Sunday, October 30, 2011

Innocent Fun Or. . ? - Austin

Halloween -- not my favourite day of the year. In fact, when I read two biblical characters who prayed for the day of their birth to be blotted from the calendar,** I catch myself thinking if they had been born on October 31, it wouldn't have hurt my feelings if God had granted their request.
** Jeremiah 21:14-18 & Job 3:1-16

It's strange that the Christian name of Halloween (All Hallowed Eve) is still so evident, but Christian influences in the celebration are so hard to find. It's also strange that if you research traditions, you find much questionable "history" in Christian teaching about this day. I make no claims to expertise, but in-depth research of northern Britain for my novel, Muninn's Keep, took me into Celtic and Druid practices 1,100 years ago. At least twice each year, they believed the boundaries between the living and the dead became exceptionally thin. Spirits of the dead, and other, more sinister spirits, could walk among the living on those two nights. Driven by fear people dressed in costumes so the spirits would not recognize them. They danced around huge bonfires in a ritual to drive the spirits back into the underworld.

In Christianized Britain, great efforts were made to supplant the pagan beliefs and practices. All Saints Day was deliberately moved to November 1st. But practices with generations, perhaps centuries of traditions and deeply rooted fears did not die out so easily. Both "the Day of the Fool" and Halloween have endured, with more of the ancient Druid trappings than anything of Christianity.

My early experiences of Halloween centered around candy and the stories four older brothers told of pranks, though they were involved in few of them. Tipping toilets (the old out-door privys every farm house had back then) was almost a right of passage in our community. But we were one of the last homes to have one as I finally reached the age where I could take part.

Minor mischief was expected and chuckled at. But burned haystacks and strawstacks came at a price farmers did not chuckle over. I remember one Halloween when a heavy rain had washed out the road two miles from our home. Vandalism must have been bad the year before. Dad and other farmers had been deputized. Dad toured that night with a loaded shotgun on the seat beside him. When he found someone had gone behind the barricade close to the wash-out and driven back through it, leaving a death-trap on a dark road, he was a dangerous man, but dangerous in a way I'm proud of all these years later.

As a teenager, one of my classmates swerved to avoid straw-bales in the road. He rolled his car and killed himself -- a senseless death for somebody's "innocent fun." That same Halloween, three grain elevators burned when wind caught bits of burning straw from bales in the middle of the road.

I still craved the candy. I still hungered for the adventure of many of the pranks others bragged of. But Halloween took on a dark edge for me, an edge time has never blunted successfully.

Don't get me wrong. I get a chuckle when the neighbour's triplets come to the door. I delight in our grandchildren showing up in whatever guise. But overall it's a day with little to recommend it and much to suggest it could be better spent. Like your children and granchildren, mine don't need more candy. And I certainly don't need the leftovers in the house when we prepare for more than ever come.

Blot that day out. .? Maybe I won't go quite that far. I know people who celebrate their birthday on this day and I'm quite willing to share this world with them. I know people who chose this day for their wedding and I long for their marriage to work. But as so many innocent children seek chills and thrills and candy, my prayer for my grandchildren in particular and for children in general is that they remain truly innocent of some of the roots of this night they are celebrating -- and they they learn on an ever deepening level of the love of God, who is bigger than anything they have reason to fear.

Friday, October 28, 2011

God Hates - Meyer

If you were asked to list the seven things that God hates, what (or who) would you place on that list? Would it include smoking, drinking, drugs, prostitution, homosexuality, fornication or adultery? For many people, these more obvious outward actions would top the list. Some people even convince others that they can lose their salvation if they engage in one of these activities.

But the truth is not quite so simplistic and not quite so comfortable for those of us who feel we are pleasing God – attending church, putting money in the offering plate, praying, singing hymns, fellowshipping…

The key to understanding is to realize that, “The LORD does not look at the things people look at. People look at the outward appearance, but the LORD looks at the heart.” 1 Samuel 16:7b NIV

The seven things that God hates are listed in Proverbs 6:16-19:
"There are six things the LORD hates, seven that are detestable to him: haughty eyes, a lying tongue, hands that shed innocent blood, a heart that devises wicked schemes, feet that are quick to rush into evil, a false witness who pours out lies and a person who stirs up conflict in the community."

So topping the list is “haughty eyes” – looking down on others whom we feel are less than us in some way – not as close to God perhaps?

