Walk in the near wild


The book said take a walk in nature, centred, open, considering, look and see what is the divine grace in that wild place.

The middle of a dull warm snap here and snow is melting mush so I went to the most clear pathway I could find that winds through a small marsh not far from my home. The gates were locked to cars. The pathway was clear of snow. I began to walk and look. Asking what does this mean? Asking what does this mean for me?

I saw Osprey’s nest, high on the sport’s field flood lights. A platform built for her safety, I suppose, but not quiet and away, close in and loud in seasons of stiff competition on the pitch, and I wondered why wildness might choose this tamed space…

I saw a Mallard pair, in a ditch of melted runoff, making their way carefully through a fallen tree’s gauntlet of downed branches. Where there appeared to be no way through, they find space enough and carry on down the waterway…

I saw what used to be 18 holes of mini golf, now stockpiled here and there with junk and overgrown with weeds and small shrubs and the sound of birds who forage and find shelter in the convergence of cast away and redemptive things…

I was frustrated somewhat by 2 large dump trucks, the sound of their revving engines, the road adjacent to my cleared walkway where they worked with loads of soil, beeping, passing too close. My ideal vs reality, finding a simple path in the midst of complexity, messiness, noise, real life. Both, and…

The air was warm. A sense of being apart, yet part of something. I breathed in the fresh air, stretched my underworked muscles, said hello to a couple of humans and their dog who walked by. I kept looking all the way back to my car. I kept asking…

What is language? What is this craving for our experience to mean something that then requires articulation? What if it is only for us? What if it does not require mere words?

A walk in the near wild…nearer to…

Graces, gifts and gratitude

Barrack Building 225, Fort Worden State Park, Port Townsend, Washington

For those who have just joined me in this experience of seeing gifts in every moment, along the way, as we wait, as we struggle suddenly overcome with blind eyes, I thought it might be helpful to share what began with a single step. It was a book. Ann Voskamp’s book, “One Thousand Gifts” that I picked up one day at Chapters, and then a confirmed thought process, a prompting, a nudging of the spirit, and then the journey beginning and spreading out before me this eucharisteo, this thankfulness for what is set before me when I have eyes to see.

So please consider how the naming of life’s gifts might be something worthy of time and space in each of our lives, and might carry within it the potential to change us from beggars into those overwhelmed by a feast of grace. Here is the blog post where it all began for me… my naming one thousand gifts. That was my start, and although I can’t always document each gift as it happens, I’ve chosen to name many of the gifts here on this blog as a reminder… mostly to me. I hope you join me… and if you do, please let me know… share your list. You are most welcome to do that.

And, if you have the opportunity to pick up and read Ann’s extraordinary book, please do it!



So my list continues:

263. a long journey with a new friend

264. finding your tribe

265. expressing what is risky and beautiful

266. healing through creative expression of a thought, or two, or three

267. fog over sea, first light

268. the long call of a fog horn for safe passage

269. being on the water

270. historic buildings and used book stores

271. a phonecall home, the sound of voices you love

272. scars

273. a bench of your own in a quiet place

274. patriotism

275. listening and learning

276. new ideas

277. new people

278. the sense of place unique to every place

279 – 294. gifts captured in photographs

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Sunday Soliloquy

Luke 2:1-20  – from “The Message”

The Birth of Jesus

1-5About that time Caesar Augustus ordered a census to be taken throughout the Empire. This was the first census when Quirinius was governor of Syria. Everyone had to travel to his own ancestral hometown to be accounted for. So Joseph went from the Galilean town of Nazareth up to Bethlehem in Judah, David’s town, for the census. As a descendant of David, he had to go there. He went with Mary, his fiancée, who was pregnant.

6-7While they were there, the time came for her to give birth. She gave birth to a son, her firstborn. She wrapped him in a blanket and laid him in a manger, because there was no room in the hostel.

An Event for Everyone

8-12There were sheepherders camping in the neighborhood. They had set night watches over their sheep. Suddenly, God’s angel stood among them and God’s glory blazed around them. They were terrified. The angel said, “Don’t be afraid. I’m here to announce a great and joyful event that is meant for everybody, worldwide: A Savior has just been born in David’s town, a Savior who is Messiah and Master. This is what you’re to look for: a baby wrapped in a blanket and lying in a manger.”

13-14At once the angel was joined by a huge angelic choir singing God’s praises:

Glory to God in the heavenly heights,
Peace to all men and women on earth who please him.

