Time for a Change ?

Are you secretly uncomfortable with handshakes ? I am.

Handshaking started centuries ago in some cultures, as a way of two men showing each other that they were not carrying a concealed weapon.

Times have changed. Populations have grown, and germs have grown more dangerous.

I am not a germophobe, but my research into germs on the palms of hands has convinced me that perhaps it is time to eliminate handshaking. A recent study at the University of Colorado showed that, typically, 150 species of bacteria exist on human hands. Interestingly, this study also showed that usually, women’s hands contain more bacteria than mens’.

Does your physician shake your hand when you see him/her at the clinic ? Please ask your doctor not to. Have you often seen a physician wash her/his hands?

At our clinic , we are also considering getting copper door knobs, since few germs can live on copper. Many health care centres, especially in Europe, are already doing this.

A good greeting, moving forward, would be a smile, eye contact, and a word like ‘hello,’ or, popular in Newfoundland, ‘good day’ ! My favourite greeting is the one that a friend and I share.

He is of the Sikh faith, and when we meet, we bow to each other, with our hands folded, and say to each other : “God is great”. Wouldn’t that be a wonderful way for people to greet each other ?

And, think of how much healthier we would be.

Sedatephobia ?

Have you heard the term sedatephobia ? This is an intense fear of SILENCE , and comes from the Greek word ‘sedate’, meaning silence.

Technological developments have created a noisy and visually stimulating world, in which an increasing number of people are developing a fear of silence. Counsellors are treating more people for this fear, which was fairly rare until the arrival of television.

Sedatephobia can have its roots in some sort of childhood trauma, especially that which involved isolation. Some individuals have become so accustomed to constant media stimulation, that they become afraid of being alone with their own thoughts.

If one has a guilty conscience, for some reason, this discomfort grows in silence. God can choose silence to reveal to us areas of our lives where we need his healing and forgiveness.

It is very quiet here, at the edge of North America.

My husband has a television, but I prefer to connect to the world through WordPress.

The beauty of living in such a quiet spot is that it is easy to listen for God’s still, quiet voice when he speaks to us. God longs to comfort and heal us.

Pictured is our window after a major storm.

No Yelling, Please

Do you know anyone who yells a lot ? I hope not ! People who yell, in anger, have not yet gained full control over their “inner toddler”. We all need to strive to keep our inner toddlers under control, as we move towards emotional, and spiritual maturity.

Yelling, as a social behavior, is ineffective, ( unless, of course, you are warning someone of danger, or you need urgent help).

Parents who yell at their children lose their children’s trust. Scars from being yelled at can affect children for a lifetime, and can result in anxiety disorders, and issues with self-esteem.

Teachers who raise their voices at students quickly demonstrate that they have lost “control” over their classes. Student misbehaviour is usually greatest in classrooms where teachers habitually yell in ineffective attempts to influence student behaviour.

And, relationship partners who yell to gain control over their loved ones often eventually find themselves single.

Anger has been called the ‘iceberg’ emotion, since underneath the anger, which symbolically is visible ‘above the water’, there are other emotions. One of the main emotions underlying anger is fear. Other common feelings underlying anger are humiliation, jealousy, and pride.

A mom, for example, yelling in ‘anger’ at her kids, may actually be afraid that her misbehaving children will grow up to be juvenile delinquents, and she will be blamed !

Yelling is also damaging to our precious vocal chords. If we are careful to avoid straining our voices in this way, we can usually keep our voices sounding youthful as we age.

Let us ask God for the grace to improve our relationship skills so that we lose the impulse to yell at others.

The Unnamed Emotion

Do you have a high EQ ( Emotional Quotient) ?

As a writer, I am sure that you answered ‘yes’, since writers are skilled at understanding and describing human emotions.

Have you ever felt an emotion that you could not name ?

It has been almost six years since I developed an ‘unnamed’ emotion which sticks in my psyche.

After two priests were removed suddenly, without explanation, by his Excellency the bishop, many local parishioners, in shock and anger, fled the parish, and did not return. No shepherd came looking for us.

The replacement priest,newly arrived from Africa, was given strict instructions not to mention anything about the priests’ disappearance.

A close family member of mine reacted to this chaos, secrecy and cover-up in the church by becoming a member of another world religion. He said that it made him feel more comfortable because it had no “priests”.

