Walking On and Hard Questions

This second week of Walking Across Canada (figuratively) also wasn’t ideal.  The thing about living in Canada is that you spend a chunk of your year living through WINTER.  Pretty much no where in Canada can you escape it.  Well maybe in Victoria, BC.  But even they sometimes have to deal.

Here is my Summary for Week TWO:

Day 8   13.11km

Day 9   10.91 km

Day 10  12.36 km

Day 11  16.53 km

Day 12  14.5 km

Day 13   11.28 km

Day 14  14.05 km

Total kilometers walked January 12-18, 2018 was 92.74 km with an average active time of 16.5 hours. I’m averaging a pace of 5.62 km per hour.

That seems slow.

Well  I guess it kind of was a slow walking week due to snow falling on Friday and then what I like to call “Invisi-rain” (a fine rain that you can’t really see, but you can definitely feel and see the evidence of after you come inside and find yourself soaking wet) happening on Saturday that turned into Freezing rain overnight.  Ice coated everything.  Sidewalks, steps, roads, tree branches, vehicles, dogs, people, you name it.  It was SLIPPERY!

So yes, the walking this week was cautious and slow.

Ice Grippers a must!

There was a thin layer of ice created on top of the snow and the dogs had a hard time walking on it, because it wasn’t heavy enough to hold their weight and so they would break through, but it was strong enough to stay in big sharp pieces and I think it made walking rather uncomfortable for them.  They would pick their way along behind me, carefully stepping in my tracks.   A couple of times the ice and snowpack was strong enough to hold them but so slippery that a few times there were “Bambi on Ice” incidents with all four legs spread out and them helplessly gliding down a slope.

It continued to rain throughout the week, so the mornings were slippery and the afternoons were slushy and the evenings varied but tended to go back to slippery.

So up to date, I’ve walked 171.31 km since I started January 5th.   If I started figuratively in Prince Rupert, BC that puts me past Terrace, BC and on my way towards Kitwanga, BC.  Walking Highway 16 that would put me right around Usk, BC.  But if I cut a straight line from Prince Rupert to Kitwanga, I would be only a couple kilometers out of Kitwanga, and will have passed by just below Nisga’a Provincial Park, which contains the Lava Beds from Canada’s most recent Volcano. (It happened in the 1770’s)  The park is just north of Terrace, BC.

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A few years back I went for an afternoon explore of Nisga’a Provincial Park.  I look forward to going back to see it when it’s not raining and the clouds are higher.  However even with dark heavy clouds it is a wild and  fantastically beautiful place to see.  Very isolated. And kind of spooky when the heavy clouds hang low and shroud the mountains.  The streams and waterfalls within the Park are unearthly shades of aquamarine, turquoise, teal, cerulean, and sapphire.  Impossible to capture on camera, though I tried.

When you see the wide spread of the lava rock over the valley floor, it is easy to imagine the horror and devastation the people experienced that day, and there was no cashflow from Red Cross coming in at that time or extra funds and resources from the government. They were completely on their own.  Over 2000 people died when the volcano erupted.  You can read about it and the oral legend surrounding it here.

To me it’s interesting that the oral legend has a caution in it for people who disrespect nature and the land, that it was because some kids did some nasty things to some fish that they thought they were cursed and  Creator responded in kind.  I know there are many people today who might laugh about that and shrug yet underneath actually believe the same ideology of this.  That if you do something bad, bad things will happen and you probably deserved it.  Or that God punishes evil by using a natural disaster to restore order.

I was raised in a Christian culture, where the Old Testament of the Bible was read and explained pretty much in this way to me.  The story of Noah and the Flood for example is one.  And apparently most ancient stories and legend go the same way.  Humans do horrible evil things and the gods react in anger and wipe out all the bad evil humans and that is justice.  For much of my life, I was kind of okay with that or at least it made sense.  Bad people got justice.  But as I’ve grown older it hasn’t set well with me as I’ve seen and experienced more in life to know this isn’t usually the case.  Bad things don’t just happen to bad people, they happen to innocents and good people too.   And that creates in me hard and burning questions.

