Comforting Words: 04/2005

Friday, April 29, 2005

End the Fear

Three news items caught my attention over the past week or so, which left me with a sinking feeling in my stomach and caused me great concern.

A popular talk-show host in my island home of Jamaica was (and I believe still is) very fond of saying, “the more things change, the more they stay the same.” It was hard not to agree with him as I watched the unfolding of the human tragedy on the world scene.

In the midst of the darkness that was descending on me as I followed these stories, I heard a familiar voice of comfort. Though the stories that this person told confirmed that, even at a personal level, things might get worse before they get better, there is hope that through the power of love “this too shall pass.”

I invite you to enter the discussion this week using the Words from Scripture, Words of Comfort and Words from the Heart as your companion and let us see how we can “End the Fear.”


From the New Testament:
Matthew 10: 31
“So, do not be afraid; you are of more value than many sparrows.”

1John 4:18
“There is no fear in love, but perfect love casts out fear; for fear has to do with punishment, and whoever fears has not reached perfection in love.”


My man was in town this week. It has been almost five years since we last saw each other and, as he held me in his arms on Tuesday, I was taken back to the time of our first hug.

His hands were soft and warm as I remembered them and his words were as hard-hitting and unapologetic as always. He brought tears to my eyes, laughter to my well-bruised soul and hope to my heart.

Yes – only he can do this to me. He is the only man who can move me to tears as I plan the next step or write the next sentence of my truth. Only Bishop John Shelby Spong can make the seemingly horrible passages of Scripture beautiful, only he can help me to understand and constantly reaffirm why I am a follower of Jesus.

Bishop Spong was in Edmonton as part of a promotional tour of his new book, Sins of Scripture. My woman-friend, B. and I had supper at a nearby restaurant, Glenora Inn, and watched admiringly as this tall, elegant and striking Bishop walked by on his way to the Robertson-Wesley United Church where he would speak to a packed hall.

Normally preferring to sit just a little away from the front, I was not complaining about the front pew seats B. chose. She probably understood by now how much this man meant to me and that I needed to be close to him, wanting his words to sweep over my soul, as I knew they always do.

The week had not been going too well for me although I had finished my exams (alleluia) and was taking a break from ‘book-work’. I was using the freedom to spend time with those who, B. included, had forgiven me for being physically, emotionally and spiritually absent and stretched.

However, there was this pain in my belly as, with some time on my hands, I took up watching television and even reading the community newspapers. Three stories brought me such forceful reminders that “all is not well’ in our world, thrusting me out of my personal problems and dilemmas. These stories reminded me how absent real love and the act of neighbourly care and concern have become from our collective lives.

The first story was from Florida, where sixteen mothers showed up at a government event, to express, no pun intended, their concern about the mixed communications about raising healthy children and the gradual erosion of the rights of women.

They were protesting, by publicly breastfeeding their children, after news broke that a City Commission candidate, Gabrielle Redfern, was harshly criticized for doing the same – choosing to raise a healthy child while exercising her right to be a member of the political establishment.

This is not a new situation, neither is it isolated to the United States. Some might recall that in 2003, a female Member of the Australian Parliament, former world-champion aerial skier, Kirstie Marshall, was shown out of the House after she began breastfeeding her child.

A later news report revealed that the parliament in the Australian state of Victoria was to review its rule prohibiting strangers in the House, after the public outcry about the eviction of this Member of Parliament. I should probably check with my woman-friend in Australia, Sonya, if they did.

The second story, the one that made me physically sick as I lost it and wept (I have been doing quite a bit of that lately) also originated out of Florida. I thought my hearing was playing tricks on me and that I had heard incorrectly when the anchor said, “Coming up, we will tell you about the five year old that was arrested today!”

“A five year old arrested, why?” I asked the television, anxious for the story to ‘come up’. To my dismay and disgust, I watched a replay of a video-recording of the entire incident, showing a school administrator doing very little to calm an obviously hysterical child.

