We Called Him Dad -by Herb Moore

I found out later the year was 1886. The baby was crying and had been for some time. My brother older than me, a sister younger, shared a room.

Mother had been walking the baby for what seemed forever, but the crying didn’t change, it just went on.

Then the sound we’d learned to fear, the front door burst open. It was father and his shouting let us know he’d spent the evening in the pub.

“Can you no shut that ones yelling woman? It’s all a man hears in this house.”

“He’s hungry husband! My milk has dried up and you leave no money for food, it all goes for the drink”

We all cringed at the sound of the slap and mother’s cry, followed by fathers shout.

“You’ll no be telling me how to spend my money and if you can’t shut that one up I will.”

“No! No! Don’t shake him like that, he’s just hungry, give him back to me I’ll keep walking him. You get off to bed,”

“Oh Lord, what have you done man? He’s not breathing!”

This was followed by a keening cry from mother. “You’ve killed our wee one you drunken fool, oh that it’s come to this.”

A blur of time, neighbours in the house, mother slumped in a chair weeping, police taking

Father  away. Someone says he’d killed the baby in a drunken rage.

More time, neighbours take us to their home and share their meagre food. Snatches of conversation, she’s failing, been sick since the baby and now this.

They say our mother has died. What’s to happen to us? We cling to each other for comfort .They say we must be brave.

A stranger takes me to a men’s club in the city, says I’m real lucky they have found this place for me to live. All I have to do is polish the boots of the men when they come in at night. The boots are left in the hallway outside their room. I must stay up until all the men come in from where ever their evening led them. If my cleaning and polishing is not to their satisfaction a clip on the head by the boots owner is my reward.

I wonder where my sister and brother are but I never see them again.

Another stranger comes and takes me away from the men’s club. You’re going on a ship I’m told. You’re going to Canada.

There is a bunch of us children, we’re in a roped off area in a big building trying to adjust to not being onboard the ship, more strangers looking us over. “He could work the fields, that one she could help in the kitchen,” we hear. I learn later the place is called Halifax. I’m eight years old, the year is 1888.

I’m living on a farm. If I’m good and work hard there’ll be schooling and some day a part of the farm. They didn’t tell me I’d only be let go to school when the weather stopped us from working the fields.

There’s a lean to off the kitchen where I sleep and eat along with the family dog. Each evening the woman brings a supper plate for me and a bowl for the dog. There is no conversation other than instruction of what is expected of me the next day.

The years pass, I’m now twenty. I ask what part of the farm will someday be mine and soon realize like schooling it will not happen.

I hear of a place called “The West.”  People have gone there and written back. It’s a good place. It fills my thoughts and dreams. I leave the farm and find what work I can. I save every penny. I’ve never had money before.

The money buys me a ticket to a place called Winnipeg. Off the train I follow my nose to the stockyards. A fella calls out, you looking for work?

Its 1904, I send for the girl who said she’d wait for me, back in Nova Scotia. She is only fifteen so I have to bring out her mother too.

The year is 1954, I’m dying. I look back on a full life in spite of my early years, a large loving family, what will the future hold for them? How will they remember me?

As the greatest example of a good man, a loving father. We were proud to call you dad.

Reflections – by Heather Frank

REFLECTIONS by Heather Frank

During the past winter, we traveled to sunny Arizona and were able to enjoy the sunshine and warmer temperatures of the Southern United States, visiting sites such as Organ Pipe Cactus National Monument, Tombstone and The Sonora Desert Museum.

Like any journey in life however, we had to deal with the unexpected.  We had to make an unexpected overnight stop in Baker City Oregon due to a massive pileup on Interstate 84.  Black ice and fog contributed to the pile up that included twenty semi trucks and fifty passenger vehicles.  Luckily, we were not directly involved, but we still had to deal with the consequences of it.

Dealing with the unexpected has given me pause to reflect on life’s “delays, detours and disasters,”  be they road conditions, accidents, loss of loved ones etc. It is in trying to make sense out of the unexpected, that we are sometimes nudged to embark on a spiritual journey. A journey that has the potential to give us the resources we need to deal with adversity.