Why do bad things happen?

Why do bad things happen to good people?

Why do bad things happen to innocents?

Did God cause this bad thing to happen to me?  Or to you?

Does God curse humans?

Does God react violently in anger?

Is God justified to react this way?

I’ve been wrestling with these questions and others for years.  I’ve been angry with God and upset with God and disappointed in what I supposed was His actions or reactions to an event.  I’ve felt very hurt by what I supposed God was about.  And so I’ve been devouring many books and listening to many podcasts and researching out what other people think about this.  For some unknown reason, I can’t just let it go.  And so I’ve kept on searching.  I’ve kept on looking for answers or maybe even just a little peace.

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And in some measure I have found peace and understanding over the years by discovering some pretty awesome resources that have given me hope and restored my confidence in God as a kind, compassionate, slow to anger, rich in love sort.   The kind that cares deeply for the oppressed, and is fully against injustice and inequality.   The kind that doesn’t cause evil but works to redeem it.  The kind that renews, restores and resurrects.  The kind that doesn’t just love people but is incredibly fond of them too.

This God, I came to know through Jesus when I was a child.  But I forgot what He was like.  So I’ve come back to Jesus, for He is the one who gives me the best idea of what God is like.  (Or what I want God to be like).  I don’t want what the ancients thought, or what the Greeks thought, or what the Romans thought, or the violent-loving Christians think, I want what Jesus was about—Freeing people from oppression, giving justice to the victim, and equality for all people.  And every day, I look for that, in what I’m reading, in what I’m listening to or watching, in what I’m doing.

Anyhoo,  back to walking I must go

Cheers!

For those who are interested, here is just a handful of Books and Podcasts that have helped me on my journey most recently.

Out of Sorts by Sarah Bessey

Sinners in the Hands of a Loving God by Brian Zahnd

How to Survive a Shipwreck: Help Is on the Way and Love Is Already Here by Jonathon Martin

Healing the Gospel by Derek Flood

Daring Greatly by Brene Brown

Podcast Fearless Questions: Episode 22 with William P. Young

Podcast The Bible For Normal People (pretty much every episode is a great learning experience!)

For the Love Podcast: Jen Hatmaker and Brene Brown

And if you like indepth Bible sermons check out the Restoration Project Podcast.

 

 

 

 

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Walking On . . . Prince Rupert Memories

My First Week of Walking Across Canada didn’t go quite as planned.

Here is my kilometer tally:

Day 2: 13.06km

Day 3: 4.79 km

Day 4: 6.57 km

Day 5: 12.07 km

Day 6: 11.61 km

Day 7: 14.53 km

Total to Date (January 5 to January 11, 2018): 78.57 km with a total active walking time of:  12.27 hours PRtoTerraceDistance78kmradius

I love Google Maps for showing me where I could be in a 78.57km radius from Prince Rupert. If I was walking the Highway 16 towards Terrace, I would be over halfway there!  I think I could have been there by now, if I hadn’t been struck down on Day 2 by the flu bug that my son thoughtfully brought home from school.  Of course that would happen when I decide to start walking across Canada!  I was fine all Fall and then when I make a decision to do something––whammy! I’m down and out.

Those days were a bit of struggle, but my good neighbour who loves my dogs and loves to hike, became a lifesaver and took on the bulk of my dog-walking for a few days.  So the dogs have probably made it to Terrace and are waiting for me to catch up, well actually they are probably not waiting and are still walking on ahead of me, and I’ll likely never catch up to them, figuratively speaking.  I should put the fitbit on the dog collar.  (I may be a bit of a cheater, but I promise to not cheat on this.  Can’t say the same for UNO game night!)

Thankfully I’m starting to feel a bit more like myself, though not yet fully energetic.

I’ve driven the highway from Terrace to Prince Rupert and back twice in my life.  It’s a beautiful drive beside the wide Skeena River.

