Wednesday, December 22, 2004

!@#!@!$!% Cold!!!!

MAN is it cold outside! Minus 41 with the windchill! Why on earth did any human beings choose to settle in this place? At least I have an excuse - I was born here and thus it is harder to uproot myself. But long ago, some poor, weary settlers decided that this was where they wanted to live. Did they make that choice in the middle of summer? I wonder what they thought of it once winter rolled around... "Crap, I KNEW I shoulda got on the boat marked 'Florida'!"

Oh well, grin and bear it. At least I'm not living in a tent or a mud-walled cabin like those poor suckers. And in a month and a half, I get to hop on a plane for a warmer destination. Yay!

Marcel's parents were over for supper last night. I made stuffed pork loin, with an apple stuffing. It was good, but not quite as yummy as I'd hoped. The stuffing had a little too much sage in it. I keep trying to find that elusive perfect apple stuffing recipe, but so far what I've found has just been mediocre. Maybe it only exists in my mind.

Monday, December 20, 2004


"Our deepest fear is not that we are inadequate.
Our deepest fear is that we are powerful beyond measure.
It is our light, not our darkness, that frightens us.
We ask ourselves, who am I to be brilliant, gorgeous, talented and fabulous?
Actually, who are you not to be?
You are a child of God.
(Your playing small doesn't serve the world.
There's nothing enlightened about shrinking
so that other people won't feel insecure around you.)
We were born to make manifest the glory of God that is within us.
It's not just in some of us, it's in everyone.
And as we let our own light shine,
we unconsciously give other people permission to do the same.
As we are liberated from our own fears,
our presence automatically liberates others."

-- Nelson Mandela Inaugural Speech, 1994


I'm trying to de-clutter. Every once in awhile, I start to get claustrophobic with all the clutter in my life. It's become an annual tradition to go through the toys just before Christmas and get rid of a bunch before bringing in any new ones. This year I've gone beyond toys. On Saturday, we dropped off 8 or 9 garbage bags full of stuff at the Thrift Shop. We already have another 3 bags packed and ready to go, and there's still lots more where that came from!

It's amazing how much stuff we collect. Bizarre, really. Why would we possibly need all that STUFF? It's making me feel a little trapped, somehow - like I am a prisoner to all this clutter. Unfortunately, I ran out of steam this weekend and didn't get as much done as I'd hoped. Here's hoping the energy shows up to keep pace with the ambition. A part of me wants to get alot more done before people start showing up at our house for Christmas. Another part of me REALLY wants to have less clutter in my life before going to Africa.

I think letting go of food is somehow linked to this desire to de-clutter. I want less weight too - it's holding me prisoner just like the clutter. I want to be free of the need to overeat and the need to hang onto junk. I'm sure some psychologist would have a heyday trying to figure out why I collect junk and pounds - what am I protecting myself against by surrounding myself with all this stuff? Oh well, I don't need to do any deep psychoanalysis. I just need to clean up!

Friday, December 17, 2004

The God of my understanding

The God of my understanding
Likes to hang out in a good bookstore with me
He doesn’t talk much or get in the way when I’m busy
He doesn’t cast a judgmental eye on my book selection
Or roll his eyes when I get the bill

The God of my understanding
Gets up in the middle of the night with me
When one of my daughters has vomited all over the bed
She helps me clean up the mess
And gives me a dose of compassion
When all I want to do is sleep

The God of my understanding
Drops in when I’m lonely or sad
And sticks around even when I try to send him away
He hands me a box of Kleenex when I need to cry
He doesn’t try to fix it for me
Just sits there and listens and helps me figure it out myself

The God of my understanding
Celebrates with me when I have small victories or large ones
She brings food and wine and we toast the day
She indulges my passions and my desires
And delights in my achievements

The God of my understanding
Likes all of my friends
He likes to chat with us and engage in interesting conversation
He laughs at our jokes – even the dirty ones
And can out-perform anyone in charades

