Monday, December 17, 2012

Haven't been blogging lately ...

To state the blindingly obvious - I haven't been blogging much lately.

The reasons are diverse and wide ranging ... my day job has been busy ... I have had no less then three cold/flu bugs since October ... I am busy planning to open a Fair Trade Coffee shop ... Ms H has hockey two or three nights a week ALL over Southern Ontario ... I haven't felt motivated nor inspired ... I've been otherwise preoccupied ... the list goes on and on ...

The bottom line is - I haven't been posting here in almost three months!! Yikes!!

I have thought about sharing some of the musing that have come with the final cleaning up and sale of our family home in Stratford, but have struggled to put the many emotions into words.

I've tried to share some of the experiences and happenings, but felt inadequate to the task.

I will be back eventually, just not sure when ... I have some ideas rolling around within me, but as I've made the journey from losing Mom and Scott in early 2011, and trying to pick up the many pieces that were scattered all over the place, I've realized that sometimes silence is a good option. Sometimes just being present to the sorrow and sadness is the necessary act. It has been a long and winding road ... and I will share some of the reflections and observations I've had along the way ...

For the moment ... all the best of the season, and prayers as we struggle with the deep darkness that breaks over us from our headlines and happenings ... this season of Advent is a reminder that God is with us, and that even in the deepest darkness, the Light WILL break thru ... in this we trust!


Thursday, November 01, 2012

Reflections from All Hallow's Eve ...

The yard was decorated. The weather was grim. And yet the kids came in droves ... we had over 100 trick'r'treaters at our door ranging in age from wee ones in mom's arms through the teenagers who threw on a hat and carried their knapsack with room for candy amid their binders and notebooks from school.

All in all, it was a good night, with lots of adorable costumes, excited children, and more than a few chuckles.

It was a good ending to my birthday ...

I began the day not expecting much - I seldom due ... long ago I developed an Eeyore like approach to my birthday because it never seemed to be a big deal to anyone, and I formed a wall of self-defense that minimized my disappointment ...

But yesterday turned out ok. Not great, but definitely not bad.

I got unexpected phone calls from friends near and far. I had visits and coversations with folks I hadn't expected to bump into. And I was humbly surprised by gestures of kindness and care offered by folks in my circle of family and friends.

Noahkila created a marvelous dinner of homemade pasta in an alfredo sauce. Ms H tried her hands at a spooktacular cake that didn't turn out quite as planned, but was nonetheless delicious in a wonderfully monstrous way. And others offered gestures and words of kindness that helped dispell the dreary mood I was in ... as I've said, it WAS a good day, and for that I am thankful and appreciative.

I have a good circle of family and friends - and for that I am humbly grateful!!

Shalom to one and all ...

Friday, October 19, 2012

Today I shall wear purple ...

Today I will proudly follow the crowd and wear purple as a visibile and visual reminder to OTHERS about the dangers and perils of BULLYING!!!

Every day when I look in the mirror I am reminded of the scars of bullying. My nose was broken no less then twice by bullies who thought it was fun and okay to punch me in the face.

I remember many long nights as a teen weeping in fear at the prospects of going back to school and facing the torment and the violence to my person. Some of it was physical, but much was verbal and emotional.

Can you imagine making fun of a child because their father was dead, and they lived in a single parent home?

I still remember the afternoon that happened for the first time ...

I still remember being picked on because my clothes were hand-me-downs, and my jeans were patched and a bit ratty (this was before THAT was the style) ...

I still remember being picked LAST, or in some case not at all for games in the school yard and in my neighbourhood ... and then if I showed ANY emotion, or the slightest tear being mercilessly teased ...

I still remember the hurt that was constant and seemingly endless ...

I survived ... but I still remember ...

And today, I weep not for the Amanda Todd's of the world - there are more than enough people weeping for the pretty photogenic victims of bullying - but I weep for the hundreds of thousands of faceless victims who never have that moment in the limelight that says "YOU ARE VALUABLE AND LOVED AND WORTH MORE THEN THE B-LLS--T!!!!"

I have found it disturbing to read online over and over postings by people asking "What about ----?" and they cite a friend, a family member or another young person who has been bullied to the point of suicide.

As horrible as the story of Amanda Todd is, the lesson we NEED to know and remember and act on - is that bullying in ANY and ALL forms is wrong, and there are hundreds of thousands of kids being bullied for any number of reasons today, and they don't get the media attention Ms Todd and her family are getting.

Those kids need to be remembered TOO!!!

The other longer life lesson we need to be mindful of, is that Bullying is not limited only to the playground or the school class room. It happens in a myriad of ways and continues well into adulthood.

I wish I could say I left Bullying behind in my childhood, but I can look back in my journey as an adult and as a minister and see shining examples of Bullies and bullying behaviour in almost every corner of my life.

Slashing my tires and shooting at my house are extreme examples of bullying ... false reports to the Childrens' Aid and traumatizing my children are definitely a form of bullying ... spreading false rumours and listening to them is a form of bullying ... failing to stand up for someone being pummelled and harassed is a form of bullying ... and claiming to be a 'good Christian' while avoiding someone in a mall or on the street is a form of bullying ...

My list could go on ... but I don't need to revisit the past - most of the examples are cited previously throughout the past posts here at Prairie Preacher, so I will leave the list as it is and offer the hopeful prayer that one day the Church will see that it can do more and be better at walking the talk, and that it will take seriously the need to address bullying in its own courts and circles ...

Bullying leaves life long scars, but fortunately we know that there is a strange twist in the old adage: "Sticks and stones may break my bones, but names will never hurt me ..."

Names do hurt. But when the names and the sticks and the stones break our bones (our spirit, our heart), we are made stronger at the place where that breakage occurs. The scar that forms will often make the bone stronger and that is what victims of bullying rely on - the strength that comes from surviving, healing and attaining wholeness!!

Looking back, I know I was often the victim of relentless and horrible abuse and bullying ... but the healing that followed has help forge me into the adult I am today. I'm far from perfect, and I've needed to work through some stuff along the way, but I know now, 40 years later, that victims can survive and prosper.

AND that my friends is the message we need to get out there to every victim of Bullying: They can survive and become stronger people because they've overcome the fearfilled abuse weaklings attempted to inflict on them.

If we want to honour victims like Amanda Todd, we have to do more than just stop bullying - we have to help ALL the victims survive and transform our world with the amazing strength they have to share!!!


Sunday, September 02, 2012

A reminder ...

