Wednesday, December 31, 2008

salt to remember me by.....

The first time we ventured to Prince Edward Island my daughter Martha was a toddler. I held her in my arms and waded out to my hips into the choppy water and waited for the waves to roll in. They didn't disappoint as they merged into a forceful mound before they broke into an exhilarating cascading fall....splashing, soaking, surprising us as they pushed on by to the shore. Our laughter filled the sky. "Bring it on," we cried! "More!"

The next year, her legs and body were sturdy enough to wade in holding our hands. Once again the waves rolled on one at a time leaving us tasting the salt, leaving it's glistening charm on our skin. The stronger ones bowled us over and under for a few moments, our hands still holding on together. Our laughter burst out in a feeling of freedom, up over the surf. "Bring it on," we cried! "More!"
By the end of the second visit, there were times when we sat close to the shore. Knowing her Mom and Dad were close by my daughter waded into her dimply knees and waited for the waves. They didn't disappoint. In they rolled in an undulating pattern, merging just before they crested and fell into one another with their churning bubbles, pushing onto the shoreline. I watched my daughter watch the waves. As soon as she could see them forming the crest, her arms SHOT up into the air in gleeful defiance......her body shouting "Bring it on!" Her laughter was so resoundingly joyful it brought us to laughter. "More!"
Waves. We love them, anticipate them, yearn for them. They wake us up with their stimulating grandeur. A slapsplash of a wave seems to heighten all of our senses. They make us cry out for more! But they can be tiring too. After a stint in the water battling the waves, its always so wonderful to lay your towel down on the sunbaked sand and collapse while summer's rays warm you and fill you with energy again.
We need both. Too many waves, and your legs begin to buckle from fatigue. Too much sunbaking and the energy you've acquired from the sun turns on itself and makes you sleepy. It zaps you of the strength needed to brace yourself for the turning of the tide. Rarely do we ever find the perfect balance in our lives. Rarely can we ever anticipate the waves in our lives as we can along the shoreline.
During the times when we are inundated with them, one after another to a point when the BRING IT ON turns into a cry for NO MORE.......? The moments of calm become as precious as finding a piece of smooth blue glass offered up from the tide. The moments of calm become like harbouring alcoves where the wind and the waves leave faint echos. The moments of calm become the benchmark memory, when you can begin to take deep breaths in again knowing you can exhale in peace.
I look back on a year of waves.........some welcoming, some rogue-like.......tiring, challenging, stretching.......some which made me laugh up into the sky and some which knocked me down leaving me without enough air in my lungs. I always got back up......and sometimes needed help from someone to learn to put my arms defiantly in the air again, to find my voice......salty tears, salty waves.....a glistening body covered in remembrance. What stands out this morning as I write and reflect on the year that was 2008 are the little alcoves of calm.....and one in particular shines on in my heart more than any other.

I spent an afternoon in the silence of a cathedral. Leaving the roar of the waves outside the welcoming door, I found myself still jittery and bruised as I entered into a place of faint echos. I could hear my own footsteps as I walked slowly. I looked up and around in awe of the mastery and listened to the collective hymns captured in the pillars and dome. I could hear the whispering prayers caught in the thinness of inspiration….and it calmly rolled over me as I explored the little altar alcoves. Candlelight blended with the blue glass light, I sat, I knelt….I let my own prayers filter into the thin air.

Silence. It felt like I had the whole cathedral to myself. But, I wasn’t alone that day. I was with two people who were helping me find my outstretched arms again….two beautiful human beings who were taking their own path through the ancestry of faith. I could feel their presence, never too far away.

Time slipped by. In fact I had lost track of it. Time left me alone, a pilgrim soaking in the reverence, speaking not one word out loud. Talking to God.

I found myself standing at the top of the stone steps next to the main altar admiring the arches and domes, the light cascading, reflecting shadows into the deep folds. I looked down to see one person sitting alone in the front row of the pews. His hands were clasped, quietly sitting on his lap. His eyes were closed. I was pulled down the steps and placed right beside him. My calm met his calm. We spoke in whispers when we spoke at all. Mostly, we enjoyed the faint echos in our own alcove, humbled by the strength of the beauty of Canterbury Cathedral. My inner calm return.

I have thought of this quiet time with my friend many times since, especially when the waves sent me reeling again. And every time I picture the two of us sitting close in silence looking up at an altar which defies descriptive words , I feel like I’ve been touched by an eternal beacon of light… offered to me by a person I feel like I’ve known for MORE than a fortnight….a friend I had met through the magic of blogging. My strength returns. My arms reach up into the air. And I can hear my voice sing out in happiness….BRING it ON!

So as we say so long to a year of learning, stretching, growing…..a year of undulating waves, glorious experiences, strengthening friendships….as we reflect on a year which tested our mettle, but also gave us more insight into ourselves and others, may we take the time to recognize our moments of grace and light when we find we hold in our hands a piece or two of blue glass brought in by the tides.

Happy New Year from me to you. 2009? Bring it on!!

Tuesday, December 30, 2008

the taximan and the lost colonial

This is a true I've been holding onto until the end of this year because it was so special and life affirming for me that I thought it would be smiling reflection on a year of ups and downs. It's a bit long for a blog post, but I think you'll enjoy it if you have the time to read it. I have told this story verbally and have shared a shorter version it in a couple of emails. I'm happy to now have the opportunity to capture it in full here.
The Taximan and the Lost Colonial

One Saturday, late afternoon last May, I found myself on a train bound for Romford after spending two wonderful days in Londontown with my blogfriend Katie getting to know one another and seeing what seemed like the whole city on foot. We had filled our short time together with as much living and sharing as we could live and in person. We hit as many London hot spots as we could while we walked and talked and walked and talked....Trafalgar Square, Picadilly, 10 Downing Street, Big Ben, Portobello, Notting Hill, Covent Garden (for a wonderful Italian dinner with Pip and Joan on the Friday night), Camden, Kensington, Soho.....and a couple of places in between.
By the time we said our goodbyes, Katie running to catch the last flight home to Guernsey and me catching the tube and train back to the Wilsons Mansion in Romford where my emerald friend Pip resides with the love of his life Joan and their infamous cat Zig, I was filled with a multi sensory collection of feelings....and a little bit of fatigue. It was a good kind of tired....a smiling kind.
Once I checked the subway map to verify the connection I needed to make to catch the train to Pip's house, I sat down and began reflecting on the whirlwind two days. It was somewhere between Victoria Station and the train connection when I realized I had neglected to write down Pip and Joan's home address in my journal. I knew I had it...on a piece of paper somewhere, and I recalled I had made sure both my husband and my mother had all of my travel particulars via email, but it dawned on me that somewhere along the line I hadn't transferred it into my book.