As a fiction author, I look through the eyes of my characters, voice their thoughts, and speak their words. As a contemporary author, I try to honestly and accurately portray the attitudes of contemporary people. In my newly released book, Joshua, the antagonist is Joshua’s brother, Bryan, who is homosexual.

A few days before the book launch of Joshua, I had the privilege of reading the work of another contemporary fiction author, Jodi Picoult. In her book, Sing You Home, this author also tries to honestly and accurately portray the attitudes of contemporary people. She does this remarkably well, despite her personally stated goal of supporting gay rights in the writing of this book.

In Joshua, I also write with a certain bias. I also want to communicate something to my readers. I want them to know that God loves each and everyone of us so much that He sent His most beloved Son, Jesus, to die for us so that if we believe in Him, we will have eternal life. That’s it. That’s all. It doesn’t matter who we are: “haughty eyes” “homosexual” “a person who stirs up conflict” “a drinker” “a covetous person” (think two car garage or fifty pounds overweight). God loves every single one of us. The fact that he hates our sins only accentuates the fact that he loves us. Jesus said that He came to earth to bring us life – life to the full! (in the King James Version of John 10:10, it says “abundant life.”) He wants us to begin that abundant, full life now, and then continue it on through eternity.

Trust Jesus today. Believe in God’s love for you. Walk into His open arms. He’s waiting for you.


Writing as M. D. Meyer, author of Joshua, published by Word Alive Press, available across Canada and on Amazon and as an e-book.

Thursday, October 27, 2011


Have you ever prayed and prayed about something only to wonder why God isn’t answering? Have you ever wondered why sometimes one prayer gets answered right away and the other prayer seems to be put on hold?

The Bible says that with the Lord a day is like a thousand years and a thousand years is like a day.

And yet in the very next sentence it says that God is not slow.

So does time matter to God?

There is a cool development happening in science. Have you heard about neutrinos? It’s been said that neutrinos may travel faster than light. Why is this important? Because as you approach the speed of light, time begins to slow down. When you are traveling at the speed of light, time stops. But if you go faster than the speed of light, time travels in reverse.

So what does science have to do with faith?

Only that God does not seem to see time the way we do. We see it linearly. If I pray today and it doesn’t happy tomorrow it is taking me longer to get an answer. If it takes months or years, then clearly it is taking increasingly longer.

But what if God doesn’t see it the same way? What if an eternal God doesn’t feel the ‘time crunch’ the way you and I do?

I’m mentioning this because turning our clock over to God can be very freeing.

If you’re feeling the pinch of not having a prayer answered, consider asking if God sees time the way you do, or if he is challenging you to see time the way he does.

Tuesday, October 25, 2011

Life Isn't Perfect Yet - Rose McCormick Brandon

I discussed the subject of depression in a recent interview with the leader of a major U.S. denomination. He stressed the importance of Christians "creating a culture of honesty." I'd visited an elderly aunt in a nursing home a few days before. I thought of how this man's words applied to the loneliness she's feeling. Her once active life came to a sudden stop when she broke a hip and could no longer live in her home.

Everyone experiences loneliness at some point in life. In many Christian circles, this isn’t a popular thought. Christians tend to believe that after we dedicate our lives to Christ, we'll never experience loneliness.

When Christians do suffer from loneliness, or struggle with other negative emotions, we assume something must be amiss in our relationship with God. This myth is perpetuated by a teaching that goes something like this – give your life totally to Christ and you’ll have it altogether all the time.

This is where denial comes in. No one has it altogether all the time.

Devotional writer, Selwyn Hughes made this observation. “Sadly, churches tend to reward those who can create the illusion of having it all together by holding them up as examples of what a Christian should be, while actually, in some cases, such people may be less spiritual than those whose integrity compels them not to deny their struggles.”

Perpetuating the myth that life can be perfect for Christians on earth causes many to give up following Jesus because they conclude they simply aren’t “good at it."

God does perform miracles for people. He does transform lives. In some cases, loneliness is erased. But for most believers, some issues remain unresolved. Loneliness may be one of these. It’s okay for Christians to struggle, to feel pain, and even to make mistakes. Imperfect people live imperfect lives.

In this life, we may not pin the Perfect Christian Award on our shirts but we can pin this on – God’s grace is big enough to cover our imperfections.

