Saturday, 26 February 2011

eyes of faith

I met a man in the grocery store with the face of a wanderer
And a cart full of hot dogs
He stopped me to tell me he saw faith in my daughter’s eyes
The faith he needed to keep going
I almost brushed him off
Too busy to talk to an old drunk
Too busy to talk to Jesus



I close my eyes and create your contours
Relive our last slow dance beneath the stars
That night we said farewell

I saw your true colours
The reward for my insomnia
But you are a shape-shifter
And my feet too clumsy to follow

You are too easy to love
But too quick to leave me

You left a magnet in my chest
An image burned in my mind
I can still feel your movement
Though you dance a thousand miles from me

One day your music will draw me back
I will succumb to your cold breath
Your fingers of fire
If only for one night

Oh Aurora!
You are too easy to love
But too quick to leave me


*photo by Karl Johnston, Fort Smith, NWT

Friday, 25 February 2011

Ode to Winter Camp

This is a poem I wrote years ago in honour of our winter camp at PWK High School in Fort Smith, NWT. Every February, my thoughts inevitably turn back to the happy days spent in the bush. And so for a little fun, here is my Ode to Winter Camp.

It's winter at PWK
And every student knows
The boldest campers will set forth
To brave the ice and snow

In the light of February's dawn
Their silhouettes appear
Framed with furry parkas
And ski-doos piled high with gear

We are the winter campers
Winter campers ho!
We will brave the northern bush
At twenty-two below!

Doucette and Ransom, fearless leaders
Forge the trail ahead
We follow in their snowshoe prints
To Louie's trapper shed

We make our beds on boughs of spruce
We shiver through the night
We chop down trees at midnight's stroke
To keep the fire bright

We are the winter campers
Winter campers ho!
We survive the northern bush
At thirty-two below!

We set our nets beneath the ice
To catch our fill of fish
We trap and snare for furry beasts
To fill our supper dish

We skin the bloated caribou
On Piers Lake's floor of ice
We revel in the blood and guts
And my those steaks taste nice!

We are the winter campers
Winter campers ho!
We will thrive in northern bush
At forty-two below!

We cut a path through barren lands
Our topo maps to guide
We sweat and toil to find our way
With compass at our side

We do not fear the howling wolves
Nor trees lit from a spark
We do not shrink from frozen toes
Nor outhouse in the dark

We are the winter campers
Winter campers ho!
We have conquered northern bush
At fifty-two below!

We have danced with northern lights
Around the campfire's glow
We know the secrets of the bush
And how to pee in snow

We are a strong but stinky crew
Adventurers at heart
We love to tell our stories
And embellish every part

We are the winter campers
Winter campers ho!
We will camp in northern bush
When none else dare to go!


Wednesday, 23 February 2011


If I were strong enough, I could bear this pleasure. But I am a mere mortal, and my vanities incline me to drink too deeply. The sweet drop, fitting in its place, swells to drown me. I fumble the gift, stumble overboard and promptly sink to the bottom of the sea. The great fish saves me, and I am left three days to sober up and consider my shame. When I am spit out, I lay this pleasure in the hot sand, and turn my back till it dries out like a stranded starfish.


Tuesday, 15 February 2011

one morning

One morning I woke up to discover the Trinity had a pillow fight the night before. Giant feathery flakes were floating from the heavens, the overflow of some secret joy. I wonder who won. Did the Father strong arm Jesus and the Holy Spirit? Did Jesus fake an injury only to jump up and whack the other two in the face? Did the Spirit distract his opponents by blowing down into their eyes? Did they declare a truce after realizing they were equally matched? It is a quiet morning, so they must be resting now, but close your eyes and you can hear the echoes of midnight laughter.

Are you surprised by this undignified display? Perhaps a game of chess seems a more appropriate activity for such important persons, if such a thing were possible with three players. Or perhaps a stirring rendition of the Hallelujah chorus, accompanied by winged harps, of course. Maybe they are debating the merits of one creed’s wording over another. Or perhaps all their time is consumed by gravely counting out souls into one pile or another.

