Friday, November 28, 2008

summers gone

Ordinary moments
sitting across from you
are lost in November's dying light.
walk away
walk away

into the blurred roar of silence
let the leaves weep upon reflection.

Thursday, November 27, 2008

kawabi comfort and joy

Black bird singing in the dead of night
Take these sunken eyes and learn to see
all your life
you were only waiting for this moment to be free

The other day, as I headed to my car in the back parking lot of my office building I was struck by the bitterness of the cold winds. Flurries were swirling above the pavement like fairy dust lost. It was cold. Winter had finally arrived. We had been lucky. November had granted us a overflowing river of rain, but the breezes had been palatable. The cold winds demanded the respect of wool. The transition between seasons, especially from warm to cold, from lightness to early darkness is cruel.
As I drove away, I wanted to shake off the thought that this weather is only going to get worse. It is Canada for God's sake. The cold is going to drop to inhumane temperatures and the snow is going to dump from the heavens. Ice will make walking treacherous. Slush will only bring misery. It is what we're known for........winter.........well, that and making love in canoes.....we do that well too..... oh, and we have an abundance of maple syrup and men who dress in red uniforms and chase bad people through the woods. oh, and humour.....thank the Lord we've inherited the absurdist humour gene....well except for Clyde Wells. He's a defect. I mean really, who ever heard of a politician from Newfoundland who didn't know how to tempt our palate with wit??
So....where was I? oh, yeah starting up my cold van ....... I thought to myself ..... hmmmm .... beautiful self ................... if I could choose to be anywhere else right at this moment, where would it be? And, surprisingly a little shack in the woods clearly popped into my internal slide projector. My old craft shop. With a blink of a thought, all at once I was transported to a little cabin tucked into the familiar woods of my youth. It was blinking back at me. Not only that, the visual recollection was accompanied by a simple yet haunting Beatles tune.
Blackbird fly, Blackbird fly
Into the light of the dark black night.
I've always loved that song, probably because it has such a deep connection to my old craft shop. There are very few places I can think of which resonate a sense of comfort and joy for me. Its not "comfort" as in a soft sofa sense either. It's a feeling of being connected to a collective sense of belonging and all that is right in the world. Do you know that feeling? Its rare, but when it is there, it is a whole mind and body feel.
The craft shop was a sanctuary for many. It sat up the beaten path behind the painted rock off on its own away from all the other fluttering, bantering commotion of camp. Every morning when the kids signed up for activities, crafts would fill up first. We always had a full shop of happy campers in search of a place to be creative, but more than anything a place to catch their breath after a more rigourous activity of swimming, snorkelling, paddling, sailing, water skiing. They would arrive and line up by the painted rock until the bell chimed to announce the beginning and then scramble inside....the screen door banging behind them as they grabbed a spot on the benches which were smattered in years of paint. In fact there wasn't a spot on the walls, ceiling or the wooden beams which held the place together (barely) that didn't have a name and dates painted on it. The craft shop was Kawabi's signature palace. 40 years worth of names decorate the little shack. Mine is in red.......Dana/Muskie, 1970-1981......the summers where my voice was a part of the echos.....
There was no chapel building at need really because anyone who embraced the place as their own knew it was all a little piece of heaven on earth. Chapel services moved from one place to another most the middle of the woods, in the lodge, down on the beach, even across the beautiful blue lake on an island not too far away. But, if I had to choose a place where I always found a sense of awareness and fellowship, it would within the walls of that little craft shop.
It doesn't exist anymore and neither does Camp Kawabi.....except in a wide range of kindreds' memories. It will live on...... Actually, the craft shop began to sag a while back and was replaced by a more fancier shmancier place right off the road into camp....definately not the same. So, it has had time to begin to sink back into the ground.
There's a melancholy feel to my memories of the times shared with friends, both during the daytime and in the evenings after the campers had been tucked in for the night. That was the time when quiet enveloped the whole camp.......and if you wanted to be still with your thoughts or share a spot alone with a friend, you could always find it up the beaten path away from it all. I can still "go there" in my reflections whenever I need to.
Melancholy...... it seems like a sad feeling when you look at the surface of it. It was what I was feeling when I got into the van that night......cold at twilight.....but it led me to a place of comfort and a moment of joy. Not a bad drive home. The flurries never touched me.... only bittersweet comfort and joy........ and the melancholy of the blackbird.....

Wednesday, November 26, 2008

Sweet Amazing Gracie could you ever walk away from such an adorable little puppy face? Sweet surrendering brown eyes.......Well, guess what? You can't. Why? Because she comes bounding after you with a demonic growl intent on piercing your latest nylons, pyjama bottoms, coat, or even your stiff striped rubber boots. She can't leave well enough alone, our Gracie.
You don't believe me do you? Look at her! She's a monster, all curled up and sleeping after a good chomping romp dreaming of catching squirrels and eating unmentionables. You just want to pick her up, put her on your lap and stroke her puppy belly. I dare you to put your face close to hers.......she'll nip your nose and grab at your earrings! Our sweet Gracie isn't a lap dog, oh no! She's a defiant sassy canine who devours dried up pigs ears in one scarfing like it was one piece of kibble. She inhales her dinner and slops up her water and then promptly PEES on our other dog, Lily's bed while staring you down!
Ah, but who can resist the puppy paws, all soft and stumbly? At lunchtime today during our midday walk, Gracie bounded down the street after Lily only to hit a patch of thick slush and splayed out in a ballet move similar to Bambi on ice. My heart leapt for her. "Poor little thing," I thought, "just learning how to manoeuver winter's wonder".....well, until she promptly got up and bounded at me in attack mode! yeah, yeah she just wanted to play puddle jumping with the Mistress. I WAS DRESSED FOR WORK!! Oh well, I've gone to work with baby yuks strewn on the shoulder of my suit jacket before, what's a bunch of dirty paws on the trench coat?

Evidence of her lovely sweetness......the "playful" attack on the Lady of the house....Miss Lily, who up until this fall was a calm reliable friend who never left the front yard on her own, who never growled and would let any sticky fingered snot nosed kid to climb all over her. Afraid of the dark, loud noises, and her own shadow, Lily has never needed a leash even on a busy street. However, she has found her inner alpha dog........and as much as it goes against her Quaker like persona, she has had to resort to some intense TEACHING.
Unfortunately, this seems to happen in the middle of my living room which has just about been trashed completely. Every piece of wicker is munched.....sticks and chewed up errant pencils, torn up tissues, boxes and too........all seem to get dragged into the munched up rugs. All pales in comparison to how much grief poor Lily has endured.......and embarrassment too! This puppy has no boundaries or proprieties.........