In the next shot, I saw the child sitting in an office chair, defiant but much calmer, when Tampa Bay police officers (three I believe) entered the office. Obviously scared to her wits, the child started screaming and crying “No, no,” as the officers, all three of them, restrained and handcuffed the five year old!

Forgive me my dear friends, but I could not help wondering why was this happening to this little African-American girl; I could not help thinking that we are right back to the slave ship mentality.

Here was a child, like any child who might have had a bad dream, one taunt too many from a classmate or an unappetizing lunch (or none for that matter), venting her anger.

Whatever the cause, she was expressing her frustration, as five-year-olds are wont to do, by throwing a serious tantrum. Were there no guidance counsellors or time-out corners in that great American school for this little black girl? (Yes B., I used the word.)

Researching links for this story, I came across a website, Prison Planet, where this most relevant question was asked: “Just how long will it be until our children are not just arrested for minor tantrums but actually facing prison time? America is burning down and the most innocent souls, our own children, are being thrown into the flames of a police state fueled by fear and driven mad by power.”

Dose, an Edmonton daily newspaper, was the source of the third story. Afghanistan, the country where Mr. Bush has proudly claimed that he has brought democracy to and where women, he said, flocked to vote recently, was the scene of this story.

Whether she was among those who voted in the elections, 29-year old woman, Amina, will not be around to enjoy Mr. Bush’s democracy as she was stoned to death this week for allegedly committing adultery.

Some reading this might think, “Oh yes, that’s what they do in those countries,” but I would caution you to hold that thought for a moment as the scenario could very well soon be part of the Canadian landscape.

Orders for Amina’s execution was given under the Islamic sharia law, the same law which the Canadian government is actively considering as means to settle family disputes in the Muslim communities right here in Canada. Oh yes, you heard me right.

While I respect the multicultural policy of Canada, more so as a vigorous defender of the right to express oneself culturally, I cannot help but ask – what and who determines what is cultural and what is oppressive?

These three stories plagued me for days as I wondered what is the connection between them and why they stuck with me. A breastfeeding politician, a five year old African-American girl arrested for throwing a tantrum and an Afghanistan women murdered for allegedly committing adultery. “They are all female,” I thought aloud to my partner, “maybe it has to do with sex and sexuality.” That was the surface issue though.

As I listened to Spong speak about his new book and his funny story about how he tried to identify why women are not “made in the image and likeness of God,” as many men like think, using their second and oftentimes primary brain, I got my answer.

Paranoia – we are fast becoming and in some cases have become our fears. Our governments, led mainly by men, with some women following blindly along, with the aid of religions (led mainly by men!) have created “others” out of diversity and difference.

People were and continue to be enslaved or denigrated because they are “not . . . . . .” fill in the blank – male, white, middle-class, western, Christian, heterosexual, rich, intellectuals, physically ‘perfect’, well educated, mentally stable, wears six two if you are a women and jock straps if you are a man.

Difference is a curse.

Speaking about the war that is now on in and outside of the Church, Spong said, “Homosexuals are the new African-Americans.” I would go further and say that these days, the targets of hate, driven by fear, is any female, non-white, gay, lesbian, physically or mentally challenged or poor person.

There are some passages in the New Testament that give me some comfort when I look at our world – such as that of 1John 4:18. “There is no fear in love, but perfect love casts out fear.” I hold these words in my heart, in tension with some that I have borrowed from Bob Marley.

Living in a multicultural and diverse world, I have added to Bob’s words as a constant reminder that “until the philosophy that holds one race,” gender, income status or sexual orientation, “superior and another inferior, everywhere is War.”

You see my dear friends, in the minds of those who create our collective paranoia, Africa and blackness is more than a continent and a skin colour. You are not immune to the paranoia that 'our leaders' - political and religious - continue to perpetuate.

Whether you are caucasian, American, Australian or Canadian, there is some "Africa" in you -- and I am not referring to the fact that, whether you like it or not, we all originate on that continent.

Africa is symbolic of all that is different from the white, male, materially wealthy paradigm. She is the unknown, the uncontrollable, the sensitive, the nurturer, the playful child and the sexual.

