In Court…

I have not been in court for awhile.

Before the pandemic, I regularly attended criminal court in our historic courthouse as a volunteer court observer. I prayed silently for the judge, the lawyers, and the people who have gotten themselves in trouble with the law.

The causes of criminal behaviour are common everywhere: poverty, and society’s lack of care or understanding of human needs, emotions, and motivations. And of course, there is the underlying issue of human sin.

In our town, as in many places, alcoholism and substance abuse play a large part in criminal behaviour.

‘Charlene’ is a regular in court because she threatens people when she has been drinking and loses her social inhibitions.

‘Steve’ is a regular too. On his last time in court he was found guilty of stealing from the liquor store.

‘George’ is waiting sentencing after his 5th DUI conviction.

‘Gloria’ spends her money on substances, and, while hungry, broke into a local establishment to get food. (Our local food bank is usually almost empty).

Rehabilitation services are greatly needed on our island, as they are almost everywhere.

Although Western Society considers alcoholism as a disease, there are world religions which consider alcohol consumption to be SIN.

Because I see so many people who cause trouble for themselves and others, through consuming alcohol, I choose not to drink it. Of course, I respect the decision of those who choose to drink.

I keep coming to court to observe and to pray, because I know that through the power of the Holy Spirit, people can change their behaviours.

Jesus said that he came not for the righteous, but he came to call sinners to repentance. ( Luke 5:32)

I have witnessed the joy of people who have conquered their addictions, and changed their lives for the better. Jesus is in the business of turning Sinners into Saints.

Pictured is our historic courthouse.

*names have been changed

Feeling Unheard ?

Do you sometimes feel like your family members, friends, or co-workers are not listening to what you have to say ?

Feeling ignored is an uncomfortable feeling ; we all rightly expect to be shown respect, and listened to.

If you habitually feel this way, ask yourself if you are making any of these common communication errors :

  • Do you speak too softly, or too quickly?
  • Do you mumble ?
  • Are you talking too much ? Do you often complain, or criticize ?

  • Do you yell to get someone’s attention ?

It is important to be able to see the person we are trying to communicate with. Talking to someone from another room is rude, and results in miscommunication. However, this, of course, does not apply in case of emergency.

Perhaps the best course in communication training occurs when one communicates with young children for years. My words were always brief and concise. They still are, since people generally have short attention spans.

At the same time, I always listened carefully to the children. Children who are not carefully listened to, often become adults with poor listening skills.

I also encouraged children, from a young age, not to interrupt others. Interrupting people displays a lack of manners. If someone decides to interrupt me, I just keep talking. Usually people get the message !

Although people may not ‘hear’ us, for a variety of reasons, God always hears us. Whether our prayers are long and eloquent, or whether they are simple pleas for help, God hears the prayers of his children. He loves us, and he hears us. He answers our prayers in his way, and in his perfect timing.

Pictured is ‘Paris’ a seaside Golden Retriever.

Biophile ?

I am a biophile.

You may be one too.

A biophile is someone who has a great love of nature, and who appreciates and cares for God’s creation, and his creatures.

Biophilia is the philosophy that humans are created to live in harmony with nature. Our sense of well-being increases in a natural environment.

I visit the neighbourhood pond most days.

The ducks recognize me, and swim over to see me, knowing that I bring them organic corn niblets as a special treat.

These Northern Pintail Ducks arrive each Spring from their wintering grounds in the south.

Within a few weeks, the pond is filled with mother ducks and their ducklings. The father ducks (drakes) leave the pond before the ducklings hatch. They are not ‘dead-beat dads’, however. They fly away because their striking black and white feathers would attract predators to the nests.

The ducklings are now as big as their mothers.

Pictured is our last ‘party’ of the season.

It is getting windier in rural Newfoundland, as the season changes.

Soon, with no more special treats, and the colder weather, God will once again guide them on the long flight to the warm places where they spend the cold months.

Let us thank the Lord continually for his beautiful creation, and may he motivate us to care for it.

I’ll Be Honest With You ?

Are there any expressions that make you cringe ?

I am on high alert when I hear someone say: ‘I’ll be honest with you…’

This tells me that the speaker may not be honest all the time, but that he/she is claiming to be honest with me.

