Friday, November 30, 2007

over there.........

Have you ever taken a walk on the other side of the tracks, where burdens beat down the path to nowhere?
Have you ever tried to walk in the holy soled shoes of a person who lives over there, in a worn out one room house?
What must it be like to shuffle invisibly down the dirt road with no means to cross over to where abundance flutters a warm breeze?
Stuck walking the same endless circle, around and around, while trying to find the exit........
The way towards a place where a new path is waiting to be tread upon.

Our own journeys offer us a bounty of possibilities and provide opportunities to explore beyond our own selves. Look up beyond and out towards the knee scraped hills dotted by impoverished burdens. Recognize the others who walk with us, or perhaps the ones who are walking over there in the distance........just past the abandoned tracks, where the whistling rumble of progress was silenced into submission. Because if we don't, who will?? These are the ones whom we need to carry until they can find their way once more....or until they can catch their breath and find the energy stored in new dawn hope.

Sometimes a walk is more than just a chance to find the whispers of creativity. Sometimes it is a journey into the wilderness of another's needs. What a difference one stroll over the tracks could be. It matters.

As the days grow shorter, and the night is pulled up into the cold winter sky like a heavy curtain blocking hopeful light, we need to be cognizant of the ones who walk with a limp, the ones who are carrying world weary weight on their shoulders, the ones who live on the other side of the tracks. For we are all at some point in our lives in need of being carried too.

This weeks prompt from Sunday Scribblings is "walk." I was inspired by my recent visit to a small village nearby where I met a young man who literally lives across from the old train station in a one room house along a dirt road. This young man was brought up knowing no other life and most likely will never know what it is to live on the other side of the tracks. Born with cognitive delays, he will always rely on others for his well being. His family live in the area. He will never move into town on his own. Its not in the cards. It simply isn't an option.

During our conversation sitting at his kitchen table with his mom, I asked him what he would like to do when he finished school. He lit up and told me that he wanted to work on the trains. This will never be.......the trains stopped running years ago. There is no work on the trains.....there is no work at all in this village. It has evolved into a one side of the tracks kind of place.

Prosperity took the last train out of town and left everybody in it's wake.

For more Sunday Scribblings, which I'm sure will be a bit more upbeat than my offerings this on this link.....

Thursday, November 29, 2007


I can now see again.
I had no idea how blurry things had become.
things are clear as mud now.
funny, my eyes look brown tonight.
"Three things are necessary for the salvation of man: to know what he ought to believe; to know what he ought to desire; and to know what he ought to do." Saint Thomas Aquinas.

Would it be presumptuous of me to add a wee bit to Aquinas' thoughts? I mean he is a Saint and everything and I'm far from that. Given this is my speaker's corner, I will conclude that it's a moot question because I have already made up my mind. I'm adding.........

"Ought to" doesn't cut it for me. It simply can't stop at "ought to." Putting our beliefs, desires and knowledge into action is necessary for the salvation of man. What is awareness without action? It's just a bunch of talking clouds floating off on their own. William Glasser would say it is a "Darn good start," but one doesn't affect change, and possibly change for the better if one doesn't apply the goods. Going from the abstract of ideas based on beliefs, desires and knowledge to the concrete application is where integrity formulates.

Put your money where you mouth is? Isn't that the saying? If you're going to talk the talk..........start walking the walk. This shows integrity.
DO something!

Integrity is the stuff of action. It is found in someone who doesn't compromise their beliefs, who recognizes and respects others beliefs, who makes decisions and acts upon them, who is trustworthy and honest, who can be relied upon. A person with integrity cares about doing the right thing even when no one is watching because it is a constant underlying foundation to the person's way of being and seeing the world around them. A person with integrity doesn't dwell in a place of fear, where decisions are second guessed, where retentive constipation swells the brain turning it into a wasteland. Far from it!

Integrity is the stuff of effective leaders who guide by action and interaction. Always aware of the importance of the people they are leading or managing, he or she is not afraid to stand up on principle. Even if a decision is unpopular, one is made based on weighing all information, factors and on how it will impact others. There's no waffling and ruminating because of that second guessing virus. An effective leader is looking broadly at the people he or she is leading rather than wondering how to please the boss, or how to cover one's ass, or how to keep one's fingers clean.

Truth, reliability, care, compassion, candidness.......concern for humanity where everyone is considered equal, these traits, all found under the integrity umbrella are what is necessary for the salvation of man. Not just identifying and discussing them...........showing the behaviour that displays these intentions. A person with integrity is comfortable in their own skin, thereby able to accept that they make mistakes because we are all just human beings.
Though it is a well known quality, one that we all believe is the cornerstone of humanity, it seems to be an endangered one, or at least it feels that way where I'm sitting this week.
Here's a hypothetical situation for you.......a single mom with four kids living in public housing. The plumbing pipes in her basement back up for some reason and spew sewage an inch and a half thick onto the basement floor ruining everything it touches including 4 loads of unwashed laundry. She has to call for help.......and while she waits and waits and waits........her home stinking of shit, her children humiliated in front of the neighbours.......while she waits for the person who could've made a split second decision to send a cleaning company over, she arranges for a pick up truck and a shovel to begin cleaning it herself.
While she's cleaning up this waste, the people who could make a decision to help her continue to waffle on what to do. The powers that be after a day and a half finally decide that it isn't their problem. It is the single mom's problem and it will be up to her to deal with it on her own, knowing she has no spare money to use for a cleaning company. She then calls YOU to help her, to advocate for her...................what would YOU do, given that you have no authority to fix the situation and your dealing with people completely void of integrity? Since I'm already considered a shit disturber, you can guess how I would have handled it. :)
Thank God it is only a hypothetical situation. Heaven forbid that anyone would allow someone and her kids to live in a toxic wasteland for two days and not help them.

