Two names to be added to Craig Chaplin Memorial Award


This spring’s presentation of the award in my brother’s memory will include a couple of firsts – two individuals are being cited and they’re from across the Canada-U.S. border in neighbouring Vermont.

To be more accurate, one-half of the couple of Dr. Delores Barbeau and Carol Olstad, R.N. will be honoured posthumously as Carol, who incidentally was a Canadian born in Alberta, unfortunately died last October in their adopted home of Weston, Vermont.

The two met in 1983 while working in strife-torn Bolivia, Delores as a Maryknoll nun-turned-physician and Carol a registered nurse working under the auspices of the Canadian Baptist Overseas Mission Board.

Delores had only lived and worked with Bolivians since 1969 and, given the political climate, knew how much safer it would be to avoid becoming attached to Carol.

Bolivian authorities were already suspicious, to say the least, of church aid workers in their midst (let alone white North Americans); not easily dissuaded from their presumptions of CIA connections. Imagine if they knew they were lesbians!

But the Bolivian Ministry of Health assigned the two to work together, within a year of their first meeting, in a remote tropical jungle.

Not more than a year later the government had put Delores on a hit list and the two fled Bolivia, travelling to Nicaragua to work for five years alongside the people defending their dignity and rights against American-backed rebel forces out to destroy the successful Sandinista government.  (This corrects my earlier history-fogged equating of the rebels as the more courageous side to be on!)

In 1991 Delores and Carol returned to the United States, first New York and Massachusetts and then Vermont, sharing their lives openly as a couple while continuing to live the “social gospel” lessons of their respective faiths, even if no longer so affiliated. (They have since enjoyed the community of the Monks of Western Priory in Vermont where Carol was solemnly and happily remembered following her death in October of last year.)

In a letter to loved ones about her experiences, Delores concludes:

So. That was Bolivia.

What was it like?
It changed my life forever.
I learned to love.
I learned to look at things in a new way and walked in many different shoes.
I learned other definitions for family.
I learned that there were priorities.
I learned to dance.
I stood before mass graves, and buried many friends.
I learned what fear really felt like.
…and in all of this I never knew a time when I did not know God.

The 2012 Convocation of United Theological College, during which the Craig Chaplin Memorial Award is presented (and Delores will deliver the Convocation Address), will be held at Summerlea United Church on Wednesday, May 9 – five years to the day since Craig’s death.

With such an early spring, maybe his favourite irises will be in bloom.

“The Shack”: allegory, empathy and the question of forgiveness


“I brought a book I think you’ll find interesting,” my cousin said as we sat down for lunch recently, handing me a paperback copy of The Shack by Wm. Paul Young.

I believe, now having read it, that she might have been nudged to give me this book because she knows, perhaps as much as any confidant, “The Great Sadness” (as the novelist puts it) which has been stored, occasionally visited, and allowed to grow unchecked in my own run-down Shack.  I’m guessing she might believe some of the messages of the novel could be applicable to me.

It is not difficult for me to imagine how wrenching it would be, certainly a step out in faith, to face those men I have written about who wronged me in my childhood and youth.  At least one is dead and the others, well, I don’t even know their names let alone their current state-of-being.

That’s not the point.  Were they to appear in my dreams I would almost certainly be forced to confront them.  Would I, in such a dream, or do I now, in compartmentalized pain, feel willing – to say nothing of empowered – to symbolically release their throats from the anger of my tight grasp and hand them over to the power whose many names include God?

The message seems to be to trust that something beyond my judgment, my imagination – beyond belief often – is a better repository for my judgment (which I ultimately can’t inflict anyway) than am I.

Somehow, in releasing my grip, I imagine forgiveness looks more like letting go – leaving judgment to forces beyond me. The haunting “monsters” of my past, after all, are dead as far as I know so my preoccupation with holding on, even if it’s not uppermost in my consciousness, is clearly only hurting me. I get that. To let go completely, though, seems more than I can do – at least on my own. Another message of the book, then perhaps, is that I don’t have to do it by myself.

To the best of my ability I release my hold on these men, that in letting go of them their power over me will be lessened. I will not, however, shy away from using the experience – all of it – as best I can whenever I believe it might be of assistance to someone else.

‘The Fear’ Factor


During a lunch meeting with friends today someone spoke of past states of generalized anxiety which professionals often tried, unsuccessfully, to pin down – fear of flying, fear of social situations, “What are you afraid of?”

That didn’t work.