The Internet is a marvelous tool and sites such as wikiHow, can give us some simple, “how to steps” on just about any topic under the sun, including “How to Go on a Spiritual Journey.” “Embarking on the spiritual journey is like getting into a very small boat and setting out on the ocean to search for unknown lands” – Pema Chodron.

The site lists five practical suggestions with the first being ” #1. keep in mind that each journey is unique and if one of their suggestions doesn’t appeal to you, skip it and find an alternative that allows you to relax and contemplate your life. #2. keep a journal of your thoughts and feelings. #3. read religious texts such as the Bible, the Torah, or the Qur’an.  Reading these books can give you a new perspective on life or open your eyes to other people’s beliefs or thoughts. #4. Take up yoga.  Yoga can be deeply relaxing for many and can also help you focus. #5. Meditate.  Meditation can also help you reach conclusions about your life.  Clear your head of all worry and stress, and allow your clear head to reach decisions about your challenges.”

Interestingly, I have been faithfully keeping a daily journal for over a year now, reading the Bible and have begun a meditation practice with a computer app called “Buddhify.” Although I have given yoga a try, I seem to be challenged by a lack of flexibility that I am sure would improve if I stuck to it,  Like many of you, I am on a spiritual journey, trying to make sense out of life, death and life after death. With this in mind, I thought you might enjoy some photos I took that illustrate others “unique” spiritual journey.  Enjoy!

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Murphy Comes to Church – by Cam Peckinpaugh

Murphy Comes to Church

Several weeks ago, the Rev. Dr. John Burton led our service in the absence of our regular minister. John was accompanied by his canine pal “Murphy”, an exuberant 14 -month old pup standing 3 feet tall, who happily welcomed folks as they came up the stairs into church.

After Murphy’s impromptu “Meet and Greet” session, John tried to settle Murphy into the Minister’s Study in preparation for the start of the service.  Murphy, on the other hand, was not pleased with this arrangement and set about letting his master know in no uncertain terms that he was not going to take this lying down!  He barked and carried on for quite awhile.  Soon, a member of the congregation offered to help settle Murphy.  John quickly accepted the offer of help and Murphy and his ‘sitter’ returned to their pew. Murphy happily responded in a positive manner to the basic words of “Good Dog,” followed up with lots of loving pats and scratches behind the ears.  It looked like he was going to settle in quite nicely.

The service began, but when John’s voice came over the P.A. system Murphy began to get rather restless, emitting the occasional whine to remind John of his presence.  For the most part however he was content to be lavished with his “sitter’s” attention and by the end of the sermon was actually resting quietly with his head between his front paws and his back legs stretched out in a lazy sprawl.

It was after the sermon that things started to get a little hectic, when the congregation began singing the Hymn entitled “Walk With Me.”  When a dog (who has been asked to sit quietly for quite some time) hears the word “Walk” he has a tendency to answer the invitation with enthusiasm and Murphy was no exception. It was all his sitter could do to convince Murphy that now was not the time to take a literal walk but rather a spiritual walk.  Unfortunately, the hymn’s refrain contains the words “Walk with me, I will walk with you …” and is repeated five times in the course of the hymn!! Murphy was more than perplexed by the many invitations to walk, but not being given the opportunity to do so, but finally settled down again when the singing ended.

The Prayers of the People followed, and John began the prayer with the words “Dear God.”  Now in Murphy’s mind this must have sounded like “Here Dog” because he quickly leapt up and uttered one single loud “woof,” in response to his master’s call!  We, of course, could appreciate his misunderstanding and after we had all stopped laughing, John re-started with “Dear God” and once again Murphy answered the call with a resounding “woof, woof!”  This time, the congregation didn’t even pretend to be in control of their laughter.  They howled and Murphy didn’t say a word! The service ended shortly after, with no further input from Murphy.

Upon reflection, perhaps we can say that John’s “Murphy” certainly illustrates a definition of Murphy’s Law that reads “If everything seems to be going well, you have obviously overlooked something,” and that would be that some things get lost in translation between the English language and a Dog’s interpretation of it!

Thanks to dog sitter Heather Frank for this story.