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Saturday, October 10, 2015

abide with me

"abide with us, for the evening is near, and the day is almost gone..." (luke 24:28)

remembering with tears, a movie scene in which the voices of thousands of dying soldiers  sang this old hymn.... Abide with Me

wondering if my grandfather sang it in his desperate hour in WWI, at the front of the battlefield as he was choking on mustard gas and the guns shattered the gentle French fields around him...

hearing the voice of my sweet mother in so many dark and lonely hours, "...help of the helpless, Lord, abide with me..."

and seeing in my mind the weary two who walked the Emmaus road,  hearts heavy with sorrow,and eyes so darkened with discouragement that they did not recognize their traveling companion.

but with typical Eastern hospitality, they invited him in to eat with them and stay the night, after the long dusty journey. "abide with us," they told him.

and he came in, and sat with them, and broke bread with them.

and then,

in that moment of simple human fellowship and generosity, their eyes were opened, and they recognized him as the risen Lord.

an invitation is all he asks of me.

of us.

in my brokenness, in the darkness, in the moment when the end seems near and there is no one to help, and all is pain and fear and hopelessness...

an invitation is all he wants.

come in, Lord Jesus, into my home, into my heart...

abide with me.


Tuesday, September 22, 2015

a thousand days of light
a hundred nights of shadow
and then
one hour of joy
of joy

Friday, July 17, 2015

foreshadowing



This is an image that I have carried in my heart down through the decades that I have lived with and worked with Filipinos. It is my mother holding in her arms a little Filipino boy named "Junjun", the first of several foster children she mothered.

there is a story behind this picture.

I graduated from Grade 12 at the age of 16. My September birthday meant that i began nurses' training before I turned 17. I was very young, and as I worked the wards in the hospital, I became friends with some gentle, fun-loving Filipino nurses. They took me into their hearts and eventually invited me to their home for a meal. I found myself in an old part of the city, walking up 4 flights of stairs to an attic room in a boarding house, and there I discovered 4 or 5 of these girls living all together, cooking their meals on a tiny burner, sleeping on the floor, and the ultimate shock- a little baby boy hidden away up there who had never seen the light of day. Nobody in the house, except my nursing buddies, knew he was there. His mom had been pregnant when she left the Philippines for Canada, and fearing deportation, she had born the baby and somehow kept him secret. They all mothered him in true Asian fashion, and he was healthy and alert, but my heart broke to think he could never go out or play on the grass.

Without even thinking twice, I offered to his mom, Pat, that my own mother would care for him out on our farm, and Pat could come and see him on her days off- it was a 2-hour bus ride for her but she jumped at the offer. At least he would be well-cared for, loved, and free! I took "Junjun" that very day, hopped on a bus with him, and walking into my mom's house I held him out to her and said, "Mom, you have to take care of this baby!"

This is the kind of woman my mother was. She never batted an eye. She held out her arms and cooed, "Ohhh! come here, sweetheart..." and thus she became his other mommy.

And this is the kind of people those precious Filipinos were- they trusted me with "their" baby. I know now, after decades in this culture, that trust is a gift that you earn. Somehow we had crossed that barrier and I had become one of them, thus earning that rare and special gift.

My mother cared for Junjun for several years until his mom was indeed deported. My father too loved this little boy, and Junjun slept beside their bed in a cradle which my dad would rock even in his sleep. After a few years Pat found her way back to Canada again, and she and her little son visited my mother several times and wrote each other for decades. They were true friends.

As I look at this picture and read my mother's soothing body language of comfort, I think it's somehow fitting that both my own daughter and I have cared for generations of Filipino children. I never knew, back then, that I would end up here on these islands, nor that my kids would be raised here, and that my eldest would care for hundreds of orphans.

The gift my mother taught me was unconditional acceptance, trust, and care. And to never ever be shocked when your children bring home lost puppies- or babies. 






Monday, May 18, 2015

who i am

"I am not the brood of the dust and sod,
Nor a shuttled thread in the loom of fate;
But the child divine of the living God,
With eternity for my life's estate.


I am not a sport of a cosmic night,
Nor a thing of chance that has grown to man;
But a deathless soul on my upward flight,
And my Father's heir in His wondrous plan."

                                                      Alva Romanes

Tuesday, May 12, 2015

His gifts are better...

I prayed for strength, and then I lost awhile
All sense of nearness, human and divine;
The love I leaned on failed and pierced my heart,
The hands I clung to loosed themselves from mine;
But while I swayed, weak, trembling, and alone,
The everlasting arms upheld my own.

I prayed for light; the sun went down in clouds,
The moon was darkened by a misty doubt,
The stars of heaven were dimmed by earthly fears,
And all my little candle flames burned out;
But while I sat in shadows, wrapped in night,
The face of Christ made all the darkness bright.

I prayed for peace, and dreamed of restful ease,
A slumber free from pain, a hushed repose;
Above my head the skies were black with storm,
And fiercer grew the onslaught of my foes;
But while the battle raged, and wild winds blew,
I heard His voice and perfect peace I knew.

