Showing posts from March, 2014

Pure Gold

In 2006, our daughter Brenda used to volunteer at Maple Lanes Kennel, near Alliston. It was from that kennel that Molson,  the most gentle of Golden Retrievers,  came into our lives. He trained as a therapy dog himself and is father of three  COPE  service dogs. Now my friend and coworker Irene, is awaiting the imminent birth of a litter of his pups being carried by a dog named Lyric, and she'll be choosing one of them to share her life. Today here's the story of one very special dog from Sherri's kennel and then a link and video about COPE. Back in 2006, Brenda recorded the details related to various litters of puppies on the computer--where the puppies went, to whom and for what purpose. The pure-bred dogs go all over the continent, some as far away as Yellowknife, Alaska, and some are trained for such unusual jobs as detecting bed bugs or termites! One dog's name struck her as unusual; her registered name was "Maple Lanes--You'll Have to Tri Harder"

One Chilly Rainy Wonderful Day

The March that is in my genes has "a host of golden daffodils,"  "fluttering and dancing in the breeze" (thank you William Wordsworth,) and although for a good two thirds of my life, I have lived with a very different reality, I can never quite shake the feeling that something is wrong in March--the weather angel didn't get the memo maybe.  Today icy rain needled the snow on the ground until it shrank back several inches from the piercing fingers of "Spring North American Style."  I was grateful to be cosily warm inside all day, but at 3.00 I decided to leave the house to run some errands, deciding that the efficiency of a Friday afternoon versus Saturday for shopping, would be worth braving the nasty weather.  My first stop was our little post office, in the basement of the  St. Catherine of Alexandria  church hall. I recently lost the set of car keys that had my mailbox keys on it, so I had to get replacements. Laurie, the postmistress wa

On Second Thought!

This week, during some precious time off I have been taking care of some of the things that I have neglected for a while. I was probably supposed to be doing something on my To Do list when I got sidetracked by an on-line ad for the Organ Donor Registry. I went to the Service Canada website, followed the links and before long I was staring at a list of parts to potentially donate. I've always thought that carrying a permission slip in the depths of my purse was a rather tenuous means of communication; so deciding that there was no time like the present I decided to register officially which bits and pieces of me to pass on when I no longer need them.  Later that evening, Paul and I were having dinner in front of the TV, when I told him that I had registered and which parts I was donating. I could tell that I'd been more drastic than he felt comfortable with.  "So how are we going to have a funeral?" he said, and I could sense his discomfort with losing all of

Take Time

I see the intensity and experience it personally too, sometimes we seem like so many tops, set spinning on Monday mornings by an invisibl e hand . We hit the ground running (or spinning) and work hard; focused. So focused that often we don't stop for lunch. Sound familiar? Slowing down in order to go farther and go better--that's what I'm suggesting. It's counterintuitive. We feel like we can't afford to miss a beat or take a breath--we fear that if we do, we'll drop the ball. And it's hardest when you work with people, because you feel guilty if you slow down, so much seems to depend on getting the work done. But can we afford not to?  And will we really drop the ball if we do?  I think the answer is "No." In their book,  Slowing Down to the Speed of Life (How to Create a Simpler Life from the Inside Out , Richard Carlson and Joseph Bailey propose that slowing down your thoughts will result in greater productivity and creativity, while

Valued and Respected in Education

There was a 9 year chunk of time, over thirty years ago, when our family lived with a group of people with developmental disabilities. That period formed my view of people with disabilities as people just like me, with the same human longings and weaknesses;  the same capacity for goodness or "Grinchiness;" greed or generosity; and any other virtue or vice.  Since then, I've worked in a system where staff support people in group homes, or their own apartments. The   Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms  guarantees the equal rights and freedoms of people with disabilities, but  I've often struggled with the knowledge that they and people without disabilities in the community experience very different realities in day to day life.   But change is happening as our agency and everyone in it, work towards our Vision Statement: People with exceptional needs belong to communities in which their God-given gifts are valued and respected. One important source of exp

A Golden Evening

The writing topic for our writers group tonight was "Nature/Creation." I had no time to write, so I checked the blog archive knowing that I would be sure to find much on that topic, since I am so often overwhelmed by the beauty splashed so liberally around on every hand.  I searched by the label "nature," and among the posts that came up, I saw this one, "A Golden Evening;" a description of one September evening, 41/2 years ago. The thing about writing is that you can capture a moment in time and relive it. The 10 and 11 year old granddaughters in the blog post are now 15 and 16, and so beautiful and sophisticated that I could have easily have forgotten who they were such a short time ago without this memory...  I tie the laces on my well used, dusty brown Rockport walking shoes and clip my Walkman belt around my waist; then reach into the closet for the red leash. A call for my golden friend and he gallops up the stairs, followed by an eager , smi

