Last Christmas our daughter, Emily, gave us a promissory note for a vegetarian cookbook. You might remember that historically, Emily has been on tour with a couple of her bands and was away a lot.
Covid changed all that for all of us and Emily actually had time to release her first, full length album. (Bad Buddy). Great reviews and they were working on creating music videos before our latest Covid rules closed the door on gatherings in our homes. (Our numbers are the highest in Canada and for the next 3 weeks we can’t even visit with people in our “bubble”.)
Anyway, surprise surprise we received this beautiful cookbook the other day. “Let’s Never Meat Again” is a beautiful book that Emily created for some our family members…us included~ ! Although we are not vegetarians (neither is Em!) we love to eat vegetarian meals and Emily has come up with delicious ,easy to make recipes.
She told us that when she finally decided to finish the book she made every single meal in one day so that she could take all the photos (which are gorgeous) and be done with that part. Wow! That would be SOOOOO exhausting. But the food she made for the book looks scrumptious and apparently her friends got to eat the spoils after she was done with the photos. Lucky them!
Terry tried following the first recipe in the book last night and let me tell you ….it was YUMMY! We enjoyed cauliflower/mushroom tacos and tonight we get the leftovers . Yay!
I usually have the blessing of working out(aquafit)in a friend’s condo pool but with the crazy high Covid numbers rising daily I decided to try walking outside for my exercise .
Although today was pretty mild by Edmonton winter standards I was not too warm in my long parka. I decided to try an idea that I heard about which supposedly prevents glasses from steaming up if you wear a mask. Now even though I didn’t really feel I needed a mask (as I didn’t even pass any person on the street) I thought it would be a good experiment .
If you put a band-aid on the bridge of your nose and attach the other half to your mask it actually really works to prevent the steaming up of your glasses. My sunglasses were perfectly clear during my whole walk. I did have to laugh about how the experiment did fail on another level. When I am outside in the winter I always need a Kleenex nearby for the proverbial runny nose. I tried to lift up my mask to blow my nose and then my mask strap broke off from my right ear…ha ha. Then ,when I decided to remove the mask and band-aid I might have lost a layer of skin . Youch!
I can see how if you are a surgeon maybe and you have to wear your mask with glasses indoors this would be a great idea. Also your mask wouldn’t slip. But …not for me.
I found the walk through my neighbourhood decidedly dangerous with ice patches on most sidewalks interspersed with very slippery snow. I had to walk very slowly and look down a lot so I certainly did not get my heart rate up.
But I did have time to take photos along the way . I saw the biggest crow I’ve ever seen. Hard to tell from the photo but I would say he was the size of a medium size dog. His beak was huge and sharp looking. Let’s just say I did not want to upset him.
I was outside for about an hour and proud of myself for attempting it . Terry told me that the running path in the river valley is much safer with packed snow and sanded too. I’ll have to try that next.
Back to the Christmas cards. I’m working on all things to be mailed for Christmas early this year as I’m guessing Canada Post will be inundated with parcels and cards from people who are no longer travelling home.
THE LITTLE WHITE ENVELOPE: “It’s just a small, white envelope stuck among the branches of our Christmas tree. No name, no identification, no inscription. It has peeked through the branches of our tree for the past ten years.
It all began because my husband Mike hated Christmas. Oh, not the true meaning of Christmas, but the commercial aspects of it – overspending and the frantic running around at the last minute to get a tie for Uncle Harry and the dusting powder for Grandma – the gifts given in desperation because you couldn’t think of anything else.
Knowing he felt this way, I decided one year to bypass the usual shirts, sweaters, ties and so forth. I reached for something special just for Mike. The inspiration came in an unusual way.
Our son Kevin, who was 12 that year, was on the wrestling team at the school he attended. Shortly before Christmas, there was a non-league match against a team sponsored by an inner-city church. These youngsters, dressed in sneakers so ragged that shoestrings seemed to be the only thing holding them together, presented a sharp contrast to our boys in their spiffy blue and gold uniforms and sparkling new wrestling shoes.
As the match began, I was alarmed to see that the other team was wrestling without headgear, a kind of light helmet designed to protect a wrestler’s ears. It was a luxury the ragtag team obviously could not afford.
Well, we ended up walloping them. We took every weight class. Mike, seated beside me, shook his head sadly, “I wish just one of them could have won,” he said. “They have a lot of potential, but losing like this could take the heart right out of them.” Mike loved kids – all kids. He so enjoyed coaching little league football, baseball and lacrosse. That’s when the idea for his present came.
