Let’s Talk About Borders

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“Borders are scratched across the hearts of men, by strangers with a calm, judicial pen, and when the borders bleed we watch with dread the lines of ink along the map turn red.”

Marya Mannes

” Just going to the store, won’t be long, ” I shouted to my wife, as I exited the front door on my way to the car. I returned ten minutes later to discover a man sitting in the living room conversing with my wife.

” This is Piers, ” exclaimed my wife, as she introduced the stranger to me, ” He walked in the door and said he wants to live here”.

My thoughts were confused as I faced Piers, ” But you just can’t walk into my house, uninvited, and expect to live here. Especially when you’re a complete stranger”.

Piers replied. ” I have spent my whole life living in an undesirable neighbourhood, and I find your neighbourhood so much nicer, and you have such a beautiful house. I want to live here”.

My wife pleaded on Piers behalf and despite my better judgement, I allowed him to stay with us. My wife and I lived in a three bed room home and there were just the two of us, so there was plenty of space.

One week later returning from work I encountered six people spread around the living room. My wife noticing my quizical look explained, ” This is Piers family. He feels it’s only right that they join him in sharing the house with us”.

” Piers never mentioned his family,” I said, ” Is he willing to contribute towards the cost of food and energy”.

My wife, being a caring person chided, ” At the moment he’s just getting government assistance, but I’m sure we can help financially “.

Two weeks later, again returning from work,  I encountered twelve people milling around the house. I had difficulty locating my wife, but eventually found her in the kitchen. ” Who are all these people I asked “.

” Piers friends, ” she said, “He invited them to stay with us “.

” But it’s our house, ” I replied angrily, ” He can’t just invite everyone to live here.”

‘ It is getting a little overcrowded and expensive, ” she said, ” I had trouble finding a place to sit, and the food and energy bills are a lot higher. But Piers said he hopes to find a job soon”.

I stalked off in search of Piers.

” You’re all going to have to leave, ” I commanded Piers.

” What kind of uncaring people are you, that you want to send us back to our undesirable neighbourhood” cried Piers.

” Well Piers,” I replied ” I also have the right to protect the integrity of my home and my family’s well being. ”

This fictional story is to illustrate how I feel about borders and boundaries.

Granted,  borders are an arbitrary historical distribution of land mainly established by conquest. But over time people within these borders have established a culture, a system of values and a quality of life. We have passports, visas and customs control, to monitor the inflows of people and goods to protect the people living within defined borders.

We have to balance our compassion and empathy for people with the practical side of sustaining a country’s population. Planned immigration is good because it allows governments to manage the resources of the country. Illegal immigration puts a strain on the resources of the country and affects the quality of lives of the citizens of that country…….and western countries are trillions of dollars in debt.

There seems to be a growing voice in the world for open borders (but notice this only applies to western democratized countries). It seems very naive to think western countries can open it’s borders and not diminish its culture, values and quality of life. But perhaps this is what is needed. Maybe western civilization has entered a stage of entropy and needs to be revitalized. But what comes next? That’s the question. Do you have an answer?

Santa and Angels

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It was Christmas Eve and children all over the world were waiting for the most magical day of the year.

Serena looked up at the stars, “Can you see Santa”

“N0. But he’s up there somewhere. I can feel it ” replied Tarrin

Tarrin and Serena heard a whistling sound and an object dropped out of the sky and landed next to the cousins. Tarrin stooped to pick it up and gave a surprise shout,

“It’s a whistle, let’s go inside and show it to my mother “.

Tarrin ran into the house waving the whistle, with Serena close behind.

Devin snatched the whistle from Tarrin’s hand and held it out of her reach, as Tarrin and Serena both jumped frantically trying to retrieve the whistle.

Kayleigh shouted, ” Mom, Devin’s teasing Tarrin again, send him to his room, ” while Kieran wrestled the whistle from Devin. Brianna in turn snatching the whistle from Kieran noticed some words engraved on its surface.

Brianna read aloud, ” Whistle and I’ll come to you. What does that mean? “

Devin reclaimed the whistle and blew as loud as he could. There was no sound.

” That’s disgusting ” proclaimed Kayleigh ” You don’t know where that whistles been “.

Kieran facing the patio door to the back yard saw something falling from the sky and turned on the outside lights. Kieran, Brianna, Kayleigh, Devin, Tarrin and their cousin Serena stood gaping in shock and amazement as they saw Santa and his reindeer, large as life, standing in their backyard.

Brianna was the first to recover, ” What cute reindeer ” she said, and all the children tumbled out the door into the back yard.