That is when my ‘unnamed ’emotion, concerning this matter, developed. It is a kind of numb feeling ; emotional numbing is common to trauma survivors. In my case it is probably best that I can’t “feel” this emotion, otherwise it could overwhelm me.

I have no comment to make, expect that I pray daily for more patience, and for my faith and trust in God to grow, even when I don’t understand what God is doing.

I do know that God works through trials and difficulties in our lives, and ultimately we grow spiritually from what he allows.

(Romans 8:28)

In the meantime, I will leave my ‘unnamed’ emotion, and the events that led to it, in God’s hands, and sometimes , I will read Matthew 18:6 ( You know, the verse mentioning millstones and the sea.)

God sees. God knows. God will act.

Lessons From a “Bubbler”

Do you have any ways of making the cold dark winters of the Northern Hemisphere a little more pleasant ?

This year we bought a little machine which we affectionately call ‘the Bubbler’, because when it runs , it makes a gentle bubbling sound like a little running stream, and it sounds super relaxing ! Cold winters can be stressful, and this reminds us of Spring.

It’s actual name is the Saje Om Diffuser. It can be used to diffuse aromatherapy oils into the air, but we just use it as a little humidifier, to make the indoor air less dry and more comfortable in the winter.

“The Bubbler” also creates a beautiful vapour, which is very soothing and comforting to watch. It reminds me of James 4:14 which reminds us that God compares our lives to mists or vapours. That verse reminds me to value every moment, for God has carefully planned our days, and he is delighted when we trust him completely.

I was having a wonderful moment last night. There was a beautiful sunset, the ‘Bubbler’ was making its gentle relaxing sound , and I thought of one of my favourite verses from St. Teresa of Avila:

‘Let nothing disturb you; let nothing frighten you.

All things are passing. God never changes.

He, or she who has God has everything.

God alone suffices.’

Compliments ?

Do you enjoy receiving compliments ?

Both receiving, and giving genuine compliments are pleasurable. And yes, most people, especially children, can tell whether or not compliments are genuine.

We should all be careful not not accidently give ‘uncompliments’. Let me give you two examples of such unfortunate comments.

Never say :’You look good, for your age’. Just say : ‘You look good’, but do not mention age, as this can be interpreted as being patronizing. ( What is someone my age supposed to look like ?)

Another uncompliment that makes me wince is : ‘You must have been attractive once.’ Yikes !

As we age, our souls tend to show on our faces. No amount of potions, lotions, make-up or surgery can disguise a bitter spirit. And, the greatest beauty booster is being in tune with the Holy Spirit who indwells us.

Let us pray for the grace to live in obedience to God’s will, and to follow his commandments, for this is the best healthy aging strategy of all.

Pictured is an outport home after the recent storm of the Century.


Is there anyone who is unaware of the clergy abuse crisis within the Catholic Church today ?

It seems like almost every day more victims are coming forward, describing painful abuse at the hands of clergy.

26 civil suits remain unsettled on our island, while others are in the process of being filed. The island’s western Diocese declared bankruptcy due to clergy claims several years ago.

Newfoundland has one of the highest rates of clergy abuse anywhere in the world. Why has so much hurt on the part of clergy happened here ?

One of the reasons is that areas of the island are remote. Illiteracy rates are high; some adults have difficulty reading at a grade 5 level. Rural Newfoundland fisherman were oppressed by powerful merchants for centuries. This has resulted in a passive population which historically has not dared question authority, especially clerical authority.

Outports often attracted priests who could not be employed elsewhere. Parishioners were conditioned never to question priests ; they were taught to always ‘turn a blind eye, and a deaf ear’ to anything that seemed suspicious.

My friend ‘Betty’ was devastated when the priest who baptised her was later jailed for fathering a child with his 16-year-old housekeeper.

Years later, another priest , who married her, was arrested and jailed for abusing altar boys.

She was further shocked when the ‘charming’ priest who sang an impromptu solo at her son’s wedding, was dismissed without explanation by the local bishop, and went to Toronto to stack shelves at a grocery store. Betty still attends Mass regularly, although she dared not ask his Excellency, the bishop, why the musical priest suddenly chose to change careers.

Accountability is coming to the Catholic Church. It is long overdue, in many places, especially in Newfoundland.

When we moved to this spectacular scenic island, we were unaware of the secrets here. Thankfully, these are being exposed, one by one. Many Catholics, including me, have been wounded by the Catholic Church. It is good that the purification process is underway now.