My grace is enough; it's all you need.
My strength comes into its own in your weakness.
2 Corinthians 12:9 (The Message)

Monday, October 24, 2011

The Dance of Life - Eleanor Shepherd

On Thanksgiving Sunday, our daughter and son-in-law blessed us with our first grandchild.  My heart sings as I gaze in awe and wonder at this beautiful creation.  Her birth renews my hope and assures me that God is not finished with the human race.  He continues to give life and breath to another generation, despite all the mistakes we have made as imperfect parents. 
Her arrival sends me back in memory to the day when a new song beckoned Glen and me to begin the dance with our children as with joy we welcomed our little son.  We quickly discovered that our lives took on new rhythms we had never imagined. I see the excitement of unexplored patterns and new dance steps waiting to be tried in the expressions of joy, hope and love in the eyes of Elizabeth and Johan, the new parents. 
With the arrival of this little miracle, the partners are changing in the dance of life.  As my children take on the new roles of parents, the shifting positions created by their newly assumed responsibilities provide a new perspective.  One of my daughter’s comments to me during her pregnancy was, “ Mom, I am gaining a whole new understanding of who you are, as I am learning what motherhood involves.”  They are now moving to the centre of the dance floor in partnership with their child as they begin to hear the melody of love in a completely new way.
Their hearts are going to be stretched beyond their wildest dreams.  Initially the very existence of this little one literally will depend upon their availability.  As their child grows and becomes independent, her wellbeing will become a priority for her parents. Whatever else they are doing in life, they will squeeze out the time to be in the dance with their child.  Many times the rhythms will be wild and they will feel breathless as they try to keep on dancing, with weary feet and troubled hearts.  They will learn how to orchestrate the delicate ballet - drawing close to offer nurture, then spinning away to encourage independence, opening their arms and creating trust yet pushing them out to avoid vulnerability amidst the constant pirouetting evoked by the unending symphony of life. 
Elizabeth’s first professional jazz CD was called Start to Move.  She has begun to do that now as a parent, but where am I?  I believe I am now moving into the slow waltz of nurturing love for both parent and child that does not take the lead or jump around to the wild rhythms.  Rather my role is to move slowly and gracefully in and out of their lives, at their convenience.  To offer my love to this new little one, without demanding that she adapt her step to mine is enough.  To move back to the periphery of the dance floor and allow her parents to engage with her is my place. 
One of these days, the music will stop for me, and the dance will be finished.  However, if I have shared with my children and grandchildren the song of love that He has planted in my heart, the music will go on and the song that never ends will bring joy and meaning to their lives.   

Friday, October 21, 2011

Small Stuff can be Bread for the Soul -- Peter A. Black

“Life is full of surprises!” Hmm, we’ve heard that before. Sometimes amidst what some may feel to be the monotonous grind of routine, our attention is seized by a simple little happenstance that adds a splash of colour and zest to life, and we think, Wow! Life is full of surprises. Who woulda’ thunk?

Recently my Beloved and I attended a Sunday evening church service in a neighbouring town. We had arranged to take friends – two senior ladies, who attend there – out for coffee and refreshments after the service.

Shortly before the service concluded the pastor held up a large loaf of plaited bread covered in a satin cloth. He explained that in the morning communion service the pastoral staff and other members of the congregation had gathered at the altar, placed their hands on that loaf (it was inside a plastic sheath), and blessed it, praying that whoever would receive it will have God’s provision for all their needs and His blessing on their lives. At that time they had no idea who would be the recipients.

“Tonight we welcome Pastor Peter and May Black. Peter retired last year, and I want them to have the gift of this loaf to honour them for their decades of faithful pastoral service,” said the pastor. “Come on up and we’ll pray God’s blessing on you.”

Surprise! Who woulda’ thunk, eh? There we were, having a quiet evening in the pew of a church we hadn’t visited for over a year. The pastor wasn’t even aware we had arranged to be present, and had not determined beforehand who would be given the gift of the blessed bread. But then we showed up, and at some point during the service he knew.

Dozens of people gathered around us and prayer was offered up in our behalf. It was very touching. Very special.

In my response I expressed our surprise and thanked them for this expression of generosity and love, that we received this loaf in the spirit in which it was given, and said we would also pray God’s blessing on those with whom we would share it.

That incident broke in on us as something special, deeply spiritual, and significant in the midst of the ordinary. Mere coincidence? I don’t think so. I consider that it was orchestrated by our Heavenly Father for His own good reasons.

Why? I can't pretend to know, but my Beloved and I prayed that morning for God’s guidance for the day, and that he would make us to be a blessing to others, including the senior friends we had planned to meet. Also, their pastor had prayed for guidance in selecting recipients for the planned token gift of blessed bread.

