Tag Archives: reflection

Walking the Labyrinth With Mosquitos


Before I get to the actual story today I think some back-story is necessary. There are two things you need to know about me to truly appreciate this. First, I hate flies! Second, I am a fly magnet! When I was in my early teens I was camping with my parents at Kedji National park in nova Scotia. Almost every day we went for hikes. One early evening we were out for a hike and I saw my first deer fly ever. In fact, I saw many, many deer flies! I have to say I was totally freaking out about the flies; swatting and jumping and begging to go back to the car. My father, in his wisdom, told me to stop complaining and that I was making a big deal out of just a few flies. I did survive the evening and we finally turned around and went back to the car and home to tent-sweet-tent. Years later Dad told me that it was a good thing I couldn’t see my back, as I was totally covered!

After supper tonight I walked the Labyrinth at the Tatamagouche Center. As I began the walk I was greeted by a few late season mosquitos. The idea of the walk is as meditation so I took a moment, while brushing off the flies, to decide if I would go ahead even knowing that where there are a few mosquitos there will soon be many more. I persevered. Hands in the pockets of my hooded sweater and the hood up to protect the back of my neck I set out.

I am happy to say that, other than not spending any time sitting on the bench at the center, I completed the walk at a good leisurely pace with my mind focused on questions of wanting things I don’t need. What I noticed was that the structure of labyrinth freed my mind from thinking about where I was going. The focus was on that next step God had laid out for me without looking longingly at the goal ahead. This is something I have not done enough in my life, and I suspect this is the case for many of you as well. If we can ignore the buzzing and biting flies and keep our focus on God’s path as it lights up ahead of us imagine the barriers we won’t even notice.

Please Step Up: Calls For Change


I don’t know who wrote this or where it originated, but I ran across it on Face Book one day a couple of weeks ago and it is one of the few things that I actually copied and pasted into my status update.

“Special request to all you kids returning to school in the next few weeks. If you see someone who is struggling to make friends or being bullied because he/she doesn’t have many friends or because they are shy or not as pretty or not dressed in the most “in” clothes PLEASE step up. Say hi or at least smile at them in the hallway. You never know what that person might be facing outside of school. Your kindness might just make a BIG difference in someone’s life! Pass It On ♥”

Unlike the “games” people play on Face Book which involve obscure notices with meanings blocked from the opposite gender or some other group kept out-of-the-loop, this message is clear about its intent and encouraging positive change.  This sort of move toward kindness, as you know if you follow my blog, is of great importance to me.

Where have we heard these sentiments before?  If Jesus had used Face Book the status update may have read something like this…”

My brothers and sisters, fellow children of God, don’t waste your time while you are waiting for my return .  If someone is struggling in any way, hungry, thirsty, friendless, or being bullied, LOVE them and do what you can to help them. Say hi or at least smile at them, share what you have. You never know what others might be facing in their lives. Your kindness might just make a BIG difference in someone’s life, and what you do for them you are doing for me! Pass It On ♥

Waiting For The Light To Change


http://www.flickr.com/photos/horiavarlan/4747872021I am sitting in the library at my school waiting for the machine to warm up so that I may laminate some posters,  and it has me thinking about all the time in our lives we spend waiting for lights to change.

 

The most obvious is waiting for traffic lights. The red light interrupts our journey and sometimes seems to go on for ever. I expect we would find a direct correlation between how much of a hurry we are in and the slow change. Of course there are people who don’t wait, they just rush heedlessly through that red, or speed up for the yellow. Many times, more due to the alertness of the other drivers, this works out for them, but it can often lead to crashes which, in the end, make them far later than they would have been.

 

We wait for the light on coffee makers to let us know that our caffeine is ready. Again, when in a hurry, people often sneak their cups in the flow. This is so common that many manufacturers have designed pots that sense when the pot is removed and pause in the brew cycle. Those sneaked cups have two effects; they are much stronger than a regular cup from the pot, and they make the rest of the pot weaker for everyone else.

 

When picking up my daughter at closing time at her work, I wait for the lights to turn off. When I want to go to a store I wait for the open sign to light up. On New Year’s Eve people wait for the lights to come on in the Big Apple to announce that the new year has begun. At the end of a long sleepless night we may watch for the sunrise. And we Christians watch for the Son-rise on a whole new earth and heaven.

 

And so we wait. Given how often we have to wait for things, you might think that we would have gotten really good at it! Infants and young children, in Freud’s Id stage, don’t yet understand that they may have to wait for gratification. As adults we are much better at waiting than when we were young, and yet…

 

I guess the way we handle waiting depends on what we do in the meantime. Drumming fingers, constantly checking the clock, or pacing will do nothing but build stress and waste time. If we take the time to do something els the time may pass without us really noticing. We could use the time for a prayer for those people in our lives who need God’s special help.

