Is That All There Is? A Sunday Reflection………..

Sunday Prayers

Sunday Prayers (Photo credit: Steven Leith)

 I was brought up to go to church. First I went to Sunday school—then I graduated to actually going to church and “listening” to the sermon. I became a Sunday School teacher. The President of Mission Circle Girls. A member of the choir (though to this day I cannot carry a tune in a tin pail—but they needed warm bodies). Then I went off to university and went to a few masses with my Catholic friends even though I was not Catholic. It was rather exotic for a girl who had attended a Protestant country church. But I liked the rituals, the incense, the kneeling–even though they were foreign to me.

                After I turned twenty I did not go to church for about 25 years. I still prayed but mostly for good stuff to happen and for someone who was sick. I still believed though I was not sure what it was I believed. In fact, during those years I was perfectly happy. I was in a sort of vacuum. I was a constant seeker, but with a more intellectual bent than with my heart and soul.

                I went back to my country church for a while and was received with open arms and open hearts. I loved the feeling of community—I liked the Minister’s message, and I liked being a part of something. But I became too big a part—I joined too many things and tried to do too much, and I burned out. I stopped going to church because I was no longer able to just go and hear the message—I was too busy being a Sunday School teacher, a youth leader, a member of the Church’s women’s group…………..and on and on.

                I returned to my vacuum, but I returned as a more faithful believer in something bigger than myself. I am still a seeker. I went back to church one more time—but it was no longer for me–and though I love the people at that church, I quit again.

                I call myself a seeker as I guess I am not totally satisfied with the answers. But some of the answers I have sought out make sense to me. Sometimes I think it is easier to not believe than to believe. But I am just stubborn enough to believe in something I cannot touch, taste, smell, or see. But I can feel it. And I know there is something bigger than me. And I believe. It seems to come naturally.

                 I believe in a good God—not a violent, jealous, or vengeful God. And I believe that Jesus did walk the earth, and he did have a message, and the simple message is: *“this is not all there is but keep dancing anyway”.

 *in answer to Peggy Lee’s ballad “Is That All There Is?

                Have you come to some conclusion about your beliefs? Are you an unquestioning believer, a seeker, or an abstainer? Or something else? How do you define yourself?

Sunday Musings

Prayers

Prayers (Photo credit: Xerones)

On Sundays I always feel a little bit of nostalgia for my church-going days. To say I have had a crisis of faith may be an overstatement, but many a minister, pastor, priest, rabbi, and faith leader are said to have had crises of faith in order to come to grips with their faith. Unquestioned faith comes from the Sunday School of thought and many of us are past that. In
fact I miss it ~ but maturity brings sober second thought that deepens how one views life and spirituality.

As of late, I have been questioning my faith—yet again. But in questioning it, I think I keep it alive. I have a book called “Create Your Own Personal Sacred Text” by aptly named Bobbie L. Parish.  In the Introduction to the book is this statement, which hit home for me: “….the quest is your own.” And the quest she speaks of is a deeper relationship with Spirit, and the advice given is: “Start where you are and move in whatever direction you feel led.”

I have faith because I want to have faith. It is questioned sometimes. Rattled. Verified. And a constant, even if examined.

Here is an explanation of  prayer that makes sense to me by Pamela Brode from “The Power of Prayer – Make a Joyful Noise”:

“Through prayer we are able to draw power from the Holy Spirit, which fortifies our spiritual being and assists us in coping with whatever situation life hands us with a degree of strength, endurance, and calm.

Through the power of prayer we are motivated to take affirmative steps to help remedy our difficulties. Through prayer we receive protection from behaving irrationally or recklessly and from making decisions that can lead to harmful consequences.

In essence, prayer helps us to take control of our lives. We may not always be in control of what happens in the world around us, but prayer enables us to take control of the way we respond to any given situation—and that is truly empowering. Prayer gives us direction and motivation to take a positive and productive course of action that benefits us as well as those around us.”

You may be like me and question why certain things happen. And wonder why.  Sometimes I cannot determine when to “Let go and let God” because I think God wants us to help ourselves and not just throw our hands up in the air and leave the hard work to him/her.

Does faith give you bliss?