Wednesday, November 28, 2007


The wind chill today is -15. No one seemed prepared for it. Though everyone was bundled up, their body language told another was like the cold wind chilled them right to the core. People were all hunched over and not looking very happy when I was out at lunchtime walking downtown. Drudgery, and pinched faces. No one seemed to be walking with a bounce in their step that's for sure.

Our Canadian winter skins have not formed yet. I think it's the transition from balmy fall days to bitter cold winds during November that bites more rabidly than an expected winter day in January. Perhaps its because we still have clear visions of harvesting produce and flowers from the gardens. Once January rolls around we are simply thinking about bulbs and seeds and new growth.

today we still mourn the loss of colour.......and wish the glads would bloom bright red again.

don't you just love red?
I would say it's my defining colour. What's yours?

Tuesday, November 27, 2007

mixed messages?

We spend our lives striving for independence. It's expected from the moment we take our first breath. Society promotes autonomy and applauds someone when they reach that pinnacle. In order to do this, they must be diligent planners who rely on themselves to make the decisions and to take the risks in order to succeed. Self sufficiency is the goal, where the only person to rely on is yourself. It denotes strength in character, and anything less than this is considered a weak the eyes of society.

And yet......... we go to church and learn of this guy named Jesus who hangs out with the human beings who are struggling just to get through another day in anyway they can. Vulnerable and weak, unsure of any long term goals let alone where they will find food for their next meal, they don't have time to even contemplate autonomy.

It may not have been the most reasonable thing for Jesus to do. I mean, why would you put yourself in such a marginalized environment when you could opt for something more prestigious? Any yet, there He was hobnobbing with the minions.

What is the message in all of this? Are we supposed to build ourselves up to be strongly independent "don't need another person to survive this big old mean world" individuals? If we do that, how are we supposed to learn how to surrender ourselves to prayer and to faith?

Leader or follower?

We are inundated with paradoxes in what is expected and important. Or are we? Can we be both independent and vulnerable? Can we strive for autonomy and yet feel weak and in need of others? I read time and again that one has to "surrender" to a let the cards fall where they let go and you will feel closer to God because you are more open and vulnerable. I am also told that independence is a societal value, to keep your guard up.

It leaves me baffled.

hmmmmmmmmmmm............I'm wondering if we need to redefine what it means to be independent and self sufficient and what it means to be vulnerable. Maybe it takes one to be the other. Or maybe I'm just full of baloney.

Sunday, November 25, 2007

listening to the wind

The wind blew with a whipped up whine
high pitched whys whisked by
too quickly to catch them
in the early morning wake between reverie and real

wizened cries of clenched souls
aching for answers
whyeeeeeeeeeeeeeee whyeeeeeeeeeeeeee

Down an octave, this whining wind flew
to a bellowing moan wrapping around lost limbs
producing a winter wonder of whos
making slumber restless in it's thinking

sorrowful sounds of constricted spirits
wanting to know
whooooooooooo whooooooooooo

whistling, whining, reaching out for forgiveness
ghosts formed in winter winds
caught dead inbetween
where souls can go
pleading in their whines and moans
for an unrelenting release of mercy never granted

will it ever end?

Clenched souls, prisoners of sin
Seeking restitution
Searching for the silence of the stars
Where light wraps in solace
in the hour of loneliness.
Where forgiveness stills the seeker
in the hour of loneliness.

Are the river ghosts making their winter arrival known? I think so.

Saturday, November 24, 2007

talk amongst yourselves........

Last night while driving in the van with my children, the conversation led us to planet Technology. What? You didn't know we had a new planet in our solar system? Well, if you look up into the night sky you will see a set of stars off to the east that form what looks like the map of Japan......well just above that, a little past Uranus, is a flashing red light. That light is actually Planet Technology.......the RED flashing light is pointed at us on planet Earth. And guess what folks? It's beaming subliminal messages at us to plug in, wire up, tune in, and tune out ALL THE TIME.
Can you feeeeeeeellllllllllllllllll it??

The other messages? Buy, replace, toss away...... be in the groove with new, new, new and improved! .......bigger, smaller, better........more gadgets, channels, sounds, actions..........gotta have.....must're a loser if you don't own.........YOU CAN'T LIVE WITHOUT IT!!
gotta have, gotta have, gotta have...........