Then, my friend recounted, while sitting with people she didn’t know she blurted out her frustrations with a list of fears that she could not articulate to the satisfaction of people paid to understand these things. 

“Oh,” said the stranger next to her, “that’s the fear” by which he meant, and she identified with, most everyone in the room had probably experienced – however long-term or short-term it was.

The fear.”

As I heard that today, speaking of fear – not as some sort of Jell-O-on-the-wall feeling but as a noun, a state of being – really resonated with me.  Something like “I’ve caught the cold.”

The first psychiatrist I ever visited asked me one day to talk about my fear(s).

He might as well have been speaking in his native eastern European language.

“Oh,” I bull-shitted, “well I really don’t know that I have any fears, but,” I offered, “I have faith that just about everything that can go wrong in my life will go wrong!”

Hmm…I don’t think I could have been more honest.  In fact, as I look back over my life it sometimes seems as though I did an end-run around the fear state (conscious or otherwise) by seeing any number of misfortunes as proof of the theory about my fears – how could I fear anything if I imagined, or even lived out, the worst case scenarios?

Like AIDS.  It was going to kill me, just as surely as it had killed my friends – only I would die sooner.  No fear, so I thought, so long as I was accepting of this.

I have been proven wrong, so far, about this which in addition to f#%king with my mind has graced me with a dose of humility as in, “I don’t know when, or how , even whether…so just keep moving!”

It was ‘the fear’, present with me for as long as I can remember, which hid behind my early masks of self-appointed family comedian – since my horrible feelings at school made “class clown” seem out of the question most of the time.  I was quite the impressionist – Tarzan yells and Granny Clampett’s screams being my specialties.

‘The fear’ was so pervasive when I was with kids my own age (and the threats this represented), and yet I can remember trying to endear myself to a couple of Craig’s high school friends with those imitations.  (I was successful with the girls, not so much with Craig at that moment.)

So, yes, I now can speak of ‘the fear’ – rather than the apparently more difficult “fear”.

 

"The opposite of faith is not doubt, it’s certainty." (Anne Lamott)

World AIDS Day 2010 – Stories – 2 – “This friend living with AIDS who gave me so much…” by Dominique Gauvreau


Each author in this series has generously given me permission to post their work. The views and experiences shared are their own. Where applicable, links will also be provided at the end of the piece.

This is the World AIDS Day, 2010 entry in Dominique Gauvreau’s blog Rencontre sous le Chêne de Mamré (Meeting under the Oak of Mamre):

(Google translation edited by KC)

 

“This friend living with AIDS who gave me so much…”

 

 

There are people who cross our path at random and without knowing just how they transform us.

In the 1980s, a mysterious illness was striking the gay community in Montreal. Acquaintances were dying around me. I was terrified. At that time I was not “out”, essentially living in a gay underground. I hid because I was ashamed of who I was. I hid because I was told again and again that being gay was against nature, immoral, abnormal. Imagine being more affected by what was dubbed the “gay cancer.”

I entered adulthood marked by a childhood in the holy water, where the Catholic Church thought it was the only one which could possibly save me from eternal fire. I was influenced more by the existence of the devil, and fear of damnation, than by a God who loves unconditionally. At this time of my life, I was still marked by homophobic attitudes, having suffered beatings and taunts at school. I was so ashamed that for fifteen years I kept secret a sudden sexual assault in late adolescence.

My silence and my imprisonment in these underground confines led to hidden relationships – dangerous, anonymous, without boundaries and dead to any fear of taking medications, alcohol and street drugs to gild my non-existence. That led to a deep depression. Well-meaning Christians stretched out their hands to heal me, yet told me that marriage was the solution to my very gay problem.

I didn’t get it, seeming to sink further. Naturally! That God rejects and hates gays was well known. I did not deserve to live.

I met Marcel at a party. He told me his life story. He was one of the first I knew who spoke openly about his HIV status. Marcel was a believer and soothed by his faith even though it was very different from mine.

We did not get together too often. We met once by chance walking on Ste-Catherine. Pleased to meet and share some time together, without a pre-arranged date, we went to the chic restaurant “Cristal” in the gay village.

One day as I paced the streets, feeling out of it, at a very low point in my life, religious and social tensions at their lowest, Marcel accosted me with his big smile, hugged me and told me how much he loved me. There was universal love, unconditional. I firmly believe that his actions that day prevented me from throwing myself under a subway train. He was kind of my angel of the day.