 ” Who whistled for me, ” enquired Santa, ” and what’s the emergency “

“There’s no emergency, ” responded Kieran ” We found a whistle and Devin blew it”

” Ho! Ho! Ho! ” laughed Santa, ” I must have dropped my summoning whistle that the elves use”

Kayleigh asked in a pleading voice, ” Now that you’re here Santa, can you take us for a short ride around the roof tops “.

“Better than that “, said Santa ” How would you like to help me deliver the presents.”

All the children gave a great cheer and ran inside to retrieve their winter coats, gloves and hats. ” Shot gun, ” yelled Kieran as they ran outside to arrange themselves in the sled.

Soon they were flying over the roof tops and the houses became a tiny speck below.

Tarrin asked Santa where they were going to deliver the presents and Santa replied,

” Let’s try England”. 

Kieran thought for a minute and then turning to Santa enquired ” I went to England this year and it took me six hours by plane. How can we get there and back by morning as well as visit all the other countries”

Santa just smiled and said ” By using a little piece of Heaven”

Santa closed his eyes, the children felt a slight tingle and found themselves surrounded by a bright light and a feeling of peace and contentment. Angels were flying all around them singing praises to God 

” This is my little secret.” said Santa, ” I work with the Angels and the elves at Christmas. It’s team work, the only way we can get things done in time. I enter a little doorway to Heaven at Christmas and ask your Guardian Angels to help me deliver the presents. The Angels also let me use Heaven as a shortcut so that I can travel, in the blink of an eye, to any country I wish. “.

Sure enough, in the blink of an eye,  the children again felt a slight tingling and they were flying over England. They spent the next while having fun, helping Santa to deliver lots of presents to the children of  England. Quite soon the presents were all gone.

“Time to head back,” said Santa, “But we’ll make a little stop first”

They soon felt that tingling feeling as they entered Heaven again.  The next instant, they saw a bright star shining in front of them, and were followed out of Heaven by a legion of angels. The reindeer  flew down and landed by a stable.

The children looked on in wonder, as they recognized Mary and Joseph kneeling beside a crib that held the baby Jesus.

Joseph and Mary turned to Santa and the children and greeted them warmly ” Hello Nicholas, hello children, so glad you are here to celebrate the birth of our baby”.

Tarrin, without any hesitation, walked up to the baby Jesus and laid her teddy bear at the foot of the crib.

Serena followed her closely and set her PJ Mask doll by the teddy bear.

Kayleigh took her bracelet from her wrist and laid it beside the teddy bear and PJ Mask.

” Thank you ” said Mary,”  Three gifts, the perfect number “.

Santa and the children stood around the crib for a while and offered a silent prayer. After a while Santa gestured the children towards the sleigh and they said their goodbyes to Mary and Joseph and Jesus.

In another blink of an eye, they found themselves descending into their backyard, their adventures behind them.

” Our parents will be worried about us ” said Devin “We must have been gone most of the night”.

“Don’t worry” replied Santa ”  No time has passed at all, we have returned to the moment we first met in your backyard “.

Brianna quickly ran inside and grabbed some carrots for the reindeer and chocolate chip cookies for Santa. Santa thanked the children for the carrots and cookies and for being such great helpers and with a jolly cheer and a Merry Christmas he was again on his way. For he still had children to visit. 

And Kieran, Kayleigh, Brianna, Devin, Tarrin and Serena made some hot chocolate and settled down to wait for the most magical day of the year.

( This is a Christmas story for my six grandchildren Kieran, Brianna, Devin, Kayleigh, Tarrin and Serena).

 

 

Continue reading “Santa and Angels”

Confession

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This is a photo from 2016. My granddaughters Tarrin on the left and Brianna on the right.

Brianna was apprehensive. She stood in line with her grade 8 class, from St. Ignatius school,waiting to confess her sins to Father Munroe. It was the beginning of Advent and she had to be cleansed of her past misdeeds to prepare for the coming of Jesus at Christmas. Her mind was in a whirl as she went through last years events wondering what to confess.

Soon it was her turn to enter the make shift confessional.

Brianna intoned, ” Bless me  Father for I have sinned…………………………….. “.

Father Munroe allowed a slight pause and then in a benign voice prompted  ” Begin, my child, do you have anything to confess”

Brianna thought for a while and then muttered, ” I forgot to give Splash her carrot last week, I was in a hurry and forgot to pick one up”.

Father Munroe looked a little baffled and enquired, ” and who is Splash “.

” The horse I ride at Old Orchard Farm. I have lessons Mondays and Wednesdays ”

Father Munroe encouraged Brianna to continue.

Brianna screwed up her face in concentration, ” I was sick last month and wasn’t able to clean Bubbles cage “.