But this descending beauty erases all notions of a gloomy gathering of Greek terms. This beauty did not appear out of thin air. Everything wonderful about this morning was laughed into existence by the God of all joy, joy that is meant to be shared, joy that bursts out of the seams and explodes over creation. It is not a secret after all. This delight is over you and over me, and we are invited to the next pillow fight.


Letters to Arden – January 10, 2011


There is a beautiful moment when your eyes close and you fall asleep in my arms. These days you are usually too busy and aware to shut the rest of the world out, unless you are curled up in your own crib. But this morning you gave me the gift of your sleep, your weight, your warmth.

By this gift you tell me all is right in your world. You tell me you have received the love I strive to show you in so many ways. I feel your heart send its morse code signals to my own, little words beat out in a gentle rhythm – love, peace, safety.

Who teaches us how to love in this mother-daughter way? I did not have to read a book, or follow four parental laws. You did not need lessons from the nurses or other experts. Somehow in birth we are both given the language, a special revelation. We are taught by God Himself.

It’s no surprise, really, although it is a thing of holy wonder and grace. God, who is Love, is the One who gives us breath, makes and sustains our beating hearts. He cannot give of Himself without giving love. This reality is in our lungs and veins. It is all around us, sighing in the trees, falling with the snow, murmuring in the sea.

We are His children first. We have been made so by Christ, and we are both His sisters. When He leads us to the Father, He throws open the door and pours His very Spirit, Love Itself, into our hearts. By this Spirit we cry “Abba,” settling into His arms. This is how we know what love is. This is the Embrace that surrounds us as we sit here now the Embrace that strengthens my arms and lulls you to sleep. Sleep sweetly, little one. You are loved.


Wednesday, 9 February 2011

January Experiment: Follow-Up

Mornings are longer and lighter when I look out the windows instead of staring into a screen.

The urge for quick access to information strikes a surprising number of times throughout the day. My brain has been trained to digest many small meals instead of ruminating on a five course meal. Both approaches have their benefits and drawbacks.

It is usually worth the time and effort to create my own approach to something, instead of looking for a stranger’s quick fix or opinion.

The Joy of Cooking not only has thousands of recipes, it teaches the hows and whys of cookery. I discovered how to make delicious stock from scratch, reduce stock into a gel for long-term preservation, master a stew, and create my own mushroom sauce base.

The amount of time spent surfing the internet is inversely proportionate to the cleanliness of the house.

It is quicker to look up information on the internet compared to finding it in the Yellowpages and then making a phone call . . . but only if I don’t get distracted with other things online!

The mechanics of friendship have changed with social networking. I really do make meaningful connections with friends on Facebook, and I missed them!

Fifty-nine cents is worth the smile on the other end of the mailbox.

I have learned to create through computer keys, and I found it more difficult to write with pen and paper.

It is more satisfying to spend half an hour reading one book than browsing through half a dozen websites. I read 5 books in January.

Thoughts are better preserved in a journal than in a status update. Not all thoughts are suitable for public consumption.

The internet screams NEWER! FASTER! UPDATED! It has no secrets, no mystery. It conditions for discontent. Nature invites reflection, investigation, appreciation. It ties you to its seasons and rhythms and rewards patience.

Computer time is best approached with intention, purpose and discipline. Just because it is available doesn’t mean it is beneficial. Anything I allow into my home should be subject to the rules and rhythms of the life we are creating.

The computer is a useful servant, but a brutal master. I am responsible to teach it its place.

Saturday, 5 February 2011

winter grace

tiptoeing through the snow
peering through the back window
breathing on the glass

you trace a heart in the fog
drawing us into your signature

you leave your secret notes for us to find

so when the night falls,
and we look into darkness,
pressing our faces to the cold glass with a prayer
and a sigh,

..... our breath reveals your invisible ink
..... and we see our initials enclosed with yours

suddenly you are falling all around us
filling up the night
filling up our hearts
with a quiet flurry

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