 

Challenge Met Again

Day 14 of Write a Poem a Day Month:

Newspaper colour

Newspaper (Photo credit: NS Newsflash)

Day Breaks

A quiet Sunday morning

Punctuated with crisped sausages

And pancakes drowned in syrup.

 A second cup of coffee

Poured to enjoy with yesterday’s paper

That we were “too busy” to read.

A lovely start to a day that promises not stay quiet~

But the tranquility has not been broken

yet……………….

Do you find your bliss as the day breaks?

Published in: on April 14, 2013 at 2:53 pm  Comments (34)  
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Until tomorrow

Today is a gift

Today is a gift (Photo credit: wildphotons)

 

Sunday in a box

Kept safe from the outside world

Until tomorrow.

BLISS………….

Published in: on April 7, 2013 at 4:15 pm  Comments (29)  
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~Sunday Bliss~

A whiter shade of pale

A whiter shade of pale (Photo credit: franziskas garten)

 

Quiet Sunday bliss

Unassumingly discreet

Inaudible peace

Published in: on February 10, 2013 at 6:55 pm  Comments (32)  
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~ Reading Bliss ~

Cover of "Thinking About Memoir (AARP)"

Cover of Thinking About Memoir (AARP)

Some days this bliss journey gets a little long and twisted and I am baffled as to whether I can keep it up. As anyone who reads this blog on a somewhat regular basis knows, my 2013 resolution is to find my bliss. Some days I want to pack it in; some days finding my bliss is pretty….blissful.

Cover of "Old Friend from Far Away: How t...

Cover via Amazon

Before I run out of things to say about bliss, I really must address the thing that has given me bliss since I was about six years old. The thing that has stood me in good stead all of these years, through thick and thin, through good times and bad, through…..okay you get the clichéd gist.

Quite simply, I love to read. I can depend on reading to provide bliss. Even before I could read, I was read to—so the magic of the written word has been with me all my life.

Today I am going to share with you a few of my favourite books and authors—just off the top of my head, because I am feeling lazy (so lazy I put the Sunday roast in the crock pot with potatoes cause I am too lazy to pay attention to it).

Cover of "On Writing:  A Memoir of the Cr...

Cover of On Writing: A Memoir of the Craft

My favourite authors are Margaret Atwood, Alistair McLeod, Elizabeth Berg, Natalie Goldberg, Julia Cameron, Annie Lamont, Ray Bradbury, Abigail Thomas, Stephen King, Ina Garten, Chef Michael Smith, and a whole lot of other people. I do not like everything these people have ever written, but I like a great deal of what they have written. I am  a voracious reader of non-fiction but the only name that comes to mind right now is Rabbi Harold Kushner.

My favourite book from childhood is Little Women—I loved Jo, and grew up to be a writer precisely because of her. My favourite character from my preteen years is Trixie Belden—she was smart and independent, and I read every one of her books several times.

My favourite books on memoir are by Natalie Goldberg and Abigail Thomas. I suggest that if you like this genre you should rush out and buy, or put on hold at your library, Goldberg’s “Old Friend from Far Away” and Thomas’ “Thinking About Memoir”.

If you could only read three books on writing—these are my picks: Goldberg’s “Writing Down the Bones”; Annie Lamont’s “Bird by Bird”; and Stephen King’s “On Writing”. My fourth pick is one I am re-reading right now, Jack Hart’s “Storycraft” which is “The Complete Guide to Writing Narrative Nonfiction.” He has reinvigorated my newspaper writing.

Cover of "Writing down the Bones"

Cover of Writing down the Bones

So for the record, just in case this bliss thing comes to an end—I need it stated that reading is my bliss.

Off the top of your head—what are your favourite books or authors. Don’t think too hard (it is Sunday after all)—you will miss some as I most certainly have.

Bliss Returns ~ Day 8

Sudden Loud Noises

Sudden Loud Noises (Photo credit: STML)

In the last twenty years I have probably seen about five movies at a theatre that were not animated. Yes, I have kids. And for a while I saw every animated movie there was. And then I just lost interest in going to the movies—you can rent, buy, or see most stuff on television if you wait long enough or have the desire.

