{May 22, 2011}   Victoria Day Weekend

Wishing you all a lovely long weekend. We’re most of the way thru it and on our end it’s been lovely. Despite starting on Friday with our son having an allergic reaction to a vaccine, and the news of the untimely death of wrestling legend (and one of my personal favourites) Randy ‘Macho Man’ Savage, I think our little family has since rallied, as Benadryl has worked its wonders, and we had a lovely day yesterday enjoying a travelling fair here in Ottawa, as well as the end of the Tulip Festival near Dow’s Lake. We’re a bit unsure of what we’re going to turn today and tomorrow into, as it’s supposed to be thunder-stormy at any time now, but there IS a WWE pay per view tonight I’m sure we’ll end up watching, and we’ll figure out a lovely way to spend tomorrow and wrap up our weekend … perhaps Cosmic Adventures style? Although picturing the crowds … hmmm …

Perhaps the most amazing fact is that we’re all still here, seeing as yesterday was supposed to be the Rapture and all according to Rev. Howard Camping and his Family Radio folks. After all the talk of destruction surrounding Judgement Day, it has been lovely to celebrate creation at church today as we planted a butterfly garden, to provide chemical free wildflowers for our local butterfly population. While the Sunday School, who was supposed to scatter the seeds, were only two in number with the long weekend, we still had fun joining the rest of the congregation outside for singing and blessing our new creation. May the butterflies enjoy it as much as we enjoyed setting it out for them.

Blessings on butterfly wings into the new week, everyone. Much love!

If you CLICK HERE, you will find the United Church of Canada made the National Post’s Religion page today. While normally I would ignore such articles, especially considering the source, I think there are a few important things to respond to here in regards to the church I grew up in, and the church that I love.

I do agree there’s an unfortunate trend with some progressive Christians to avoid ‘God/Jesus’ language, and I think it’s important we use it; not only does it explain our motivation for the work we do, but it also demonstrates there are multiple ways of being Christian – unfortunately being ashamed of Christianity only plays into the idea fundamentalism embraces that there is only one meaning to that name, and honestly, we do a disservice to Christ’s ministry to not speak up for what we believe in – we own that title too! And I too will express disbelief in Gretta Vosper, a renowned Atheist, being a minister in a church who yes, still has in its creed that ‘We believe in God, who has created and is creating … we believe in Jesus, the Word made flesh’.

However … I take issue with two major points in the NP article.

This is the most silly one. I think a bigger problem in churches today, more than dogma being too loose OR strict, or what have you, is a matter of relevance – people relating to it. And if taking your faith to the streets – living it, acting on it, ‘walking the walk’ as opposed to simply preaching and praying – isn’t relevant, I don’t know what is. Granted, we could probably do a better job of discussing what inspires us to be active in the realms of the environment and social justice, but it doesn’t mean that we’re on the wrong track in doing it. And …

Okay – granted I obviously don’t completely disagree with this; truly buying into our creed of at believing in some creative force beyond ourselves, and Jesus as greatest example of living in right relationship with that force and its creation, I don’t think is too much to ask if we’re going to identify as a ‘Christian Church’ (and for the record I have no problem with those who don’t – I’m married to a Jewish man, find much to respect in Islam, and embrace just about anything that brings peace and fulfilment – I guess I just think those who shy away from invoking Christ’s name or even using the term God might feel more comfortable in a Unitarian setting or book club than a church, for their own sake moreso than a ‘kick’em out’ attitude). But beyond that, I don’t care if ‘God’ to you is some old man in the sky, or some Jedi-like ‘force’, or if you believe Jesus is divine or simply an incredibly inspiring teacher whose message has survived 2000 years (a miracle in itself) – and again, I think this argument misses the point about relevance discussed above anyway. On that score, I think the UCC’s grass roots campaign to be God’s hands and feet in the world is on the right track.

UPDATE: Moderator Mardi Tindal’s response to this article can be found on her Wondercafe blog by CLICKING HERE.

{May 10, 2011}   Once and For All …

Inspired by a conversation Ari had today … and an ensuing convo on Facebook … I want to address once and for all questions we get asked on a regular basis by strangers (yes strangers) at parks, malls, grocery stores, what have you, when we’re out with the boys.

  • Yes they are darker than us.
  • And no (when one of us is out alone with them), my husband (or Ari’s wife) is not black – they were adopted.
  • No, it wasn’t our choice, we are infertile, so …
  • No, we can’t have ‘biological’ children, although
  • Yes, we do have kids of our own. you’re looking at them.
  • Yes, they are ‘real brothers’. They are also biological brothers.
  • I will not tell you the story of their bio parents other than ‘they made the right call’ – that’s not my story to share, even if I thought you were entitled to it.
  • They were adopted from Canada …
  • Through the public system, and
  • No, it did not take forever.
  • And might I add, on behalf of all parents in general and adoptive parents specifically …
  • That the simple fact of me having children does not entitle you to my life story, but since we’re going there –
  • Why is your three year old still drinking out of a baby bottle,
  • Or five year old still sucking on a pacifier?
  • Why aren’t you breast feeding?
  • Yeah … we are a family, just as real as yours, we’re doing just fine, and we are now moving on. Thank you.

End rant.