On Being the Recipient of Care

Being the recipient of care was on my mind ten years ago in the first three months of 2004. My mother had just come home after several months in  hospital, having had a stroke in the fall of 2003. I discovered that to need care is to be in a vulnerable place, where strangers have access to the most private places of our lives.  Recently I spent some time with the grandmother of someone for whom our agency, Christian Horizons, is providing respite. A wonderful Italian "Nonna;" she had one daughter, whose genetic disease ultimately took her life in her forties.  When the time came when she could no longer care for her daughter, she went into a nursing home. With her permission, here are some thoughts she wrote about the people who cared for her daughter: During my lifetime I have often visited hospitals, nursing homes, homes for the disabled and schools for day programs. I would like to share my experiences and thoughts with doctors, nurses, social workers, family, friend

Your Mother is Always With You

I was in a day of training with my phone on silent, when I felt it buzzing and saw that it was Brenda calling. I left the room to answer, thinking that there must be an urgent need, for her to call me in the middle of the work day.  "Hi Mom, are you busy?" she said, "I wanted you to know that I loved your blog post today, and I've been thinking about Omie all day today." Later that evening, I got home from work and put the finishing touches to the dinner preparation for the cell group, and just before everyone was due to arrive, I called Brenda back because I felt badly that I hadn't had time to say more than a few words earlier.  She told me how today she'd been telling everyone at the college she works at, about her Omie, and what she had meant to her.  One of her friends asked her, "What has your Omie given to you today?" When Brenda asked her what she meant, she asked, "What did you like to do together?" Brenda thought for

We Remember in Love

Rob's voice, deep and warm, from 3,000 miles away, sounded as close as the next room when I called him on Saturday. I told him that so many of my friends had been asking after him.  People know him well because I've written about him so often and he is such an important part of my life.  As always, he managed to capture a moment so well in words that I could see it--Bruce pressing his rock solid little Staffordshire Bulldog body into a niche of Rob's, his furry eyebrows dancing in sequence above his eyes, half-moon whites showing, as he studied Rob. He put the phone close to Bruce so that I could hear  his snuffles, and then described his scent, a mixture of dog and new toy, that Rob inhaled with the obvious pleasure he takes in his small but mighty furry friend. And then we talked about Mum, because it's almost exactly two years since she left us. To him I could say, "Do you think it's strange that I really haven't cried for Mum?" I always dreaded

Wrong Poem

Susan just emailed me about the poem I gave to Henri Nouwen. She said, "I'm probably wrong,  but wasn't it "Simply Being"?  The one about the horses in the field near the Dawson Manor where Upper Canada Mall is now?" and she's right! When Dave asked, in a comment on my previous blog post, if I still had the poem and could I share it, I had this feeling that it had been "Simply Being," but talked myself out of it and into the other one, "With Open Hands." Anyway, with thanks to my intrepid fact editor, here is the correct poem, which was, as Susan said, inspired, by the sight of some horses galloping across a field that was beside the mall. With their manes flying, they were utterly free spirited. I was leaving the mall when I saw them, having found my joy in buying "stuff," and was struck by the contrast with their joy in "simply being." What joy there is in simply being Touching, tasting, thinking, seeing, C

With Open Hands

My friend Dave asked about the poem I mentioned in yesterday's post about  Henri Nouwen . I am not sure if it was this poem that I wrote out on the scroll, but this one was inspired by his book, With Open Hands . I want to emphasize that the poem was written as an aspiration or prayer, and not reality lived! :)  With open hands I stand before the world, I lay my weapons down for Jesus' sake, Naked, unclothed, defenceless--it's my choice Because I know that he my hand will take. With open arms, Lord, let me love the world, And never fear rejection, scorn or pain, Or, if I fear, don't let me falter Lord, Remind me that our weakness is your gain. With open heart, accepting, loving, kind, With openness of spirit let me love, Lord, take this hardened human heart and make, A heart as warm and gentle as a dove. With open eyes please let me see myself And others as we are to you, dear Lord, So precious in your sight because the price, You paid for us, we nev

Henri Nouwen -- On Finding Belonging

It was a warm July day in 1989 and on the lawns of a  large, white clapboard farmhouse between Newmarket and Aurora; a Christian Horizons home for people with disabilities; a group of staff from Brampton, Richmond Hill and Stouffville had gathered. The tall trees that dotted the two acres on which the house stood, dappled  the circle of chairs on the grass with a reflection of the leaves dancing in the breeze overhead. We could hardly believe who stood before us as the speaker at our staff day apart--the Dutch born theologian, author and priest, Father Henri Nouwen . For the past three years, Henri had lived at L'Arche Daybreak, in nearby Richmond Hill, as an assistant to a young man named Adam, and through one of our staff, Henny, who also worked at Daybreak, he  agreed to speak to us. I was in awe at meeting the man whose books had impacted me so greatly. How could we prepare for such an honoured guest? But Henny said that the most appreciated thank you for his visit woul