Skeena River
The Skeena River, May 30, 2005

The first time was near the end of May over a decade ago when the Skeena was swollen from Spring Runoff. Since I was working near Hazelton, BC at the time and had a few days off s friend and I drove out for the day to check out the town.  We saw docks and watched a cruise ship unload it’s passengers for a tour around town.  We ate at the iconic Smiley’s Seafood Cafe and had amazing fish and chips.  We toured the gift shops and looked at the totem poles and then did a hike down the Butze Rapid trail just outside of town before heading back for Hazelton.  On the way back we stopped at a park that had some gigantic trees!  Being a girl from the prairies, big trees always have fascinated me and British Columbia’s coastal areas has some beautiful massive trees!

The second time I traveled to Prince Rupert was just a couple years ago when my family went on August Long Weekend for a quick holiday.  We drove from Kitimat, BC  in heavy rain and stayed at a B&B.  The plan was to go whale watching the next day and I was nervous we would be rained out.

However the next day dawned with cloudless bright blue skies, sun and no wind.  It was ideal and perfect conditions to head out on the boat.  While we waited for the tour to start we stopped at the Museum of Northern British Columbia.  It was a big and beautiful museum that told the story of how Prince Rupert came to be and the history of the indigenous people of the area.  Afterwards my son and I walked through town to the boat dock and looked at the totem poles and sunken gardens while my husband drove our vehicle to a closer parking spot near the dock.

We signed up for the whale watching tour at Prince Rupert Adventure Tours and boarded the tour boat.  Leaving the harbour the ocean waters were for the most part glassy and smooth.  Even further out it was mostly smooth waters.   We were up near the southern tip of the Alaskan panhandle before we finally came across a small pod of Humpback whales. However we were able to follow along and watch them as they worked their way along the edges of islands and did their cool bubble netting thing!  On the way back the tour guide called in eagles and we had an neat experience of a whole bunch of bald eagles flying around us. It was definitely one of the coolest experiences of my life!  I was so happy to share that with my family.

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The next day returned to heavy, gloomy skies and steady rain as we drove back to Kitimat.  We stopped for a quick tour of the North Pacific Cannery just outside of Prince Edward and were able to see another piece of Canadian History I didn’t know much about.  This country has a fascinating history, filled with a variety of people, landscapes and experiences and I just so enjoy learning about it!

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Part of this whole “walking Across Canada” thing is to learn more about this rich and diverse country I live in and share some of the places I’ve been privileged to live and work and visit, as well as discover some places I never knew about and would like to go see some day.

Since I live fairly close at this time of my life, I look forward to going back to Prince Rupert and exploring some more.

Tell me, what is saving your life right now?

Cheers!

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A Milestone

Day One

Of my attempt to walk across Canada (figuratively).

Decided I should start walking from Prince Rupert, since it’s close to where I live and since it was raining out this morning when I started.

Apparently Prince Rupert is the rain capital of Canada, averaging 240 rainy days out of the year and an annual precipitation of 2593.6mm according to the Weather Network.  It seems fitting that I should start in this city situated on the Pacific Coast and halfway up the province of BC.

I walked 15.94 km today.

That doesn’t take me very far out of Prince Rupert.

But that’s ok.  I’m really only just tallying up my kilometers and charting my way across Canada on a map.  So I don’t have to worry about camping out on the side of the road in the rain.

I was joined on my walks today by my two faithful dogs, Kodiak and Chase, sometimes by my son, and by my neighbour.  It’s nice to have company when I walk.

It was also my tenth wedding anniversary today.

A decade of marriage.

A milestone.

Hard to believe that ten years ago I was saying “I do” to a man I barely knew and some days feel like I still have only scratched the surface of who he is.

We’ve faced a lot of trials over the past ten years.  A whole lot of pain when I look back.  Big Moves. Long Distance. Hard Births. Postpartum. Multiple Deaths. Multiple Job Loss.  Sickness.  Major Debt.  Deep Depressions.  Never-ending Grief.