I had been brought that very morning to consider how God desires to work His grace in the small things through our prayers in small matters, as well as in life’s big issues. Later, during the morning service in our home church, our pastor’s message reinforced it when he discussed the feeding of thousands after Jesus blessed and administered the five loaves and two small fish.

This was bread – food – for my soul. The events of that evening service and our experience as visitors there capped off that day’s trilogy of ‘small things,’ with a strong sense of assurance and encouragement.

Jesus declared, “I am the bread of life. He who comes to me will never go hungry, and he who believes in me will never be thirsty (John 6:35).”

God’s work in the small stuff can be as the Bread of Life to our souls.


© Peter A. Black.
Black is the weekly inspirational columnist at The Watford Guide-Advocate and the author of “Parables from the Pond” (Word Alive Press; ISBN 1897373-21-X).

Thursday, October 20, 2011

Fruit of the Spirit: Joy – Lawrence

Christ reminds us that when we fast, not to look dismal, like the hypocrites, for they disfigure their faces so as to show others that they are fasting. Truly I tell you, they have received their reward. But when you fast, put oil on your head and wash your face, so that your fasting may be seen not by others but by your Father who is in secret; and your Father who sees in secret will reward you. Matthew 6:16-18.
In March of 1955, over a half-century ago, I received The Bible Reader’s Encyclopaedia and Concordance. I still use this book today. Under the heading of Joy it is written that in no other religion is joy as conspicuous as in Christianity. Joy, it says, denotes the satisfaction of the soul at attaining its desire.
It has been said that some Christians go around in a gloomy disposition. I don’t know why we would do this. Jesus himself was a sociable person. We see him at a wedding; being entertained at meals; talking to women, to Samaritans, to Romans, to Tax Collectors, to Sadducees, and to Pharisees, among others. Jesus was anxious to heal people of their physical illnesses and sinful natures. Jesus wants our life to be abundant and our joy to be full (John chapters 10 and 16).
Joy is one of the Spiritual fruit mentioned in St. Paul’s letter to the Galatians chapter 5, and it is a fruit that we can cultivate. In order to cultivate the fruit of the Spirit we should set our minds upon it. St. Paul, in his letter to the Romans, says, Those who live according to the Spirit set their minds on the things of the Spiritto set the mind on the Spirit is life and peace. Romans 8: 5, 6
That on which we set our minds will grow and flourish within us. When we think and meditate on the fruit of the Spirit, e.g. Joy, it grows and matures. In The Oprah Magazine for January 2008, there was an article called Awakening Joy, in which it was said that whatever you focus on will grow.
So, think about Joy; practise Joy; look for Joy in whatever situation you find yourself. A friend of mine told me that that was her intention for 2008, to find the joy in everything that happens to her. And, she says, it works! The Spiritual fruit of Joy is growing in her and it makes her feel good. Why don’t we start today in this endeavour?
© Judith Lawrence, Originally written and posted in in a meditation for March 2008

Wednesday, October 19, 2011

Season Upon Season with Thanksgiving/MANN

What is it about fall that causes melancholy? The colours of rust and gold weave through the almost forgotten garden and remind us that it’s not over, until it’s over. With each new wind and each chilling first, the trees give up their glorious colours: reds and yellows slowly fall to the ground forming a luscious mat of fallen leaves.

Perhaps it’s in the submitting to the season that brings feelings of sadness and yet we know summer can’t go on for ever. Cousins in Cumberland Cty, N.S. tell me they’ve already had snow. I’m sure that those among us who anxiously await the winter months hope winter will be early and run its course to late spring, so they will have lots of the white stuff to enjoy in a variety of activities.

In our day to day life, the letting go of one important season of our life and grasping the new reminds me a little of swinging on a trapeze. Those of us who have watched this realize that the one on the swing has to let go and trust that the new swing in front of them will hold, thrill and support them across the open space.

I often use the concept of season. Being on the farm was one season of my life. Getting into a size 12 was another. Having babies, raising teenagers, holding grandchildren and now awaiting a great grandchild is a new and anticipated season for me. Probably the most current season is possible changes to our beloved writer’s group, The Word Writers. Is it soon to be a season in my life . . . upon which to reflect in the past? This too teaches that a change in one season can be a domino effect to bring on another season: leaving the farm affects the momentum of the writing group.

