aging · culture · nonfiction · spirituality


Every Sunday, dressed in our church clothes (matching dresses that mom had sewn herself) we girls were ushered off to service.  Dad rushed us so that he could get a decent parking spot – one that would permit a hasty exit when it was all over.  He didn’t want to waste his day hanging around that place any longer than he had to.

At eight years of age, I marvelled at how different everyone was on this day.  The crabby old lady from next door, who spent all week terrorizing the children of the neighbourhood, arrived in formal attire, with her little pillbox hat and matching gloves, and sweetness plastered across her face.  Another neighbour, who everyone knew drank too much and beat his children, was greeted as if he himself was free of sin.  On Sundays, I observed, we all became new people.

I chose to sit in the main church for the sermon as I never quite got the concept of Sunday School.  Seemed to me we never learned anything, and most days we just coloured pictures related to some story that made no sense.  That’s not to say I understood the sermon either.  The minister kept referring to God as He, which would set my mind to wondering.  My experience of God existed right back to my earliest memories, and that being was more feminine than masculine.  I could not relate to the He the minister kept talking about.  Could I have been so wrong?  Is it possible that the minister had it wrong?

“What is the point of church, anyway?”  I asked my parents one day.  “Seems to me it is hypocritical.”

“Sunday is the day that we worship our Lord,”  my mother said.  “We dress up and show respect in His name.”

“Well, what about the rest of the week?  Is it okay to be nasty the rest of the week? Doesn’t God watch us then? Shouldn’t we be living in respect of God all week long?” I didn’t mention the gender thing.

“She makes a good point,” my father added.

“That’s the way it’s always been done,” my mother shrugged.

We stopped going to church, but my quest for spiritual understanding didn’t stop there.  I invited myself to my friend’s churches, and discovered stricter creeds, and attitudes of superiority and exclusiveness.

Organized religion, from my perspective, tells one what to believe, rather than encouraging one’s own relationship with the divine.  As a child, I had a deep and very real connection with something that was beyond the ordinary – a loving, yet omnipotent power.

Now, I seek a return to the sense of wonder of life, to the simplicity of knowing that there is a presence or meaning that transcends the mundane, and the security of believing in that force.  I crave goodness, and a harmonious state of being.  I want to know inner peace.

adversity · life · memoir · spirituality

Nature’s Voice

The tiny crayfish slowly made its way over the rocky water bed, climbing in and out of crevices, antennae constantly moving.  Perched on my haunches, trying valiantly not to move and startle the small creature, I watched in fascination.  His translucent body moved with such tenacity over what must surely be a challenging terrain for him.  The wind shifted, creating ripples in the water, and he was gone from my sight.

I lifted my head to listen.  There it was again:  a sudden, slight shift in the wind.  Mother Nature was gently tugging me from my reverie and beckoning me homeward.  I stood and shook the kinks out of my muscles, heeding her kind warning.  Time to go home.

As I made my way through the tangle of trees, stepping over fallen branches, and being wary off uneven ground, I noticed the wind shift again.  Her voice was more urgent now, a warning.  I decided to stay off the beaten path, and stick to the cover of the trees.  Noises ahead told me people were coming.  Boys!  As they approached, I noticed there were four or five of them, carrying something like sticks.  No, not sticks, they were carrying snakes.  And they were looking for someone.  Me!

I ducked behind a bush and held my breath.  Elbowing each other with bravado, the boys failed to see me crouched nearby.  Birds and wildlife scurried out of their path, sensing as I did that they meant only harm.  “She’s got to be here somewhere!” I heard one shout.  “Probably by the creek.”

They stepped into the woods, and not trusting my luck, I made a dash for home.

“There she goes!”

I fled along the path, until I saw the opening to the farmer’s field that bordered my backyard.  Breaking out of the woods, I caught sight of my best friend, Scott.  He knew as soon as he spotted me that I was in trouble.  Hailing his brothers, they met me just as my pursuers were catching up.

“You have a problem here?”  Scott’s oldest brother stood, towering over the tallest of the boys.

“Uh no.”  The boys turned on their heels and disappeared back into the woods.

“What were you doing in there all by yourself, young lady?” the older brother demanded to know.

I shrugged.  How could I tell him I was never alone when Mother Nature was looking after me.  I opened the gate and stepped back into the safety of my own backyard.

“Thank you for the warning,”  I said to the Wind.  The trees before me bowed gracefully at her command, and I knew my gratitude had been acknowledged.

At five years of age, it was easy to trust that life was guided by a loving presence, and I lived my life accordingly.

At fifty, I only wish I had such innocence to guide me once again.


adversity · health · life · nonfiction · spirituality

Fear or Legacy?


I fear illness.  I grew up in a household where dis-ease was the norm.  My mother had her first dance with death as a child, then suffered a broken back in her late thirties, followed by three bouts of cancer.  In her elder years, she lives with constant pain and many health issues.  My oldest sister had congenital heart problems all her life, and at the end, leukemia.  The next sister has schizophrenia and now Parkinson’s.  Diabetes, heart problems, and cancer run rampant in my mother’s family.  Ten of my generation have died.   My father and his siblings all died from respiratory conditions.

In other words, genetically, the promise of a long, healthy lifespan is not very bright.  When disease first knocked on my door, I made drastic changes to my diet, but I wonder if it is enough.

Fear, I know, can be a self-fulfilling habit.  But how do I let it go?

Years ago, I heard about a prayer for overcoming obstacles in life.  It goes like this:

I cast this burden of  ___________ upon the Christ within, that I may be free to ___________________ .

In my case:  I cast this burden of fear upon the Christ within, that I may be free to enjoy my gift of health.

What fear gets in your way?