Thursday, 29 December 2016

Take a Hike

This fourth day of Christmas dawned fair and fine.  The temperatures in Newfoundland are practically balmy, a mere minus one! It was too nice not to be in the great outdoors so my friend LC and her boys AC and MC as well as her mom and Hershey, the chocolate lab all took me for a walk along Ned's Pond.  This is a local trail and simply glorious!

The trail was beautifully decorated by the local people with ornament, bows and wreaths.  It was a festive as well as a beautiful walk.  One could certainly appreciate the beauty of nature, the sights, the stillness, and the fresh air.  Around every turn there was something to admire either from the decorations or the sights. 

There were lots of people out walking enjoying the beauty of the day and the sights along the way. So here are few pictures to enjoy from the beauty of this fourth day of Christmas

The covered bridge that marked the beginning (or in this case the end) of the trail

Decorations in the snow

Mittens on the tree

A decorated tree

A fire pit for an out door cook up...forgot the kettle today!

The views are spectacular, the running water still flows freely

a foot bridge to cross the water

A snow covered beaver lodge, one of 2 lodges. 
The second had a for sale sign

The beaver lodge has a few decorations

a look across the pond and the beaver stripped trees

Tuesday, 27 December 2016

On the first day of Christmas...

On this first day of Christmas we are sitting tight in our home in Winnipeg.  Christmas Day dawned crisp and clear with the threat of bad weather to come.  Mother Nature did not disappoint and overnight there was more than 20 centimetres of snow dumped on "Winter"peg.  For the first time in the three years at our current address there was no way to open the back door and there was no way to get in the backyard to shovel said door since the back gate was also blocked with snow.  With a little creativity and foresight to keep the shovel within arms reach of the back door it was wiggled open enough to reach the shovel and to one handedly get enough snow out of the way to get the door open a bit then a bit more and eventually enough for two excited critters to leap out in the snow banks (suffice it to say they were the only happy ones about snow in this house).

We were initially scheduled to fly on this first day of Christmas as my true love gave to me tickets home.  Old man winter had a completely different idea!  So we patiently wait for the rescheduled flight thanks to the wonderful customer service agents at Westjet.  We will get there if a little late!
This first day of Christmas is not without additional issues and the power got knocked out and we await the hard working hydro personnel to restore it for us.

This all got me to thinking about the song the Twelve Days of Christmas and the lovely items that are sung about.  As we cleared snow, I thought what would I change those lyrics to....on the first day of Christmas my true love gave to me help with the snow clearing.... it kind of has a neat ring to it!
I can't wait to see what the second day of Christmas will bring!

Here we are all finished clearing the driveway....only about 3 hours

Sunday, 11 December 2016

Sleigh Bells Ring ... are you listening

Sleigh bells ring, are you listening,
In the lane, snow is glistening
A beautiful sight,
We're happy tonight,
Walking in a winter wonderland.
 Joe Nichols - Winter Wonderland Lyrics 

Sleigh Rides are a long time tradition of the congregation of St. Saviours where my DH serves as priest and with the juggling of my schedule I was able to participate in the fun and merry making.  In total there were four sleighs with approximately twenty people each.  It is a community building event that draws young and old.  The timing could not be better as we celebrate the third Sunday of Advent, the Sunday of Joy.

There is something lovely about the carol, winter wonderland!  And something even more spectacular when you can experience a sleigh ride this close to Christmas in the beautiful setting that we were in today at Birds Hill Park.  The day is a crisp one!  Approximately minus 20 and it is  necessary to be bundled up for sleigh rides but the cold is forgotten as the horse drawn sleighs, bells ringing, begin to pull up for everyone to pile on. In a very short time we are off and what a fantastic day it was, despite the cold.

We rode around the park for an hour, there was fabulous scenery and it often seemed magical as we went through the trails in the woods.  Snow sat like cotton balls on the branches and the evergreens were wearing beautiful dresses of white. This Sunday of joy was lived out in a very real way today as the people took time out of busy schedules to have spend with family and to celebrate the advent season sharing joy together.   We were reminded in the service today of the joy of Mary and Elizabeth as we draw closer to Christmas.  Joy is found in numerous ways and forms especially when a community comes together to make memories such as the ones that would have been made today by young and old alike.  

