Field Notes
How Now Shall We Live?

How Now Shall We Live?

Recently my wife and I visited her family home, just a few days before it sold. The home was built by her parents in the mid-1950’s when they were newly-weds. There they raised their...

In The Quiet of the Night

In The Quiet of the Night

In The Quiet of the Night In the quiet of the night, long before dawn begins to seep towards the day, I take light breaths between remembering and hoping. The remembering goes on and on...

Strong Winds Blow

Strong Winds Blow

The forecast is for strong winds to blow across the Lower Mainland today. Batten down the hatches, close the umbrellas, and watch out for falling branches. These winds are due to a change...

The Shadowlands

The Shadowlands

We continue to be covered in grey shadows here on the West Coast of Canada. Our unusually snowy winter is receding into memory yet the bright days of summer are still far away. Meanwhile,...

The Trees of Life

The Trees of Life

I am sitting quietly looking out my window while listening to a beautiful collection of classical songs performed by The Trinity Choir under the direction of Daniel Taylor. Called ‘The...

The Water Is Wide

The Water Is Wide

I remember once working my way down a mountain trail, over roots and rocks, until I finally reached the trail’s end and stood on the bank of a wide, wide lake. My knees were rubbery and my...

Laudato Si

Laudato Si

My spouse and I celebrated the end of the long, dry heat wave here on the Lower Mainland of British Columbia with an evening trip to the ocean for a swim. It was a delicious experience...

The Gathering of The Heron

The Gathering of The Heron

Last week I went for a long walk by the ocean with a friend of mine. It was a sunny day and fairly hot in the city. But by the ocean it was cool given that a strong breeze was blowing. The...

Someone Else

Someone Else

In the soft twilight of the mornings now, as I wait for the North Shore Mountains to come into view, I hear the melody of songbirds mixing with the call of the crows. The sounds of the...

Listening with the Whole Self

Listening with the Whole Self

After returning from a few meetings where the focus was justice and sustainable living, sometimes called eco-justice, I have found myself pondering the importance of listening. Listening...

The Charter of Rights and the Way of Love

The Charter of Rights and the Way of Love

I have attended a few conferences and several meetings in the last little while where concerned citizens have gathered to reflect upon topics ranging from justice and environmental ethics...

Holy Thursday Poem

Take This Cup   No bloodied hands can lift this cup. No thirty pieces of conscience can weigh it down. No crowing cocks can hide its cracks. Nor anyone turn starlight off since...

The Broken Stone

The Broken Stone

Last summer as we hiked up the Lion’s Binker Trail to the base of the Lions my hiking companion and I came across a huge bolder that had been split in two thousands of years ago. The stone...

Walking In The Fog

Walking In The Fog

I was out walking with a friend in Vancouver a few days ago. When we started out there was a heavy fog blanketing this city that huddles between the mountains and the sea; the fog horns...

Christmas and The Bend in the River

Christmas and The Bend in the River

I have for a long time now fully embraced Christmas and I make no apologies for this. Of course, I am as mindful as others that Christmas is not always an easy time for some people....

Our Lady

Our Lady

In early December Erin and I visited a longtime friend who lives in Phoenix. An Episcopalian priest who was born and raised in Mexico he is now an American citizen who pastors a Mexican...

A World Where It Is Easier

A World Where It Is Easier

October 15th was a rainy day here in Vancouver. Now, there is nothing really unusual or special about rain in Vancouver. What was noticeable about that day was the deadline given to the...

A Few Good Men

A Few Good Men

I have been travelling around Southeastern Ontario these past few weeks, encountering family, friends and even strangers while listening for the deeper signs. After flying into Waterloo...

Hope and Climate Justice

Hope and Climate Justice

The weather is beginning to change. Today it is raining and the forecast is for rain all week. And the days are getting shorter. While I am hoping that October will be unseasonably sunny...

Hiking The Mountains

Hiking The Mountains

These past few months the weather here in Vancouver has been ideal for mountain hiking. The days have been sunny and warm and I have taken advantage of this fine weather to get out for...

The Harvest Is Plenty

The Harvest Is Plenty

Last week the lone plum tree in our backyard was ready for harvesting. Every year the tree graciously offers up its fruit to the world and every year I do my best to bring in the harvest....

The Changing of the Tides

The Changing of the Tides

Last week I went for a long walk on the beach with a friend of mine. We met at the West parking lot of the Spanish Banks, one of Vancouver’s famous city beaches where the ocean provides a...

On Silence and The ‘Other’

It has been windy here on the coast for the last few days. There is normally a noticeable breeze almost every day, usually at dusk or at the changing of the tides. But, these past few days...

Hope

She sounds when the wind crackles her sparks and her grey smoke mingles with the low clouds heavy laden with saving rain for the mountain forests.   She sounds between the cracks in...

Hope Is A Beautiful Thing

I am always amazed how hope is so effervescent and abundant during spring. The lengthening of days, the budding of blossoms, the chirping of birds, the scurrying of all God’s creatures...

The Slipstreams of Holy Week

With the sun cascading over the city I found myself cutting the lawn for the first time this year. The grass had finally attained the height that required mowing and so I cleaned up the...

Plum Petals and Arundhati Roy

We have begun the slow amble of spring here on the Lower Mainland of British Columbia. Unlike other parts of Canada spring usually arrives at the speed of a turtle, slow and steady. The...

Gardening as Resistance, Hope and Prayer

Here in Vancouver spring normally arrives ever so gently and slowly builds toward a moderate summer. This is quite unlike other parts of Canada where spring often arrives swiftly and...

Ash Wednesday

Yesterday as I took my daily walk I stopped at a nearby ravine and watched as spring runoff water ran through the creek that lay at the bottom. I knew that the creek would eventually empty...

