PUSHING THE RIGHT BUTTONS

My computer is a great mystery…correcting my mistakes, giving me great information on Google and printing off reams of material that my children will no doubt dump after I am gone.  There are still many buttons on it that I am a little scared of…what will happen when I push them is a mystery I am not anxious to solve…will my whole article go up in smoke?  Who knows.  I know there is a lot of stuff that has disappeared..to where I don’t know.  What happens to those emails that never arrive?  I know that Andrew Faiz (previous editor of The Presbyterian Record) once received an email from me that was supposed to go to an old friend.  Luckily it was not x-rated, but then none of my stuff is, but he kindly reported back with a small story of his own.

There are two very helpful buttons on my computer…the delete and the backspace are invaluable, especially to one who still remembers the manual typewriters of old.

I worked in a Patent Attorney’s office in Ottawa for several years, many years ago. Each typed patent required about 5 carbon copies and they had to be perfect.  Make an error and you had to gently and very carefully erase and retype the messed-up word.

Now a red line appears when I misspell or am ungrammatical and wonder of wonders a tiny press of the delete or backspace button and all is forgiven.

It is hard to accept by many that God’s salvation works much the same way.  A sincere,”I am sorry…please be merciful and forgive me,” is much like the delete and backspace.   Suddenly you don’t have to pack all those errors around anymore.  The sheet is wiped clean and God’s Spirit is there to put a red line under upcoming errors.  He guides and protects you.  He really cares!

The present generation (of which I too am a part…a worn part, but still good for something) believes they have created much and have all the answers.   Funny, God was way ahead of them.  He had the answers planned right from the beginning of time.  He knew we would make mistakes and had the delete and backspace buttons written right into our lives.  Thank you Lord.

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HELPING HANDS

We at one time, owned a corner grocery store.  My husband often said those were the best years of his life.  He watched the children in the neighbourhood grow up and chatted with all the mothers.  I am sure there are some young adults in town who remember buying their first pop or candy bar at our little store.  One day I did run into a clerk who was working there who remembered Harry owning it years before and then she got wide-eyed when I said I was Harry’s wife.

Our girls learned to clean the outside lot (people seemed to refuse to use the garbage cans set out), then they were promoted to cleaning shelves and finally to working the till.  I hope they have some good memories of it.

It left me with some memories of it too.  I especially remember walking behind a mother who was towing along her small son across the parking lot.  He was stumbling all over and finally she looked down, whipped off his short pants and did some adjusting.

“He dressed himself, this morning”, she announced.  “He put two legs into one pant-leg”.

We both laughed.  I guess we’ve all had days like that.

It did make me realize that we spend our whole lives learning…right from dressing ourselves to being moms and grandmothers.  It is a long learning curve and we often need a helping hand to do some readjusting.

I am a great believer in independence and even when very little I insisted that I could do things I had little skills for.  I had one broken leg and many a bump and bruise when I attempted to do things I was incapable of doing.

Similarly, seldom shy, I got myself in hot water with teachers, students and friends.  Uncontrolled passion about life with its fun, music, drama and dance, put a lot of grey in my mother’s curly hair.

But I never apologized for my faith.  Even when young, I was evangelical…preaching to my friends, burying my dead cats with a full service of prayer and praise…teaching tots at church Sunday school and just being a bit of a nuisance I think.  All preparations for being an Elder in the church I guess.

But like the little boy with the readjustment problem, I had lots of help..  God knew when I needed it and somehow when in my enthusiasm, I messed up…He sent someone, like a mother or father or friend, to pick me up, dust me off and set me back on my feet.  He’s truly a love, caring Lord.

 

VARIETY IS THE SPICE OF LIFE

Someone I know well once scolded her husband for putting the cutlery in the dishwasher incorrectly…”The spoons all line up beside each other and they don’t clean properly” she explained. “If you add a fork or two that splits them up and they clean better.”

Yes, it makes more work when putting them back into the cutlery tray, but she was right.