Several years have passed since then. Today, I work for GLBT inclusiveness and I am aware of the realities of HIV and AIDS. I’m light years beyond the young man I was at that time. However, I am shocked to see that so much remains to be done in moving toward a society that’s more tolerant and inclusive. Unfortunately, prejudice remains and there is a rise of the religious right and those who would rather see the social exclusion of people with HIV, showing homophobic feelings.

When I see the repercussions in the media of intolerance and hatred on young people who end their lives or who are considering doing so, I ask myself many questions. I have to wonder if anything has really changed in forty years. Some narratives or stories that I hear have disturbing similarities to what I experienced back then. When a character like Benedict XVI speaks of homosexuality as an injustice and against the will of God it is really baseless, ideological bullshit.

Getting back to my friend Marcel, I saw him one fall evening, cold and rainy, in a restaurant. He was letting me know about his next stay in hospital. He gave me his phone number and told me he did not really like people calling it, except me.

After several attempts to contact him, I remained without news. Worried I returned to the restaurant to ask the waitress if she had seen him lately. She told me that he had died.

Every December 1, I think of Marcel and I thank God for having placed him in my path. I think of all those I knew or I know who live with the reality of AIDS. I invite you to do the same and perhaps contribute a donation to an organization or recognized charity.

For my part, in Montreal, I suggest you donate to Cocq-SIDA. I also invite you to learn about the new “Jasmin Roy Foundation” which works to fight against homophobic attitudes in schools. This is another reality which touches me closely and which unfortunately has been topical in recent months.

 

 

"Would we still be friends if I was HIV-positive?"

 

 


Biblical text of the day

Today, the biblical text is not that suggested by Taizé as I usually do.

31 “When the Son of man comes in his glory, and all the angels with him, then he will sit on his glorious throne. 32 Before him will be gathered all the nations, and he will separate them one from another as a shepherd separates the sheep from the goats, 33 and he will place the sheep at his right hand, but the goats at the left. 34 Then the King will say to those at his right hand, ‘Come, O blessed of my Father, inherit the kingdom prepared for you from the foundation of the world; 35 for I was hungry and you gave me food, I was thirsty and you gave me drink, I was a stranger and you welcomed me, 36 I was naked and you clothed me, I was sick and you visited me, I was in prison and you came to me.’ 37 Then the righteous will answer him, ‘Lord, when did we see thee hungry and feed thee, or thirsty and give thee drink? 38 And when did we see thee a stranger and welcome thee, or naked and clothe thee? 39 And when did we see thee sick or in prison and visit thee?’ 40 And the King will answer them, ‘Truly, I say to you, as you did it to one of the least of these my brethren, you did it to me.’

Recontres sous le Chêne de Mamré

World AIDS Day 2010 – Stories – 1 – Excerpts from the Prologue of “Crooked Road Straight: The Awakening of AIDS Activist Linda Jordan” by Tina A. Brown


Each author in this series has generously given me permission to post their work. The views and experiences shared are their own. Where applicable, links will also be provided at the end of the piece.

AIDS didn’t become important to me until somebody I knew died.

I imagine that is also the case for most people in the U.S.

Even now, it is easy for most of us to put our thoughts about HIV/AIDS behind us because of the way the disease was introduced into our society. We were told in the mid-1980s that it was an infectious disease killing gay white men, Haitians and intravenous drug users. I didn’t know anyone who fit those categories. I had read in school about epidemics throughout history and I never expected to experience this sort of pandemic in my lifetime in such a personal way.

I was a rookie reporter when I heard about AIDS for the first time. The TV broadcaster described it as a mysterious disease that was taking the lives of mostly white gay men in New York and San Francisco. The news report sparked my curiosity. But I didn’t think much else about how AIDS would affect me personally until 1986, when one of my colleagues at the Macon Telegraph in Georgia died suddenly.

I was just getting to know this quiet, smart and young black man who worked as a copy editor. Now, he was dead. Though I had volunteered, I hated writing his obituary. I knew so little about this guy’s personal life. The word AIDS never appeared in his news obituary. As far as the public was concerned, my colleague died of a sudden illness, a popular buzz phrase coined when young people, mostly men, died of complications related to AIDS or the human immunodeficiency virus that causes the disease. The funeral home directors whispered AIDS as the cause of death for very few people.

His death was unsettling. It became apparent to me that this disease would not just strike white gay men in their prime. I realized that AIDS might become a silent killer in Black America.

But there was very little visual evidence of HIV/AIDS affecting this part of the population, despite the statistics made available by the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention in Atlanta in the mid-1980s. I pushed my concern into the back of my mind.