Paying Attention to the Snow

We are having a very unusual two-day long snowfall here in the city of Vancouver. Snow has covered the rooftops, the streets, and the side walks. It has thrown this rain forest city into a...

A Prayer for Politicians

A few weeks ago I attended Question Period in the House of Commons. I knew I would be in Ottawa and I made prior arrangements with my Member of Parliament to have two tickets for the...

Quiet Engagement With The Light

Last week was full of political engagement. Not the public, in your face activism of my former years, but the quieter activism of my later years. On Tuesday, I met with my Member of...

Creatures or Creators?

The cold rains continue here on the west coast, although now that we have passed the Winter Solstice there are hints of more frequent sunny interludes and longer days. We have had a...

Christmas Hope

Christmas has always been a time for me to reflect upon hope. For me hope is a light that bends and stretches between past and future, yet is found in the present. It is the main...

Waiting in Hope

Dawn and dusk are drawing closer together each day as we gradually approach the winter equinox. The waning of the daylight hours, coupled with the return of our seasonal overcast skies,...

All Is Lost?

Sometimes I need a little distraction from life and I find that watching a movie can provide a brief sliver of time to escape. Often I will go to a theatre on a Tuesday night to see a...

Remembering

There is, at this time of year, a way in which the sun stipples the bottom of the rainclouds that roll in over the Pacific Ocean. The result is a mixture of wet foreboding and patches of...

The Serious Beauty of Autumn

I was out walking during a beautiful, sunny late autumn day in Vancouver. This time of year I want to soak in as much sun as I can before the rainy season begins. After about forty minutes...

Engaging Through Loving-Kindness and the Rosary

Years ago I met Professor Jack Miller of the Ontario Institute for Studies in Education at U of T in Toronto. Jack was a man I had heard a lot about and who over the years I have come to...

Engaging the Night

I am awake. It is 2:00 a.m. A distant neighbour’s dog is barking and with the windows open the noise has slipped into our house and stolen away my sleep. I wonder how long this dog will...

Engaging The Sounds of Home

Its summer and one of the best things of summer is leaving the windows open all day and all night. One usually doesn’t do this during winter. Having open windows lets fresh air into the...

Engaging The Harvest

Today, as I have for the past few years, I made the first batch of plum jam from some of the fruit on our backyard plum tree. Usually the tree is overflowing with fruit and I have to...

Engaging Others

We are having some outside painting done on our home. One day last week I struck up a conversation with two of the painters. Both were recent immigrants from South America, one having...

Discerning During Retreat

Last Wednesday I travelled by bus and ferry from Vancouver to Victoria in order to visit a niece who was attending a conference at the University of Victoria. Crossing the Georgia Straight...

Discerning A Blessing

This past Wednesday evening I attended a public talk at the Simon Fraser University Centre for Dialogue in downtown Vancouver. The guest speaker was Dave Meslin, a Torontonian who is well...

Discernment and Letting Go

This past Friday I was fortunate to be able to gather with a fine group of hospital chaplains at the Vancouver School of Theology for a retreat day. The weather was wonderful and the...

Discerning Politically

Here on the beautiful west coast of Canada we are fast approaching the day of the British Columbia provincial election during which citizens of this province will choose the political...

Discerning Peace and the Holy

I was in Ontario the last few weeks where I assisted with the annual Catholic School Chaplains of Ontario Annual Conference and afterwards visited with family and friends. It was good to...

Discerning A Cross

When I am on the Skytrain at night and heading east from the downtown core of Vancouver I always make a point of looking out the window just before the Commercial Broadway Station, which...

Discerning New Life

All around us here on the West Coast we are witnessing the arrival of spring. It comes sooner here than in the East where snow still threatens and lingers. Flowers are beginning to bloom;...

Discerning the Way

Last week I was able to animate a conversation on engaged spirituality at one of Vancouver’s community centre. It was, as one participant recognized, a rare event for we so seldom find the...

Listening to Those Who Are Poor

I have been following through the media the events around the election of Pope Francis. Like many, I am moved by his humility and his appeal to the Church to not only serve the poor, but...

Listening to Nature

The days are growing longer here. Even without advancing our clocks by an hour we would have noticed this change in the seasons. Spring is, indeed, just around the corner. We in Vancouver...

Listening to Silence

All week, as I made my way around the city, I was aware of the cacophony of sound that surrounded me. Whether it was the sound of traffic while I walked, the wailing of sirens as emergency...

Listening to Conscience

I must admit that when I heard the news of Pope Benedict’s decision to resign the Chair of Peter I was quite surprised. I was not shocked because he had in the past speculated on the...

Listening To Temptation

I was at the corner of Georgia and Granville in downtown Vancouver this week witnessing a protest and leafleting gathering while crowds of serious shoppers swarmed by. About 30 people of...

Listening to the Other Side

I am constantly amazed at what I learn when I listen to others. When I hear another’s story I often find myself drawn into a wider word view, one that sometimes mirrors my own, but...

Listening for Home

We all need a place where we belong. Belonging gives us a place to stand, roots our identity, and perhaps even offers us support and consolation in times of need. Very often a place of...

Listening to Good News

We all know the great commandment, ‘Love your neighbour as yourself’. It establishes the ground for right action on love and on knowledge of one’s self. All effective actions for social...

Listening to The Hidden Story

I have learned over the years that every one of us has a unique story. Every story is connected to another story. We know ourselves through being rooted in our families, our culture, our...

Listening and Baptism

So much happens in our world. Sometimes I find myself feeling more like an observer than a participant. For example, this week in Canada we have been witnessing a countrywide uprising of...

Epiphany

In the Christian calendar today is the Feast of the Epiphany when the Three Kings visited the newborn Jesus in Bethlehem. Leaders in their earthly realms they were wise enough to offer...

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