One crow sorrow, two crows joy…

To say the last few days have been hectic, might be an understatement at best!

Between our Advent Retreat, and our Home for Christmas sales event, there has been lots of activity, let alone the mundane everyday things that get neglected for a bit. Laundry. Meals. Watering the plants. Feeding the cats. You know, trivial things that take time, but are certainly necessary.

Tuesday was spent cleaning up after and sorting, so I could immerse myself back into my real world. I have proclaimed Tuesdays as my “day off”, where my intent has been to stay home on Tuesdays and focus on the house chores, do a little reading, and maybe a cat nap.

Well that didn’t happen, so I was going to try again on Wednesday. I spent the morning looking after orders and paperwork and by afternoon, I needed a break. I got a call, requesting a ride home after work. Don’t laugh at me, but I tend to consolidate errands, in order to conserve gas, even on this tiny island. So after I ran errands, and delivered my daughter-in-law, I decided to take a break and Be Still.

I went hunting for one of the snowy owls that have been sighted back on the island. I couldn’t find her, but took time to just stand in the middle of the clearing…and look.

Nothing. Try not to be disappointed, Heather.

Look harder. Nothing.

Look softer, as one of my favorite quotes reads (suggesting maybe we try too hard at times, and need to slow it down, step back, and try “softer”).

Nope. No owls for me. I prayed, “God, if she is here, give me eyes to see. If she isn’t here, give me eyes to see your beauty, your gift, in something else.”

Still nothing. No owls. No birds. No squirrels. No deer. No nothing. Just the stillness of crisp air. Thank you God, for that gift.

I decided to head out to Dark Harbour on my way home. Surely I would see some sort of life there, that would open my eyes.

Nothing. The sun was bright, almost blinding, but then I saw it; the silhouette.

One crow. One crow, sorrow.

That was my heart right now, reflecting on some personal things that were weighing on my heart and spirit.

Again, I repeated, “give me eyes to see”. There it was!

One crow sorrow, two crows joy.

Joy! The everyday, mundane crows that were flying around in the clearing.

Sometimes, I need reminding that God doesn’t have to bring me something new and unexpected…if I would only open my eyes to see what is right in front of me.

I continued down to Dark Harbour. I’ve been sad that I haven’t taken time to see the sunrise as of late…but guess what was waiting for me this day?!

Open my eyes to see.

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Snowy Nights

There’s something magical about snowy nights at bedtime. Looking out my upstairs window tonight, the snow is falling ever so quietly, leaving a puffy duvet across the yard. There are very recent deer tracks across the back yard, but no sign of that little doe that has been hanging around. The air was still as I let Wilson out. There’s a crispness that doesn’t send a shiver, but rather clears the nostrils and reminds you to breathe deep, so you can take it all in.

I could just stand by the spare room window and gaze out forever, watching each flake flutter down.

There’s usually that anticipation of a possible snow day call in the morning… but tonight, there’s that blessed reassurance I won’t get such a call…and knowing it really doesn’t matter, because I can stay snuggled in my new red buffalo plaid fleece sheets for as long as I wish.

It’s important to get prepared…

Flannel Jammies.

Alarm turned off.

Careful placement of good book on my nightstand for easy grasp in the morning.

Mentally going through my inventory of hot chocolate mugs, so I can choose just the right one in the morning.

I love winter.

I know the “haters are going to hate” as they read through this, but that’s ok…it’s a beautiful place in my little world tonight. So good night, sweet dreams, and prepare yourself for a beautiful morning!,

In a world where you can be anything…

Be Kind!

Today, my blog will be very short and simple… giving you lots of time to just go out there and BE KIND!

Need some motivation?

#BeccaToldMeTo

https://m.facebook.com/groups/892307520858849

#TheDoorstepChallenge

https://m.facebook.com/doorstepchallenge/

#GrandMananRocks

https://m.facebook.com/groups/1729874460646546

#randomactsofkindness

https://www.randomactsofkindness.org

Now, just go do something…ANYTHING!

Feel free to add some in the comments…I’ll come back and keep adding to this post.

A Quiet Life

….and make it your ambition to lead a quiet life: you should mind your own business and work with your hands, just as we told you, so that your daily life may win the respect of outsiders and so that you will not be dependent on anyone. 1 Thessalonians 4:11-12, NIV

It is well.

Oh, the noise!

 Oh, the noise! Oh, the Noise! Noise! Noise! Noise!
That’s one thing he hated! The NOISE! NOISE! NOISE! NOISE! 