As we continue our journey through advent, preparing ourselves for the ultimate gift offered at Christmas we think of all that we have to hope for, the peace we continue to seek and then look around at how we have been blessed and there we will find not merely memories but true joy.

So when sleigh bells ring are you listening?  Can you picture the beautiful horses? And hear the laughter in the breeze as joy rings out all around?

Listen closely and in the memories you make you will see and hear the joy around you.

Thursday, 3 November 2016

Who's in your neighborhood?

               Oh, who are the people in your neighborhood? 
               In your neighborhood? In your neighborhood?
               Say, who are the people in your neighborhood? 
               The people that you meet each day

               Well, they're the people that you meet
               When you're walking down the street each day!
Copyright © Sony/ATV Music Publishing LLC, 
Warner/Chappell Music, Inc, Universal Music Publishing Group

What is it with song lyrics that won't let go? And what is it about certain conversations that trigger the lyrics?  I was asked by a colleague  to meet for a coffee so that I could be told about "missional ministry" in more detail than the information that has been sent out and has been shared at the diocesan synod.  The goal was to see how I could be persuaded to be part of the group.  I agreed and we met.  As I tried to wrap my mind around "missional ministry" I kept asking myself isn't this what we are supposed to be doing, be in community?  I had done some research before hand and had talked to people who had gone to the meetings to get their thoughts on the concept that I was asked to consider becoming a part of.  Everything that I read and was told kept me coming back to the lyrics of an old familiar tune, for those who grew up watching Sesame Street, who are the people in your neighbourbood?

When I think about the concept of forming a 
"missional group" to get to know your neighbourhood it begins to fall apart for me.  I already know my neighbours, know many of their concerns and life struggles, aging struggles, know some just to say hello or to help clear the snow in winter, and yes we have shared meals together.  It is a friendly neighborhood in many respects.  Are all neighbourhoods that way, maybe not!  But if they are not, why not?  Did I say hello or am I waiting for someone else to speak first?  If they speak first and try to make conversation how did I respond? Was I abrupt and closed?  Friendly and open to talk?  What was it that encouraged the person to continue to converse or discouraged them and saw them walk away?  My struggle with the concept continues as I keep thinking that I should know something about my neighbourhood and the people that I meet even if it is as simple as knowing that they walk their pets.  I am left wondering where are we failing as humans beings when we do not know our neighbours, are we really that inward looking and consumed?  

I did not agree to be a part of the this conversation in the way that it has been envisioned.   Thus far my colleagues have not convinced me that this is something that I need to be a part of in this way. My focus has been getting to know another neighbourhood, in addition to the one I live in, the one that I meet on a regular basis, worship with on  Sunday and get to know them, their needs, their struggles and joys.  I have been attempting to build on the community that is the congregations I am a part of and who are in relationship with each other.  But I guess the biggest drawback was that I thought this was what we were already supposed to be doing!

How is your neighbourhood?  Do you know, at least by sight, the people that you meet when you walk down the street each day?  And please, if you would make a comment on this blog post and tell me if you know your neighbour, your neighbourhood, your community.  It frightens me to think that we are isolating ourselves to the extent that we no longer know how to be in or part of a community and have become "drive in and drive out" neighbourhoods failing to see the people that we meet each day and who will abundantly enrich our lives.

These are the people in your neighbourhood,
in your neighbourhood, in your neighbourhood
these are the people in your neighbourhood,
the people that you meet
when you're walking down (or driving down) the street each day!

Wednesday, 2 November 2016

What are you looking for...

I have climbed highest mountains, I have run through fields . . .
I have run, I have crawled, I have scaled city walls . . .
 . . . but I still haven't found what I'm looking for!
Written by Adam Clayton, Dave Evans, Larry Mullen, Paul David Hewson, 
Victor Reina • Copyright © Universal Music Publishing Group

Recently the meditation group grappled with the meaning of the question "What are you looking for?" The consensus was that what you look for varies with the different stages of life and with the various experiences that help our formation.  The question, however, refuses to let go and so I find that three days on I am still thinking about the question and how it impacts us at different times.  In addition to the question rolling around was the mere coincidence that I turned on the car radio just in time for the song by U2 "And I still haven't found what I'm Looking for."  I laughed at the irony.