We never knew Lily could make a face like that! And believe it or not, they were playing. In fact while I was taking these photos this evening, everytime the camera would make a ding sound, Gracie would stop and pounce on me as I sat on the floor. Then as I was laughing at her shocking energy pointed at me, she would turn back to poor Lily and pounce on her again.

Sweet, irreverant, a pain in the ass puppy. Maybe one day she'll live up to her name? If she doesn't I may be the first one charged with strangling Grace.

Sweet dreams.............and may we never judge a book by it's cover ever again.

The thematic photography prompt this week over at Carmi's site is sweet..... For more sugary pics, click here.

Tuesday, November 25, 2008


(a chapel within the cathedral of Canterbury, may 2008)
A clenched heart cannot shake hands with peace and without peace, freedom is out of reach. Freedom from shame. Freedom to live out the ministry of God. Our primary responsibility on this planet is to recognize each other as one in the same in order to reconcile our differences. But, we are never going to be able to reach a place of reconciliation if we don't find a way to calm the internal conflict between body and soul. What I'm thinking though is that it goes hand in hand. We reach out to help reconcile our community, whether it's our neighbourhood or beyond and in tandem, we begin to reconcile the conflict in ourselves. Salve works both externally and internally simultaneously sometimes.

One of the most difficult things to do is to let go of our own hurt because it is tied tightly to the muscle man feelings....anger, guilt, fear, resentment who love to do battle. They make us feel like unworthy weaklings....... they slam us into a wall of shame, and corner us sometimes for so long that we begin to believe we deserve it. All of a sudden, the way we see ourselves is skewed, that we are forever broken and ruined because we have allowed the self battering to win. Penance is the only answer we begin to believe as we enter into an internal flogging. Joy is strippped of its light and what is left is sorrowful suffering walking in a shell of what used to be.
Rather than recognizing the interconnectivity......ourselves to others, we allow our personal feelings to invade our thinking and we turn inward. We have allowed our thinking to impact our behaviour. We have allowed our actions to make our bodies feel like its been hit by a wrecking ball. Why? Because the muscle men feelings have pushed away the very thought of forgiveness and reconciliation.
Why is it we are more inclined to forgive others really big things and we can't learn to forgive ourselves? Others can get away with just about anything and we have the capacity to help them mediate their way through to finding that freedom from shame. But when it comes to doing the same for ourselves, we keep adding layers upon layers of blanketing blame that only leads to a empty sense of eternal poverty.
Forgiveness and reconciliation begins in the backyards of our souls, where others in our lives will meet us to help lift the layers to reveal our own beauty again.
Yesterday, I met a true diamond in the rough who shared some of his personal story as a means to explain the passion he feels about the work he would like to pursue. He wants to work in the trenches of the frontlines. He wants to help those bruised kids who can't quite let go of their anger, guilt, fear and resentment brought on by shit luck and a life of violence, addictions and inconsistent guidance. Why, I asked?
Because he wants to continue with his own reconciliation and wants to pass on some of the lessons he has learned along the way. This man, who knows what other uncut, unpolished diamonds look like and can see the sparkle potential. He's ready to make the leap into helping others heal and reconcile because he has forgiven enough to unclench his heart. He also wants to learn more.......about himself as he unravels more of his own story.
Compassion begins by loving who we are and what we can offer ...... compassion is the essential oil of reconciliation. We all have it in us..... we all have it to give. Our ministry never ends. WE just need to unclench the heart.
**my thoughts were stirred by a little Bread for the Journey by Henri Nouwen, and an encounter with a diamond in the rough...**

Sunday, November 23, 2008

A Letter About a Gathering

Wilmot United Church, Fredericton New Brunswick

Hey there my beautiful special friend....x

It's been a long time since I sat down to write you a proper letter, what with the efficiency of emails, texts and the phone and of course blogging it somehow didn't feel necessary to put pen to paper. But, I had such an urge to do so today, partly because I wanted to hang onto the pace I am feeling and partly because when I write to you, I feel enveloped in your presence. It's happened already......and I've only just started. Your smiling face is so vividly present, it's warming me up.

I recommend you go put the kettle on and make yourself a cup of tea, your favourite flavour, and go sit comfortably in your favourite chair because.......well, you know what I'm like when I get going. My own tea sits steaming beside me. Dinner is in the oven. My family is off busy doing their own thing and the dogs are tuckered out from a romp in the fields. So, I have time too. Time to savour a Sunday afternoon with you and the silence nestled in the music playing in the background. It feels like all is right in the world and I can give you all my contented attention. Ready?

I've had a tough weekend but won't dwell there now. It just seems like everything is piling up in my ever churning head, and it spills out in uncertainty and fear. I don't know what is just around the corner but I am feeling a strong sense of change. As much as I want change, in fact seem to be craving it, I'm scared. I went to my doctor last week for a check up and even she said to me......"follow your dreams......." and she's not one to use terms like that. It made us both laugh, but I know she's concerned about how I'm not handling my stress well. Thank God for therapeutic writing. Thank God for friends like you. Thank God for moments like this when calm and your love sit with me.

Yeah, I could fill a journal with all of my complicated ruminations. Instead, I want to write to you about my morning because I prayed with you in a place of worship .... a place where I believe you would feel a sense of belonging too. It felt very much like I was praying with you because you were so present in spirit sitting next to me. Yes, today for the first time in who knows how long, I went to church....Wilmot United Church. It was a special gathering to celebrate the Minister's last time in front and surrounded by his congregation. I think I have written to you about him before, Peter Short? He has now retired as of today and is moving into a world of writing, which I know he will be just as influential. This man has a gift...a beautiful magnetic gift of words and passion and reverence I rarely see or feel. His beliefs seem so deeply imbedded in him, though I'm sure he's just like us in that he has days when big questions leave perplexing doubts. It's only human.