When I look at the picture of the golden leafed tree, I see a perfect fall scene — yet a hint of what is to come. Later in the day, after a cool October wind blows across our lawn, I see the top half of a barren tree and its leaves resting below on the lawn. The leaves still look in their glory, but they're in a different place, seemingly looking up from whence they came. But, we know it’s not over for them, yet.

Is there a truth for each one of us in this season, or the one to come?

Donna Mann
Agnes Macphail juvenile reading series is available from Brucedale Press or from my website.
“Come to the Farm” children’s stories at

Tuesday, October 18, 2011

Will power is back in style - for three months, maybe? - Denyse O’Leary

A review of Willpower: Rediscovering the Greatest Human Strength

Baumeister and Tierney begin by telling us that they “think that research into willpower and self-control is psychology’s best hope for contributing to human welfare. Willpower lets us change ourselves and our society in small and large ways.” One quells a nagging doubt: Who said Stalin and Hitler didn’t have willpower? Was that progress?

The book starts off promising. Baumeister is an experimental psychologist who, earlier in his career, bought into dominant 1990s fads. It later began to trouble him that most psychologists not only denied that willpower existed, but considered it would be a bad thing if it did exist. They associated self-control with oppressive Victorian culture.

Trouble was, as he recounts, their substitute virtue - self-esteem - was everywhere a flop. It produced a generation that felt very good about very minor achievements. Meanwhile, he noticed that, in lab experiments, people routinely exercised self-control - or didn’t. Thus evidence contradicted theory. Not only that, but when research subjects were followed up later, those who showed self-control, even as small children, achieved significantly more. So despite colleagues’ skepticism, he decided to study willpower and self-control, and the result is this book on how to maximize it.


Is science always a good thing? Anti-science always a bad one? - Denyse O'Leary

A walk into a century ago might shed some light. A review of Eugenics and the Firewall:

The pop science media today strenuously market the idea that “science” is threatened by “anti-science.”

But “science” has a restricted meaning in the view of many journalists. It means, for example, the truth of human-caused global warming, the necessity of human embryonic stem cell research, and the view that human mind is indistinguishable from the chimpanzee mind. “Anti-science” means, by contrast, doubt about human influence on global warming compared with the Sun’s cycles, confidence that adult stem cells (especially the patient’s own cells) work well, and doubt that chimpanzees really think like people.

Something is obviously wrong with the pop picture. For one thing, real sciences don’t work that way. In real science, reasoned doubt is always legitimate. Even in mathematics. Yes, even in mathematics. Recently a mathematician offered evidence that the natural numbers were inconsistent. He turned out to be mistaken, but no one blamed him for wondering. Physics has been convulsed recently as well, by neutrinos that apparently move faster than light, which is generally held to be impossible. That may turn out to be a mistake too, but reporting the data was okay. Because, contrary to the pop science media, real science happens when evidence matters.

To see how that works, let’s take a quick walk by one popular science certainty from a century ago. In the early 1900s, when Einstein and Bohr were reshaping physics, their work wasn’t considered nearly as important as this incontrovertible truth: The wrong people were having all the children.


Monday, October 17, 2011

Writer Teaching Others—Carolyn Wilker

One of my jobs is teaching adults to write. This writing class began in the fall of 2009, after writing a proposal and getting approval from the recreation coordinator at the senior’s centre. The coordinator thought a writing class would be a good addition to the programming, and it has proven to be a popular class once it got started.

The first class began with seven students. I learned that I must be flexible, that adult retired people have busy lives, and I recognized the many sources of wisdom that I can draw on in our discussions.

My students write in response to prompts, questions and discussion topics, then they read their stories aloud, some of them sharing their writing for the first time ever. It’s a safe environment in which confidences are kept and stories too personal to share can be kept for the writer’s eyes alone. The thing is to write, and they have done so. I show them that I am a writer too, by doing most writing exercises along with them.

Many times my teaching plan gets shifted, along with the homework assignments. We have lively discussions on the English language, books, copyright, and grammar. I critique their writing, and we have a session in which they learn how to give helpful feedback. My experience in writing, editing and in Toastmasters have been most valuable and helpful in teaching this class.

I see retired professionals going from writing educational or professional articles to writing something personal, thus demanding a different style. I see the influence of their profession on their writing, in the language they use and their style. I see women who have nurtured their children to adulthood and now want to do something for themselves.