I find Planet Technology a very strange place and the affects it has on Earth, and I'm beginning to feel like an alien on my own planet. I know I'm definately in the minority now. I can't keep up with the new techie terminology, I can't understand most conversations when two people are chatting it up about the latest game for their playstation whatever......and I completely don't understand the need to have a phone tucked into my pocket so I am accessible at all I will never be lonely?? I don't get any of it, and besides my cellphone, which is work issued is so archaicly chunky, would never fit into my pocket. It remains in my van for the most part, unjuiced presently.

More shocking (to others more than to me I think) is that I don't really want to get it........except when it relates to the change in human behaviour.
That part of it intrigues AND concerns me.

I once owned a walkman 20 years ago. It held cassettes. I never used it and I never wanted another version. It's not that I don't like music. I LOVE listening to music. I simply prefer it playing on a stereo, on the radio, from my computer, from my family who like to sing around the house. My favourite place to listen to music is when I'm driving. When I go for a walk at lunchtime during the work week I want to take in the sounds of my downtown. Same if I'm on the walking trail down by the river. Same if I'm traipsing through Toronto in the middle of rush hour. I want to hear my own song intertwined with the song of life around me. Maybe if I commuted everyday for long stretches, or if I travelled extensively for work, I would change my mind. I'm sure I would. But, my surroundings don't necessitate this, so it's moot to me personally.

My family all own mp3 - ish gadgets........purchased in the last two years or so. My conversation with my children revolved around the evolution of this technology and how the newest version can hold a gazillion songs because of something called GIGS?? (And to think I thought that was a jamming session with a bunch of musicians) Not only that, you can upload, download, reload (does it wash a load??) movies, music, interviews, can email, take pics, search the internet.......some I think are phones too?? And they are WAY smaller than the versions they have. Needless to say, they were informing me that theirs were obsolete in comparison.

My question to them, said admittedly with sarcastic syrup in my voice................."Why not wait until next Christmas season when ANOTHER version is foisted upon us making this year's version obsolete and relegated to the discount bin by last years bestselling books that were going to evolutionize the planet??" (Remember that HIT book, The Secret?? It made someone a shitload of money all the while passing on common sense packaged in a new age mantra as something evolutionary??)

I also asked...............why would I want to watch a movie on a 2 inch screen? I don't own a plasma TV either to watch the movie like in a theatre either and don't want bigger in this regard is not better in my books.

Where is all this tossed out technology going anyways??

The portion of Planet Technology I really don't feel like I'm missing out on is the ever expanding section of GAMES. I can't even keep them straight in my head, even if I'm trying my best to discuss this stuff with my son. Xboxes, Playstations, Gamecubes, PSPs, Gameboys, DDRs, a Wii, consoles, controllers, interactive whatevers............I learned this morning that the term joystick is NEVER used. Thank God I learned that today, or it would've been VERY embarrassing if I was ever to walk into a GAME convention centre. As much as I try to understand the passion for this stuff and the lingo that goes with it, whenever I walk into one of those stores that carry just gaming paraphenalia, I feel like I have been teleported to Planet Technology without a map.

This is a problem since I have been trying to price Wii's and I don't have a frigging clue what it is I'm pricing or what I need to purchase so that all the parts are there.......... This experience is comparable to shopping for hunting gear. I have no clue about either hobby and I don't want to have a clue.

Though.......I'm interested why some are so interested in this stuff.

And yet....................I'm typing (did I just type the word typing??) on a laptop which I LOVE. I access the internet all the time, which I LOVE........I write on my blog religiously and with much pleasure..........I have a digital camera which goes with me wherever I go. However both pieces of technology are still quite foreign to me as I struggle to understand ALL that I can do with them. And I seem to always be screwing it up. I have yet to figure out how to fix my sidebar on this site without the help of my technologically intuitive family (notice ALL of my links to you people are gone?? I tried to change my template and LOST you all and haven't had a chance to figure out how to put you all back there again......)
My photos? I have so much to learn about how to download them properly and all that. My brother in law took a bunch off my doo-hickey thing in the camera where they are stashed and put them on a CD for me last spring.
Have I done anything with them? Noooooooooo...............

I am a neanderthal is some respects. I guess I'm not a gadget person, though I have some I rely on and love to use. However, you'd never in a million years catch me standing in line overnight waiting to buy the latest game system or music system. Actually, you'd never catch me standing in line over night to buy anything except perhaps front row seats to see Mr. Piano man if it included dinner for two........or at least a chance to invite him over for Thanksgiving. And if THAT happens, I promise I'll ask the person standing in line next to me to text you my news!!
In the meantime........I will be sort of trying to bridge the gap between my techie understanding and the enthusiasm others, including my family, have over some of it.
I don't really want to be completely left behind.
There wont be anyone around to talk to.

Thursday, November 22, 2007

muffled soul

Fog has rolled in tonight blanketing the river valley with a shroud of loneliness. It flattens the streetlights so that they let off a blurry glow which works hard to push through the heaviness.

No success.

It strips the trees to bareboned nakedness leaving them gnarled and stark silouettes.....their tired branches reaching out to find warmth.......any kind of warmth left from the past. But, there's only a sweet memory of lush heat. Instead, those aching limbs spread out only to find cold sheets of wetness.