It is an uneccessary expression. We should always be honest (it is the best policy). Therefore, it becomes redundant to ever use the phrase ‘I’ll be honest with you’, or, similarly, ‘honestly’.

If we develop the unfortunate habit of being less than honest, we quickly lose our integrity, and people begin to trust us less. Trust, in relationships, is always difficult to regain.

Let us ask the Lord to help us become people of truth and dependability.

And, let us be alert to those who say: ‘I’ll be honest with you’.

Pictured are neighbourhood ducks.

How To Talk To A Man

We must avoid gender stereotypes at all costs !

Nevertheless, neuroscience supports the fact that male and female brains are ‘wired’ differently.

I grew up with brothers, and greatly admired my father. My own family is also male dominated.

Since I have spent much time talking with boys and men, I’ve observed their verbal communication style. While these observations are generalizations, they are supported by sociological research.

I offer the following, in the hopes of better understanding, and facilitating communication :

  • men’s communication style is task-oriented, and is focused on problem solving. Words are used as a necessity towards achieving a goal. This contrasts with women, who often view talking as a way of bonding, or achieving greater emotional intimacy. While a woman may desire a man to listen, and provide empathy for some difficulty that she is experiencing, men will generally seek to ‘solve the problem’ for her. Usually women will desire empathy, and a listening ear, as she works out her own solutions to a difficulty.
  • men generally are more comfortable with silence. Often women will perceive lack of talking as a symptom that something is wrong in a relationship.
  • men generally prefer to use fewer words, and use them as necessities in achieving a goal. Flowery descriptions of the decorations at a recent baby shower you attended are often not appreciated.
  • men generally are more direct communicators. They prefer not to deal in innuendos, game playing, or ‘mind reading’. Say what you mean, and mean what you say. Always avoid giving someone ‘the silent treatment’ as a form of ‘punishment’. Stonewalling destroys relationships.

  • men do not appreciate being asked to multi-task. (No one should be asked to do this). Male behaviour and language patterns are action-oriented, and goal driven.

I have learned never to attempt a conversation with my husband while he is driving !

  • men, being problem solvers, and task oriented, thrive when they know that they are appreciated, and respected. Please, tell them this, often.

It is healthy, and vital, for both men and women to develop close friendships with members of the same gender. I cherish, and appreciate my female friends, as my husband likes spending time with his buddies.

May God give us the grace to recognize that our close relationships are gifts from him, and may we treasure them, and nurture them.

Pictured are stones, and a tiny starfish, in the ‘backyard’ .

Calm People

Do you know any calm people ?

You will know them because you feel calm when you are around them.

Calmness, or inner peace, is a quality that radiates to others, and comforts them.

I was sitting by the harbour yesterday, enjoying the reflections in the exceptionally calm water.

I was thinking about the calm people in my life, and the qualities that they have in common. Here are some of their characteristics:

  • they live in the moment. This is the calmest place to be.
  • they are excellent listeners, and do not interrupt
  • they rarely seem to be in a hurry
  • they move, and speak, relatively slowly
  • their voices are soothing, and not loud
  • they are optimistic and encouraging

  • they do not complain, and do not discuss negative topics
  • they don’t gossip about others
  • they have a great sense of humour, and laugh easily
  • they are flexible, and can ‘go with the flow.’

The friends and family members I know who are genuinely calm, and possess inner peace, are those who stay focused on Christ.

Christianity is a religion based on relationship. We serve and worship a loving God, who desires a personal friendship with each one of us, through Jesus.

Jesus, the Prince of Peace, offers us a deep inner peace, and a confidence, and calm, that the world cannot give.

He asks that we trust him, and that we obey him.

As we see how he is with us through every circumstance in life, and how he provides for us so miraculously, our faith grows stronger, and our sense of calm grows. The Lord is indeed with us always (Matthew 28:20)

Let us ask for the grace to share the peace of Christ with others.

Smoke… ?

It looks like a puff of smoke on the ocean !

But then you look again, and you realize that the ‘smoke’ is really a spouting whale, and you know that the giant yearly visitors have arrived !

It is time for whale watching now, and we can see them clearly from our upstairs windows.

No one knows exactly why whales ‘breach’, or jump high out of the water. Scientists believe that either the giant mammals are playing, or, they are communicating to other whales that there is food nearby. Once a whale breaches, often other whales will appear too.

When they land on the water, they make a loud splashing sound.

