Tuesday, June 28, 2005


I'm being seduced by sequins & sparkles... by textiles, richly embroidered by unknown hands. Or more likely, machines. There is an explosion of colours and textures in clothing stores today. And I am drawn to them. But the "Made in China" label turns me off... and I question the hidden costs of them. I think twice... thrice... and put them back. Back on the rack.

I am troubled but what I don't know. Was this scarf embroidered by tiny, child hands? Was this colourful cotton skirt sewn by a woman owned by her boss? And I get confused... I don't know what is safe anymore. What price am I willing to pay for fashion? So, I think twice... thrice... and put it back. Back on the rack.

A few keystrokes on Google and I learn that there is such a thing as buying clean clothes (and it has nothing to do with laundry). Oh, the pressure! It was so much easier when I didn't even know what I didn't know... and still, I don't know enough. On second thought, I think I'd rather not know.

Sunday, June 26, 2005

What Love is...

Hubby deserves a medal. No, he did not run another race this weekend, but he did sit through The Sisterhood of the Travelling Pants. The evening of June 25th really didn't start out that way, but life has a way of taking unexpected turns... We had gift certificates to the movie theatre that were expiring on... June 25th. We quickly realized there wasn't much to choose from. Hubby seized on War of the Worlds, which had an ad and listing in the local paper. It has Tom Cruise in it... Hubby crooned. Well, not my favourite type of movie but - whaddaheck - it was free.

Me: Two for War of the Worlds, please?
Her: I'm sorry, that movie doesn't open until Wednesday.
Me: But it was listed in the paper!
Her: It's the listing for the week ahead. Anything else you'd like to see?

As we looked at the marquee, we remained underwhelmed. Hubby's message was clear - a shrug of the shoulders followed by the words: You decide. And so I did. I knew very little about the Travelling Pants, only that a co-worker had found it "delightful".

As we entered the cinema, I quickly scanned the seats. Please let there be at least one other man in here? Hubby deserves to hold on to his dignity, after all... We were in luck - I saw at least two other men. OK, so maybe this won't be too much of a chick flick after all?!

Oh, it was a chick flick alright. I give this one a full "CF" rating... At one point, Hubby offered his sleeve as he heard me sniffling and snortling (Note: bring tissue...). At one point, I looked over to Hubby, whose eyes remained open throughout the movie, and thought to myself: This is what Love is.

Of course, I'll never hear the end of it. :-)

Friday, June 24, 2005

Spirit without a home...

John (of no fixed address) turned 45 yesterday. Two days earlier, a group of "kids" (as he calls them) attempted to run him over with their mountain bikes as he tried to sleep under a bridge. They threw a rock at him, which he was able to deflect with his hand, now bruised & swollen. Yet when I gave him his small gift, he was still able to offer me his smile and sparkling blue eyes. His spirit and good humour continue to amaze me... Happy Birthday John.

Wednesday, June 22, 2005

ESSENCE - Original Thought...


Can one distinguish between water and wave?
Who is to say which is fire or flame?
Where does one end and the other begin?
It's just not that simple, says the unfocussed mind.

For water and wave are the same at the source,
Just as fire and flame share a spark.
Yet without wind, without movement, the two stay the same,
Forever as one, sees the unfocussed mind.

And so it is with me and my God
He and I share a source; She and I share a spark.
And Spirit breathes movement into my life
I am never the same, with my unfocussed mind.

Can one distinguish...
Who is to say...
Where does one end...

The unfocussed mind will never comprehend,
For these mysteries belong to the Heart.

- created by jag

Wednesday, June 15, 2005

What is Christian Meditation?

What does it mean to be a Christian Meditator? Up until about 5 years ago, I didn't even know that there was a deeply rooted tradition of meditation in the Christian faith - and me, a good Catholic girl, no less! Interestingly, these days, my path leads me away from the Church and closer to Christ, my teacher and my spiritual companion. And I believe I owe this primarily to my daily practice of Christian meditation.