15-18As the angel choir withdrew into heaven, the sheepherders talked it over. “Let’s get over to Bethlehem as fast as we can and see for ourselves what God has revealed to us.” They left, running, and found Mary and Joseph, and the baby lying in the manger. Seeing was believing. They told everyone they met what the angels had said about this child. All who heard the sheepherders were impressed.

19-20Mary kept all these things to herself, holding them dear, deep within herself. The sheepherders returned and let loose, glorifying and praising God for everything they had heard and seen. It turned out exactly the way they’d been told!

Mid-week Random Ramble010

Chapman as King Arthur in Holy Grail

Image via Wikipedia

Gosh, it’s becoming increasingly difficult to ramble these last few days. Seems most conversations have been purposeful and needed, and I’m growing a little weary from the weight of those. So, here’s my opportunity to just open up the top of my skull (remember Monty Python?) and let whatever is in there come dancing out!

1. Don’t you love Monty Python? Watching the ‘Quest’ with my kids is hilarious… listening to them repeat dialogue back is even funnier!

“We’re knights of the Round Table, we dance whene’er we’re able. We do routines and chorus scenes with footwork impec-cable, We dine well here in Camelot, we eat ham and jam and Spam a lot……”

2. Planning the AfterGrad/DryGrad celebration for our eldest son’s grad class. The intent is to provide these young people with a safe and fun alternate to drinking and carousing and hurting themselves. Considering our son attends a Christian School, you’d think there might not be a problem in this regard. Yet, we still have our challenges. AfterGrad is going to be SO MUCH FUN! The planning is a busy, busy undertaking, but so worth it!

Yes, I am living with an almost graduated young man who used to be, only yesterday, riding a tricycle, dropping cheerios off the side of his highchair for the dog, pushing his pop pop lawnmower around the living room, and taking long mid-day naps. How did this happen… this rushing past of years and memories and now we’re at a place where we are looking at letting him go… where, I’m not certain, and neither is he yet. But the time will come when he will wave goodbye from the dorm door, or from the car window, or as he disappears through the security check-in at the airport, and he’ll be transported into the beginnings of his own independent future. I’m going to miss him so much.

3. Thanksgiving Weekend is upon us. My daughter asked me yesterday what the roots of Thanksgiving were. I explained as best I could, but thought maybe a refresher might be in order, both for me and my daughter, but maybe we all need reminding sometimes? Here’s what Wikipedia offers up;

The history of Thanksgiving in Canada goes back to an explorer, Martin Frobisher, who had been trying to find a northern passage to the Pacific Ocean. Frobisher’s Thanksgiving was not for harvest but homecoming. He had safely returned from a search for the Northwest Passage, avoiding the later fate of Henry Hudson and Sir John Franklin. In the year 1578, he held a formal ceremony in Newfoundland to give thanks for surviving the long journey.[2] French settlers who came to New France with explorer Samuel de Champlain in the early 1600s also took to celebrating their successful harvests. They even shared their food with the indigenous people of the area as well as setting up what became known as the “Order of Good Cheer.”[3] As many more settlers arrived in Canada, more celebrations of good harvest became common. New immigrants into the country, such as the Irish, Scottish, Germans would also add their own harvest traditions to the harvest celebrations. Most of the American aspects of Thanksgiving (such as the turkey) were incorporated when United Empire Loyalists began to flee from the United States during the American Revolution and settled in Canada.[3]

Don’t know about you, but my Thanksgiving is also about giving thanks. We take the time to acknowledge that all we have, our health, our finances, our things, our food and shelter… all that we have is from God. It’s not Thanksgiving without verbalizing our thanks to one another. We certainly savour, and are thankful for, Turkey and the fixings, and we decorate our home with beautiful offerings of Fall including coloured leaves, Indian corn, pumpkins and squash (horn of plenty type things) and we’ve even added a few little touches of our own. My daughter reminded me of one yesterday. She wants to do it again this year… so that sounds like a tradition has begun.

Last year I provided a hand turned wooden bowl filled with pencils and little pieces of paper, and placed it on our table the week before Thanksgiving. During the course of the week, everyone was given the opportunity to write down what they were thankful for on the papers. As many or as few as they liked. Then, during our Thanksgiving dinner, we took turns reading out loud what everyone had written down. It was funny, poignant at times, and good for our souls.

I’ll have to prepare the bowl today.

4. If you are a dog owner you probably know that chocolate is not good for dogs. Our old pal Buddy spent one lousy night on the laundry room floor, with me beside him, after scarfing down several boxes of Belgian Chocolates… a fundraiser at our kids school run amuck in our home!