A row of daffodils is lovely, but I rather like a mixed flower garden and although I have become a bit lazy in my eating habits, a meal of rice alone does not cause my mouth to water…it needs a bit of chicken on the side.

I look at my group of Bible Study ladies each Friday morning.  You could not find a more diverse group…the faces as familiar to me as the faces of my pansies in the back garden and as different.  And their gifts are diverse also; some quiet spoken, some as determined as I am to get in their two cents worth.  One has a resounding laugh that delights us and another one a giggle…yes a giggle (and she is a grandma.)

God put Adam and Eve in a garden with a variety of trees.  Trust us to choose the wrong one…but God knew we would be bored if there were only one type of tree.

It reminds me of a photograph I saw of a forest with one small flowering tree.  Your eyes were automatically drawn to the flowering tree.  Being different from the group is okay too.

I know there are people that think flowers are flowers and cats are cats but those are people who have never had cats and can’t imagine the types of personalities they have, nor do these people garden…they would be astounded by the different scents of roses…and no, they do not all smell the same.

How wise of God to decide we would be grouped in families, with a diversity of ages and personalities.  How bland my life would be without those Facebook photos of my ever growing great-grandchildren.   And the memories of my own children and grandchildren enrich my thoughts each day.

One summer when I was sixteen I worked in a canning factory watching strawberries…watching hundreds of strawberries go by on a moving surface in front of me…now that is really boring and one summer was enough.  But sometimes I look at what is being offered on TV nowadays and feel much the same way.  Luckily I am a book lover and as it says in Ecclesiastes 12:12 “of the making of many books there is no end.”  So there wall always be many books to choose from.

They say each snowflake is different also.  Actually the only thing we can count on being the same yesterday, today and forever, is the love of the Lord and for that I am truly grateful.

WEDDING WIMSEY

Carefully, I lift the grey cardboard box from the shelf and climb up the stairs.  Sitting around the living room are my “Bible Study Ladies”…the group has grown to ten so every seat is filled, including the balcony, as I call it, (behind the chesterfield, in front of the dining room table).

The ladies watch in awe as I open the box, pull back the wrapping and start to life out my wedding dress.  I have worn it three times…for my wedding, my 40th anniversary and my 50th.

The first ceremony took place in Ottawa in 1953… a tiny group of maybe twenty to witness an event that would last 54 years.   The second wedding was witnessed by family and a few friends in the old house on 108th Ave. A dear friend, our Minister and my boss (I had been his Church Secretary for five years), read out the vows which we repeated, again.  And then our 50th, at Forbes Presbyterian when I finally had the “Big” church wedding I had always dreamed about.  On the arm of my grandson, I walked down the aisle while my Harry looked on with so much love.  He reached out to clasp my hand and suddenly the faces around me faded and it was just us two, together.

Sentimental yes, but beautiful memories.

So today I lift out the dress and lay it across the carpet.  It is a soft satin with a deep train of heavy lace and lace inserts at the sides.  Tiny covered buttons cover it from waist to the collar and the neck and lace inserts run down the sleeves.  It was once a very light ivory but through the years it has mellowed.  Much like myself.

Years tend to that to people and to ivory satin.  Experiences mark us…grief, happiness, hope, disappointment,loss and gain.  You don’t get out of this world unmarked.

There is a history captured in that dress…I have shared it with my family in a book called “Reflections”.  It is all about my faith, family and friends.  I want them to know that my faith followed me every step of the way… that tragedy did not overwhelm me, that as doors closed, God opened windows, that his love and faithfulness carried me all the way. I want so badly to leave this legacy for my family…the house, car, jewelry and a bit of insurance are nothing, just please God, let them know You!  That is my prayer for those I love so dearly.

 

MOMENTS OF MEDITATION

Each morning when I open the blinds and each evening as I close them, I observe moments of meditation.  There is always something interesting…like pictures in a book.  The sky is painted differently in the first dawn of day than it is in the first darkening of dusk.