At first it was only a wee bit disconcerting. I knew I was going to be arriving to an empty Wilson's Mansions except for the infamous Zig the coolcat to greet me. Pip was away in Belfast for two days, and Joan was at a cricket match that afternoon, to be returning home that evening. They had given me my own key just in case I was there before Joan. It was up to me to make my way from the train station to my destination.....all of about a 10 minute walk.

My sense of direction is something I rely on all the time. I had never been lost before and had always been able to find my way through many cities. Heck I had just navigated London England for goodness sakes! My job too takes me into the backwoods of this province, down half hewn roads where addresses are sometimes dubious and had never been lost. In fact, I had always thought that if ever there was a reality show made for someone like me it was the Amazing Race. Consequently, my confidence kept me hopeful that I could find my way.

Besides, this wasn't the first time I was going to be arriving at their house. In fact, we had journeyed from the station into the city and back already together. Pip had been clear in his directions as he drove me to the station only the day before. I relied on the fact that it would look and feel familiar as soon as I stepped off that train and onto the platform. No problem, I thought as I settled into my seat observing the people around me, I'll figure it out, and if worst comes to worst, I just need to access my email from somewhere to access the address. Or, call my Mom in Canada. I could always call my Mom.

As soon as I stepped off the train, however, and looked around at a quickly emptying platform, I knew I was screwed. Between the time Pip had originally dropped me off and the moment I found myself with a backpack full of choice souvenirs accumulated that day, I had saturated my brain with sites and sounds and new memories. It had pushed away any clear memories of where I was supposed to be going. The fact that I didn’t have the address and that Pip and Joan weren’t home? Well, that made it all the more sticky a situation.

There were two exits from the platform. To the right was a carpark where we had parked a couple of nights before to head into the city for a Brick Lane curry dinner. To the left was where I had been dropped off the day before with specific directions from my BHP host. I chose to go left. The only knowledge I had left in my saturated noggin was the name of the street and that it was a well travelled one. Figuring if I could just get to the street, I could find my way, I found myself standing at the exit completely turned around and lost. One look at the cars arriving on the wrong side of the street, and I knew my sense of direction was completely devastated. I headed out in search of a store or restaurant where I could some help, wondering what these crazy people drive on the wrong side of the road anyways.

Around the corner was a convenience store. I entered the quiet establishment ready to close for the evening, went right up to the counter and explained my situation, and asked for a telephone book. The owner’s grasp of the English language was minimal so after a bit of charades, he retrieved a massive tomb full of yellow pages and told me that was all he had. No white pages....No computer there either…..or not one he was planning to allow a wayward Canuck access to. Dismissed, he told me to go back to the train station and hail a cab. Fat lot that was going to do if I didn’t have the address!
With no other choice, I did as I was told and made my way over to a little shack office where three busy people sat taking phone orders for taxis and waited my turn. It was starting to get dark. There was no way I was going to traipse through unfamiliar streets on my own once the sun went down. The thought of calling my Mom whisked through my head again.

“Can I help you?”

“Hi….I’m from Canada and I'm lost."
(YES, I was going for the empathy jugular) "I’ve lost the address of the home where I’m supposed to go. I was wondering if you have a phone book in there I could borrow to look up the address?”

Laughing and cockney friendly, …. “We take incoming calls here, duck, we have no need for a telephone book, sorry about that….” YES the man called me duck! I could tell that I had made for an interesting blip in their monotonous evening in call centre hell.

“Any chance you have a computer in there? I know the address is on an email I sent. If I could just......”

Laughing harder…. “Look at this place, dear! The only technology we have are these phones! Do you know the name of the street?” (The people standing around waiting for their taxis and waiting in the queue behind me must've thought I had completely lost my mind. I pushed the thought away, but continued to feel very very small.)

“Yes....ummmmm. Maybe you could order me a cab and if I can get to the street, I’ll recognize the house.”

“Sure duck. It' ll be here in a few minutes. Go stand over by the curb and it will pull up there.”

“Thank you. I appreciate your help. I can't believe I've done this!….” I say smiling, feeling embarrassed by my stupidity and situation.

"Don't worry, it'll work out. The taximan will be able to help you. Good luck."

It seemed like an eternity before a taxi pulled up to the curb. By then, I had shored myself up with a bit of self talk……… “you wanted an adventure….you wanted to be challenged, take it as it is and if all else fails, you can go stay in a hotel or find a pub and drink all night…. I can always call home....I wasnt that far away.....” It helped. Confidence that I’d sort it out returned and I laughed at the thought of my Mom's reaction to a phone call from her eldest daughter across the pond asking for a street address.

I opened the front door of the cab. My eyes met the eyes of a friendly man of retirement age who looked like he just came off the set of Coronation Street. He looked FAMILIAR, albeit because of a TV show! Do you know how grateful I was to see a father figure who most likely lived in the area all his life that looked like he grew up on Cornation Street?? I know, I know....big assumptions, but what a friendly jovial looking face! Not knowing whether there were standard rules about whether or not one can sit up front….

“Hi. Would it be alright if I sat in the front seat.”

“Sure you can,” he said smiling.

As I clambered in, I held out my hand. “Hi! I’m Dana."

“Nice to meet you Dana. I’m Henry. Where are we headed?"
"Nice to meet you too Henry. You know what? I don't know where we're headed, Henry. I’m lost. I don’t know the area. I’ve lost the address of where I am supposed to go. I know the name of the street though and if you could get me there, I’m pretty sure I’ll recognize it and the house.”
"What is the name of the street, dear?"

I respond.

“Upper B****wood, B****wood, or B****wood Common?”

“Did you guys run out of names for streets? Oh my God, Henry I don’t have a clue! Are they all really close to the station because I know we aren’t very far away from the house from here?”

“Yes, they are, but that’s alright we’ll find it,” Henry reassured me while laughing at my comment.

“Thank you,” I said as I put my trust in this man's hold.