By 1988 I was trying to advance my career as one of seven journalists selected to go to California to develop my skills at the Summer Program of Minority Journalists — now The Maynard Institute — at the University of California at Berkeley. I was assigned to write about the return of the AIDS Memorial Quilt to the Castro district in San Francisco, at the time the epicenter of the AIDS movement in the U.S. The event was one of the most emotional stories I had written. The quilt had traveled across the U.S. and was displayed at the Capitol in Washington, D.C., before arriving in San Francisco. The mayor of San Francisco and other public officials cried as the thousands of quilt panels were unfolded for miles down a city street.

This disease was real, I thought. I had never seen so many people so emotionally affected by one event. Yet as I looked closer at the quilts being paraded down the street, I noticed that there were very few photographs on display of black faces, particularly of women.

I was touched and felt sympathetic for those affected by AIDS, but I felt safe as a heterosexual black woman. My feelings about my personal safety changed five years later when the CDC announced that heterosexual black women would be the next wave of people infected by the virus in the Northeast U.S. I fit that demographic. I wondered quietly whether I could become one of those statistics. That feeling stayed with me when I left my reporting job at the Asbury Park Press in New Jersey for a new reporting position in Hartford, Conn. I promised myself once I got settled that I would write a story about how the black community was responding to HIV/AIDS in Connecticut, especially since so many people in Hartford were infected. I asked my editors: What were the traditional black institutions, especially the churches, doing to help people cope with the disease?

I set out to do that story in 1994. Though in my early 30s, I was naive. My knowledge of the streets and issues associated with poverty were limited. I didn’t grow up in the slums. I had never interviewed sex workers or intravenous drug users, people health officials said were also spreading the virus. I admit now that those people scared me because I had seen too many movies.

As the daughter of African Methodist Episcopal ministers, I took the safe approach to the story and called church leaders in cities that dotted Connecticut. To my dismay, they did not return my calls. Since I was working on the special assignment, I didn’t have time to wait by the telephone. I ventured out into community-based organizations such as the Urban League and health departments in Hartford, New Britain, New Haven and Bridgeport to talk to the professionals who were serving the “at risk” populations.

Within a month, I was walking the streets or getting connected with outreach workers like Buster Jenkins and Mark Little in Hartford. Two church mothers, Gladys Pennington and Elsie Cofield, helped direct my path through New Britain and New Haven. They connected me with black and Latino women who told me their life stories, but were unwilling to allow me to use their full names or to have their faces photographed for a newspaper story. Having the virus was a secret many of them kept from their families; they didn’t want to reveal their HIV status in The Hartford Courant. So many of them and the outreach workers who distributed condoms, clean needles and bleach kits saw my frustration, and they asked me if I had met Linda Jordan, who was quickly becoming an icon in AIDS prevention communities across Connecticut.

I called Linda and she invited me over to her house in West Hartford, a suburb of Hartford. My first interview lasted about five hours. She told me that she was a recovering heroin addict who was volunteering with seven different AIDS organizations in Connecticut. That work earned her the Mary Fisher Foundation’s National Outstanding Caregiver Award in 1993. Linda showed me the posters that she and her daughters and grandson had taken for a public awareness campaign for the Connecticut Department of Revenue and the Concerned Citizens for Humanity.

Her family is believed to be one of the first African-American families in the U.S. to put a human face on the disease. The posters are still circulating the globe. Linda was so open about her story that it struck me as odd that this woman who had experienced a lifetime of tragedies wasn’t keeping it a secret. She didn’t believe in having skeletons. She shared her HIV status and the status of her oldest daughter, Tanya, and Linda’s husband Alvin, who was in prison at the time. I wasn’t prepared to hear all of what she had to share in 1994.

My limited street smarts were obvious. It showed in my facial expressions; Linda laughed about it when we talked years later. Yet she trusted that I could learn enough to write her story. At the time, I was too far removed from the life she had led to understand her resilience. She had been molested, abused and raped before she was 10 years old. She had used heroin by the time she was 18, had married and divorced her childhood sweetheart twice. She stayed with him and bore his children, even though he was incarcerated for most of their relationship. She allowed me to hang around, attend family functions and speaking engagements so that I could learn more.

My story for the Courant, “Fighting AIDS with Resilience: Sense of Unity Blacks Confront Epidemic,’’ captured only small fragments of Linda Jordan’s life story. I felt unfulfilled after it was published in October 1994 and I went back to my regular beat covering a predominantly white upper middle-class community outside of Hartford.