Think about the question and juxtapose it with the lyrics and it is easy to recognize that we are constantly searching.  Searching for happiness, searching for fulfillment, searching for success and when we reach what we thought would be the pinnacle we are content for a while and then we are looking and searching again for the next thing.  It can become a point of discontent for us as we search for what it is that we think will bring us contentment, happiness or whatever it is we need or we can see it as growth because we are always learning and seeking.  A negative or a positive depending on how we frame it and use it.

I am not sure that there is ever an easy answer to this question of what are you looking for?  The answer will inevitably vary with each person who is asked as each person is in search of something unique to them.  I think it becomes difficult when we continue on the same route always searching but never finding, always wanting something but doing little to find it or to make it happen.   When we get bogged down on that kind of route we never find what we are looking for because it always remains elusive.

I have also met many people who needed someone, anyone in their life ... that would complete them. Contentment and happiness was going to be derived from an outside source.   Someone else would provide what was needed to complete and make make them happy and whole.  I think this devalues the person and what they have to offer to themselves.  Happiness is within and it is only in seeing your own value and worth, finding your happiness that someone else can add to it, they can not provide it for someone else long term because soon that will not be enough.

So, what are you looking for?  Has the search changed in the last five years?  Have you changed?  Is your focus different?  Life is a journey, we will always be looking and searching for different things as we experience life and grow.  Along that journey I hope that you have been able to give an answer to the question what are you looking for but I also hope that you are continuing to grow, seek and challenge who you are so that you still haven't found everything!

Sunday, 2 October 2016

Going to the Animals

Today was a different experience in church.  We did an experiment...sort of!  For the last few years we have celebrated St. Francis of Assisi but always after the main service of the day.  The hope was that people would return with their pets for the blessing of the animals.  It was at best sparsely attended and the pets few in numbers.  So this year we incorporated it into the morning service at St. Paul, West St. Paul, Manitoba and the result was much more satisfying.

We welcomed fur, fin and feathered friends at a service that was much enjoyed by all in attendance.  Surprisingly it was not at all noisy but there were a few excited young people who had brought along their  pet for a blessing.  They were quite eager to make introductions. Join the pet for the blessing and proudly receive their certificate.

So here are a few photos of the gathering and the friendly beasts that joined us for worship.

Some of the gathered congregation

Billy the Budgie

Smokey the cat, 
and a brave soul he was to come up the aisle with all the dogs about!

Lucy is a new addition and only about 11 weeks old

Sadie was super despite the warning that she might nip

Norman with all of his cuties that he takes care of

Gandalf and Copper felt right at home

And here we are doing the four fish who had to stay put in the aquarium

Bentley would have been uncomfortable in this setting but Billy took one for the team!

Bless, O Lord, this (these) creature(s),
and fill our hearts with thanksgiving for its (their)  being.

Saturday, 24 September 2016

The Tides

The Arches, Northern Peninsula Newfoundland

Early last week I received an email with a request and in the email a reference was made to tides. The person wrote that she thought that I would appreciate the imagery of high and low tides.  She also referred to the gradual wearing down that a tide eventually effects.  When I responded to the email I replied that the tide is fabulous imagery, as one never knows what treasures will be revealed in the low tide.  It was a fun banter back and forth between a land locked prairie person and an Atlantic Canadian, who had just returned from a trip east.  It was also interesting as one of the conversations that I had been a part of in Newfoundland was about how the tides were wearing away the cliff near a home and how many feet of land had eroded over a specific number of years.