As we drove off, we began a conversation sharing bits of our lives…..where he had travelled in Canada, what I was doing in Romford, what he used to do for a living, what I did etc. It seemed almost normal! In no time, however, I realized we weren’t on the right B****wood street. None of the buildings looked familiar at all. I noticed a couple of restaurants and wondered aloud if they would have the internet. I could retrieve the address that way. Henry replied:

“I doubt it and I don’t think there are any internet cafes around here either.”

“I can’t believe how ridiculous I feel about this Henry,” I admitted as I gazed out at a darkening city landscape completely foreign to me. “I think we need to try another one of those streets. This isn’t it.” I was starting to lose my optimism, sunk in the stupidity of my situation. Changing the subject.... “Do you know that reality show, the Amazing Race? Do they have that show here?”

“I don’t think I've heard of it, Dana. Big Brother's the one people watch here. What’s it about?” he asked as he turned the taxi around and headed to the next street with the same name……

“Well, it’s a worldwide scavenger hunt. You have to navigate different directions and modes of transportation with a partner and you compete against 9 other teams. They eliminate one pair each week until the last team standing wins a million dollars. Of all the reality shows out there, this is the one I always thought I’d have a good chance at and now look at me! I can’t even navigate my way to a place I have already been to! How pathetic is that??”

We laughed together as he continued to remain calm and again to reassure me we would find Pip and Joan’s house.

“If I could only get my hands on a phone book which seems to be extinct in this country………or access to the internet”, I contemplated out loud.

“My wife has the intanet. You could use mine. I live just around the corner here?”

“Really? Wow! How nice of you to offer, Henry. Thank you. You don’t mind taking me home with you?”
"No problem at all, Dana. It would take only a couple of minutes then we'd be set in the right direction, now wouldn't we? My wife is home and probably on the internet right now chatting with her sister."

(An aside I hadn't completely lost my mind. I had been very alert about the streets we had been on, where the station was from our location. My intuition told me that this man was trustworthy. It seemed like a good risk. I had my bags right by my feet and if need be, I could hop out and most likely outrun him something Cagney and Lacey like! I believed in this man's kindness. And MAN what a story it would make!)

We turned onto a suburban street where the dwellings all looked right out of the 70's.....mock Swiss. Snuggled in between the cookie cutter townhouses was a small home with a pebble stone cottage feel to it. The little garden was well loved and blooming. Henry pulled up to the home, turned off the taxi and summoned me to come along. Hesitantly and little nervous to say the least, I followed him. He unlocked the front door and as he opened it, he shouted out.....
"Marion! I'm home early. I have a lost Canadian with me and she needs to use our intanet. She needs to find a local address on an email she sent to her Mum in Canada. "

"Do you bring home many lost Canadian's Henry?" laughing and wondering what I had done.

"You're the first!" he replies laughing at the absurdity of the situation.

Out popped this bundle of energy into the hallway....a friendly smiling warm woman in her 60's dressed in casual clothes.......

"Oh my goodness! You DO have a lost Canadian with you! Come in! Come in! Would you like something to eat? Some tea? I'm Marion."

"It's a pleasure to meet you Marion. I'm Dana. Thank you for the offer, but I probably should just get the address and find my destination. This is so kind of you two. I really appreciate you letting me barge in like this."

"Come in, come computer is in my craft room. Please dont mind the mess. It's full of projects half done," said Marion as she guides me into an overstuffed room full of knicknacks and knitting. It was like her own nesting spot. In the corner of the room glowed a computer. Marion pushed aside some papers, welcomed me to sit down comfortably and then she stepped back to let me access my email site. In two minutes, I had the address. A wash of relief flooded over me.

"I have it," I said turning to Henry. "The address is........"

"We're just a few minutes away from there," he smiled reassuring me.

As we headed back out the door, I gave Marion a hug and thanked her for her kindness again. She said something like it was no problem at all, and then wished me well.....and a very nice to meet you. She was so nonplussed about this interuption on her Saturday evening, that I left so full of amusement and smiles. what a friendly innocent trip she was!

In no time, Henry pulled up to the front of Joan and Pip's house. Safe and sound. I pulled out my wallet and gave him double the fare........and a hug. "Thank you Henry. You are a Godsend."

"You made my evening Dana. It was nice meeting you. Enjoy the rest of your trip."

"Well, you certainly made mine! And we're both left with a story to share aren't we?" We laughed together and said our goodbyes.

As he was pulling back onto the street, I fumbled with the key in the lock. Before I could turn the key, the door opened. Joan made it home before me...the cricket match had been called early because of the drizzling rain. She smiled showing some relief.....

"You know about an hour ago, I started to get a bit worried about you," she said.

"Joan, about an hour ago, you should've been worried about me......," I laughed showing my own relief......"you won't believe what just happened! It's so good to see you!"

I dropped my bags at the foot of the stairs and followed Joan into the kitchen where the wine was poured and a bite to eat was consumed.....where a wonderful evening of sharing stories and feelings ensued between two people who felt like we had known one another for a long long time. It was way past 2 am before sleepiness hit. I crawled into bed in the guestroom, also known as BigJohn's room, and fell asleep feeling very very lucky and well cared for. all the craziness of that evening I of course neglected to write down Henry's address. I will never be able to thank he and Marion properly for taking a risk on a lost little Canuck. What we are left with is a good story of a happenstance connection and the knowledge that compassion thrives out there.

Monday, December 29, 2008

beguiling joy

Opportunities to gather in collective joy have diminished over the years, suppressed by our puritan ancestors, dismissed by the everyday time crunch, considered a unneccessary frill attached to the fabric we wear. It isn't necessary, some believe. Too frivolous. Who has the time when just getting through a day fighting off the blues is the order of the day? Day in and day out? Who has the energy even? Besides, get a group of people together and all hell would break lose. We've seen that happen after sport matches. It started out as a celebration and ended up in brawls, looting and even deaths. It's happened so often that our opportunities for collectively joyful celebrations are policed and reined in. damn those drunk rowdies!

We are pent up anal retentive beings aren't we? When did this become the norm? When did a gathering of joy become a frightening concept void of decorum? Like a virus, it seeped into our psyche, penetrated by class domination and the dismissal of cultural and religious traditions. Instead, we slapped rules and judgements on what is acceptable in our society. Boundaries, rules and the banning of gathering en masse has stripped us of opportunities to feel the rapturous energy of ourselves and others.

