Monthly Archives: February 2014

My friend and teacher


I have a friend who I’ll call Jane. She is in her 80’s, and we first started hanging out last year because she needed help with grocery shopping. We would walk together (very slowly) to No Frills, pick up some food, walk back to her rooming house, and share some tea and cookies (or pop and crackers, depending on the week!). She always offered me something to eat, even if she wasn’t feeling well enough to go out. And she always wanted to chat.

When I met her, she was living in a house with about 7 other seniors. The conditions weren’t great, and she often told me that one of her housemates had “sticky fingers”, so she always kept her door locked. While she made plenty of loud complaints about her housemates, she also made a point of celebrating everyone’s birthday. She would buy ginger ale and a cake, and get everyone to sign a card for the birthday person. She also gave me a card for my birthday, graduation and Easter.

I’m sure she would have given me a card for Thanksgiving too, but in the late summer Jane had a stroke. Her ability to eat, speak and move the right side of her body were taken away. When I went to see her in the hospital, all she could do was cry, and all I could do was hold her hand and tell her that I loved her and that we missed having her around The Dale. It was brutal to see this vibrant, hilariously chatty, relatively independent woman confined to a bed, unable to communicate except via her tears.

A few months ago, Jane was transferred to a long term care facility across the city from where I live. I still get to see her every couple of weeks, and these visits are precious to me. I’ve realized, over the last year of our friendship, just how much Jane has taught me.

She taught me how to slow RIGHT down, and be in the moment. When we went for groceries, I needed to change my quick, long stride to match her shuffle. This was surprisingly hard to do, in our fast-paced world, but so good.

She taught me the beauty and importance of hospitality.

She taught me to celebrate everything, in the midst of crummy circumstances, and to celebrate everyone, even if they cause you frustration.

And last week she taught me another lesson. I was reading The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe aloud to her, when her feeding tube machine started to beep. A nurse came in, made some adjustments, and left. I read another paragraph, then it started beeping again. The nurse came in again, pushed some buttons, and left. This happened at least 4 or 5 times. By the third time I was getting annoyed, but when I looked up from the book, I saw that Jane was giggling! This was huge on a couple of levels; it was the first time I’d seen her laugh since her stroke, and she was laughing instead of getting annoyed! By the fourth and fifth time, we just looked at each other and chortled! In that moment, she taught me the power of humour over annoyance.

I’m so thankful for Jane, my friend and teacher.

Beautiful moments


This afternoon a friend came into the Thrift Store for our coffee/chat drop-in, and excitedly showed me a book he’d taken out of the library about the teachings of Jesus. Tonight he came to our Bible Study at Coffee Time. He’s feeling determined to turn a new page, do battle with his addictions, and has decided to rely on Jesus and community on this journey. Beautiful.

At the end of Bible Study, I chatted with the Coffee Time employee who often works on Tuesday nights. She is very gracious about our sometimes-rowdy group, and we’ve gotten to know each other a bit, over the months. I told her tonight that, if she wanted, we would be happy to pray for anything she asked us to pray for. I was thinking along the lines of health/family/work struggles that she might have. Instead, without missing a beat or batting an eye, she said “World peace. Pray for people in the world who are in trouble, like in Syria.” Beautiful.

I just got off the phone with a dear friend who has been in the shelter system for over a year. She phoned to let me know that she had finally been given an over-flow bed in one of the city’s women’s shelters. As usual, she asked me to pray for her, and then she prayed for me. She prayed that I would sleep well tonight, and know that I am loved.


As the day rises to meet the sun


I often start my day by reading from a book called “Common Prayer: a liturgy for ordinary radicals”. The first line is always the same: “O Lord, let my soul rise up to meet you as the day rises to meet the sun.”

Due to the incredible generosity of some friends who invited me to join them on their family vacation to Mexico, I had the joy of watching the sun rise over the ocean a few days in a row last week. It was beautiful, and humbling to remember that I wasn’t actually watching the sun rise… I was rising, along with the day, to meet the sun. The sun doesn’t disappear at night, we simply turn our back on it. And the sun doesn’t revolve around us, we revolve around it.

Thanks be the God, the same applies to Him! God is there, whether we turn our backs or allow ourselves to bask in the light. We change. We go through seasons. God does not. He shines brightly whether or not we acknowledge Him. Without the sun, there is no life, and without God, there is no sun and no life!

I am deeply grateful to have had this time away to rest, reflect, read, swim, eat, swim, read, reflect, swim, eat, rest, swim… you get the idea! And I am deeply grateful to have a home like The Dale to which to return!

And I am going to try to remember, every morning, that we are rising together to meet The Sun.