This year, because of the lack of tourists, I don’t need to do my job of ‘Watching the Whale Watchers.’

I have witnessed, in years past, tour boats getting too close to the whales, and harassing them. There are fines, in Canadian waters, for approaching the whales too closely. I watch the sea through my binoculars, and report offending boats to fisheries officers.

Last year, I was part of a successful lobby, through which the Canadian government passed a law forbidding whales and dolphins to be kept in captivity.

Here, by the sea, one develops a great love for these giant mammals, and it is important to allow them their freedom.

The sea belongs to the Lord, and everything in it.

Let us pray that humanity will increase its desire to clean up the pollution in our oceans, and may we be always be thankful for the beauty that God has created for us to enjoy.

Photo courtesy of Silas Baisch on Unsplash.

Do You Mind ?

Since you are a writer, I believe that you, like me, like learning new things.

The other day I was researching how many times the word ‘brain’ appears in the Bible.

I was surprised that it does not appear at all !

This is because, during Biblical times, people believed that thoughts, feelings and emotions originated in the heart, which is mentioned 826 times.

However, the word ‘mind’ is mentioned 96 times, and we are told in Matthew 22:37, to love God with our ‘heart, soul, and mind’.

So then, I thought I would do a casual study on where the mind is located.

This was no simple study ! Instead, this question has interested numerous philosophers and scientists, including Plato, Descartes, and Freud, for thousands of years.

The mind, according to some research, is located partly, but not entirely, in the brain.

I thought I should spend some more time researching this, but I changed my mind. The amount of information was ‘mind-boggling’.

Local strawberries are in season now, so I thought I would make a strawberry shortcake instead.

Pictured is Rosa Rugosa, also called ‘Beach Rose’, in the garden.

These plants are amazingly resilient, and have a beautiful fragrance.

Neighbourhood Cannons

Do you sometimes ignore things that don’t interest you ?

I must have passed the pictured cannons hundreds of times before I finally paid close attention to them, a couple of weeks ago.

They are exactly two hundred steps from my house, and yes, I counted the steps !

Since they were used for fighting and war, I tried my best to ignore them.

But, with all the violence and demonstrations going on in various parts of the world lately, I asked the local historian why the neighbourhood cannons are there.

There was a fierce battle that took place in our neighbourhood in 1704 !

Apparently, French forces attacked, wanting to destroy our town.

The historian was unsure of the reason for such aggression, nevertheless, a big battle took place here.

An Englishman, Michael Gill, rallied the townspeople, who defeated the French invaders. Our area remained under British Rule.

And thus, the cannons remain, as a symbol of English victory.

I thought perhaps the community might want to move them; perhaps we should hide symbols of war and aggression.

No, it is best to keep the cannons.

History cannot be re-written. It is filled with countless wars and battles. Human Nature is fallen, and frail. The cannons are a reminder of that. God knows exactly how weak and flawed we are, but he loves us.

However, as we come to know the Lord, our fallen nature changes.

When we are empowered by the Holy Spirit, we grow to become increasingly Christ-like in our thoughts and behaviours.

The building in the photo is Canada’s oldest standing wooden building. It was built in 1714 (approx) as a fish storage building. Today the upstairs loft is used in the summers as a yoga studio.

The Dancer

He loved to party and dance !

And, he enjoyed telling us about it.

The worshippers sat spellbound as our priest, newly arrived from an Asian country, told us about the time he led a group of seminarians to a local pub. There, they drank, and he danced on a table.

I looked around to see people’s reaction. Some were laughing. I was shocked.

A few weeks later, during another homily (sermon), the Father described how he had once smashed his vehicle and was charged with a DUI violation, before he came to Canada.

Something was wrong here, but no one said anything.

This is because parishioners, especially poor worshippers, have been conditioned for centuries that it is a grave sin to ever question anything a priest says or does.

We should have listened to our intuition. Human intuition is often remarkable accurate.

It was not the Father’s drinking that led to his eventual unexplained disappearance, although it contributed to it.

Alcohol impairs judgement.

The reform and purification of the church will depend, in large part, on laypeople who are attentive, discerning, and assertive.

God expects us to speak up when we suspect wrongdoing.

Pictured is our neighbour’s house.

Rural Newfoundlanders have, unfortunately, experienced much clergy betrayal.