On Sunday, I went to the movies with my husband, and we saw “Guilt Trip” with Barbra Streisand and Seth Rogen. We were given passes to a movie with two drinks and regular popcorn for Christmas, so we thought we would make use of them. We scoured the paper to see what movies were being offered, and it being just past the holiday season, there were lots to choose from.  But I did not want to see an adventure movie, or the Hobbit movie (sorry Cindy), or a sad movie….I wanted to see something light that would not break my resolution of finding my bliss.

So, we settled on “Guilt Trip”. Or actually my husband settled. I was quite happy to find a movie that was not shoot ‘em up, depressing, or a fantasy.

Well I just loved it. It was in a word: charming. The humour was gentle, the story heart-warming, and the ending happy. Smultzy? Not really. It was pleasant; indeed, it was storytelling at its best. There was conflict, but it was resolved. There were laughs, but also some serious everyday stuff that happens in all of our lives. It was just a good movie. A son and his mother on a road trip. But the son had an agenda, and that is what the whole movie was about. In the end. It was a worthwhile trip for the movie goer.

The only unblissful part of the movie date was the trailers that came on before the movie. We were inundated with probably about eight trailers—and the cacophony of noise blast at us and around us was an assault to the senses. It was too loud—so loud that it reverberated thunderously through the body almost to the point of shutting down. Bliss came when the trailers ended and the movie we had signed on to see came on the screen.

Sometimes bliss is relief in disguise.

Have you ever found bliss when something stopped?

Sunday Bliss ~ 1/6/13

Bliss first logo (2006-2008)

 (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Sunday bliss is:

1. Having just enough syrup to cover your pancakes, a special Sunday breakfast that is a change from our usual oatmeal (or as my husband calls it gruel) and multi-grain Cheerios.
2. Tickets to a movie with popcorn and a drink included. We are going to go see Guilt Trip–which looks like it is funny, and I don’t know about you, but I find funny blissful.
3. A tentative agreement with the NHL – does not really affect me, but I know that it does thousands of people and for you I am happy.
4. Watching Sunday Morning on CBS. Absolutely love this program and love Charles–he calms me for the week ahead.
5. Getting ready to take on the work week with renewed vigour (at least at this point).
In my quest to find my bliss, I am going to feature some of my followers and how they find bliss. I do not refer to the next blogger as a follower (which someone pointed out sounds rather cultish), but as a good friend. Over the last six months we have shared important life happenings as well as jokes and fun. Check her out, but especially check out her Friday Mystery Photo day–we have a riot trying to guess the mystery photo. And it is another form of bliss for me. Without further ado, this is how she found Saturday night bliss:

Cindy from photosfromtheloonybin:

Sitting on the couch with my feet up after a great supper, checking my emails, watching TV with my hubby and smiling as I look around at my clean house = total bliss :)

Give me an example of your total bliss.

~ Sundays Past ~

English: Liddesdale Parish Church A small coun...

A small country church  (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Remember when Sundays were a “day of rest” and the only stores open were… hmm…well pretty much nothing was open. Of course this was in my small town which was very WASP-Y (white Anglo-Saxon protestant) and dry until the early 1960’s (though this is not something I remember, as I was not much of an imbiber at nine years old).

Sundays when I was young  was a day when the kids went to church (for some reason my parents did not go, but the four of us kids did—we went to Sunday school, then when we got older, we went to church and joined the choir, and Young Peoples—a group for teenagers). For me church was more of a community/social thing.  Of course God and Jesus played a role, but at the time God was a male father figure, and Jesus apparently “loved the little children”.

Today my beliefs are a little more complex, but I no longer go to church. I do miss “visiting” though. People tended to visit friends and neighbours and family on Sunday afternoon after church. Without calling ahead. They would just drop in. And that was totally socially acceptable.

I remember when people used to have “parlours” set aside for just these visits, and if the minister should happen by. I think it was kind of like the good “living room” that was always neat and no one used it unless they had company. This makes perfect sense to me, with the type of housekeeping I do.

The home I grew up in was not big enough to have a parlour—we lived in the whole house—though because my mom was so neat and clean, it was almost always company ready. But today, I need a parlour—a room set aside that I can go into that will always be neat and clean and not subject to muddy boots, and coats thrown over chairs, and newspapers gloriously spread all over the floor. I try to keep my living room in good shape “just in case”, but this does not always work out.