Yesterday, Ms H and I picked 13 pints of cherry tomatoes from our little garden plot - the plants were the left overs from the Father's Day give away at St John's and their production has been nothing short of prolific ... the 13 pints of tiny red fruit were taken to both services and put on the back table to be shared.

And shared they were!!

I came home with an empty tray and a few dollars gathered for the coffers of the church!!

In the next few days more baskets of tomatoes will be gathered, and I'll likely drop them off at the doors of some of our Church members. The zucchini and the peppers will find a temporary home in our kitchen before being enjoyed in some culinary delight.

The lesson in this is the simple joy of gardening can and will produce a bounty that MUST be shared, and along the way that bounty will be celebrated and savoured - and that is the way it is supposed to be!!

Thursday, August 30, 2012

Scenes from my summer ...

Just some random shots of my summer:

Creative advertising using Dad's vintage John Deere 110

Beetle and L outside of the Much Music Studios
in downtown Toronto on a rainy afternoon!!

Noahkila, S and L outside the Much Music Studios
(yes, they ARE filming in the background!!)

The absolutely spectacular stained glass dome 
in the Grand Hall at the 
Hockey Hall of Fame!!! 

The hallowed Lord Stanley's Cup (the REAL one)
complete with some one's name!!!


Beetle and I with Lord Stanley's Cup 
(or at least one of them!!??)

Beetle outside something almost as tall as she!!!
(The CN Tower)


Noahkila and Beetle standing on the glass floor, 
a mere 342 metres over Toronto!!!


L seems a little worried about the glass under her feet ... 
... at 342 metres to the bottom, 
she has good reason to be worried!!!


Joey breaks out of my office 
and takes a quick tour of the Flesherton Farmer's Market 
on the classic (and ancient) JD pedal tractor!!!

Ms H and Beetle on the CNE Midway!!

Beetle doning the gear and ready for 'battle'?!?!

Merry Go Rounds are the BEST!!!
Ms H, Beetle and Ms H's friends 
on the CNE carousel!

The end to a very good day 
at The Ex !!!!
(Ms H & Beetle after photo-bombing someone else's pictures!!)

(and last, but certaintly not least:)

A visit to the Memorial for Fallen Police Officers
across from Queens' Park 
in downtown Toronto.

Reflections on the summer than has been ...

My summer started with a break-in at the bush, and the loss of an atv, some tools and few other items ... after a couple of days of work, Noahkila and I got things back in order, and moved some things home rather than risk further losses ...

The Beetle arrived for an extended holiday ... meanwhile, my Dr had put me on some new meds because of concern about tests I had had previously, the meds threw me and my system for a loop, so I spent the first bit of the summer feeling like I had been hit by a truck ...

I can't say my energy level has gotten back to where it has been previously, but it has regained some ground, and more importantly, I've come to appreciate the need to balance my time and be more intentional looking after my self - something I've seldom done well.

Looking back in the waning days of summer, I can say that it has been a fun, rewarding, exhausting and very busy summer ... along the way we set the date and started working towards the auction sale for Mom's house, stuff and other assorted items ... I've been to T.O. several times and visited the CN Tower, the Hockey Hall of Fame, Much Music, China Town and the Police Memorial ... I've made a dozen trips to Stratford and hauled stuff to the dump, and I've been able to relax at home with the important people in my circle of family and friends around me ... all in all it's been a good summer.

As the fall unfolds and we move into the busy-ness that the season entails, I have no doubt I will find myself rushing about trying to keep up, but if I learned nothing else this summer, I've learned that at the end of the day the stuff is less important than the relationships we have with those we care about.

This past week Ms. H and a couple of her friends wanted to go to Keady Market just south of Owen Sound ... I drove them there, then accompanied them as we walked up and down and up and down the seemingly endless rows of STUFF !!!! Aside from the crowds I found myself marvelling in a less than positive way, at the sheer quantity of STUFF that was available ... I couldn't help but wonder WHY???

WHY?? are we so enamoured as a culture with STUFF, that we keep buying and buying and buying, then renting places to store the stuff that we never use, and never look at??

WHY is shopping so ALL important in our culture??

WHY ... we left Keady Market and went to Stratford and I looked critically at all the STUFF that still crowds Mom's house and I rolled up my sleeves and set to work ... I filled a dozen or more trash bags, I sorted and sifted mountains of detritus, and on Wednesday we loaded every inch of my truck for TWO dump runs that go ride of a MOUNTAIN of garbage ... then I pulled the last of the mementos I wanted from the house and set to work readying the place for the pending auction ... and today I'm left, still wondering why we've put so much emphasis on the "STUFF" in life, rather than on life itself ...

I'm glad my summer was relaxed and I had time to spend with the people I value ... I think my priorities are getting back to where they should be ... hopefully this summer will continue on this path!!

Monday, August 13, 2012

As our Olympians return home ...

In the wake of the London Olympics I think expressing our appreciation to ALL the athletes is not only appropriate, but the ONLY response.

ALL of the athletes who were in London did a great job and have more than earned the appreciaition of our Nation for making us proud.

Afterall, the Olympics are not just about getting Gold medals, they are about being the best you can be and striving to achieve personal bests. (Remember the Jamaican Bobsled team and Eddie the Eagle Edwards??)

Aren't the Olympics about higher, stronger, faster?? I don't remember ever reading that they are about only getting the gold? Being there alone is a spectacular achievement, and every one of those men and women who wore Canada on their chests entering the Stadium 18 days ago deserve our respect, our admiration, and our pride - they've earned it!!!

Thanks to Team Canada for a job well done!!! You made us proud!!!

Me and Beetle and Lord Stanley's Cup

Last week, Beetle and I had a visit with Lord Stanley's Cup at the Hockey Hall of Fame in downtown
Toronto ... I wonder if one day her name could be etched on hockey's most famous hardware??

Sunday, July 29, 2012

Really??? The United Church makes the headlines again ...

This weekend, Globe and Mail Columnist Margaret Wente once again takes aim at the United Church of Canada, and dubs us and other more liberal denominations as irrelevant ...

My first response was "Really? Again?"

Then I read the article and I wondered yet again, why the media publishes articles about the United Church and manages almost EVERY TIME to interview people within this vast and diverse denomination, who are not really that reflective of the Church or its leadership.

There are those folks out there who do well at getting press coverage and getting their ideas and opinions out there, and in the process are deemed "reflective of the United Church." But when I read yet again, a clergy person who expresses a negative opinion of something as central and basic as belief in God, Jesus or the Holy Spirit I have to wonder what United Church they represent.