Even our entertainment choices became one dimensional......on a stage, on a screen, in a polite forum in a park. Our churches grew in hierarchical top down sermonizing, where the congregation sits and does what its told.....pray NOW, sing NOW, give money NOW.....and then go home. God forbid you yelp out an amen at the wrong time. God forbid someone in weeping tatters should arrive and join the self conscious starved congregation. How embarrassing that would be?? Audiences with no role except to receive the stimulation all around, leaves a feeling that possibility has left the building along with spontaneity, along with the very desirous feeling of collective joy.

It used to be there were common squares in villages and towns set up to promote the Hallelujah moments of the people who gathered. Now, if they still exist, they have more often than not beened turned into a place to stick monuments, or filled with cultivated gardens too perfect to tamper with. If for example a small group arrived at the common square intent on drumming their music as a means of generating joyful energy, we would smile politely at them all the while thinking they were odd hippie types, and move away from the sound.

Are we too busy, important, focused on our dutiful tasks to appreciate the freedom of the drumming? I want the feeling of the heart beat pulling us to others.....the intensity of releasing ourselves from the prison of "self" where the wild beauty of sheer joy and a hot beguiling belonging can erase all negativity. Drug me with a joy which shatters a hundred griefs.

We may have created a society where we have little opportunities to swell up to release this energy, but we haven't lost our yearning and deep deep need for it. Most of us have experienced it in our lives. We do know how it feels........and we know how magically freeing it is when our egos evaporate unnoticed, when the scattering of individuality merges into an orgiatic one. It is an immersion where anything is possible....

We've had a taste of this elixir, and nothing is more powerfully life affirming. Nothing strips away depression than sharing this drug. Nothing compares to immersing oneself in the sea of sheer rapture. (Isn't that THE best word? RAPTURE! The mind possessing feeling of intense joy and love that pushes away all other emotions.... loveitloveitloveit! Gotta get me some more of that rapture.....!)

Rapture....the holy fire of joy bursting from an inside grin too delighted to remain still anymore. The grin has got to express!




Messy in all its glory
JOY-FULL Rapture

There is something wrong with this? I don't think so! When I have found myself in the middle of collective joy, it's like my limbs grow outward beyond my flesh and body entangling with others naturally, my voice blends into the harmonious esctasy of a choir, my heart opens to possibilities. Joy expressed sizzles in delightful joy, a cacophony of messy contagious hysteria. When I have felt it in my life, I have been given a glimpse of what heaven holds.

Bring on the song and dance......bring on a celebration......let spontaneity spark a holy AMEN of beautiful voices stepping beyond the boundaries and into the choir of joy. We need to feel it again......the whole world needs to feel it collectively again. Think of the possibilities....a world party beaming.

Saturday, December 27, 2008

Jean Vanier, a builder of hope and light.....

He has lived most of his adult life in France, but he has been chosen as Canada's "Nation Builder" by the Globe and Mail. No one else fits the bill quite like this gentle, humble holy man. Jean Vanier's calling and how he has chosen to live it....quietly and with very little fanfare is truly inspirational. The founder of the international L'Arche communities, Vanier's lifework has altered the very way we understand and treat people with severe disabilities. His written body of work reaps in his thoughts and beliefs allowing someone like me to learn from him. Jean Vanier has much to teach our world. If you were to ask me who I would like to meet the most, to have a chance to sit down for a cup of tea with, it would be Jean Vanier. My admiration holds no boundaries for this man.
When I first heard of the L'Arche community and the philosophy behind it, I was in my early twenties embarking on a new job at a rehabilitiation centre in Toronto. It was my responsibility to create and run a "sensory stimulation" program for children and teens who were multiply handicapped. These kids, many of whom had never been involved in any structured programming designed specifically for them because of their severe limitations, and tragically our own limitations in seeing the need. They became my kids every night of the week as we explored a new world of colour, light, tastes, touch, music, movement, interaction and friendship. I loved the job. It was a challenging open ended discovery.......a perfect place for me to thrive. Still is. :)

The field of sensory stimulation and sensory integration was very new in the early 80's.....the concepts just starting to be understood, so I found myself creating as I went along. I relied mostly on the feeling of comfort I had working with children who were considered by many as cast-offs.......who actually frightened most people because there seemed to be no recognition or bonding ability. Many of these children lived in institutions or were living with families who were taxed emotionally, physically and spiritually to the max because of the lack of support in their communities or from extended families. The severity of the disabilities these children lived with meant that they required 24 hour care and supervision.

Many were at the rehab centre for wheelchair fitting, feeding and/or communication assessments or post-op care. Some of these children would arrive from acute care Children's hospitals after experiencing traumatic head injuries from accidents and were now ready for healing and rehabilitation. These kids, often still in a layer of coma but re-emerging and becoming more and more alert would begin with me in the sensory program before moving onto another recreational level later on in their healing. It was like watching a uniquely changed flower rebloom. For whatever reason, my intuition and comfort level allowed me a window into their individual worlds. Though it consumed me at the time, and I had a very tough time leaving their beautiful faces behind when I went home at night, I grew more as an individual than in any other setting I even grasped at the time.

For some reason I saw these children in a different way.....and felt a sense of bonding. I never knew how or why and for the most part while I worked there, I struggled with understanding this part of me. It wasn't until years later when I finally sat down and read the words of Jean Vanier and Henri Nouwen that I could see how connected it was to my spirituality. At the time, I questioned God, wrapping myself in the very idea that there was a God out there who would allow such pain and suffering to wrapped up in a child. I constantly asked why God created a place where babies were born with such disabilities and deformities. I wondered if it was an omen.....would I be given a baby of my own who was sick and frail and in need of constant care? Learning of the L'Arche communities then was salve to my own confusion, though I still dismissed the very idea of believing in God or at least believing in a God who could be so callous.

Reading Vanier's words, tied to the very concept of caring for the most vulnerable, of living as equals, helping one another, learning from each and every person we meet, offered me a missing link in my own awareness. It has somehow helped me make some sense of a senseless world. I guess it was my own "sensory" integration. Vanier's core religious beliefs, which have guided him and anchored him throughout his own journey resonate so deeply inside my own reflections. I'm not alone.....he has touched the hearts and souls of many. His persistant faith opened a door to recognizing my own, and most definately helped me believe in God again.....a God who loves.