What is so lovely about his gifts is that they put him right in the middle of the community as a leader from within.....humble, with a good caring smiling eyes face and manners which make you want to grab hold of his arm and say............"c'mon Peter, lets head to the pub and talk about Jesus...... let's talk about the world we live in and how we can make it better. Will you share with me your thoughts because I can learn from you. And, can I tell you what I'm thinking and feeling because it matters to me that you know. I don't know why this is so, but it is..... maybe it's because I think you'd understand. " Yes, I think he would give it a try......... to walk a mile in my shoes, or at least be there when I was trying to walk that mile in my own shoes. Do you know what I mean? I think you've probably met a few of these special people throughout your journey too.

I grew up in the United Church...........a different church setting in another province, but the same approach to religion and faith......the same message of all being one.....united. This church has traditions I am comfortable with and even though I havent attended regularly at all since my younger years, it's like I never stopped going. But it's been years and it feels like a life time ago and when I think of it......the only other time I had the same feeling with a Minister was with the man who presided over my confirmation classes and ceremony and then my marriage. Reverend Johnson took on a young group of 15 year olds to teach them what it means to play a role and to be welcomed in the the body of Christ.

Every Thursday evening throughout the school year, a whole slew of us showed up eager to hook onto this man's wisdom and non-judgement.......this man who seemed to enjoy hanging out with a bunch of adolescents whose hormones were raging and bouncing off one another, kind of half listening. He did have our attention though and handled our unpredictable predictability as a good mentor can. He knew what he was doing as he took us out of school one day, rented a school bus and showed us another world to the comfy one we were used to. Homeless shelters, soup kitchens, rooms and rooms with bunk beds for lost souls, group homes........he took us into Toronto and gently but firmly made us open our eyes to poverty, mental illness, to human beings in need. Throughout it all, he was there to answer our questions the best he could all the while expanding our horizons and our sense of what community really means.

I saw this in Peter today as he interacted and responded in compassionate spontaneity throughout the service. From the woman who fell ill just before the service began to the little boy who stood with the group of kids at the front of the church and uttered every single word of a prayer Peter was saying like his echo. I saw it when after the choir sang Every Time I Hear the Spirit in such beautiful harmony, he spontaneously applauded, welcoming us to do the same. And I felt it deeply as he gave his last sermon.

There is something amazing about feeling a sense of wonder and belonging in a church, of being right there in the moment experiencing a connection to a Higher Power. The word that comes to mind is affirmation. Affirmation in fellowship. Its rare with me to feel that because most of the settings I am in, I am looked upon as unique, as an oddity. I feel judgement and the quizzical looks.......and sometimes I think I scare people just by being present. Yes, the combination of what makes me who I am seems to be a different sort of puzzle for some reason. Its not that I can't get along with people.....I genuinely do and thrive on it. I am a person magnet, no doubt about it. My family laughs at me because I tend to get into conversations with just about anybody from the young kid behind the counter at the local convenience store to the old lady who collects bottles from the dumpters downtown to the aspiring politician types. Funny, thats what makes me odd I think! How weird is that??

Anyways, there are few places where I can relax knowing I am accepted as me, eccentricities and oddness included. I do share my opinion maybe a little too much and my politics are seen as a paradox to my passions though not in my own head. Whatever it is, that sense of not being "on" and a bit on the defense rarely happens to I felt it..... affirmation in fellowship. No big conversations, simply a blending in with the congregation, singing, praying, being, listening, pondering...........all internal happenings and it was a good, good feeling. Just to be. Me from the inside out.

Today, I listened to a sermon I could relate to. Peter spoke of the cruxifiction and resurrection of Christ.....of the symbolism of endings and beginnings. He focused on the time between the death of Christ and his rising, which I had never really thought about in depth before. He spoke of the fear and anguish.......fear during the witnessed act of killing Jesus, fear of the unknown after he died, fear of the newness of the Holy Spirit.......anguish over Jesus' death, anguish in the process of mourning, silent anguish felt on the Saturday between Good Friday and Easter Sunday which wasn't ever documented in the Gospels.......loss, change, transitions, endings and beginnings.

Like a good storyteller, he used the sacred words of a story we know reverently well and emphasized it as a lesson we could absorb and take with us as we carried on in our own journey while touching on the idea that as individuals we may be at different stations. Some of us may be grieving deeply, some may be silently in anguish, fearful of what happens next, and some of us may be rejoicing. "It is finished"......he stated as Jesus did according to his Disciples..... "Be not afraid, peace I leave with you, support one another." And like a good storyteller, he repeated the message as a way to allow the listeners to absorb it. To take it to heart. By the time he said it the third time...... "be not afraid........peace I leave with one another...." I felt it pierce my outer shell. It struck right in the heart of my own fear and it softened. It softened!! The tears welled up in me quicker than I could find a kleenex. I hadn't expected that at all.......why I don't know because you know what i'm like!! I cry over commercials for God's sake! But, I can honestly say it was a huge surprise to feel such a pang of light.

My fear of what will happen to me didn't go away altogether, that would be a MIRACLE. But it did soften as I realized how many others were sitting around me feeling exactly the same thing. It's not a unique feeling, fear, but it sure is powerfully capable of sinking you into a pit of darkness if you let it eh? So many layers of fear we allow to pile up on our shoulders and in the deep crevices of our dark night wanderings that sometimes we mistake it for something else....

After the service, which included a few of my favourite hymns, I shook Peter's hand and wished him well on his new beginnings....he asked me if I was still writing and I told him yes.....and he told me he will be writing more. I could've stood there and talked to him for a long time....I had so many much I wanted to say, but there was a line up behind him of well wishers. It wasn't the time. I don't when that time will be........ as it is with my wonderings about when you and I will have a chance to meet without any disruptions or time constraints. day.........soon? I'd like that.

Life is mysterious isn't it? I mean who knows when our paths will cross? Who knows when my path will cross with the people I am meant to walk a good long mile with? It seems to happen when it's the right time and it seems to happen when God's hand is stirring the pot. There are some people whom we are destined to spend time together, to learn from. It will happen. How do I know? Because somehow God managed to mix up the clay in the creation of you and I and put a pinch of me in you and a dash of you in me, and it is that belief which makes me feel less afraid, more at peace, and affirmed.