This past year, our congregations did a line by line study-conversation of the documents of faith that are part of the revisit and reframing of our beliefs as a Denomination. Over and over we commented on how the older pre-1968 words were problematic in embracing and reflecting our modern beliefs. But overarching that conversation was a firm and unwavering belief in God, and the basic tenets of the Church ... God, the Resurrection, Christ, the Holy Spirit, and the transformative power of the Holy in our lives and in our world ... the words may vary, but the faith does NOT.

We spoke of the power and the necessity of prayer.

We spoke of the power and centrality of community.

We spoke of how our faith effects everything we are about as we live and move in our circles of family, friend and community.

We spoke of how what we believe colours and inspires our choices and actions.

We spoke of how being Believers motivates us to support the local food bank, offer support to our neighbours, opt to support outreach programmes and initiative, and be active and involved in our community.

We spoke of how living our faith means being open to sharing it with others through worship services, outreach dinners, weekly gatherings, the presence at the Farmers' Market and a dozen other things we do over and over and over ...

Is the Church irrelevant ... to some ... but as even Ms Wente notes, there is a spiritual hunger out 'there', and it our responsibility as a believing and vibrant Church to open our doors to new people, and invite them to become part of the conversation.

AND, I will go out on a limb and say BOLDLY and UNAPOLOGETICALLY, that 99% of that task rests on the shoulders of the Clergy. It is our responsibility as clergy to provide a passionate, enthusiastic, and faithful (not too mention Faith FILLED) leadership that inspires our people to dream and hope, and equips them intellectually, mentally, emotionally AND spiritually to go out  into the world and envision ways of sharing their faith.

It is NOT about the cult of personality that see Pastors drawing in waves of people enamoured by the prosperity gospel or some simplistic reading of the Scriptures, but rather it is ALL about COMPETENCE!!!

We need clergy who care about more than their pension and their next cheque.

We need clergy who are not marking the days to retirement.


Too many clergy are bland milque toast in their preaching and in their presence ... and too many clergy and leaders are SO steeped in the ways of the Church, that they are truly out of touch with the real world ... what we need is a diversity ... passion ... enthusiasm and a HUGE dose of living vibrant faith.

I can count on my facebook at least a dozen clergy friends who are incredibly competent and capable and amazingly passionate in living their faith - almost everyone of them begins and ends their work in prayer, and none of them undervalue the necessity of the Church to change and grow and embrace the leadership of the Spirit. They ARE believers and not surprisingly, none of them have ever been interviewed by mainstream media about what is wrong with the Church - and THANKFULLY, almost everyone of them is willing, able and courageous enough to express their take on what is wrong with the Church we all continue to call home.

I can speak only for myself, but I am willing to bet, that everyone of them continues to share in the ministry of this Church - This UNITED CHURCH OF CANADA, that we call home because everyday they encounter amazing people who inspire them and remind us that we are not dead yet, and that with the presence and love of the Holy Spirit Resurrections loom and bloom around us every single day.

Thanks for folks like Adam, Barb, Nick, Audrey, Phil, Clare, Cheryl-Anne, Darren, Brian, Bill, Bob, Gord, and dozens of others - the Untied Church of Canada is alive and well, and STILL living what it believes.

In short Ms Wente, and folks like David Ewart are WRONG.

The Church is still relevant - and our willingness to embrace social causes while living our belief with honesty and integrity and passion is what WILL change the WORLD!!!!

Stay tuned ... we've ONLY JUST BEGUN !!!!!

Saturday, July 28, 2012

Nothing Runs Like a Deere ... especially down memory lane!!!

When Scott died in February 2011, one of the first things I did was brought the John Deere 110 (vintage 1960) into the security of the shop out at the bush ... while to many it is just an old tractor, to me it is a strong connection to my past ... one that goes back to the first weeks that mom and dad and their newborn son called their new house on Devon St home.

Dad bought the John Deere in 1961, and for the next seven years used it regularly and almost incessantly.

I remember hearing from neighbours ALL over the neighbourhood how Dad would spend HOURS out with the tractor blowing driveways in the winter time, and mowing lawns in the summer.

He took the neighbourhood kids for rides in the dumpster trailer, and one glorious afternoon our long time neighbour and friend Laverne Baumbach had tears rolling down his cheeks from laughter as he recounted the night he and Dad and an assortment of neighbourhood men used the 110 and the trailer for a rather inebriated journey meandering from house to house ... while Dad drove the tractor, the men passed a bottle or three around the trailer while each took a turn being the one running alongside the trailer making sure the tire (which was lacking a simple cotter pin) didn't fall off.

As Laverne described it, one of them would run alongside, or stagger ... banging on the tire to make sure it stayed on the axle while the others roared with laughter and enjoyed the silliness of the adventure.

Today, there is one survivor of that night, and a few months ago at Laverne's service he and I talked about it and with a sly grin he said "I can neither confirm or deny those details ..." he then added with the same grin, "but it WOULD be fun to take a spin in the old 110 for old time sake sometime!!" It's a request I'll try to honour in the coming weeks!!

For now though the old 110 has taken up residency in my garage alongside its newer, sleaker and much more comfortable cousin ... but there is something special about the 110.

It was Dad's. He loved that tractor, and for 50 years it has been part of our family. A few years back Scott had it cleaned and repainted (not exactly John Deere Green, but close enough) and new decals were applied, then for several years it sat in a lean-to under a tarp. Today, thanks to a local mechanic and John Deere enthusiast, the 110 again runs like a Deere.

I had it out for a quick spin around the yard and up and down the sidewalk tonight ... and I can only say - It felt GREAT!!! The last time I drove it was almost 30 years ago when I used it to mow the lawn at mom's.

Like riding a bicycle, you never forget!!!

But for me, the best and the strongest memory is associated with the photo below ... sometime in the spring or early summer of 1968, mom pulled out her instamatic camera and snapped a picture of her boys. I am sitting on Dad's knee and a smiling Scott stands beside Dad who is sitting on the 110.

For the last 25 years this picture has been one of the four pictures I had of dad, that I cherished ... in 2005 when the arson fire ripped through Minnedosa United Church I feared I would lose that picture, which was sitting in my office ... today, every time I look at the 110, I think of that sunny afternoon and how much love Dad had for his family ... the 110 might just be an old tractor, but it carries far more memories that the dumpster trailer could ever manage to carry. And every time it starts and I pull it out of the garage I'll think of those wonderful memories and carry them with me, smiling and laughing at the continuation of a story began one day at a John Deere dealer when Dad was handed the keys for the first time!!

