Comforting Words: Keeping Hope Alive

Thursday, January 19, 2006

Keeping Hope Alive

Last Saturday (January 14) I spent the most interesting day, participating in three very different events yet linked by a common thread – hope.

A few days earlier my woman-friend B, the one who I was spared listening to her singing on a fourteen-hour car trip to Vancouver last summer, sent me an email that her mother had made her transition. While neither my partner nor I had ever met B’s mother, we know and care for B deeply and so decided to attend the memorial service.

Sitting in the medium-size chapel that Saturday afternoon, I looked around and noted that we were the only so-called visible minority among just over one hundred people gathered. I mused to myself that my fellow mourners were probably wondering where we met the departed.

Several possible meeting places soon revealed themselves as I listened to the eulogy, delivered by three of her children, as not only were family members gathered but people who B’s mother had met through her travels to several countries, including the Caribbean. She had also volunteered at local charities serving the needs of newcomers to Canada and had served her church community to the end.

In short, she lived a good life in many respects and despite whatever limitations she might have had, she reached out to the world around her. B read a poem that was one of her mother’s favourites and one that will remain with me for a while to come. Entitled, “Don’t Grieve for Me,” the poem basically chronicles a life fully lived and departed in grace. Between the lines, it invites those of us remaining on this Earth plane, to embrace life and live fully in hope and love.

Leaving the downtown chapel, we headed west to the home of two lovely women, D and K, we met several months earlier in the grocery store. This meeting is a story in itself but suffice it to say that since that time, the four of us have become fast friends. Our gathering this Saturday was planned weeks ahead but had shifted a bit as D had called earlier that morning to tell us that the current Deputy Prime Minister of Canada and Member of Parliament for Edmonton-Central (where they live) will be making a presentation at a local club for lesbians.

Juds, my partner, had always being fascinated by this particular politician and her journalistic instincts were propelling her to get Anne McLellan’s reaction to being sarcastically labeled “Landslide Annie.” Just after 4:00 p.m., we noticed a minor flurry at the door which announced Ms McLellan’s arrival. Needless to say, Juds and I were more than a little surprised that this ‘powerful’ woman was without an entourage much less security, save for one female assistant. In the society and culture from which we originate a politician of any note or stature, not to mention the deputy prime minister, would never be traveling alone – not even to his/her bathroom!

I was equally struck by how easily Ms McLellan entered into conversation with us after K and I approached her, introduced ourselves and our issues. K was particularly concerned about the prospect of a Conservative government and was earlier trying to coax the rest of us into agreeing to migrate to Quebec should that party win the elections. Knowing that to successfully find one’s place in that province French would be an important asset none of us was taking her on. However, I wanted to hear what the Deputy Prime Minister’s views were on this possibility and whether we should seriously really listen to K.

Apparently the plan was that this campaign stop should have lasted not more than forty-five minutes. However, between K and I commanding her attention, the photographers wanting to get the best shots of her with the framed Charter of Rights which she had presented and her earnest desire to greet almost everyone in the club, Ms McLellan left much later than her assistant preferred.

Returning to our table I asked myself whether having met her and had some of my questions answered, would I vote for her and specifically the Liberal party? Bearing in mind my natural liberal instincts, as discussed in the last post, if I lived in her riding, Edmonton-Central, I would. She would not get my vote simply because of any promises she made during the conversation but more so because of the hope she inspired. Not living in her riding, would I vote for the Liberals?

The truth is that although I am aware of the scandals and the alleged corruption that plagues the party, the Liberals would get my vote not solely on the basis of my political and religious heritage. Neither would they be getting my vote because I am voting against the Conservatives because of their stance on same-sex marriage, a woman’s right to choose or the obvious deficiency in social programs in their platform.

The Liberals would get my vote, this one time, because of the sense of hope that I get from their platform that my family – diverse as it is in terms of culture, ethnicity, sexual orientations and religious/faith beliefs and led as it is by women – would stand a chance of achieving our highest aspirations in this country.

After leaving the club, feeling both hopeful yet very concerned about the prospect of a Conservative government, we headed to K and D’s house to make supper. What was more significant was that as we cooked and prepared our multicultural menu of Jamaican curry chicken, dirty rice, steamed kale, fried green tomatoes and banana cream pie, we were making plans for our future.

Juds and I headed for home about 10:00 p.m., with our tummies full of a delectable meal and our heads and hearts full of ideas and “to do’s” to make our common dream of creating an organization that would serve the needs of our community. I had already taken some of the first steps towards this through this blog and through the establishment of the Comfort Foundation & Ministries, the interim web site of which you can view here.

The Comforting Words Woman of 2006 project is another step in this dream of affirming women across the world and you are invited to join forces with us in doing this. All it requires is a gift of not more than US$20.00 and sixty or so minutes of your time writing about the woman you nominate for this award. For further information, check out “Be A Part of…” and submit your nominations by February 10, 2006.

As the political machinery grinds here in Canada and in fact around the world, even in your town, simple steps to remind ourselves that without each and everyone of us, without our voices and without our support and action – small as they may be – our societies and the world will be completely taken over and run by people who have little more than money, domination and power on their minds.

I urge you to do your small bit to remind your neighbours and yourselves that it does not take much to “keep hope alive.”



Photograph available at Yahoo Images


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