She is the nursing mother, the seemingly uncontrollable child in a tantrum and the beautiful woman who they will stone if they cannot possess her. She is everything they fear.

Bob Marley

Until the philosophy which holds one race superior
And another
Is finally
And permanently
And abandoned -
Everywhere is war -
Me say war.

That until there no longer
First class and second class citizens of any nation
Until the colour of a man's skin
Is of no more significance than the colour of his eyes -
Me say war.

That until the basic human rights
Are equally guaranteed to all,
Without regard to race -
Dis a war.

That until that day
The dream of lasting peace,
World citizenship
Rule of international morality
Will remain in but a fleeting illusion to be pursued,
But never attained -
Now everywhere is war - war.

And until the ignoble and unhappy regimes
That hold our brothers in Angola,
In Mozambique,
South Africa
Sub - human bondage
Have been toppled,
Utterly destroyed -
Well, everywhere is war -
Me say war.

War in the east,
War in the west,
War up north,
War down south -
War - war -
Rumors of war.

And until that day,
The African continent
Will not know peace,
We Africans will fight - we find it necessary -
And we know we shall win
As we are confident
In the victory
Of good over evil.

Blessings and take care of your Soul until next time.

Thursday, April 21, 2005

Speak Your Truth

“Speak the truth and speak it ever, cost it what it will.”

Those of you who know me personally might find it hard to imagine me as a skinny, long-legged child with ponytails but that I was, at least for awhile. The memories of those days came to me as I sat to speak my truth with you through the Words from Scripture, Words of Comfort and Words from the Heart.

Growing up in a country, Jamaica, where dishonesty seems the best policy; where the ‘bad guys’ drive the best cars, have the biggest houses and wear designer clothing, one could forgive me if my relationships were marked by trickery and deceit.

“Speak the truth and speak it ever” is something we would say to each other on the school grounds when a friend was caught in a lie. Today, speaking the truth, speaking my truth, is such an integral part of who I am. However, sometimes I cannot help feeling that honesty is a dirty word and will therefore join my growing list of ‘difficult words,’ which include ‘responsibility’ and ‘surrender’.

Journey with me through the labyrinth called life as we attempt to unravel the mystery of honesty and search for reasons to “Speak Your Truth.”


These words are not from the Bible or any religious text. Rather, they are drawn from works of several persons who have provided me with sustenance.

“There are no mistakes, no coincidences. All events are blessings given to us to learn from.”
Elisabeth Kübler-Ross

“The individual is capable of both great compassion and great indifference. He has it within his means to nourish the former and outgrow the latter.”
Norman Cousins

“Grace strikes us when we are in great pain and restlessness . . . It strikes us when we feel that our separation is deeper than usual, because we have violated another life, a life which we loved, or from which we [are] estranged. It strikes us when our disgust for our own being, our indifference, our weakness, our hostility, and our lack of direction and composure have become intolerable to us . . . when despair destroys all joy and courage.

Sometimes at that moment, a wave of light breaks into our darkness, and it is as though a voice is saying: ‘You are accepted. You are accepted, accepted by that which is greater than you, and the name of which you do not know…Do not try to do anything now; perhaps later you will do much. Do not seek for anything; do not perform anything; do not intend anything. Simply accept that you are accepted!”

In that moment, grace conquers sin, and reconciliation bridges the gulf of estrangement. And nothing is demanded of this experience, no religious or moral or intellectual presupposition, nothing but acceptance.”

Paul Tillich, “You Are Accepted”


We met between the pages of a book almost five years ago. I had never heard of her until a friend, who knew her and familiar with my journey introduced us.

Meeting this woman, albeit through her writings, was for me, using the phrase that Oprah has made famous – an “aha” moment. Actually, it was much more than that. I wept. Hardly surprising, you might say, since the title of the first one of her books that I read is “Yesterday, I Cried.” My tears, however, were more that of a mother grieving the loss of her only child. They rose from the pit of my belly, busted through my ribs and threatened to choke me.