Friday, July 27, 2012

tickety, tick, tickety, tick, tickety, tick ...braak ... DING!!!

In the age of smart phones, lap tops and tablets, this old beast is positively ancient ... yet, in its day, this old Remington Travel-Rite was as modern and cutting edge as the latest offering from Apple, or any other gadget manufacturer. I can't say for certain how old it is, but I do know it has typed many a page in its long and storied life ...

This antique began its life when it was purchased by my dad who had absolutely atrocious handwriting (a trait his son and grandson have inherited!!!). Dad used it for just about everything. The tiny little circular piece of paper on the dial of the rotary phone in the kitchen still has the emergency numbers carefully typed out on this beast ... on the door of the broom closet was the paper list of contact phone numbers for family friend - it was also carefully typed ... all through the house were neatly typed slips of paper that ranged from love notes to my mom, through to formal letters to various companies and agencies. Then in time, the typewriter fell into my hands and I used it through my high school days and into university until it was replaced by a Smith Corona electric typewriter/word processor that I've mused about previously. (An interesting aside is that I purchased my Smith Corona at the same time CandyGirlFlies from "I Can Fly Just Not Up" bought her's - I still have mine!!!)

As for the Remington, I hefted it in and out of my car regularly taking it to and from Hamilton for papers and assignments at McMaster, before retiring it to the corner of my bedroom sometime in the early 1990's ... it sat in that corner until this winter when I finally brought it home and put it downstairs ... it may not be valuable but it has many good memories associated with it.

One of the stories that is connected to this old Remington also made an appearance in a newspaper story when a presiding judge asked the investigating officer for the notes he made the night of the incident in the patrol car.

Constable Sam Ankenmann produced a sheaf of neatly typewritten pages and handed them to the judge.

The judge again asked for the notes that the officer had made the night of the incident.

Dad, no doubt with a grin on his face, answered the judge by saying that those WERE the notes he made the night of the incident while on scene in the patrol car.

The judge wanted to know how, and dad explained that he carried a portable typewriter with him and made his notes on it in the car. According to the article in the paper, the judge then called for a recess in the proceedings and directed Dad to produce the typewriter and prove the seemingly spurious claim of typing while on scene.

I can, if I close my eyes picture Dad walking out to the patrol car and hefting the Remington into the Court and with a twinkle in his eye begin to type for the judge ... the article (which I found in Mom's stuff and dutifully tucked away to keep it safe, but can't find right now) notes that the judge was both shocked and impressed by Dad's use of the typewriter.

I may never type another page on the old Remington, but like the other handful of touchstone items I have from Dad, it will be a cherished heirloom BECAUSE of the close and wonderful connection that it has with Dad. Then again, maybe what I need to do is take the old Remington out to the Bush and let the locale and the typewriter motivate my reflections and my thoughts and perhaps that elusive story I've been toying with will finally come into being ... one just never knows!

 I realized yesterday talking with Beetle about the typewriter, that it likely was in the car with him the night of his accident, though it shows little evidence of any damage - and I will likely never know for certain - I only know that on the green Bakelite keys, Dad typed all manner of documents, letters, and notes - most of which are lost, but all of which were part of his life and legacy ... the few that remain, like the typewriter are fragments of a life lived with love, laughter and a wonderful joie de vie!!

It may not be fancy, but this little typewriter was my Dad's and I think of him every time I see it !!!

Thursday, July 26, 2012

And a journey ends on a grey and rainy day ...

The grey and rainy day kind of matches my mood right now ...

This morning I had the sad task of taking Chloe, the calico pictured above, to the vet for the final time ... she had some fight left in her despite the failing health she was experiencing in recent days. As the vet put the needle in her hip for the sedative, she growled and spun around and bit him!! Thankfully it was with the side of her mouth missing the big sharp fang that had been removed some years ago after an infection. The vet for his part graciously accepted her final act with a laugh and the observation: "She's still got some fight left in her!"

Yes, she did ... but fortunately, she went quietly and peacefully as the sedative took effect and she slipped into a deep and comfortable sleep ... I don't know if animals go to some kind of heaven, and I don't even want to think about the Theological Implications and DEBATE that would start, but I would like to think that Chloe is somewhere peaceful with her old chums who have taken that road ahead of her ... as she slipped into sleep, I whispered into her ear that I hope she'll soon be back together with Mindy, Angus, and Diesel, our dogs and cat who have come and gone from our lives in the 19 years Chloe was part of the journey.

Nineteen years! That's a grand run for a stray kitten that arrived on our doorstep on Thanksgiving weekend in 1993!!

Nineteen years of memories and recollections to look back on.

Nineteen years that saw Chloe outlast two dogs, a cat, two rats, two rabbits, and a couple of stick bugs ... this morning Chrysanthemum is out of sorts - looking around for her old friend ... and Simba, though he is sleeping off the effects of his neutering, has been looking in all the corners where Chloe has hidden in recent days ... life goes on, but a familiar (and grouchy) presence is missing!!!

But, in the last few weeks Chloe has not been comfortable nor well, so it was time ... as hard as it was, it was time ... in this moment, I'm thinking about the snippets and images etched in my mind of Chloe and her life in Bella Coola, Langely, Minnedosa, Brandon and Flesherton. She has seen more of Canada that many people ever will - and she has taken each move in stride, although she made known her displeasure of being put in a box and moved from here to there each time!!! And really, who can blame her?

Right now, the image I have in my mind as I think about the old girl, is one from the summer of 1994, when Noahkila was still just a babe ... I was working in my office in the basement of the manse in Bella Coola, and Noahkila was sleeping on the couch, wrapped in his blankets. I glanced over and saw that Chloe had crawled in the bottom of the swaddled blankets leaving only her hind legs and tail showing - at the other end, Noahkila remained blissfully asleep!!

Before I could get the camera and snap a picture, Chloe freed herself and laid beside the babe (something she would do frequently!!! I lost count of how many times I carried a sleeping baby into his crib and had push Chloe aside, or later came back and found her snuggling her Boy!!!). The image though that I have is of a strange merman-like image of a baby with calico cat legs and tail!!!

Such was Chloe ... always looking for a place of comfort and warmth, and for most of her 19 years, she slept with Noahkila - and for his part for most of those years, he would curl around her giving her the best and warmest place on the bed!!!