"We have a strange notion of God," he writes
"It is linked, I think to our fundamental sense of guilt,
a God who condemns and punishes,
a God who just wants to take away what we love,
a God who demands sacrifices.
But that is not God.
God is Love.
God is Mercy.
God loves each one of us and knows who we are.
God is never disappointed in us.
God knows our basic fears, our fear of not being loved...
even our fear of being loved.

God loves us just as we are
and wants to reveal how deeply he respects us.
During one of our community weekends in northern France,
an assistant asked Frank, a man with disabilities
if he prayed.
He answered, 'yes.'
"What do you do when you pray Frank?"
"I listen."
"What does God say to you?"
"God says to me, 'You are my beloved son," he replied
That is what we discover in prayer:
we are a beloved son, a beloved daughter, of God.

God wants us to be united to us,
to reveal his presence to us.....
God's presence is also just as real
within our weakness and our poverty too."

Our Nation Builder of the Year..... A precious gift to us all. May we all embrace this gentle human being's beliefs, recognizing the most vulnerable who are tucked inside our own frailties.
Here is a link to the news story on his award. It gives an overview of the man himself and describes a bit of the L'Arche community and philosophy.

ps. Greenbelt bound perhaps? I wonder if that is a possiblity? :)

Friday, December 26, 2008

the pursuit of happiness and meaning

oooh, looks like Christmas arrived as planned. it was a wonderful day. I got meeself a new book and oh, yeah an engagement ring from my husband.

"Each person has his secret and mystery, his particular journey, his vocation to grow. Certainly, many people never achieve full maturity, but each can make a little progress toward establishing his identity and becoming open to others. The important thing is not that we should acheive human perfection -- far from it -- but that we should set out on the road toward it through acts of openness and love, kindness and communion. Every person today, in whatever situation he finds himself, in his home or at work, can perform such acts. "
Jean Vanier, Essential Writings, One Heart at a Time.

We are all born with potential. My potential may look very different and feel very different than yours because we all have own our uniqueness. What we share and what we have some empowerment over, are the conscious choices we make as human beings. Who we become is based on the values we want to live by, the friends we choose to connect with, the vocation we choose to stretch ourselves in, where we establish our foundational roots and whether or not we choose to accept the responsibility of playing a role in the life of community. These are based in reality, not in a life cupped by illusionary dreams.

We strive. We strive to accept ourselves for who we are and for who we are becoming. Its tough to remain open and honest with secrets tucked underneath the blemished freckled skin that encases us. Its not an easy thing to love ourselves, warts and all. We want to eradicate the freckles, lose the wrinkles, hide the grey hair, get rid of the lumps and bumps. We spend precious time waxing and plucking and shaping our outer skin as a means of avoiding a good long look at our secrets. And if we don't take a peak at those, we also don't learn about our hidden abilities either, nor do we recognize the hurts tucked away in a fault. The problem with this approach to life is that if we choose not to wrestle with the serious frightening side of who we are, we forfeit the opportunity to learn about our gifts. If you've never allowed yourself a chance to create something from your own canvas, how will you ever know the kind of artist you are becoming?

What a waste of a lifetime to be constantly resculpting the outer shell......wearing masks to avoid taking a good look. Our capacity to grow deepens if we become more honest with ourselves because it is then when we can be open to accepting those around us.

In his always inspirational words, Jean Vanier writes......."the dangerous thing for human beings is to want to be other than who they are, to want to be someone else, or even to want to be God. We need to be ourselves with our gifts and abilities, our capacity for communion and co-operation. This is the way to be happy."

So often we shrink away from sharing who we really are for fear of being rejected or feeling insignificant. These are fears we bring forward in our own psyche......from past experiences of being unloved, neglected, abused, treated poorly. We may have been bullied. People may say mean things to us over and over to a point where we begin to believe the words, the descriptions of who we are. If this wound is left to fester inside hidden behind a mask which covers up our true selves, it impacts every single choice we make with respect to our relationships… impacts our actions and reactions. It tackles our very own ability to think and feel effectively.

I have a few friends whom I am completely at ease being myself with and I hope they feel the same with me. One lovely friend told me that nothing I shared would scare him away and am happy to report ….. so far so good. At times he calls me crazy, but I know it’s done with a tender endearment. I have been able to be more reflectively honest in this friendship because I was given carte blanche. The gift is freedom.
I also have friends who are uncomfortable with my honesty and I try to hold back. When they ask me about my work or how I’m feeling they only want staid and pat answers……..nothing which would warrant discomfort. I'm usually fine with that, though it saddens me that I can't fully be myself and more importantly I will never know them except as surface dwellers. Their choice. Not mine.

There is nothing more affirming that to be accepted as the hairy, lumpy bumpy freckled beasts we are because it allows us to carry our secrets, our uniqueness with a sense of acceptance and belonging. It also feeds our curiosity to ask others to share with us.

If we are ever going to make the much needed shift in this world… work towards a semblance of solidarity instead of a competitive judgemental hierarchy where winning is always the goal; if we are ever going to recognize the fundamental sameness of all…..vulnerable human beings, needful of love and acceptance…..we must begin by looking at our own mysteries, not simply as regrets, but as gifts of learning. Golden gifts to mine….and to share.

Much of life is predetermined……how we share it and whom we share it with isn’t.

A photo of my friend Joey who sells her homemade Thai food at the market from spring to late fall. This year, despite her strong aversion to the cold Canadian winters, Joey decided to bundle up during the month of December to sell her spring rolls, wontons, thai noodles and wonderful sweet potato crisps every Saturday morning. Why? Well, she could use the money herself being a lifelong student constantly striving for more academic food. But, her true philosophy is that she can live frugally and be happy doing so. No, the money she earned went to personal items for the men and women at the shelters, and to a children's charity that is close to her heart.
Two weeks from now, Joey heads home to Thailand to see her family and to continue planning her help women in her country strive to pull themselves out of poverty. She is a lively feisty beautiful woman and we've shared many secrets over the past couple of years. I admire her completely.

Happy New Year Joey. See you when the crocuses begin to peak through the snow in spring.

Wednesday, December 24, 2008

my beauties.....

