In the aftermath of Brussels, what have we learned?

I was raised in the Roman Catholic faith.

My mother was devout. My father less so. His rebellious nature often interfered with his capacity to follow what he called the constricting dogma of an out of date Papal system that made itself wealthy on the backs of the poor.

I often thought my father had a Robin Hood complex. He liked the idea of taking from the rich to give to the poor. A lot.

As a child, we lived in Calgary before moving to Europe where I spent my pre-teens to twenties. In fact, we live in the same neighbourhood where I once lived. The school where I attended grades 2 and 3 is just down the street from our home. The house we lived in when I was a child is not too far away on the other side of the school.

As children, my sister Anne and I, would walk from home to school together.

While the walk wasn’t far, I remember constantly feeling at risk. It felt like a treacherous walk.  Not because we had to cross major traffic routes or anything. It was all because our route took us past ‘the Protestant school’. That’s what it was called back then before diversity embedded itself in our culture and the School Board names changed to “Public” and “Separate” (which is what the Catholic system is now called).

To get to our school Anne and I had two options. Stay on the sidewalk and go the long way around or, cut through the ‘Protestant School’ playground.

On the days when we felt daring, we would cut across the Protestant schoolyard which adjoined our school’s playground. Inevitably, our walk included suffering through the insults and slurs flung at us for being ‘Catholic’ kids.

I could never figure it out. Why would the fact we were Roman Catholic cause kids who didn’t even know us to pick on us?

My mother, ever the peace-maker, told us to turn the other cheek. To not retaliate. To not respond. To just keep walking.

And so we did.

I’d love to tell you there was some seminal moment when an encounter on that shared field of our playful youth caused our Catholic roots to dig into the Protestant ground where together, we planted seeds of harmony, but I don’t recall that ever happening. I don’t actually remember ever speaking to one of ‘those kids’ who was not of the same faith but looked just the same as us. We were told not to. They were ‘the Protestant kids’ and thus, the distance between us too great to cross.

About the only time we did flex our Roman Catholic muscles was on those days when our school was not in session because of a Saint’s holiday. On those mornings, from the safety of our second floor bedroom my sister and I would lean out the window and make fun of the ‘Protestant’ kids walking off to school. Though we could often not name the Saint whose memory gave us the day off, we took great delight in rubbing our bonus days into those who did not share the benefit of multiple Saints’ holidays throughout the year.

Many years have passed since those days of fearing walking through a playground of kids of another faith. And still, I can remember how scary it felt to walk through their midst. I can still remember the feelings of feeling different, not fitting in, being called out because, while we worshipped the same God, our way of worship was different.

And I wonder, in the aftermath of Brussels, what have we learned?

How ridiculed, isolated, marginalized and traumatized must some young man be to believe his legacy of passing through this life is best expressed by leaving a path of destruction in the wake of blowing himself up?

And I fear, not much has changed since I quite walking across that childhood playground, except the distance between us has lengthened pulling us further away from finding common ground in our humanity.

As the death toll continues to climb I pray we find the grace to put down our words of condemnation, our weapons of mass destruction and killing ways. In lowering our arms, I pray that we open our eyes and minds and hearts to see that no matter the damage we have done to one another, in our shared human condition we have the power to heal when we choose to walk in peace.

The mystery of peace: the ultimate un-guide to surrender.

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I went to the river yesterday. I went to visit the place where the 2 heart rocks we laid last summer for Ellie The Wonder Pooch are tucked into the trees.

I wanted to tell her about Beaumont. About his arrival next week into our home and how he has already taken up residence in my heart.

I wanted to let her know it was okay. That my heart has room for only love and she is always a loving presence in my heart.

Ellie. Life. The Universe. Maybe just summer and its tangled overgrowth, had a different idea.

I could not find her rocks. I’d found them just last month on a walk along the river. I knew they were there. But I could not find them.

I laughed.

Oh that trickster Ellie. That wonderful, loving, caring girl. As always, she wanted to make it easy for me. She wanted to let me know, “It’s okay.”  She’s not worried about Beaumont’s presence in our home and hearts. She knows there’s always room for Love.

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When I was at the river, I hadn’t really thought about the date. Hadn’t noticed that tomorrow, June 23rd, is the day she left us last year.

The serendipity and the mystery of it all is astounding to me.

In my post last year about Ellie’s passing, Jodi Aman wrote, “Thank you Ellie! You were a guide in this life, but now it’s time for you to guide from the other side. Still connected, but even more powerfully!”

Is this part of the mystery of life? That when we leave this place we have the capacity to guide, even more powerfully, from the other side?

Life is a powerful and mysterious journey.

Yesterday, walking by the river, through the woods, sitting listening to the gurgling of the water as it flowed past, I was immersed in the awe and the beauty of that moment in time, that place on earth.

I felt the spirit of Ellie splashing in the water. Felt her warm, wet body leaning into mine.

I felt a part of something bigger, more grand, more spectacular than anything I could ever imagine.

I felt part of life.




Being all around me and within and part of me.

I felt in the flow. In the moment. In the place where I sat.

I felt at peace.

At ease.

At One with the mystery and beauty and wonder of life flowing all around.

The mystery of life is not that we live and then we die. It is that we are born.