Iyanla Vanzant, a not so famous motivational speaker, author and spiritual counsellor, wrote my story and she guided me onto the path of telling my truth. Every challenge, grief, feeling of defeat and hopelessness, every moment of joy and hope she described in her life, I recognized myself within them.

When the tears stopped flowing and my breathing settled to its normal pace, I literally started to write my story for myself. One day I will share with you the details, not today, because the journey continues.

Through Vanzant’s truth telling, however, I was able to start speaking my own truth. Yes, there were opportunities before and I did try to on occasions, but I was running scared as so many doors had slammed in my face when my truth was revealed.

Growing up in a culture where the primary folk hero was a trickster spider named Anancy, who used any means necessary to have his way, one can understand how easy my retreat to telling tales and hiding my truth became.

Bro’ Anansi, as young and old affectionately call him, came to Jamaica on the boat that brought the first slaves from West Africa. Soon after his arrival, he “went into business as the only therapy for three centuries of hideousness.”

Over the years, I witnessed firsthand how many others would do the same and eventually it became that honesty was not necessarily the best policy. The women with whom I grew up struggled hard to put food on the table, while the men “wild” their time away with numerous mistresses.

Politicians, both male and female, were not much different. They practiced the craft of trickery to such a degree that the country has been brought to the brink of financial disaster on several occasions.

As I looked to the church for inspiration, as deep inside me I felt that something was missing, a form of truth was being told, but not Truth that is unblemished by corruption and self-aggrandizement. With sinking heart, I walked away from the church.

However, grace is a strange thing. Reflecting on my journey thus far, it must have been grace that carried me through high school and later university in the Ukraine. It must have been grace that held me in her arms and brought me through the trauma of an abusive marriage. Surely, it must have been grace that eased the agony and despair I felt when I lost my son.

Most certainly, it was grace that gave me the opportunities to embark on a career in communications and develop the relationships and friendships that I did. Yet, despite these achievements and moments of pleasure, there remained the longing for something more.

I know some of you reading this will think that what I was missing was some good old religion in my life. Frankly, that was not my thought, even when I entered the hall of the Universal Centre of Truth for Better Living and heard that fiery minister “speak the word,” and was touched to the core of my being.

If you must know, the Divine was there all along – I just could not say Her name, and that is where Vanzant stepped in. You see God is Truth and unless you can “speak the truth and speak it ever,” something will always be missing. It goes beyond that – you have to live in the way of Truth, find the sacred in your life and that is even more difficult.

It has been almost five years since I met her, five wonderful yet tumultuous years of speaking and living my truth. Doors still close in my face; people still turn away from my honesty. Many a times there were when, like my friend Sonya, I have been very tempted to throw my compassion out the window.

There have been numerous opportunities to hide my truth, hide what enlivens my soul and play the game of trickery. Those were the times when the pain of truth telling was so great that it seemed safer to keep my mouth shut.

In those moments, I am reminded of these words from Deng Ming-Dao, in Everyday Tao: Living With Balance and Harmony:
Life hurts. Life is painful. Life is suffering.
There is nothing in life that does not involve trial.
There is nothing worthwhile that doesn’t have a cost.
Yet, we must go on.

So, this I know is true, that through the pain and as some doors close, we must all continue to speak our personal truths and remain honest to Truth – cost it what it will. That is how we care for our souls and according to Thomas Moore, if we do so “faithfully, every day, we step out of the way and let our full genius emerge.”


Yesterday, I Cried
By Iyanla Vanzant

Yesterday, I cried.
I came home, went straight to my room, sat on the edge of my bed,
Kicked off my shoes, unhooked my bra,
and I had myself a good cry.

I’m telling you,
I cried until my nose was running all over the silk blouse I got on sale.
I cried until my ears were hot.
I cried until my head was hurting so bad that
I could hardly see the pile of soiled tissues lying on the floor at my feet.

I want you to understand,
I had myself a really good cry yesterday.

Yesterday, I cried,
for all the days that I was too busy, or too tired, or too mad to cry.
I cried for all the days, and all the ways,
and all the times I had dishonoured, disrespected, and disconnected my Self from myself,
only to have it reflected back to me in the ways others did to me,
the same things I had already done to myself.