About six months after the story was published, I was in Puerto Rico for vacation. The ocean has always been a place for clarity for me. I remember sitting on a rock on a beach one day. I felt like I had made the wrong decision by moving to Connecticut. I asked God why he had sent me here. What was I supposed to do in Hartford? I left there thinking that once I returned to Hartford, I had to continue my work reporting about Linda Jordan.

I owed her much more as a journalist.

I want to write your book, I told her over the telephone.

When do we start? she responded.

For the next five years, I went to Linda’s house on Maplewood Avenue in West Hartford regularly before I went to work at The Courant. I’m not a morning person, so she made sure that I had coffee and she drank tea. I also brought her my copy of the daily newspaper, and was struck that she was always most interested in the obituary page. She recounted the people that she knew had died of AIDS, had overdosed on heroin or died of other premature deaths because of their lifestyles.

My concern back in the early 1980s that black American women would have to wake up and respond to this disease became clear and present. Like in the early days, very few if any of the obituaries cited the true causes of death when someone died of AIDS. So many people were dying in secret and ashamed. But here I was sitting at Linda Jordan’s kitchen table amazed that she didn’t look sick. She was very much alive. She was not afraid to reveal her HIV status and the diagnosis of her husband and her oldest daughter. She strongly believed if those in the HIV/AIDS community stopped hiding their status, more people would accept that the disease was claiming so many others and leaving their families to cope in secret. She told her story to anyone who would listen, hoping and praying that it would be the catalyst for other women who had gone down her crooked path to change their lifestyles.

“Crooked Road Straight: The Awakening of AIDS Activist Linda Jordan” was written so that people of all races, ages, class and generations could reflect on their lives, their past sins and troubles and come to grips with things that hurt them. Linda had to forgive a lot of people because she knew that God had forgiven her. Hers is a story about choosing life despite the odds.

There are a lot of lessons to be learned from Linda’s story. She accepted the roots of her pain that led to her addictions. Once she accepted her faults, she learned to live.

This book is a dream come true for both of us.

Over time, my assignment at The Courant changed. In 1998, I started writing about crime, courts and social trends in Hartford, one of the poorest cities in the nation. My time in Hartford was not wasted as I became able to write Linda’s story with authority. I was here to see the housing projects where Linda grew up before the federal government tore them down. I witnessed the impact of the AIDS epidemic among the intravenous drug community in this city and others. I saw how welfare reform changed the life of a third-generation welfare recipient who moved into the world of work not just as an AIDS outreach worker, but as a factory worker once the monthly stipends she received for most of her life dried up.

Linda’s story is about living with AIDS. Her spiritual development and belief in God once she forced her way into drug treatment taught her that she could live without the medications that so many people depend upon today. Her unfilled wish was that all religious leaders, especially those in the black church, would stand and help those with the virus who were lost and forgotten. She believed that God saved her from killing herself and AIDS was just something she had to live with. She used her life story to show others that change is possible.

This story affirmed my reasons for becoming a journalist 23 years ago. I chose this profession to tell stories about the people in our society who are largely ignored by the general public. Fortunately, my mission has placed me in unfamiliar situations and enabled me to grow up and reach inside myself to find a common ground with most of the people I’ve interviewed.

www.crookedroadstraight.com

Brother André


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Millions of Roman Catholic pilgrims climb the 283 steps to St. Joseph’s Oratory – praying on their knees.

In the early days of my AIDS diagnosis I used to go to a “healing mass” at Our Lady of Lourdes on Sherbourne Street here in Toronto.  I can’t say I wholeheartedly believed there was much hope for a cure but as long as continued life accompanies my skepticism, and I’m still sucking air, I’ll remain interested in all manner of healing.

St. Joseph’s Oratory, spiritual home of Brother André, is like Montréal’s Our L of L, only much, much bigger and a great deal more famous.  It is where thousands of Montrealers will gather this weekend to watch as the Pope declares Brother André a saint.

Regardless of your mode of travel to Montréal, approaching the city from the west affords a view of the large dome of St. Joseph’s Oratory on the Côtes-des-Neiges slope of Mont-Royal.  It’s across the road from Collège Notre-Dame where, for many years, a man born Alfred Bessette in 1845 (he was later given the name Brother André) worked as a porter – a not-so-glorified doorman – for the student priests.

