Flow Moments…

A friend and I decided that we would try to find a new beach each week. I like to collect shells and driftwood; she likes to collect rocks. We both like to paint and sketch.

Last week, after a few wrong turns, we found a little-known beach down a narrow lane. There were few cars in the parking lot, and just as we’d hoped, the beach only had a handful of visitors.

It was a pebble beach with a soft susurration of rolling stones each time a wave receded. Like all beaches in my part of the world, it was strewn with huge logs, left behind from the logbooms that used to fill the waters. They make perfect sitting spots, and being weathered and greyed by time and nature, they added a quiet ambience to the scene.

In the distance, a line of mountains with one larger one behind them, looming in all its snow-capped glory, reminded us that we weren’t back East any more.

Sue sketched, and I dragged out my old water colours. It had been nearly twenty years since I’d painted on site in the outdoors, so I felt clumsy and inexperienced. As well, many of the paint tubes were dried up or their caps were frozen on tightly. However, I made do with those I could open and tried to capture the beauty around us.

It was one of those perfect “flow” moments when time ceases to exist and all the world around seems to hold its breath in the stillness of the spirit. I realized it had been some time since I’d had a flow experience and I decided then and there that I would make a conscious effort to find more of them, for it’s in those moments when I most feel the breath of God upon my neck.

May you have flow moments in your life to day.


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The Sounds of Silence…NOT!

Once the weather turns warm, we usually enjoy our morning coffee on our deck. Most of our friends know that eleven o’clock means “the pot is on and you’re all welcome”, so we never know who will show up to sit in the sun, watch the hummingbirds at their feeders and the little finches at their own banquet table, listen to the calls of the blackbirds on the lake and all the little woodland sounds around us.

Today was no exception – except for one detail.

The huge mechanized logging equipment which is used to clear-cut lands was busy on the other side of our lake, over the hill, out of our sight. However, there was a brisk breeze  from the southwest and every sound echoed and multiplied across the water and onto our deck. It was a deafening roar, punctuated with the occasional boom of dynamite.

Conversation was impossible, and reluctantly, we took out coffee cups indoors.

All I could think of was the spreading swath of lodgepole pine, towering cedars and beautiful fir trees that were meeting their demise amidst the cacophony of huge engines. I thought of all the little birds who would no longer have a nest, and of the eagles that we know raise their young there every year. I mourned for all the animals that called that particular woodland “home” – not just deer, but cougars and black bears, rabbits and small woodland creatures – who were now running for their lives. Yet more acres of this wondrous land that God has created was being destroyed by men who thought only of more dollars in their pockets.

Our little city, a suburb of Victoria, is one of the fasted growing communities in all of British Columbia. That means that subdivision developments are swallowing up every available inch around us, crowding out fields and forests, while condos spring up where little houses used to sit on quiet streets – all in the name of progress. It’s a story that plays out time and time again in communities everywhere across North America.

There must be a better way. A way that lets us remain custodians of the land, not destroyers. A way that honours the Creator.


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Go forth and multiply…

Our small lake is home to two Canada Geese who come back to nest each year. They arrive in early spring and take up residence on the far side of the lake in a corner where there are no cottages or houses.

For the next couple of months, each time someone or some creature walks down to the shore or goes out on lake, the two vigilant parents fly up from their nest, honking and calling in loud indignation.  They circle over the lake and the surrounding houses, mine included, their cries echoing among the trees. The noise that two geese can make is pretty impressive, and they’ve woken me up many mornings.

This year, I hadn’t seen them out on the lake with their brood, so I was beginning to think that perhaps a raccoon might have found a tasty breakfast of eggs, or that the little ducklings were a lovely lunch for some of the other lake residents.

This morning as I took the dog for her walk, we circled round to our usual stop by the water’s edge where a convenient bench makes the perfect place to rest and enjoy a quiet space. Not today. As soon as we came onto the green, the most awful racket filled the air. Where we usually sat was now filled with geese – many geese. I stepped back and counted them.

Eleven geese – two very large ones, and nine almost as large ones. I realized that I was seeing this year’s “crop” of Canada Geese. They were magnificent and obviously, completely in control of the situation. My little dog stepped back behind my legs as eleven pairs of beady eyes turned to regard us.

I was amused to see that the two parents were in front of the family, even though they were only marginally bigger than their offspring. Even at this late stage of the parenting cycle, they were still protecting their flock, flapping their wings and honking loudly.

