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Are we losing listening?

On our vacation, we listened to a lot of music in the car. My husband seldom has total silence in the car. He generally has music playing in the background when he works here at home. Sometimes, it involves me asking him to turn down his music. He has a rather eclectic play list, and sometimes I find it hard transitioning from Pink Floyd to Bach in minutes. I don't like listening in that way.

Wherever you go, music is frequently playing. You can walk into the grocery store, the mall, a restuarant, or an office, and there is music. It's like our lives have a soundtrack picked out for us, a different one for each place we go. 

On Friday, we went to a beach on the Atlantic. It was beautiful. There were people surfing, flying kites, and playing with their children. The waves were not overpowering, but the sounds of the sea were everywhere. My husband, daughter-in-law, and son waded into the waves to enjoy them. My 54 year old husband tossed himself in to the crashing waves like he was a young man and then commented the next that he couldn't understand why his neck was a bit sore. I waded in a little bit, but preferred to stay on the beach. Equipped with my sunscreen, hat, and blanket, I lay down and covered my face and put my headphones in to listen to music. I closed my eyes and did nothing else but listen.

I thought to myself that I don't do that often enough. I listen to music a lot, but I seldom just sit and listen. I am usually doing something else: driving, writing, cooking, or cleaning. I don't listen while I study, but the other people in my family do that. It's great to multi task, but I sometimes wonder if we are missing out when we don't stop and listen.

In the old days, we couldn't take a library of 2,000 songs everywhere we went, so we maybe had to rely on the radio, or cassette tapes, or for those of us who remember, eight track tapes. There wasn't always music in workplaces; there certainly wasn't when I was working in an office. There probably is a certain amount of music which infiltrates our minds without our even knowing it, but there is also a distinct pleasure in just stopping and listening; picking out a particular melody line, isolating harmonies, really hearing the words.

Enjoying the sea breeze and the sun, I listened to a play list from the 70's and 80's, and I remembered things about the time when I first heard those songs. I remembered what I was doing, who my friends were, or where I was. I didn't read a book at the same time, or even open my eyes. I just listened. And I think it was the highlight of my vacation.

Once again, I was reminded about the reality of always being "on," always being plugged in. We had wifi in our cottage, so it was possible to plugged in. I'm thinking I should have taken the opportunity to completely unplug. Maybe next time, I'll bring a tape player and some cassettes. There are probably some kicking around in a box somewhere in this house.


Favourite summer reads

It's hard to believe that a week from today is Labour Day. We are still having the typical southern Ontario heat and humidity, so those cool fall mornings are something I'm looking forward to. In ten days, school starts, and I am really looking forward to that.

My husband and son and daughter-in-law just returned from a driving trip to the east coast of Canada. It was wonderful. We had a lovely little cottage right on a lake, complete with everything we needed. We did lots of day trips, beach visits, and kayaking. One of the more memorable days was a very challening hike up to a lookout over a lake. At times, it was a little scary, but that was nothing compared to the horrid drive we experienced in Montreal on the way home. I've heard that Quebec drivers are crazy, and I believe it. I think I felt safer when we drove through the torrential downpour in New Hampshire on the way there.

And of course, there was much relaxing by the lake, reading. As we drove home, I thought of my favourite reads of the summer. There were a few books which were touted as "must reads," and I did attempt one, but put it aside. Here are my favourite three, in no particular order:

The Good Portion: God, The Doctrine of God for Every Woman, by Rebecca Stark. As you can tell from the title, the book is about the doctrine of God. If you're interested in a review, click here. It was a very accessible book, but one that gets the reader thinking. I think it would be an excellent book for a group study; lots of meat, and no twaddle. And it's not just for women.

Indian Horse, by Richard Wagamese. This is a beautifully written, but sad story of what happens to a young Indigenous man who is taken to a residential school in Northern Ontario. This situation is a very real part of Canadian history, and while this is a work of fiction, Wagamese didn't simply concoct these situations. In this account, Saul Indian Horse shows promise as a hockey player, but fights many demons. It was poignant, and worth a second read, which I have already begun.

Prairie Fires: The American Dreams of Laura Ingalls Wilder. This is not the Laura Ingalls Wilder you may think you know. Caroline Fraser has done meticulous research to uncover who Wilder was and how she came to write her novels. The depiction of the dynamic of her relationship with her daughter is almost like a subplot in the account of her life. 

What were your favourite summer reads?


Ye Servants of God

Ye servants of God, your Master proclaim,
And publish abroad his wonderful name;
The name all victorious of Jesus extol;
His kingdom is glorious and rules over all.

God ruleth on high, almighty to save;
And still he is nigh, his presence we have;
The great congregation his triumph shall sing,
Ascribing salvation to Jesus our king.

Salvation to God who sits on the throne,
Let all cry aloud and honour the son:
The praises of Jesus the angels proclaim;
Fall down on their faces and worship the Lamb.

Then let us adore and give him his right;
All glory and power, all wisdom and might;
All honour and blessing with angels above,
And thanks never ceasing, and infinite love.


Don’t take safe road travel for granted

Well, it is a rainy morning here in our lake side paradise. The promise of sunshine will come later. So I enjoy my coffee, looking out at the mist, and taking in the quiet, as my family sleeps.

En route to our destination, we drove through some torrential rain. In fact, we drove on the edge of a system that had a tornado warning. It was pretty nerve-wracking. Thankfully, we arrived safely. The risk of hydroplaning on those curvy roads was great, but it was okay in the end.

The next day, as we travelled, from the back seat, I overheard my son who was scanning Facebook, tell his wife that a girl they know had died in a car accident the day before. I know the girl, too. The girl was in my Greek class. My school is not big, and in a short time through social media the news was out. This sweet, lively, funny girl, who had just recently become engaged was dead. They were in the rain, driving. She has gone into glory. We drove through rain and were here. It was sobering.

Every time we get into our cars, we should be aware that they can become death machines. When we arrive safely, we ought to thank God for his protection. We are not guaranteed to come home unharmed. Most of the time we do, but it is not promised.

As a mother, I cannot fathom how her parents are coping. As someone who has been with my husband for 31 years, I cannot imagine the grief of her fiancé, whose world has come crashing down. We don’t understand why God allows one thing and not another. This is the test of faith. 


The Church's One Foundation

The church's one foundation is Jesus Christ her Lord;
She is his new creation by Spirit and the Word;
From heav'n he came and sought her to be his holy bride;
With his own blood he bought her and for her life he died.

Elect from ev'ry nation, yet one o'er all the earth;
Her charter of salvation: one Lord, one faith, one birth;
One holy name she blesses, partakes one holy food,
And to one hope she presses, with ev'ry grace endued.

'Mid toil and tribulation, and tumult of her war,
She waits the consummation of peace for evermore;
Till with the vision glorious her longing eyes are blest,
And the great Church victorious shall be the Church at rest.

Yet she on earth hath union with God the three in one,
And mystic sweet communion with those whose rest is won:
O happy ones and holy!Lord, give us grace that we,
Like them, the meek and lowly, on high may dwell with thee.