I'm sorry this letter is so one sided....I honestly do want to know where your heart and thoughts are these days. I just had so much I wanted to spill out to you, and I feel like I've only touched the surface. I didn't even describe some of the folks who were sitting all around me.....many familiar faces from different parts of my life.....people I didn't even know they were connected to this church. Another time......

The house is filled with the aroma of the roasting chicken. It must be almost ready because I just noticed the sun setting. It has filled this wonderful Sunday with a salmon pink glow..... You know my beautiful friend I don't think twilight is going to be all that lonely tonight. Ah! The dogs are stirring..... must go.......pour myself a glass of wine.

love to you as you are always......xx Write me when you can.... a good long letter full of your thoughts OK?

"Peace I leave with you;

My peace I give you,

Do not let your heart be troubled and do not be afraid......."

words to live by, eh?


Christchurch Cathedral at sunset, November 2008

Saturday, November 22, 2008


an alluring homeward journey for comfort seekers where a fallow hearted field of dreams awaits.

an escape hatch from a terrible toothache to tarted up memories lubricated with nonsense
an old song with different words

a rejected love without the thorns

an afternoon internal trip taken in an effort to fill an empty vessel which once spilled over in affirmation

a wistful wandering means to validate a story

a desirous attempt to change the story in hopes it will change destiny

a seductive whore dressed as a maiden selling a bouquet of fake flowers

pearls made of the teeth of an old hag

ah, but sometimes......just sometimes.....nostalgia is a warm heartboosting memory on a grey snowy day that lifts a burden or two.

Just be careful what you wish for............

Friday, November 21, 2008

its calling.....and calling.....upon reflection.

You know when you've found a gem of a book when the introduction speaks to you. My daughter asked me to look for a copy of The Alchemist, by Paul Coelho for her to read during English class. Being the good Momma that I am, I complied and then promptly sat down to take a quick glean only to slide right into the story. Right away, a light bulb blinked on.....and not one of those annoying environmentally friendly dull ones. A big bright halogen BLINKED. And let me say, it's about fecking time my head hit the switch.
For ages I have struggled with why I feel so stuck, unable to move forward with some logical plan in my life with respect to my writing. I keep churning the stuff out like a banshee on fire, but I have yet to do anything concrete with any of it except post it here. Up pops a new thought and pling, it spews out of me. (eeeewwww, I now have Regan from the Exorcist in my imagination....hmmmm.......maybe writing is like an exorcism?) The words flow and flow through my veins and out my fingertips. For the life of me, I can't do more than that except give it an unfocused attempt to take the next necessary step.


"We all need to be aware of our personal calling. What is a personal calling? It is God's blessing, it is the path that God chose for you here on Earth. Whenever we do something that fills us with enthusiasm, we are following our legend. However, we don't all have the courage to confront our own dream?"

These are the words that thunked me in the head. Not new words, but perhaps timely words. Paulo Coehlo then identifies the four obstacles that inhibit our attempts at following our own legend......

1. We are told from childhood onward that everything we want to do is impossible. We grow up with this idea, and as the years accumulate, so too do the layers of prejudice, fear and guilt. There comes a time when our personal calling is so deeply buried in our soul as to be invisible. But it's still there.....

This one doesn't fit for me, but it does for many..... I was one of the lucky ones who had parents and other family members who consistently told me I could do whatever I set my sights on. This message continues.......and includes my husband and my children and close friends. I've had good wonderful mentors in my past too who also passed on this message.... Yes, I am very lucky to have so many in my court. It's not something I ever take for granted because I know of so many who are pushing their legend carts uphill alone.

So.....I read on.


2. "We know what we want to do but are afraid of hurting those around us by abandoning everything in order to pursue our dream. We do not realize that love is just a further impetus, not something that will prevent us going forward. (AT this internal light bulb begins to turn on.....) We do not realize that those who genuinely wish us well want us to be happy and are prepared to accompany us on that journey. "
This is where I was hooked.....because I had twisted this in my thinking. I was bending and leaning on this bizarre assumption. Of course the people who love us and support us want the best for us. Why was I using the thought that I would push over the family apple cart if I switched gears in order to pursue my writing? Big adjustments have already been made around here, which I am eternally grateful for. It was my husband and my children who gave me my laptop. It was my family.....who encouraged me to take a trip last spring to fly across the pond to meet a very special emerald friend.

It also makes me wonder..........if there was an important person in my life who only purposefully wants to make me unhappy, then why would I continue to have this person in my life?

I continued to read...

Fear again.....rejection, rejection.....

3. "Fear of the defeats we will meet on the path. We who fight for our dream suffer far more when it doesn't work out, because we cannot fall back on the old excuse "Oh well, I didn't really want it anyway...." We do want it and know that we have staked everything on it and that the path of the personal calling is no easier than any other path, except that our whole heart is in the journey."

Defeats are necessary aren't they? Mistakes are made and it's alright.....if you continue to learn and allow them to stretch you........ Easier said than done!!!! THIS IS WHERE I'M STUCK! I have to get past the idea that swims in my head............"What if I reach for my dream.....of writing and publishing and I fail? What then? What if my attempts to live my legend falls flat? What if I push and pull and try and then I'm left with a handful of feathers and nothing else only to have dragged my family through the carnage??

The suffering we feel when we don't pursue our personal calling is far greater than if we try. This is the key. THIS is what I must remember. It is not the end product, it is the process of living, trying, doing, crying, dreaming, DOING, pursuing, stretching, falling, jumping, yelling, dancing, praying, wondering, creating, creating, creating, talking, sharing, caring that matters!! Not a new lesson, but a timely, timely one. Reaching towards our personal calling most definately will include suffering, but it is also includes that life affirming euphoric moments which is sorely missing in our lives when we remain stuck, stalled and soulfully sore. I realize now this is where I am. I'm not as stuck as I think I am. I am going down the path of my calling. It just includes a few potholes I have to climb out of. And a re-jigging of the gameplan. I can do that.

ps. The last obstacle?? It has something to do with "what happens AFTER the dream is conquered? Then what?" Well, I'll drive across that damn bridge WHEN I get to it. I'm not there yet.....

Thursday, November 20, 2008


"The person in misery does not need a look that judges and criticizes but a comforting presence that brings peace and hope and life and says: 'you are a human person: important, mysterious, infinitely precious, what you have to say is important because it flows from a human person; in you there are those seeds of the infinite, those germs of love... of beauty which must rise from the earth of your misery so humanity be fulfilled. If you do not rise then something will be missing... Rise again because we all need you... be loved beloved.'"
Jean Vanier.

