The Letter ‘t’

Do you remember the strangest question you have ever been asked ?

Mine came from a former student, who was very bright and inquisitive.

One day she approached me after class and asked : ‘Why do you wear the letter ‘t’ around your neck ?’

I explained that this was not a letter of the alphabet, but instead, it was a cross, a symbol of Christianity, and I told her that I was a Christian.

I often wonder whether she further further investigated the Christian faith.

In a part of Canada, called Quebec, it is now against the law for employees of publicly- funded institutions to wear symbols of their religious faith while at work. The law came into effect in 2019.

We are living in a post-Christian era ; Canada has officially been a secular country since 1967.

What this means for us is that we cannot assume that most people know what Christianity, and the good news of salvation is about.

My husband has a colleague of another religious faith, who, since he noticed eight different church buildings in our village, asked us, shyly, which one is the Christian church.

This should not discourage us. However, it is a ‘wake up’ call, telling us that we need to work together, as followers of Christ. We know that our Lord wants us to work in harmony, as believers who share a common faith.

People who do not (yet) know the Lord are watching us more carefully than we might realize.

They notice what we say, and what we don’t say , and how we present ourselves in public. They observe how we treat others who hold different values than we do, and they watch our facial expressions when we think that no-one is watching us. ( before mask wearing).

They have observed whether we have remained consistently peaceful and patient during the pandemic, knowing that God is in control.

In the coming days, all of us are going to have additional opportunities to serve the Lord , according to our different giftings.

May God give us the grace never to become discouraged.

He has chosen us, and has uniquely prepared us to further the Kingdom of God at this point in history.

May we not disappoint Him.

The Sermon

Lisa tried to light up a cigarette while she was on the witness stand in our courthouse.

The sheriff stopped her.

She was there because she had threatened someone, after a night of drinking.

I was there in my role as Court Observer.

Lisa was frustrated , and visibly agitated , because there was no judge in the courtroom.

We cannot afford video conferencing, and so, on days when the judge can’t show up, he telephones the court, and the call is placed on speaker phone.

When Lisa realized that the judge was listening to her, she began her defence.

She told the court that she knew she was a sinner, and that she had a chronic problem with alcohol. She knew that threatening was wrong, and she promised the judge that if he excused her, she would never threaten again.

Then she reminded us that one day we would all stand in front of the judgment seat of God, and that we would all be judged for what we have done, and what we have failed to do.

It was one of the finest ‘sermons’ that I have ever heard.

The judge, moved with mercy, dismissed her case.

Unfortunately, eight weeks later, Lisa was back in court. She had threatened someone again. Addictions are the cause of much criminal behaviour. And, underlying addictive behaviour, is emotional pain that must be recognized and dealt with in a healthy manner.

Our village realized that we were in desperate need of more addiction services. After years of lobbying, we received government funding for a Wellness Centre, which will provide counselling services. The centre hopes to be in operation by this summer, if the pandemic is resolved.

Court will continue once covid restrictions have ended.

I pray that I will not see Lisa there again.

Jesus came, not for the righteous, but to call sinners to repentance.

The Lord came to set the captives free.

(Name has been changed.)

The photo is courtesy of iStock Photos.

We lived in this neighborhood for a while, before moving to a quieter home in a fishing village.

The scenic Battery neighborhood in St. John’s, Newfoundland


The men had small piles of ashes on top of their heads.

I was up at 5:30 a.m. this morning, watching the live Ash Wednesday Celebration from St. Peter’s Basilica.

Due to covid restrictions, the ritual of believers having a small smudge of ashes in the shape of a cross rubbed on their foreheads has been changed.

Instead, ashes were sprinkled on the tops of believers’ heads.

Pope Francis was very generous in distributing ashes on the heads of priests , who were the first to receive them. I was fascinated by the small piles of ashes on top of their heads.

The ashes were distributed with a sombre reminder that we came from dust, and will return to dust.

Life is fleeting, and fragile.

Let us pray for the grace to continue to walk in trust, and in obedience to the Lord.

We need reminders, sometimes, such as ashes, to remain focused on the things that have eternal value.

And so, the forty day long season of reflection, penitence, fasting and almsgiving has begun, and we are moving towards the celebration of Easter.

May God strengthen us on our Lenten Journey

The photo is courtesy of Pixabay.

Flowers are not generally placed in churches during the season of Lent.

Purple is the liturgical colour of Lent.

Speciesism ?

SOS is the universal symbol for distress.

SOS also stands for a growing youth movement in North America, called ‘Students Opposing Speciesism’.

I confess that I had to research the meaning of speciesism, but I learned that in these days of politician correctness, speciesism is another form of discrimination that we are being asked to avoid.

First coined by Animal Activist Peter Singer, the term refers to the ‘error’ of considering some species more valuable than others. For example, we should not discriminate and say that a dog or cat is more valuable than a frog, or a mouse.

We must be careful, according to SOS, never to use animal names as slurs.

