Easily Ignored

My newspaper column this week, inspired David Kanigan:

Question: “What is a cloud like?”
Answer: “They’re like God’s dreams,…”

A taxi cab driver asked one of his frequent passengers, who happened to be blind, what the one thing she wished she could see. Her answer was “Clouds”. He was surprised at her answer, so he asked her why—and she said: “Because I cannot imagine them.”

The driver whose name is Ken Nerburn is now an author and he wrote a book called “Small Graces: The Quiet Gifts of Everyday Life.” In his book is an essay called, ‘The Gift of Clouds’, and in that essay he attempted to describe clouds. In the end he concluded that they “are like God’s dreams,” and the woman was peacefully satisfied with that intangible but apt description.

He did describe clouds more concretely–not as a climatologist or scientist might—but as a poet, an artist with words. He said:

“What else in this great universe so eludes description, so fills the spirit with wonder? What else floats gossamer and ethereal above our lives, never touching down but always present with us, a reminder of the majesty of an unseen God? As a child we are alive to their magic. We lie on our backs on summer hillsides, make up stories, find giants and dragons in their forms. They are God’s sketchbook, the measure of our capacity to dream. But as we grow, they fall victim to numbing familiarity. Their poetry and majesty, though still alive in our hearts, is easily overlooked, easily ignored.”

His words make you wonder what else we overlook and ignore. What other things that we found so magical when we were children are now just part and parcel of the drudgery of everyday life? As a child I did lay flat on my back in the soft grass in my front yard with my little sister and find all manner of wonderful things in the clouds: happy faces and dogs, magic carpets and fairies, castles and sometimes, sometimes, even God’s face—because when you are a child you think anything is possible.

Recently, I wrote a poem called “The Divine” and with your permission (I must ask because I know you do not have to read it) I will share it with you now. It celebrates some of those everyday things that make a life:

Prosaic poetry
Turns banal into inspiring
Evoking hidden magic
In the baking powder.
A tea canister
Holds warmth and comfort
Loosened by
Boiling water

Crusty French bread
Slathered in real butter
Heaven bursts forth
On the tongue.

Lunch with friends
Or favourite sister ~
Time stands still, waits,
Leaving a crumpled napkin.

Life delights
If you do not think about it too hard.

Nonsense makes sense
If you wait long enough…..

It is the small things that are the big things. The big things melt away revealing the important things that sometimes get left behind as we grow up, grow older, and grow familiar. It is in the familiar that we need to recognize life’s mystical charm.

What are your small things that are really your big things?

Published in: on April 20, 2015 at 1:49 pm  Comments (32)  
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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?

Bliss is Being up to the Adventure


(Photo credit: irunandshoot)

“We must let go of the life we have planned, so as to accept the one that is waiting for us.”  ~ Joseph Campbell.

 I think what Mr. Campbell said was exceedingly wise: get out of the way of your life and live it.

 Reminds me of the saying: “Man plans. God laughs.” My first interpretation of this is that we are silly to plan, that we cannot make things happen according to our Type A personalities, and that life is just too random to plan for.

 But I have read an interpretation of this same saying which proves that there are at least two sides to every story. I cannot remember who it was, but they made the point that God is not laughing at our plans ~ she is laughing with us and encouraging us.

I don’t think we are supposed to throw our hands up and let what happens, happen. God likes it when we use our resources to make things happen—but we have to remember that everything does not always go according to plan.

I have made and fulfilled plans. And been disappointed at the outcome. I have done things by the seat of my pants and been rewarded.  I am now taking Campbell’s words to heart and letting go of the life I planned (but not giving up on planning) and accepting the life I have been given.

Life is a mystery. We can plan for it—but we must also plan to be surprised. Campbell has a pithy observation about this too. He said:  “The big question is whether you are going to be able to say a hearty yes to your adventure.”

Bliss is being up for the adventure—what do you think?

