Wednesday, December 23, 2009

The Peace of Wild Things

When despair for the world grows in me
and I wake in the night at the least sound,
in fear of what my life and my children’s lives may be,
I go and lie down where the wood drake rests in his beauty on the water,
and the great heron feeds.
I come into the peace of wild things who do not tax their lives with forethought of grief.
I come into the presence of still water.
And I feel above me the day-blind stars waiting with their light.
For a time I rest in the grace of the world, and am free.

--Wendell Berry, "The Peace of Wild Things,"

Friday, December 11, 2009

Behold, it snoweth

I just like saying that.

One of the reasons I feel so comfortable living in northern Ontario is the amount of sunlight we receive. I spent most of my life in the snowbelts of Southern Ontario. In winter, it was either dull and dreary or snowing and dreary. From about Hallowe'en to mid January, I was almost homicially SAD. Most people are glad that I no longer live there, except for the store owners who sold refined sugar, complex carbohydrates and restraining orders.

The North has about 30% more sunshiny days than the snowbelt. I love the quality of the sunlight up here. The sky is huge and open and full of shapes. The days are longer by almost 40 minutes in high summer. Most wonderful of all, is watching the lines of snow squalls hammer at the regions south. Today was a gloriously sunny day. I stood out of the wind, in my ankle deep snow and photographed the squall clouds.

There is a snow emergency in that other part of the world, with 80 to 100 centimetres of snow to fall today. Hunker in your bunker with eggnog and cookies because you aren't going anywhere until it stops. I'm free to move about, swaddled to the eyeballs against the wind, but able to enjoy the light and the beauty that is winter on the Island.

Thursday, December 3, 2009

Keeping A Quaker Christmas

As an abiding Quaker, I take time to reflect on how I feel about the upcoming holiday season. I truly believe that every day is to be celebrated and that no one day in my life has any more value than any other. If I start and end each day with gratitude, nothing that happens in between has the power to ruin tomorrow.

In order to keep Christmas the way I want it to be, I follow the examples of other Quakers:

Keep it short: Ignore it until it is truly here. That means driving with the car radio turned off, staying out of the malls, and ignoring the advertising in November.

Keep it beautiful: Take an evening and go out and admire the lights. Walk in the stillness of snowfall at night. Look for the crystals in the sunlit trees at dawn.

Keep it simple: Debt has no part of Christmas. The main verb of Christmas shouldnt be buy. Create, connect, appreciate, share, sing.

Keep it charitable: There is always need. Find one that you can fill.

Keep it religious: It is a Christian holiday. Respect and enjoy the traditions of others, even if their way of observing is different than yours.

Keep it balanced: Be sociable but find time to be still.

Keep it traditional: Bring forward traditions from your childhood. Make room for new traditions to begin.

However you celebrate, make these last days of the year yours to enjoy.