Father Munroe looking a little exasperated said, ” I suppose Bubbles is your pet mouse”

” No Father ” Brianna replied, “He’s my pet hamster”

Father Munroe with a resigned look urged Brianna to continue.

” It was pouring with rain yesterday, so I refused to take Finn for a walk, even though I knew I should ” confessed Brianna.

Father Munroe perked up ” Ha, you disobeyed your parents. I presume Finn is your dog”

” Yes Father” murmured Brianna, ” But my parents weren’t home, I just felt guilty about releasing him to the back yard, instead of walking him”.

” Do you have anything else to confess ” asked Father Munroe.

Brianna thought long and hard if she had mistreated the cats Fred and Ffion but couldn’t think of anything. ” That’s all I have to confess Father ”

Father Munroe still probing Brianna’s soul asked  if she had any brothers or sisters. Brianna replied in the affirmative.

‘ You never fight or argue with your brothers and sisters ,” enquired an astonished Father Munroe.

” Of course I do, “says Brianna ” But that’s not a sin, it’s survival”

” Perhaps you should treat you brothers and sisters more like animals ” reflected Father Munroe.  Absolving Brianna of her sins and with a sigh of relief he moved on to the next student.

 

 

 

 

 

 

Pilgrimage

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“To feel the pull, the draw, the interior attraction, and to want to follow it, even if it has no name still, that is the “pilgrim spirit.”The “why” only becomes clear as time passes, only long after the walking is over.”
― Kevin A. Codd, Beyond Even the Stars: A Compostela Pilgrim in France

Each July my mother made her annual pilgrimage, with children in tow,  from the slums of East London to the hills of Moolum on the fringes of Kilkenny,two miles from the village of Kilmacow and six miles from Waterford, Ireland. She was coming home to the aunt who raised her, to the home where she had her fondest memories as a child. My mother inherited the house and moved there when she was sixty, and I in turn made my annual pilgrimage from Canada to Moolum till she died aged ninety. The house in Moolum was a shrine to the memories and spirit of past family.

I’ve been thinking of pilgrimages lately. I think it’s because I’m doing less walking since I’ve become involved with WordPress. I have good intentions, but then I access the laptop and WordPress, and find that five minutes of existence in the WordPress world equates to four hours in our world. 

After my running days came to an end due to back problems I began walking 1-2 hours a day and had kept at this consistently until the last few months. I want to revive this habit and have been thinking in terms of completing a pilgrimage. I love walking in the woods and isolated spots and I am trying to find a scenic spot to visit, where I can stay awhile and reflect.

Pilgrimage is a concept easy for me to accept because I have spent most of my life in the Catholic tradition. I remember an aunt forty years ago relating her experience of a pilgrimage to Lourdes. She described the communal and transcendent experience of thousands of people walking in the night, holding candles and praying and singing.

Most of us are involved in a pilgrimage of sorts, a spiritual journey, a great adventure, a quest to fully understand ourselves and find a place in this universe. Let’s enjoy the journey.

 

The Hidden Hand

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“When God is ready for you to move, He will make your situation uncomfortable.”
― Germany Kent

The hidden hand of God tapped me lightly on the shoulder and guided me on a path that I had never walked before.  A path that bought forth my humanity from the arrogant, robot like being that I had become.

It was all so easy. I came from a family of wealth and power and was raised to accept these hard won gifts as my birth right, even though I had done nothing to earn them. I grew into arrogance and the certainty of my actions. I was in control.

I first met Anna at a fund raising event my mother had organized for the local hospital. I asked her for a dance and we ended up chatting for most of the evening. We agreed to meet again. We married a year later.

My father retired and I took over the family investment business. I buried myself in the creation of wealth for myself and for my family, working long hours.

Some time later Anna gave birth to our son assuring that the dynasty would continue. I was surprised to discover love for the second time as I watched our son grow into childhood.

At the age of seven he lost his normal childhood enthusiasm and became listless. This continued for a week. We took him to a medical specialist, who diagnosed a rare disease and he died three months later.

I was devastated and my soul descended into a very dark night. I spent endless,  listless days in solitude, inconsolable, uncaring of the passage of time or affairs of the world.

Some time later I felt the touch of a gentle breeze blowing the torpor from my mind. A voice whispered ” what now ” and the answer flooded my being. What about other children. There was no cure for my son, but what of other children with incurable diseases. Who will help them.

So I formed a family foundation and devoted my wealth and contacts to hire the best researchers to hunt down the causes for a number of fatal diseases. We had many successes and many children’s lives were saved. Two years after the death of our son Anna gave birth to twins, a boy and a girl.

I look back now and realize, that God balances everything , out of great tragedy can come great good.

( This is a fictional story)