Monday, September 11, 2017


Hurricane Irma and My Friends

    I'm blessed with many friends. Some are millionaires. Many are very poor. Most are in-between. All seem to want more money and more stuff. I often feel much more at home among those who have the less. Hurricane Irma has brought this to my mind.
   We have maintained contact with folks in the Bahamas, relationships developed over the five years we spent there while living on our boat. Even the more 'advantaged' among them would not be deemed as 'privilaged' in this society. And here in Canada, of course, where a large water-front home commands such a crazy price, we have friends that cover the spectrum of wealth. What does this have to do with Irma?
    In the past few days we've been barraged by news of the damage done by that storm. There's a very real difference in the tone we hear from two groups of friends. From the Bahamas we hear of how people are dealing with the damage of their (uninsured) two-roomed homes, of how the three or five people are coping through co-operating and sharing with others. They will survive and make do. They've done it before and it will happen again. It's a VERY big deal. But they're not complaining, but just sharing their lives. It's a real blessing that I'm on their list of people that count. I'll certainly help them if I'm able.
    Then there's another group of friends. They've got property of some kind down in Florida. For some of them it's their third homes, even after a boat. I'm not sure if they're complaining or bragging when they share with me how they're worried about the damage to their (insured) house or condo. I really don't know what to say. Are they expecting me to be sorry for their insured loss (what-ever that is) for something that they obviously don't need?
    These folks are great, but they are so spiritually shallow in comparison to the first group. But they are those that are around me here, among others. As I am searching for The Kingdom of God, I find it such a challenge to resist just going to a place (here or there) where people have less STUFF that keeps them from a greater reality. The main topic of conversation here is how to get MORE or to loose LESS. I spend a lot of time just listening, with nothing much to say.
    I hope that the luck, good and bad, that hurricanes bring, might teach us something real. It's good to remind ourselves that the Jews, who wrote the 'Adam and Eve' creation story, saw the expulsion from the Garden of Eden  as a blessing, knowing that only in an imperfect and uncontrolled world, would humans have a chance to grow and understand love. It takes the power and arbitrariness of a hurricane to force us see the bigger picture and to re-order our priorities.
    I continue to hope so.
    But in the meantime, if you're second or third house gets damaged, don't expect me to cry any tears with you. I've a limited amount of them and they're saved for those who really know what suffering is about.

Friday, September 8, 2017


Choosing Between Heaven and Hell

   We've probably all heard of the ancient North American native saying about there being two wolves in each of us, one of love/ sharing and one of fear/hatred, and the one who grows to dominate is the one we choose to feed. In the Christian context, it is the message that we each (and collectively) chose between 'heaven' and 'hell'.  If we look at today's news of the world, we can see many examples of this, especially in the context of the natural disasters. But even many of these 'natural' disasters are caused by the feeding of one of the 'wolves', doesn't it?
  It is so easy for us to find blame with the evil shown in other societies, and feel so very superior when we see hatred and bigotry among others. (Why can't they be more like us?)  If you live on a rather beautiful, prosperous and out-of-the-way island such as I do, this is even a more seductive trap. How can other people hate just because of race, religion or background? How can they not share, especially in times of  crisis? Don't we often think this?
   But look at us. Our island has been divided by the issue of wind turbines being installed on many properties. Some of the land-owners (the older families) have signed on to host them, while many of the 'newbies'  have tried their best to stop the project, for years - and have failed. The battle is now over. They are being built this winter.
   Tragically, it seems, the 'wolf' of hatred has been fed in many islanders, even to the point of ruling over love and sharing, and for the common good. Some of the 'anti' people will no longer associate with and even provide food in community events, because some of the people in attendance are hosting wind turbines. The annual 'Seniors' Dinner' is in question. Some of the seniors support wind turbines. Many of those who have sponsored the dinner are 'anti', and will not participate.
   This is the most sad thing I have experienced in a long time.
   Each of us has the power to choose to grow (or not) in love. This doesn't depend upon our 'religion', in fact, often our 'religion' is merely molded to suite our needs anyway. All involved are supposedly 'Christian' in one way or another. Or maybe not. I doubt very much if our local churches will touch this reality, for one of the main rules in the congregations is to never talk about anything that matters. Hence, nothing much is talked about.
   What we have here is a chance to see clearly the two 'wolves' in our midst and to observe and participate in choosing which to feed. As we do so, let us be less smug in our sense of superiority when we see the forces of evil in the world around us. Let us know that the choices of good and evil are with us, each and all, every day. We're just blind to them and usually can chose to not open our eyes to the realities.
   As for Amherst Island, the only reason we can't grow in love and understanding is that the 'wolves' won't be recognized and confronted and the wolf of evil/hatred will be fed even more. That need not happen. It will be up to people to choose, and feed the 'wolf' of love/acceptance and sharing. Like usual, it's up to us.