Anyhoo, turns out chocolate is not the only food enemy of dogs… just found out that Turkey can have dire effects on our best loved friends. According to my dog trainer and supported by this article, offering large quantities of turkey to your dog, or treating him to the turkey skin this Thanksgiving, might just result in a visit to the vet and a big bill! Thanks for that tip, Liz Corgan, Emmy will be sticking with kibble!

5. And finally, I’m reminded of my personal Thanksgiving tradition. Every October I print off copies of a short story I wrote several years ago. Then I hand deliver them to people I know, neighbours, acquaintances, whomever comes to mind. It’s my way to sharing my heart of thanks with others. This then is my Thanksgiving gift to you.

October Valentine

She walked briskly along the path, unsure of what had brought her there this morning after so many months.  Yet, she had known when she left the house this morning, and had left a note on the counter saying where she was.  The sun was shining brightly, illuminating the fall leaves on the trees and enveloping her in colour.  The dog walked ahead of her, pulling on the leash.

She hummed as she walked, and then began singing.  Once in awhile someone would pass by, and she stopped singing until they were just out of earshot.  She sang and felt the sun on her face, the fresh air in her lungs, and an overall feeling of well-being.  And she thought to herself, “You are here God”.

Taking in the details of the trees around her, she began to admire the contrasting colours of the leaves more closely.  And as she turned back to retrace her steps to the car, she stopped to pick a red leaf off a shrub.  Then she reached down to pick up a yellow leaf from the ground, then another and another.  There were so many pretty leaves to choose from, and before long she had a leaf bouquet in her gloved hand.

It was then that she noticed the shape of the leaf;  a heart shape.  And, at that very moment, God chose to speak into her heart;

“I love you.  I love you.  I am here and I love you.”

She stood still, looking at all the leaves.  The heart-shaped leaves were everywhere, some still hanging from the trees above her, while others created a beautiful carpet under her feet.  She smiled.  It was simple and profound and personal, and she wanted to share it with her friends.

She collected more leaves and continued to walk, admiring the trees full of hearts and considering the depth of God’s love for her.  She realized now that the trees were poplars… fast growing weedy trees that, by some, were considered to be ‘garbage trees’.  Not highly valued, poplar trees were often planted first and then cut down when they were no longer needed.  And God chose those trees to display his love to her.  Not the mighty oak or the stately maple, but the humble, overlooked and often disposable poplar.

Armed with her leaves and God’s message of love, she drove home.

(Photographic illustration borrowed with thanks from here)

Peace, at last.

Rest in peace my beautiful boy. I will miss you and all you have done to enrich my life. Some day we will walk again on streets of gold.

I love you, Buddy.


B U D D Y   E V A N S

Adopted home to live with us Thanksgiving 2005, at approximately 5 yrs of age.

Cancer took him from us far too soon, April 15, 2010

Indie, Slam and getting real

I’m feeling somewhat older these days. And it’s not just because of the way my face has transformed, my body morphed, and my energy levels declined … but it’s this feeling of a lack of connection to what’s happening ‘out there’ in so many ways. I used to feel ‘with it’, and I liked that. But, maybe I can find ‘with it’ again?

Yesterday I had a brief conversation with a promising young musician and family connection, and I was excited to spend a few minutes in the company of someone with abundant energy and zest and desire to experience life to the full. Because I still want that too… no matter my age… the last thing I want to do is to give up and become morbidly out of touch. So, thank God for the young people in my life that remind me of what it means to be relevant and real, and who keep me apprised of how things are, no matter how shocking that can be sometimes.

So this beautiful young woman and I were talking music… her passion… and she referred to ‘Indie’ music. I immediately thought of ‘Bollywood’ (film industry of India) and wrongly assumed she meant music with eastern references and overtones. The more she talked, the more I recognized how wrong my assumption was, so I swallowed my pride and asked, “What is Indie?” She was happy to explain that it meant ‘Independent’ music… sounds and voices and lyrics and an overall uniqueness that doesn’t fall within the norm of pop music. “Oh, I said… like Alternative music?” “Sort of,” she said, and then she cued up a couple of songs on her ipod and handed me the ear bud while explaining why this particular musician was Indie and so on.

I felt so privileged to have her explain this to me. And once I listened and she talked some more I began to recognize what she meant. Then I offered up some examples of my music (from the dark ages) that I considered to be ‘Indie’ and offered her my CD’s to listen to. She seemed enthusiastic about that too. So, thank you to that particular young woman and all the young people who aren’t embarrased by older people like me who are interested in understanding their world. And maybe it ‘s a world that I can participate in too?

