds his conscience.

Deep breaths...... blow it all out......... reflect, resilience..... fighting spirits......... creativity unfettered.......

are the lessons I learn today from a man who is afraid of his own temper, who has no place to shower, who lives in squalor.

I turn on the ignition to find Bruce Springsteen filling my safe air conditioned car with these words.............

We shall overcome......
We shall overcome......
We shall overcome, someday
Oh, darlin' deep in my heart
I do believe
That we shall overcome someday....

I let the Boss' words wash over me like a salve.
Fighting spirits....hope...resiliency
By the second verse, I'm singing in harmony......
well, trying my very best....
As I sing the lyrics, I start believing in them.
I head off to my next appointment.

merciful blues

dusk lament

surrendering to merciful blues
when the dark night feeds your soul
with solitary contemplation
in the stillness of the notes
blanketing the air

music beyond the words
echoing forgiveness

Saturday, April 21, 2007

roots and wings........

facing the sun........taking in the warmth

There is a big difference in having roots and being rooted.
A free ebb and flow of growth is allowed when one has roots, whereas there seems to be a stagnancy related to the sense of feeling rooted. You can't move. You're stuck, and possibly afraid to allow for new scenery, new experiences and new ideas. Unique ideas are verbotten. It's encumbering to feel so rooted in one place, or with one set of people in your life.

My way or the highway is the theme for "being rooted."

Bureaucracy, for example is riddled with rooted people and unmoving policies. Unable to become disentangled, the people who live within the narrow box of policies and guidelines can never take a step towards another with an open armed sense of empathy. Rather, they live with their blinders on, allowing the policies and guidelines to breed discontent and breathe disconnect.

Perpetuated by fear, drawn in by sepiatic versions of a colourful dramatic world inhabited by living breathing human beings whose needs are plenty and whose stories are unique, the rooted bureaucrat wraps their overgrown roots around their apathy. They will not move on any request. They will never ever go the extra mile for someone in need. Why? Because they don't even hear the request. They don't see the face behind the request. They simply are programmed to respond robotically embedded to an interpretation of truth which has overgrown entangled roots.

To have roots, on the other hand, is to have a foundation to breathe in the oxygen needed to grow outwardly, upwardly and inwardly. To have roots means the ability to move your limbs, your feet, your thinking. To have roots stems from the exploratory ability to STEP outside of the proverbial box.

thank you pip :)

Shift happens!!
That's the theme accompanying the idea of "having roots."

It's where ideas and actions grow from nurtured dreams........where the foundation is fed by beliefs and values which are reviewed and reconstituted. It is where optimism fosters hope. To have roots is to be able to step towards another in need with an open heart to listening with empathy.

Bureaucracy is in dire need of the free thinking creatively nurtured by a sense of roots. Unfortunately, it's the rooted who somehow manage to float upward into the spheres of where decisions are made. Armed with myopic management styles, fearful of making a mistake or sticking their necks out for another, the rooted continue to grow straight up into the stratosphere, kissing asses along the way and scheming to get rid of the real leaders.......the ones who serve.

So what often happens to the people who have free flowing roots..........? They get the frig out of there and open up a hot dog stand on the beach in Ogonquit, Maine and live happily ever after meeting others and having the best conversations.

Well..............sometimes they stay and quietly (well not so quietly because their enthusiasm sometimes makes them shout out their red feelings) go about their business meeting and working with others all the while learning enriching life lessons and having the best conversations.

Let's strive to let shift happen.........
in all it's colourful open ended glory
yeah.........why not?

Thanks again to the wonderful women and other contributors of sunday scribblings......for the great word prompt "rooted." BTW, isn't that an Aussie slang word for snogging? Just wondering?

Friday, April 20, 2007

a glorious happy place.......awaits

prince edward island

To see a world in a grain of sand,

And Heaven in a wild flower,

Hold infinity in the palm of your hand,

And Eternity in an hour.

William Blake

in the news

What is the difference between fiction and reality?

Fiction has to make sense.

Wednesday evening, I flicked on the TV to catch up on the news I had been hearing earlier in the day that a package had been sent to NBC from Cho Seung-Hui. I turned on CNN first since it wasn't time yet for the "Nightly News" program and found myself watching and listening to none other than Wolf Blitzer, Mr. Drama Guy, who was "hosting" a panel of journalists who were sitting in a field somewhere on the campus of Virginia Tech. CNN, of course, already had all the graphics in place as well as the "theme" music for this tragedy, and Wolf was doing his very best to make the horrendous story of mass murder even more dramatic......if that was possible.