 

There is really no way to cheat on waiting for Christ to return. We aren’t supposed to just stand still looking up at the sky, we are meant to make use of the time to make the present earth as much like the kingdom of heaven as possible. As we wait for this light to change, let us pray as Jesus taught us.

 

Our father in heaven
Hallowed be your name.
Your kingdom come, your will be done
On earth as in heaven.
Give us this day our daily bread
And forgive our debts as we forgive our debtors.
Lead us not into temptation
But deliver us from evil.
For yours is the kingdom, the power, and the glory
Forever!

Amen

Anyone can flip a light switch but it is the quality of light that really matters!


I took this photo about a year ago after having a lunch out with my husband at a local restaurant. We didn’t sit at the table in the picture, but I have in the past. I took the picture inspired by the quality of the light provided by this creative fixture.

The light falling on diners at this table is not the classic bare bulb used in interrogation scenes in the movies. The light is filtered through the hanging crystals.

The light of life, of Jesus, shines the same on everyone in the world but the filters through which it passes makes a huge difference in how it is felt and received by individuals. As Christians, we are those light fixtures through which Jesus’ light shines for our friends and neighbours. On our worst day we may have an angry red filter making the light show menace. Some days we may just hide it under a blanket (basket) so it can barely be seen at all.

Le us aim to be beautiful, creative, and inviting fixtures so that people will want to sit at our tables!

Ready Or Not: Here It Comes


Weather Forecast

As most people on the Eastern seaboard know, hurricane Irene has been developing and then moving northward for several days now.  In her wake she has been leaving destruction, cancellations, power outages and deaths.  They have been broadcasting warnings to prepare for emergency survival for days now.  In areas used to hurricanes and tornadoes I imagine everyone takes the warnings very seriously.  In New Brunswick, where the storms are almost always downgraded and getting tired before they reach us, I think a lot of people talk about the upcoming bad weather but then don’t really do anything much to prepare.  Boaters take precautions to ensure their boats are neither smashed against the docks, nor set loose from moorings.  One of my friends on Face Book said we are supposed to be making 72 hour survival kits and practicing escape routes,  but I only heard of one person actually stocking up on water and groceries.

This reminds me of the story of Noah’s Ark (Genesis 6-9).  God had warned people that they needed to make changes, repent and live according to His laws.  They didn’t.  He warned of consequences.  They ignored Him.  Only Noah listened and took the directions God gave to prepare for surviving the storm.  Everyone else went about their everyday lives, taking time out to gossip and laugh about Noah and the huge boat he was building in the middle of dry land.  As you know, however, Noah and his family were the only ones to survive the flood of which everyone had been warned!  Why didn’t the others listen?  Why do most of us still not listen when we are given advance warning?

Clearly Irene is not a storm of the magnitude of the one which caused the Great Flood!  It is not going to rain for forty days, and forty nights.  If we are ignoring the warnings about this storm, though, what greater warnings may we likewise be ignoring?  Are we so comfortable and complacent that we don’t realize the dangers our souls face in the midst of our modern societies?  If you have been hit by hurricane Irene (or tropical storm) I pray that you are safe and unharmed and surrounded by your family.  For those still in the path, take reasonable precautions and then maybe take some time to watch the rain and the trees swaying in the wind, remember that we have been warned, and pray that we are ready to hear and heed your warnings about upcoming storms in our lives so that we may, like Noah, be prepared and, with God’s help, survive! 

Theory On Why We Tend To Sit in Back Pews


At a service today in an historic Presbyterian church, which is one of the buildings at local attraction King’s Landing, I noticed that the wood stove which would have provided heat for the building was back in the second-last row. That would be the place to be on a cold Sunday morning!

Too many cooks in the kitchen or many hands make light work?


Yesterday morning dawned bright and early in more than one way.  It was a nice sunny day,  I woke early, and, most importantly, it was the day we were bringing my mother home from the hospital.  I am visiting at my sister’s place to help out with making Mum’s recovery period more safe and pleasant.  This morning was similar in most ways except that now she is housed in a lovely little alcove of the kitchen which is all set up for her needs.  Mum, Dad, my two sisters, and I sat down for breakfast this morning, which hasn’t happened in years!