We’ve made bad decisions.  We’ve made huge communication errors.  We’ve misjudged each other badly.

Sometimes I’m amazed we are still here ten years later.  This marriage hasn’t been a fairy-tale–

And yet . . .

Here we are.

Still finding reasons to laugh over silly things. Falling asleep in each other’s arms. Comfortably reading books in the same room together. Enjoying a meal out.  Playing board games together.  Skating far out on a frozen lake in the frosty mountain air.

We have a home, and money in the bank (finally), and we are seeing each other just about every day, instead of spending months apart because of work.

Life kind of feels like that sigh you take after long hard day of work.  There’s a bit of loosening up happening, a settling, a relaxing, before finding our way forward.

Tomorrow I’ll wake up and keep on walking and keep on praying and keep on hoping.

Peace.

 

 

 

 

Practice Run

I’ve decided that if I must walk and walk I must because I am a dog owner, then I might as well walk myself across Canada. Not literally, because I have responsibilities and commitments here at home, but I will try and tally my mileage of walking each day and chart my way across my country.

I received my fitbit Zip in the mail today. I can’t wear the bracelet ones because of a metal allergy, so this little clip on thing should do the trick.

This afternoon was my practice run. I’ll start tomorrow officially. It’s my 10th wedding anniversary. Seems like a good time to start walking across the country.

Today it rained. It’s January. Rain is not nice in January. Especially when it falls on snow. The walking was slippery and my toque got all wet. I wore my tall MuckBoots which are glorified neoprene/rubber boots. They aren’t made for walking nearly three miles in. My heels hurt. I have chronic heel pain from years spent on my feet when I cooked in restaurants. Certain footwear exacerbates that pain and today was that day.

Since it was raining that meant the temperature was hovering right above the zero Celsius mark. Which in Canada means warmer than freezing. That meant I got overly warm while walking. So not only was I wet on the outside, but I was wet on the inside. I don’t like being cold but really dislike being overly warm while walking.

I got a late start today. 3:30 pm. The sun was nearly behind the mountains and it’ll be dark before five.

I think a lot while I walk. Usually it’s soothing. But today, while I walked I thought about violence and how it has a death grip on this world. The more I thought on this, the faster I walked.

My almost-nine year old came home with a bruised up cheek and a puffy black eye from an incident in the schoolyard that involved a soccer ball and a bunch of kids shoving and punching.   I received a call from his principal earlier, who was giving me the heads up so I wouldn’t be super alarmed when he got home and I saw his face all banged up. He wanted to make it clear that it wasn’t bullying but just a case of “boys being rough and some frienemy stuff going on”. It was a typical case of “he said”, “he said” and then “he said”. Some hurt feelings and some banged up bodies, but for the most part everyone was all good and back to being friends.

So while I walked I thought about bullying and how much of an issue it is nowadays with some parents hypersensitive and others not so much. How one parent cries because their kid is being harassed physically by a peer, and another is being teaching their kid how not to be bullied, by being the biggest and the strongest, the one everyone is afraid of.

When I was a little girl, I was taught to stand up for myself by being told to punch the one bugging me in the nose. When I became a mom and worried about my kid being picked on, I gave the same advice to my son, “Punch him in the nose and as hard as you can”.  Then I overheard a mom telling her boy to do the same thing. And as it was my boy and her boy were not getting along and both boys were being taught to solve the conflict by hitting each other in the nose. And I remembered having a bit of aha moment, of hey, maybe this shouldn’t be the way. Maybe this is wrong. This won’t solve anything at all.

Since then I’ve been searching for better ways to teach my son how to respond to conflict with a peer. It’s not easy, especially when it’s so ingrained in me to tell him that the other kid will respect nothing more than someone he can’t beat in a fight.

I thought how my son has been given advice from adults he admires and respects, such as “Don’t be the one to start the fight but if someone brings the fight to you make darn well sure you’re the last one standing in the end.”

In our culture, fighting is admired.

But should it be?