~The Grinch, Dr Seuss

Some days are harder than others. They just are.

For me, I’d like to pretend they don’t exist, and people might say, “oh, you’re just such a positive person, you never let life get you down”. That isn’t an act, it’s not “fake news”…that’s who I am; really. Some days though, I want to put up a facade, and just carry on. Usually those are the days I try to avoid people; other days, quite the opposite, I fill my day with positive experiences in hopes of turning things around.

My agenda said my day was full, and it was filled with lots of positives, so it was going to be a great day, right? Right. RIGHT?!

First, I ran and picked up my daughter-in-law to drive her to her class. Usually, we have nice chit-chat. This morning, she had overslept. She is not a morning person. So not-a-morning person! But… in reality, on this morning, I was not a morning person, either.

Since I dropped her off at the Anchorage Big House, where her program was to take place, I saw it as a great excuse to head to my very favorite beach, just around the corner. My hope for a brisk morning walk quickly fizzled, as it was high tide. High tide means more ocean breeze, and I wasn’t ready for that noise just yet. No problem, I’ll just head to Long Pond, and watch the birds for a few minutes.

Midway down, I came across a fallen tree, right across the road, preventing me from passing. Saturday night’s wind storm had left lots of fallen branches along our roads, but also had sadly left a few majestic trunks, as well. On a bright note, as I put my Jeep in reverse, a familiar face popped out from behind the tree. As a pedestrian, my friend had no trouble getting through. My Jeep however, would not. A friendly wave, and a quick conversation sent me on my way to my next agenda item.

I proceeded to bible study, even though I didn’t really want to go. I convinced myself to go, because it would be “good for me”. I did get a little nudge to focus on a particular fruit of the spirit…peace…peace in relationships that perhaps needed healing. BONK!

No offence to the ladies that were there…they all have beautiful spirits, that would hug my heart, if I let them. Today, though, I purposely left a few minutes early to avoid the goodbye hugs. That, and I had an appointment booked in North Head, so it was a good excuse to leave early.

Please don’t say it was just the devil, trying to block the Holy Spirit. [side note…I typed that in lower case, and autocorrect just jumped in and capitalized those last two words…causing my eyes to jump back at the correction…NO message in that?!]

It’s just more noise.

I headed to an acupuncture appointment. I went to my first one last Monday, and felt I got a lot out of the procedure. Today, I knew I was going in much more stressed, mulling over that thought of building peace in a particular relationship…or three. I was hopeful this next hour would magically take care of everything. A couple of the needles went in harder than last time, which just signified to me there was some negative energy built up, creating a bit of a barrier to healing powers.

More noise.

I felt a little better by the end, having taking the time to calm, with quiet music, soft light and soothing tea. Heck, I don’t even drink tea, let alone like tea. “Let your mind be open to the peace that awaits”.

More noise.

[another side note…honestly, the needles…pin pricks..don’t even really hurt; this day, they were just meeting resistance…MY resistance. I encourage any one to give it a try, it’s worth the experience at least once]

But there are days. Days when I feel like it’s hard to find that little bit of “pretty” amidst all the hard, crushing stuff. Days when you know a trip to Stanley’s Beach is sure to cure it all, and get you back on track.

Even if the sky is grey and clouds are looming, you push on, hopeful you’ll find your way. Eventually, I will, because I always seem to. I can’t even explain it, when trying to advise a friend… all I can offer, is just keep moving. Moving from this space. As long as you keep moving, you’ll find another space. And another. And another. There might be days when you try so very hard to “get there”, but you keep stumbling.

Stanley’s has changed so very much over the past year. So many storms have changed its topography. It used to be, I could count on low, low tide to be the hour to fully enjoy this beach, no matter the weather. But in recent weeks, the little lagoon at the top has let a little trickle leak out and make its way to the shoreline. More recently, that trickle expanded to a brook, and on this day, felt more like an honest to goodness river.

As much as I wanted to cross, I was unable to. I thought I came prepared. Prepared to cross, prepared to breathe in the salt air, prepared to shake the cobwebs.

But some days are just plain and simply, hard. HARD.

I brought a warmer coat. I brought older shoes that I wouldn’t care getting wet. I brought a baggy for beach glass. I brought mittens. I even brought a granola bar and chocolate chip cookie. I was prepared. I was ready to clear my head space, to turn this day around.

