Perfect Day

Here’s a piece I wrote that was published a couple of years ago in Moose Jaw Express.
 In an often hectic world we can too often forget to take the time to enjoy the simple things of life. Recently our family went camping together; something that is far too rare for us. We nestled our small tents among the trees, surrounded by the huge RV’s of other campers, but judging by the laughter and chatter coming from our fireside I doubt that those with higher end accommodations were having any more fun than we were. There’s nothing wrong of course with enjoying the frills  if you can, but it is always good to be reminded that it really doesn’t cost much money to have fun with your family and perhaps even once in awhile…enjoy a perfect day.

perfect day pic

Early morning pitter-patter of raindrops on tent roof,
distant low rumbling thunder, lulls me back to sleep
Sizzling bacon in cast iron pan over open fire,
even the burnt bits taste great
Sun warming my face as I lackadaisically  float on an inner tube
Thinking about nothing, not a care in the world,
at least not in this moment…on this perfect day
Gritty sand between my toes,
cold lake water washing away my footprints
 Building sand castles with a two-year old
enjoying the simple things of life
Walking hand in hand down solitary path
 him and I, just happy to be together
Late night by crackling campfire,
 laughter, talking, roasting marshmallows
Embers rise into the starry night sky and disappear
but not before I thank God…for this perfect day

-Gloria Lynn Guest- MJ Express 2011 – Thanks for stopping by for a moment 🙂

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Winters Grip

P1040041I recently read an excerpt from a book entitled, Spiritual Rhythm by Mark Buchanan which talked about the verse in Eccl. 3:1, “For everything there is a season,” making the point that while summer is for growing and enjoying the sun, winter brings dormancy and waiting. And so it is with our lives. We are not always in the happy spring or thriving summer time of our lives.

Sometimes, just as snow covers the ground, shrouding all signs of growth beneath it, we can find our hearts in the middle of winter. I’ve heard statistics that say there are more people who visit psychologists during the month of January than any other month of the year. Of course there are ready conclusions for this such as facing the realities of overspending during the holidays or relational strife that also often occurs during the holidays. There is also the aptly named disorder SAD or Seasonal Affective Disorder which can cause some people to feel blue from a lack of light; no big surprise when at this time of year in Canada it seems the sun has no sooner risen, then it is setting again.

However for others, it can be more daunting than the above mentioned reasons. Winter has come and settled into their hearts with its cold, icy fingers and threatens to never let go. Spring appears to be nowhere in their future.

I have experienced my own times in the midst of winters’ grip. The first time, the promise of Spring was actually in the air; the ice was even breaking up on the Athabasca River that ran through my hometown in Northern Alberta, sending huge chunks flowing along it’s quick current, a sight that usually exhilarated me. However on this day, we were burying my mother who had died far too young at the age of 48 from cancer. I was sure the suns rays would never quite reach my aching heart again.

However slowly, warmth did penetrate my heart. God sent two angels in the form of my own small children whose laughter and smiles were infectious and brought life into my days. I discovered that life went on and even though things would never be the same or how I wished it could be, it could still be good. Winter had left and it was the springtime of my life.

I wish I could say that it stayed that way. However our little family went on to experience other hardships such as the loss of our way of life when we left our home on the farm to seek other employment…a time of grieving for sure. And then just when life was settling into a routine again in a new home in a new town, winter struck my life with a vengenance when we experienced the devastating loss of my younger sister to suicide. This time it felt like winter had come with a full force blast and was never leaving. Paradoxically it was a beautiful, warm, sunny June day when she died, but for me it may as well have been the middle of a January blizzard.

I write about these things not because I find it easy but because I know that there are some people reading this who are experiencing their own dark days of winter. Over the years I’ve read many things about this difficult season of life, some more helpful than others. I think Buchanan in his book Spiritual Rhythm, in writing about helping someone through the deep winter seasons of their life, said it better than most when he stated, “Some things are done only in winter. And some things are never done in winter. And that’s just the way it is.” By this, I believe he is saying that winter brings with it, it’s own rhythm, its own pace of moving through.

At my mothers’ funeral we played her favorite song, The Rose by Amanda McBroom. Here is the final stanza:

‘just remember in the winter

far beneath the winter snows

lies the seed that with the suns’ love

in the spring becomes the rose.”

