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Never Ending Road

trail-in-frosty-winter-forest-247588Thank you friends far and near, for joining me on the inspiring never ending road of words and thoughts and imagery we shared in 2013… Enjoy a blessed Christmas…and Happy New Year.  I look forward to continuing the journey in 2014.

Never Ending Road, by Loreena McKennitt

image: khongthe.com


What the world needs…now!


Are you really enjoying life?  …or are you lost in a virtual world?

I spoke with a newcomer to Canada recently, a well-educated young man from Africa, who we can refer to as Zee in this article. Zee told me how much he enjoys his new country, but he also quickly added how he sometimes feels isolated, and has experienced a few difficulties meeting new people and socializing. Growing up, he explained how he used to connect with people at church. Nowadays, few people he knows seem to have time for God or church, and Zee admitted finding this situation discouraging, alongside a growing sense of social indifference he feels has become epidemic in society today. Even in coffee shops it seems, many people appear content to sit alone on laptops or texting.

Driving taxi for a living, Zee commented how passengers will rarely speak with him, even about mundane topics like the weather, and he suggested that in Europe and a few countries he has visited, people appeared to be more open and friendly. Rethinking this, he admitted that maybe things were the same everywhere.  “What’s going on? It’s so sad, ” he said as we sped past a young woman standing and texting at a bus stop.  Zee asked, “Do you think she’d respond if someone actually stopped and said ‘hi!’? Would she remember how to talk instead of text? Would she be interested in going out and having fun?”  Good questions, I thought as we got to the crux of Zee’s concerns, and he shared with me how tough he found it most days to connect with people in a world which seems increasingly detached and reclusive on many levels.

“Everyone’s so silent today,” Zee added with more than a hint of despair.  Reluctantly, I had to agree. Examining today’s sophisticated global environment where every possible tool and means of communications is at our disposal, how can it be that instead of bringing people together,  our communications ‘know how’ seems to have led us further apart? People seem more suspicious and isolated than at any time in human history.

Zee spoke too about his having friends who would rather sit home ‘gaming’ with the latest multi-million$ release, than going out and sharing a few laughs. This led us to a discussion on a whole new level…what would happen if all that money was redirected to help the poor nations of the world or to bring people together?

OMG. Is this where the virtual world has led us!? Unable to communicate. Trapped in a virtual existence.  As Zee said, “It’s so sad.” The virtual world is and always will be…virtual…and unreal.  Psychologists today suggest that our virtual and techno-surrealisim has not only made many of us less physically active, it’s led to us becoming more out of touch with life in general.

So, when’s the last time you enjoyed a great laugh or carried on intelligent, meaningful verbal communications with someone…whether a friend, or someone new? The good news out of all this? I got to meet Zee, we had a great discussion, and even a good laugh.

Friends, we can’t text or Facebook or even blog our way out of this virtual mess. What the world needs now…is to get out and enjoy life again…for real.


101 Hometown Joys

I attended a hometown reunion a few days ago. Little did I know I would be gathering up countless memories and counting them as joys, one by one.

And what a joy it was to first arrive and look around and suddenly find myself amazed to recognize old and familiar faces…and to have old friends come up to say ‘hi’…friends I hadn’t seen since I was a small girl of eight or nine.  It was as if time had stood still. There I was back in a place where warm camaraderie had remained alive and well,  and where old friends had truly stayed the same.

The gym of the old school hummed with noisy conversation as the ‘homecoming’ got underway, and I was happily reminded that although time passes and many things change some things simply never change…like the tie that binds people together in lasting friendship.

My hometown was built by pioneers who established life through toil and enduring faith. As my dad used to say, “That old town was the friendliest place on earth…” He had reminded us many times for years after we left that he’d never found a place quite like it anywhere since. But I had never fully understood what my father meant by his sentiments until I attended the town’s 101st reunion. It was the 101st because the planned-for 100th anniversary had been forced into cancellation due to the onslaught of flooding last spring which was some of the worst to hit the area in over a century. Unperturbed and determined, the old hometown faced another test of time and came through in 2012 with flying colours.

The reunion was blessed with sunny weather and a bright happy mix of community events including big ‘homestyle’ meals, oldtime music, flea markets, outdoor barbeques, a main stage with Gospel and country music entertainment, kid’s games, an art show, competitive ‘olympics’, and a delightful old-style parade down Main Street, complete with a miniature pony, Clydesdales, and a wave from a stagecoach from the town’s oldest citizen, a 96 year old lady whose husband made many contributions to the community’s welfare during his lifetime.