At the beginning and ending of each panel segment, Blitzer launched into his segue, using phrases like "biggest EVER in the HISTORY of America" which to tell you the truth left me feeling nauseas. I got this sick pit feeling that he was lapping this story up........ his emphasis on certain words felt too much like a promotional advertisement for something "New and Improved..." He couched the panel conversation by stating that they (the media/journalists) had been on campus for several days, that information about the event was only trickling in, etc........ completely oblivious to the fact that this tragedy had only taken place a little more than 48 hours before and that the world had been emotionally inundated with the reality of Cho's murdering spree.

It seems to me that CNN, like many other stations, has the power to turn reality into the surreal. Their over the top journalism comes across as dramatic, disrespectful and desensitizing all at the same time. They are notorious for this approach to journalism. Albeit there are some journalists with CNN who hold onto their integrity (and following) by allowing the story to be the lead and not have their personality swamp it, the attention grabbers.....the ones whose personalities grow bigger than the story seem to be the ones who end up hosting their own news show.

Can I just add here..................oh yes I can..........that Larry King has got to be the worst interviewer in the land of interviewing? He interupts, he ad libs, he asks the doofiest questions, and're frigging nobody unless you get to sit across the desk from Mr. Suspender guy? His inability to allow for any pauses or any deep breaths by the interviewee leads me to think that this man is not comfortable whatsoever with silence. Quite frankly, I think he's rude.

Gee......I started out wanting to write about media coverage in general and have somehow found myself going down the rant road lambasting CNN........

Let me get back on track.........

What has stunned me more than anything this week is the locomotive pace this world seems to have when it comes to grieving, and to learning the details of a story even before it has unfolded. Our collective impatience and attention span feeds the mainstream media (and visa versa) to go into overdrive. Granted, as soon as new information is available, it is the responsibility of the media to share it (it is our responsibility to choose to view it or not). But, the inundation of graphic information and heart wrenching details coupled with the eye-blinking roll out of a memorial less than 24 hours after the murderous event that seemed to veer close to feeling like a bizarre rally, a candlelight service, a thousand intrusive interviews with families in's like this whole thing has been scripted.

Are we supposed to be at a point in absorbing the magnitude of this killing spree and the horrendous loss of precious life where we are reflecting already? Yesterday's big headline wasn't about the loss of life.......or the heroic actions of beautiful people who saved wasn't about the devastation felt by the families.........the headline grabber was about the media itself over whether or not they should've shown the video clips of Cho.

Life is not a movie.......... but OMG, I'm sure someone is out there salivating over the rights to the story and WHO is going to play the role of the key this not SICK?

I believe the public reacted partially to the heinous video clips because they simply weren't prepared to see them. It was too soon. It was thrown into the "script" too early. And the public reacted. Too much reality.............and not enough time to respectfully acknowledge the families and friends of the let the story sink in........or something like that. Who really knows?

Last night, I caught the editorial commentary of a coiffed talking head whom I had never seen before on one of the Canadian news channels throwing her 2 cents into the debate on whether or not the media should've disclosed the pictures and video clips of Cho Seung-Hui. She began by providing a "textbook" theory of how events like the Virginia Tech tragedy unfold with the public as a way to rationalize the decisions made by the media.

  • On the first day, we are in shock and denial
  • On the second day, we turn our anger on and point fingers at the administration
  • On the third day, we turn our anger on the media.

According to the "talking head" we are responding "according to plan....."

Wow! Did you know we are so programmed? Her thoughtless editorial fed my disdain towards the media. But then, that was predictable, wasn't it?

(oh, and btw? I do believe we would be angry at the media if they hadn't shown the clips because then we would be shouting at their authoritarian censorship practises............)

Wolf Blitzer was right. It is the worst killing spree in the history of the United States of America. HOWEVER, there is no script. We are in unknown territory. It needs to be felt and absorbed and reflected upon. Does this need to be rushed out in "dailies?" Do we really need theme music and graphics already? No. We need to surrender to the fact that we are in unknown territory, realizing there are no clear cut answers to this senseless awful event. And then, we grieve and feel for the families, friends and colleagues directly affected by the horrible acts of one very very sick man.

Thursday, April 19, 2007

six weird things..............

This week..................oh who am I kidding...........this month has been a solemn downer when one looks out beyond our own front windows.........sad, absurd and depressing events, coupled with the crappy cold rainy/snowy/ice pelty weather is enough to get even the most optimistic person succumb to seasonal affective disorder. Everyone seems to be going about their business with such grey grim faces and such heaviness brought on by lack of energy that I thought it would it may be time to examine and to share some weird-like quirks ............ with of course the hopes that others would share of their own. Lets have a few humourous disclosure moments, shall we?

