Monday, December 18, 2006

Some family pictures

We went to Alyssa's ringuette game, and made these signs to support her (or embarass her, heehee). I told her that she had to get a goal for me, and that after she scored, she would have to point up at me in the stands to let me know it was for me. She did it! It made my day. Unfortunately I didn't get a good shot of her on the ice, or in uniform, but here she is below, with my sister.
Melanie and Alyssa after the game.
Me and my dad.
Melanie and our grandmother Doris (my dad's mom, we call her "Nan")

With my cousin Christy at one of many family gathering
My mom and dad
My aunt Marcia and my cousin Christy
With my cousins: Rebecca and Alyssa

With Melanie and Heather (us MacDonald girls)

The MacDonald kids: me, Melanie, Heather & Deven


It is dusk. My favorite part of the day. The sun is slowly setting over the horizon. That blazing ball of fire. Soon it will be dark. My friends have flown to all sorts of exotic places and brought back news about how beautiful it was where they went. They were so wrapped up in the beauty of other lands that they forget the beauty that surrounds us.
I sit on a hill next to my house and I can see the Bay of Fundy. Beside me is a tree. A leaf lets go of the branch that supports it and slowly falls to the ground. I pick it up and press it in my book.
The trees are all sorts of reds, oranges, browns and yellows, put together to make a beautiful collage. Leaves are everywhere, on the ground mostly, but a few are in the trees.
The great tree beside me must be a couple of hundred years old. Standing there, strong, tall and brave. I wonder what this tree has seen and heard?
A crow caws, a pesky animal, but its feathers are sleek and black and beautiful.
I look around me: everything so natural, so free.
This is my home.

By Jennifer MacDonald

The Attic

I'm back in New Brunswick for Christmas. I've been completely lazy today, reading, chatting with my sister and sister-in-law, watching "the Quiet Man" with my parents. It's nice, but I'm going to have to be more active tomorrow!

Last night we had lots of laughs rehashing old memories as Dad and Deven went up into the attic and pulled out boxes of stuff stored for years. Among my things: a favourite stuffed animal Sammy, my Curious George, old school books, Valentines from second grade, report cards, awards, pictures. There were memories I'd forgotten: bringing my dog to the local dog show where she won "most talented" for the tricks that I'd taught her. My memory was stirred by a newspaper clipping of me (complete with over-large 1980's glasses and frizzy hair) with the greatest dog ever. I found my "student of the week" poster from the second grade and read meaningful descriptions of myself from my 7-year old classmates: "Jennifer doesn't bug her classmates. Jennifer doesn't make a mess when she eats." High praise indeed. :) I discovered that I was a prolific writer from a young age, starting with my first short story about "the Alien" (spelled "Aleyin"). It was fun laughing and reminiscing with my family... realizing that some things change, while others never do.

It's good to be home. I spend so much time laughing with my family. I'd love to share some of it with you, but it's the rare person who can withstand and even appreciate the odd MacDonald sense of humour.

Wednesday, December 06, 2006

Airports are full of lonely people

I'm back from another trip. Orlando this time. No pictures though.

The idea of a jet-set life can seem glamorous and enviable. More often than not though, constant travel makes for a lonely life.

People have made envious statements about wishing they were able to travel like I do. I only travel a fraction of what others in our organization do, but I can say, it's not all it's cracked up to be.

Yes, I enjoy it, and am glad to have these experiences. The places, and then of course the people I get to interact with in those places make it all worthwhile. I'm not apologizing for that. My point is, travel itself is more lonely than glamorous.

I love to spend time in airports people-watching. The observation that struck home once again this time, is that airports are full of lonely people. (The family of four headed to Disney may not fall in that category, but they've got their own unglamorous aspects of travel to deal with).

At the boarding gates, everyone sits in the same area, isolated from the people, places and positions that source their sense of self-worth. Business travellers become absorbed in their blackberries and palm pilots. Others observe the scurry of important-looking activity and pull out their own devices, showing everyone else that in the outside world, they are important!

At one point watching people go past my gate, I counted 1 in 5 talking on their cell phones as they walked. You might think this is understandable, since these people, travelling all over the world for work, are obviously important. Spend some time listening to one-sided conversations and you'll quickly realize that many of these calls aren't as important as the people making them want to feel. Unnecessary phone calls abound: triple-checking on something that's already been done or doesn't need to be done, touching base with long-forgotten people, and seeing how many numbers stored in their phone are still active.

Why am I people-watching instead of engaging in such thinly disguised lonely behaviour? Well I would like to say that I am above it, but I'm not. I've felt the pull to get out my palm pilot and sketch in urgent to-do items like "unpack suitcase when I get home", or to make an urgent call on my cell phone. The thing is, my palm pilot was left at home, and my pay-as-you-go cell phone ran out of minutes. So I was left alone to think and eavesdrop. :)

Having arrived in Orlando last week, I sat in my room and realized how lonely I was. I actually just felt something close to sadness at not having something or someone to miss. I felt alone, and anchorless, knowing no one at home was waiting to hear if I had arrived safely, or to hear highlights of my day of meetings. I've felt that before during international travel as well, that anchorless feeling.

Then I was reminded of God's constant and precious presence:

"O LORD, You have examined my heart
and know everything about me.
You know when I sit down or stand up.
You know my every thought when far away.
You chart the path ahead of me
and tell me where to stop and rest.
Every moment you know where I am.
You know what I am going to say
even before I say it, LORD.
You both precede and follow me.
You place Your hand of blessing on my head.
Such knowledge is too wonderful for me,
too great for me to know!

I can never escape from Your Spirit!
I can never get away from Your presence!
If I go up to heaven You are there;
if I go down to the place of the dead, You are there.
If I ride the wings of the morning,
if I dwell by the farthest oceans,
even there Your hand will guide me,
and Your strength will support me.
I could ask the darkness to hide me
and the light around me to become night-
but even in darkness I cannot hide from You.
To You the night shines as bright as day.
Darkness and light are both alike to You. (Ps 139:1-12, NLT)

I'm never alone. Worth is not assigned because of how important we look or feel. We hold worth because of the value God puts on us as His created and blood-bought children.

Tuesday, December 05, 2006

Thomas Merton quote- Christ in us

I got the following from Kirk Bartha's blog. It is a quote from Thomas Merton:

The problem of forming Christ in us is not to be solved merely by our own efforts. It is not a matter of studying the Gospels and then working to put our ideas into practice, although we should try to do that too, but always under the guidance of grace, in complete subjection to the Holy Spirit.

For if we depend on our own ideas, our own judgment and our own efforts to reproduce the life of Christ, we will only act out some kind of pious charade which will ultimately scare everybody we meet because it will be so stiff and artificial and so dead.

It is the Spirit of God that must teach us Who Christ is and form Christ in us and transform us into other Christs. After all, transformation into Christ is not just an individual affair: there is only one Christ, not many. He is not divided. And for me to become Christ is to enter into the Life of the Whole Christ, the Mystical Body made up of the Head and the members, Christ and all who are incorporated in Him by His Spirit.
Thomas Merton – New Seeds of Contemplation