Benedicta

Yesterday, I attended the requiem Mass for Benedicta, only a few short months after she was conceived.  In a very moving ceremony at St. Theresa’s Parish, I felt prompted to reflect.

Benedicta reminded me that everyone needs a good word
     a blessing
             and to be blessed.

Benedicta reminded me that all life is precious
      and sacred
              and worthy of celebration.

Benedicta reminded me that the shortest of lives here on earth
      often have the greatest of impacts eternally.

Benedicta reminded me that holy rituals
      carry comfort and solace
              when chaotic life events
                       tempt us to despair.

Benedicta reminded me that rejoicing and mourning
      joy and suffering
              laughter and tears
              may all happen at the same time.

Benedicta reminded me that grief expressed communally
      is healthy and healing.

Benedicta reminded me that God makes no mistakes.

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Miracle Eggs

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This is what I would call a miracle.  Honestly, an unexpected miracle.  You wait and see, by golly.  Let me explain.

I was having coffee with a friend a couple of evenings ago and we got talking about the Pokemon Go phenomenon.  She and a couple of other friends had gone out to the Legislature Grounds in downtown Edmonton at midnight the previous night and what do you think they saw there?  Hundreds of people playing Pokemon Go at midnight on a weeknight.

On the good perspective side of the house:
(1) People who have been couch potatoes are now walking.
(2) So, people who are overweight are losing weight and getting healthier.
(3) People are socializing more than they ever have.  “Did you catch this pokemon?”

Some of the more negative aspects:
(1) Children as young as 5 years old were out with their parents at midnight.
(2) People have been lured into bad situations.
(3) People are wandering around inappropriately at all times of the night even.

My friend explained to me one aspect of the game that I find fascinating.  Apparently, and pardon me if I get this description wrong, you capture virtual eggs in this game, and then you have to walk a certain distance to hatch these virtual eggs.  There are eggs that can be hatched by walking 2 km, or 5 km, or 10 km or 20 km.  She had heard from a friend the day before that he had walked 10 km to hatch an egg.

Okay, does anyone else see how we are very easily manipulated?  Seriously, there is an obesity crisis in North America currently.  People are told all the time to get walking for their health….to no avail.  But give them a virtual egg and they are off and running to make it hatch.  Hilarious!!

Please tell me the medical community is kicking themselves for not thinking this one up! From what I can tell, these virtual (i.e., unreal) eggs stand a chance of making a serious impact in the fight against Type 2 Diabetes and obesity.

Miracle eggs, that is what they are.

Ghosts

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I recently read a book that had a profound impact on my views regarding addictions. Gabor Mate wrote In The Realm of Hungry Ghosts: Close Encounters With Addiction.  It was a #1 National Best Seller.

Gabor Mate is a physician in the Downtown Eastside of Vancouver – arguably, the most famous part of Vancouver.  The part that has been set aside for addicts to more freely live their lives, addictions and all.

I can’t write a book review on this right now as I was so enthralled with the book, that once  I finished reading it, I loaned it out right away.  But what Gabor Mate writes about is how trauma informs addiction.  How the level of our predisposition to addiction is related to trauma we have experienced in our past.  After having ministered to the addicted, homeless and/or sexually exploited women on the streets of Edmonton, and hearing story after story after story of most, if not all of these women, having been sexually abused as children, Mate’s book hit home for me.  It makes sense.  The ghosts of past trauma are hungry for us, however many years have passed.

Mate writes various stories of his patients with a great deal of candour, compassion and even humour.  I got the sense that even though he is able to sort of clinically observe his patients, he still carries their stories with reverence and care.

Perhaps the most surprising result for me of having read this book is moving from an ambivalent stance on harm reduction to fully supporting that model of care.

The first chapter of the book can be found in the following link – be prepared to hear the language of the streets within the book – it is raw, often crude, and sometimes difficult to hear.  But for anyone wanting a true picture of what addiction is really like, I highly recommend this book.