As written by John Cassian, a 4th-century monk sharing the teaching he had received from the Desert Fathers: “The living Spirit of God dwells within us, giving new life to our mortal bodies. The all-important aim in Christian meditation is to allow God’s mysterious and silent presence within us to become more and more not only a reality, but the reality in our lives; to let it become that reality which gives meaning, shape and purpose to everything we do, to everything we are.”

Today, the World Community for Christian Meditation (WCCM) carries on these teachings by promoting a practical experience of this living, vibrant spirituality. And this weekend, I will be joining Christian meditators from across the country at the National Conference of the Canadian Christian Meditation Community, right here in my own backyard. If you're curious, join us for a public talk on Friday evening with Fr. Laurence Freeman, OSB - Director of the WCCM. He is an inspired speaker and will be giving a talk on "Return to the Centre: The Universal Quest for Silence and Stillness".

OK. Way too many links in this post! So be it...

Friday, June 10, 2005

Westfest Weekend

If you're looking for something to do this weekend, why not join us in Westboro for Westfest with headliners Lynn Miles (Friday) and Cowboy Junkies (Saturday)? It's free... It's fun... It's family-friendly... Have I ever mentioned how much I love living in Westboro?!

p.s. Just stay off my lawn and don't block my driveway!! :-)

Thursday, June 09, 2005

Because words matter...

I never imagined that an article about libraries could bring tears to my eyes, but this one did. And I'm not even a public library user! Maybe that should change...

Wednesday, June 08, 2005

Can there be room for Peace?

It seems there is a group of people striving to Make Room for Peace at the new Canadian War Museum. At a public meeting held in Ottawa last night, I heard a chorus of voices for Peace - and it was music to my ears.

When I first heard that millions of dollars were being spent to build a new War Museum in Ottawa, I had an uneasy feeling. I remember thinking: Imagine what that kind of money could do for Peace? Why not build a Peace Museum instead? I know we must never forget, but must we continue to glorify war? But I never really said it out loud. I didn't think it was a very popular view, so in my usual way, I set it aside and put it out of my mind. I didn't realize there were others who felt so strongly, that they simply could not set it aside.

In the days leading to the museum's official opening, the media featured some of the more "controversial" exhibits - ie. the pieces that dared to boldly state that war takes a horrible toll on ordinary people. It makes them killers; it makes them sick. I'm thinking primarily of the portraits of Kyle Brown and Clayton Matchee... and that of a traumatized Lt.-Gen. Roméo Dallaire... In a weird way, I was heartened to know that the dark side of war had its place in the museum, as it should.

But the members of the Committee for an Expanded Mandate for the Canadian War Museum want to take this further... They believe - and I agree - that Canada also needs to remember those who dedicate their lives to creating a culture of Peace. We need to clearly show that Peace takes courage too. We need to go beyond the War Museum's seemingly short-sighted mandate: Educate. Preserve. Remember. and add a 4th objective: Transform. Or perhaps even, Transcend. Why not? Canada has not only been shaped by war; in fact, its identity is more closely tied with Peace - a far more transformative power, in my opinion.

With this new perspective in mind, I now look forward to visiting the museum. I want to see for myself how we could make room for Peace. And once more, I learn that I need not silence my voice for the chorus is already underway...

Saturday, June 04, 2005

Exiting from silence...

Stillpoint House of Prayer has been a pure gift in my life over the past five years. Twice a year, I make a point of spending extended time in silent reflection. When people hear that I'm going on a multi-day silent retreat, the most common reaction is: Whoa! I don't think I could ever do that... But really, I think you could. Being silent is the most ordinary thing in the world. It is the most natural way for us to be. To simply be. Is it easy? It's easy to do without talking, to do without TV, computers and radios... But silencing the "monkey mind" is not so easy. That's where prayer & mediation come in. And it's not like I take a vow of silence; guests at Stillpoint are simply asked to respect the norm and the spirit of silence. We acknowledge and respect that each of us goes there for our personal reasons - and being social is usually NOT one of them.

I first went there in October 2000 when my life was in crisis. I was on medical leave from work, Hubby and I were separated, and I just needed the world to stop spinning out of (my) control. A friend suggested Stillpoint and I've been going ever since... Now, when life is abundantly good, I go there primarily to reconnect with the One who really is in control of my life and to give thanks. And to sleep. :-)

Speaking of which... back to this world. G'nite!