Alone in the fog, a transient arrives to a new town. Disoriented, hungry and in need of a warm bed, he goes in search of a lush heat he knew from the past. It seems like he has lived most of his adult life in a mindfog caused from losing his inner self in a brawl to prove he was made of something. He lost. He lost his need to be. When the fog begins to get the best of him.........when the loneliness felt in his aching limbs throbs insignificance, he moves on only to find new cold sheets of wetness. Numbstayed he remains broken and invisible. He can't find his way.

And it makes me wonder how many live in the muffled noise, separate of other's warm touch.

And it makes me wonder if fog can be a good place to insulate the headnoise from oneself, or do the negative words reverberate never managing to escape beyond the blurried streetlights.

And it makes me wonder if musicians prefer the muffled thickness of a cold fog in November in order to hear the isolated cupped notes more clearly. They have no where to go but reflected back from the shroud to the soul.

When it rolls in, I have this urge to listen to Warren Zevon or Tom Waits or an after hours singer with a gravelly voice and the night soul where he scrapes up his inspiration. Are heartache ballads created inside a fog? Is this where real creativity lurks?

Tonight the fog rolled into the river valley and as I walked the dog under the flattened streetlights towards the apple orchard bare of life I could only hear the sounds close by. The deep drop drips of rain into the storm drains, the jingle of my dog's collar as she plays tricks for herself with the tennis ball, the muffled steps in my walk. The November cold begins to seep into my bones, frightening me.

Not another soul in sight except my own.

I decided to walk back home humming to the tune of the howling werewolves of London. Funny, my fear didn't leave me until I stepped into the warm light of my home and heard the clear innocent voices of my children. Perhaps I needed to choose something more show tune-like?

Wednesday, November 21, 2007


Real power is not found in the brute strength of a body builder, nor in the mind of a dictator. Its is not found in the underpinnings of the corporate world, nor in the boardrooms of government.
Where then does real power dwell?

You will feel it in a tender reassuring touch.
You will hear it in the honesty of a kind word.
You will see it on the face of a person who is lending a listening ear.
You will find it in the compassionate gentleness of a smile from someone who cares.

Why are these acts so powerful?
They have the potential to turn another life around.

You just never know when a simple act of kindness can make a penetrating impact on a person in need of gentle recognition.
Who has made an impact on you lately?
Who have you reached out to with a kind gesture?
ps. Happy Thanksgiving to my American friends.

Tuesday, November 20, 2007


We are like sponges who soak up all that is around us......

comments spoken
events experienced
opinions espoused
successes embraced
failures wounded

What if our sponges are saturated with years of negativity?

deprivation, isolation, mistrust, alienation, abandonment,
psychological pain, accumulative shame.

Is there a way to squeeze out the poison caught in the holes of the sponge? It can be done.

The moments, the people, the opportunities, the triumphs and the defeats impact who we become and how we respond more than we really care to admit. And if we don't recognize our own decision making patterns which have been generated by our accumulated past, we have the potential to keep making the same decisions over and over and over again. It begins with self awareness. It begins with recognizing what ingredients are found in the sponge.

We are unique thumbprints because of our diverse collection of experiences and yet we have much in common when it comes to how we react when we are unaware of the impact our past has on our present. We can easily become our own self fulfilling prophecies and not even know that it was our own power that put us in the same boat as before.

How often have you caught yourself choosing not to try something simply because you figure you'd fail at it because you had before? How often have you realized that you took a risk worked last time, why not again? How often have you fallen into a relationship that on the surface didn't appear to be the same as the one before.........and yet........... you quickly realize that this person is all of sudden saying things about you that are familiar sounding?

How often do you catch yourself believing that you DESERVE to be treated with disdain? Statements like:

Things keep happening to me......

I can't catch a break......
The world works against me.......
I have always had a black cloud over me.....
I deserve it.......
I'm unlovable.....

So often I meet with someone who has never looked at the patterns of their choices and how they can easily be threaded back to the abuse and neglect, to the unnuturing upbringing, to the lack of unconditional love and belonging. The lack of awareness constricts their options by painting them with scar tissue schemas. Their testimonial statements reveal these scars to anyone listening, but often go unheard by themselves. This is where we will begin our work together.

We all have them......emotional schemas.......though some have wider and deeper ones. Sometimes, the same schemas are passed on from generation to generation, causing a cycle of dysfunction or a repetition of mistakes. Unfortunately, I see this time and again. The poverty of unmet basic needs wounds far greater than financial poverty and can impact another generation to a point where their chances of success diminish rapidly.

So how can someone change their course of action........their course in life? How can someone's supposed luck change? It all comes down to realizing that their behaviour and their choices stem from the stuff in their personal self concept sponge. Either they get a new one altogether or they take the time to squeeze the poison out of it. And since we only have one sponge to last our whole lives, there is really only one option. They must find a way to replenish the bad with some good. It starts with learning how to look in the mirror and like what they see. But, first one has to recognize their own set of emotional schemas.......

