Tuesday, 19 November 2019

The Greatest Disease

Mother Teresa stated in the book A Simple Path many years ago that the greatest disease of our society (in the west) is loneliness.  I remember when I read it having a difficult time believing that this was in fact true.  However Mother Teresa was not merely on to the glimmer of an idea but she was in fact entirely accurate in her assessment.
And worst the problem seems to be increasing 
AND worst again we recognize it but do little if anything to combat or prevent it.
The change in loneliness can only decrease if we become willing participants in combating it by taking the time to visit or make a call in an effort to brighten someone else’s day.

There is rarely a week that this is not hammered home to me in the visits that I make.  People are eager for a visit, to share a cup of tea or a meal together and even occasionally I am asked “can you bring your dog.” These sacred times are not to be rushed.  They may last a short time or may take much longer.  Usually there are means by which to make the visit last as long as possible so that they don’t have to spend the rest of the day alone.  And inevitably there are the profuse thanks for the time that has been so well spent together.  While these visits are so life giving to both of us I can not help feel a profound sense of sadness that people have so few visitors.  It is not a mere criticism of families or society in general but also of our faith community.  Our hospitality has to extend beyond the doors and our evangelism requires that we go out to meet them when they can no longer come to us in community.

It would be a lovely dialogue to participate in if one day someone begins the conversation with how many visitors they have been fortunate to have seen.  Instead I am usually disappointed and hurt for the person that I have been the only point of contact to a church community where they were once actively engaged.  I am disappointed for the person when I am told “if we didn’t see you we’d never hear from the church” and in the next breath enquire “how is everyone at the church?”  Despite the loneliness and the definite feeling of loss of community thoughts and love for the community are never far from the person.

So, if we are to live out the love that we are called to share, show compassion and above all be intentional about the importance of extending hospitality then there are many improvements that we need to make.  There are changes that we have to ensure happen so that people feel loved and valued again and as a result a little less lost and alone.  We become intentional about the witness we offer and slowly, one person at a time we begin to eradicate the growing  phenomenon of loneliness.

if tonight
                 you feel
could possibly
                   be missing you
just know
that if they
did not miss you
it is because they do not
know you
and have not seen
the incredible beauty
                                          inside you

by michael d prihods

Tuesday, 8 October 2019


When we see a sign that says reserved, we generally respect it.  We go out of our way to find another place to sit or park or whatever the circumstances entail.  Bottom line is we look for another alternative.  Why?  Well because we respect that someone else has booked ahead, paid for a spot or have taken the time to plan for the occasion and made sure that the space is available.  We do this for a physical, tangible thing.  Now, let me ask you, what about your quiet time?  Do you reserve it?  Mark it as unavailable for this period?  Do you respect it?  Do you make sure that others respect it?

Peace of mind is no laughing matter.  Statistics say that anxiety is on the rise in all age groups and will be the leading chronic disease in a few short years. With this in mind the idea of having a reservation for oneself to sit quietly, in a space that is both peaceful and fills you with peace would seem to an important investment.  Why is it so hard to invest in ourselves?  In the great adventure of life, we invest in a variety of things but when it comes to our own health, particularly mental health we are more concerned with how it might look if an hour or more a day is marked reserved.  Reserved for quiet, contemplation, peace.  Reserved to just be!

Yesterday, Laurence Freeman talked on no parking.  He took the talk down the road of following Jesus.  But his talk took me on a slightly different path.  Not merely no parking but reserved.  Reserved for a period of time each day for quiet, for peace so that the spirit as well as the physical and mental aspect of the body have time to recharge, refocus and renew.  Reserved not because we have nothing to do, not because we are lazy, not because we are slacking off but because it is essential to our whole being.  But as essential as it is, it is all too frequently the time we give up the quickest because life is busy and we will always be able to fit that hour in sometime later.  Later rarely comes. What does arrive is an overwhelming sense of too much to do and too little time to do it.  The reality is that hour will make little difference in the big scheme of things but in the here and now of our well being it changes everything for us.  Peace, calm, quiet and investment in the self by and large means we are more productive in the long run.  So, I encourage you to invest.  Invest in yourself and your whole being.  Find a space in your day that is just for you and sit quietly.  Listen to the waves, listen to the birds singing, watch animals at play and let the peace wash over you and come away from your reservation completely renewed.  What are you waiting for?  Make your reservation and most importantly honour it!