Quote-of-the-Day: "Noise lets us ignore our most difficult struggle and our most precious possession: our true and profound selves. " - Rabbi Boruch Leff, in The Value of Silence

Friday, June 03, 2005

Notes from the Still Point - Part III

The following post was written while on silent retreat and has been transcribed from pen & paper (call me ol' fashioned) after the fact...

I've often wondered how Catherine Barry got through that winter... or even IF she got through it. Inexpressible grief that I simply can't relate to - losing her husband, James Tierney, and her infant son within 5 days of each other. What could possibly have brought on such loss in the life of one young woman?

And what of the nameless mother who lost both her sons on June 30th? At only 23 and 20 years of age, James & John Hagarty no doubt provided her with strength and support following the death of her husband only seven years earlier. Again, why such loss? What the heck was going on in Springtown, Ontario in 1873?!

There's no teasing a storyteller quite like an old cemetary. It'll give you the basics and leave it up to you to fill in the blanks. Names, dates and family ties - those are the only strands available to me as I attempt to weave the story: a story of life, out of the facts of death.

I find old cemetaries to be especially spiritual. Why are some tombstones still standing strong, while others crumble like the bones beneath them? Does anyone still care? What will be left once the stone has turned to dust? I can only hope that what will remain are memories and legacies, passed on from one generation to the next. And as I stroll amongst the names, dates and family ties, I ask myself: what story am I creating with my life? What will my legacy be?

Stars in boundless sky
Speak to my union with All.
Burning. Longing. Love.
- created by jag, inspired by experience of God

Thursday, June 02, 2005

Notes from the Still Point - Part II

The following post was written while on silent retreat and has been transcribed from pen & paper (call me ol' fashioned) after the fact...

Today didn't turn out anything like I'd planned. I guess that's the point of these retreats: to let go of my plans and make myself available to whatever God has in store for me...

I went for a long walk down a nearby country road. Almost an hour and a half of walking and I didn't encounter a single car. And I'd like to set the record straight: there is no such thing as silence in nature. There is so much life happening at any given moment! Being able to quiet my own mind - even for short periods - allowed me to become fully attentive, fully present to my surroundings. Birds... butterflies... flowers... foliage... My favourite flowers were the Wild Columbine. God's palette for wildflowers in this region leans towards a white-purple-yellow combination. With their blood-red flowers, the Columbine would continuously shock me back to the now, should I ever be tempted to stray into thoughts of yesterday or plans for tomorrow.

And speaking of tomorrow!... I'm hoping to have a "no-reading day". Time & space to allow for original thought, creativity, prayer and meditation. God willing, of course!

Quote-of-the-day: "God wills life to be a journey through four seasons, every climate, all the topographies of the soul so that when we have finished it, we can say that we have truly lived it. Well. Whole. With integrity." - Joan D. Chittister

Wednesday, June 01, 2005

Notes from the Still Point - Part I...

The following post was written while on silent retreat and has been transcribed from pen & paper (call me ol' fashioned) after the fact...

I'm writing from the silence of Stillpoint. Beautiful day. Sunny day. Sleepy day. My mind is having trouble keeping up with the silence of the surroundings. I have the best of the good rooms: two large windows with one overlooking the Madawaska River.

I walked to my Prayer Tree this morning. They've added a hammock swing this year. Two of my stones seem to be missing. With one for each visit to Stillpoint, there should be nine in all; I only found seven. I'll replace them before I leave, and I'll add one more to mark this stay.

I saw the most puzzling thing: four butterflies resting together in the crook of my Prayer Tree and feasting on what appeared to be a small pile of animal feces! I've heard of "dung beetles" , but the existence of "dung butterflies" is news to me... And right where I usually climb and sit and have a chat with God, no less. Luckily for me, they've added a hammock swing.

Nature surrounds. Nature abounds. God's wonders never cease...

Quote-of-the-day: "My heart is tuned to the quietness that the stillness of nature inspires." - Hazrat Inayat Khan