The banter and imagery set me to thinking about the tide.  It is an imagery that I have played with in my mind these last few weeks. Tides for people living on the sea/ocean shores become a part of life. They often go unnoticed unless they are going to affect whether or not you can do something or it seems to be coming in higher than normal.  Houses near the shore were often built to accommodate the high tides.  The tides eventually erode cliff sides, smoothly finish rocks and glass. The tides take a toll on sea life and people alike.  The tides wear things away and smooth off rough edges. The tides come high and low.  The high washes away remnants on the shoreline and the low reveals the treasures that wash ashore.  The tide holds mystery, balance, power.  It washes away the old and reveals the new.

Life is much like the tide.  It has its highs and lows and each experience shapes us slightly differently, smooths off or gives us rough edges.  Each experience reveals something about us and inevitably alters us in some slight way.  I suppose what we really need to consider is how we will let the tides of life affect us.  Life tides, like ocean tides, come whether or not we are ready for them. Transformation takes place both within and without, we are altered in a deep and meaningful way.  However we do not always appreciate the changes when they are happening to us.  It is only with the benefit of time that we often appreciate the tides of our lives and what has been changed, revealed, washed in or out.

Tides perform gradual transformation, for the most part, and at times we barely notice that the changes have occurred,  I suppose that what we have to ponder is what the tide takes away and what the tide reveals.  There are losses that must be endured and treasures yet to be revealed.

E. J. Pratt

It took the sea a thousand years,
A thousand years to trace
The granite features of this cliff,
In crag and scarp and base.

It took the sea an hour one night,
An hour of storm to place
The sculpture of these granite seams
Upon a woman’s face.

Wednesday, 21 September 2016

A little cuppa...

Those who know me well know that I quite enjoy a lovely cup of coffee.  As the years have progressed I have become quite discerning about what is in my cup and have occasionally been described by my DH, lovingly I am sure, as a "coffee snob."  Like most people I began drinking the regular varieties on offer at coffee shops and knew which ones were the preferred choice, perking at home would be the ground variety and then later beans to grind and then learning to roast my own beans and which varieties that I liked best.  The bean and the roast is an important process but no process is as important as the end result of what is in the cup.  The cup is mostly unimportant, what I enjoy most is having someone with which to share the coffee time.  Friends can also tell you that I will always make time in my week to meet up for a coffee, no matter how busy the week looks! I have discovered through the years that the bean, the roast, the brew is all important but nothing is quite so important as sharing the coffee with a friend.  

When we first moved to Manitoba from Newfoundland it was a difficult transition.  I had left behind everything familiar but what I missed the most were the friends and the cups of coffee we shared. Without those friends nearby for a face to face coffee, for a very long time, I would sit and write emails to the support network I had left.  My morning would begin with "morning coffee" by email chat.  It was a lovely practice but not one that could sustain a person indefinitely.  Gradually coffee friends were made here and new coffee houses were discovered and a variety of treats.

The cup of coffee holds great symbolism of friendship, warmth, comfort.  It reminds me that sharing of life and its joys and sorrows can be done over a cup of the warm brew and this week I read this story that brought all of this to mind

A group of alumni, highly established in their careers, got together to visit their old university professor. Conversation soon turned into complaints about stress in work and life.
Offering his guests coffee, the professor went to the kitchen and returned with a large pot of coffee and an assortment of cups – porcelain, plastic, glass, crystal, some plain looking, some expensive, some exquisite – telling them to help themselves to the coffee.
When all the students had a cup of coffee in hand, the professor said: “If you noticed, all the nice looking expensive cups have been taken up, leaving behind the plain and cheap ones. While it is normal for you to want only the best for yourselves, that is the source of your problems and stress.
Be assured that the cup itself adds no quality to the coffee. In most cases it is just more expensive and in some cases even hides what we drink. What all of you really wanted was coffee, not the cup, but you consciously went for the best cups… And then you began eyeing each other’s cups.
Now consider this: Life is the coffee; the jobs, money and position in society are the cups. They are just tools to hold and contain life, and the type of cup we have does not define, nor change the quality of life we live.
Sometimes, by concentrating only on the cup, we fail to enjoy the coffee. Savour the coffee, not the cups!
The happiest people don’t have the best of everything. They just make the best of everything. Live simply. Love generously. Care deeply. Speak kindly.
Author Unknown

 Life, like the warm brew, is to be savoured, shared, enjoyed.  My coffee friends remind me on a regular basis that whether near or far we have much to share and to gift each other.