For more information on emotional alchemy...... Here is a link to a list of the various schemas with other links to coping styles. As well, here is a link to an explanation of cognitive therapy as an approach to breaking the patterns created by the schemas we carry with us.

Monday, November 19, 2007

hmmmmmm, i wonder..........

Yesterday, I went for a walk in the woods on my friend's property to do some tipping of evergreen. After I had a bundle of pine, spruce and cedar.........enough to make a big wreath for the front of my house and a garland for the railing of my back deck, I sat on this rock to listen to the peace in the trees. What I heard was the choir of life. All around from my memory sounding like the soundtrack from the movie The Mission. It fit the moment.

I love how our musical memories exist as our own life score.

And as the choir continued to keep my peace company, I began to think that soon, the little brook will be iced over, the path will be erased and the boughs will be covered in snow. Dormant life, but never silent.....never dead. It made me wonder if winter is the most productive season of all, when the gestational pull of a dream grows in hibernation.

Perhaps, I thought, perhaps dreams need to lay dormant so that they can turn from an outward illusion to an inward vision to be awakened in the spring? Then, I thought..........perhaps my dream needs another winter to be able to blossom and bear fruit...........?

I stood up, feeling hopeful and excited about the pending winter months. I called the dogs to join me for the trek back to the house beyond the barn . My arms were full of sweet smelling pine and my heart was awakened by my new idea. I somehow felt lighter.

Dreams is this week's prompt for Writer's Island. Check out the others.

Sunday, November 18, 2007

barefoot and reverent?

a little too cold to be barefoot
definately barefoot in spirit

A friend asked me recently when had I returned to the church. Given that we were having a amiable conversation about religion, this was a legitimate question. Anyone listening to us would've assumed that I have taken a baptismal dunk into the river.....that I had reached some personal conclusion about where I stand with respect to my beliefs. My writing sometimes seems to cut right to that place of worship. My reading interests have most definately changed to a more inclusive look at Christianity. My conversations, even with the people I'm counselling seems to have altered, simply because my thinking is more receptive to the topic.

My answer? It now seems like a broken record..........."I am comfortable figuring it out on my own, right now. I have my whole life to figure it out." I'm beginning to think this sounds like a cop out.

I am most definately seeing my world around me with a different lens and am happily willing to accept that a leap of faith may bring an acceptable answer to some of the occurances around me which before required a more specific, more scientific answer.

Doubt has lessened.
Leaping has increased.
Possibilities have opened up
But am I willing to commit?

What holds me back from crossing into a more secular lifestyle of regular church going, hymn singing, psalm reading attendance?

I don't like to follow along in a congregational pack? yes.
I slip into my own writing mode on Sunday mornings where I can independently consider certain topics connected to faith. yup.
I still have doubts that I feel compelled to figure out before I make any formal commitment? uhuh.
I'm not good at keeping it together while singing hymns. partially.........
I'm not looking for another membership to add to my life. I really don't like joining groups. affirmative.

Fear...............? hmmmmmmm....... is it fear?

Of what?

If I am honest, it's probably the same fear which keeps me in a holding pattern with moving forward with my writing. Both of these pursuits re-emerged at the same time a couple of years ago, and now they seem to go hand in hand.........more than that, they are intertwined, holding each other up, supporting and feeding each other. So, you'd think this would give me the fortitude to pull it together enough to at least make a more committed step in one of the venues.
What is it that I'm afraid of?

It has been said that we are all afraid to reach the end of our lives only to find out that we didn't matter.........that we never left a footprint as our legacy. These two pursuits hold such meaning for me. I guess I'm afraid that if they don't work out that perhaps my life will end up being a bust. Better to stay in the comfort zone than move out into the open to take that risk?

My religion......
What if I don't fit as a church going person committed to God? What if I can't find a place to call home? I do like a sense of barefoot reverence. I'm not a good lemming. I can't swallow something even if I'm told it's good for me. Can a misfit like me move from the fray and find a place where I feel like a belong? Jesus likes the Ragamuffins, but is there really a place for us
in the formal structure of the church? What if it just doesn't live up to my expectations?

My writing............
I am more clear about what I want to do with it and where I would like to go with it than my religion. But, what if I pull it all together and send it out to publishing land and then nothing happens? Would I be able to handle that rejection? I want my writing to be my future...........I want it so much that it seems to stop me from going for it. Is my timing right? Is the type of writing I do publishable? It makes my head hurt second guessing myself as I sit in stall mode.

As much as I am a strong individualist who does many things in my life on my own, independent of others.... As much as I am fully aware that I am a leader, that others perceive me as that, that it is expected of me..... As much as I am confident in my decision making, my creative problem solving, my vision and ideas, for some reason I feel this unrelenting need for someone to take the lead on both of these journeys. It would be so wonderful to have someone call me up and say..........."Hey! Let me help you here. I know how to do this................."

Are you there God, it's me Muskie.............I could really use some help here. And could you bring me a few kleenexes? I think I hit the nail on the head. My cheeks are all of a sudden soaked.

gales and sails

“One ship drives east, and another west.

With the self-same winds that blow:

‘Tis the set of the sails

And not the gales,

Which decides the way we go.