She truly was the matriarch, and despite the annoyance of finding puddles and surprises all over the house in the last few months - we WILL miss her, but after 19 years, we can only wish her a peaceful rest and say "thanks for the memories!!!"

R.I.P. Chloe - 1993 to 2012!!!

Wednesday, July 25, 2012

Mid-Summer Delights!!!

Above is my tiny little garden when I started ...
Below is my tiny little garden today:

And thus far, I have enjoyed a number of fresh radishes as snacks, a wonderful dinner with fresh steamed chard, and in recent days the tomatos are coming on fast and furiously.

Everything is growing very well despite the drought-like conditions (the twice daily watering helps) and all things being equal, it will continue to produce a bounty of fresh produce throughout the summer!!!!

Just had to share the before and after pictures!!! (MORE to follow!!!)

Sunday, July 15, 2012

One cup at a time ...

One of my long standing passions has been Fair Trade products ... I have, in every community where I've lived, and every church I've served, introduced and promoted Fair Trade coffee, tea, chocolate, sugar, dried fruit and other products.

In the last 18 months, the folks of Flesherton/Eugenia have not only encouraged that passion, they have joined in and taken our promotion of Fair Trade to a wholly unexpected level.

Each week we set up and people a booth at two local farmer's markets, and we sell a steady stream of some very fine Fair Trade products - so much so, that some weeks we struggle to keep up to the demand!!

But more importantly, the Farmers' Market booth serves a better purpose - it tells people that the congregations of St John's and Eugenia United Churches are alive and well, and interested in reaching out to the community around them and sharing the values and importance of our faith with our neighbours both near and far.

Despite the work and effort involved, I look forward to the weekends when we set up our tables, our tent and lay out our inventory and welcome folks to consider making a conscious decision to provide themselves with a good quality product that makes a difference in corners of the world we may never visit. One cup of coffee, or tea at a time, we are MAKING a difference in the world, and the good folks of the Flesherton-Eugenia Pastoral Charge are living that reality every day !!!

Sometimes living our faith and sharing what we believe means stepping out of the comfort of our buildings and truly going into the market places and offering an faithful alternative to the people we meet there!!! And that is just what Fair Trade is ALL ABOUT !!!

Ain't that the truth ...

One week of holidays down ... and more than a couple to go ...

I haven't made plans for anything big or momentous for my holidays. The highlights so far have been a break in at Scottie's bush with the loss of tools, various items and one of the atv's, then a couple of days later Beetle arrived from BC to spend the summer sweltering in hot, humid and muggy Southern Ontario.

Since her arrival, we haven't really done very much ... dinner out a couple of times, some shopping expeditions, watching some videos, and splashing in the pool ... but, it has been wonderful to have her home, and to have her around.

Looking back on the week that has been, I can't help but wonder if the quiet start of my holidays is a good reminder of Vonnegut's astute observation about the little things in life being the most meaningful and important.

For me, I've tried in the last few years to focus on living in the present moment and appreciating what I am surrounded with ... I've had some epic failures in this, but by and large have continued to try to actively and openly appreciate the things around me in the present moment.

Admittedly, I've let some things slip through my fingers, and I have a few 'little things' that I failed to appreciate adequately until after they were gone ... but I will continue to try.

This spring I planted a number of gardens in my yard and have been enjoying the process of watering, weeding, and otherwise tending them as they grow ... yesterday Beetle and I enjoyed the first ripe radishes, and I savoured the sweetness of a vine ripened cherry tomato enjoyed standing in the late afternoon sun ... the simple patient act of tending a garden is an ongoing reminder of life's little things ...

Looking forwards and backwards, I am mindful today not so much of life's little things, but of the importance of better appreciating those so-called little things, and valuing them better before they have slipped away, and it is too late ... good friends, good food, good conversation ... the list is pretty long ... and today, I'll try to continue doing better at appreciating them!

Thursday, July 12, 2012

The nostalgia of sounds and smells ...

He ALWAYS had the best matchbox and hot wheels cars tucked away in his dresser. They sat in the middle drawer, on the right hand side in a (now) ancient Hot Wheels carrying case, and in the original cardboard sleeves ... and I was ALWAYS desperate to play with them.

It was an ongoing battle for most of my childhood: I would sneak in and 'borrow' the tiny toy cars and he would take them back then smack me around for my misdemeanours ... I was never thwarted for long though. I would be back trying again and again and again ...

As I got older I would sneak into Scott's room and carefully and quietly open the drawer to pull out the cars I wanted and one ear was always listening for a car door, or the rattle of the front door lest I get caught pilfering his drawer ...

Today, the dresser sits in my bed room at the foot of the bed, far from its original home, and even though the sounds of the handles being lifted and let go, and the pull of the drawers still makes me listen for a car door, or the front door (it's instinctive now!!!), I know (sadly) that I no longer have a big brother to fear finding me taking his stuff ... but there is a strange comfort in the familiar sounds the handles make when you open the drawer, and the woody smell that still permeates the dresser ... and even though the cars are tucked away in the basement, I still open the middle drawer on the right side expecting to see the familiar orange carrying case (I've thought about putting it back just because ...).

As I use the dresser, I think of Scott and all the memories - good, bad and in between - that are part of the journey we had together ... I think about him and how much I miss him ... I think about him and how much he influenced me whether he realized it or not ...

This week has been a series of nostalgic moments ... making strawberry pie for Beetle, tidying up afghans and quilts and tucking them in the old cedar chest, moving and sorting a few boxes, and just surveying the assortment of stuff that has come home from Mom's ... over and over the sounds and the scents have triggered deep memories of childhood, growing up in Stratford, hanging out at home, and just being part of the family circle that was Mom, Scott and I ... they have been good memories that brought a smile to my face, and a tear or two to my eyes ... but memories that brought comfort and a reminder that even though they are are gone, they are still very much part of my heart and soul ...

It is funny how powerful a memory can be when triggered by a sound or a scent ... I feel it everytime I open the middle drawer on the dresser ... I wait to hear his voice from the kitchen: "What the hell are you doing in my dresser??" ... and even though it would mean a beating, I would love to hear it one more time just for old time's sake!!!!

Friday, July 06, 2012

One day ... one glorious day:

This is Blake.

Reverend Blake Spencer, the pastor and minister at The Presbyterian Church in Pleasantville New Jersey.

In addition to being a Pastor, a father, a son, a friend and a fabulous person, Blake is also known as The Laughing Pastor, and blogs his reflections and thoughts about his life, his ministry and his journey of Grace and discovery ... AND, I am honoured to be able to count him amongst my friends!!

