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’.

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.