I cried because there really does come a time when the only thing left
for you to do is cry.

Yesterday, I cried.
I cried because I hurt. I cried because I was hurt.
I cried because hurt has no place to go
except deeper into the pain that caused it in the first place,
and when it gets there, the hurt wakes you up.

I cried because it was too late. I cried because it was time.
I cried because my soul knew that I didn’t know
that my soul knew everything I needed to know.

I cried a soulful cry yesterday, and it felt so good.
It felt so very, very bad.

In the midst of my crying, I felt freedom coming,
Yesterday, I cried
with an agenda.

Blessings and take care of your Soul until next time.

Thursday, April 14, 2005

Taking Off

Earlier this week, I wrote about surrendering and the challenges that that concept poses for me. Many of you related to the feeling and I thank you for sharing your thoughts with me.

One such person is my dear friend Sonya, who some of you might have already met through an earlier article she wrote for Comforting Words. The friendship that I now enjoy with Sonya started from a distance and we closed the gap when she visited me while I still lived in Jamaica and she lived in South Korea.

Over the past five years, our friendship has also been marked by each of our ability to look beyond our differences, take risks on life and love and living our passion. We also share impatience for ignorance and discrimination of any sort.

This week, the Words from Scripture, Words of Comfort and Words from the Heart comes from Sonya. Her sending me this article was fortuitous but very welcomed, as I am leaving for a Conference in Toronto where the topic of discussion has to do with discrimination. However, this is more than a trip to a meeting for me, it is a time to come a part and re-channel my energy. As I go on this journey, I ask for your continued prayer and support.

Like me, Sonya is also on a trip but to a far more exotic destination and with far more adventurous thoughts on her mind, which you can read about in her article, My Religion is Kindness.

My hope is that, with the insights that Sonya offers, you will open your heart, in any way neccessary, to embrace love and compassion.

As always, be blessed until next week.


My Religion is Kindness

By Sonya

“Not by hate is hate defeated; hate is quenched by love. This is the eternal law.”
Dhammapada 5

“People with small minds want a small Law because they can't believe they could become Buddhas.”
Lotus Sutra 2

“Some people are like big children, harming others without even seeing it. Staying angry with these fools is like being mad at fire because it burns.”
Bodhicharyavatara 6.39

Sometime ago, I read an interview with a Tibetan monk who had been captured by the Chinese army, tortured and imprisoned for 20 years. For some reason, what has stood out in me mind about his life story is his response to a novice monk who asked him what was his greatest fear during his imprisonment. He replied that his greatest fear was that he would lose compassion for the Chinese.

I admit defeat. I am not as strong as this monk is and I notice that lately, I am losing compassion for my captors. My partner also notices and tries to help by pointing out when I act "less than loving" toward people.

Being human and needing to justify my emotion, I ascribe blame for this state that I am in to the situation that my partner is currently experiencing. Of Asian background, she comes from a family with very traditional beliefs and values. Her parents are also quite elderly. Stemming from these two factors, she does not feel in a position to tell her family about our relationship.

My partner, who is in her mid-30's, feels and behaves as if she was the disobedient teenager who is sternly reprimanded for every minor infraction. As for me, after having the big "coming out" speech with my own family two years ago, I faintly remember what being in the closet is like. However, now that I have been on the “outside,” I am loathe to be sequestered in the closet again. I love my partner dearly and so intimately experience the effects being in the closet has on her. We are now at the point where this situation, “keeping her family happy,” is even taking a toll on our finances.

The other reason for my "losing compassion" stems from my own job. As a teacher, I have the pleasure of having lunch in the staff room with "the mom squad"-- AKA: half a dozen 40 and 50-something ladies discussing the "joys" of giving birth and changing diapers while attempting to digest my lunch! My sighs of frustration usually prompt someone to turn to me to remark: "Oh, do not worry, honey, it will be your turn soon!"

