Tuesday, November 25, 2008

kilograms and pounds

Tonight I went to the "you're not allowed to leave until you spend at least $150" store.

I bought several gigantic things. See?!

Yes, that's 2 kilograms of chocolate chips
and the same amount of coconut

What will I do with 8.8 pounds of chocolate and coconut?
I will singlehandedly make it all disappear!
shocking but true.

yeah. . its that time,
Christmas baking time!!!

Thursday, November 20, 2008

help me. .

Rob and I went to see "Great Big Sea" last night. What an amazing show they put on. We're pretty partial to their unique sound. They straddle the time-honoured shanty, ballad, sea song world of their beloved Newfoundland and the right now world, with honest, straight up lyrics and engaging, catchy tunes. They pretty much hosted a huge 'kitchen party', with fiddles, concertinas, dobros, tin whistles, guitars, drums and a jumping, stomping, full to the doors crowd.

Usually when there's a big event at concert halls, arenas, etc. you'll see the homeless or the desperate for money.
Last night was no exception.
The crowd was streaming outdoors. . we were in it, doing the 'shuffle', you know that one we all do when in a big pack of people trying to funnel out too few exits?
We finally got out the door and turned right to go towards the underground parking.
That's when I saw him.
Sitting on the freezing cold, snowy sidewalk.
Dirty and thin.
Grimy khaki ballcap on his head.
Dressed in not warm enough layers.
Looking down,
cardboard sign in his lap:
"Cold, hungry. . please help me. God Bless."
People passed him, laughing and talking, buzzing from the concert.
He sat invisibly on the sidewalk
nobody noticed him,
he looked at no one.
My heart felt a stab, but i walked past with the crowd.
My head started with the rationalization - 'he's just working the situation'
'he's probably gonna spend any money he gets on something he shouldn't'
'you don't have any cash on you'.
Heart prevailed, foolish maybe, there are always maybes that come to mind. . but i pushed them away.
Rob gave me a few bucks, cuz I had no money.
I walked up to him. He looked up at me with dark eyes and said hello.
He looked tired.
I handed him the money and said that I hope it helps a little bit.
I asked him where he was living.
He told me "Under the bridge".
hard, frozen ground and snow.
I don't even know.

I asked him if there was any place he could go to get out of the weather.
He shook his head no. . and looked up at me and said: "Last night was hard. . it was so cold."
He held up his palm with the money in it and said "God bless you, thank you. "
I could only blurt out "God bless you too. .I hope you can find some shelter."
My words seemed all stupid and useless.
That piddling token will disappear with one trip to the coffee shop.
I know he's out under that bridge right now in this -5 degree night.

". . .is anybody listening...?
love is kneeling - above the broken body the ever-upturned face
love is missing - all the words are broken, help me, i cannot find my way,
no i can't
love is streaming - streaming with the tears that we cannot seem to shed
love is frozen - frozen in the figure they just pulled from the subway grate
love is burning - burning with the anger that we all feel, against which we
our faces pressed into the lap of loneliness, come on love
will you sail 'cross the water and lay your wisdom down?"

Jane Sibbery -- "Sail Across the Water"

Sunday, November 16, 2008

weakness is strength??

we're born weak and usually die the same way.
We begin with weakness, utter dependence, we build and build our strength, independence. We grow. We may experience many dips and climb back up out of them somewhere in the middle there. . but finally we taper off once more, declining,waning,losing all that we had worked had to gain,
making it all seem like an illusion
which in a big way it is.

I remember back, feeling so proud to be a 'big girl'... riding a two wheeler, swimming and skating on my own, crossing the street without an adult. I was so impatient to grow up, be older and stronger, be taken seriously. I have this memory of flexing my bicep to my dad, saying "Look how strong I am, Daddy!". He poked the muscle and jokingly said: "That's just a sparrow's kneecap, kiddo." I remember being mightily offended. I thought I was so strong. He knew otherwise. As life progressed i went on to bigger and better things like having my own library card, taking the bus, using the stove by myself *and setting the oven mitts on fire*!getting my first babysitting job, my first Royal Bank of Canada, "Leo the Lion" account, learning to drive, choosing courses at school. .

We all feel that same hurry to grow up, be older, be independent, live on our own. Proper thing too. The alternative is unnatural. To stay dependent is not right. Independence is our much desired goal. . and well along on the way to meeting that goal, most of us easily fall prey to the notion that we have accumulated lots of knowledge. This exposes us to the danger of unteachability. We set up like cement. We've arrived. We're strong. We have a stockpile of mantras and dictums and we believe most of them... make it happen, believe and achieve, good better best, never let it rest, upwardly mobile, only the strong survive, what doesn't kill us only makes us stronger. .these help us to climb. . but just when you think we've arrived, there's a sudden encounter with weakness.