Monday, 29 August 2016

...Until Next Time

Where we love is home -- home that our feet may leave but not our hearts.
Oliver Wendell  Holmes

A childhood friend wrote, as she was leaving Newfoundland to return to her home, that she had her sad eyes on!  This morning it is my turn to put my sad eyes on as I leave my beloved home province to head west again.  Although I think my sad eyes started yesterday when I had to say goodbye to family members.  

It is difficult to say the good byes with the hope that all will remain well for the next year and we can come together again.  No amount of time with the people we love is ever enough and inevitably it is necessary to return to everyday life and to say our farewells for a time.  My young friend AC is always enthusiastic to have a visit but has yet to ever say good bye, it is something that he likes to avoid. Good byes, whether temporary or more permanent, leave an incredible sadness and so like my friend today is a sad day, having to look out of the plane window as I depart this beautiful province will definitely mean that the sad eyes are prevalent and while there is no place like home life, work and commitments call.  

There are a few random pictures from my time here that up to now have not been shared so here they are for a glimpse

The Gallipoli rounding Boar Island from Ramea

 The Mountains, hills in Newfoundland that lined the highway

 And on the Opposite side is Deer Lake with a view of part of the Pasadena Beach

The Lake and Mountains

Beautiful skies and calm water on the Beach in Pasadena this evening

The sky is beautiful this evening looking out over Pasadena Beach

A Newfoundland Pony

A Newfoundland Icon -- A Father of Confederation and First Premier of the Province

And the view from the look out on the Community of Gambo

Friday, 26 August 2016

This is my Hometown

Today dawned as a grey foggy day.  It was not unfamiliar weather.  The southwest coast of the island of Newfoundland is frequently plagued with fog and drizzle and while this is uncomfortable to be in for a prolonged period of time it is a great day to take pictures.  My sister was my chauffeur today and we cruised around town taking pictures, stopping on the tops of hills, in the middle of roads all in the effort to get a good picture.

It was fun to spend the day snapping pictures, getting a little soggy and seeing some of the areas of town that I had not been in for quite some time.  This trip home to Newfoundland has been a walk down memory lane and the excuse has been pictures for the blog!  The camera forces you to take a closer look, ask should I share this and even how did I miss this?

So on this grey foggy day take a tour around my hometown, enjoy the sites of this little community of Burgeo
To begin this is the view as we walked down my sister's driveway, lots of islands off shore

This used to be the library when I grew up here, 
now however it is a museum and this is one of a number of murals that can be seen around town

The Church of my formative years, St. John the Evangelist.  
It sits atop a hill and overlooks the harbour

Faith United Church

Boats tied up to the wharf

A view of the Government Wharf, the coastal ferries dock here

Furbies Harbour, one of the in lets that is fairly sheltered

Islands just off the local wharf

The Lighthouse atop Boar Island, 
while it was foggy it was not enough to set the fog horn blaring

With out the zoom on you can see it is really quite a distance away

Small and Debbies Islands

Richard's Head is shrouded in fog

Another shot of the many islands that surround Burgeo

A trip to the local cemetery holds the reminder of the many disasters at sea
This monument commemorates the loss of a ship and the entire crew

No trip would be complete without at least a 
drive to the Sandbanks Provincial Park

While there are a few waves crashing it is not a heavy sea today

It is an unusual sight to see the beach deserted. 

 These grow wild and the season is nearly finished 

Another shot of the beautiful beach, yes I am enjoying the salt air

The rocky shores are prevalent everywhere on this coast

A calm day in the sheltered areas, note the reflection in the water

It is a rugged coast and houses crop up everywhere

This was too pretty to miss, the Messeurs area of town

The foot bridge in the distance

A wider angle!

Summer days they were warmer then
When we laughed with the old fishermen
And they cursed when the fog rolled in,
Then they made up the hay;
It's been more than a long, long time
Since I held you and called you mine,
On a grey foggy day.
(from Grey Foggy Day by Eddie Coffey)