I wanted to offer this post today because I think Blake is an amazing person who has dared to stand up and speak out about his life and his experience in the Church. In the last few days Blake has lamented on Facebook about the bullying he is witnessing as our Presbyterian sisters and brothers meet in their General Assembly in the US ... Blake is being very open and honest about his struggle with the role and place of Gays and Lesbians in his home denomination, and the agony they are experiencing as they wrestle with this issue.

I see so many parallels to what my home denomination - The United Church of Canada went through over 30 years ago ... Congregations were torn apart ... friendships were ended ... angry words were spoken ... tempers flared ... and people repeatedly invovked the name of God to justify their ponts of view, and in some case to justify anger, hatred and non-faithful exclusion ... I remember well what I saw myself ... and I serve a Church that was devestated by the decision by the United Church to welcome self-proclaimed Gay and Lesbian candidates to ordination. The exact words were "Homosexuality in and of itself is not a barrier to ministry in the United Church of Canada."

Looking back over the last 30 years I can only offer a grateful "AMEN!!" to that decision and those bold enough to support it.

Our church hasn't been overrun with 'those kind of people' as some cried out ... but instead, our Church has become a place that is more aware and more sensitive to the bullying and the exclusion that we too often invoke in the defense of our faith. We have many wonderful and talented ministry personnel who HAPPEN to be Gay (or Lesbian), and who are able to be true to themselves, and no longer have to hide away in fear.

The United Church still has work to do, and despite our official policies as a Denomination to be open, welcoming and inclusive, we are still struggling to make that a reality in ALL corners of this Church we call home.

But from an official point of view, we've opened the door to including and celebrating the full spectrum of the human family by removing the barriers of colour, race, gender and sexuality from the dogma of faith - we recognize and celebrate and LIVE the fullness of being human!!

And for that I am thankful ...

I am also thankful for the courageous and faithful witness of people like Blake who have boldly stood up and openly shared their sexual orientation, and who have continued to share their gifts and calling of ministry!!

Our world, and the Church Universal and Catholic is a much better place because of the ministry and witness of folks like Blake ... and I am a better person for having folks like him in my circle of friends.

It's funny ... I would never introduce Blake as a Gay Pastor or a Gay Minister. Instead, I would introduce him as a Minister who happens to be Gay ... and I pray that one day I will live in a world and serve in a Church where we no longer have to make that designation.

I long for a day when we no longer speak of gay or straight ... but simply celebrate our commonality as the Children of God. With the leadership and guidance of folks like Blake, I truly believe it WILL happen before I retire!!!

And for that, I say a hearty and faithful: AMEN!!!!!

Thursday, July 05, 2012

The simple joys of gardening ...

I've reflected on gardening around here a few times ... it is and has been one of the stress relieving hobbies I whole-heartily embrace each year, though last year was a bit of a loss with all the stresses that were too much a part of the unfolding of my life ...

This year though, I have been able to be a little more focused and A LOT more intentional in getting my gardens in and established and tended.

The picture above is the tiny veggie patch. It started last year with the inground portion that was dedicated to a few spindly tomato plants, some potatoes, and a few other assorted veggies ... I don't remember it producing much in the way of edible produce - the squash plant that self seeded itself in the compost bin out back was much more successful!!

This year as I prepared the veggie patch, I decided to use the old steps I had removed from the back porch last year, and I banged together a small raised bed to plant alongside the existing veggie patch. My ultimate goal is to keep expanding the veggie, perennial and flower patches in my front yard so that instead of boring and relatively useless grass, I will have a proper English Cottage Garden that requires minimal tending, and produces a wide array of bloom, berries, fruits, vegetables and herbs ... I've started, and I'll keep plugging away at it year by year, season by season ...

For now though, I enjoy having to go out a couple of times a day to water the various plots and patches, and to watch the growth of the new spouts pushing up through the ground past the weeds (did I mention I am terrible at weeding??), and creating a lush covering of new growth. It is simultaneously relaxing and rewarding.

This morning as I watered the veggie patch and noted the growth, even from yesterday I found myself plucking radish greens (and even a tiny plump radish root!!!) and tender chard and nibbling as the water sprinkled over the plants and soil ... I took some time and ACTUALLY weeded between the rows, taking note of the beet, carrot, and spinach that was beginning to sprout.

Then I spent a lazy and leisurely afternoon in the shade of my back deck reading the book "Trauma Farm" by Canadian writer Brian Bett, about his hobby farm on BC's Salt Spring Island. As I read Bett's words I found myself thinking about my humble little garden and how I could expand it to include some of the lovely heritage breeds of veggies and fruit that are being lost to our Industrial Monoculture ... then I thought about how lovely it was growing up in a neighbourhood with fruit trees and gardens to raid, and with access to vast farm gardens tended by my extended family ... There simply is NOTHING comparable to fresh produce picked and eaten while standing in the middle of a garden!!

I thought about our neighbour Mr Baumbach and his spindly pear tree that we used to raid while waiting for the bus ... the hard green pears were good - but the ripe yellow ones were better!!! I remember the year the last kid took a bus from the stop at the end of Mr Baumbach's drive way, he commented on how many pears that tree had produced, and he wondered what he was doing differently after so many years of getting only one or two pears ...

I laughed, and he did too, as I put the finger of blame firmly on the kids who had for the last decade or so used his driveway as our bus stop ... "We changed," I said, "and so YOU get ALL the pears this year instead of us stealing them!!"

Such are the memories of gardens and orchards and producing fruit and veggies in your own backyard ... I cherish the mental picture of Noahkila in our backyard in Bella Coola stuffing his pudgy toddler cheeks with fresh cherries from the Queen Anne Tree that stood outside the dining room window (he ONE enjoyed fruit) and I will forever smile as I picture Ms H. and Beetle stripping their Grandma Beach's raspberry bushes of the thick ripe berries.

That is WHY we garden, and enjoying the bounty of the harvest surreptitiously makes the whole process much more enjoyable ... I look forward to continuing with my seasonal nibbles, and in the coming weeks, months and years, I look forward to continuing to expand my gardens so the palate of flavours, colours, scents and experiences can continue to grow!!

The lessons we can learn from a cookie !!!

"Boycott Kraft!!!"

"God hates ... "

"Jesus loves you, ... but"

I read the Scriptures, and I take what I find there quite seriously, but I must confess I marvel at how seemingly faithful people can read the same scriptures - the very same words - and can find in those texts prohibitions and calls to exclude and hurt others.