That afternoon, I went to a local sporting goods store and bought an assortment of wrestling headgear and shoes, and sent them anonymously to the inner-city church. On Christmas Eve, I placed a small, white envelope on the tree, the note inside telling Mike what I had done, and that this was his gift from me.
Mike’s smile was the brightest thing about Christmas that year. And that same bright smile lit up succeeding years. For each Christmas, I followed the tradition – one year sending a group of mentally handicapped youngsters to a hockey game, another year a check to a pair of elderly brothers whose home had burned to the ground the week before Christmas, and on and on.
The white envelope became the highlight of our Christmas. It was always the last thing opened on Christmas morning, and our children – ignoring their new toys – would stand with wide-eyed anticipation as their dad lifted the envelope from the tree to reveal its contents. As the children grew, the toys gave way to more practical presents, but the small, white envelope never lost its allure.
The story doesn’t end there. You see, we lost Mike due to dreaded cancer. When Christmas rolled around, I was still so wrapped in grief that I barely got the tree up. But Christmas Eve found me placing an envelope on the tree. And the next morning, I found it was magically joined by three more. Unbeknownst to the others, each of our three children had for the first time placed a white envelope on the tree for their dad. The tradition has grown and someday will expand even further with our grandchildren standing to take down that special envelope.
Mike’s spirit, like the Christmas spirit will always be with us.” For the Man Who Hated Christmas
(A true Christmas Story by Nancy W. Gavin, December 2015)
I read this story online and thought it was such a great example of the true spirit of Christmas. Something for all of us to keep in mind as we enter into the season of giving.
In my church today is the feast day of Christ the King. What do you think of when you think of a king? Perhaps you think of someone uncaring who sits on a throne and forces us to bend to his will? Perhaps one who has an abundance of riches , who only cares about the mighty, and who has all the power?
Interesting then that Jesus says, ( New International Version) “….. the Son of Man did not come to be served, but to serve, and to give his life as a ransom for many.”
How can a King also be a servant? I think this song says it well….
WHATSOEVER YOU DO
Whatsoever you do to the least of my people That you do unto me.
When I was hungry, you gave me to eat; When I was thirsty you gave me to drink. Now enter into the home of my Father.
When I was weary, you helped me find rest; When I was anxious, you calmed all my fears. Now enter into the home of my Father.
When I was homeless, you opened your door; When I was naked, you gave me your coat. Now enter into the home of my Father.
When in a prison, you came to my cell; When on a sickbed, you cared for my needs. Now enter into the home of my Father.
When I was laughed at, you stood by my side; When I was happy, you shared in my joy. Now enter into the home of my Father.
Jesus said these are the things to do if we want to enter into the home of his Father. He also called himself “The Good Shepherd” and said that when He finally comes in all His glory , just as a shepherd separates the sheep from the goats He will separate them one from another: sheep on the right, goats on the left. To those on His right he will say, ” Come, you who are blessed by my Father. Inherit the kingdom prepared for you from the foundation of the world. ” And the”goats”on His left? He will say,”Depart from me, you accursed, into the eternal fire prepared for the devil and his angels. For I was hungry and you gave me no food, I was thirsty and you gave me no drink, a stranger and you gave me no welcome, naked and you gave me no clothing, ill and in prison, and you did not care for me……What you did not do for one of these least ones, you did not do for me.”
How can we serve each other?( “Whatsoever you do to the least of my people, that you do unto me.” )
A servant yet a just King. Let’s look for ways to take care of our ‘brothers and sisters’ this week.
I saw this guitar case leaning on a water hydrant near the corner where I make the turn into our alley . It looked like the guitar was getting a transfusion of water…ha ha.
Thinking more upon this ….I like this metaphor for music. I get energized by my faith and my faith is living water. (John 4:10) My faith inspires me to write music and I am hopeful that my music inspires others. It is a circle.
We might feel alone at this time …especially during the pandemic. It feels sometimes like no one cares about us . Chris Hadfield, the Canadian astronaut and commander of the International Space Station, once joined in song with a group of students in a studio on Earth. Together they performed “Is Somebody Singing” (co-written by Hadfield and Ed Robertson)
One phrase of the song says : ” You can’t make out borders from up here “. Covid has separated us but so have many other things …prejudices, ethnicities , ideals, age groups, locales, nationalities, traditions and belief systems… just a few of the reasons.
But our God doesn’t see us as separate from one another. We are one and all he asks is that we love Him and that we love each other. (John 17:21…”That they all may be one, as You, Father, are in Me, and I in You ; that they also may be one in Us.”.
