That I Would Be Good

Throughout my brother’s illness, I kept thinking…and often said to him, “You were always enough, John.”

I don’t know why I had those words on my heart.  And I spoke them often.

I spoke to one friend about my inclination and she said to me, “You, your brother, I am more than enough!”

With the death of one of my great mentors, Jean Vanier, this past week, I listened and listened again to his past recordings.  I read over things that he wrote.  I remain completely convinced by his view that love exists when we embrace those who are most vulnerable.

A baby born to its parents is put into a position of utter trust and vulnerability.  It can do nothing to earn or keep or appreciate your hard work and your giving heart.  The infant child can only receive love.  To be ill in body or mind, or to be dying, leaves a person in the same vulnerable state of being as was once experienced as an infant.  This coming and going of humanity leaves all participants in a place of tremendous sacredness/holiness/grace and belonging.

As I consider my own challenges, I need to remember that I am good, for the simple reason that I am.  I belong in a circle of belonging.

Sometimes the world can tell us differently.  Sometimes our own heads can try to convince us that we are ‘not enough’.  There are days when we act like squirrels, gathering in ‘stuff’, thinking that somehow that ‘stuff’ will make us safe/secure/better.  There are days when we forego time with our families so that we can work harder and earn more so that we can provide more, when all our families needed most was our presence.  We need to reflect upon that presence.

To each of my readers, “You are good.”  Celebrate your wondrous design.  Have a dance.  Listen to the words to this song.  Have a great weekend.  Thanks, Hollee, for sharing birthday dinner with my family. Thanks to Cayley, Shawn, Erin, Doug and Steven, Linda and James for Dragon Pearl feasting and Crave cake! Thanks, Steven, for the jazz invite in the middle of the week.  Thanks, James for attending with your ol’ Ma.  Thanks, Wendy, Tammy, Karen, Lauraine, Jas and Dan for Sunday jam at Mikey’s.  Thanks, nephew for almost daily “I love you”s by text.  Thanks, Dad, for 5:00 Skypes.  Thanks, Val, for connecting with me in real time and in dreams.  Thanks, Erin, for restorative Yoga. Thanks, Kath, for studio painting time, bird watching, dog walking, teaching big kids and small.  Thanks Mary, Pat and Janet for tea and snacks. Thanks, Facetime Friends, for all of those online messages. Thanks, John, for everything you were for me in life and how you inspire me now.  It’s been a good week.  I love you because love never ends.

That I Would Be Good
That I would be good even if I did nothing
That I would be good even if I got the thumbs down
That I would be good if I got and stayed sick
That I would be good even if I gained ten pounds
That I would be fine even if I went bankrupt
That I would be good if I lost my hair and my youth
That I would be great if I was no longer queen
That I would be grand if I was not all knowing
That I would be loved even when I numb myself
That I would be good even when I am overwhelmed
That I would be loved even when I was fuming
That I would be good even if I was clingy
That I would be good even if I lost sanity
That I would be good
Whether with or without you
Songwriters: Alanis Nadine Morissette / Glen Ballard

Rumble House: September 2, 2015

Having a home and being connected with people is very important to ‘who we are’.  With recent news of 71 migrants dying on an Austrian motorway, 200 refugees drowning off of the coast of Libya and the horrific situation off of the coast of Greece, it is again, time to think about global responsibility and inclusion.  Interestingly at this time there is even a renewed conversation about building a wall between Canada and the United States.  So much of our global context is based on fear, judgement and exclusion.  All human beings require the basic needs that come with belonging.  It is time for belonging to be a focus.

I’ve been thinking about this a lot lately.  Even in our Rumble House community, we are thinking about what it means to belong.  We gather in this tiny venue, and share a powerful sense of being a part of something. We accept one another, laugh with one another and talk about extraordinary things.  When one of our community is in pain, we support and uplift.  It is interesting that art is our connective tissue.

Kath's Canon September 2 Rumble and Franks September 3, 2015 061 Last night, I didn’t participate in the auction…my piece was largely incomplete.  One of the themes of the night was ‘Take Down the Walls’.

Take down the walls.
That is, after all, the whole point.
You do not know what will happen if you take down the walls; you cannot see through to the other side, don’t know whether it will bring freedom or ruin, resolution or chaos. It might be paradise or destruction.
Take down the walls.
Otherwise you must live closely, in fear, building barricades against the unknown, saying prayers against the darkness, speaking verse of terror and tightness.
Otherwise you may never know hell; but you will not find heaven, either. You will not know fresh air and flying.
All of you, wherever you are: in your spiny cities, or your one bump towns. Find it, the hard stuff, the links of metal and chink, the fragments of stone filling you stomach.
And pull, and pull, and pull.
I will make a pact with you: I will do it if you will do it, always and forever.
Take down the walls.”