The Main Street which was so wide when I raced down it as a girl now felt small and sports only one or two original buildings, including a remarkable museum filled with roomfuls of artifacts, photos, and memorabilia of days gone by. Everywhere you go in my hometown memories seem to speak louder than words. And as hundreds of people gathered there it became clear to me that there was nothing to recount but good times…instead of bad.

Many people spoke with my mom and mentioned how good it was to see her and to let her know too how much they still appreciate all the hard work and enthusiasm my father contributed to the community years ago when he was the high school principal. As I read my father’s commemorative message in a year book dating way back to 1966, I was moved by words he had written as a young man which underscored the caring legacy he was destined to leave behind, a legacy that was all about placing value in people, relationships, learning, and community service.

A strange humble happiness overflowed inside of me throughout the reunion. I realized that joy has remained a mainstay in my old hometown. And it’s not because the town is big or any kind of famous place…not by a long shot. But’s it’s all about the ‘down home’ caring, kindness and cooperative spirit…something money and fame can’t buy — It’s about abiding hometown ties. Ties that bind. Ties that have kept people together throughout the years, and which continue to keep relationships and positive memories held close to the heart.

It’s amazing how God’s love is the foundation of it all.  You see, the little town where I spent my first few years of life was built on a firm foundation of Christian faith, hope and love. This was emphasized most clearly on Sunday morning when a few hundred people attended an interfaith church service in the community hall. Everyone gathered to mostly sing and praise and give thanks to God for His keeping throughout the years.

In the little hamlet where I was born…in an unknown and quaint place, I rediscovered that happiness is all about taking hold of ties that bind…and holding on forever.

© 2012 S. Michaels

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Every Blogster Needs a Break? :)

Hey, I’m sure you noticed. It’s SUMMERTIME, friends.

And don’t you know it…it’s slipping away real fast!

Which means, I’ve gotta get out there!!

And wouldn’t you agree, every blogster needs a break? 🙂  With that in mind, I’m taking time away for a hometown and family reunion over the next while, along with other summer fun activities and R&R…hooray! But no worries, I still plan to scout and ‘like’ my regular ‘reads’ in the blogroll and beyond…I’ll see you around soon, and hope to hear from you when I’m back!

Take it easy and enjoy a truly Happy Summer!

I Just Struck Gold!

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There’s a rather quaint old saying about friendship you may have heard…

“Make new friends, keep the old. One is silver, the other gold.”

Too many people fret over the price and weight of stuff that can’t buy you happiness…like silver and gold. However, if you’ve been storing up ‘friendship gold’, guaranteed…YOU are one of the most fortunate and blessed persons on the planet. The lovely thing about real gold – it’s a precious metal that doesn’t rust. The wonderful thing about old and dear friends —neither do they!

I experienced the reality of this recently on a business trip when I had a unique opportunity to attend an event taking place in a small northern community in my ‘home’ province of Manitoba, Canada…a town I had never really expected to visit again. And I was more than pleasantly surprised at how much the community had grown…and how it was no longer ‘remote’ but graced by tourism development and streets, roads, and amenities I had never dreamed would ever be there when I was a kid. The town also sported a huge ‘Welcome’ sign along the road from the airport that declared in bright hopeful letters: In God We Trust”.

The business event I was at proved intensely jam-packed. Too busy to do anything but stick to my table and greet passersby. When it was time for a lunch break, I introduced myself to a business person who was seated at the booth next to mine. I read her name tag. And then did a double-take…and gave her a huge hug!

Turned out the woman’s last name wasn’t one I recognized, but I knew her face and her first name! She was instantly familiar — and I had met up with a dear girlhood friend I had once run and played with in Grades 4 and 5. We had come from different socio-economic backgrounds, but it hadn’t mattered. We had laughed and played together. And now we laughed again!

What a ‘bonus’ and great joy to discover my friend of long ago had also found faith in the Lord Jesus Christ. We spoke over lunch, and learned of the paths we had taken – including ups and downs. Then we had our photo taken together, and it was as though the decades between us since our childhoods no longer existed.

I had struck gold!

In life’s ups and downs and in all of our winding journeys and pathways, imagine having the very good fortune of making new friends…and the greater joy of keeping treasured old friends. And then think of the amazing moments when you even discover…’lost treasure’.

If you haven’t already done so, consider your new friends as ‘silver’…and treasure your old friends as gold. One day the ‘weight’ of this investment could be worth more than you could possibly measure.

© S. Michaels 2012

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