That from one natural act, one sperm survives its journey to unite with one egg to become the uniqueness, and the sameness of each and every one of us. That from that one act, we are created and emerge into this world through the gift and mystery of life becoming matter.

It is that a seed falls into the ground and a flower grows. A sapling becomes a tree. A blade of grass becomes a field of grasses waving in the sun. That a bird flies, a cow moos, a rooster crows.

It is that a river flows past until it reaches the sea. That nature abounds with bounty. That life creates itself again and again and again.

There is so much I do not know, do not understand, do not comprehend in this world. There is war and death and dying and man hurting one another, killing one another, destroying one another, and still, life keeps creating. Re-inventing itself, again and again and again.

And in that creation is the hope, the faith, the knowing that to create is to give birth to the possibility of Love overcoming hatred, fear, discrimination, self-loathing.

In life creating itself again and again is the knowing that until we find ourselves at peace, sitting by a river, or just sitting beside one another where ever we are at and loving one another exactly how we are, life will keep creating itself again and again and again.

That’s the true mystery. We keep creating life even in the midst of all the turmoil, angst, war and hatred that abounds on this place called earth.

And in the midst of it all, that a wonder pooch knows better than me when it’s time to let go, time to move on, time to create again a place in my heart and hearth where a four legged friend can roam and show me the way to be at peace in a world that sometimes feels like it’s gone mad, and still, always has room for Love.

In the presence of Love, the wonder pooch once again teaches me to be at peace no matter where I am in the world, no matter how fierce the winds or hot the sun. To be at peace and know it is only when I am at peace I create peace all around me.




Elizabeth at Almost Spring invited me to take up the challenge of posting a photo a day and writing a story/article about a word related to the photo.

I took the photo above on the ridge above the river yesterday. I was enchanted by the wisps of the seed pods, the delicate tendrils of its feathering strands protecting the bud.

This post is also my first exploration into the word ‘mystery’. A month ago, I made a decision to explore what I don’t know about  surrender, hope, faith, mystery, loss, God, and the power of love. To seek the unknown is to journey into what I know and allow space for ‘what else’ to appear. It is to live within the question, not knowing or needing the answer.

This is the first post of five on ‘mystery’.  I’m curious to see what will emerge.





All I need to feel at peace exists within me.

It wasn’t as warm as the weather report said it would be, but once I dropped down off the escarpment, the wind died down and it felt less frigid.

Though, I hadn’t quite planned for how cold it was. I’d worn my gloves and not my mitts and my fingers felt the chill. I walked and tucked my hands into my jacket pocket. For a moment, my mind wanted me to believe that I was stupid to not wear my mittens. I told it to be quiet. It had nothing to do with my intelligence and everything to do with not wanting to be disturbed by less than thinking interrupting my walk.

It didn’t matter what I wore. The sun was shining, the birds tweeting and twittering all around. The day was glorious.

I dropped by Ellie, The Wonder Pooch’s memory place in the woods, took a picture of her two hearts nestled amidst the trees and snow and text them to my daughters, “She’s always with us,” I wrote.

And it’s true. Over six months since the wonder pooch’s passing, and still I feel her presence. I also still miss her quiet padding along beside me, tugging at the leash, stopping to sniff at every leaf and branch upon the trail.

Walking without her does have its advantages though. I can sit on a bench for as long as I like and not have her nudging me to get going, get moving along! Which means, I can sit and enjoy the silence, close my eyes and breathe into the soundscape all around, mapping the sounds as I learned to do from Sherri Phibbs of the W.I.S.H. Studio.

I listened deeply to the world around me. I listened to the birds, the chittering of a squirrel, the grass rustling in the soft breeze that meandered through the creek bed. I listened to the silence of the snow hanging at the edges of a tree branch as it let go with a soft whoof and fell to the ground. I listened to the way the fir tree needles grate against one another when the squirrel who was stealing all the bird seed skittered back across their branches. And in the distance, I listened to the muffled sound of city traffic carried across the miles by the wind.

And I listened to the stories the wind had to tell me of the faraway places it had roamed, the sites it had seen, the wonders it had witnessed.

I listened and felt the awe of the moment descend around me and envelop me in the possibility of a world where each of us is doing more today than we did yesterday to create a world of peace, love, hope and joy all around us.

In the quiet of the woods, I sat and listened to the wind and felt my spirit softly settle within me.

Yes. There is war and hatred and intolerance and abuse and homelessness and disease and cruelty and distrust. They all exist in this world.

And so does love.

It exists along with peace and harmony and people getting along and helping one another. Love exists in tolerance and kindness and giving and cures for diseases and loving compassion. It is there in gentleness and trust and treating each other with respect. It is there in one person helping another to get up, in caring for those who have nothing, those who are sick, those who are feeling blue.

Love exists in giving up a seat on the subway so a mother and child can sit.

It exists in letting a driver merge, in not cutting someone off, in smiling at a stranger, in holding a door open.

In all the intolerance and anger and hurt and pain in this world, love exists.

It’s just sometimes, amidst all the noise we forget to stop and sit quietly listening to our heart beat, listening to the trees rustle, the birds tweet, the wind whispering stories through the trees.

I listened to the stories the wind had to tell me and remembered that in this moment right now, all I need to feel at peace exists within me.

I am grateful.