Lauren Oliver, Requiem

I painted from a little reference.

British Home Children Rough Crossings 2010

Kath's Canon, September 2, 2015 Rumble House 005Sketch in progress…

Kath's Canon, September 2, 2015 Rumble House 003I’m very-much interested in research and the production of a body of work based on the historical plight of British Home Children.  My readers may or may not think that this is a part of history to reflect upon…it doesn’t matter.  It is relevant because it is a part of MY story.  I am a descendant and find this story on my family line, along with so many other diverse stories, an important one.  From the Library and Archives of Canada….this.

“Between 1869 and the late 1930s, over 100,000 juvenile migrants were sent to Canada from Great Britain during the child emigration movement. Motivated by social and economic forces, churches and philanthropic organizations sent orphaned, abandoned and pauper children to Canada. Many believed that these children would have a better chance for a healthy, moral life in rural Canada, where families welcomed them as a source of cheap farm labour and domestic help.

After arriving by ship, the children were sent to distributing homes, such as Fairknowe in Brockville, and then sent on to farmers in the area. Although many of the children were poorly treated and abused, others experienced a better life here than if they had remained in the urban slums of England. Many served with the Canadian and British Forces during both World Wars.”

As we enjoy our sense of community and security, we need to remember that we are blessed.  We must remember that colonization impacted the homes of others and be respectful of that impact always.  We must remember that our security has been built upon the backs of hard workers and indentured workers, as well as slaves and upon the opportunities that were and are afforded us as a part of democracy.  These gifts must never be taken for granted.

Here are some photographs of an awesome community of artists who are doing a great job supporting one another through various life journeys.

Kath's Canon September 2 Rumble and Franks September 3, 2015 060 Kath's Canon September 2 Rumble and Franks September 3, 2015 055 Kath's Canon September 2 Rumble and Franks September 3, 2015 047 Kath's Canon September 2 Rumble and Franks September 3, 2015 040 Kath's Canon September 2 Rumble and Franks September 3, 2015 024 Kath's Canon September 2 Rumble and Franks September 3, 2015 015 Kath's Canon September 2 Rumble and Franks September 3, 2015 008 Kath's Canon September 2 Rumble and Franks September 3, 2015 001 Kath's Canon September 2 Rumble and Franks September 3, 2015 033

Kath's Canon September 2 Rumble and Franks September 3, 2015 068 Kath's Canon September 2 Rumble and Franks September 3, 2015 062

Three Books

LayingJust before the holiday, I read Laying the Children’s Ghosts to Rest by Sean Arthur Joyce.  My father had opportunity to meet Joyce at a presentation at the Belleville Public Library and he kindly purchased this book…a gift for me.  A strong historical context is given for those readers who have little knowledge about the huge movement of more than 100,000 children from Britain, Scotland and Ireland for use as indentured servants in Canada, the United States and Australia between the years 1869 and 1949.  It is a part of Canadian history that has largely been swept under the carpet of our arrogance and our ignorance.  This is a topic that I strongly advocate as another one necessary to our history programs.  A combination of memoir and short biography, this book focuses on Canada’s home children moving west, revealing to me for the first time, a history of the Fairbridge Farm Schools.

??????????Recently, I read both The Street Arab and Belonging by Sandra Joyce.  These two books would be in the genre of historical fiction, although I’m certain, having met Sandra and heard her speak about her family, that this is closely rooted to Sandra’s own family history, as a descendent.  I feel blessed to have met Sandra and her friend, Karen Mahoney, when they presented at the Calgary Public Library, just a few months ago.

DSC_0914They work tirelessly to educate Canadians, across the country, about the British Home Children and their struggles in the face of abandonment (in some cases), separation and in most cases, hardship/abuse on their journeys, in their communal orphanages and in their various placements.

Street ArabThe Street Arab: The Story of a British Home Child and Belonging included elements of romance that created emotional relief as I processed the hardships encountered by the children; Robbie, Tom and Emma.  Including beautiful description and intimate interactions in family and in community, the books were accessible and ‘quick’ reads.

Already somewhat researched on the topic, having read and heard about many unsettling stories, I know that Sandra did not stray from the truth and that all of the situations that came up were based on fact.  Belonging illustrated the truth that children who grew up without any roots and without tenderness, grew to be adults who suffered a particular sort of separateness and struggled throughout their lives with openness and affection.  I appreciated the attention to wartime detail as my own Great Uncle Joe gave his life and rests in Ortona, Italy, one of the settings in Sandra’s book.