Like the winds of the sea are the ways of fate,

As they voyage along through life;

‘Tis the will of the soul

That decides its goal,

And not the calm or the strife”

Ella Wheeler Wilcox

Friday, November 16, 2007

I carry..........

Girl Carrying a Basket
Winslow Homer , 1882
National Gallery of Art, Washington D.C.

How would I know what beautiful is if I don't carry it with me?
How would I know how compassion felt if I don't carry it with me?
How would I know about suffering if I didn't carry it with me?
How would I know what pain meant if I dropped it in a heap and didn't carry it with me?
How would I know what success tasted like if I didn't carry one with me?

How would I ever know how to deal with loss if I didn't carry the experience with me?

Where would I be without the bundle of love I carry with me?

How would I know how to be a friend if I didn't carry you with me?

When my cup is full, how do I carry it without spilling?
When my life is too chaotic, how do I learn to carry it without buckling under the pressure?
When I feel like I'm being pulled in too many directions, how do I continue to carry the map that will show me the path out of the woods?

Our minds, carry the cognitively accumulated experiences and life lessons which have taught us how to consider, to assess, to problem solve, to absorb, and to make decisions.

Our hearts, carry the interactive memories which have offered lessons in how to feel, express, empathize and sympathize.

And in our souls, we carry our true selves, made from the breath of God. It is from our souls that we learn to reach out to help carry the burdens of other human beings. It is where we harbour that bundle of love.

This week's Sunday Scribblings prompt is "I carry." Check out the others.

Thursday, November 15, 2007

Welcome To Vancouver, Canada

Five minutes after this picture was taken of this man, he was dead. He was killed by a taser attack, and an RCMP knee to the neck after he was completely doubled over on the floor writhing in pain from the electronic jolt resonating through his body. He vibrated and yelled in agony after he was shot not once, but twice by an over zealous RCMP of four who had arrived to "deal" with this distraught tourist from Poland.
Mr. Dziekanski, 40, did not speak English, and had been at the airport for more than 10 hours, 6 of which he spent in the baggage handling area wandering around unnoticed. UNNOTICED! No one took the time to approach this man, who most likely was in a state of anxiety and for some reason disoriented to a point where he couldn't find his way to the exit area where his mother was anxiously waiting for him. If he looked anything like he did in this picture, I would think he wouldn't be blending into the hoardes of travellers stopping to pick up their luggage and leaving.
What does this say about the security of the Vancouver Airport?? If a man can wander through the passenger arrivals areas for 10 hours after disembarking from his plane without anyone noticing, how safe is this airport? In this age where airport security is supposed to have been beefed and tightened........and a man walks around aimlessly for 10 freaking hours??!!
These questions however are minor compared to the other unanswered questions.................
Mr. Dziekanski was killed on October 14th. The details of his death at the time seemed to indicate that he was completely out of control, confrontational, dangerous.........hence the need to taser him twice. Fortunately, his story and the truth was captured by a witness who video taped the incident.........from the moment of this picture to his tragic death. Like millions of others, I sat in horror watching the video on the National news last night.
I am at a loss for words to describe it.
It was true that this man was agitated at the beginning of the video. He threw the table he was holding. He three a computer, while talking in his mother tongue. At the same time, 4 RCMP officers (there original story indicated there were 3 of them................I counted there were 4) approached him, and Mr. Dziekanski seemed to calmed down. As he backed up to a counter, facing the officers and not acting threatening or confrontational at all.............simply upset and bewildered.......he was tasered which brought him to his knees right away.
I have never seen the physical response to a human being tasered. It's sickening and completely inhumane. Why they thought they had to zap him again is completely beyond me when they didn't have a reason to taser him in the first place.
His mother had been told that there were no records that he had gotten off the plane?? How can that be? She went home believing that he missed the flight, only to be woken by a 2 in the morning phone call from the airport authority to return to the airport. Unbeknownst to her, she arrived to identify her dead son........and to hear a made up cover up story of how her son was completely out of control deranged and died during a struggle with Canada's finest.
This is a story the RCMP will not be able to cover up. It's been caught on camera. Though they are doing their "very best" to spin it like they are known to do, its not washing away the blood. Tonight listening to AS it Happens on the CBC, one V.P. (where the hell are the Presidents/CEO's to deal with this??? Pansies!) after another stammer and stall and gag over their own words...........
They are going to get to the truth of the matter. They are never going to let this happen again. They are sorry and feel so badly for the mother. The video is only one side of the investigation will allow the parties involved to share their side........OH EXCEPT MR. DZIEKANSKI. HE'S DEAD!
Good thing we can count on a thorough inquiry and investigation into this unforgettable incident. What? Is it true?? The RCMP investigate themselves?? Sounds like a big wanking circle to me.
May this man rest in peace and may his dignity be posthumously restored.
May tasers be banned forever. They are glorified torture devices.
AND, may a whole bunch of VP's, CEO's, RCMP officers and a few baggage security staff land in the unemployment line at their local Human Resources office. Let's hope they dont have to wait too long for service. You never know what could happen.

