Comforting Words: 11/2005

Sunday, November 20, 2005

New Meaning to the Trinity

Leonardo da Vinci is quoted to have said, "There are three classes of people: those who see, those who see when they are shown and those who do not see."

Personally, I would like to believe that I am one of those who can see things on my own and when I am unable to, that I have the wisdom to ask to be shown.

This thought came to my mind as I reflected on the week past and the things revealed to me and hopefully countless others who had the will to see.

Sticking with the number three (which in itself is significant in Christian and Hebrew Scriptures and in various cultures and religious practices) I had my own "three moment" this weekend.

On Friday, in a group of six women (including my daughter) I attended a benefit concert for the Women's Re-Integration Chaplaincy at the Edmonton Institute for Women (EIW). This was the fourth annual concert for this non-profit organization but it was very unusual in that, this year it was actually held "inside," i.e., in the gymnasium of the prison.

This was not my first visit to EIW, so I 'knew' what to expect, however, some of my friends were not so sure what their reactions might be; my daughter, for example, was a bit nervous. It did not take long for those who had doubts about being there, expressed or hidden, to relax, largely because the EIW is not the typical prison but I think more so because of the energy of the guest performer, Faith Nolan.

She was the true life of the party, freely mingling with the women incarcerated at EIW and the guests for the evening. Faith was a livewire in the place and as she sat with us before the first half of the concert, chatting and teasing Juds and I about our apparent lack or disinterest in the aspects of the Jamaican 'culture' that she is most accustomed to seeing, we could not help feeling at ease.

More important, however, was the response of the women of EIW to Faith's presence and performance, the way she easily moved between them and the 'visitors'. It was my sense that this helped to create an atmosphere of oneness, something which the Executive Director of WRC underscored in her brief presentation as she reminded the women that all the people present at the concert (close to 200) are there because they wished to show their support for them.

The second 'moment' of note this weekend, was a documentary on the CTV programme, W-Five, entitled "Broken Promises." It was pure chance that we saw this documentary, as we were waiting for the start of what would be the third 'moment' of weekend, the movie Hotel Rwanda.

I invite those of you who either have not seen the documentary, "Broken Promises" or Hotel Rwanda to watch both. I especially invite persons who might be thinking of migrating to Canada to watch the documentary, which is available on line. No, my intention is not to discourage any one from migrating to Canada, that would be disingenuous of me, as someone who has done so without regret albeit my experience confirms much of what the documentary deals with.

Mention was also made about a web site,, which highlights reasons why Canada should not be a migratory destination of choice, especially if you are a well-educated and professional individual. Watch the documentary and visit the site and share your thoughts with me.

If you have not yet seen Hotel Rwanda or have watched it only once, I beg of you to watch it or watch it again!

Like many, I have read the news reports and seen other television movies about the genocide that occurred in Rwanda but watching this particular movie rocked me to the core of my being. Certainly, I was disgusted by the cruelty of Rwandans against Rwandans, the greed those in authority or places of power displayed. My agony was real when I saw the rape and abuse of women. My sense of indignation matched that of Don Cheadle in his role of Paul Rusesabagina, when he found out that the 'western' world had abandoned the innocent people of Rwanda.

What was more striking for me though, which is the common theme of this weekend, that which connects my trinity of 'moments', was the power of one.

Faith Nolan, the one couple in Edmonton who has decided to say enough to the discriminatory practices skilled and professional class immigrants face in Canada and Paul Rusesabagina, the Rwandan hotel manager who assisted over 1,000 of his fellow country people from certain murder all modelled for me this weekend the power of one.

How often you and I have decided not to take action because we feel that as one person we cannot make a difference? Too often, would be my personal response.

Faith, Paul and that couple in Edmonton it seems had different answers. They must have this thought of Frederick Douglass, the son of a slave and American Abolitionist, firmly in their minds:
"Where justice is denied, where poverty is enforced, where ignorance prevails, and where any one class is made to feel that society is an organized conspiracy to oppress, rob and degrade them, neither persons nor property will be safe."

This was not the first time this weekend that I heard Mr. Douglass' name. My partner said to me, after watching the W-Five documentary that she wished she felt confident about her writing abilities and could do a follow-up novel to Mr. Douglass', which she would entitle, "The Narrative of the Modern North American Slaves."

I hope that one day she will - as it is a story that must be told - if we ever hope to truly experience oneness among all people and end the physical, economical and spiritual incarceration of people, largely on the basis of the colour of their skin and their gender.


P.S. Watch the documentary and the movie and share your comments!