Back to Sundays of my childhood~

Every Sunday we would have a roast of some kind—pork or beef or roasted chicken, and on occasion fried chicken. The entrée would generally include mashed potatoes, gravy, coleslaw and a couple of vegetables I would try to avoid eating. I remember spending what felt like two weeks at the dinner table with cold squash in front of me—I was free to leave the table once I had eaten it. I must have eaten it, because today I am not still at the table, but memories of that cold squash still haunt me. It does not affect my grown up penchant for it though, which is strange.

And we always, always, always had a special dessert – most of the time homemade pie or cake and ice cream. In those days we had dessert at every meal, but some were very simple. Sundays were different—no Jell-O, or pudding, or a little syrup in a bowl with a cookie.

I like the freedom of Sundays today—I like that the whole town does not close down. But I do remember the days when visiting was the thing to do on Sunday afternoon, followed by a wonderful meal, then unfortunately as I got older, homework—because of course, I never did it ahead of time.

What are some of your Sunday memories—are they similar to mine, or did you have a totally different “day of rest”?

T ~ is for Turkey Day

Thanksgiving postcard circa 1900 showing a tur...

Thanksgiving postcard circa 1900 showing a turkey and football player. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Turkey Day is a term coined by my youngest son, Tyler, referring of course to Thanksgiving Day—but it really does synthesize what the day means to him. He has used this term for about twelve years now, first utilizing it one Thanksgiving weekend when he was about nine. We decided to go apple picking on this now infamous Thanksgiving Day twelve years ago for a “fun family outing”.  (For those of you who are not Canadian, and from the looks of my stats—that is many of you, Thanksgiving is the second Monday of October in our country.)

For some reason, many Canadians have their Thanksgiving meal on the Sunday before Thanksgiving, which leaves us time to do other things on Thanksgiving Day besides eat leftovers (which in my books is one of the most wonderful meals there is ~ I think I like noshing on Thanksgiving leftovers as much as the original meal.)

So, on this day in the year 2000, we decided to go apple picking, and while we were there we picked up a few pumpkins from the orange grove (just seeing if you are paying attention—of course it was a pumpkin patch, and no we did not see Linus there looking for the Great Pumpkin—it was too early).

Since it was late in the apple season, our wagon ride to the apple trees that still had apples was rather lengthy—and Tyler, in great spirits that day, kept wishing everyone a Happy Turkey Day. This garnered all kinds of interest, which he just ate up. He was a pixyish looking little guy, so he got a lot of waves and smiles with his exuberance.

To this day, he loves turkey—and Thanksgiving is just not Thanksgiving without turkey at our house. Before he grew to realize his love for the big bird, I would serve other meals I was just as thankful for (like prime rib or lamb or ham) and were much easier to contend with. Since he has made this realization, we serve turkey every Thanksgiving.

After lo these many years of thawing turkeys, stuffing turkeys, and complaining about thawing and stuffing turkeys, I have come upon a foolproof  Thanksgiving meal. I get one of those turkeys that come already stuffed and that you can take out of the freezer and stick into your oven with just some minor preparations.  I stumbled upon this solution at the advice of a friend who I think may have been tired of me complaining about the thawing and stuffing of the bird that stars in a proper Thanksgiving meal. And to that end the search for the perfect turkey commences today.

The search  entails buying one of these guys on sale. They are an arm and a leg if not on sale. As we speak, they are purported to be on sale at my local grocery store—so as soon as I get this post done, I shall be hightailing it out of here to get one that is affordable. Last time they were on sale (a couple of weeks ago) they had all been scooped up and only the regular turkeys were there biding their time in the frozen food bins.

I know that some people are suspicious of these already stuffed birds, but I cook mine until there is no mistaking that it is done—and truly the stuffing is delicious and there is a generous amount. And I do not have to thaw the dumb thing. In the past, I have taken turkeys out of my freezer and crowded my fridge for a full seven days and still the thing wasn’t completely thawed out.

Turkey Day is only a couple of weeks away, but I will not be satisfied until I have one nestled in my freezer among the corn and peas, and ready to be taken out just before I have to throw him in the oven (or place him ever so gently, let’s not get violent here.)

O happy day—this is me doing the Snoopy dance—Turkey Day is going to be easy peasy this year and every year hereafter.

Thanksgiving at the Trolls

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