Wednesday, November 14, 2007


The sunset tonight was spectacular. The vibrant oranges and blues and purples were spread across the canvas sky. Unique, alive, made you feel like you were just a tiny object in a big piece of performing art.....your role not quite defined yet.

When we are provided with such a show, it makes the sad denoument of twilight fade to a more welcoming evening symphony where life meets reflection. Somehow a nature show like this slows the world down to a manageable pace which offers a chance to capture perspective.

Reflection of naked silouettes.
Where light meets stark on a November day.
Where life meets reflection.
Balancing on the cusp of colour.
It spreads the message of what matters.

November vistas provide bountiful grace.

My Happiness

There a people in our communities who quietly do good things. We rarely hear about them, unless somehow our paths cross for whatever reason. Their acts of kindness come from their faith, perhaps from their own history........even as an act of contrition.....a way of offering themselves up for forgiveness. We will never know what truly feeds their motivation. And we we rarely know how much good they have spread just by reaching out to another human being.

Giving and receiving goodness is measured by the connection made between all involved.

There is a church group in town who take on a plan called "40 days of giving." I have no idea if this is a common occurance with this particular religion. I just know we are in the middle of this time of year for this group of parishioners. I have never met them personally, but i have heard a few of the stories and end results of their good deeds.

Here is one story of giving

Last week, I found myself in a recreation room of a senior's apartment building. A small group of seniors wanted to arrange a gathering to encourage others to become more active. It was decided we would plan an afternoon "fall fling" with music and coffee, tea and sweets all the while asking those who attended what type of activities they would like to see throughout the winter. It was a wonderful turn out. All of the squares and sweets were provided by the local church as part of their community service and they arrived by the trayload. Each senior, who lives VERY frugally, was able to take a plate of goodies home with them afterwards. It meant a lot. None of this cost any money. thank God, because there was no way of paying for any of it.

The music was provided by our very own Fredericton Elvis, who has recently won various contests and was invited to Graceland last summer for the 30th anniversary. Mike, our Elvis is a well know mini celebrity in these parts, as is his son Josh, dubbed Little Elvis. Now when it comes to the whole Elvis phenom, I have to admit that I'm creeped out by it all. However, I see how thrilled and excited others get over it, and I can appreciate it.
Elvis arrived with his guitar, dressed not so was mid afternoon at a senior's fall fling, so he toned it down a bit. He promptly began singing, interspersing the songs with stories about his trip to Graceland and Sun Records etc............what he learned from his trip. In no time, he had all the guests singing and clapping and laughing at his gyrations. He also connected with them because he was once a pastor in the community too and knew a few of this audience. He was comfortable and happy to be there. He had done it for free and brought a big gust of happiness into a room full of seniors who live on a tight pension and rarely have a chance to have a little fun.

In between songs, I continued to put the treats out and to make tea, but would return when he would sing another song, and then I would return to lean against the doorway to see and to listen. Most residents sang loudly and openly to the familiar words.....laughing as they went along. At one point Mike/Elvis told a story about Elvis' first recording that became a small hit a the time. The whole place went quiet, however when Mike introduced this Elvis tune, one of his earliest, and one I had never heard before, though the audience knew it.

And quietly they sang along

Evening shadows make me blue
When each weary day is through
How I long to be with you
My happiness

Every day I reminesce
Dreaming of your tender kiss
Always thinking how I miss
My happiness

A million years it seems
Have gone by since we shared our dreams
But I'll hold you again
There'll be no blue memories then
Whether skies are grey or blue
Any place on earth will do
Just as long as I'm with you
My happiness

A million years it seems
Have gone by since we shared our dreams
But I'll hold you again
There'll be no blue memories then
Whether skies are grey or blue
Any place on earth will do
Just as long as I'm with you
My happiness

Lost in their own long ago happiness. Lost in a bank of memories which had been stored in their own pocket of love..........they quietly sang to their lost loves shared on youthful summer nights. This one song offered a gift from the past which produced soft smiles on all of their beautifully perfect faces.

It was an honour to be there to observe this snapshop moment where happiness visited a seniors recreation home............where the outside community brought song and love to a group of people who are often forgotten.

I smile just thinking about it.

Monday, November 12, 2007

flickering light of friendship

Candles have a way of warming up the ambience of a room. Just a couple of flickering candles glowing on a mantlepiece make a room feel so much more inviting. Though I sometimes light them in the summer on the back deck, my real urge to light candles doesn't seem to appear until the fall. Maybe because it starts getting darker earlier. Maybe it's because it's colder outside at night and somehow they make a difference.

Amazing too that only one simple flickering light can make a difference. At the camp I worked at as a camp counsellor when I was young, there was a tradition that was followed every "last night" of camp. After the big banquet dinner, all the camper groups and their counsellors would congregate on the beach to share a letter that each group had written while sitting surrounding a blazing campfire.

As we arrived, we were given an unlit plain white candle with a piece of tinfoil wrapped around the bottom of it. We would circle the beach area with the little ones sitting up front and the older campers closing in behind them. Then, one group after another would have a chance to read their letter to all. The letters varied............humourous, lyrical, serious, but always heartfelt and describing the special times that they had shared living together away from home, away from family all the while developing friendships, some of which would become lifelong.