Photograph courtesy of

Tuesday, November 15, 2005

"It's Looking A Lot Like Christmas"

Yes, I said it - Christmas!

No, I am not joining the debate whether we should use that word or Happy Holidays. Christmas is my favourite time of the year!

Certainly it is a Christian holiday and liberal as I may be in my views, I am not ashamed to say that I love Christmas. Like most of us in the western world, my love for the season started as a child, listening to the stories of the birth of Jesus.

As I grew older, physically and in my faith, I stopped believing that a man named Santa Claus came through chimneys (maybe because in Jamaica we had none in the first place) and I stopped believing, as real, the story about a pregnant virgin who nine months into her term was travelling for miles on a mule!

However, I never gave up the sentiments of hope, humility, oneness and possibilities that Christmas signifies. That is what is real about the season for me - the message it holds.

Though the opportunity to go shopping, the amount of food we allow ourselves to eat, and the exchange of gifts excites me, I can make an excuse to do any of these things at any time during the year!

I simply love the spirit of the season and the sense of togetherness I experience with my family and close friends.

Admittedly, exchanging gifts is a bonus and this leads me to the point of this post - we have drawn the name from the bag for the Comforting Words Christmas Gift and the winner is.... a wonderful woman, who has not only taught me, but has supported my academic and professional pursuits and dreams. A citizen of Jamaica, she so happens to be visiting Canada right now and therefore I will not have to pay an arm and a leg to mail her gift :)

We still have two more draws to go before the end of this year - our regular monthly draw will take place on November 30 and the final draw for 2005 on December 30. So, you still have a chance to receive one of our modest but wonderful surprises! All you have to do is to "Join Our Mailing List," by clicking the box to the right of your screen and follow the prompts.

Miss P., keep your eyes on the mail van, as it will soon have your surprise!



Photo courtesy of

Saturday, November 12, 2005

Oops, He Did It Again!

Will somebody please tell Pat Robertson to shut up!

He is at it again and, this time, it is the people of Pennsylvania who are the target of his nonsensical (in my opinion)diatribe.

A couple days ago, we turned on the television, tuning into CNN's Lou Dobbs (a not-so favourite broadcaster of Juds') only to hear the tailend of a story about this goodly gentleman, Pat Robertson.

Wondering what he did this time, I made a note to check the Internet for the full story and I was not disappointed!

My question is, when will the people of the church/congregation that Mr. Robertson leads finally put the theory of "Intelligent Design" into action and ask their leader to think before he speaks?

Although he is pulling that line that politicians are famous for: "I was taken out of context," given his record, it is hard to believe that he was dragged too far from his intention. He is possibly the poster senior citizen for the hell and damnation rhetoric that so many religious groups love to preach.

The scary part for me (and should be too for all well thinking people and believers who truly consider God as a loving being) is that there is, seemingly, a growing number of persons, especially in the United States, that actually believe such theology - that the Creator would punish humanity with disasters!

I have given my two cents worth on this issue of God and punishment, the question now is, where do you stand?

It certainly will take each of us to live and speak out our beliefs in our homes and wherever our circle of influence may be. You can start by participating in our poll to the right of your screen.

To not do speak out or take some action means that the followers of the Pat Robertsons of this world, who exist not only in the Christianity but in any religious sphere that argues for close-minded thinking, will eventually speak and make decisions for all of us, whether we like it or not!

Arguments like the ones Pat Robertson have put forward, belie Intelligent Design.



Photo courtesy of

Thursday, November 10, 2005

Angel in the Subway

Yesterday, as I took my three-weekly trek across town to a seminar, my mind was filled with worrying thoughts.

Parking can be a costly venture here in Edmonton and so I have been taking the bus to work and this morning was no different. However, I was a bit late coming out of the house, as A, my daughter, in the casual style of an eighteen year old, dropped the bombshell that she has a date!

So I rushed out after getting the "full bill and receipt" about this guy only to see the back of my bus. Concerned that I was going to be late, I called A, who was still at home, and got her advice on an alternative route, which included my taking the subway.

Fifteen minutes later, as I am sitting on the train, my mind was filled with all that was not going the way I had hoped them to be, the things that I would like to be different in my life by now, the bills that were sitting on top of my fridge to be paid, this guy that A had just told me she was seeing and so on. Then I heard the quiet voice of Spirit saying, "Be still."

On Sunday, I had re-created my sacred space in my bedroom and had been diligently praying for God to be ever so present to me. The mantra, "Marantha," (O, God, come) has been on my lips and in my heart all week and so I was not surprised to hear this invitation to stillness.