I thank You, Lord, You were too wise to heed
My feeble prayers, and answer as I sought;
Since these rich gifts Your bounty has bestowed
Have brought me more than all I asked or thought;
Giver of good, so answer each request
With Your own giving, better than my best.

Annie Johnson Flint.

Wednesday, April 29, 2015

small places

recently an event happened that was titled "bigger and better". my friends attended this event; i did not, for physical reasons.

according to their reports, the event was so loud, so lit up, so "over the top", that some of them, including my husband, were physically affected in a negative way. (temporary hearing loss, migraine with vomiting, headaches, fatigue, eye strain.)

although it was designed as a worship event, no doubt with the best of intentions to give honour and glory to our awesome God, i couldn't help but be left with a nagging thought...

was God's voice heard there?

perhaps it was, because it was truly done for His glory.

but in some corner of my heart, i wonder...i wonder...

why is "bigger" perceived to be "better"? why must we be deafened, literally, with loud music? why must all our senses be assaulted with lights and noise and action in order to praise HIM?

in my quiet little corner of the world, in stillness and in aloneness, i lift up my heart to HIM, and i praise HIM softly. 

i thank HIM for the small places.

i thank HIM for the stillness.

i thank HIM for the leaves rustling, the shadows that hide the light, the tiny sounds of the jungle birds outside my door...

and compared to the strobe lights and pounding music and hundreds of dancers/singers, i choose this.

for me, smaller is better.

how can we hear HIS voice over the noise? yes, there should be jubilation, there should be wild ecstatic praise.

but HIS voice is small, and still.

and we must be quiet if we want to hear HIM. 

noise is a temporary place to stay. 

wild praise subsides to that hushed awareness of HIS hovering presence.

the small quiet corners of our lives are where we meet HIM.

Thursday, April 23, 2015

the sky was long



I bore you there when the grass was young
And the seasons met like friends
But the wind was soft on your weathered face
And the sky was long, the sky was long

I laid you down in that hallowed spot
And a single robin sang
A gentle song of a distant spring
And my tears like rain fell hot

I left you there where the silence hung
Like a field of new-dropped snow
But I carried your heart in my heart that day
And the sky was long, the sky was long

I’ll come again when the dew is fresh
And the bells of autumn chime
And humble fields and whispering pines
Will watch your resting place



Monday, March 30, 2015

sunset for my father

this poem was chosen by the family to be on Dad's funeral bulletin. it was one of his favourites. 


Crossing the Bar

BY ALFRED, LORD TENNYSON
Sunset and evening star, 
      And one clear call for me! 
And may there be no moaning of the bar, 
      When I put out to sea, 

   But such a tide as moving seems asleep, 
      Too full for sound and foam, 
When that which drew from out the boundless deep 
      Turns again home. 

   Twilight and evening bell, 
      And after that the dark! 
And may there be no sadness of farewell, 
      When I embark; 

   For tho' from out our bourne of Time and Place 
      The flood may bear me far, 
I hope to see my Pilot face to face 
      When I have crost the bar.

Saturday, March 21, 2015

My dad died.

cold words, like ice on my tongue-
I've waited years to say them.

So when he died, I felt denial.
Then relief.
Then denial.

I shouted to my sister on the phone,
“how? I just got an update about him
and he was fine!
How? When? But he was fine…”

Then I felt weird, like a piece of the world was missing.

Over the days I alternate between these 2 emotions-
Relief and denial-
And I walk around saying to random people,
“my dad died”,
as if that would make it real.

It hasn’t.



How can he be gone?

This huge piece of me,
My father,
Is no longer here.

The dark world that he lived in molded mine-
The night became familiar.

The universe I arrived in so many years ago,
Has changed, has shrunk.
there is no one left to shape me, to scold me,
to spark in sudden anger.
my primary critic is gone.

My heart hurts, and i feel
As if someone reached into my chest
And plucked out a piece of it.

My eyes ache with unshed tears.
I do not know why they are unshed.
They won’t come
Even when I beg them to.

Maybe tomorrow I will cry.


My dad died.

Wednesday, March 18, 2015

starsong

The Stars, From the Other Side

A prairie boy you were
So young and strong
You flew among the stars
When world went wrong

They sang to you a song
High in the air
While Bombs fell on the city
Where you were

But they became your friends
Those stars of yours
The pole star held true north
In time of war

And when your friends fell down
In darkening night
Your broken heart could not
See morning light

So you came home to prairie
Young and strong
With broken wings and faith
Still in a song

And when we children came
You sat us down
And told us of the war
And of starsong

I wonder how you see
The stars from there
Your faithful friends of old
High in the air

Perhaps the glimmer now
That’s in your eye
Is beauty of a star
From other side



Friday, March 13, 2015

absence

where have you been? she asked

where did you go?

i missed you!

sad heart echoed to sad heart

the weeks telescoped

suddenly

but

strange to hear about the missing time

shyness

almost hesitating to tell

eyes looking sideways until the discomfort eased

slowly we played catch-up

i said i was sorry

she said it was ok

we touched hands and looked

into the distance

where did i go? i asked

where have i been?

???