If we are all teaching our kids the same thing, namely to hit their way out of conflict, then no wonder the world is the way it is. Everyone is just beating up whoever they think is oppressing them, whether it’s true or not. Eye for an eye. Nose for a nose. And all that.

How do we stop the cycle of violence?

How do we teach our kids to be the ones to break the cycle? To find a better solution?

These are the questions that floated around my brain while I walked.

I thought of how Jesus taught that when someone strikes you on the cheek to turn and offer the other.

And how there’s a deeper meaning there, but I’m not quite sure I have it fully grasped. I mean, how do I teach my son, to retain his dignity, and not let someone oppress or bully him, but at the same time, not respond with violence or by demeaning the other person?

How do I teach this?

How do I live this?

I haven’t arrived at any solution. I haven’t arrived anywhere.

I’ll chew on this some more.

7.43 km walked this afternoon and evening. That’s a good practice run I think.

Tomorrow I’ll start walking across Canada.

How an Amaryllis Plant Gave me a Picture of Advent

20170113-IMG_6892A few years ago a friend gifted me with an amaryllis bulb planted in a pretty little pot. The instructions said to set in a sunny warm spot and water once the bulb started sprouting green leaves and in a few weeks the plant would send up a flower stalk that would bloom ideally for Christmas. I got the bulb a few weeks before Christmas, and I did exactly as I was instructed and then I waited and I waited.

Christmas came and went and it didn’t bloom. Apparently my house was a little cold and delayed things a little.

I could see a green shoot come up with a thicker spot on the end. Eventually it bloomed but a closer to the end of January. It was beautiful, but a little late.20160206-IMG_5074

I planted the bulb out in my flower garden over the summer and dug it up in the fall once the green leaves died out. It had a much bigger root ball this time, so I had to find a much bigger pot to stick it in. I then put it in my cold room and promptly forgot all about it. I remembered it right around Christmas time again and pulled it out and it again sent up a shoot that grew and grew into February. This time it was over two feet tall before it bloomed again, sending out four huge blossoms! What a joy! Again I planted it out for the summer and again I needed a bigger pot in the fall. And we repeated the cycle all over again. This time it grew slightly taller than 2 feet and bloomed into March.

We moved a province over in June, so I never got the chance to plant it out in my garden and passed it along to a friend in the hopes she would enjoy the cheery blooms in the dull winter days.

I bought myself a new amaryllis bulb this November and set it out right away, hoping that maybe I would get an bloom closer to Christmas time this year.

My house is a bit warmer, though darker than my previous one. However that didn’t stop the bulb from send up a shoot.

20171221-IMG_9053As I watched it grow taller and taller, with the flower bulb expanding on the end, I was reminded of advent. The expectancy. The tension. The waiting. It was neat to watch the bulb grow almost in time with each week of advent.

The first Sunday of Advent is all about Hope and my amaryllis bulb was just showing the first hints of a green shoot. For a while nothing seemed to be happening, and I was a little worried that I had selected a dud, or that my house was giving off enough light to encourage the bulb to send it’s shoot up. And then almost without a measurable change there was more green and then a definable shoot coming up! There was the hope that a bloom would be coming soon! As we wait for Christ to come again and fully set things right here on earth as it is in Heaven we are living in hope.

The second Sunday of Advent is all about Peace. Once I saw that there was a good chance my bulb would bloom, I felt quite peaceful. But advent is more than about just being peaceful, it’s about working towards peace. The care instructions for an amaryllis bulb say that once it starts sending up shoot, you need to water it. So water it I did. And in watering the bulb was given the energy to grow even taller and fuller.   While we wait in hope of Christ Coming, we need to be putting our energies into working towards peace in this world.