In the morning I invariably ask God for direction for the day and at evening I give thanks for that direction.  And there are birds each morning to remind me that God looks after his bird kingdom as well as his children and sometimes the final sparkle of fading street lights across town in the morning tell me it is time to turn my own lights off and that my nighttime rest is over and the day must begin.

Today I looked up at the beauty of the morning heavens, then looked down at the street below my window.  What a mess that street was.  Recent freezing rains had left it as slick as any hockey rink and earlier snows were piled up like dirty laundry along the sides.    I could see patches of green grass that reminded me that somewhere under all this sodden mess is the promise of spring.

It is sometimes hard to live in both worlds…the messes of earth and the promises of heaven.  I guess the promise of spring is like the promise of heaven.  We believe each winter that spring will come, regardless of how things might look right now and also, as Christians we believe there is a place for us in heaven.

I guess our job is to clean up the messed up things of earth as best we can with God’s help and wait for the promise of spring and the same goes for what is in our personal lives..for God has given us the promise of heaven.  Both are on the agenda…we’re just not certain of the date.

CHANGING ATTITUDES

As a Protestant, with very strong Protestant attitudes most of my life, it has been a bit of a shock to my system lately to realize that many of my attitudes about the Catholic faith are changing and need a lot of adjusting.

The things that I believed for years were based on things taught at a much earlier time.  I have changed and really so have many things in the Catholic Church.  And of course the fact that I have a much loved grandson, who is a Catholic  priest has certainly influenced me…and I like to think I have also influenced him.

The icons, the church paintings and statues, the vestments of the priest all confused me and then the other day I found something that changed my attitudes somewhat.

I have recently moved into a retirement home…small room, limited storage space and consequently I left a lot behind but one thing I refused to leave behind were my husband’s love letters.  We were apart for a year before we were married and Canada Post was kept in business with the letters flowing between B.C. and Ontario.

Those letters are just paper and ink and yet they represent a year of longing and loving someone very dear, someone that my whole life was wrapped around.  I could live without them but I could not live without what those memories represent.

I still have not a clear understanding of what all the icons and paintings, etc. are in the Catholic faith but I believe they represent the story of the love of the Lord that was lived out by those pictured and with that memory comes a deeper understanding of the love of God.  A Catholic might say I have it all wrong but for me it helps me better accept things that may not be a part of my earlier understandings of the Catholic faith.

It has taken me many years, and the love of a small boy, now a grown man, to help shape these new concepts.  If I expressed these thoughts to him today he would probably give me a big hug and a delightful smile and say, “I love you grandma,” and I think the Lord would look down on the two of us and be pleased.

 

MY OWN MAGPIE

It is winter.

My only feathered friend in view is my area magpie.  I look for him each day.  Usually he is sitting at the very top of the poplar tree beside the fence but today I look and he is way west of his usual vantage point.  He seems to be sitting on air…I grab my binoculars, oh yes, the bare tree branch he is perched on is almost invisible, especially now that my eyesight is fading a bit.

I am not a great lover of magpies..they tend to chase everything out of their territory.  The other day I saw a chickadee in the tree outside the bay window and I was a excited as a small child that had been handed a gift…Wow, a chickadee.

I recall, years ago,  seeing my small grandson kneeling beside the open patio doors watching a small kitten and calling to it softly, “come in please.”  I wanted to say much the same thing to the chickadee…”Please stay”, but a few minutes later it was gone.

But when magpies are all you’ve got, then it is magpies you watch.  Actually they are rather pretty with their black and white outfits, but I have not yet learned to love them.  But I know God does.

They muddle through the winters up north, when the geese are long gone and somehow they survive.  They teach us endurance and faith in a Father that consistently provides for his children, even for the magpies which are interesting but not necessarily endearing.

God is kind to us too…his children that are sometimes interesting but not always endearing.  We have a lot to learn from God and magpies.

The first blast of winter always puts me on edge and this winter I have decide to give up driving…but not church, and luckily there is a handibus to take me to the door. My magpie seems to take things so much better in stride.  His means of transportation is simpler and I doubt if he worries about getting to the south side on Sunday mornings.  Maybe he just has more faith than I do.