Published in: on June 2, 2013 at 2:28 pm  Comments (37)  
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You Just Have to Do It in a Different Way

Türkçe: Name of the God

(Photo credit: Wikipedia)

This week, instead of providing a bona fide recipe, I am going to share with you a Recipe for Life. It comes from blogger Lois and her blog livingsimplyfree.

On Fridays, Lois does a wonderful post pointing her readers to blogs from which she has gleaned some joy, information, or a laugh from the previous week. This week, as one of her favourites, she featured a post by Paul Mark Sutherland called “Failure”.

This piece of philosophy, derived from Rehanna Moammadi really “spoke to me” due to a variety of things happening in my life right now–but I think it is just good general wisdom for all of us. So without further ado here is my prescription for life ~ when you think maybe you are on your last nerve, or close to the cliff:


Failure doesn’t mean you’re a failure

It does mean you haven’t succeeded yet.

Failure doesn’t mean you haven’t accomplished something,

It does mean you have learned something.

Failure doesn’t mean you’ve been a fool,

It does mean you have a lot of faith.

Failure doesn’t mean you’ve been disgraced,

It does mean you were willing to try.

Failure doesn’t mean you don’t have it,

It does mean you have to do something in a different way.

Failure doesn’t mean you’re inferior,

It does mean you’re not perfect.

Failure doesn’t mean you’ve wasted your time,

It does mean you have a reason to start fresh.

Failure doesn’t mean you should give up,

It does mean you should try harder.

Failure doesn’t mean you’ll never make it,

It does mean it will take a little longer.

Failure doesn’t mean God has abandoned you,

It does mean he has a better way.

These words are not magic, but they can have that effect if you let them. Even if things did not work out the way you wanted them to, you have learned something–but the line I liked the best is that failure doesn’t mean you don’t have it, it just means you have to do something in a different way. This line gives me bliss.

What line in Moammadi’s wisdom speaks to you and puts you on the road to bliss?

Is There Power in Prayer?

Prayers in the wind

Prayers in the wind (Photo credit: marco83)

I have Writing Wednesdays (when I remember – seems to be turning into Writing Thursdays of late, so I may have to rethink this), Recipe Saturdays, and now: Spiritual Sundays.

I am a constant seeker. I have found some answers but I still have questions. I imagine even those most educated in the religious/spiritual realm have questions—though their questions are probably more complex than mine.

One thing I am sure of is the power of prayer. I find though that it works better for me when I pray for others than when I pray for myself, but I believe that is just my impatient nature shining through.

I am reading what I consider a bit of an unsophisticated look at spirituality right now, but in its simplicity, it is honest. The book, “Divine Intervention” is written by SQuire Bushnell, the creator of the “God Winks phenomenon” (he has written four books on the subject). He is an ex-ABC television executive, and known as “America’s Encourager”. His calling, (among others) is to “rediscover the deep meaning and impact of personal prayer”.

I just discovered SQuire but apparently he has been writing books for well over a decade. {I have never been accused of being cutting edge and on top of things, so this is just another example.} As I read his book, I cannot help but think about my “God wink” moments or his way of describing coincidences which are not happenstance but meant to be–moments that determine the path our lives take.  He gives example upon example of “God winks” in his book, but I am really more interested in his definition of prayer.

He says that he has tried to find a euphemism for prayer—another word that is not so “unnerving” in our “hypersensitive” society. But he says that there is not one—he cannot conjure another word for Prayer. He says that prayer is a “concept integral to every faith and probably every language.”

Do you believe in the power of prayer? Do you consider it talking to God? Or is it just something those who have some type of belief use to kid themselves into thinking they are not alone? Does prayer work for you? Does it give you bliss?

Is Bliss Not Having the Answers?

Darkness and Light

Darkness and Light (Photo credit: true2source)

Ever had a quote that haunted you? One that made you stop and think? I came across such a quote attributed to seventeenth century Christian poet, Henry Vaughan. He was quoted by Eben Alexander in the Neurosurgeon’s book “Proof of Heaven”.