In between the readings, the whole camp would sing familiar campfire songs for the last time. Songs of the kind of spiritual friendship which makes life at a camp such a special place.

And as we shared our stories and many laughs, the blazing fire would begin to die down. The sun would begin to disappear. The evening would become solemn. Once the letters were finished being read, Skip the Camp Director would collect them all. He'd then roll them up in a tube and place them in a plastic container to be buried, only to be dug up the following year to be read aloud during the first night of camp. By the time this ritual was completed, all that would be left of the campfire would be silent embers.....enough though to light a candle.

Skip would then take his candle, bend down to the embers while talking about how one little light can make the whole difference. He would light his candle, and then turn to his wife "Nish" to help light hers. From there, they would pass their light onto the counsellors. The counsellors would turn to light their campers candles. Before you knew it, the cold darkness was gone.

If I close my eyes right now and picture the scene from my memory.......I see glowing faces of the kids quietly watching their own candle flicker from the breeze, in awe of being a part of such a simple yet powerful lesson on sharing. And in the background, the older kids would quietly start singing one more song as they huddled together, holding their candlelight, feeling the warmth of many summers of friendship.

Mmmmmmm I want to linger
hmmmmm a little longer
mmmmmmmm a little longer here with you.
mmmmmmm it's such a perfect night
mmmmmmm it doesn't feel quite right
mmmmmmm that this should be my last with you.

The song ends as soft humming continues. Each group files past the firepit to throw their candle onto the embers. Quietly campers and counsellors head back to their tents for a last night together...............a quick turning glance at the glowing resurrected flames which reveal the tears streaming down the faces of friends......arm in arm......quietly holding onto the magic of the moment.

One flickering light shared.
Flickering hope
Flickering happiness
Flickering friendship
One flickering light spreads companionship.
The warmth of the candle needs to be shared.
The prompt this week on Writer's Island is friendship. I wrote this piece last fall. When I read it again tonight for the first time since I posted it, I was transported back to my camp counsellor days, to the last night campfires and to the warm friends I shared my candle with.

Sunday, November 11, 2007

Still there such a place?

I ate the top one. It was delicious.
Still Life Macs, Nov 2007

How does one let the dust settle in order to see beyond the mummered trappings humming chaotic thoughts? How does one attain a stillness reached only from the silencing of the mind of the soul? A wild cacophony resonates, bellowing over what needs to be heard. Perhaps it is a defense mechanism. Perhaps when we silence our minds, we are confronted with a truth we aren't ready to face. Is there a fear which stops us from entering into this type of dialogue?
It's easier to keep busy. Busy hands, busy feet, busy mind, busy life. If we remain busy, we justify our time, project an image that we are productive and therefore content with the status quo. It's easier to avoid the productivity of our inner comtemplations by being actively engaged in the busy work of life, than to try to tackle what may be the most important task we have as hear the discourse of the silent mind. Why? Because it is so difficult to reach and then to stay there for any length of time.
Our silent mind is an entangled mix of a life lived so far, where there's a blending of the spices......kindness, sorrows, joys, frustration, anger, doubt, happiness, shame, love, guilt .........a mixing of the ingredients captured in the moments which mean the most to us........or which have left the most beauty marks.
It is where we reflect, and try to connect with what is meaningful. It is where truth dwells. Hard hurtful truth entangled with soft welcoming love. And if our goal in life, or at least one if them is to love like you have never been hurt? Well, I guess we just have to recognize that there is risk, but that we must trust that love propels the journey.
Our lives are never completely still. Our minds are never completely silent. I'm beginning to recognize that the deeper the stillness and the longer the silence, the more I am able to hear, the more I am able to listen to the words hidden behind the mummerings. For behind these mummerings which steal comfort is where the dialogue with God just may take place.
And it makes me wonder.............if I was to succeed in silencing my mind enough to meet God face to face, what would I ask Him? What would you ask Him?
And what would He ask of you and me?

Atop the Lord Beaverbrook Hotel, October 2007

Today I stood with the crowd at the cenotaph which sits majestically between the beautiful Christchurch Cathedral in downtown Fredericton and the Saint John River.


Trying to feel what it must've been like
How it must've felt.
What is must feel like now

As we stood together in silence,
the trumpet sound still resonating in our collectivity
I looked over at the big willow tree by the side of the river
Its remaining leaves and branches swaying in the brisk November wind.
It seemed to have it's own rhythm, unfettered by the power of the wind.

It made me think differently of the blustery seasonal wind, which often makes us cold and uncomfortable. It can feel overpowering and in charge. However, instead of thinking that it is a nuisance, that it can bite right through you when you havent bundled up for it's onslaught, I began realizing that perhaps the wind is more representative of freedom.
Can you imagine not being able to feel the freedom of the wind?
Can you imagine living a life where we can't have our own rhythm?
I turned my face to the biting wind as I walked away at the end of the service and quietly said thank you to the men and women who have fought for our freedom.