I just wanted to take the time, after a lovely and busy weekend, first of all to thank my boys, Ari, Little Tyke and Little J, for a lovely couple of family days. We spent Saturday out and about downtown Ottawa, enjoying the first day of the Tulip Festival … an annual festival celebrating a gift of millions of tulips given to us by Dutch princess Juliana due to granting her and her two daughters refugre during World War II. In fact, her third daughter, Princess Margrieth, was born right here in Ottawa! On Sunday, Mother’s Day itself, Ari surprised me with a trip to Kingston, where we were going to take a 1000 Islands boat cruise … unfortunately there wasn’t enough demand for the cruise, so instead we wandered the city, spending some time in a local park, visiting my old university campus, grabbing some yummy Thai food and tiring out the boys before the drive home. lol

Perhaps more importantly than all that though … I want to extend a Happy Mother’s Day to

First and foremost my mother Jean. She is the most awesomest woman I have ever met, and it is my life’s mission to be more like her – less combative, more selfless, focusing on the positive and with a good handle on the priorities in life. She is my hero and there’s nothing more I can say about that.

Beyond that in no particular order, my other moms. My grandma Jean had as big a hand as anyone in raising me and to this day we are still incredibly close. She used to tell me once the time would come I’d be less and less interested in visiting her … not true! 🙂 I love our time together, either on the phone or in person. And my step-mother Monique is also an amazing woman – strong in faith, long in patience, such a wonderful love and support not just to my dad, but to my brother and I too. And my mother-in-law Val, who has always been such a calm, supportive influence in our family; she raised a great man (who was smart enough to fall in love with me, haha), dotes on my kids, and has welcomed me happily into her family – I can’t ask for more in a MIL.

Last but not least – to all the moms I know. I’d list them but I know I’d forget some. Alex … Joanna … Kate … Marjorie … Anne … the moms I know from churches and schools … and to those moms whose roles aren’t necessarily ‘defined’. To my cousin Allison who will be taking on two step-kids when she gets married next month, and to my boys’ other mother, who did the most selfless and giving thing she could to provide them with (I’d like to think) a good home, and us with the two best sons we could have dreamed of. May everyone, every mom in their way, have had a lovely day yesterday, and feel Mother’s Day all the rest of the year long.

Haven’t had time to blog on this this week, as it was the week Ari went off parental leave and we were adjusting to our new routine. But now that I have a moment … some thoughts on easily the biggest news of the week, the death of terrorist mastermind Osama bin Laden at the hands of an elite US Navy SEAL team.

Gut reaction was ‘good riddance’ …
And I still don’t want to imply I mourn his death
Or am shedding any tears.
Although it would be nice …
Nice to have taken him alive
And given him a trial,
Show him he hasn’t killed western ideas
Like justice.
Treat him like the criminal he is,
Show him the justice
He never showed his victims.
I don’t mourn his death –
I mourn what he killed before.
I mourn what died with him.
And yet I still hope …
I hope this doesn’t lead to retaliation.
I hope this brings closure
To those who have suffered.
I hope this allows all of us
To sleep a bit easier at night.
Ding dong the witch is dead?
Perhaps …
But let’s remember,
The things he represented,
Sadly, are not yet.
And we all must be vigilant
To fight the terror, the hate,
In our own hearts and others
With love, peace, compassion and justice –
Those things never shown
By extremists who embrace terror –
Who fly planes into buildings
Bomb clinics
Behead hostages
Or torture prisoners of war.
Let us learn, let us grow from this,
Let us congratulate the president
And the Navy SEALS
Who did what needed to be done.
Let us wish peace on those who have suffered,
And God’s blessings on all
As we now work to move forward
From one of the most awful experiences
Of our century and its fallout,

Of last night’s election in Canada, which resulted in a Conservative Party of Canada majority government …

  • The NDP are the new official opposition, so whichever side of the political divide one might fall on, there is now a real opportunity to air those views. Ah, but if you are a centrist like I tend to be?
  • The Liberals, while shellacked last night, have been flailing aimlessly since the Dynamic Duo of Jean Chretien and Paul Martin resigned in rapid succession, taking many of their party’s more experienced and worthwhile voices down in their rancor. They have needed some time to regroup and plan a new course for the future, but they have been busy in the important role of Official Opposition to a Minority Government; now in third place, they will really have the opportunity to re-assess, rebuild.
  • The Bloc Quebecois has been reduced to a rump. And while I sympathize Quebec has a unique culture and some unique needs, so do many parts of the country, and a party that ultimately seeks to break our country up, quite honestly, has been way too close to having way too much power for a long time. While I think the Liberals are just due for some ‘time in the wilderness’ as the Cons were 20 years ago, I think this might be a serious paradigm shift in Quebec. And speaking from my Anglo-Quebecker by background, that can only be a good thing.
  • The Green party got their first-ever seat in the House of Commons for their leader, Elizabeth May, which can only be a good thing for the legitimacy of their party.
  • The Conservatives will have a real opportunity to govern with something of a mandate; hopefully they will do good things with it. If not, it will create the opportunity to reassess …
  • How a party with 40% support gets a majority, and just how that provides a mandate. I will stay away from getting into political nitty-gritty as honestly I think representatives of all ends of the political spectrum have SOMETHING to offer and deserve a place at the table – but I will say that the First Past the Post system doesn’t provide, for anyone, an accurate representation of just who should be at the table and in what … well … proportion, if you will. Look up Proportional Representation; while I try not to use this blog as much as I might have in the past for soap-boxing – everyone’s entitled to their views, and I have no particular desire to be controversial – when we see the Bloc Quebecois over-represented for years … when we see the opportunity for the Liberals and NDP to split votes and the Conservatives to come up the middle … when 40% can lead to a majority government … when votes can honestly be wasted … it’s time to take a second look at our system.

Just saying … welcome to the New Canada. Congratulations to Stephen Harper and Jack Layton, and Messrs. Ignatieff and Duceppe … well, we wish you well in your future endeavours. 🙂 Somehow, I suspect you will both land on your feet. Here’s hoping the rest of us do too.

et cetera