I have never been able to see how the Scriptures can be used, or more appropriately, misused to exclude women, left-handed people, minorities, and most recently Gays, Lesbians, Trans-gendered and Bi-sexual people ... over the course of time, the Church has struggled repeatedly with the widening of our circle. Each time we've tried to widen the circle voices have called out denouncing the inclusion of the latest group, likening us to Sodom and Gomorrah and calling on the fires of heaven to rain down on us and condemn us to the deepest hell.

How can we, who claim to follow a God of Love and Grace, utter such hurtful and hateful words?

How can ANYONE who claims to be a follower of this rabbi named Yeshua utter words dripping with such hate and anger?

I've pondered the bewildering idea of God Hating anyone elsewhere on this site, and today as I've been following the postings of my friend and colleague Blake (aka The Laughing Pastor), as he watched the convulsions our American Presbyterian cousins are going through at their General Assembly, I find myself once again wondering how we've so defined 'faithfulness' and the Gospel, to intentionally exclude ANYONE.

When I read the Scriptures, I don't see any foot note that says God's love is ONLY for a particular group of people ... when I read the Scriptures I see a Gospel that frees us from such foolishness and calls us to care for those who are hurt, broken, and marginalized. When I read the Scriptures I discover that living out the Gospel demands opening the circle wide and living inclusively and with love for ALL people.

Love precludes the ability to say God hates anyone ...

Love prevents us from invoking anger and hurt in our speech ...

Love locks firmly the gates of hell and asks us to stop trying to condemn people to its fiery abyss ...

Love means living without fear and trusting in God fully and without hesitation !!!

Love means serving rainbow oreos and celebrating the diversity of the human family at Church function!!

Love means living the idea of welcoming EVERYONE in the name of the Risen One!!

Friday, June 29, 2012

Not a day goes by ...

Not a day goes by that doesn't have me wondering what kind of a man my father would have been had he not perished in an On Duty accident while serving with the Ontario Provincial Police 44 years ago this morning.

Dad would be 84 this fall ... and I have no doubt he would have been a thoroughly involved and entertaining and supportive grandfather to his grand kids. And I wonder if there would have been more than just my three ... I have always wondered if Scott's life would have taken a very different trajectory than it did, and I'd like to think he would have married, had children and been the wonderful father, and friend that lingered deep within his warm and caring heart ... Scottie would have in time made a rockin' Grandfather too!!

Not a day goes by that doesn't have me wondering what life would have been like had that horrible accident never happened ... I have no doubt many things would have turned out very differently.

Alas, one can not undo the past, and one could easily become caught up in the swirl of the 'woulda, shoulda, coulda's' that leave you living too much in the frets of the past, and not enough in the potential of the present.

Forty Four years ago today, my father OPP Constable #3000 Samuel E. Ankenmann died in an accident just outside of Stratford at the 'Little Lakes curves' while on duty with the OPP.

Forty Four years ago today, we lost a big piece of our family, and I don't think we ever really recovered.

Forty Four years ago today, our life as a family changed, and from what I have learned in the last year and a half since Mom's death, she went through hell just to ensure that Scott and I had some level of support following Dad's death. She had to fight hard for every penny the various levels of Government, the assorted agencies and ultimately the OPP gave us. And at the end of the day it was truly pennies that they gave us.

Our support was limited and meagre. The burden of raising her boys fell entirely on mom's shoulders. There was no golden pension, no support for our post-secondary schooling, and beyond the annual visit from the detachment commander, the invitation to the annual memorial service and a lovely plaque that now sits in my dining room, there was little else offered to mom in the way of support.

The most insulting letter I read in the last year was the letter from the Ontario Government that acknowledges the forwarding of a cheque for a little over $2200 to mom a year after Dad's death. The letter ends with the emphatic statement that the powers that be had determined the enclosed amount was all we were entitled to.

Dad's life was determined to be worth 20 weeks of his salary and not a penny more.

Today I wonder what life might have been like for Scott and I and for Mom, if we were given the kind of support offered to the families of fallen officers who die in the line of duty today.

Today I wonder how differently our lives might have been if Mom had been given support and assistance instead of being forgotten and shuffled aside after Dad's death ... personally, I believe my father's life was worth more than a meagre $2200 ... but 44 years ago today, that's the price they placed on his sacrifice.

Today I wonder ... and I weep for what might have been ...

My DAD, remains a hero in life not death!!

Thursday, June 28, 2012

They should arrive soon !!!!!

The order has been placed.
The money has been sent.
The box has been mailed.

NOW, it is a matter of waiting for the t-shirts to arrive !!!!!

I tracked down a source for the above pictured tee-shirts, and have ordered a box of various colours in L and XL that will be available through our Fair Trade Booth at the local Farmers' Markets, or via our Congregations!!! The price will likely be about $20 per shirt, and we will have them in black, grey, maroon and blue ... though not all colours are available in all sizes.

When they arrive I'll let folks know - in the mean time, I'm taking orders and have a 1/3 of them spoken for already!!!!

Some days I JUST ABSOLUTELY love my job!!!!!

Thursday, June 21, 2012

And Jesus said:

This was TOO good to NOT share!!!

There was no asterix in Jesus' teaching "love thy neighbour" - just a straight out call to LOVE them no matter who they are and no matter how we pigeon hole them!!!

This is awesome and should be on backs of ALL who claim to be followers of Christ!!!!

Wednesday, June 20, 2012

If only ...

I did a bit of redecorating in the living room today ... I hauled the oil lamps that Mom and Dad long ago coverted into electric lights up from the basement. The lamp graced Mom's living room for years ... the dangling glass ornaments were endlessly fascinating to me when I was a kid, and I remember carefully removing them from the lamp and playing with them on the floor ... I don't remember what my inevitable punishment was, I only remember Mom coming into the living room and gasping "OH MY GOD!!!"

My best guess, based on experience was that I got a spanking ... that was pretty much status quo ... and I got quite a few over the years!

Today though as I unpacked the delicate glass lamps and set them out in the living room, I was awash in memories ... more of Mom's house has moved and been incorporated into our house, and with the bits and pieces and furniture comes a host of memories and recollections ... but what I realized today is how much has been lost along the way.

One of the lamps has a loose bulb in the base, and for the life of me, I can't figure out how to get in there to tighten or replace the bulb. I poked around for awhile trying to reveal the secret ... I was even tempted to say "Open Sesame!" But instead I offered the prayer - "Isabell, it would have been helpful for your to show us the secret ..."