The stores are closed......the sun has's Christmas Eve. I find the carols and the tree lights seem to take on more meaning. As I wrapped the last of the presents on behalf of Santa...he owes me..... I found a gift tag stuck inside a gift bag which is used every year. It said....
To Maxie
Love Great Grandma Mabel.
And I sat down and let the tears fall, remembering the many Christmas Eve's as a child when my house filled with cheer and really wonderful times. My Grandma has been up in heaven looking down on us for a few years now. She is always close by though and it was so nice to receive a little wink from the cosmos this afternoon. We all need reminders of what is meant behind the spirit of Christmas.... I see it in the faces of my children and thank God every day for being blessed to have them in my life.
family, friends, love, peace, connections to our past........ all reflections on the joy of the birth of Jesus Christ.
Comfort and Joy....... Merry Christmas.
We're off to church and to visit friends this evening....... may you and your loved ones find comfort and joy and maybe your own wink from the cosmos.
Merry Christmas Mabel.....

beautiful faces....

Teens don't need electronic equipment to entertain them. Nor do they require toys with batteries. Not when the hostess of the party receives Gulliver sized salad tongs to be used with her next batch of infamous caesar salad. Can you tell which of these crazy kooks have a passion for theatre? I found these an other hilarious shots on my camera after the open house party on Saturday night.......all soon to be tagged on facebook.

bon appetit!

Katie reminds me of Carol Burnett. She's the kooky wonderful girl on the left. Emily, more quiet but just as funny in her unique way plays along.

I love this photo of Martha. She is my Christmas spirit.

As Naomi in the Hills always says.........more to come...........!!

Tuesday, December 23, 2008

hang a shiny star upon the highest bough.......

Noon.......the day before Christmas Eve.
A man dressed in a smart tailored suit and smart italian leather shoes, looked at his watch as he rushed out of the boardroom from a morning meeting. He hadn't bought any presents for his family yet. Too busy with matters of grave importance pertaining to the firm, he had given himself the lunch hour to do his shopping. He had to be back to the office for yet another meeting at 1pm sharp. Disturbed that he was pulled away from his work to shop, he wore his annoyance all over his tired face....a face that once exuded zestful energy and not one wrinkle. Now it held furrows and frowns. Burden weighed him down.

Christmas this year seemed more of an irritation than a celebration to him. He could do without it. Too many important things to attend to. He was going to have a couple of days off and the very thought of slowing down seemed foreign, like a missing memory. It comforted him to know that despite the "downtime," he would be able to stay wired and connected through his blackberry and his laptop. As he considered the amount of work he had ahead of him, he stepped out onto the busy street bustling with other harried business people and shoppers rushing past looking as haggard as he felt.

The air was crisply fresh, unlike the staleness of the boardroom and he took some good breaths to fill his tired lungs. The snow began to fall lightly which made the pavement slick. He carefully walked towards the parking lot, talking on his cellphone as he passed the people on the streets like they weren't human, passed the young homeless kid busking for money. He reached his car, got in got in quickly and headed to the shopping mall, only to realize that salt stains had penetrated his prized shoes and the back cuff of his suit. He cursed the air and rammed the car into drive.

It took ages to find a parking spot. With the sounds of cheesy jazz sprinkled Christmas songs pouring out of the car radio, he felt like he was in the middle of a nightmare. Not only did he detest shopping, he abhored the sweatiness of the crowds. While he waited for the woman to get into her car and pull out of the parking spot, he texted two clients and checked his emails, then pulled into the space. Before he got out of car, he pulled the list his daughter had passed to him this morning on his way out the door. She had told him that she made a list of items her Mom would like and a few she would like too. He unfolded the paper and sat staring at the 4 words scribbled down.....

"The Spirit of Christmas....."

"hmmmmm"...........he thought........"it must be the name of perfume."

"Do you still have any spirit of Christmas left?" asked the very busy businessman to the woman behind the perfume counter.

"Why......yes I do I think, though I'm running out very quickly. I've been on my feet behind this counter for hours listening to the same bloody carols over and over again while spritzing enough perfume to gag an elephant......but, yes i think I still have some spirit of Christmas," she stated, a little flustered about her long winded answer.

Puzzled, the man obliviously carried on......."can i see some please......."

"See what exactly?" asked the clerk, wondering if this serious looking man wanted her to sing O Holy night to get him the mood or something.

"This Spirit of wife and daughter want it for Christmas" he answer with a note of impatience in his voice.

"I don't have a perfume with that name but let me see if I can find one that has the aroma of the season. Maybe that's what they were referring to........ here is one........" She sprayed it onto a piece of paper and let him smell it.

Wasting no more time on this pedantic process, he gruffly stated,"Gimme two. "

As she wrapped up the purchase feeling his disdain and impatience, the clerk suggested that perhaps his wife and daughter were referring to something entirely different. He took the parcel, turned and walked away without even acknowledging her, but thinking about what she said. Maybe they did mean something else. "What a pain in the ass this is! I feel like I'm on some scavenger hunt for God's sake," he mumbled to himself as he headed to the book store.

Without wasting time, he marched up to the very busy bookstore Manager who was surrounded by a handfull of patrons quietly waiting their turn for his attention. The very busy entitled businessman butt through the crowd and interupted the Manager......."Can you show me where the spirit of Christmas is? I'm in a hurry."

Having dealt with this scrooge type before, the Manager pointed at the second aisle and said....."you'll find all things spirit related on the second shelf near the back of the store. Good luck to you."

The business man pushed his way through the crowd again and barged down the second aisle until he was standing in front of a stack of books all with the word " spirit " in the title. He grabbed one entitled "Everything you need to know about the Spirit of Christmas but were too afraid to ask......." and another "Let the Spirit Move You. Finding the Right Positioning for Maximum Enlightment." He stepped in front of the waiting patrons, paid with his Visa and marched out the door. In no time,his mind already back in the boardroom, he was back in his car, headset on, peeling out of the parking lot.

When he reached the office, he took the parcels to his secretary and asked her to wrap them for him....... She looked at the perfume and book titles and asked him why he chose those particular items.

"Sandy and Anna told me they wanted the spirit of Christmas this year. So, I went to the perfume counter and the clerk who was a nutcase and told me that this perfume smelled like the spirit of Christmas. Then she suggested maybe that's not what they meant. So, I thought maybe they wanted books on the spirit of Christmas, so I picked up these two. They seemed to fit the bill, " he answered. Will you wrap them for me? I have to get to the meeting and I don't have time."