Thank you for stopping by for a moment…Gloria

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Dandilions from Heaven

This is a  very short snippet of my first chapter in my memoir that I have been working on F.O.R.E.V.E.R. …some of you have read it (and quite a bit more) before, some of you haven’t. What do you think? Is this something you  would like to read more of??

Fifty-Six Steps

Fifty-Six. That’s how many steps it is down the long, vacant, door less hallway at the Grey Nuns Hospital in Edmonton, Alberta where my sister is a patient. Fifty-Six steps that echo off the hard tiled floor. I keep my eyes fixed steadily on the door at the end of the hall as the sign becomes larger and bolder with each step.

Psychiatric Ward 17. This is it. This foreign, sterile place has somehow become home to my sister. I wonder if she knows just how many steps it takes to get there. Or has she walked it so many times that she’s lost count, just as I have lost count of how many times she’s been here?

My thoughts drift. I’m back in a different hallway and yet it seems the same. This one is long ago and far away, bright and cheery with children’s nursery characters painted on the walls. But it’s still a hospital, a place where my sister now stays. She is ten and I am twelve and each time I visit with my parents, I wish we didn’t have to leave her behind. She follows us to the elevator doors and watches as we get inside without her with a look of longing in her eyes. She wants to come home too. And yet some unnamed thing makes her stay.

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Like a River

 

*Writing hasn’t been easy for me lately. I’ve felt blocked and held back and yet I’ve been wanting to add something fresh to this blog; something that I haven’t written ‘a few years back.’ And so I thought, what better way to help my words to flow and break free than to write about a river….in comparison to something near and dear to my heart, something that is not hard or burdensome for me to think about, something that has definitely challenged me but brought me much more joy than I could have ever imagined; changing me even while allowing me to discover myself….and so I’ve decided to share with you my thoughts on being a Mother.

 

Like a River

Motherhood has been compared to many things such as a budding flower or a sheltering tree but for myself, thinking back over my over twenty-six years of being a mom, I see my experience of motherhood as being more like a river.

My middle name of Lynn, means cascade or waterfall so perhaps that is why I have always felt an affinity to water, rivers and water falls. But I’m sure it’s also due to the fact that I spent my formative years in Fergus, Ontario where the beautiful Grand River runs through the town first named Little Falls because of its scenic water falls downtown. [1] From there it travels through the quaint town of Elora where I spent my Junior High School years and spills into the Elora Gorge with its 22 metre high cliffs and where many a school truant spent their afternoons diving from the high rocks and swimming in the gorge’s deep blue waters.

My high school years were then spent in Athabasca, Alberta  where the fast-moving Athabasca River originating from the Columbia Glacier rushes through the town. Flowing along ice fields and through gorges, its banks home to many wildlife habitat [2], one can almost envision the fur traders that once traveled by canoe up and down its dangerous current.

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Standing beside the Falls of the Grand River flowing through Fergus, Ont.

To me, rivers are life-giving, steadfast, fascinating in their ebb and flow and determination to move forward no matter the obstacles in its path. Ever changing, the river flows from a source often larger than itself ; sometimes rushing, diverging and then converging again; other times cascading gently over small rocks and through gully’s to eventually turn off into a babbling brook running through the woods or even become the tiniest of rivulets breaking through a crevice. But always, whether it’s a mighty force or a small stream it flows onwards towards a definite course; winding gently around obstacles or grinding them down with its powerful current; the river simply never stops until it reaches its destination; a channel, lake or sea.

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Four generations 1990; last picture with mom

As a mother, I too have garnered my determination and adaptability from a source larger than myself, with God being my greatest source and the underlying current that has kept me moving steadily forward. However there have been other sources given to me by God to help me along the way; diverging streams that have joined eventually with my own, adding their energy and life-giving strength to my own, teaching me, guiding me with a wisdom that can only come from their own experience of motherhood.

I think of my grandmother who was in my life until she was 97 yrs. of age. I could never know as I was growing up, that her steadfast love of mothering her own six children through the depression years, and then becoming a doting, loving and joyful grandmother to myself and her other 23 grandchildren and eventual 55 great-grandchildren, would leave such an indelible mark on my life. But as I move further into my life I find that it has; her rich legacy winding its way into my mother heart and soul so that I often find myself thinking of her and how she would have viewed a particular trial or challenge. She has become a part of the river for me; a source of inspiration.

