Everyone Must Bow

Everyone, rich or poor, must bow at the entrance to the Holy Cave where Christ was born, because the entrance to this sacred place is quite low.

In Bethlehem, the present Church of the Nativity was built in the year 595, over the blessed cave.

Steps from the Church descend into the area where the original manger stood.

Catherine the Great, Empress of Russia, made a pilgrimage to the site of the Nativity in the 18th Century.

She brought with her a large icon, called the Panagia (holy one) of Bethlehem.

Apparently, after being in this holy and humble place, she made a decision to never wear lavish jewellery again.

The beautiful icon now hangs near the entrance to the birthplace of our Lord.

In the photo is a small replica of the famous icon, which I purchased in Bethlehem. For me, it brings back memories of kneeling at the site where the manger stood.

It has been a challenging year, and Christmas may be different for all of us. Perhaps it will be simpler, and less materialistic.

God is with us in all our difficulties, and so we proclaim :

‘O come let us adore him, Christ the Lord’.

This is my last blog post.

Thank-you for following this blog.

I have greatly enjoyed reading your blog posts.

Merry Christmas, and may God continue to richly bless you, and guide you.

Healthy Aging

Do you agree that a healthy old person is qualified to give healthy aging tips ?

Our attitude towards aging is significant. Do we embrace, or fear aging ?

Josh Shipp, in his writing, reminds us all that we have a choice of becoming better or bitter. We need to choose whether we will allow the ‘gift of years’ to make us better people who share joy with others, or whether we will become bitter, through focusing on the inevitable changes and losses that we all experience on our earthly pilgrimage.

There is only one letter change between ‘better’ and ‘bitter’, but it brings such a difference in meaning.

I begin each morning with thanksgiving that I have been given another day to grow closer to the Lord.

Then I anticipate the blessings that the day is sure to bring.

God delights in giving us good gifts.

Here, the sounds of the sea are soothing , seagulls put on great acrobatic displays of flying in front of our windows, and, many evenings, the sky will put on incredible shows of colour.

Let us ask for the grace to pay attention to the large and small wonders around us everywhere.

An attitude of gratitude pleases the Lord, and it will serve us well as the years go by.

Photo of a Newfoundland outport by Simeon Miller

Routine ?

Are you a spontaneous person, or do you prefer routine ?

I find a routine comforting, especially in times of great uncertainty.

My days begin with prayer, as I sit in my chair, facing the direction of Ireland.

As much as I enjoy routine, I have learned to expect the unexpected.

This morning a ship is here, but it is not one of the fishing boats that I am used to seeing.

A Canadian Navy ship is here.

I do not know it’s purpose.

It is a reminder however, of men and women in the military, whose valuable work protects all of us.

I continue my prayers, but now they are for the people on that Navy ship.

Such is the nature of intercessory prayer. It is prayer for the needs of others.

The people on the Navy ship do not know that I am praying for them, but God does.

I notice that my beeswax candle should be replaced now, as it has grown short.

These candles are also part of my morning routine.

They remind me to stay optimistic.

God is in control.

The Unthinkable

We never thought this could happen on our friendly island.

A woman’s mother passed away, and she was not allowed to attend her funeral.

It was early in the days of the pandemic, and our island created strict travel bans.

The police were given instructions to ‘detain’ anyone suspected of being a tourist.

The woman, who lived in a different province of Canada, applied for an exemption to the travel ban to be with her family members during their time of grief.

Her request to come to Newfoundland was denied.

This, understandably, upset the woman, who hired lawyers to sue the government. She claimed it was unconstitutional to prevent Canadians from travelling freely in their own country.

After a trial, the judge ruled in favour of the government, saying that in pandemic circumstances, our island had a right to protect its citizens.

The woman is now appealing the court’s decision.

Here on our island, we have a reputation for caring for our neighbours.

When we were told to wear masks, maintain social distance, and avoid socializing in groups, we were compliant.