Among my students, there have been retired school and college teachers, psychologists, and homemakers, a nurse, someone who worked in banking and in college administration. There have been mothers of teenage children, a former vice-principal with a love of poetry, a reporter from a small town newspaper in the West, an eighty-one–year-old avid reader, and a young woman, perhaps just past her teenage years, who chose to be in this class instead of a class with her peers.

As adult learners, they’re coming because it’s their choice. They have stories to share with their families, and they want the writing to be worthy. Sometimes there’s a book in them and they’re trying to get started, or maybe they just want to try something different. Students have remarked that they’re not sure they can remember enough, while others have already written stories and want to make them better.

How can I help them? I show them their strengths and help them work on weaknesses in writing—as long as they’re open to correction. They are encouraged to keep on writing. For those struggling to remember, we work on ways to recall memories they thought they had forgotten. Students are often surprised when an event comes back to them and they start writing.

This term I teach two classes: one in creative writing that I’ve taught since the beginning; and a new class on writing memories—a full class at the first registration.

My goal is to teach my students to write those stories well with characters that are alive and vibrant, in scenes that the reader can visualize, and to go away from class having written something new each time. I hope my students will develop confidence in their writing and continue drawing out those stories even when the class is over.

When I see students smile because they’re happy to be in my class, and when their writing makes even the smallest improvement, I know that my teaching has been helpful.

Carolyn Wilker

Friday, October 14, 2011

The Remarkable Legacy of Chief Dan George -HIRD

The Remarkable Legacy of Chief Dan George
By Rev. Ed Hird

Like Chief Joseph Brant, Chief Dan George has left a remarkable legacy across Canada. In the 1990 North Vancouver Centennial book, Chuck Davis describes Chief Dan George as one of North Vancouver’s most famous citizens. Born on July 24th 1899, Chief Dan George died at age 82 on September 12th 1981. His birth name was Gwesanouth/Teswahno Slahoot, meaning ‘thunder coming up over the land from the water.’ He memorably said that “A man who cannot be moved by a child’s sorrow will only be remembered with scorn.” In getting to know and pray with his son Robert/Bob George, I gained a glimpse of the deep spirituality and humanity of his father.

I recently had the privilege of attending the fifth Annual Tsleil-Watuth Nation Cultural Arts Festival held at Cates Park/Whey-ah-Wichen. This year the festival celebrated the 30-year legacy of Chief Dan George. While there, I attended the Legacy tent where I was videoed sharing my understanding of Chief Dan George’s legacy. Afterwards, the Legacy Tent leader Cheyenne Hood agreed to be interviewed for this Deep Cove Crier article: “…My mother is Deborah George, who is the daughter of Robert George, who is the son of Chief Dan George. He is my Great-Grandfather. A lot of people while I was growing up used to ask me what it was like to have Chief Dan George as your Great-Grandfather. To be honest, I never really knew of his fame, the things that he had done, because I was a fairly young child. To me, he was always just Grandpa Dan, or Papa Dan. I didn’t know that he was a movie star. I didn’t know that he went to Hollywood. I didn’t know that he was a writer or a poet. He was just a grandfather.”

“‘My best memory of him’, said Cheyenne, “is after his wife died. He used to take turns with different children and spending time in their homes. His daughter Rosemary used to have an old house that had a steep set of stairs. It faced the Burrard inlet. They had a swing in the backyard. We were over visiting my grandparents and we went trucking over there to see who was at the swing, to see who I could play with for the day. I saw Grandpa Dan sitting on the porch, facing the water. He had his face up to the sun, and he kind of reminded me of a turtle on the rock.”

“My curiosity got the better of me, so I walked up the stairs and said: “Grandpa, what are you doing?’ He took a few minutes to answer me and said: ‘I am sitting’. He said: ‘Do you want to come sit with me?’ So I climbed to the top of the stairs, and sat down there beside his feet. He was sitting there with his face to the sun. I said: “Grandpa, what are you doing?” He said: ‘Do you feel that?’ And he leaned his head back and he had his eyes closed. I kept looking at him: ‘What is he doing?’ So I mimicked him, copied him and closed my eyes with my face to the sun. He said: ‘Do you feel that?’ After a few minutes, I said: ‘Yes, I do.” He said: “What is that?” I said: ‘That is the sun on my face.’ Then he started to talk about the importance of the sun and what it does for mother earth, and what it does for nature, and nature’s cycles. I sat there feeling the warmth of the sun spread across my face.”