My children are all grown now and I have grandchildren as well. Yet, when push comes to shove, I still feel the need to protect my son and daughters. I still worry about them, think about them, pray for them, miss them and love them. Age does not dim parenthood. The urge is always there.

And so it is with God. We are God’s “little flock”. In our Creator’s eyes, we are still beloved children no matter how old we are or how sophisticated we think we’ve become in our spiritual life. God nourishes us, protects us, guides us and keeps us safe in the palm of God’s sheltering hand. The bible tells us that the Creator has counted the hairs on our head, that the Creator knew us before we were yet born, that we are beloved and treasured by the One who is with us always.


(The photo below shows Mom and Dad in the water by the lakeside early last spring).



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Whatever the Weather…

Have you ever had a little ditty suddenly spring to your mind out of nowhere? Today, I suddenly found myself remembering the little weather poem I learned back in grade school.

“Whether the weather is cold,

or whether the weather is hot.

Whatever the weather we’ll weather the weather,

Whether we like it or not.”

Maybe it surfaced because I’ve been looking at the weather channel. It seemed as if every story was about some terrible weather event that is happening. If it wasn’t a terrible weather event, it was weather that was totally apart from the norm. Typhoons, tornadoes, hail storms, floods, heat waves, and cold snaps – they were all there.

I know that weather is not easily predicted – just ask any weather person on the news cast and they’ll agree – but we seem to have moved into a new era of weather. Right now, we’re in the midst of a colder than normal summer, with a lot more rain. I’m still wearing my warm sweat shirt and jeans, when I’d rather be in shorts and a halter top. But, on the other side of the country, they’re underneath a hot, muggy weather system that’s bringing temperatures up into the high 90s. This, after a drought.

And in the middle of the country, terrible rainstorms that have flooded a number of towns.  Plus the tornadoes in places that never saw a tornado before.

I find it unsettling to think that the weather is out of control. All the old records for heat and flood, for cold and snow, are being broken left and right. Reputable scientists are now warning us that the earth is heating up too much, and that these weather events will continue to be more frequent and much worse. “Global warming”, whether you believe it to be human-made or part of a natural cycle, is upon us.

Some see the changing weather patterns as just one more sign of the end times. I don’t know how far I believe that, but there’s no doubt that something is going on. If nothing else, it should give us pause to think of how we are living our lives – whether we are walking the path that God has set before us, or whether we are forgetting the Prime Directive: love God and love our neighbours.

Could it be that the extreme weather is a wake-up call. If it is, is anyone hearing it?


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Rising to the Top…

I knew when we moved here that the garden hadn’t been touched in years – many years. I could see that the “bones” were still there, but it was wildly overgrown and sadly neglected. But in such chaos, there are always surprises – I discovered a small garden pond, almost totally hidden by overgrown water plants and a thick coating of duck weed.

It’s taken me a few weeks to clean the muck and mess, cut back the plants and replenish the black brackish water. To my surprise, there was a stone coping around the pond that had been covered with thick moss, and stepping stones in the little garden around it, buried deep in debris from the trees overhead. Slowly, the beauty of the original pond began to emerge. I left a thin layer of debris on the bottom and added a small fountain so that the garden is filled with the ambience of tinkling water.

Then I headed for the pet store and bought five gold fish. I’ve never kept pond fish before, so I had no idea whether or not they’d survive in my refurbished pond. There was still debris in the water and it was still brownish. But I slipped the fish out of their bag and watched them swim to the bottom, out of sight.

They seemed to like the dark depths and all I could see was the occasional flash of orange. However, when no little white bellies appeared on the surface, I considered the re-homing of the fish (which I whimsically named Fred, Frieda, Fanny, Flo and Faisal), to be a success.

That was a few days ago. Each morning, I dutifully sprinkle fish food on the surface, and although they are more visible now, not one of them makes the trek to the surface to enjoy the food.

I think there is a lesson to be learned here. How often do we swim in the murky depths of our hurts, our angers, our worries and our sorrows? How often do we ignore the light above us and keep our eyes downward on the debris of our lives?

Even as we circle hopelessly in our despair, the bread of life awaits us if we will just allow ourselves to rise up and accept it.

I haven’t given up hope that one morning, I will see five little fish enjoying their breakfast on the surface.

God hasn’t given up, either.



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