Tuesday, November 18, 2008


Are you out there?

I see
Streetlight tricks on the upshorn leaves
behind the shadow pine

catching the corner of my eye

I hear
Dry soundscrapes of tumbling remants
down the deserted road
threatening nocturnal emptiness

I listen to
An infrequent pitched squeak of a bare branch
against the window pane
warning of winter's cold breath

I feel
sadness when I see your image
behind my closed eyes
haunted regret when I sense your presence
captured in an illusionary embrace

I taste
the last remnants of a parched thirst
the slow drip of salty tears wandering in lost causes
touching my lips in ache

I remember
how you looked at me,
how you used to look right into me.

And it makes me wonder about
shivering loneliness caught in the throat of a cry.
and it makes me long for
surrendering tenderness found in the shared darkness of two souls

to soothe my wounds
to remind me of my beauty
to savour when the winds moan a bitter song
of wanting what I cannot find.

I wrote this piece last year decided to tweak it a bit and repost it. I'm surprised by this poem.......surprised by the fact that it came out of me. I find it interesting to look back on some of my pieces, particularly the ones which were prompted by a particular word or a thought that had been offered up to me. The prompt for this one was "haunted..." and today if I had thought about that word, I more than likely would have gone in another completely different direction.

One of the things I love about writing is the whole process of formulating something from one word. When it flows, it does so from a place in me that is continues to be mysterious. What I do know about that secret writing place deep inside is what dwells there. My heart and my mind come together to contemplate at a thinking and a feeling level. In fact, it is where they integrate and become the whole me. So often I will grab hold of a concept, word or phrase, usually after reading something or hearing something.....sometimes if I have personally experienced it and I try to humanize it.............give it visual feelings.....make it come to life in a different way than we usually look at it. IN this particular piece, I wanted the feeling of haunted to feed the scenario I wrote about.

Writing is an obsession, a practise, a life choice, a joy. Writing is a frustration, a challenge, a therapy, and still remains a joy. It excites, entices, and delights me. It allows me to dig deep into the recess of my own mystery in order to learn as I go.......

Sunday, November 16, 2008

tonic for her clenched soul

Another restless night as the wind outside whipped up storm clouded confusion. It was a persistently lonely howl on a moonless planet that managed to push in between the souls who tossed and turned as they wrestled with their dreams. The wind encased them, stripping away any sense of connectivity to one coffins separated by walls of dirt. It felt like eternity soaked into one long, long night.

Darkness finally turned into daybreak. It was a daybreak, however, without an end to the elements speaking in anger. No lipstick sunrise on the horizon, only the welcoming of grey laden skies weeping in grief with no end in sight. The wind was winning over humanity. Dominance laced with growling moans of lost ghosts demanding refuge, it wailed in pain.

She lay in bed listening to the howls caught in the abandoned branches stripped of green light and realized that her own thoughts and feelings surged inside her with as much ferosity as the wind. Thorns cut into her own clenched aches like a harmonious dirge. Without hestitation, the winds outside upped the ante slamming gusts of rain against the side of the house. Like it was responding to her thoughts, the wind challenged this very idea that this women's ache equalled the wrath of the wind. It shook the foundation of the house, splaying painful torrents against the windows. It lifted the soggy leaves and broken discards up into the air with sorrowful wailing gales from the lost souls.

"I dare you," the wind shouted....."I dare you to believe your wrath is more powerful than my own."
"I DARE YOU to show me!"

Alarmed by the very idea that the wind was speaking to her, the woman's eyes popped open. It was challenging her to what? A dual of sorts? She was too tired......too exhausted to find the energy to respond. Her internal wanderings fed by her own indecisions, anger, frustration and tears of loss and what might have beens provoked the desire to simply pull the covers up over her head and drown out the mighty boastful wind. But, she was stronger than that and never ever stepped away from a challenge. In no time, she was dressed and out the door as she pulled on her rain slicker to go for a walk into the wind. Determined, she marched right into it's eye, up the hill to the fields flooded with new rain and muck, her soul clenched anger feeding her the energy she needed.

The wind beat her back, but she persisted to push through it's wrath as it wrapped around her body, making her coat flap behind, making her face pull in it's rapture. Her hair quickly became drenched; her shoes muddied in the mixture of cloudspills and wet clay. At first her own thoughts bellowed back at the wind..............rage against rage............sorrow bumping into sorrow......pain pushing pain..... her own torrent of tears spilled with the rain.
Why is life so difficult, she asked? Why do I have to suffer so much when I know what I want? Why can't the happiness and not the struggle be the gift from God? The wind spitwhistled through her, filling her ears with sound as she trudged up the hill. Before she knew it though, she found herself standing at the top of the hill overlooking the swollen river, angry in it's own right, flowing like a large belch of brown sludge. The canopy of trees surrounding the field were bent in mercy as their roots held on in frightful hope. She was surrounded by the nature which normally acted as a refuge. Today, however they seemed to be fighting their own battles. Or maybe, they fought alongside her?

She took it all in, surveyed the landscape held ransom to the vengeful wind, and suddenly found her internal noise was being buffered by what seemed like the groans of a thousand ghosts, in much more pain than she had ever suffered. Their pain became hers. Her pain then molded into theirs and soon she realized that though she was standing in the field defiantly all alone, she was part of the swooning forces of nature. A thought entered her muddled head. Someone had once told her that all it takes is to look at one grain of sand and one would know the glory of creation. One grain of sand she thought, as she acknowledged the fury churning in the river down below, and the wind all around her. One grain of sand held the mystery. And with that one thought the wind turn into gusts. It stopped it's incessant bellowing and took a breath. In between the gusts, when there were minute lulls, the wind's loud voice turned into a whisper which echoed one word over and over again like a mantra ..... repent ..... repent.... repent. Then it would kick back into a gale.

She heard it clearly......... repent....... ask for forgiveness......... feel the shame and guilt and ask for forgiveness. Forgiveness for what she wondered? The world blasted against me, what do I have to do with how this forsaken life has unfolded? I have tried and tried to do what is right, what I believed was my responsibility. I have lived as best as I could up to the standards expected of me, and yet I am constantly let down, diminished, abandoned, rejected. Why should I repent for God's sake??? What do I have to repent??? I just want to be recognized for who I am and not rejected or left on the sidelines.