Her daughter, my mother, is the woman who formed, nurtured and loved me the most during my childhood years. Mom had many of her mother’s qualities of perseverance and courage. She too has been a source larger than myself for me even though she passed away while my children were still babies. Her diagnosis of cancer when she was only thirty-six years old and I sixteen became a twelve-year fight to overcome; through her example to live her life to the fullest despite her circumstances, I draw some of my strength and hope when I face circumstances that I feel are too much to bear. And in spite of her not being there to turn to while my children were growing up, I’ve often found myself repeating something that she did with me as a child or saying something she used to say to me to my own children. Our mothers are always a part of us; guiding us and moving us forward whether they are with us or not.

There can be many other sources larger than ourselves that we come to rely on for a season; perhaps a mentor, friend, sister or counsellor. Anyone who comes along and flows and bends with us through the curves of the river of life can be part of that underlying force that carries us on through those rough spots, teaching us how to persevere and either adapt and flow around a particular obstacle or grit our teeth and find a way through it. Eventually we will come out the other side, wiser, stronger, perhaps not as we had envisioned, but always moving forward, through the rocks and boulevards, steady, streaming, onwards towards our destination where we join with generations of mothers, just like ourselves. From there, with God as our constant source, we can flow into other streams and rivers; joining and supporting them along their path as a mother……like a river.

Gloria Lynn Guest – May 13 2014 – Thanks for stopping by for a moment.

[1] Wikipedia.org – Fergus, Ontario

[2] http://www.grandriver – GRCA – Park – Elora Gorge

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Snow Geese

*The following is a poem I wrote last fall when I saw the snow geese gathering in the sky for their flight south. Now that it’s March, albeit a cold start to the month, I feel the hope gathering in my soul for the first sight and sound of them arriving back in the spring.

Fly high across the stormy grey Fall

sky

Gather in a swirling mass of glinting

feathers

Soar as strong north wind aids flight

afar

And as you go take this years autumn

sorrows

Return in new year with fresh Spring

 Joys

I’ll watch and wait in Winter’s long

Cold silence as you

Sorjourn

And welcome sounds in Springs fresh

Sky that herald your

Return

Gloria Guest – Oct 25, 2013

-Thanks for stopping by for a moment –

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Freedom

Like a moth to the flame

drawn in

to their pain,

In spite of my own

I’d do anything

for them,

Singe my wings

dive recklessly into the fire

barely survive,

Until one day

burnt and undone

I realized,

I could do no more

for them

than I did for myself,

And with  new found

freedom of soul

I fluttered off,

into the

sunlight.

Gloria Lynn Guest – January 25, 2014

-Thanks for stopping by for a moment –

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In the Moment

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This past weekend I roughed it in the wilderness. Well not exactly but being as many people leave to vacation in sunny destination spots at this time of year and I never have, I feel entitled to at least think I was roughing it.

We’ve always talked about ‘next year’ being the year that we might be able to afford a sunny vacation in mid winter but instead we once again settled for renting a condominium at Cypress Hills Provincial Park; admittedly one of our favorite spots to retreat, no matter the season.

We’ve gone there since our honeymoon which was in the month of February, when the hills welcomed our young love with melting snow, allowing us to take long, leisurely strolls along the bare hiking paths.

We’ve gone in the still cool and rainy days of June when our kids were small, the fragrant smell of Cypress needles hanging heavy in the air as we enthusiastically biked the paths, each with a child in a bike carrier.

We’ve been there in the waning days of fall when the trees were turning brilliant colors and chipmunks busily snatched up cones for their winter hibernation.

I’m not sure if it was ever more beautiful though, then it was on this particular weekend.

Winter has a beauty all of its own. It’s  not the fresh beauty of a rain washed April landscape that reminds one of a freshly scrubbed child or the warm beauty of a July sky as the sun sets on the horizon or of the ripening days of Autumn that spill their colors across the land. In fact it is usually a haunting beauty revealed only in death; bare branches stark against the dying, dimming sky, beautiful to only those who wish to see it.

But on this cold January day its beauty was much more obvious than that. The Park was transformed into a winter wonderland, each tree heavily draped in gowns of glistening white snow; brides dancing in winters embrace, not awaiting another time or season, but celebrating the one they were in.