Chapter 1 – In The Realm Of Hungry Ghosts

 

Paint

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When the word prompt of “Paint” came today, I immediately thought of a song sung by Julie Meyer.  It is a song that asks God to use me as he would a paintbrush, to paint his picture.  My heartfelt desire today.  Enjoy.

Stubborn

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Think a donkey is the most stubborn thing on earth?  Think again!  Written a while ago, but still relevant…

“Why did you beat your donkey those three times?” the angel of the Lord demanded. “I have come to block your way because you are stubbornly resisting me.”
Numbers 22:32   (New Living Translation)

So, this last week I decided it was time to really get some documentation updated. Throughout the week, I located the necessary paperwork without too much difficulty. Got it all together and after work on Friday, came home, sat down at the computer, and looked for the old files on my computer. Looked through several directories, but the file was not to be found. I wasn’t too concerned because I had the hard-copy in hand, but I stubbornly continued looking instead of immediately retyping it.

I’d been having software problems with Microsoft Word all week. I would go to open up the file with my “Little Devotionals” where I attempt to turn a word into a prayer, and the computer would lock up altogether. I got several different error messages – a “Kernel 32” error of some sort, a “WINWORD” error of some sort in the “USER.EXE file”, a “system dangerously low in resources” error, and finally, it just locked up completely Friday night. I was dumbfounded. I sent a “please help” message to a friend of mine, Tom, who is good with this stuff, and he recommended I uninstall Word and then reinstall it. So, I did that – nada. I did it again, just in case – nope. In fact, I decided to uninstall all the MS Office 2000 products on my machine and reinstall them – still zilch.

Several hours of clicking on the same buttons, and I finally decided to give it a rest, said my prayers, and went to bed at perhaps about 1:00 a.m. Got up around 6:30 a.m. on Saturday, read my passages in Numbers, took a shower and got ready for the day. Decided to do some other Bible study homework, but was so exhausted from the previous night, I fell back asleep around 9:00 a.m. My sister Karen called and woke me up around noon to make sure I was still meeting her for lunch, so I headed out the door. Got back around 3:00 p.m. and started struggling with the computer again. Gosh, it just would not be fixed for anything.

Called a friend in Silver Spring, Maryland, just to chat. Barbara is a good counselor. We exchanged news. I talked about a pretty severe test I had recently been through, but through which I thought that I managed to retain, if not completely maintain, the “joy”. That I thought that throughout the test I sought Jesus and found Jesus continually, even though there were a few breakdown moments. I figured I had learned lessons throughout the experience and that at least passed some of the test.

I felt so good after talking with Barbara. I got back on the computer. Dratted thing would not work for anything. Decided to go through all the same steps I had just been through to resolve the problem. Only this time, I was clicking harder; perhaps the machine would respond to force. You know, kinda like trying to prove you can push your finger through a thick piece of wood. I could not believe I could not get Word to open. I hate to admit this, but there were tears of frustration in my eyes as I kept rebooting and rebooting this computer. “Where is the joy now?” I thought. Finally, I turned the thing off, prayed and went to bed around midnight.

I got up today, Sunday, and turned on the computer. My thought was that rest would fix the computer, apparently, since I tried all the same failing steps that had been attempted previously. “What a stubborn computer,” I thought to myself. (Ironic thought, huh?) I gave up, read my passages in Numbers, wondered what enlightenment I was supposed to receive from the passages (see passage at top of page for further irony), prayed, showered and dressed, and went off to church. The message was a good one and one particular part that struck me was when the pastor talked about the fact that Jesus could come back at any time. Really, I’m hearing that and thinking that all the time right now and it is just striking a chord deep within me. How do I want Jesus to find me? I want to be at my best, on my game, in the zone, acing tests, scoring touchdowns – all the while, carrying His flag. I thought about that a lot as I drove home. And all the implications.

I turned on the computer. With many sighs, I tried to get Word to work. Still nothing. I called my friend Kim. “Kim,” I cried, “Help! What could possibly be wrong??? How can there be an icon there, but I can’t get it to work??” Poor Kim was busy paying bills that had risen exponentially since the previous month, so I started sympathizing with her which made me feel a bit better, although still frustrated – no Word, no writing. She recommended I call Microsoft. Novel idea, isn’t it? Ask the creator for help.