We are not alone. Keep singing. Keep hoping. Keep listening to “That song you heard singing in the leaf when you were a child” . And keep singing songs of praise to the One who is there waiting for you .
You might not be able to sing in a church and maybe your partner will insist that you only sing in the shower…ha ha …but you won’t believe how uplifted you will feel to bellow out your song!
Have you ever felt the need to be forgiven? It is a terrible feeling . People talk about sadness ‘weighing them down’ but it’s true. When you hurt someone…. you truly hurt yourself too and it does feel like a heavy burden.
Have you ever forgiven someone? This has the opposite effect. You feel lighter and freed from carrying around your anger and the person you forgive (if they are aware of it) can feel even freer!
Is there someone in your life that you need to forgive ? Think about doing so this Advent. Advent is the the season leading up to Christmas and it starts four Sundays before Christmas. (This year Advent starts on November 29th and ends Christmas Eve, December 24th).
Perhaps you have to forgive yourself? I am lucky to have the Sacrament of Reconciliation at my church. It is a gift to be able to unburden myself of my transgressions and start with a clean slate so to speak.
Just today I found out that I truly hurt someone with my careless words. I am still devastated by my thoughtlessness. But the person I hurt reached out and forgave me after I asked for pardon . It was as if my spirit burst out of my chest with relief and thanksgiving for the undeserved kindness offered.
Our forgiveness can mean SO much . It is healing for both parties. And who knows how much goodness can be spread by this simple act of kindness?
Today I was given this gift. And now I want to go forth and be a better person because of it.
There are four of them. They stood together over 40 years ago and still do.
Most of their boards are showing their age and there is a bit of grey at the top but they are happy to be together. Their structures creak and groan sometimes in a strong wind but their colour is still strong.
And so is their bond. They hold something within that others might not have. It is golden. A treasure. And they guard it and nurture it as the years go by.
They feel the sun on their backs and it feels good. They have withstood many storms . Once upon a time one of their member became a little more broken down . He came and added new materials and the others supported her in their way. She stands again.
They look forward. They see what is going on. They have been here before. And they will get through this too. They look at each other and they gather another strength. They love. Their laughter draws others to them. The wind hugs them and they sing together. They sing of other days. They sing of thanksgiving for what they have known. They sing for the joy that they have been given for so long.
Others might just hear the strains of age but they feel young when they remember.
LAKOTA CODE OF ETHICS 1. Rise with the sun to pray. Pray alone. Pray often. The Great Spirit will listen, if you only speak.
2. Be tolerant of those who are lost on their path. Ignorance, conceit, anger, jealousy – and greed stem from a lost soul. Pray that they will find guidance.
3. Search for yourself, by yourself. Do not allow others to make your path for you. It is your road, and yours alone. Others may walk it with you, but no one can walk it for you.
4. Treat the guests in your home with much consideration. Serve them the best food, give them the best bed and treat them with respect and honor.
5. Do not take what is not yours whether from a person, a community, the wilderness or from a culture. It was not earned nor given. It is not yours.
6. Respect all things that are placed upon this earth – whether it be people or plant.
7. Honor other people’s thoughts, wishes and words. Never interrupt another or mock or rudely mimic them. Allow each person the right to personal expression.
8. Never speak of others in a bad way. The negative energy that you put out into the universe will multiply when it returns to you.
9. All persons make mistakes. And all mistakes can be forgiven.
10. Bad thoughts cause illness of the mind, body and spirit. Practice optimism.
11. Nature is not FOR us, it is a PART of us. They are part of your worldly family.
12. Children are the seeds of our future. Plant love in their hearts and water them with wisdom and life’s lessons. When they are grown, give them space to grow.
13. Avoid hurting the hearts of others. The poison of your pain will return to you.
14. Be truthful at all times. Honesty is the test of ones will within this universe.
15. Keep yourself balanced. Your Mental self, Spiritual self, Emotional self, and Physical self – all need to be strong, pure and healthy. Work out the body to strengthen the mind. Grow rich in spirit to cure emotional ails.
16. Make conscious decisions as to who you will be and how you will react. Be responsible for your own actions.
17. Respect the privacy and personal space of others. Do not touch the personal property of others – especially sacred and religious objects. This is forbidden.
18. Be true to yourself first. You cannot nurture and help others if you cannot nurture and help yourself first.
19. Respect others religious beliefs. Do not force your belief on others.
20. Share your good fortune with others.
I just thought I would remind us all of the wisdom found in these twenty Lakota Code of Ethics. Off to work on #1…..