So, what are six of my weird quirky admissions?

1. I love a bargain, which is a good thing since I live not too far from a fabulous Frenchies outlet. This is a Maritime "chain" store FILLED with bargains galore.......most of the clothes come in bundles from somewhere south of the border and are sold off at the most cheaply ridiculous price. My best purchase this year was a wool duffle coat of navy blue and RED...........for 10 bucks. I could care less who wore it before me.........when I put it on last July in the middle of a heat fit like a glove and promptly brought it home. Frenchies is like walking into an potential treasure trove.

Yes the "bargain gene" was inherited by me from my Grandmother who could turn a tarnish piece of trash into a gleaming treasure.......

2. I talk to my dog, and she seems to get it.

3. I believe I have psychic powers, which of course come in handy with my moonlighting superhero role I assume once the sun settles into darkness. This is the real reason for my isomnia..........I have villians to track down and I have people who rely on me in their dire of need. It doesn't pay well, but it is truly life enhancing. Plus, the outfits are just too sexy...

4. I have a Pee Wee Herman marionette sitting on my water cooler in my kitchen (my prezzie to my husband on his 40th birthday), as well as a framed movie poster from Mr. Herman's first full length movie which adorns the wall above the steps going down to my 25th year birthday present from my lovely and talented husband who can dance to the song Tequilla reeeeeellllllllllllll swell.

5. One of my favourite things to a huge campfire on the beach in Spencer's Island, Nova Scotia and sing John Prine songs........joyfully!

6. I'm claustrophobic. Hotel rooms without clear access to the outside completely creep me out. I don't know where this came from...........I never used to be. I think it started when I was stuck in the hospital after giving birth.

How about you? Got any quirks? C'mon..........fess up.......

Wednesday, April 18, 2007

open hearted jenny

"When we tell stories, we touch hearts. If we talk about theories and speak about ideas, the mind may assimilate them but the heart remains untouched. It is the story of a specific person that is the way to the heart." Jean Vanier.

Here is a story for you...................... :)

Open Hearted Jenny

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. I loved the atmosphere of the Hugh MacMillan Centre. It was a hub of healing that had a flow of kids and their families, of volunteers and caregiving staff. I felt a strong sense of belonging at the Centre and embraced the unlimited learning opportunities it provided through the "Child Life" department.

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.

A new part of me came alive that year when I met Jenny. Her memory has been with me all week after reading the Jean Vanier book, Becoming Human. I had written about Jenny last year, but decided to re-visit the post............and share it again.

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.

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. We were comfortably inseparable.

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.

A powerful transformation of our hearts......a deeper feeling of compassion is learned. Once felt, it never leaves you.

I was blessed by Jenny. She taught me the same lesson both Vanier and Nouwen have written about. My year with this little girl who for the most part lived a life that was limited in so 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.................with love.

Tuesday, April 17, 2007

like a river

View from Springhill Road, Saturday at dusk
Calm before the storm

Love is flowing like a river,

Flowing out from you and me.

Flowing out into the desert,

Setting all the captives free.

Peace is flowing like a river,

Flowing out from you and me.

Flowing out into the desert,

Setting all the captives free.

Joy is flowing like a river,

Flowing out from you and me.

Flowing out into the desert,

Setting all the captives free.

Days when words fall short, we should let hymns speak for us. I heard this hymn sung in the background of a news story about a church service which happens once a month in the town of Oromocto New Brunswick where Canada's largest armed forces based is located. Last Wednesday evening over 100 people gathered for a service to sing and to share and to gather strength........and to collectively send it to their friends and family members who are deployed. The service also allowed the first opportunity for some to come together after the 6 soldiers were killed. 2 more New Brunswick soldiers were killed that day too, though the news hadn't been announced yet............

flowing like a river.......

Now as we learn about the senseless killings in Virginia........what can be said?

No words...........just a hymn............flowing like a river

And for the third day in a row, the eastern seaboard of the United States and Canada is being pelted by angry rain, ice and wind.................

It feels like the sky is crying with rage.

Let us seek some solace in a hymn.

Love is flowing like a river,

Flowing out from you and me.

Flowing out into the desert,

Setting all the captives free.

Peace is flowing like a river,

Flowing out from you and me.

Flowing out into the desert,

Setting all the captives free.

Joy is flowing like a river,

Flowing out from you and me.

Flowing out into the desert,

Setting all the captives free.