Our grocery store installed a large sink for hand washing, in the produce section, and signs were placed, warning : ‘Please Do Not Squeeze the Produce.’

Plexiglass barriers appeared remarkably quickly in public spaces.

At the local duck pond, signs were placed, telling us to walk in the same direction !

Currently in NL, we have 10 people who are sick with Covid-19. Through God’s mercy, and our citizens’ commitment to care for each other, rates of illness have been comparatively low.

I wish, though, that we wouldn’t use the term ‘cases’ of illness.

Each ‘case’ is actually a person, and their loved ones who are affected by this strange virus.

Although some people will argue that people should be allowed their individual ‘freedoms’, above all, we need to also consider the common good.

God asks that we love our neighbours, as we love ourselves.

We also need to protect our neighbours, as we protect ourselves.

Let us continue to pray that an effective cure for this illness will soon be found.

And I pray also for the devastated woman who was isolated from her family in her time of grief.

Photo courtesy of Pixabay


Do you have a favourite outdoor spot where you go to pray, or meditate ?

I like to climb a hill in our village, called White Rock.

For years I’ve come to this peaceful place, when circumstances seem discouraging, or overwhelming.

I climb more slowly, and much more carefully these days, since I am in the 7th decade of life.

However, when I reach the top of the hill, I have a new perspective, and, for a while, I forget about current global circumstances.

It is impossible to fully understand God, since his thoughts are higher than our thoughts, and his ways are higher than our ways.

(Isaiah 55:8-9)

J.I. Packer reminds us that it is not helpful for us to try to pry into God’s secrets.

I must accept the fact that God owes me no explanation for why He does what He does.

Spending some quiet time on top of the hill helps me to better understand these truths, and helps my faith to grow.

I descend the hill as slowly and as carefully as climbed up.

At the bottom, my leg muscles are tired, but I feel peaceful and encouraged.

I am once again able to pray sincerely, ‘thy will be done’, rather than

‘my will be done’…

Pictured is the view from the top of White Rock, in November.

A Lesson From Smudges

Sunny days can be stressful for housewives !

When bright sunlight streams in through our windows facing the sea, I notice dust, fingerprints and smudges that are not obvious when it is cloudy.

The other day I was particularly annoyed by the smudges on my stainless steel fridge. Recently I’d been reading about the new Samsung ‘Smart Fridges’ which did not show fingerprints, and which even have screens that could look up recipes, and more !

Surely I deserved such a fridge, I enviously thought.

Just then I was prompted to go look out of the front window at the root cellar in the field across the laneway.

Electricity did not come to Newfoundland Outports until the 1970s.

Before then, carrots, potatoes, and other root vegetables that had been grown by housewives during the summer were kept, during the winter months in root cellars. They were partly underground, and cold enough to preserve the vegetables during the cold months. Families in our historic neighbourhood greatly relied on these root cellars to sustain them during the cold months. These were their ‘fridges’.

Seeing the root cellar reminded me that I had been guilty of the sin of covetousness, in thinking about how I deserved a ‘Smart Fridge’.

This is a sin which displeases God, since it tells him that we believe that what he has given us is not good enough.

I apologized to the Lord for being envious, and cleaned the fingerprints from my fridge, while thanking God for his many daily blessings.

Photo of an outport root cellar by Jules Torti.


Some rules are puzzling, aren’t they ?

Clotheslines were not allowed in our Ontario neighbourhood.

It was felt that they were unsightly, and would reduce property values !

Here in rural Newfoundland , almost everyone has an outdoor clothesline, and traditionally, laundry is done on Mondays, weather permitting, after the observance of the Sunday day of rest.

Sunlight and fresh air help to disinfect laundry, and help fabrics stay new-looking longer.

Today I am drying silk pillowcases, under the watchful eye of our Seagull pet, Scott, who is sunning himself.