The God of my understanding
Shows up when I’m scared or weak
She doesn’t judge me or tell me to “suck it up”
She puts a gentle arm around my shoulders
And helps me move forward
Even when I can’t seem to figure out how

The God of my understanding
Loves to climb on a plane with me
And dream about places unknown
He doesn’t act like he already knows what’s around the next corner
He’s game for any adventure
And he shares my delight when I discover something that stretches my world

The God of my understanding
Doesn’t look at me with disapproving eyes
When my stumbling feet lose their way
If I fall, she finds a comfortable spot on the ground to sit with me
And sticks around until I’m ready to get up and try again

Thursday, December 16, 2004


Yesterday, as I walked through the skywalks downtown, I came across 2 young girls who put a smile on my face. They were clearly not city girls - probably visiting from some small prairie town. They were so excited to be downtown in the big city. They stood in the skywalk, looking down on the street and giggled with glee. "Look - I'm standing above the cars!" one of them exclaimed. And then they laughed at their own innocence - clearly torn between trying to blend in with all the "city people" and just wanting to enjoy the wonder of it all.

It made me smile because I remember that feeling - that sense of wonder and delight, coming to the big city. I remember begging Dad to drive through the city on the way home from Grandma's house at Christmas time so that we could see the Christmas lights. I remember riding a city bus for the first time, when Brad (who was SO much more experienced) lost his bus pass and had to leave us to ride the bus alone while he ran back to MacDonalds to look for it. I remember riding with Dad in the old farm truck on the way to the city to deliver pigs - it all seemed so magical, even from the window of a farm truck.

I hope I can always maintain some of that wonder - that there will always be something new for me to explore and delight in. I hope my kids find that too. I hope they don't get jaded too young.

Wednesday, December 15, 2004

Going to Africa

Two months from now, I’ll walk on African soil. What will it be like? Will the experience be worthy of my expectations?

So many childish memories waft over me. Missionary slide shows of heathens and warriors. The great lost world. How can we save them from their misery? How can we inject white hope and white religion into their lost black souls? “Preach the gospel to every nation,” the Bible tells us, and we preach our narrow version through white-washed words.

My child heart longed to go there, to see the beautiful black faces and earth the colour of the rust on Dad’s tools. My child heart longed for it, but my child head said “how can I preach what I do not understand?” My fingers caressed the missionary artifacts and I dreamt of an Africa that didn’t need to be preached to.

I wanted to be a gypsy. I found books about gypsies and read them late at night until Dad came in from the barn and said in his gentle understanding voice, “Don’t you think it’s time to sleep now?” I wanted to dance around open campfires and live in a caravan. I wanted to change my scenery every day.

I am no gypsy, living in suburbia in a house that doesn’t move. I am no gypsy, though my driving foot itches to take me farther away than I’ve been before. I am no gypsy, though my heart beats with hopeful expectation when I walk into an airport and I dream of wearing out my passport before it expires.

I am no gypsy, but my gypsy heart danced when first I stood on foreign soil. My gypsy foot quivered when first I drove beyond the borders of my country. My gypsy dreams grew richer when I looked into the face of a black man and knew that he was no heathen and his heart was as big as mine.

Will African soil welcome me? Will the colours be as rich as those in my dreams? Will the zebras and lions gaze at me knowingly with eyes that say “we knew you’d come some day”? Will it make me feel hopeful or sad? Or both? Hopeful that this world is a vast and intricate thing of beauty and there is so much more space for me to grow and learn. Or sad that somehow I have hurt these beautiful people by my western greed and western appetite.

I won’t preach from my white-washed Bible. I won’t expect that my English words are somehow endued with greater wisdom than theirs. I will listen and let them teach me. I will open my heart to the hope and the hurt. I will tread lightly on their soil and let the colours wash over me. I will allow the journey to stretch me and I will come back larger than before.