Possible, probable, or mystery?

DSC_0184I received a letter today after receiving a phone message from a stranger. She told me that she had a letter addressed to me from an address I last lived at in 1999. The woman now owns and rents out the cute old house we used to live in, and the letter…the letter…

I went by her house today and picked up the letter. She told me beforehand that she had opened it, by mistake, was just busy and didn’t read the name before tearing into it. She apologized. The letter was taped closed.

I went back out to the car, looked at the airmail envelope and the value of the stamp and noticed no return address. I thought how it’s been some time since postage in Canada was 43 cents. I drove away, pulled into the parking lot at the grocery store, and opened the letter.

Two pages, typewritten, and hand signed. I read the words slowly. I read them again, noting the telltale signs of time of writing. “seeing photos of you and Bob and your wee lad” and “He has given you one of the greatest of all blessings, a dear wee son…” and further on “God bless you – all three”. We are “five” now and have been a family of five since 1996 when our second son was born.

Just now I google stamps in Canada 1996 and see…45 cents

And a little more digging around and I see the stamp…issued for 43 cents, December 30, 1992.

The letter is dated June 15, without a year noted. But our wee son was born in May, 1993, so it could be from June 1993, or a stamp saved and used in June 1994, or June 1995…because by June 1996, we were a family of four.

Could this letter have been in transit for 20 plus years? Is this even possible?

Could I have received the letter while still living at the old house and left it behind when we moved? I can’t recall having read it before, but sometimes I have trouble recalling my PIN! Probable, I suppose, but why would multiple owners of the old house, and multiple tenants save this letter over and over again rather than recycling it?

What am I to think? What does it mean?

An old family friend, a mentor all those years ago, the writer of the letter is long passed from my life and from this world. I wonder how many years he has been gone now? I text my brothers and ask them.

What is it he had to say over 2 decades ago that I am to pay attention to now?

And so I will sit with the letter, and ponder the question… what is it God, that you would have me see?

And at the same time, shivers that this is happening…and the memories of that time…the people…a reminder of someone good, kind, and gentle who took the time to write a letter.

This is just a wee note to renew acquaintances, for I so well remember you…

Sincerely, in Him,


Naming one thousand gifts… day 2

9. eldest son leaving to work on the farmer’s market.

10. the rain bringing subdued start to a day of remembering.

11. french press coffee with milk and sugar.

12. that we can celebrate a life, remember love.

13. linen tablecloths set out.

14. how each morning brings mercy, renewed focus.

15. God leads and draws and understands.

English: Sign at the Sonoma Farmer's Market, S...

English: Sign at the Sonoma Farmer’s Market, Sonoma, California (Photo credit: Wikipedia)



I do remember…

My Grandfather’s father, Sgt. James Hislop Cook, A Company, 20th Battalion, Canadian Expeditionary Force. 1914 – 1919. Photo taken in 1918.

Note the insignia on his lower left sleeve.

CROSSED RIFLES: The crossed rifles identify him as a Marksman. This qualification entitled men to an extra allowance, which was welcome for poorly paid soldiers. Marksmanship qualifications had to be re-earned every year.

THREE STRIPES: These stripes are commonly known as “wound stripes”, and are rewarded each time a soldier is wounded in combat.

Thanks to my brother Joel for the use of these family photos and the explanations of their meaning.

February 14, 1916. (Valentine’s Day)
Dearest Sweet,
Just another card to your collection. Hope to find yourself in best of health as this leaves me well and looking forward to being with you very soon now – kindly Geo [his brother, George, also a soldier] was asking after you all, best wishes to the barnes [children] and not forgetting my wiffie, lots of love from your own husband Jim
’till we meet again lovy

A craving worth feeding…

It always takes time, it always feels slightly self-indulgent, yet I feel it is always necessary. While we might somehow hold to the idea that life is mostly about joy and activity and community and passion and purpose and moving forward, it is also about taking the time to to embrace loss and sadness, and to choose the place of silence and solitude for a time. As the good book says, there’s a time for everything under the sun.

I would like to suggest that without fully engaging in the difficult and sometimes awkward practice of inward focus, we might be living a life that is skimming the surface, and missing the deeper things that make life meaningful.

Now I readily accept the differences of personality types, the predisposed bent of the sanguine vs. the melancholy. But what I’m talking about is not that, rather it’s about choosing to slow down, unplug, disengage from regular life, to discover who you really are on the inside, and what your place is in this world.

I’m sure you’ve all experienced what it’s like to be on vacation and feel (around the third day) the release that comes from stepping off the tread mill of life. If you are a parent, just being away for the weekend with your spouse is exhilarating, as suddenly there is no child based conflict, no set meal times, no reason to not stay in bed late. Even if you are on a family vacation, there’s a freedom that comes from an open schedule and room for each other (especially if you leave the electronics at home). Or, you may have experienced a particularly lovely Sunday afternoon, where you are outside digging in the garden, and you suddenly become aware of birds singing and a feeling of peace overtakes you?

Our souls crave this type of time ‘apart’. Whether it’s for introspection or prayer, for remembrance, to work through feelings of anger or grief or forgiveness, to re-establish our purpose, or to fire up our passion again, a healthy part of living an active productive life is to honour our inner life too. And that takes time and consistency, and courage.

In the Jewish tradition, this practice is called Sabbath rest. In the Christian community, it takes the form of solitude or silence for the purposes of making space for God. For you it might be a hike in the woods, or a walk along a beach, or to journal your thoughts and prayers. Or, it could be something else. Like listening to a story on the radio.

I was listening to ‘Vinyl Cafe’ on my way home from dropping off the kids today, and it occurred to me that this particular story illustrates my point very well. So, if you have 23:03 minutes on this Sunday afternoon, I hope you can listen in. Usually Stewart McLean is very funny… this time, well, he is not. It’s a poignant story about slowing down, remembering, listening, and honour.

It’s called, ‘Remembrance Day’.

(I’m sorry to say, that until I can work through the technology to share ‘Remembrance Day’ with you here, I will have to ask you to google it, or visit your local library or book/music store. It’s available in a collection of stories called ‘The Vinyl Cafe – Storyland’.)

Peace, out.