But the trickle, the brook, the river was just more than I could handle today. I traced the brook down to the distant shore, and just stood, looking out.

This day, there was just too much noise. I just wanted to Be Still.

It’s three days later, and I woke up deciding not to run to sunrise, ready to embrace the early morning stillness. Enough of this noise already!

After awhile, hubby woke up and clanged in the kitchen, preparing his morning coffee. He came in and turned on the tv. Yay! It wasn’t CNN. It was some nature documentary. That was excusable background noise.

It didn’t take long…the remote switched to CNN and the latest shooting; Wilson stood by the kitchen table meowing for breakfast; and Parker avoided my chair, jumping up with Philip.

Oh, the noise!

NOISE! NOISE! NOISE!

Be Still.

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Over the past couple of days, we’ve all read with horror of the tragedy from Pittsburg, and the Tree of Life synagogue shooting.

Eleven people lost their lives. Eleven. Not because they happened to randomly be in the “wrong place, at the wrong time”, but specifically because they chose to be at their place of worship on their Sabbath.

Eleven people. I challenge you to think of the last time you were with a group of people that had more than eleven people. Typically, if I were in my workplace right now, I would have to say, in my classroom. But for the average community member on Grand Manan, their workplace is smaller, and even at a given moment in ime, eleven+ are not gathered together in one room, at a time.

So, outside of my school, the one place I am in a larger gathering, would be in my place of worship.

At school, we practice lock downs and evacuations, as a “normal” sign of our times, with all the school shootings. That weighs heavy on my heart each time we have to do that. I pray I never have to console a child because a classmate was shot. It is hard enough consoling young people when a classmate has died. Trust me. In my 29 year career, there have been many. And it never gets easier. I thank God for giving me a spirit of compassion to do that. I’ve always vowed, the day a student brings a gun into my school, will be my last day of work.

What has struck me most from this weekend’s tragedy, are the interviews with Rabbi Jeffrey Myers. I tend to avoid the breaking news stories, despite having to endure them as Philip seems to have CNN on, 24/7. I deal with enough sadness on a regular basis in my job, I don’t need to have it invade my headspace in my home, my retreat (thus the frequent escapes to the beach!). I try to avoid the sensationalism, the active searching of people’s brokenness in order to boost ratings, whether it’s for their  boss, or for their own egos.

Last night, I finished watching a tv show when the news came on. I was scrolling through Facebook one last time, before reaching to turn off the tv, and head to bed. I stopped to listen to the words of the spiritual leader of Tree of Life Synagogue, Rabbi Myers. He was recounting his actions on Saturday. He heard a noise, and once he realized it was gunshots, he instructed his congregation to “get down and be still”.

”Be Still”.

Various news articles used different words, such as “get down and be quiet”, whether it was the reporter’s choice, or just another interview the Rabbi conducted that day, and chose different words. But last night, he specifically chose “Be Still”.

I can only imagine his heart at that moment. I think of my own pastor, ever being in that situation. I see similarities between Rabbi Myers and Pastor Karl. Two men of God, with such obvious compassion and devotion to their flocks. Such gentleness, always seeking the good in people. Not necessarily being naive to the evil in the world, but the longing to see through people’s brokenness, and look for the good.

Rabbi Myers admitted with a broken heart, his place of worship had been “defiled”. He refused to believe this act of antisemetism should be solely looked upon as a hate crime. I agree with him, it was a blatant attack on a place of worship, and that in itself takes on a whole different sense of urgency for call of action. It rips at the heart of ALL of our right to worship, no matter the religion, or worship building. It wasn’t just an attack on Jews, but an attack on Christians, Muslims, Buddhists, etc. There is something sacred in that, in that fibre that is woven in our communities. Regardless of one’s personal beliefs, I think there is an underlying respect and reverence for holy places of our fellow man. This gives mankind hope. I know a few would argue church isn’t about a building, but I’m talking about holy spaces. Whether it happens to be at 1235 Route 776, or a little piece of the Anchorage beach. As long as we recognize and respect one another’s need for those spaces in this world, there is hope. Without those spaces, we lose that hope.

Some other words that struck me from Rabbi Myers…

~he will always live with the regret of having to leave those fallen people, left behind in his sanctuary.

~he, unlike several other Jewish leaders, will always welcome President Trump to his city, to his synagogue; because “he is my president”. Such open arms, for a man in a leadership position, that could be demanding action from their President.