"Humility," the wind responded....."Defiance. Not relinquishing your strong desire to control the forces instead of realizing you are one with them. A speck of sand may seem inconsequential at first glance, but it holds the mystery of all of creation. A speck of sand washed up onto a shoreline has surrendered to the elements and has allowed itself to be validated as one of many. No one is more special than anyone else. No grain of sand feels special. It is simply part of the universe, as you are. A speck of sand and YOU are one in the same."

This message brought her to her knees in realization that she was trying too forcefully and in the meantime brushing back the people and the forces who were in her life to befriend her. Rather than accept herself for who she was, she constantly fought back and in so doing left people in her wake feeling threatened by her yearnings. Shame washed over her as the dawning pressed on her temples. Destiny cannot be thwarted. Destiny cannot be altered no matter how hard you try to manipulated the circumstances. Trust in the universe is the way to be. Sure we have the strength to help overcome some day, but it will only happen if one trusts that life will unfold as it should.

Enlightened, she fell into a heap on the ground and thought about all the winds she chased after......all the causes she fought in what she had considered were good deeds. She thought of the people in her life who mattered, the moments in her life which mattered. The pictures played quickly through her mind and then came to a sudden halt when she finally realized that the world wasn't an "us against them scenario." Rather, it was a single solitary oneness.....the essence of all that she was made of was an accumulation of the past which was held in the ground she knelt upon and the future which was held in the hands of God. At that moment, she looked up into the skies and let the rain wash over her like a cleansing baptism.

Time lost meaning as she knelt in the thinness of the moment of feeling a sense of surrendering peace as she spoke the humbling words....."please forgive me....."
Soaked, tired and vulnerable but also feeling empowered, she pulled herself up and let the wind carry her down the hill to her home where the people she loved were waiting for her to make breakfast....a big Sunday breakfast as always. She couldn't wait to put the kettle on to make herself a hot cup of tea......tonic for her soul. It was time to restart the day with a new set of eyes. It was time to give thanks.

****Written with a lot of help from The Alchemist by Paulo Coelho. I highly recommend the book if you havent read it yet. *****

Saturday, November 15, 2008

omens and blessings

How often do we miss a blessing because we only see it as a curse? Are we afraid to recognize them for what they are? How often do we miss reading the omens scattered like autumn leaves along our walking path because they simply look like wet rotting lifeless mulch in need of a good raking? They smell of death, not life! Some of them.....the strong ones stick to your shoes and trail along, persistently holding on. Those messy buggers.
All the while, we keep thinking "Gotta keep the walking path pristine..........leaves are just messy and mean nothing." We have tucked away our ability to use our intuitiveness.....the essence of how we read the world around us because we want life to be pristinely predictable.
why? Fear.
Omens and cursed blessings mark change....change in our messiness we label "life unfolding," .... a letting go of the past, and a bridge to the future. They stir up our feelings and make us feel uncomfortable in our own skin. It's like we don't know ourselves because blessings and omens bump us from the outside and make us look inside. However, if we use our intuitiveness tool to journey into the clay of others who have been here before us, perhaps we will find that our lives are simply a thread of an eternal wise soul where answers and maps are found.

Friday, November 14, 2008


I wrote this last spring and never published it. Today it goes to post....


There is truth in the statement, "please hear what I'm not saying." This is the crux of effective listening. If you are able to hear what someone isn't saying with genuine intent it is the best gift you can give to someone. It doesn't matter how dire the circumstances are for that person, listening helps beyond any other need. It's rarely the words spoken. It is what is hidden behind the words, behind the mask, behind the facade that matters. You may think that it's all in the ears........ it's never with the ears only. No doubt our hearing abilities can pick up the nuances and the revealing pauses, its the other senses which pick up the intuitive radar that perhaps something is amiss.

When the person has the inability to express verbally what they are thinking, how they are feeling, what they need, their non verbal actions speak for them. The pain may be too intense. There may not be the words to describe it. There may even be a language barrier. Besides most of what is communicated is not verbal........most of what is communicated is non-verbal. If you are genuinely listening, you are taking it all in.........the actions, facial expressions, the pauses, behavioural responses, the tone, the eye contact (or lack of), the silence, the mood. Clothing, posture, the state of someone's fingernails all tells us something. It is all there to be listened to.

Real hunger is shown in the eyes, the stance, the energy............a person doesn't need to tell you verbally. It's there if you are paying attention! If you're listening from your heart, where those big ears of yours are connected to, you will hear the hunger pangs. Stirred yearnings seep out of the pores anxious to be acknowledged. Why do we hesitate to acknowledge??

Please hear what I am not saying. Silence is not often gift wrapped in meditative stillness. Rather it is more likely to be confused rumbling camoflauged as "everything is alright." It is a confusing indirect approach to seeking empathic receptivity and it's frightening for the other person who may have gleaned that their is much more to it that meets the eyes and ears. It may even feel so daunting for another to observe the non-verbals that they don't dare step into the field of landmines for fear that whatever is causing the angst may not be "fixable" in a short burst of attention.

Maybe the person on the receiving end of what is not being said feels like the issue is somehow connected to them and they don't want to open up that "can of worms....." OR maybe that person is just too self absorbed in their own world that helping out a fellow human being is not even considered. Who knows.......... what I am wondering if we are all just a little too inhibited to really listen to another person. We have a tendancy not to step outside of our own cloister more often than we do.

Our inability to listen to others strikes down our ability to show compassion. When our compassion and kindness skips town, all that is left is a mean self centred core of individuals striving for their own brass ring. We have no gift to give another human being if we deprive them of true listening....this is compassion in action. Even if we don't have the answers...even if we don't have a frigging clue how to fix, adjust, mend, listening relays the message that you are sitting right there in their pain. Two sitting together draws strength, even if "sitting together" may mean being miles apart.

Real life trauma is shown in the lack of eye contact, the dishevelled apathy of uncombed hair, dirty clothes, poor hygeine, mumbling regrets. It is shown in the tired skin encasing a worn soul. What happens when the person who feels like they are undeserving realizes that they are being heard? The beginnings of possibility where seeds take root because listening communicates to another......YOU matter.

