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Wednesday, September 18, 2013

true north





i'm looking at these astonishing photos taken by my nephew JMP from the air, of the northern wilderness of Canada...the true north...

the place where polar bears live (and get in trouble for attacking people, like this sorry-looking specimen here)...


the place where one road and one rail track is the only way to get there unless you fly...

the place where the ocean is steely gray and the land is rocky and wild and the trees flame gold after being green for only a short few months...

where the air is crisp and smells of ice...

where the ancient forts were for defense again the first nation fighting to keep the land...

and history was made on tundra and stone and steel...

a land where gold and diamonds and copper and nickel lie just below the surface.

where lakes are chilled, full of strong fish...forest are untouched...thousands of miles of wilderness
lies at the top of the planet and no foot has walked these places, ever...

the canadian north.

true north. missing it today.



Tuesday, September 10, 2013

where i'm from


thoughts as i'm now in my 67th year...having turned a full 66 today...

i'm from an unpainted wood-fragrant little house on vast plains of farmland edged with blue hills misty in the manitoba mornings.

i'm from old houses filled with antiques and sloped ceilings and patched walls and dusty cupboards and wood stoves.

i'm from secrets, whispers, hidden things, sorrows screaming in silence, close-lipped people, bee-hives and honey spinners and barns and the smell of wheat.

i'm from moonlit nights of brilliant snowshine, hayrack wandering down rough trails, shouting children bouncing on and off and hot cocoa after. i'm from swimming in the river before may 1, beautiful summers with bible camp and weeding in the garden, and glorious autumns in the bush. i'm from winter and woodstoves and fire escapes.

i'm from prairie sun and winds, thunderstorms, blizzards, forces of nature that terrorize and enthrall. i'm from gentle summers and long bitter winters. i'm from manitoba.

i'm from school, precociousness pushing me forward on an ever-increasing tilt. i'm from classrooms and loving the smell of crayons and paper and books and the delicious thrill of learning and reading and grasping facts and translating 'les miserables' from french to english and always being the youngest in the class.

i'm from church. 3 times a week church. long church. i'm from pentecostalism, glossalalia, ecstasy, miracles, dancing in the aisles and running-the-pew preachers. i'm from church.

i'm from children- big families, hand-me-downs, tired mamas, working-away dads, simple basic poverty that didn't starve but didn't feed.

i'm from alberta, transplanted giddily to the foothills of the rockies and the exhilarating throb of an infant city on the cusp of explosion. i'm from deerfoot trail when it was just a side road. i'm from the heart of downtown calgary when there were no skyscrapers, and the tower was just a blueprint.

i'm from yet another transplant- to a small tropical island just after a revolution, where bombs still fell and the government rocked insanely from one coup attempt to another. i'm from starting a life with husband and children in a wild, hot ancient city where nothing was easy. i'm from learning that tears and laughter and fish and rice go together and that taxi-rides make your prayer life better.

i'm from mothers and babies- learning to be 'with woman'- a midwife. i'm from delivery rooms with gloves and the lingering smell of alcohol and the sweet scent of fresh babies tucked in with weary mommies. i'm from sleepless nights and years of exhaustion.

i'm from a place where inner strength comes from years and years of the slow gentle work of Holy Spirit, where like water dripping constantly on a granite rock, infinitesimal changes take place in the hardness of my heart and i begin to see with His eyes.  i'm from stubbornness turning to obedience. i'm from the big yes and all the little yeses that come with each day.

i'm from young love, early marriage, ups and downs, tough years, sweet years, and walking into the sunset hand in hand with the one i gave my heart to. i'm from living with my choices rather than making changes. i'm from deciding that this is how it's going to be, and learning to be content and grateful and -yes- joyful. i'm from choosing to fall in love over and over again with him and with life.

i'm from songs my mother used to sing- 'i found the answer'...'great is thy faithfulness'...'leaning on the everlasting arms'...i'm from pianos and guitars and scratchy records and choirs and out-of-tune singing in a country church. i'm from boy bands and keyboards and back-up singers and drums and strobe lights and -gasp- hillsong music.

i'm from children, and astonishing grandchildren...my only legacy to the world. i'm from 'you can do it if you try' and 'because i said so' and 'do you see my lips moving' and 'there will be no more of that, thank you' and 'i love you so much i could just squish you to pieces' and 'sugarbabybuggybear' and 'goodnight, sweetheart, thank you for the whole day'...

i'm from drinking water, natural foods, brown sugar and homemade bread, my own recipes, and supplements. i'm from healthy living.

i'm from teaching- over-studying, TMI, from loving the thrill of seeing a student's eyes light up and catch the truth. i'm from drilling and quizzes and lectures and no-nonsense glares.

i'm from being the oldest, the responsible one, the poetess, the singer, the piano player, the choir director, the shoulder to cry on, the giver of advice and reproof, the protector, the planner, the valedictorian, the over-achiever, the advocate. i'm from my birth order programming my life.

i'm from a white house on a green yard, sunflowers and banana trees, a little black-eyed girl and cats and dogs and butterflies and the scent of flowers in the morning breeze.

i'm from a mountain in the jungle, pythons in the yard and owls in the trees and hedgehogs running free and dogs everywhere. i'm from building, renovating, designing, painting, refinishing floors, building a jungle again...i'm from moving and hard work and starting over. 

i'm from the gentle prairies and the blue blue skies. i'm from the cowboy west, the foothills of the Rockies. i'm from the steaming tropics, an island in the Pacific ocean. i'm from road trips and plane trips and boat trips and motorcycle trips and  traffic and empty highways and traveling all the time. i'm from the true north strong and free. i'm from a little blue planet in the galaxy.

 but mostly i'm from grace- from His never-ending gifts, all for me. i'm from Him. i'm from Him. 

i'm from life. i'm from me.