"Of course I will," said the very lovely and insightful secretary. "I'd love to. Go off to your meeting and don't worry about it."

She had known this business man for a long time and had worked with him for many years. They were a good team, though she had been worried about how much he had his love of life had somehow slipped out of his repetoire. It had happened in rapid succession after the death of his grandmother, the one person he always relied on and then the subsequent disappearance of his son whom he had pushed out the door after a longstanding row between the two of them over his son's career and personal choices. It seemed like a one two punch he never fully recovered from. Instead he immersed himself in the firm's business and repressed the desolation rather than dealt with it. It seemed like an emotional domino effect, and she wondered if he had purposefully isolated himself, or put up a protective shield so as not get caught feeling hurt by the people he loved again.

She decided it was time to intervene a little.......time to help him let go of the shield. So, as her boss entered the boardroom for yet another meeting, she pulled on her coat and headed out of the office........books and perfume in search of the spirit of Christmas. She headed down the snow slick city street, and stopped to throw some coins in the busker's hat which was laying on the ground and then looked up into the man's eyes and saw a twinkling familiarity.


to be continued.....

Monday, December 22, 2008

Snowy planned?

While the wine in my cup formed ice crystals, I stood close to the winter solstice fire, its sparks crackling up into the snowy air and spoke to the person huddled beside me about reiki healing. I was quite interested in this man's journey to becoming a reiki master.....the whys and unsaturated curiosity piqued by wanting to know about energy, about interconnecting through intuitiveness. And all the while I'm learning more about a process of touch therapy without laying hands I'm thinking of how cool it was to be having this discussion in the middle of a snowstorm, while celebrating an ancient seasonal, celestial transition.
It never fails. There are always interesting conversations around a campfire....whether it's in the middle of winter or on a sunkissed beach.....the fire pulls people in and offers a dreamy opening to share without conditions.
Others roasted apples, sang songs, and warmed their hands on our blazing fire while huddling close. I jumped in from time to time to add my voice to the open air harmony. At one point, I looked over and watched my children surrounded by their friends enjoying the all ages celebration of life and love and belonging. It warmed me to my core. The snow may have seemed like a hampering obstacle for many that night, but it acted as a means of cocooning with people we share much of our lives with.

Our clothes captured the smokey essence of pine, birch and ash offerings. It is an aroma which lingers far beyond the moment and I love it. We didn't know how much the blizzard had moved onto "the ridge.".... the location of our party. So we carried on like fools in need of adventure. Fireworks blasted through the flakes, filling the close sky with oddly summer colours. Oooo's and Ahhhh's reminiscent of Canada Day slipped out of our collective chatter. Fireworks amidst the furious flakes is highly recommended! As soon as it was over, someone threw more wood onto the fire and our attention pulled back to the flames.

Eventually, we returned to the house ready to pack up and head out for home early. Plans changed drastically however when we pulled out of the long driveway and onto a completely whited out country road. You couldn't see a damn thing including any semblance of a road. And before we knew it, we retraced our path in reverse (there was no place to turn around) and joined the warm happenings inside. Song and wine poured as we huddled comfortably inside while the blizzard bellowed. The kids settled into borrowed pyjamas and the excitement of a massive sleepover ......

A little after midnight as the wind howled, 4 of us along with 3 dogs bundled up and headed out to the snow covered road to walk down the road to another friend's house where more beds were available and others who had left earlier were waiting for us. All of the kids were tucked in for the night in the Beckley and warm and loved and tickled they were in the middle of an adventure.

Almost a foot of snow had already fallen and no end was in sight. We trundled and trudged together, following a track left by some crazy person who had been on the road in a their pickup. The snow came down in a fury with a stinging bite from the whipped up wind, nipping your face like nettles. The conditions were frightening, but the sense of adventure hiking into a maritime winter storm was a tingling affirmation of life. We all felt it. Nature can be so humbling I thought as we turned off the abandoned road and down the driveway where a warm woodstove, and irish cream beckoned. I have never experienced a walk like that before and thanked God I wasn't all alone. It was so bleak in its isolation. The whole landscape was a monochromatic void of life, except the 4 crazy people looking for a bed. I was glad it wasn't a manger waiting at the end of the journey.

........We slept through most of the power outage last night.....

The storm left the area under a thick blanket of snow......the country and the city both were at a standstill for a day as everyone dug out. A white Christmas in the Maritimes is a guarantee....and.............

Today, our days begin to get longer. The very thought makes me hopeful.

ps. I was also told that the light around me indicates I should learn reiki..........turns out my internal "energy" is conducive for healing. hey, I've got that going for me as I head into 2009. Who needs a candle to light the way when one has a blue light aura to plug into?

Sunday, December 21, 2008

drama in all its glory.

Saturday morning at the market, Dec 20......
I am drawn to this picture.
I think it's one of my favourites of the year.
Last night we gathered in my home to celebrate the Christmas season shaking our heads in disbelief that another year had somehow seeped out its unfolding. There was talk about simply walking away from the year because it had truly been fraught with emotion.
life. stress. bewilderment.
But, there we were, wine glasses in hand, nibblies close by, music in the background, the fire glowing warm fellowship, animatedly sharing the stories related to the drama in our lives and I heard more laughter than any other emotional reaction. Collectively, my family and friends have been confronted with more than our share of "life events," most of which were completely out of our control, most of which sent us reeling emotionally as they played out.
The "events" list continued to grow as we scrambled and stumbled to pull each other up and over every single personal obstacle. Illness, separations, big scares, betrayal, shocking deaths, anxieties, accidents, frustrations and feelings of being lost in the woods with no all happened. Scars were left from the emotion of it all. We have changed and grown a lot since this time last year. Our personal paths have been altered, some more than others. It was like a year of being involved in a life war and it took its toll and has left many very tired. Every time something new was added to the overflowing cup, our reaction was.........what does it all mean? Why is all of this happening??
Some would simply see it as too much drama.
I remember the reaction from a colleague last summer when I called from the hospital to let them know I wouldn't be in....that we were with a close friend who had called my husband and I that morning with chest pains. His wife was away at a conference. He called us for help and of course we responded, and made it to the hospital with not a moment to spare. He almost didn't make it. We were told as they worked on him that he most likely wouldn't make it. My colleague rolled her eyes at my phone call......disbelieving that yet another life event had pulled me away from my office, so soon after my husband's stroke in the spring. I have lost complete respect for this unfeeling person. She wasn't invited to my party last night.
But my friend was, and it filled my heart with joy to see him healthy and smiling, sitting on my couch enjoying a beer and swapping stories with all of us.....with the very people who comforted and supported my own family last May when Jamie suffered a stroke.....with the very people whom we have comforted too.
Laughter filled the air in my home last night....and perhaps more wine than normal, but we earned every single sip and may have been a year fraught with stressful dramatic events, and we may still be struggling to learn how it has impacted us individually. We have changed and have been stretched by the discomfort of facing mortality head on. That's what happens in the middle of life's dramas....ones we have no control over. Tears come easier and the feelings have gone deeper. So has the attachment we feel for one another. And the way I see it..... this is all good. Deeper love is all good.
I feel blessed. I feel very much alive.
Tonight, we celebrate the middle of a winter storm. They are calling for 40 cm and high winds. It seems appropos. We'll just have to huddle together. We know how to do that.