You're very sick.

You've had surgery.

You've received terrible news.

Your health is under attack.

You've lost your job.

Your marriage is on the ropes.

Your best friend is dying.

All your strength. Where is it?
You feel as weak as a kitten.
You are weak.
But you're supposed to be strong. This wasn't in the plan.
This is too much.
Can't do it. .
faced with weakness,
the illusion of control is gone
your strength had convinced you that you strength was all
but weakness is here to teach you that your strength is not all.
Not even close.
When weakness comes to you, it is very often your maker telling you:
"My gracious favour is all you need. My power works best in your weakness."
I think the only times he can get our attention is when we are helpless,
like babies.
We've all been conditioned in order to survive. . get strength, be strong, keep strength.
Like a child who tells their grown up: "No! I want to do it myself!"
Like we tell each other "Thank you, but no, I can manage."
Like we tell him, "I've got this."
When we really don't and we can't.

This is why weakness comes, to punch holes in our resolve and stoicism.
and let us feel vulnerable.
and let us rely on someone.
our cleverness is a trap
our bravado is a cloak full of holes
and friends may pull away,
then we are privileged to know
that there is but one to rely on,
who helps us gain knowledge,
reverse knowledge,
paradoxical knowledge of the purest kind.
that our strength is an illusion
that punched full of enough holes, and empty of our reserve,
we are finally able to receive the pure light of his strength.
It exceeds our capacity to contain it.
Here, in abject weakness, full of holes,
we shine.
the paradox is revealed
and we understand just a little bit
that living on his borrowed strength
is how we are healed

Thursday, November 06, 2008

a little music and introspection never hurt anyone

I'm enjoying some music listening tonight. . starting off with "My Last Amen" by downhere. ". . . I could swear I have two hearts, one to stay, one to depart the sad, tragic kingdom. and it burns me down to the core because I know there's so much more, its just a pale reflection. And it keeps me wanting that mysterious thing,like an outcast waiting to be loved." This genius song haunts and lifts me. "Somewhere in the grand design its good to be unsatisfied. It keeps the faith and hope a little more alive. . ." and i find this song to be such a great fit with my thoughts at this moment. . I'm happy and alone.

I'm sitting in the front room on the couch, lights out - ipod screen glowing.
I'm looking out the picture window. . .and i'm seeing a falling star! its flaring all silver, streaking downwards, making me feel more alive as it dies. . . i feel like a kid! Its like God is saying "Look!". I know the scientific explanation for this phenomenon, but i prefer to see it with awe. Awe is so undervalued, underexperienced.

Each day this week i have wanted so much to escape the confines of hallways, fluorescent lighting and offices.
Weather has been glorious and warm for November, such a beautiful aberration.
Remaining inside and at the desk felt almost impossible. . . the river was calling to be canoed and my bike spoke to me from the shed at home, i heard it say it was lonely.
My fading tan was whispering: "Sun, i need it, i'm dying."
The ringing phone, the crowded task bar on my computer and all things tediously urgent and pressing held me fast and nearly against my will.
I've been so restless.

In the hospital halls where for a quarter century i have walked and worked and tried to keep the balance as a community member, an employee, a some time patient, a co-worker, being taught, teaching, feeling inadequate,capable, hassled, humbled. I have met and gotten to know and said goodbye to so many people - but i feel the imprint of them all within myself and this presses and holds me equally fast and in total willingness to stay, to do more than just ricochet off of each other. . to see each other. Restless to go past the surface.

I've realized that much of living is about feeling restless in some way or another. .

Restless for change. . (but afraid of how it might look or feel)

Restless for honesty - but if everyone was honest, could i handle that?

More often for me I feel restless in my spirit. . i don't mean my soul. . my emotions and will, they're so contrary, I can't go by them.
Sometimes I think i had a little flash of insight, i see that there's more, I know that I'm not made to be shallow. . and I long for the depths,
i can almost hear him say to me: "You're so close, don't be satisfied with less. . come on!"
but just as quickly, like a little child looking at something else that catches her fancy, i turn and break the connection, never completely because I'm drawn, always.

". . .And it burns me down to the core because I know there's so much more, its just a pale reflection. And it keeps me wanting that mysterious thing,like an outcast waiting to be loved." Thanx, downhere, your words always strike a chord. . no pun intended.