Monday, September 9, 2013

of tambourines, sandals, and Jesus freaks...


i'm remembering a beautiful song that we used to sing back in the early 70's...it was the end of the Jesus Movement and we were all still pretty much hippies, even though some of us were young marrieds with kids...

we'd get in our home groups, close our eyes, and sing and sway as acoustic guitars strummed the hypnotic tune from Godspell...

"day by day...day by day...O dear Lord, three things I pray...to see Thee more clearly...love Thee more dearly...follow Thee more nearly...day by day..."

those words have followed me through all these decades. they are still the prayer of my heart.

forever i'll be a child of the 60's...the decade when everything was changing and anything was possible. over-arching it all, from my perspective, was the Person of Jesus Christ, the King of the Flower Children and the Man for whom tens of thousands of us chose willingly to be called freaks. we were truly Jesus freaks. the spirit world was rocking, the tambourines were jingling, and we danced in the footprints of the Jesus boots of the Lamb of God- in our bare feet and our sandals -

and we loved him.

tomorrow i will hum this song to myself again...in my mind i'll rock back and forth and fling my long hair and my bracelets will clink and the earth will shake and Godspell will ring out a call again to the millions of kids in a generation who needed and found something to live for...

and it will be my birthday, and i will love him far more now that i did then. and day by day i am still following in His footsteps...

because in my heart it will always be the 60's, and i am still a Jesus freak, and He is still the King of the Flower Children.


Monday, September 2, 2013

in my former life

i was a midwife, running a birthing center. here's a memory of one day in my former life...
                  ********************


Well, today at Gentle Hands Clinic here in Metro Manila was a litte bit interesting.

I was working away diligently in my office when a breathless voice
called me on the intercom. "Ate (older sister) Dini, can you come and help?"

So I trundle downstairs to the first floor. There are about 50 women
sitting there waiting for their check-ups...one lonely little midwife is methodically working her way thru the stack of charts. I peek into the delivery room. Two midwives in scrubs, gloves on, one baby just delivered, and two more moms about to "pop". We are shortstaffed today for some reason- one midwife is on vacation and one has gone out.

"How much time do I have?" I ask.

"They're both 10 cm!"

So, ok, I don't have too much time...but something has to be done about these check-ups.

I rush thru half-a-dozen checkups, apologizing profusely to the poor
women who i'm assembly-lining through the bed, then suddenly Melody
(midwife from the delivery room) peeks in the door-

"Ate Dini, come now!"

I run into the delivery room.

Both moms are sitting on the birthstools, husbands behind them. Both
vertexes are visible. I say, "Which one is the multip?"- assuming
she'll go first and I should be there.

"This one!" says Ate Elizabeth, my Scottish midwife.

So I glove up and get down on the floor in front of "Leni" to assist in the birth of her 4th baby. I hate to come in at the last minute like that...no bonding time, but Leni is gracious, she has given birth at Gentle Hands before and smiles as she recognizes me even while pushing with all her might.

I soon realize I am in the wrong delivery room. I should have stood in the doorway. Leni's baby's head slides out, lovely, so quiet and peaceful.

But in the other room, in the meantime, Melody has put gloves on the other mom's sister who is pale as a ghost but bravely willing to assist.

I call to Melody, "Head's out!" Melody shouts- "this head's out too!"

I throw off my gloves, put some more on, and run in to help her. (lucky the rooms are adjoining)...

This baby is not coming easily now. Tight cord wrap. Melody does a
masterful job of sliding the cord down over the shoulders of the baby as we manouver, twisting and turning, and the body slides out.

I hear the other baby cry- which makes me happy as i jumped ship when just his little head was out...

But this baby is blue and limp...she's been stuck a little too long.
However, i lift her up on mom's tummy- the cord is too thick to clamp and still pulsing so we leave it to give oxygen to the poor little thing- and mom and dad admire her as she slowly begins to expand her little lungs and adjust to outside-womb life.

Finally, as this baby begins to breathe and the placenta oozes out, and all is well, I change gloves again, and go back to Ate Elizabeth, who really doesn't need help since she delivered babies by herself for 40 years in Scotland, but it makes me feel needed.

20 minutes later, I'm back doing checkups. Don't even have a drop of
blood on my uniform- didn't have time to change into scrubs!

I crank thru about 20 more women. They are more understanding now that they know 2 babies were born at the same time! I tell them, "If it was you in labor, you wouldn't want to be left alone just for some check-ups, would you." They nod in agreement.

oh my.

At 1:30, the afternoon batch of women is sitting there waiting for their check-ups. There is one more in labor, but it turns out to be either early or false, so we just let her rest in one of the beds. The new babies are all fine. Visitors come and go. The workmen outside are welding and hammering on the gate. The construction workers on the 3rd floor are hammering and dropping cement chips down below.

I go upstairs and have my lunch and a catnap. Back in my office at
2:30...the intercom rings...Marijo calls, "Ate Dini, can you come and help?"

And it begins again.

*********

and...i'm glad i'm retired...