Saturday, December 20, 2008

love the smile, Joe.

He calls me "dear." I call him Joe. He lives in my community. We chat every week at the the same spot where he plies his trade.....busking without an instrument. Our conversations run the gamut, from politics to social issues. He "catches me up" on what is going on in his life. I offer some encouragement and a couple of laughs. Joe teaches me much more than I will ever teach him.....not that he's any older than me, but because he lives outside of the proverbial box and sees life, society, love and honesty from a perspective tempered by a hard life.
Today, he let me take his picture for my blog. I told him I was going to post it so everyone could see the sparkle blue of his smiling eyes. He laughed.......and stated......"I bet I'll scare the shit out of them, dear...."
nah..... this is the same man I wrote about last's the link.
Joe was the first person to offer me a hug this morning .... and a hearty Merry Christmas as I headed towards the market building. He has a big kind heart behind those tatoos and grizzly beard.
Merry Christmas to you Joe. See you in the New Year, my friend.

Thursday, December 18, 2008


Light one candle. Move closer to the warm tiptoe hush of an internal quiet. Take a breath. exhale.......
How does one let the dust settle to feel the quiet 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. There is 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 so, we justify our time and project an image of productivity and therefore seem content with the status quo. It's easier to avoid our inner comtemplations by remaining actively engaged in life activity, 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 much more difficult to reach that stirring place. We are fearful of the quiet.

The quiet mind 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, 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....that love burrows into our quietness......that love lights the candle.

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 listen to the words hidden behind the mummerings. For behind these comfort stealing mummerings is a hushing holiness where the dialogue with God just may take place....

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?
let me light that candle......and breathe.

Inspired by the Thematic photography prompt this week over at Carmi's place....quiet.

Wednesday, December 17, 2008

Huron Carol

This is the first Canadian Christmas hymn, written in the early 1600's by Jesuit Father Jean de Brebeuf. Right after he wrote this hymn, he was ceremoniously murdered by the Iroquois confederacy, who went on to virtually obliterate the Hurons and their culture. They were encouraged in this by the British colonial interests who were seeking control of French claimed territory, much of which was Huron territory originally. The descendents, not many, live in a few villages in the province of Quebec, but their language is mostly lost.....floating in the history of the complicated birth of this nation we call Canada.

Bruce Cockburn also sings a beautiful rendition of this song too.

Tuesday, December 16, 2008

The Delicious Dish.

THE most hilarious Christmas skit ever....a classic from Saturday Night Live. For some reason it has been pulled from Youtube and the NBC venue only has a snip of the whole segment. However, I found it on another blog.......follow this link......and then click on "delicious dish."
I dare you. NO! I double dare you not to laugh. Alec Baldwin is the prince of deadpan comedy.

Monday, December 15, 2008

regrets, I've had a few....dreams one or two....

In life we all have an unspeakable secret, an irreversible regret, an unreachable dream, and an unforgettable love. Diego Marchi.

Tonight, my family and I joined a few others to decorate the local community kitchen. The few boxes of decorations, stored for 50 weeks of the year in my basement, are hauled into the dining room area after the dinner has been served and the place has been cleaned up for the day. In the quiet of the early evening, we begin by pulling out the worn out treasures......the motley looking tree, the garlands and wall hangings, the bows and ornaments.....and assess the array we have to work with. This year, a few colleagues from work donated some new decorations to add a bit of zip to the festive look.

The soup kitchen no question is a cluttered, undersized muddled mish mash of donations. The arborite is worn to the bone.....the chairs, recycled vintages from various boardrooms and offices have most definately seen better days. It's relatively clean (definately the kitchen area is) though the lingering odour, especially at this time of year is a compelling blend of unwashed winter wear, cooking grease and lingering life spices hits you as soon as you walk in the place.

It's an aroma I'm used to..... not so for my children. It is a rank of stark reality to them and it wraps them in wonder of a relatively unknown different world. Even though they have been in the place several times, I can see their discomfort and determination to help make it a little more welcoming and festive for the people who frequent it. I also know that they look forward to offering their efforts every year. It's a good thing.

As we begin to puff up last years bows and turn the little Christmas tree into something more presentable (it reminds me of the tree in Charlie Brown's Christmas.....just needs a little love), I too look around at the empty chairs and the long lines of tables. In no time I begin to hear the stories, the regrets, the dreams, the loves.......I begin to feel the loss, the sadness, the grief, the frustrations. I also see the mingling apparitions where fellowship is felt in the gathering of souls....the volunteers, the workers, and of course the human beings who come for the food. They come for the food, but they also come for the touch of another.

They come for sustenance...body and soul. We need both. For survival.

I found the above quote this morning and it stayed with me all day as I contemplated my own secrets, regrets, dreams and loves. Tonight, as I looked down at the wellworn tables and the overused empty chairs where folks had just sat an hour before to eat their daily meal, I was reminded that every single person on this planet, no matter where they dine or dwell, carry with them similar packages.....unspeakable, irreversible, unreachable, unforgettable.....

our life scars......our war wounds......our imperfections

some just scratch the surface

some puncture deep into the crevasse of our spirits

some we share

and some we take to our graves.