BelongingI think that the more books that come out on this subject, whether they be historical fiction or vastly researched biography, the more Canadians have the possibility of learning about another aspect of our Canadian identity.  I think that all politicians, at whatever level, and all organizations need to further the propagation of this information to give a full accounting of decisions made in the past.  Along with the appalling history of residential schools in Canada, the deceptive approach to colonization and enforcement of Treaties, the perpetuation of slavery in the Atlantic provinces and evident bias against blacks in Canadian Court systems in the day, the heartless expulsion of the french, the internment of Ukrainian and Japanese families during wartime,  the recognition of injustice served upon these British Home Children must be recognized for what it is, a grave and sad mark on our collective history.

I recommend these three books…a beginning for your own discovery.  I include the following short video because my own great grandfather came to Canada at the age of 13 in 1898.  He died, a soldier for Canada in World War I on May 19, 1918.

create! on Friday

We gathered at the Golden Age Club in the East Village this afternoon for a second painting activity.  It was a glorious thing to see Harold and the T-girl and to be able to get big hugs from them.  Needless to say, we all miss Gorilla House and I ache for the friends who I met there.  After setting out the basics on the tables, I relished sitting back and relaxing as a number of folk came in…we conversed and shared in treats donated generously by Brulee Patisserie.

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Photo Credit: Wendy Lees

The participants in create! were enthusiastic and patiently explored the notions of foreground, middle ground and background as well as how to create the illusion of form out of a flat shape.  Building upon the skills explored earlier this week, we began to speak about issues of composition; static versus dynamic and added shades into the mix.  The break out moment was the exploration once each artist had created three spheres, dynamically placed, into their compositions.

I was blessed by the sense of calm that filled the room…bathed in afternoon sunshine, create! was the place to be.  Thanks to Dan’l for the Mona Lisa joke…to Larry for his stories of Vimy…to Fran, for reading the Bricklayer’s Lunch Hour by Allen Ginsberg and for memories of her sister, Louise Marie Rose…to Jennifer, for painting in violet…to Noelle who wore pink and painted pink…for Georgia for asking about contrast…to d-rae for focusing so intently on the details and to two new painters, a daughter and her mother because they painted after years of watching Bob Ross on television (“We don’t make mistakes; we just have happy accidents.”), without ever having painted…for Wendy Lees who shared her dream with all of us when she opened up programs in EV.

It was an afternoon of light and joy and peace.

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Photo Credit: Wendy Lees

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Photo Credit: Wendy Lees

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Photo Credit: Wendy Lees

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Photo Credit: Wendy Lees

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Photo Credit: Wendy Lees

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Photo Credit: Wendy Lees

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Photo Credit: Wendy Lees

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Photo Credit: Wendy Lees

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Photo Credit: Wendy Lees

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Photo Credit: Wendy Lees

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Photo Credit: Wendy Lees

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Photo Credit: Wendy Lees

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Photo Credit: Wendy Lees

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Photo Credit: Wendy Lees

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Photo Credit: Wendy Lees

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Photo Credit: Wendy Lees

Morning Coffee With Jean Vanier

Jean Vanier’s 5 principles:

 1)All humans are sacred
2) Our world and our human lives are evolving
3) Maturity comes through working with others
4) Humans need to be encouraged to make choices and to become responsible for their own lives as well as the lives of others
5) We need to reflect and to seek truth and meaning
 

A friend recommended that I subscribe to the wonderful Jean Vanier’s quote of the day.  I’ve been saving them all in my archives because they have been so wonderful, thinking that I might do something with them one day, here in the Chapel.  Today’s quote was so appropriate, that I have to post it here.  It’s a fresh way of viewing old behaviours.  See what you think.  I know that when one thinks about the aesthetic of their surroundings, there is an inward peace.  It’s easier to pull out a book and read, put on a piece of music and dance or simply enjoy a cup of coffee while checking electronic messages.

Tuesday 27 March 2012
 
Material Things

One of the signs that a community is alive can be found in material things. Cleanliness, furnishings, the way flowers are arranged and meals prepared, are among the things which reflect the quality of people’s hearts. Some people may find material chores irksome; they would prefer to use their time to talk and be with others. They haven’t yet realized that the thousand and one small things that have to be done each day, the cycle of dirtying and cleaning, were given by God to enable us to communicate through matter. Cooking and washing floors can become a way of showing our love for others. It is celebration to be able to give.

Jean Vanier, Community and Growth, p. 297