In my world, it is okay for my colleagues to take days off because their children are ill or take "personal days" because their spouses have a day off. My employer goes to great length to reinforce and congratulate married and partnered staff members and to acknowledge their unions. Wait, let me rephrase that. That should read: "congratulate married and partnered STRAIGHT staff members." My union is to be hidden and feared.

I am very conscious of the fact that my last posting at Comforting Words was about Mardi Gras and the freedom that "non-straights" in Sydney enjoy.

There are however, moments such as these, that balance out those shining moments of freedom. Recognizing this, I am only left with questions of purpose: Why is there such an insurmountable division of recognition between the relationship of my female colleague and her husband, as compared to my relationship with my partner? Where is the justification for distinguishing that one relationship is "good" and the other is "bad"?

My female colleagues can freely discuss the difficulties of their relationships and get a simple human expression of compassion. Should I dare to mention anything of my relationship or my partner, I risk not only being bombarded with questions of morality and righteousness but I would find myself unemployed in a matter of minutes.

The cynical gay students around Australia proudly display badges and signs reading: “Heterosexuality is not normal, just common.” John Howard, current Prime Minister of Australia, seems to believe that the inherent “goodness” of a relationship comes from its procreative nature. According to this logic, homosexuals are “bad” simply because they do not contribute to increasing the population of Australia. (No worries, there are several chasms in that logic, all have been debated regularly.)

Since I cannot or dare not brag at work about my relationship, let me do it here:
My partner is a wholesale travel consultant. Last year at their annual Christmas party, she was chosen “team member of the year” for having the highest annual sales and generally a great performer in her job. She was rewarded vouchers for a 5-star resort in Bali, Indonesia. We are taking off for Bali this week to enjoy a free 10-day holiday because of those vouchers.

Be it my loved one's inability to discuss her happiness with her family because “it would just KILL them,” or my inability to brag to my co-workers about this vacation we are taking, I just do not understand the hatred and fear directed towards us. Am I the only one who thinks it logical that love should be celebrated wherever it occurs?

The point of this article is my confession of “losing it,” which is becoming a regular occurrence. Take for example, a few days ago we were out shopping and as I walked down the street, pretending to be asexual, not holding on to this beautiful woman that I love so much, I cringed and cursed every time we approached an intersection to be greeted with another couple smooching as they waited for the light to turn green or every time some mommy drove her pram into my shins.

I am losing compassion for my captors. They refuse to recognize that though I may be of a different belief system, mine *is* valid. I believe in love. I believe in honesty and it kills me to lie to my students every day. I believe in sharing joy wherever it exists. I still have a long way to go in cultivating compassion for all beings.

My religion is kindness.

Gate gate paragate parasamgate bodhi svaha.

Sunday, April 10, 2005

It's Only For Awhile

Remember my writing that “some words give me trouble” and that one of those words was “Responsibility?”

Another problem word for me is “Surrender.”

Well-meaning people keep telling me to surrender to life or to God or to something when I express concern, anxiety and feelings of depression. Honestly, often times I really do not understand what they mean by “surrender,” especially when the valley seems long and dark.

It has been a couple weeks since I have shared with you, time that has been spent in valleys – either that of a friend or my own. One thought that took me through, one that I would like to share with you is that It’s Only for Awhile, through the Words from Scripture, Words of Comfort and Words from the Heart.

These words are not from any Bible or religious text, but taken from a book which I have long held sacred – The Tao of Leadership by John Heider

The Paradox of Letting Go

When I let go of what I am, I become what I might be.
When I let go of what I have, I receive what I need.

These are feminine or Yin paradoxes:
 By yielding, I endure.
 The empty space is filled
 When I give of myself, I become more.
 When I feel most destroyed, I am about to grow.
 When I desire nothing, a great deal comes to me.

When the telephone rang one afternoon in March while I was working on a paper due in two days, I almost did not answer. After I hung up and looked at the books strewn across the room, I thought, “You should have surrendered to that feeling not to answer.”