As I walked along the path that wound around the frozen lake, feeling encircled in winter’s cocoon, I couldn’t help but think of how this applies to me. Am I one of those who fails to see the hidden beauty when it’s not so evident? Am I living in the moment and in touch with the One who created me? Am I enjoying this season of life in spite of any hardships I might feel that it has?

Some questions can only be answered, not by lounging on a sunny beach where I might wish to be but by taking a long bundled up walk on a cold, wintry day and enjoying life where I’m at…in the moment.

Gloria Guest –  Moose Jaw Express – 2011

thanks for stopping by for a moment –

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No Tears Past the Gate

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Before I even opened the package I knew that whatever was inside was most likely  broken by that tell tale  tinkle of glass.

I looked at the return address and was surprised to see that it had come from my sister Brenda who rarely if ever sent me anything. Over the years our sister relationship had gone through some rough patches and this was one of those times, so I really hadn’t expected to hear from her let alone receive a package in the mail.

I was even more surprised when I opened it. She explained in a card that she was  sending  me one of her Precious Moments ornaments that she had collected over the years. Brenda  loved the doe eyed sentimental ornaments  so I was surprised that she was giving up one…. to me. I knew I would cherish it, broken or not.

In fact, how fitting that it was broken. The ornament was titled ‘No Tears Past the Gate’ and featured an angel on one side of Heaven’s Gate with a crying girl on the other side. The angel was pointing to a pail that said, ‘Old Hankies’. The message was clear; here on earth we will have pain, brokeness and tears ,but in Heaven there will be no tears.  All of the tears that come from our own sinfulness and the sinfulness of others will one day be wiped away.

I took the ornament home and glued the pieces back together and placed it in my china cabinet. I never told Brenda it had been broken but instead, each time I looked at it, it was a fitting reminder to pray for her and my relationship with her. Just a few years later she  was gone. I wish I could say that our relationship had been completely mended before she passed away, but it hadn’t. However,  my love for her never faltered.  SInce her death the ornament she gave me has become  a precious reminder of her; on this earth she  was broken but she is now made whole  in Heaven and has no more tears. “He will wipe every tear from their eyes.” Revelation 21:4

For me the Christmas season is a time of the celebration of the birth of Jesus but it is also  a reminder of the brokeness in this world. I do  enjoy  the season. But it’s far from the perfect picture that society often wants to thrust upon us. Life is more like the broken ornament that needs to be glued back together. And let’s face it, even with our own best but clumsy attempts, it will never look perfect again.There will always be scars and sometimes still tears. And sometimes, like the following experience I share,  we can’t even glue it back together.

My parents went through a  bitter divorce when I was in my early adult years  and I have not seen my father in many years. Initially there were attempts  made from my end to have at least something that resembled a  healthy father/daughter relationship, but eventually, in order to live a better life for myself and my family I had to disengage from him. I came to accept that the relationship was broken; broken beyond even my own ability to glue it back together and I made the choice to let it go.  But first there were many tears. I, who had made it this far in my life by pushing ahead and denying my feelings, came to a point where it no longer worked to live that way. During that time, all of my built up defences came crashing down and I cried so many tears I reminded myself of Alice in the book, Alice In Wonderland who found herself almost drowning in her  own tears. 

But just as Alice didn’t end up drowning in her tears, neither did I in mine. In fact, as it turned out God was using those very tears to help me see more clearly. My relationship with my father was broken and there was nothing I could do to repair it. Further more, I was broken. It was when I faced this, that I discovered something amazing. God wanted to heal me and my relationship with Him as my heavenly Father and not with some drops of glue, but with the binding love of Jesus; the same Jesus who came as a vulnerable baby at Christmas time. That same Christmas season that reminds me of my lack is the very reason that I can be healed from that lack.

I have come a long ways since I first received that broken ornament in the mail.  Now it doesn`t just remind me of my sister`s brokeness and pain that God took away when she passed the gate but it stands as a reminder that just as I glued it back together, God, through the sacrifice of His Son, bound my broken heart back together.  There may still be some tears and some scars but through Jesus I can experience the Father’s love in a way  that I never knew before. And through Him I can take comfort in knowing that there will be No Tears Past the Gate.

I hope that if you are experiencing some of the brokeness of this world that you too can find comfort in this very special season as we celebrate the birth of the One who came to bring your healing.

“He heals the brokenhearted and binds up their wounds.” Psalm 147:3

Thanks for stopping by for a moment.

Gloria Lynn Guest – December 9/2013

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