Alexander said that he found the quote after coming out of a coma induced by an illness. While in the coma, he experienced heaven, but found it very difficult to describe it. He struggles in his book to come up with the right words, the best words to describe his experience. No words seemed to suffice, but the closest he came to being able to describe the “vast, inky-black core that was the home of the Divine itself”, are these words from Vaughan:

“There is, some say, in God a deep but dazzling darkness. . .”

Dr. Alexander said that those words were the ones he was looking for. The heaven that he experienced was “an inky darkness that was also full to brimming with light.”

Enigmatic description. As it should be. As it is.

Exodus - from Darkness to Light, from Slavery ...

From Darkness to Light (Photo credit: zeevveez)

I am only 58 pages into the good doctor’s book, but I am fascinated by his journey. It was a journey taken by someone who thought  that everything had a  logical explanation, but to his own satisfaction he proved himself wrong.

Is true bliss not having all the answers and being open to something bigger than ourselves?


1976 edition of The Desiderata of Happiness po...

1976 edition of The Desiderata of Happiness poetry collection (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

I am not sure the universe is unfolding as it should, but I find this prose poem comforting, and I need to be comforted today.  Last night I attended a Christmas Party for my Writers’ Group and one of the members took the time to write this piece of inspiration on a sheet of paper in printing reminiscent of calligraphy and frame it. It now sits on my desk where I can see it and read it at will. I cannot form any more words about the horrific events that took place yesterday and the story that continues to unfold. I hope that this will provide a little refuge, inspiration, and yes, hope for all of us:

                              Desiderata: Desired Things

Go placidly amidst the noise and haste, and remember what peace there may be in silence. As far as possible without surrender be on good terms with all persons. Speak your truth quietly and clearly; and listen to others, even the dull and the ignorant; they too have their story.

Avoid loud and aggressive persons, they are vexatious to the spirit. If you compare yourself with others, you may become vain or bitter; for always there will be greater and lesser persons than yourself.

Enjoy your achievements as well as your plans. Keep interested in your own career, however humble; it is a real possession in the changing fortunes of time.

Exercise caution in your business affairs; for the world is full of trickery. But let this not blind you to what virtue there is; many persons strive for high ideals; and everywhere life is full of heroism.

Be yourself. Especially, do not feign affection. Neither be cynical about love; for in the face of all aridity and disenchantment it is as perennial as the grass.

Take kindly the counsel of the years, gracefully surrendering the things of youth. Nurture strength of spirit to shield you in sudden misfortune. But do not distress yourself with dark imaginings. Many fears are born of fatigue and loneliness.

Beyond a wholesome discipline, be gentle with yourself. You are a child of the universe, no less than the trees and the stars; you have a right to be here.

And whether or not it is clear to you, no doubt the universe is unfolding as it should. Therefore be at peace with God, whatever you conceive Him to be, and whatever your labors and aspirations, in the noisy confusion of life keep peace with your soul. With all its shams, drudgery, and broken dreams, it is still a beautiful world. Be cheerful.

Strive to be happy. ~ Max Ehrman ~ written in 1927

I do not want to be trite; I do not want to deny that an unspeakable thing has happened; I do not want to live in denial. I do know that we have to go on; we have to set aside our trivial worries and realize what is really important. And we need to find some peace. While we may not be able to be cheerful or happy right now–we need to “nurture strength of spirit” to shield us.

I have no idea how the people who have to deal with this first hand will do it, but I do know that we can lend a hand in showing them that we care. Here is the address to the school provided by Robin Coyle. Write some words of compassion, address the envelope, and send it to: Sandy Hook Elementary School, 12 Dickenson Drive, Newtown, CT 06482. We can do something.

Peaceful and Calm

Peaceful and Calm (Photo credit: Striking Photography by Bo Insogna)

~ Monday Musings ~ The Power of Possibility ~


FAITH (Photo credit: cacigar)

Faith is the defeat of probability by the power of possibility.”