Saturday, 14 September 2019

Rough Seas

The sea, oh the sea, the wonderful sea
Long may she roam between nations and me;

And everyone here should go down on one knee,
Thank God we're surrounded by water.

(Dick Nolan, Thank God we’re surrounded by Water)

There is nothing quite like hurricane season!  After eight years away from the island I was home and got to experience the hurricane season.  The warnings were dire and everyone was preparing to the best of their ability but nature is unpredictable and one never knows if the looming storm will change directions, blow out, make landfall or a whole host of other possibilities. So with some trepidation we waited for Dorian to arrive.  

Well most waited and despite warnings of how much rain we might get, how much wind could be expected, road washouts that could definitely occur (and on and on the list of concerns were voiced) my friend CHT and I hit the road for a weekend in my hometown.  A warm welcome and a yummy dinner awaited us even as the wind picked up and the rain began.  It was a blustery night but not the worst we had experienced.  The winds gusted at 110 km, this little town is used to more.  Yes the house occasionally shook and there really is no way to describe the howling wind.  Nature was putting on a show it its full glory.  The following day the winds had dropped back (a mere 80km or so) and with only squalls of rain we headed out in the car.  No not to leave but to go to the beach and see the majesty (and terror) of the sea as it rolled and kicked up a storm.  The crashing waves were spectacular ( it was clearly not a day for a lot of walking) but honestly I do regret not taking that hike from earlier this summer, I am sure the pictures would have been worth a soaking.  

Suffice it to say my sister thought I was a bit crazy and that maybe, just maybe, I had been gone to the mainland for too long.  For me there was the beauty of the waves, the roar of the sea and for the local people relief that it had not been a whole lot worst.  However, my friend CHT braved the elements with me and yes we got the requisite selfie!

Nature in all its beauty is glorious and terrifying and while the hurricane caused so much damage, destruction and death it’s ending was to show not merely the power of nature but the beauty that one can find at the end of the storm.  Enjoy the pictures of the ending of Tropical Storm Dorian.

 The sea crashes with a mighty roar in the beach

There is nothing quite so spectacular as the
waves crashing against the rocks

Here we are getting the selfie
 with a fabulous background

 A look from the top of the hill
You can appreciate how angry the sea is

A view from around town 
No ships sailing today

Life is like the ocean.  It can be calm and still, and rough or rigid, but in the end it is always Beautiful.  (Author Unknown)

Monday, 6 May 2019

Be the Reason

Today I listened to a man recount an experience that he had a few years ago.  He tells that it was at the airport, near the holidays.  He had been expecting long line ups so he had gone early to allow lots of extra time.  But much to his surprise it wasn't busy and that meant he had time for coffee.  The server entered into a conversation with him while taking his order and making his coffee. She smiled, laughed and they had a thoroughly pleasant conversation.  He was walking away to go to his gate when he stopped, turned around and returned to the counter.  He could not leave without asking her how so close to the holidays she could be so pleasant.  How she could smile, laugh and be with people in such a way when surely she would much rather be else where.  Her response was remarkable; she said she wasn't serving coffee she was pouring happiness in people's lives one cup of coffee at a time.  He finishes by saying "I'll never forget that cup of coffee."

After listening to this story I could not help but be impressed by the attitude of the young server.  This person chose to be happy but more than that she chose to share that happiness with others that she encountered across a coffee counter. In a world that rushes along, largely ignoring others, when we encounter such pleasantness we are often surprised.  Sadly too we are often doubtful about the sincerity.  I'm sure that there are even a few who scoff and say that a person can not be that pleasant or happy.  And yet, when we are fortunate enough to have that chance encounter it leaves us feeling a little better about the world, it makes us smile just a bit more largely and it definitely leaves a lasting impression with us.

Like the young lady in the story we all have choices.  We can choose to lament what we could, should or might be doing or we can enjoy the place and the moment we are in right now and enrich not only our own life but perhaps in the process even touch the life of another and leave a lasting, positive experience.  So as the quote says, in a world where you can be anything be kind!
In a world where so many face challenges and difficulties...
In a world which challenges us daily and sets us back,
In a world that causes us to keep our guard up,
In a world that  makes us put barriers in place to protect ourselves remember to always be kind.  And more than this help pour kindness and happiness to make our world a gentler, better place.  In so doing we change not only others but ourselves in the process.