The first one up yesterday, I started the coffee to brew and then started moving some of the things out of the kitchen alcove and taking up rugs off the floor.  Soon we were in full gear and with the four of us we got all the excess stuff moved, brought a bed downstairs and set up, vacuumed the floor, tidied, sorted etc.  It had none of the air of the panic clean-up really, which I believe can be attributed to the fact that all four of us worked away, planning and consulting and joking as we went.  One sister commented that we should make this a tradition.  Because it was so easy and pleasant she suggested that we all visit one another each summer, and work together to clean and organize our houses.  She was joking of course, but was speaking to the idea of many hands making light work.

The flip side of that can be that things get confused and unnecessarily complicated when you have, “too many cooks in the kitchen.”  This expression is in reference to the disastrous results possible if everyone puts salt in the soup because they don’t know it was already done.  I’m sure there were times yesterday when Mum would have liked us to shoo and stop asking how she was feeling and if she needed anything.  Being asked the first time is fine, but having four people ask every time they come into the room would get most tiresome!  There can even be safety issues such as more than one person coaching with technique of walking with the walker and another asking an unrelated question.  Overload is something with which most of us are all too familiar.

The work of the Kingdom is a massive and daunting task.  The good news is that we have many hands to do this work and most importantly the presence and presence of the Holy Spirit and example of Jesus to mitigate the possible too many cooks scenario.  Our churches are at their weakest not as much when we lack volunteers, though that is a big issue, but when opinion divides and people butt heads over procedural or organizational decisions to the extent that they become stuck.  In its largest form this has already happened with the division into denominations.  If you look at the doctrines of the different denominations of the Christian church you will see differences in many areas, but in the real core issues of faith, they are more alike than different.

There is little that we are going to do, as individuals and individual churches, to take all these denominations and blend them back into one.  We can, however, keep our congregational and individual focus on the many hands doing the work and remember that God is the only cook who is really needed.

Out of the Loop


I have discovered something about myself in the past two days, well I actually knew before but it was reinforced.  I do not function well when I don’t know what is going on.  This has, over the years, been a cause of stress when organizations or activities are first getting started, during that bedlam period before people settle into their roles.  It is even more of an issue when, as in the current situation, there is a health issue with family members who are a long way away and I am not there with them.  It isn’t as if my presence on the scene would be of any help to anyone else other than moral support, but I would still rather be there.  I know that things are being well looked after, and if there is anything important happening the news will get to me quickly.

 

From this remote location (remote from the situation, not from civilization) all I can really do is pray that God will be there for all of my family members, for the health care workers, etc.  Why is it, that when God is such a great power and comfort, that it feels like nothing to pray?  I wrote it at the beginning of this paragraph, and you hear people say it all the time, “Well, all we can do is pray!”  It is almost as if we are saying that all the actually useful things have been done already and as some kind of futile last resort we might try prayer.

 

Social media has been much maligned for taking people away from real contact with people.  I would like to add another perspective.  Prayer is far more powerful than most of us, even those who pray regularly, realize.  For years my grandmother used to have a prayer list delivered to her by her church, long after she was able to get out to services.  Every day she would sit down and purposefully spend some time in prayer for the people on the list, whether she knew them or not.  Face Book has in some ways become a global prayer list.  Depending on one’s privacy settings, if you post that a loved one is ill all of your friends will know about it, many of them will add your relative to their prayer lists, and their friends may do so as well.

 

However you come upon the information that someone is in trouble; in person, through word of mouth, or through social media, take a quiet moment and send a prayer or just positive thoughts to God on behalf of that person, it isn’t “just a prayer,” it is powerful because it is love!

Follow the Bubbles: 8 Lessons from the cenotes


My sister and I just got back from a trip to Cancun.  We had been there before and planned to mostly sit in the shade and read books.  We did decide to visit Xcaret (esh-ca-ret) which is one of the biggest parks in the Cancun area.  There is so much to do there that we will need to go back several times to cover everything.  Our biggest adventure was definitely when we decided to go ahead and try snorkeling through the cenotes (underground rivers).We hummed and hawed considerably, but eventually packed our things in a locked waterproof bag to be taken to the outlet area next to the sea.  Next we got in line and picked up flotation vests, goggles, snorkels, and swim fins.  We set off to the entrance spot.

 

Our swim in through a cenote began with gingerly stepping into the cold water in a brightly lit and beautifully clear pool.  Once acclimated to the temperature it is quite beautiful and little effort is required due to your flotation device.  A little practice breathing with the snorkel and we were off…

 

Faces down in the water and breathing through our snorkels we headed off down  the river.  We were a little nervous, but  reassured by the idea that it was a river and would head directly to the sea.  What could go wrong with that?  Well, it sounded good!  We quickly moved from this swim in the sunlight, into…

 

the dark.  While you were able in the darker underground areas to see a glimmer of light up ahead, this was only the case when you had your head above water.  When you swam into these areas with your face down you were frequently unable to see anything.  It is here that the trouble began.