Like Poetry Slams… for example. Fairly new to me, not new to today’s kids. Spoken Word recently came into the world’s eye when 34 year old Shane Koyczan from Penticton B.C. spoke his amazing poem about BC at the 2010 Winter Olympics opening ceremonies in Vancouver. The world paused in awe and listened to this talented guy speak a poem that was anything but pretentious or out of reach or what many remember poetry being from stuffy english high school classes in the past. His words were real, raw, funny, delivered in a funky hip hop beat type of way that made us pay attention. Wow. I loved it. And I’m now finding out more about this genre and what it means socially as well as to the literary world.

So, I went to a Black History Month event at the public library where slam poet Kevan Cameron a.k.a. “Scruffmouth.” (Grand Champion of the 2008 Vancouver Poetry Slam) delivered a few poems that rivited me to my stacking chair. Followed by a reading by Governor-General Award winner Dr. George Elliott-Clarke that cut into my guts with it’s honesty and content with words that mattered. Dr. Elliott-Clarke is maybe not young, but he speaks like he is.

Again, I’m thankful for the kids, and those young at heart, that are out there changing things up in their own way, and making us sit up and pay attention. So much talent, so much passion. I would count myself blessed to sit and listen… a fly on the wall… when they speak.

Reminds me of a video I watched once at a women’s conference when I was just beginning to believe I might possibly be a writer deep inside… perhaps a poet even… and I was so overcome with emotion because of the words and delivery of this young woman’s spoken word poetry, that I stood up and said, “I want to write like her!!!” Amena Brown throws down words in a way that hits me in the gut and squeezes my heart in response to things that I’ve felt but never put into words.  Passion is contageous, isn’t it! Idealistic, untried, loud, lusty passion from the heart of the young. Do you remember what that felt like? Have you heard it lately? Here’s Amena;

I think I need to pay more attention to the kids in my circle, what they are reading, listening to, saying, singing, what they are passionate about. I need to be an explorer in their world in order to not grow old in mine. I think it might be one way to stay young, on the inside.

So I leave you with a song I know because of my son who introduced me to this artist this year. She’s young (30), and incredibly talented. I’ve not heard many vocalists who can do the things she does with her voice. Amazing.

Can you feel it???

Regina Spektor , singing “Dance anthem of the 80’s ”

It’s another Donna day!!!

I’m excited to welcome my friend Donna Lowe back to Buddy Breathing today as she continues to blog with me on forgiveness. I’m amazed at Donna’s ability to take difficult concepts and make them real and directly applicable to my life. Thank you for being here Donna, and for sharing your heart for God and others.

Guest blogger, Donna Lowe

Forgiveness. Have you opened your gift?

In my last blog, Understanding Forgiveness: Part One, we caught a glimpse of God’s “Abundant Pardon” toward us. To summarize, there is nothing you have ever done, nothing you are currently doing, nothing you ever will do, that God cannot forgive.

Though God’s mercy is abundant, forgiveness is a transaction. In an ordinary business deal, a transaction is complete when payment is made in exchange for the delivery of goods. It is the same with forgiveness. Jesus paid the price. He died on the cross so that you could be forgiven and reconciled with God. However, you must receive that forgiveness or the transaction is incomplete.

In my senior high school years, I had a special friend. I wanted to do something really significant for him. I decided to buy a gift for his birthday. I knew the gift had to be something useful, but I also wanted the gift to absolutely “wow” him. I wanted this gift to be something he would never have the means to acquire for himself.

I had no money, but I did have a part-time job. I asked my boss if I could work extra hours on evenings and weekends. My boss agreed, and for the next twelve months I worked as often as I could. In addition, I saved my birthday money, and any extra cash that came my way.

I spent all my free time window shopping and pouring over catalogues, trying to decide on a suitable gift. Near the end of the year I found what I considered to be the perfect gift. It was a power tool. I don’t think I have ever been so excited about buying a gift for anyone. I was ridiculously giddy as I made my purchase.

Long story short, I wrapped the gift in beautiful paper, planned a special dinner, invited guests and carefully thought out what I would say when I gave the gift to him. For months I had been imagining the look on his face, as he opened my special gift. Now the time was finally here. I was shocked, no, devastated by what happened next. When he opened the gift, he showed no signs of enthusiasm. He was completely apathetic. The gift remained at my house, in the half opened box, with the wrapping torn to shreds. Eventually I gave the gift to someone else. I guess he was not able to see the value of the gift.

His response however, did not negate the facts.

That gift cost me a lot more than cash. It was bought and paid for, even though he never took it out of the box. The gift was meant for a specific purpose. It was supposed to benefit him, and if used as it was intended, it could have brought him and many others, great joy.

Sadly, as the gift remained in the box it was rendered useless!