“Grandpa Dan said: ‘Do you hear that?’ So I listened quietly. I said: ‘Yes, I do.’ I said: ‘What is that?’ He said: ‘That is the wind blowing through the trees.’ Grandpa smiled, a really faint kind of smile. Then he started talking about the importance of the wind and the role that it plays with the trees and the music that it makes.”

“Then he said: ‘Do you smell that?’ I am still sitting there with my eyes closed. I said: ‘Yes, I do.’ He said: ‘What do you smell?’ I said: ‘I smell the salt from the inlet.’ Then he started talking about the role that the water and the inlet played for our people and our nation, and how when the tide went out, we were able to go out and feast and eat. We had clams and mussels and crabs and we could fish, and we could harvest sea food. He said: ‘Do you hear that?’ I sat for another few minutes listening, and then I said: ‘Yes, I can hear that.’ He said: ‘What do you hear?’ I said: ‘I hear the waves crashing against the rocks.’ Then he started talking about the history of the Tsleil-Watuth Nation people, and how we came to be, and how we moved through this life and this world. I sat and I listened and we were quiet for a few minutes, and then I opened up my eyes. He was looking down at me and he was smiling. I said: ‘What are we listening for now, Grandpa?’ He said: ‘Nothing’. I said: ‘What are you going to do now, Grandpa?’ I just wanted to be near him, I just wanted to be with him. He said: ‘Now we are going to go inside and have tea and bannocks’. And we did.”

Chief Dan George once said: “I would be a sad man if it were not for the hope I see in my grandchild’s eyes.” Chuck Davis of the Greater Vancouver book commented that Chief Dan George “embodied the dignified elder.” As one of eleven children, he became a longshoreman, working on the waterfront for twenty-seven years until he smashed his leg in a car accident aboard a lumber scow. Chief Dan George also worked as a logger, construction worker, and school bus driver. He formed a small dance band, playing in rodeos and legion halls. His instrument was the double-bass.

In the original Deep Cove Heritage book ‘Echoes Across the Inlet”, it speaks about how Chief Dan George gave his historic Centennial ‘Lament for Confederation’ address in 1967 to 30,000 people at the Empire Stadium in Vancouver. Memorably he commented: “I shall see our young braves and our chiefs sitting in the houses of law and government, ruling and being ruled by the knowledge and freedoms of our great land. So shall we shatter the barriers of our isolation. So shall the next hundred years be the greatest in the proud history of our tribes and nations.” Sent to residential school at age 5, Chief Dan George never lived to see the day when Prime Minister Stephen Harper and the Government of Canada apologized to the First Nations people for the trauma many experienced in the Residential Schools.

He first acted in the 1968 TV Series ‘Cariboo Road’ which became the movie “Smith”. He went on to win the 1970 Oscar for Best Supporting Actor in the hit movie Little Big Man. Chief Dan George made famous the phrase: “It is a good day to die”. Dustin Hoffman commented “I was amazed at his energy (he was in his seventies); he was always prepared with his lines; it was a six-day week; we were shooting thirteen hours a days.” Helmut Hirnschall noted that “His quiet assertion, his whispered voice, his cascading white hair, his furrowed face with the gentle smile became a trademark for celluloid success.”

From there, he went on to act in many films and TV shows, including The Outlaw Josey Wales, Harry and Tonto, and the TV series Centennial.

Many honours have been given to Chief Dan George including being made an Officer of the Order on Canada in 1971. In 2008 Canada Post issued a postage stamp in its “Canadians in Hollywood” series featuring Dan George. Schools and theatres have been named after him. In the opening ceremonies of the Vancouver Olympic Games, his poem “My Heart Soars” was quoted by Actor Donald Sutherland. To me, Chief Dan George was a Benjamin Franklin of the indigenous world.

His poetry and prayers are gripping and unforgettable. As Chief Dan George said; “…I am small and weak. I need your wisdom. May I walk in beauty. Make my eyes ever behold the red and purple sunset. Make my hands respect the things that you have made, and my ears sharp to hear your voice. Make me wise so that I may know the things that you have taught your children, the lessons you have hidden in every leaf and rock. Make me strong not to be superior to my brothers but to fight my greatest enemy –myself. Make me ever ready to come with you with straight eyes so that when life fades as with the fading sunset, my spirit will come to you without shame.”