So often we cant undo or take away someone else's physical pain, or past nightmares as much as we would really like to. All we can give is of ourselves............our empathic listening and encouragement. Recognition of one another deepens connections....and sometimes it helps the other person recognize in themselves that they are worthy and that they are matter what.
Yesterday, I had just spent an intense two hours counselling a young woman who has no words. She smiles and shrugs and sometimes lets her real feelings seep out. I was exhausted from listening and trying to pull her story out of her. I was exhausted too from a long week of work where stresses increased tenfold when it was announced last week that some of my co-workers have had their jobs cut and we were told that more are to come. I don't know what that means, but clearly it may be dire. I was exhausted from trying to juggle many issues swimming in my own head. I had no idea this all showed on my body and face after i had just said good-bye to the young woman and walked into a room filled with Christmas crafts for sale over the lunch hour. But, my friend was paying attention. She was "listening" to what I was not saying...... her concern and compassion carried in the arms she automatically put around me as she asked if I was alright. I didn't even know I was "showing" so much. In one hug, Mary spoke reams to me in her compassionate action, and re-established my footing for the rest of the day. She showed me that I matter. She told me that she understood. Now, if I could only control the tear ducts while standing in the middle of a craft sale......thank you Mary. Thank you for always hearing what I am not saying.

Thursday, November 13, 2008

secrets and lies

Are the lies we tell ourselves hiding the secrets we can't bear to look upon? Or are secrets stuffed deeply merely lies wrapped in a different foil made of fear? Do we hang onto untruths because we fear that we will not find love and if we do we'll mess it up completely and lose it anyways?

We light candles in prayer and then promptly walk away from the glow. Why?

my thoughts this morning while soaking in a tub....

Wednesday, November 12, 2008


God created man so he could tell a story
Eli Weisel

I have the good fortune to meet many people from all walks of life. Almost everyday, I meet someone new to me, usually through what I do for a living. I have no idea how many people I have had the pleasure to share small bursts of time together. Never the quantity......... always the quality. Needless to say, I have heard stories and have learned to help peel the layers off the surfaces in order to truly glean a deeper sense of the person behind the stories they choose to share. Their stories flow into my own. Our connections, even if briefly, have added the lustre to my own narrative. I carry storythreads of their tapestry as they do some of mine. From the painfully poignant to the joyfully celebratory........our stories intertwine and fold into our own human essence.

There are some people I've met who for one reason or another, leave a more profound impact on me. I'm sure this happens to all of us, and chances are someone comes to mind right away. There is no recipe for figuring this out, and believe me I've tried. Timing and a commonality are factors, but I often don't know who it will be or when it will happen. It always leaves me pleasantly surprised when it happens -- when I am confronted with a feeling that the connection goes far beyond the "regular" kind of meeting of the mind and spirit.

Last spring, I met a young girl who lives in public housing. Before I had been introduced to her, I observed her as she entered the community centre that was filled with a slew of children of all ages and their moms. There was an evident magnetism surrounding her. Her peers moved towards her, as she very comfortably strolled over to a mother who was surrounded by her little ones and was holding her newest 6 month old. The young girl confidently took the baby into her arms, gave him a loving hug while she continued interacting with the ones around her. Strong, capable, and seemingly self assured, this 12 year old had me wanting to meet her too......wanting to know her story. I wanted to know her dreams and what made her tick so brightly.

Since then, I have had the chance to watch her in a few different settings as well as sit with her around a campfire this summer at a local campsite park. I saw her again interacting with her peers while waiting to jump on a ride at the local exhibition. Even though there were hundreds of others milling around her, some with familiar faces, this little one stood out. It was like she had a light glowing from her as a means of highlighting her presence.

Is that it? Is that what attracts us to the others who seem to make more impact on us....that there is some kind of energy that pulls us in? We read often about the Laws of Attraction.......its the underlying premise of that book "The Secret...." but can you really exude this in a concious way or does it have to within you? Is it an attraction of the internality of another human being or is it merely physical attraction manifested by an external beauty?

Attraction stupifies. It comes in all shapes, sizes, ages, circumstances. It is more than what meets the eye because it somehow pierces the surfaces and triggers our curiosity, shakes our desire to know their stories and to share some of our own. Attraction awakens something deeply stirring in our own selves....compassion mixed with thin air. For me, when it happens, I feel more humanly alive, like i have found a new piece to my own tapestry that I may not have even known I was lacking. I want to find out who this person is and why they are triggering the mysterious compassion in me. I want to know their story and be a part of it. I want them to be a part of mine.

Frederick Buechner, whom I have quote before in my posts writes about this......“Compassion is sometimes the fatal capacity for feeling what it is like to live inside somebody else's skin. It is the knowledge that there can never really be any peace and joy for me until there is peace and joy finally for you too.”

Their are some who enter your life for a short wink but leave an indelible mark. When you think about how many people we pass by......the ones on the street, on the tube, at the community meetings, in line at the coffee's amazing to me how the chemistry of two people can pull them into a conversation.

Life is a lonely existence if we weren't curious to seek out the people whom we find an attraction to. On the other hand, we need to be with others whom we feel the opposite with and figure that out too. We would never learn new things about ourselves if blindly walked around not recognizing that it is in others we see our own reflections. Some are beautiful reflections,while other times we see our ugly vulnerabilities too difficult to swallow. Attraction and repulsion to others reflect our own stories as we reflect truthful abundance.

Compassion and curiosity allow us to look into a that reflects not only our flesh, but has the capacity to reveal some of your hidden stories. Are you ready to take it in?

Tuesday, November 11, 2008

Every Human Has Rights

December 10th marks the 60th Anniversary of the Declaration of Human Rights. Every day our fellow human being's rights are being violated......abuse, rape, beatings, killings. They live in the heart of violent conflict. They have been discarded and abandoned........left for dead. The Elders, a group of Leaders including Nelson Mandela, Mary Robinson, Jimmy Carter, Kofi Annan, Desmond Tutu, Peter Gabriel are speaking out for our help..... We need to rise up and declare our commitment of the Declaration of Human Rights. Want to read the Declaration? This website includes powerful information, including the Declaration and a place to sign up to be a part of the catalyst for change. We need our leaders to inspire and to guide. They need us to be use our voices and our be actively aware in our consumer choices and in our dedication to this cause.