I am happy to report that with the realization that electric clothes driers are great energy hogs, and with the movement towards green energy, many Ontario communities have now stopped their restrictions against outdoor clotheslines.

May God help us to increasingly enjoy the simple pleasures of life.

And may He, by his grace, help us not to take any of our freedoms for granted.

Fingers and Pens

Pointing a finger at someone is considered rude behaviour.

If you are lecturing someone, while speaking loudly, and pointing a finger at them at the same time , this behaviour is perceived as aggressive.

Last night I witnessed how a pen can add to this aggressive posturing.

I was watching the US presidential debate.

One of the candidates brought a black pen to the podium with him.

There was obviously no time for writing anything during this fast-paced interchange.

The candidate held the pen in his right hand, and repeatedly used it to point at his opponent. The body language was aggressive. What was his purpose in repeatedly pointing that pen at a fellow politician ?

If I had been his opponent, I would have asked him to stop pointing that pen at me.

Often people in the media will hold onto a pen as a prop, perhaps to give the impression that they need to be prepared to write down something very important, at any moment. This is usually not the case.

I am going to stay away from the media until after the election.

I will choose to pray, since our prayers are greatly needed at this time.

The Lord asks us to pray for our leaders, and those in authority, so that under their leadership we can lead peaceful lives.

May God bless America.

The pictured pen is a gift my husband gave me years ago when I completed my Doctorate.

I have never used it to point at anyone.

A Big Butt Problem

Are plastic bags still allowed where you live ?

Our island has banned them. They caused 2% of our plastic pollution.

However, we have a big butt problem here. Every year trillions of cigarettes are smoked globally, and most of the butts, or (filters) are disposed of improperly. Islands, like ours, are greatly affected by butts, which create almost 25% of our plastic pollution.

Butts contain cellulose acetate, a type of plastic which can take decades to decompose. Discarded butts make their way into waterways, where they dangerously pollute the water and endanger marine life.

Ironically, cigarette manufacturers originally placed filters on cigarettes to give smokers the false illusion that they are inhaling less poisons when they smoke. This is not the case.

What can be done about the butt problem ?

California is leading the way. A company called ‘Greenbutts’ is working on biodegradable filters !

The City of Vancouver, Canada, has enacted bylaws which impose fines ranging from $100 to $10,000 for littering with cigarette butts.

However, we need to continue to discourage tobacco use through addiction cessation programs. I have counseled people wishing to stop smoking. Many smokers try to stop several times before they successfully quit.

On my 1 km walk to the dock this morning, I counted 234 cigarette butts along the side of the roadway.

The Vatican is also doing its part to stop the butt problem. As of 2017, Vatican City, a separate state inside the City of Rome, stopped selling cigarettes.

May God give us the grace to remember to pray for those struggling with addictions.

Pictured is the dock area in our fishing town.

The Whole Truth…

Court was delayed that morning because a lawyer was searching frantically for an eagle feather !

Here, in Newfoundland, anyone giving testimony in a Court of Law can swear an oath on a sacred eagle feather. For indigenous peoples, the eagle feather is a sacred object. It is from a highly esteemed bird that flies closest to the creator.

People can choose to swear an oath on a Bible, or an eagle feather, or they may simply “affirm” to tell the truth.

Do Christians need to swear an oath on a Bible ?

Jesus says ‘no’. (Matthew 5:34-37). As Christians, we are people of truth, and we do not break the ninth Commandment, which commands us not to bear false witness against a neighbour. Jesus says ‘Let your yes be yes, and your no, be no.’

There is another benefit to being habitually honest. It gives us a clear conscience, and thus life becomes more peaceful.

The pictured feather is not a sacred eagle feather.

Instead, it is a ‘gift’ from our Seagull buddy Scott, who visits us everyday for treats, usually bits of cod, hotdog wieners, or the occasional small donut.

We believe that he occasionally drops a feather for us as his way of saying ‘thank-you’.