Thursday, December 31, 2009

The Need to Tell

One of my bestie blogger friends sent me this link wondering if these words were meant for me. Erin knows my deep places and my story. The fact that she sent them to me with a "thought this might be for you" and a link made me gird up my loins before I read them.

"Most writers, like most children, need to tell.

The only problem is that much of what they need to tell will provoke the ire of parent-critics, who are determined to tell writer-children what they can and cannot say.

Unless you have sufficient ego and feel entitled to tell your story, you will be stymied in your effort to create.

You think you can't write, but the truth is you can't tell.

Writing is nothing if not breaking the silence."

--Betsy Lerner, The Forest for the Trees: An Editor's Advice to Writers

She was right. Words have been very far way from me this past year.

The book is on order. Thank you Erin.

via Jen Lee

Tuesday, December 29, 2009

The problem with certainty

"Ignorance does not result from what we don’t know! Ignorance results from what we think we do know—but don’t! Most ignorant people are, in fact, quite certain."

Richard Rohr

Thank you Mike Todd!

Monday, December 28, 2009

Leaving our guns at the door

Longing for this today:

When we are free from the need to judge or condemn, we can become safe places for people to meet in vulnerability and take down the walls that separate them. Being deeply rooted in the love of God, we cannot help but invite people to love one another. When people realise that we have no hidden agendas or unspoken intentions, that we are not trying to gain any profit for ourselves, and that our only desire is for peace and reconciliation, they may find the inner freedom and courage to leave their guns at the door and enter into conversation with their enemies.

Many times this happens even without our planning. Our ministry of reconciliation most often takes place when we ourselves are least aware of it. Our simple, nonjudgmental presence does it.

Henri Nouwen

Friday, December 25, 2009

Merry Christmas!

Miracles are a retelling
in small letters
of the very same story
which is written across
the whole world
in letters too large
for some of us to see.

C S Lewis

Sunday, December 13, 2009

Friday, December 04, 2009

Free the Bumble!!

Just got invited by my friend on Facebook, Chris Coyle, to correct one of the greatest injustices of our generation - please read on to join our cause:

After seeing a show aimed at children in which a noble creature was taunted, baited, captured, tortured, maimed and mutilated and then used for slave labor and entertainment my daughters turned to me, horrified. I promised to do something, and I'm asking for your help.

A beautiful white ape-like creature with eerily human features and expressions once lived off in the wild frozen tundra of the polar region keeping a respectful distance from the nearest man. His icy eden was spoiled by a crazed capitalist prospector known as Yukon Cornelius who was determined to strip the area of its resources, be they gold, silver or peppermint.

Wary of outsiders following his encounters with Yukon, the gentle giant was understandably curious and terrified by a subsequent invasion by a sadistic elf accompanied by a sweet but confused reindeer. The reindeer was afflicted with a bright and shining nose. The presence of these two triggered our polar ape to give vocal warning and to follow them out to the perimeter of his territory along with the cunning Yukon.

A brief aside about the elf in question in case you doubt his character: some defect in his nature caused him to reject a life of bringing joy to children and to instead secretly delve into a fascination with inflicting pain on mankind of all ages.

After leaving the Yeti's stomping grounds the group went on to join a gang known as the Misfits who lived in colony much like Major Kurtz's. (editorial comment: have to admit, a gang led by a flying lion wearing a crown would be tempting. Moonracer, you are the coolest).

Conflicted about his 'friends' the reindeer returns to his turf, er, tundra but finds that his herd has strayed into the Yeti's domain. A natural prey of the beast, this was a foolish choice. At this point the story takes an ugly turn. Rather than allowing the Circle of Life, the the prospector and Hermey the creepy elf take advantage of the moment to bait the bumble into an ambush. Not content with rescuing the should-be meal, the twisted little Hermey pulls every tooth from the animals head and then he and Yukon mock the poor animal before attempting to push him to his death off a cliff.

In his attempt to kill the now harmless creature (who, having had his teeth pulled, unfortunately completely forgot about his fierce claws and his ability to deliver crushing eye-rolling blows using ice stalactites as a club) the penurious prospector also went over the edge.

As we find out later, the mutilated and humiliated so-called 'abominable' uses his own body to save his tormentor's life.

How is the benign benevolent Bumble rewarded for self-sacrificial act? Slavery. In one of the most blatant shockingly imperialistic quotes of the show, the treatment of the bumble is explained away as "I've reformed this bumble. He wants a job." Sick. Colonialism much? Maybe he wants his land, his teeth and his freedom!?!