Brother André claimed a strong devotion to St. Joseph and eventually he was given permission to fund-raise for a shrine to St. Joseph.  The first structure was built in 1904.  Church authorities permitted a room to be added to the chapel and Brother André was instructed to live there so as to be able to receive pilgrims seeking prayer.  He received the ambulatory sick during the day, while evenings were devoted to visiting anyone who could not leave home.  In 1914 construction began on what would eventually be known as Saint Joseph’s Oratory. By the 1920’s over one million pilgrims visited each year and Brother André’s prayers, through St. Joseph, were credited for hundreds of cures.  (There are displays of antique crutches left there many years ago.)

Lest you think L’Oratoire Saint-Joseph, and its beautiful gardens, are only for the devout a few months after my brother Craig died in 2007 I went there one hot August evening with Craig’s partner, Claude, and two of his friends to hear the church’s music director play the massive pipe organ as accompaniment to a Charlie Chaplin film – the fourth or fifth such silent move night that year. It’s a building that can’t be missed and, once there, shouldn’t be missed.

But, alas, what would a Roman Catholic celebration be without a sexual abuse scandal? That’s the risk when nothing is done about a systemic problem!

Trying to articulate, however inadequately, my spirituality


Anyone from “the rooms” who’s heard me talk about 2, 3, 11 and others, especially since my comeback following Craig’s death, knows that I’m having trouble – at best – articulating my beliefs regarding spiritual matters and – at worst – am profoundly confused.

The way from my heart to my head, or vice versa, sometimes seems impassable.  If I’m going to believe something, or in something, my head wants to know what I’m signing up for – and I’m pretty quick to toss out anything familiar which I think maybe has not worked in the past.  Sometimes the baby has gone out with the bath water.  Not any particular baby, mind you, although the mystical (formerly literal) Christmas story was a foundational part of my upbringing and remains of sentimental and, as I noted, mystical importance.

Occasionally I feel like I need to shield people from potentially offensive, dogmatic-sounding language.  That “need to shield” is my problem, or gift, and does not necessarily mean that anyone asks for such protection.  The best example which comes to mind is changing references to “God” (whatever that means to me at the time) from “He”, “His” and “Him” (male) gender assignments.

In the bigger picture, this problem I have of my head needing to know so much about things which may be more intuitive or “unknowable” (forgive the old Donald Rumsfeldism) can, and does, sometimes get in the way of experiencing the moment.  I’ve likened it to seeing something through my camera viewfinder alone, blocking myself (however unintentionally) from a fuller, broader experience of the moment or subject being photographed.

I feel a spiritual longing in the sense that I want to eliminate the sometimes cynical flotsam and jetsam of my thoughts.  I have experienced this during meditations which begin with simple focusing on my breathing.  There’s something powerful, to me, at what I would describe as the bottom of each breath.  Note to self: revive my practice of mindfulness meditation.  Then, rather than demanding to know “who” or what I’m communicating with (it may well be me), I need to try to be open to what I can name as my longings, my yearning, and sometimes – yes – my inquiring. 

Sometimes I get so tired of my head always needing an explanation of everything so, while avoiding the outright dismissive arguments of Hitchens, Hawking et.al., I attribute what I do not know – or have not learned – to the Mystery.  What I do not, or cannot, know has power greater than me.

Maybe, just as the three great monotheistic religions believe in one God (triune hoops of Christianity notwithstanding), and the followers of each such faith pray to the same Deity, just maybe that’s what I’m doing as I contemplate, inquire of, or long for the Mystery. 

Many groups and individuals have shared with me their ideas and experiences of spirituality over the years.  I think of the former healing circle which used to meet in the old AIDS Committee of Toronto offices on Yonge Street each Sunday night; of various First Nations groups and individuals who so generously showed me their practices; of meditation groups.  There are many more examples.

In addition to the visual wonder I experience through photography, I am so appreciative of my love of music imparted to me by my mother and grandmother.  I cannot listen to recordings of the world’s great pipe organs without thinking of the devotion of Mom, Sunday after Sunday, splendidly playing the two-console Casavant organ in Valleyfield and thank her for the forty or so years of piano lessons she gave to kids in Perth, in Valleyfield, and back in Perth again – myself included (though you’d hardly know it now).

There is a power greater than myself in photography and music – in anything creative.

“God” can be short-hand for many wonderful and meaningful ideas, although the baggage the word carries seems to go flying off in all directions sometimes.

 

 

 

1480669138058663828 Toronto

Frame edits 613

Peggy’s Cove

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  Grant’s Creek (Tay River)