I heard a wonderful definition of faith on the Canadian television program “Big Ideas” a few weeks ago. It seems in this sometimes secular age we are not supposed to admit that we have faith in something—but this definition, by a Jewish scholar and Rabbi wrapped it up quite neatly for me. Rabbi Sacks said that “Faith is the defeat of probability by the power of possibility.” I love that. We are capable of believing no matter what our particular belief system is. The Rabbi also said that “nothing interesting is probable.”

The word probable is defined as “appearing to be true or accurate” in “The Thinker’s Thesaurus” by Peter E. Meltzer. My computer’s thesaurus comes up with a few more pithy synonyms for probable, such as: likely, credible, feasible, and plausible. In other words, probable has its feet firmly planted on terra firma, but still wants to hedge its bets.

On the other hand, the word “possibility” does not seem to have hard and fast perimeters. And I have found that wonderful if hackneyed saying “anything is possible” has so many delightful derivatives. Here are just a few, from the wise to the famous to the philosophical:

Anything is possible as long as you have the passion. ~ Guy Forget
Anything is possible in this world. I really believe that. ~Liza Minelli
Here’s proof that if you live long enough, anything is possible. ~ Barry Manilow
Never let life impede on your ability to manifest your dreams. Dig deeper into your dreams and deeper into yourself and believe that anything is possible, and make it happen. ~ Corin Nemec
The best scientist is open to experience and begins with romance – the idea that anything is possible. ~ Ray Bradbury

Try changing the word possible to probable in any of the quotes above, and the meaning is just not the same, and not nearly as inspiring.

Possibility reeks of hope and aspiration with words like: option, opportunity, potential, and leeway, with a little risk and chance thrown in for good measure. You cannot quantify possibility; you just have to believe in it.

My favourite “possible” quote is found in the words of the Dalai Lama ~ “Be kind whenever possible. It is always possible.”

Do you believe in the probable or the possible? Is faith the defeat of probability over possibility?

~ 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”?

UNIVERSE ~ Wakey, Wakey!

Aladdin (1992 Disney film)

Aladdin (1992 Disney film) (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Okay, Universe, listen up. I am supposed to send out positive messages to you, and in response you are supposed to grant me my every wish. Like a Genie or something. A big blue Genie—like the one in the movie Aladdin with Robin William’s voice.

So what happened here? Who broke the rules? I am sending all this positive energy to you, and what am I getting back? You say I am supposed to be patient. Get in line? That there are millions of positive messages out there, and while mine is important to you, I will just have to listen to the music and wait?

Cover of "Secret of the Ages"

Cover of Secret of the Ages

I have read “The Secret”. I am currently reading “The Secret of the Ages” which claims to be “The Master Code to Abundance and Achievement” written by Robert Collier and originally published in 1925. The language is a bit stunted but the message is the same. The blurb at the front of the book says “The time you put in aimlessly dreaming and wishing would accomplish marvels if it were concentrated on one definite object.”

It is obvious to me that I must concentrate on the wrong things. Truly, I want security and peace and wonderful things in my life, and while they seem to come in dribs and drabs, I want {without seeming too greedy here} a bit more than sustenance.

Seriously, Jack Canfield, what am I doing wrong? Maybe part of my problem is that  I do not follow directions well. In Collier’s book, he says that for happiness you should use these words to affirm your right to it by saying: “The joy is brighter than the sun at noonday and Thy Ways of expressing that Joy as countless as the sunbeams that shine upon our path.”

I do not generally walk around making flowery affirmations that I do not quite get. So, if I understand what Collier is saying, joy abounds and all I have to do is capture a few sunbeams?

It is obvious from my reading of Collier’s book that he is a religious man with fervour for his beliefs. He believes in letting the Big Guy take care of us. Now, I sort of do too, though sometimes I think the Big Guy could be a Big Gal—but that is a discussion for another place and time (I am just not sure what place and time.)

Meanwhile, I am not going to give up. I will persevere and stay on “hold”. I will not hang up–I don’t want to lose my place in line.