Alas, over and over I find myself trying to remember snippets of the many stories associated with furniture, collectibles and other items that have come out of Mom's house. The brown wooden rocking chair belonged to SOMEONE in our extended family tree, but no one can recall which of our long ago ancestors once sat in the ancient chair ... it came from Chesley, but the rest of the story was in Mom's memory and may be gone for ever ... fortunately, along the way some snippets have been preserved and have revealed other bits and pieces of my history.

My one regret is that I didn't listen a little better when Mom was running through her litany of memories and stories. I had heard some of the stories SO MANY TIMES, that I stopped listening and just wanted Mom to get to the end so we could talk about something else, or I could go and do ANYTHING else. Today, I really would love to sit at the kitchen table and ask her about the rocking chair, the lamps, the photos, or any number of other items I've gathered and moved and pondered ... Like the many boxes and bins that crowd my basement and porches, Mom's stories crowded her memory and overwhelmed the rest of us ...

I guess the task ahead is for us to reclaim the tatters of Mom's old memories and use them to inform the memories and the stories that will be part of our future as a family ... the objects and furniture will be the touchstones that Noahkila, Ms H, and Beetle use to remember Grandma Izzy, Uncle Scott, the stories of Grandpa Sam, Terrific Grandma and the other members of the family who helped create the clan we are now proudly part of ... today, two beautiful antique lamps remind us that life is to be lived forward, but the touchstones remind us of where we've come from.

Monday, June 18, 2012

Reflections on Father's Day ...

It was given to me on Father's Day in 1997 ... Aubery had his cousin sew the blanket, and he painted it ... he gave it to me as a way of remembering my time and my friends amongst the Nuxalkmc, and he gave it to me as a Father's Day present in the waning days of my time in Bella Coola ... I still remember his words: "Wear it on the Holy Days and at special events, and remember us ..."

I've worn it with pride many times since.

It was one of the items I was desperate to get out of my office as fire consumed the rest of the building in February of 2005.

It is something I like to wear on High Holy Days and on days when I need to remember the circle of care and faith I was part of while living in Bella Coola almost 2 decades ago.

Yesterday my reflection at worship here in Flesherton looked back on an afternoon that happened a few weeks before Aubery gave me his gift, and left me awash in memories and recollections of people and a place that remains important to my faith journey. I didn't wear my blanket, but I could have and I really should have. The main reason I didn't was the heat and the humidity ...

But I carried the memories with me ...

The blanket and the stole that came with it make me smile every time I wear it, and every time I see it hanging in my office closet ... I have good memories of Bella Coola and the people I ministered among while I was there ... and those memories have profoundly touched my faith, my being, my view of the world, and my way of living and ministering ... not ALL the memories are good ones, but even those that make me wince in embarrassment and discomfort have taught me lessons and helped me become the person and the minister I am today.

As I look back on my life journey, I wonder how many of those uncomfortable moments may have been avoided had my dad lived into my teenaged or adult years ... I wonder how many of the lessons I had to learn the hard way are things he could have helped provide wise counsel about avoiding rather than blundering headlong in to? I wonder how differently things would have been had Dad not died that summer morning so long ago ...

Yet, overarching all of this, is the simple realization that I am the person I am today because of all the events and happenings that have marked my journey over the last 44 years. I've made horrendous and humiliating mistakes, I have achieved much more than I've expected at times, and I really have very few regrets over the path I've trod ... I carry the good and the bad with me, and they inform my present and continue to shape my future.

My one hope is that my life journey will help my children, and my circle of family and friends in positive and affirming ways ... and that what I've experienced, endured, learned and been privy to, will help others in their personal journeys ...

Thursday, June 07, 2012

One of Life's Holy Moments ...

He is truly one of my heroes - David Northcott, the Executive Director of Winnipeg Harvest is a man I have admired for the last decade as I've worked in Manitoba, and been part of the circle of people who are struggling to address the myriad of issues associated with poverty and homelessness.

I feel privileged and blessed to have David intersect with my journey from time to time when I have met him in Brandon at Samaritan House Ministries, at Food Banks Canada meetings in Toronto, and now tonight when David, Marla (the exec director of Samaritan House) and myself were able to share a meal together with Marla's daughters and my son Noahkila.

It was a fitting ending to a day that began with me reading some material on the Sacrament of Communion while preparing the Communion liturgy for Sunday's Service ... Communion - the simple action of sitting at table with one another and breaking bread and sharing the cup, is one of the holiest actions we have as a Church and a people of faith, and it is something we actually re-enact daily. Communion is not meant to be separated from our day to day lives, but to affirm the Holy Presence WITHIN our day to day lives.

Today, as the six of us broke bread (figuratively speaking) at a Chinese Food Buffet in Kitchener, we celebrated and enacted the Holy Presence in our fellowship around the table ... we laughed, we reminisced, we shared life's highs and lows, and we affirmed the importance and the value of the work David and Marla and others do every day in addressing the violence of poverty in our society.

There was more than a little silliness ... laughter that brought looks of disdain from other tables ... and along the way I suggested that we go to those tables and apologize by introducing David ... "Oh we're sorry we've been so loud ... this is David Northcott, the executive Director of Winnipeg Harvest Food Bank, and a recent recipient of the Order of Canada!!" I think the reactions would be priceless!!!

Yes, David - a friend, a hero and a helluva guy - was recently awarded the Order of Canada for his 30 plus years battling hunger in Manitoba and across Canada ... in the truck on the way to the restaurant as I congratulated him on his wonderful achievement he expressed his typical humility by acknowledging that it is NOT his Order of Canada, but it is the Order of Canada for the work of Winnipeg Harvest and all the staff and volunteers and donors who struggle day to day to counter the poverty and hunger that has become a familiar part of the landscape.

I started today in a very cynical and grumpy place ... but thanks to my esteemed colleague and friend Doyle, and thanks to David Northcott O.C., Marla and the others, I end my day hopeful that our struggles to address poverty, and to enact Social Justice in our world are NOT in vain ... one day, the Kingdom we envision and are working for, will not only be revealed - we will savour being a citizen ...

Thanks for sharing your evening with us David ... and thank you for your commitment and dedication to the people lingering on the margins of our communities and our society. Enjoy the Order of Canada - you have earned it, and you continue to inspire others!!

Today, we broke bread together and shared a communion of laughter, food, fellowship and most importantly FRIENDSHIP - and for that we are very blessed !!!!

Dayenu !!!!! Dayenu!!!!!