 

There were two main problems; staying together and finding the right path.  With my sister in the lead not lifting her head at any point I was aware when we took our first wrong turn but unable to catch up to grab her swim fins there was no way to get the message to her.  When we came to the next open area, which had no outlet, I explained about our wrong turn and we headed back around.  Eventually we ended up behind the group who had entered after us and came out into another open area where a man who worked for the park wanted us to pose for a picture.  Somewhat dazed, we complied but didn’t strike any happy thumbs up pose at all and in the end we didn’t manage to find and buy the picture which would have been our only proof that we had really gone on this excursion.

 

We left that area, headed downstream.  I led this time and all was going well, I thought.  We came into the light in another spot but it seemed that we shouldn’t have been there.  With a picture of the map of the park in our heads, it seemed that we had somehow gone in the wrong direction again.  We made the decision to go back to the start  and get out.

 

If you have been paying attention, you will know that this decision meant that we would be swimming upstream the whole rest of the time in the cenote.  Did I mention that I am a middle-aged, not terribly fit individual?  We only made one more wrong turn in our adventure but the struggle to keep up and stay in contact was considerable for me.  Very often I felt that as much as I used my feet to propel me, I was going nowhere.  I had to use my arms most of the time just to keep up.

 

How did we end up getting out of the cenote?  My sister, in the lead, stopped frequently to make sure I was still with her and encourage me,  and I followed her bubbles which, under water, is the same as following her breath.  So long as I was near the bubbles, I knew that even if we were lost, we were lost together.

 

The steps, when we found them, were a welcome sight.  We were not just climbing out of the water after a vigorous swim, we were climbing out of the dark and uncertainty, and we were together!

 

What lessons may be taken from the story of our adventure?
1. If you have to go into the dark, take a friend.

2.When you are leading people don’t forget to lift your head up to stay on track.

3. When you are in the lead, stop frequently to be sure those behind you are still there, and encourage them.

4. Stay together in dark as well as in the light.

5. It is harder work getting back on track once you have taken a wrong turn, but do it anyway.

6. Like your life vest, God will keep you afloat come what may.

7. There is no substitute for a good map (Bible) or a guide (Jesus).

 8. No matter what, keep the bubbles (the breath of God or the Spirit) in view at all times. 

Too much to eat: gluttony in a land of plenty


I just came out of a restaurant with my parents having finished a great meal and, of course, feeling over-stuffed! Even having ordered the “mini” plate of liver and onions I was unable to finish all the fries. Don’t get me wrong though, I still had carrot cake for dessert!

A few days ago a friend sent me the following email which included pictures of families with the food they would eat in an average week on display.

“Quite a powerful story in pictures. What is eaten in one week around the world?  Very interesting assortment.  Note the large amount of drinks in some pictures.This is undoubtedly one of the most interesting e-mails I’ve ever received.  Take a good look at the family size & diet of each country, and the availability & cost of what is eaten in one week.

Germany: The Melander family of Bargteheide, Food expenditure for one week: 375.39 Euros or $500.07

United States: The Revis family of North Carolina(Sure hope most American families eat more fresh fruits and vegetables and less junk food than this family.)Food expenditure for one week $341.98

Italy: The Manzo family of Sicily, Food expenditure for one week: 214.36 Euros or $260.11

Mexico: The Casales family of Cuernavaca, Food expenditure for one week: 1,862.78 Mexican Pesos or $189.09

Poland: The Sobczynscy family of Konstancin-Jeziorna, Food expenditure for one week: 582.48 Zlotys or $151.27

Egypt : The Ahmed family of Cairo, Food expenditure for one week: 387.85 Egyptian Pounds or $68.53

Ecuador : The Ayme family of Tingo, Food expenditure for one week: $31.55

Bhutan : The Namgay family of Shingkhey Village, Food expenditure for one week: 224.93 ngultrum or $5.03

Chad : The Aboubakar family of Breidjing Camp, Food expenditure for one week: 685 CFA Francs or $1.23

Don’t know about you, but right about now, I’m counting my blessings!”

It is a pretty stark picture of the plenty with which most of us live, while others are smiling and proud to display what we would consider to be barely enough.  Growing up many of us were told to consider the starving Armenians when we didn’t finish all our supper.  Obviously our parents were hardly planning to send our left-overs overseas, but they were on track with their mention of the need to stop and think about the lack of balance in food distribution worldwide.