If we rudely call a greedy person a ‘pig’, or a lazy person ‘slothful’, then we are discriminating against pigs and sloths.

According to SOS, backed by PETA, a growing animal rights group, I should feel a constant low-grade sense of shame, since I live on an island that was founded on the cod fishing industry.

Fish have feelings, and have been observed playing. Therefore they should not be eaten, claim animal rights activists.

I remember, however, standing at the site by the sea of Galilee where Jesus made a fish breakfast for his disciples, several of whom were fishermen.

We live in times where animal rights are increasing, while respect for human rights, especially the unborn, and the elderly, is decreasing.

Certainly God expects us to treat his creation with respect.

However, we need to ask whether all the goals of animal activists conform to the Word of God.

Nevertheless, I will remind myself to use the word ‘greedy’, rather than the word ‘piggish’.

The photo is courtesy of Getty Images.

A Time to Imagine

Do you, or anyone you love, enjoy the game of football ?

My husband is a former football player, and when we married , he hoped that I would develop an interest in the sport that he enjoys so much.

He was endlessly patient trying to teach me how the game works ; he even bought me a football, and taught me how to throw a ‘spiral’. Alas, after careful instruction, I still have little understanding of how the sport works. It is confusing to me.

I appreciate the tremendous athleticism of the players, but when I watch a game, all I see is running, tackling ( looks painful), football throwing , catching, and kicking.

Last week my husband invited me to watch the NFL Super Bowl with him. I knew that, as usual, I would not understand what was going on, but football watching inspires my imagination.

The two teams on the field remind me of the universal battle between good and evil.

Although we might feel that ‘the bad side’ in the world is ‘winning’ these days, this is only an illusion.

With Christ as our quarterback, we will have the ultimate victory, in God’s perfect timing.

Watching the game also reminds me of the ongoing struggle between the carnal nature , and the spiritual side of every believer.

I know what I should be doing, according to God’s will, but sometimes I do what I don’t want to do, and sometimes I don’t do what I should be doing.

Paul clearly describes this interior struggle we all face, due to our human nature, in Romans 7:15.

When I watch huge stadiums packed with cheering fans, I imagine how great it would be, someday, post pandemic, to see so many people enthusiastically praising God. He deserves and desires to be worshipped by his people.

When the Super Bowl ended, my husband was happy ‘his team’ had won, we had finished our snacks, and I felt inspired to continue placing God first in my life.

If God is for us, who can be against us? (Romans 8:31)

The photo is courtesy of Pixabay.

Curious ?

Are you a curious person ?

Since the United States Capitol Building has appeared so frequently in the media in recent weeks, I was curious to find out what the statue on top of the Capitol Building’s dome is.

The statue is ‘The Statue of ‘Freedom’. It was created by the American Sculptor Thomas Crawford, and placed in 1863, several years after Crawford had died. ( Now I am curious again…how did they get the statue up to the top of the dome…?)

‘Freedom’ is the statue of a woman wearing a toga, furs, a laurel wreath and a helmet with an eagle at the top. She holds a sword in her right hand, and a shield in her left.

She represents the value of freedom, which Americans, and most people hold dear. She faces East, perhaps symbolizing America’s independence from Great Britain.

Is freedom important to God ?

Yes. So much, in fact, that he designed humans, his beloved creatures with free will.

We can freely choose to love him, obey him, and worship him.

We are, however, also free to choose to ignore him and to accept the consequences.

In recent weeks, for pandemic and political reasons, our freedoms have been restricted, and we have become increasingly aware of how precious freedom is.

Although freedom of speech can be censored, freedom of thought and belief cannot.

And so, we pray, as the early disciples did, ‘Lord, increase our faith’

The photo, found on the internet, is of the Statue of Freedom, in Washington, D.C.

Jumping to Conclusions

Have you ever felt that you had nothing to write about ?

This happened to me recently . I jumped to the conclusion that I must be experiencing cognitive decline !

So, I hastily signed up for an on-line ‘Brain Training’ program called ‘Brain HQ’.

It is a fun program, which I believe is effective.

The program assured me that cognitive decline is not my problem.

Instead, I had been experiencing ‘writer’s block’, a common phenomenon.

Perhaps you have experienced this too.

In Psychology, there is a phenomenon called ‘Jumping to Conclusions’.

This is a thinking pattern characterized by making hasty decisions without gathering all the necessary evidence. Conclusion jumping can cause stress for us, and can hinder our relationships as well.

It is a normal to feel apprehensive about cognitive changes as we age.

My husband reminded me that moderate exercise and a healthy diet are important to our over-all health, including our cognitive function.

He also reminded me of the importance of keeping our weight, cholesterol levels, and blood pressure readings within normal limits, as these factors are also important in maintaining healthy brain function.

May God give us the grace, and the wisdom to consider all possible options before reaching hasty, and inaccurate conclusions.

Pictured are ‘Scott’ and ‘Sarah’, in our backyard. We are having a mild winter on our friendly island.

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.