Every Human Has Rights........Sign up today......spread their important message. Listen to your Elders. :)

Monday, November 10, 2008

November Tolls

Lost notes
muffled by wayward apparitions
seep out of the stormfront
weeping their dreary sound
onto loosened images
etched in shades of grey
carpeting a lonely landscape
where melancholy lingers.

The flowers of the forest play on.

A cavalry of hollow dreams
loom over clay remnants
on a stubbled field
where fog blurs reality into images.

Good friends never come back.

As the last note is played,
echoing on the edge of fog fed light
Notes lost in the blues
where silence renders memories
where life once harboured hope.

The world is waiting for the sun
to rise out of the grey draped hills
Until then.....we will recognize for whom the bell tolls.

Sunday, November 09, 2008

Words Fall to the Floor.....

This song was played this morning after a wonderful interview between Michael Enright and Joan Baez on CBC Sunday morning. Poignant and timely, we seem to have come around in a circle where we are faced with similar struggles. The learned "enemy" may have a different face and come from a part of the world than the "enemies" we are conditioned to point our grubby little fingers at. I don't think it really matters who it is..... turns out God doesn't pick sides. Good thing too. Sadly, i wonder if we'll ever learn from Him?

The lyrics:

"With God On Our Side"

Oh my name it is nothin'
My age it means less
The country I come from
Is called the Midwest
I's taught and brought up there
The laws to abide
And the land that I live in
Has God on its side.

Oh the history books tell it
They tell it so well
The cavalries charged
The Indians fell
The cavalries charged
The Indians died
Oh the country was young
With God on its side.

The Spanish-American
War had its day
And the Civil War too
Was soon laid away
And the names of the heroes
I's made to memorize
With guns on their hands
And God on their side.

The First World War, boys
It came and it went
The reason for fighting
I never did get
But I learned to accept it
Accept it with pride
For you don't count the dead
When God's on your side.

When the Second World War
Came to an end
We forgave the Germans
And then we were friends
Though they murdered six million
In the ovens they fried
The Germans now too
Have God on their side.

I've learned to hate Russians
All through my whole life
If another war comes
It's them we must fight
To hate them and fear them
To run and to hide
And accept it all bravely
With God on my side.

But now we got weapons
Of the chemical dust
If fire them we're forced to
Then fire them we must
One push of the button
And a shot the world wide
And you never ask questions
When God's on your side.

In a many dark hour
I've been thinkin' about this
That Jesus Christ
Was betrayed by a kiss
But I can't think for you
You'll have to decide
Whether Judas Iscariot
Had God on his side.

So now as I'm leavin'
I'm weary as Hell
The confusion I'm feelin'
Ain't no tongue can tell
The words fill my head
And fall to the floor
If God's on our side
He'll stop the next war.

Saturday, November 08, 2008

Arretez le Racisme

Hot off Youtube! My 11 year old son, Max and two of his classmates are delivering a presentation next week for their social studies class. Their topic? Racism. This is their first year in french immersion though have been learning french since Grade 1 along with their other subjects. So it will be their first presentation completely delivered in their second language. It will be accompanied with their video presentation they worked together to compile. Great photos, great flow........powerful song...... For a first attempt, mighty fine!
It's powerful as well as a bit irreverent in their choice of pictures they interspersed throughout the people pictures. A 1 1/2 minute snapshot of history through the eyes of wide awake 11 year old boys.
What I love about this assignment is how interactive it is on so many learning levels....! It's's critical's connecting with others to make it work. Now, if we could just pull this little microcosm of what happens in good energy filled creative classrooms and apply it on a global field? We'd have it made!

Here is the link to the video.........for the life of me I couldn't imbed the darn thing here, even with step by step instruction!! So, please check it out by following the link, and let Max and I know what you think. :) thanks.

Friday, November 07, 2008

with enlightenment comes change

The breeze at dawn
Has secrets to tell you
Don't go back to sleep
You must ask
For what you really want
Don't go back to sleep
People are going back and forth
Across the doorsill
Where the two worlds touch
The door is round and open
Don't go back to sleep
Our journeys hold meaning when one takes the steps with eyes and ears wide open. Meaning and truth can both enlighten and frighten......awareness is not for the faint of heart is it? When you think about it, enlightenment can be quite painful, especially when it strikes a the chord tied to a sense of losing your way. It doesn't come with a map you can hold in your hands. Rather, the map is found in the internal wintering of the soul where mysteries untangle at their own pace. Change disturbs. Change rattles. Change is life unfolding.
There's lots of time to sleep............later. Now, is the time to figure it out. Now is the time to tackle that nasty push through the heartweep felt when heels are dug into resistance.
Today, is a new day, fresh with no mistakes. Don't go back to sleep. Chaos never lasts. Enlightenment comes after the storm.
The word prompt this week at Sunday Scribblings is "change"......good old rollicking change......the kind of rattle felt south of the border this week. Yes YOU can.........change. For more coinage, click HERE.

Thursday, November 06, 2008

la lumiere de soleil

November's golden luminosity bathes the landscape in a fragrant breath of regal knowing. Amber light warms the stark reality caught in the branch spaces of newly naked birch. You can almost hear the sigh in the lost suppleness of youth as it stretches towards the softening glow. Shadows and reflections empower the landscape like a Vermeer masterpiece.

Autumn evenings bend early into fleeced capes draped on shoulders and wool socks on summer sandaled feet. Streetlights reflect the slowing down loneliness of empty streets, glistening in rain soaked leaves, the last to fall from the trees. There is an essence of a sombre drama found in a black and white late night movie born from days past. Aromas steeped in pipesmoke sweetness waft and blend with the bayberry candles flickering on the mantle. As the sun slips out of sight, a recognizable balladeer fills the night with baritone longing.......
The birds they sang
at the break of day
Start again
I heard them say
Don't dwell on what
has passed away
or what is yet to be.
Ah the wars they will
be fought again
The holy dove
She will be caught again
bought and sold
and bought again
the dove is never free.

Ring the bells that still can ring
Forget your perfect offering
There is a crack in everything
That's how the light gets in.

This week's thematic photography prompt is autumn.........for more photos and thoughts, check out another famous Montrealer......... Carmi