The voice on the other end of the line said, “Claudette, I need to talk.” I closed the book and told the dear woman-friend of mine to come over for herbal tea. Yes, this was the same woman-friend who dragged me to the organic food restaurant a week or so before. Although I really needed to finish the paper, she came over and we talked for a couple of hours.

Had I known she was about to open a can of worms for me, maybe I would have told her I was too busy. Truth is I was valiantly attempting to ignore the fact that my well-organized world was a bit shaky. I simply did not have the time to deal with anything other than assignments.

There were signs though that my attempt was to be in vain. A week or so before that telephone call, someone asked me why I host this blog. My response was it is my public confession, a sort of coming out medium for me, one that is in black and white (sort of) and therefore my process could not be denied. Here is a place where, for the year 2005, all that I am will be exposed, the good and the ugly of me will be held up to public scrutiny and accountability.

I also like to think that my doing this serves a higher purpose, that maybe the things that I write mirrors the story of others who prefer to remain anonymous. However, almost a month now, I have not been able to post any article. I am thankful for the emails and questions that I received from a few faithful readers asking whether everything is okay.

Life happens and you sometimes have to step back and when it gets all confusing, you have to retreat and figure out what next. My life took that turn in March, through my friend’s story of hurt, confusion and needing to surrender. As I listened to her story and as we cried together, I had a sinking feeling in my stomach as I raised my eyes and looked in to the mirror she was holding up to me.

The issue at hand was how to know when to call something quits. How do we surrender to life and let go of our plans and be flexible enough to alter our dreams as the canopy of our life shatters?

Letting go is hard. There are many motivational speakers, songwriters and poets who give the impression that letting go or surrendering your dreams and passions is easy. It is not. Personally, I prefer those love songs in which the artist bellows out the pain and anguish of love lost. Those sound and feel real to me, not some speaker telling me to close my eyes and recite some words and surrender to “nothingness” and all is well almost instantly.

There are few things, at least for me, to which surrender is easy. Those friends of mine who have the same size waistline know that it is easy to surrender to a bar or two of chocolate. Better, if you have a bucket of Neapolitan ice cream, trail mix or a plate of fried chicken and rice and peas to go with it. It is also easy to surrender to the feeling that lures you to bed, to curl up in a darkened room, cover your head and remain there for days on end. Nor do I have a problem surrendering to a good cry in my pillow at night.

Ask me to surrender or to let go of what I think I am; what I have or the plans that I have made for my life is another story. That is real agony. On that March day, as the tears fell into her herbal tea, my friend and I discussed what her life has been thus far. We talked about the possessions, money and how others would or would not be impacted by her decisions.

After she left, not able to return to my desk, I sat at my kitchen table and looked out at the snow that had started to melt and realized that our lives run the same cycle as nature. In our summers we live our best moments, in our autumns those moments begin to change colour, in winter they turn cold and we worry about what will be uncovered in spring when the snow melts.

It is now spring in Edmonton, and the grass on my lawn is beginning to turn green. The winter is over and so too are my own tears and confusion about its coldness. One day at a time, one word at a time, another woman-friend advised me is the pace. However, I find that one moment at a time is what I can manage in my process of learning to embrace and surrender to the mystery that life is. Speaking, writing and living my truth is a large part of that embrace.

As for my friend who in March, possibly unknowingly, helped me to become the more that I am – I say thank you. My dear, and all you other dears whose winter may still be raging, remember it is only for awhile more.


Only For a While
Sung by Anita Baker
Lyrics: Dawn Thomas

For a little while
We know what heartache is
And we feel the pain the world can sometimes bring
For a while
We cry in the night
Without a single song to sing
But one day all will change
There’ll be no more stormy rain
Then at last we will rest forevermore

So if you’re in the valley
And life is so unkind
And, if the tears keep falling
From your tired eyes
If burdens seem so heavy
And it’s hard to smile
Then just remember
It’s only for a while

For a little while
You lose someone you love
And miss the times together that you shared
For a little while
You feel all alone and scared
With no one there to hold
Oh, the nights get long and cold
But it won’t last
It will pass in time

Blessings, until next week.