As I obeyed the 'command', I raised my eyes from my lap and looked through the window of the train as it pulled into Central Station and saw people hurriedly disembarking and moving towards the escalators to get to their destinations. The train was soon pulling out of the station when my eyes met that of a little girl, walking closely beside a harried looking woman.

In those seconds, through the eyes of this unknown child, I saw that God had heard me. The smile that came to her lips as she held my gaze spoke to my heart, saying "I am here."

A child was the messenger who reminded me that the Divine truly meets us wherever we are. So my friends make sure you are mindful, as angels comes in all shapes and sizes.



Picture courtesy of

Saturday, November 05, 2005

And I Will Rise!

A picture truly says more than a thousand words and this is so true of this image, courtesy of

I am trying hard to dig myself out of this rut that opened up and sucked me in almost a month ago. Feeling depressed is something many would never admit to and years ago neither would I. Life, however, has taught me that those things that we would rather keep a secret has a way of biting you in the ass, forcing you to confront it.

Thanks to those of you who have sent me words of encouragement and prayer over this period. A special word of thanks to those of you who called and to those who gave me a hug, maybe not even realizing how healing that was for me.

Members and regular readers of Comforting Words would have received and/or noticed my apologies for not posting as frequently since my mother’s accident. I needed some time to just sit with my pain and yes, my anger and confusion and sort myself out. There comes a point, however, when enough is enough and I think I am at that stage. One of the most difficult things to do is to stop wallowing in self-pity, because it feels so damn good to just keep on saying “Woe is me!”

Leaving one’s comfort zone, even if it is a seemingly pitiful place to others, is not easy. Personally, I was never comfortable in that place of self-pity but must admit that at times it is nice to visit. Everything comes to an end and one must move on – step back fully into this game called Life.

And so, here I am, making my full re-entry, picking up the ball and ready to throw it to my game partners – You.

In case you forgot, this place is a one of refuge, restoration and celebration of all that we are and can become. It is a place for people concerned with love, equality, freedom and justice for all, with special emphasis on women (and the children that they mother) living in difficult circumstances, people who self-identify as lesbians, gays, bi-sexual, transgendered or questioning (LGTBQ).

Comforting Words is where we give (share) our power – that which makes us children of a Source greater than anything in the world. It is where you receive – empowerment as you share. As the host of this community, my commitment is to always keep things real here. The singular obligation of membership in this community is authenticity, hence my unhesitating willingness to share both my pain and my joy.

Membership is easy – simply click on the “Join Our Mailing List,” button to the right of your screen and follow the prompts. We never sell your information – that is my personal commitment. As a member, you are eligible to win our monthly surprise and our special Christmas draw.

Grow with and in this community. Share your story, your life and your dreams, as you feel ready to. You may do so by submitting short articles for posting here or you may prefer talking with me and other members through the discussion forum. Again, to join the discussion forum, simply follow the prompts. We can also communicate by email. Send me one and I will be sure to answer.

Beginning today and over the next few months, there will be some changes at Comforting Words. It is said that only change is constant and as I re-examine my life and the realities that I live with – not least of which are career and academic commitments - adjustments have to be made to Comforting Words.

These adjustments will in fact improve, in my opinion, the substance of our contact and communication. My intention is to have shorter, more frequent posts (both written and audio) on topical and not so topical issues and more lengthy articles, including the continuation of my story, once per month.

Members and readers will have an opportunity to post their comments if they so wish and I really encourage you to do so, as this give me a greater sense as to whether these posts are meaningful to you. There will also be opportunities for you to be proactive in this community and, in the long-term, for we to actually meet face-to-face. I am excited by the ideas for expansion and I hope you will catch the fever and give me your feedback over the next few months.

Again, thanks to all of you for your kind words of encouragement, your prayers and even the kick in the butt – I needed all of it.



Tuesday, November 01, 2005

Forgive Me

I truly apologise to all of you, who have been checking here and emailing me as I have not been posting as frequently.

Truth is, I am experiencing a really challenging time right now, working through the emotions surrounding my mother's recent accident and the implications for her after-hospitalisation care.

If that was not enough, we are now journeying with my daughter A., as she faces laser eye surgery, the first of which is today and the second in two weeks.

Thanks to all of you who continue to support me and my family through your prayers and words of encouragement. I look forward to the full burst of light that I know is on the horizon.

As you pray and support me, I do the same for all of you, especially my woman-friend in Ontario C, who is at the dawn of her own journey. Blessings my dear and know that all will be well.

Thanks to for the wonderful picture that says all that I would say from my heart.

Love to all of you.