So, I called Microsoft. After a wait of maybe 10 minutes, the customer support representative walked me through some debugging steps and it turned out my “Normal” file was corrupted. The “Normal” file can become corrupted when you abnormally reboot your computer and a message comes up that the “Normal file has been modified – would you like to save the changes?” and you click “Yes” when you should actually click “No.” I believe I clicked “Yes” once in error and some bad changes got saved in my “Normal” file.

It was quite simple really to fix the problem once it was identified. There was no “hard” clicking necessary, no tears required, no self-recrimination needed, just a few simple steps and a new “Normal” file was created.

It quite amused me, as well as shamed me, to think of the frustration, self-recrimination, negativity, etc., I had experienced over this simple problem – and the answer was that I needed a new “Normal” file. And it was quite easy to get one – I just had to get rid of the old bad “Normal” file. Throw it away, send it to the recycle bin, delete it. The system automatically created a new good “Normal” file for me once I had done that. But it couldn’t do it until I had taken the proper steps.

God, thank you for sending your son, Jesus Christ, to delete my old corrupted “Normal” file and for sending the Holy Spirit to create my new “Normal” file. Forgive me my stubbornness as my machinery every once in a while still seeks the old file’s paths. Thank you for refreshing my memory with your Word every day.

Praise

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Sunshine dances on my wall
To the tune you have set
For the daily rhythm of my life

Leaves clap with joy
As the wind obeys your command
To bring them together in a unified voice

Birds sing, squirrels chatter, and crickets chirp
Revelling in the gifts of their Creator
Whose love knows no bounds

Footsteps crunch lightly on gravel
And beckon me to join my brothers and sisters
In our common daily walk along the path to the new Jerusalem

Hands rise, heart soars and soul sings
Rejoicing in a new day and a new chance
To praise him in the morning.

Craving

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Seven weeks ago, I began a journey.  My body was not feeling good and I knew a change had to be made and that it was going to be hard.  I’ve been overweight all of my adult life and I was afraid of getting diabetes since I am now 54 years old and still overweight.  I happened upon the book, The 8 Week Blood Sugar Diet by Dr. Michael Mosley, and decided to try it.

Basically, the diets that Mosley propose are all the Mediterranean style of eating.  If you want to lose weight quickly, the 8-week diet is the one; otherwise, there are a couple of other options.  The 8-week diet is one that restricts calorie consumption to 800 calories a day.  Mosley is a research fanatic (which I love!) that debunks the notion that you have to lose weight slowly to keep it off – quite the opposite:  those who lose weight quickly are more likely to keep it off according to the research.

So, I have been eating 800 calories a day (probably between 800 and 1,000 since I don’t weigh things out and have made some assumptions) for the past seven weeks.  I’ve lost somewhere between 15 and 20 pounds.  Please don’t find them – happy for them to stay lost.  I also started a walking regime and now walk 5+ kms per day.

But what about the cravings?  The concerns I have about my health are right now superseding the cravings.  When I saw the picture of the chocolate heart-shaped truffles above, I have to admit I did momentarily savour the thought of what it would be like to have that divine smooth chocolate on my tongue.  Even now, there is a draw.

However, I also thought how ironic that the truffles are in the shape of a heart.  There would be nothing worse for my heart in particular, nothing less loving I could do for myself, than to start on the truffles.  Some bodies can ingest truffles galore and not experience negative consequences.  If I had one of those bodies, I’d probably be eating the truffles.  But I don’t.  Oh I will probably eventually incorporate small amounts of dark chocolate into my diet to satisfy my soulful longings for sweetness.  But not until I’ve tried for a while longer to get rid of the sweet tooth.

I believe that God would have me be healthy, so my craving for health must exceed my craving for chocolate and other goodies.  Right now it does.  Please pray that it stays that way for me!

Whom have I in heaven but you?  And earth has nothing I desire besides you.
Psalm 73:25