I don't know what we can do but at least now you're aware.

Join Our Cause

(Thank you Chris - you have definitely missed your calling - OpEd for the Tribune is in your future!

Wednesday, December 02, 2009

Tuesday, December 01, 2009

From Away

This was a piece I did for my friend Idelette for her Advent Adventure series. I haven't written anything substantial in awhile, so I thought I'd include it here too.

“We’re pretty underwhelming” the voice said on the other end of the phone.

I reassured him, that stuff isn’t what we’re about.

He’s the director of the Masters program my husband and I are interested in. We were planning to visit the University to see if this was a place we could raise our family. We already knew the program fit our DNA, we had no idea what New Brunswick would be like though.

When we told people we were considering a move to St. Stephen we were told by our Canadian family that people don’t move to New Brunswick, they move from New Brunswick. It’s an area of the world that has been hit hard by progress, the brain drain and muscle drain of the lucrative western Provinces with the oil sands and industry stripped much of the able population from it’s shores.

One of my mentors in Pennsylvania, upon hearing our plans looked me in the eyes and said “Oh Heidi, you don’t want to move to New Brunswick, it’s barren.”

As a woman who struggled with infertility for the first nine years of her marriage that word created deep fear in me.

And yet it still called to us, we knew deep within us that this was the direction we were supposed to head.

We packed our trusty 20+ year old Volvo station wagon and headed on an East Coast Fall Foliage tour like we could have never dreamed of. It ended with Hurricane Wilma hitting the coast of Maine as we drove up the small two lane highway getting blasted by rain as the logging trucks sped past us.

Just a small town, a tiny University, that, from our perspective, had only existed for about a month, coupled with a sincere welcome deeply soothed our ministry trodden souls. This place felt more like home in one weekend than any of the other dozen places I had lived up to this point.

We had no idea how it would happen, but we knew that this was where we were supposed to be.

On our drive home we finally got to see the scenery we had missed on the drive up. Mountains, rivers, ocean, color, blue skies - a place pulsing with life, growth and richness. There was little sign of the scary barrenness we were warned about.

We packed everything we could (only half of what we owned fit into the moving truck) sacrificing many precious possessions we knocked the dust off our feet and prayed that the predicted blizzards would not delay our arrival.

Very early in 2006 we moved into our rented home and landed in a culture more foreign to us than any of our previous moves.

How could it feel so familiar?

Why did it feel like we’ve returned?

In the end those questions didn’t matter.

All we knew was that it did. It felt like home.

In conversation with the locals while we changed our drivers licenses, plates and set up our utilities we found ourselves in similar conversations. “Turner? Oh, you must be related to the Turners out on Little Ridge?” “Nope.” We’d answer. “Oh, then ones out in Oak Bay?” “No. We’re not related to anyone around here.” “Then why’d you move HERE? They’d ask, the same quizzical looks on their faces.

We’d talk about the University, how much we loved the ocean, how warm the people were and how we needed a change. Most of the time the expressions on their faces would deepen instead of ease. We found the quickest answer in an expression they use for tourists and interlopers. “Oh, you’re from away.” they’d state as if that explained everything.

From away.

How could that be? I finally found someplace that felt like home. Even more than the place I was born. No, I wasn’t from away, I’d think. This place knows me. This place is mine.

During one of the administrative tasks of changing over documents and registering utilities we ended up at town hall. They had the New Brunswick flag hanging with it’s white sailed ship and the Provincial motto written in Latin “Spem Reduxit”. I wrote those words down on a scrap of paper in my purse and googled it when I returned home. When I found out it’s meaning I wept.

Spem Reduxit - Hope Was Restored

That’s why this place felt so much like home.

The local joke is that your family can live here for generations and still be considered “from away”. They only consider those born and bred on the Bay of Fundy as locals.

Last spring I was celebrating with friends at a local tradition called a kitchen party - lots of instruments, singing and laughter. A friend had written a song using the motto, it is deeply moving to me. It’s called New Brunswickers Arise. I leaned over and whispered to one of my professors that I am going to begin calling myself a “New New Brunswicker” and he smiled, shook his head and said “Oh, you think it’s that easy, eh?”

Last August we finally bought our home here. We are putting down roots. Deep roots. Our family has begun to discuss how we plan to decorate our new home for the holidays. It’s exciting to know that where we decide to put the advent candle wreathe and the Christmas tree will begin a tradition that could continue for the rest of our lives. We are settling in. And no matter what the locals might think we are not from away anymore.