The Rev. Ed Hird, Rector
St Simon’s Church North Vancouver
Anglican Coalition in Canada/Province of Rwanda
-an article previously published in the October 2011 Deep Cove Crier
-award-winning author of the book ‘Battle for the Soul of Canada’
-In order to obtain a copy of the book ‘Battle for the Soul of Canada’, please send a $18.50 cheque to ‘Ed Hird’, #1008-555 West 28th Street, North Vancouver, BC V7N 2J7. For mailing the book to the USA, please send $20.00 USD. This can also be done by PAYPAL using the e-mail . Be sure to list your mailing address. The Battle for the Soul of Canada e-book can be obtained for $9.99CDN/USD.
-Click to download a complimentary PDF copy of the Battle for the Soul study guide : Seeking God’s Solution for a Spirit-Filled Canada
-You can also download the complimentary Leader’s Guide PDF: Battle for the Soul Leaders Guide

Thursday, October 13, 2011

Marine Motivation

 by Glynis M. Belec

    Four tiny fish swim around and around in the square glass container with the purple rocks. It's a tiny tank but Rosemary, my sister and fish aficionado, told me that the four little bubblers would be fine in there. She told me not to expect my new pets to grow very much, though. Because of the confines of their new home, growth would apparently be limited. Fish grow according to what they perceive to be their boundaries. I looked at the gigantic goldfish gamboling in my Dad's pond. I teetered between feeling good about having rescued these four little blighters from a life of possible peril and feeling guilty that they would never get as big as the other poissons in the pond.

It all started with Dad's desire to have a backyard water garden of sorts. As I mentioned, my big sis' knows a lot about fish and setting up an outside pond. She had her own for years. So to make Big Poppa happy and to complete his landscaping request, she made him a terrific backyard pond. I was so impressed with her handiwork and how asthetically pleasing she created it to be.
Be Fruitful and do your Math!

Rosemary did such a fine job, though, that the environment was seemingly perfect for that age old command to Be Fruitful and Multiply. And multiply, they did. Over the summer we watched numerous hatchings happen. There were gold ones, white ones, black ones, black and white ones, black and gold ones, white, black and gold ones; you name it, the combinations were there. In the end there must have been at least a hundred extra pretty little finned critters vying for a spot in the pond.

And the answer is!
A decision had to be made.  The original sixteen big boys (and obviously girls) would be crowded out if the junior swimmers stayed. There was only room for about 20 in the original pond, according to Rosemary's rulebook. So the others had to go. We started thinking about what to do with the extra goldfish. My daughter put her hand up and said she would take a dozen. I remembered a lovely square glass fishbowl that sat silent in my pantry, so I piped up and offered to take a few. The rest we decided, would go to JJ's pond. We all pretended not to think about all the stocked bass in Rosemary's son's pond. We didn't want to consider the possibility of the other 84 or so leftover critters being bass bait. We didn't dare tell that part to Dad. He would sooner make his pond bigger and save them all. But since that was not feasible, we described the vastness of JJ's pond and how happy the extra fish would be (as long as they were fast swimmers and knew how to hide!) 

We did our duty and Rosemary and I lowered the motley crew destined for JJ's pond into the big Rubbermaid ® container with the holes poked in the top. I picked out four cuties for my bowl and my daughter saved her 12.

     So now here I sit gazing into their square glass home. I like watching them swim around but I still feel a little guilty about taking them away from their spacious environment and not giving them an opportunity to 'lay low' in JJ's huge pond. At least there they might have grown and reached their potential size.

     As I look at this gaily coloured marine quartet swimming around in their limited enviroment, call it odd, but I find myself comparing their existence to my own.  Then I wonder if I have got myself into a bit of a fishbowl mentality in my writing life. Am I denying opportunities that God has placed right in front of my face? Do I need to talk less and listen more (to His still small voice?)  Somedays I feel like I am doing nothing but going in circles. I have a million ideas swimming around in my head but it seems I get nowhere - fast. I know I have a lot of personal things happening but surely I can find significant time to expand my own fishbowl.

     Maybe it's a good thing that I adopted my four fishies.  Maybe it's a good thing that they are in a prominent place in my house to serve as a reminder. Maybe it's time I find ways to expand my own boundaries and make sure I am doing what God tells me to, rather than what I think. I am pretty sure God doesn't want me swimming around for too long in my self-imposed fishbowl. In fact, I'm having a little trouble navigating around. Time to get back to the drawing board and review my plan of action. Swim said the mamma fish, swim if you can...

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