~when asked how he himself was doing, he said he hasn’t had time to think about it…he has a congregation that needs him. Even when the offer of having another Rabbi step in to perform these funerals, he declined, because they are “my people”, and that is what he needs to do for his people. Not because it is “his job”, but because he recognizes it as his honour to do this for the families.

Thank you, Rabbi Myers, for showing us a glimpse of God this week, and I’m sure in the days ahead. We will be watching you, needing you.

Thank you, Pastor Karl, for showing us a glimpse of Jesus each and everyday you serve our community, your people. My heartfelt gratitude, as we close out Pastor Appreciation month.

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Being Still Now. Here. Being Still NowHere. Being Still Nowhere.

Last week, I enjoyed another early trek out to Swallowtail for the sunrise. I had pretty much decided that would be it for the season. The temperatures are going down; warm drinks are welcomed for their inner warmth, as much as their hand-warmer properties; extra layers are needed; and perhaps the saddest realization – time to open up the sock drawer. Summer is over with for another year. I’m some glad I decided to go on Saturday, though, for one of the most spectacular sunrises of the year!

I knew a friend was coming to visit the island from Scotland. I was excited to see her again, as she hadn’t made it over this past summer, as hoped. She had been messaging me, insisting we had to go to Swallowtail when she arrived. Various friends had been messaging me over the summer, requesting the same tour guide service. Of course, I was happy to oblige, much like last summer’s friendly tourist destination of Castalia Marsh, to seek out the petite, mysterious and rare Burrowing Owl we had vacationing here. It has been really great to be able to continue this into the fall this year.

A miscommunication on my part, thought she would be arriving on the late ferry Saturday night, after a long drive from Halifax Stanfield International Airport. Surely, she would not be up for the sunrise adventure on her first morning here?!

At any rate, I had decided to snuggle in the back family room of the house, where I can’t see the morning sun. This would make sure I wasn’t tempted, and I could continue my leisurely start to my Sunday morning routine.

Then there was the text.

“Nice glow this morning. …. I’m awake. I could do it this morning!”

Seriously?! A friend travels half way around the world, must be enduring jet lag, and I have the nerve to think for one moment, I should just take a rain check?! HA!

Of course, I jumped up and gathered my things.

And the heartfelt hug in the parking made it all worth it. Welcome Home, Eileen!

Some mornings, I just want to stay put. I know some of you are thinking “EVERY morning… !” But I really am a morning person, so I truly enjoy the silence of the early part of my day (and usually before Philip is up to rattle around in the kitchen, preparing his morning coffee before he turns on CNN and gets his morning dose of Trump…NOW do you see my need to escape?!)

The last couple of weeks, I’ve had this nagging feeling to just stay in my lazy boy and skip my new Swallowtail ritual. I was partly blaming it on the changing calendar, and lamenting on the fact six weeks have already passed by, of my leave from school. SIX WHOLE WEEKS! (I wasn’t counting eight weeks of July and August, as those are normal vacation times for me… this fall is truly a gift). I was reminded of a conversation at market this summer, with friend Claus… he chided me for my Wednesday Facebook updates of each passing week of my holiday. He was right. Oh so right. The whole point of my leave was to Be Still. I needed to step back a bit. That’s when I started going to Swallowtail more often. Tried getting out everyday on a mini-adventure on our island. Taking in life, and the beautiful surroundings God has given me.

But it came to a screeching halt yesterday, when I came across this Ted Talk by Pico Iyer.

And the title?!

The art of stillness.

THE ART OF STILLNESS!

Well. Thank you, God, for that bonk on the head.

If you have 15 minutes, it’s worth a listen.

https://www.ted.com/talks/pico_iyer_the_art_of_stillness?language=en

My take-aways?

“Sitting still as a way of falling in love with the world and everything in it;”

Finding a sanctuary, a place apart from time, is not so different from finding a faith.” 

“Going nowhere, as Leonard Cohen would later emphasize for me, isn’t about turning your back on the world; it’s about stepping away now and then so that you can see the world more clearly and love it more deeply. •” 
 Pico Iyer, The Art of Stillness: in the early hours?!)Adventures in Going Nowhere

I need to remember how important it is to go nowhere. Not by going nowhere. But by sitting in my lazy boy, early on the morning every once in awhile.

So, this morning, I sat. And saw the glow starting above the tree line. And even Dalton sends me this morning’s pic from his front yard, knowing it will speak to my soul, too…And still I sit. Making a conscious decision today to Be Still no where. And breathe.