I cannot help but see the parallel between my story, and God’s. The gift God gave us, was far more valuable than the one I chose to give my friend. Forgiveness came at a great personal cost and extreme sacrifice. It came beautifully wrapped in precious human frailty, which was later torn to shreds. Regardless of our response to it, the gift of forgiveness for our sins has been bought and paid for. It’s up to us whether we take it out of the box or not.

For many of us who call ourselves “Christians,” we have often received the gift of God’s forgiveness with apathy or total rejection! It’s apathy when we lack joy in our lives and do not praise God continually for what Jesus did for us, regardless of our circumstances.

It is rejection, when our lives remain unchanged by the power of His forgiveness. In speaking about the times to come, Paul describes such people to Timothy in this way, “men will be lovers of self, lovers of money, boastful, arrogant, ungrateful, haters of good, …..reckless, conceited, lovers of pleasure, rather than God. These people have a form of godliness, (think – church goers, professing to be followers of Jesus) although they have denied it’s power” (those church goers remain unforgiving, unloving, exactly as they were before they met Jesus.) 2 Timothy 3:2-5.

When we are apathetic, or reject God’s forgiveness, we are rendered ineffective, because Christianity hinges on the power of forgiveness.

The transaction of forgiveness is made complete with the indwelling of the Holy Spirit, God’s ultimate power tool. When the Holy Spirit lives in us we have all the power we need to live completely different lives. The Holy Spirit enables us to live in obedience to God’s Word, no longer chained to our former thoughts and bad habits. Along with forgiveness, we receive both understanding of who God is, and reconciliation with Him. Forgiveness brings great joy and eternal life, to anyone who accepts it.

So what about you? Have you taken the gift of forgiveness out of the box? Are you walking in obedience, leaving behind your former ways? Have you noticed an increased desire to praise God, regardless of your circumstances? Do have the joy of Christ in you?

You can’t give something away unless you have it to give. Forgiveness is a gift that is meant to be passed on. In my next blog I will begin defining the steps of forgiving others. For now, I hope you will spend some time with God, making sure you understand the value of His gift to you.

Aleichem Shalom


Good things

Remember Martha Stewart and her magazine, Martha Stewart Living? Before the turmoil in her life, the prison days, the fall from grace? Well, I had a subscription to the magazine for a year once, and I loved it, its graphic design, and the contents of beautiful ideas to make my life a more manageable and attractive thing, really clicked with me.

One feature was called ‘Good Things’, highlighting a series of items that had the potential to make life ‘good’. Helpful cleaning items, organizational gadgets, pretty things, unique inventions for the happy homemaker in all of us. I enjoyed that feature, encouraged by all the good things I could do to make my life better, all the good things I could buy to organize my life, all the good ways to further control it.

Well this past week has been full of many things, not many good, and most completely outside my control. Funny how things can pile up like situational clutter. As I mentioned in ‘comments’ on my last blog posting here, I was unable to access this blog or any of my writing for a few days because the hard drive on my desktop computer is ‘failing’. YIKES… not so good when you haven’t been a faithful backer-upper of your work. A new computer is on the horizon, and I’m praying that all the data on my old one is retrievable. And you already know about the dog being sick, and perhaps even about the struggles of my current stage of life if you’ve followed me here from Sometimes Suicidal Mama.

In any event, this past few days has been a struggle. And, when I followed the dog outside for the hundredth time to assess his bowel movements, I was not hopeful. As a matter of fact it seems that my mood has been directly connected to the dogs’ bowels. That sounds pretty pathetic when I read it back to myself, but it’s the truth. So, I followed Buddy outside, and much to my amazement, he pooped! Not a fire-hose diarrhea type poop like he has had since November, but a nicely formed ‘stool’. I ran inside to tell the kids. I phoned the vet’s office to tell them. And when my husband came in the door at the end of the day, I greeted him with, “Guess what? Buddy had a good poop!”

I suddenly realized that even poop can be a ‘good thing’. Certainly not something to publish in a blog magazine, but, in this case, better than the newest organizational tool or pretty thing. This good thing pointed to Buddy’s life getting better and my life getting better, and it was completely outside of my control or my influence. Sure it was a result of the latest drugs that the vet had put Buddy on, but the effect of the drugs on his body is not within my ability to control. Which is why, in part, it is wonderful. When I control things, are they really good, or blessed, or just the natural outcome of me forcing my way? When a truly good thing comes my way, I recognize that it is a gift.

Any good things in your life lately? Did they come about because of you or in spite of you altogether?

The sun just broke through the clouds… one more ‘good thing’.