The third Sunday of Advent is all about Joy. The amaryllis flower stalk by now was nearly two feet tall and the flower bud on the end was ripening. You could see a reddish blush of the flower petals showing through and I felt a deep joy welling up inside me. An excitement! The bloom was soon to come and I couldn’t wait to see what the blossom looked like. The joy came before the bloom! It came during the waiting. It came during the expectancy as I watched miniscule changes and a ripening of the bud.   While we wait and hope and work towards peace, the joy of Christ will be with us. A welling up that comes over small incremental things that point towards the reality of Christ-with-us, and becoming more fully realized in this world.

Today is Christmas Eve, and we lit the final Candle of Advent––the candle of Love. And my amaryllis bloomed! A deep scarlet red bloom! It hasn’t fully opened and there are two more blooms on this flower stalk to come, but it is amazing still!20171224-IMG_9054

The red of the bloom symbolizes both the colour of love and the colour of blood. Real love is willing to shed your own blood. And that is what Christ has done for us! Because he loved us so much, he died willing, to show us the way of peace, to give us hope and real life!

Tonight we light the Christ Candle in remembrance of all that He has done for us and to look forward to all that He will accomplish yet.

My amaryllis bulb is sending up a second shoot that will bloom at a later date––just like the Advent Season where we remember Christ’s first coming and we look forward to His second.

May His Hope, Peace, Joy, and Love be yours this Christmas Season and through the coming year.

(And get yourself an amaryllis bulb to grow next year. I recommend starting it in November if you want Christmas blooms. They are really quite easy to grow, so don’t be intimidated.)

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You Have Left A Hole–Grandma-Sized

I received the news

Down by the river

As I walked.

No more pain

No more suffering

You had passed on.

My mind felt numb.

My eyes were dry

But my heart stopped–

For a beat.

Then started again.

The world will not be the same.

You have left a hole–

Grandma-sized.

I can never again

Walk up the sidewalk

To your house

And have you waiting

With open arms

And a chuckle.

Yes, you always had a chuckle

That warmed my heart.

I can never again sit

At your kitchen table

And have you slide me

Some cookies on a plate

Fresh from the freezer.

I can never again talk to you

As you sit beside me

Listening. Smiling. Nodding.

I can never again hear you say,

“I am praying for you.”

And “I love you Heather.”

I can never again feel your arms

Around me. Hugging. Holding.

Never again.

I threw a rock into the river.

Ripples spread out

And faded away.

You are gone.

The tears have come,

My eyes are no longer dry.

My mind is flooded

With happy memories.

You loved well, Grandma

That is your legacy

It is one of Love.

AMajak
Alice Majak aka Grandma

Unexpected Gifts

It was the birthday of my son the other day, the son who was born, but never got to open his eyes and breathe. I can’t believe six years have gone by since I got to hold his small body! Six years!

I always wonder what he would be like right now if he had lived. Would he be a terror on wheels like his brother? Loud and annoying. Or would he be the quieter type?

What would I be like? Would I still carry around this weight of sadness that never seems to leave, that is always just there underneath everything?

Will I always be pretending when I say that I am happy and enjoying life. Because how could I truly be happy and enjoy this life, when it’s just so horribly wrong that my son isn’t with me and I can’t hold him in my arms whenever I want.

Six years.

I’ve learned to do life without him.

We’ve carried on.

It is what it is.

Most days, I am happy. Most days I do enjoy life.

I was enjoying the morning of his sixth birthday by doing no tasks of importance. I had just sat down and was reading a good book, that had me excited with what it had to say, when the doorbell rang.

I thought it was a friend asking to play with my oldest son.

I got up and answered the door and there stood my next-door neighbours, who had just moved in a month or so ago.
They were holding a small gift in their hands.

“Welcome to the neighbourhood!” They said.

I was stunned, because in my heart I just knew that somehow my son who’s birthday it was had sent us a gift instead, with the Spirit of God’s help. My neighbours had no idea and had responded to a tap on their heart to bring over a small gift of welcome on that particular day. Their small act of kindness turned out to be something more special than they could’ve imagined. We had a lovely visit and all of us were greatly encouraged.

Never underestimate the power of a small gift in someone’s life. Be sensitive to those taps on your heart.

TinyMiracles