A Prayer for the World

Our Father

You who are light and love, purity and power

Creator and sustainer of this whirling ball of rock and soil, sloshing blue, and leafy green

Whimsical mastermind of all humankind and creatures wild and wonderful

I normally do come to you with petty problems, small concerns

I dare to pray this day for the whole world

There’s a microscopic killer on the loose

But you know this

A tiny terror that has us by the throat

To take our breath away

And we’re getting crazier than usual down here

We’re taking

When giving is what’s called for

We’re worried bout an ever-growing list

Our health

The health of family and friends

Our mortgages

Food on the table and bills stamped paid

Clean hands and butts

Yes, we’re a little nuts in this regard

It’s hard

To know what to believe

With all the cautionary and, at times, conflicting chatter we’re bombarded with

The only news in town for quite some time

And some of us do fear will lose our minds

Sequestered in our homes for endless days

Reluctantly withdrawing from the human touch we crave

To quell the spread of said uncaring, merciless bug

Oh, God, take out this miniscule thug!

You who’ve always been the champion of the vulnerable and weak

Come to our aid for some have no defense

You who healed the masses when you walked upon this earth

Do so again

Stretch out your hand and let your healing power flow

Allow the suffering among us to draw near and touch your cloak

You who give the breath of life

Exhale

We need a fresh infusion

Yes, and more

Our scientists and doctors need your wisdom to advance against this wily invasion

Our healthcare workers need your strength and shielding in the fray

We all need your assistance, your divine provision

For every day, businesses are shut and jobs are lost

Our costs are soaring

Our children need tending

Our nerves need calming

As chaos threatens to engulf us

Please give us the peace you promise

Renew our trust in you and your great love for us

And fill us with compassion for our neighbours

Help us do what must be done to see that all of us get by

In this most troubling time

In Jesus’ name I pray this,

Amen and amen

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Later, Dad! A Reflection on the Death of my Father

Note from the Author: I’ve received permission from my family to share the story of my father’s passing. Some of you may have read parts of this on Facebook. I believe it’s so important that we share our stories with each other to draw comfort, inspiration, and wisdom from them and to help us better navigate life.

 I always knew it was coming, I just didn’t know when. Death, that is. It’s rudely brushed past me before, but it’s easy to distance yourself when it’s someone else’s loved one. When it’s your lovedheart one, when someone from your inner circle exits, death is no longer a curiosity and an occasion to show empathy, but a piercing of the heart. I had no idea that I would be consumed by it, that my dad’s face would take up residence in my mind, and that his departure would so ravage my thinking that keeping track of anything would become a considerable challenge.

As a health care aide working with the elderly in a hospital setting, I’ve seen my share of death. I did my practicum in a hospice in Calgary. I gently washed the wasting away, commiserated with the exhausted families, their faces long and flattened by too much care, helped prepare the bodies, zipping them into big kitebags like one would a suit or dress to keep it from getting rumpled. Death isn’t pretty. I remember one lanky gentleman I can only describe as a human tinker toy. It was a marvel that he could still stand and walk. His skin was stretched on the bone like nylon stretched taut on the spine and crosspiece of a kite. If they took him outside on a windy day, I’m sure he would’ve blown away. With his sunken eyes, greyish pall, and gaunt face, he already resembled a corpse. When the life went out of him, he became the most gruesome thing I’ve ever seen. I don’t mean to be disrespectful. I’m being honest. It’s an image that haunts me.

My most striking encounter with death took place when I was working at an assisted living facility. I came on shift to find a woman dying, emaciated and rattling, the boom box on her bedside table tuned to the local Christian radio station. Not one person came to see this woman off, so it handswas a co-worker and I, the paid help, who would hold her hand and try to comfort her. We found out after she passed that when her family was informed of her death and asked to pick up her things, their response was, “Good riddance!” They said she was a mean, miserable person and we could huck her belongings in the trash for all they cared. They wanted nothing to do with her. A sad ending to what sounds like an equally sad life.

My dad’s death wasn’t wholly unexpected. He’d been quietly suffering in Penticton, a resort town in BC that he and my mother had moved to six years ago to be near my sister. He was diagnosed with walkerParkinson’s disease. He had no visible tremors, but we understand, and only just recently, that one can vibrate on the inside, as well. His body withered, robbed of its strength. He began falling frequently and his heart raced so much that a pacemaker was put in. After some time, the pacemaker report revealed that he’d been having mini strokes, which would explain his erratic, bizarre, and even, aggressive behavior.

He, the person we knew him to be, was in and out, unpredictable, which made it very hard on my mother. He’d do something like pray a moving, pastoral prayer and we’d say, “there he is” and then he’d morph into a man who puzzled, exasperated, and, sometimes, frightened us. The disease, thedad3 side effects of the medications, and the resulting depression not only took the use of his mind and body, his independence and the ability to drive, but it exacted his joy. The man who was known for making people laugh could barely manage a smile. He put on a brave face when around people, but often he retreated to the darkness of his room to sit with his eyes closed. He’d become so sensitive to any sort of stimulation; too many people, too much brightness, loud noises of any kind, or extremes of temperature seemed unbearable for him. The spotlight of his life was narrowing to a pinhole. He became a reluctant, weary prisoner locked up in his suffering and there appeared to be no escape, no prayer or positive thinking that could free him. There’s some small mercy in memory loss, but such wasn’t to be his fate. It was hard enough for us to watch, but he was aware it was happening. He knew he was dying incrementally and it was torturous.

So, this Christmas was a Christmas like no other. All cheery thoughts of presents and parties, all treerelaxed moments of reflection on Christ’s birth, were obliterated on December 17th, when my dad had a stroke that paralyzed his entire left side. His mind was still there and he could speak, but his speech was slurred and his swallowing was impaired. My daughter and I were tied in to a Christmas production at our church and there were no understudies. We were committed for six performances. My parents, a pastor and his wife in ministry for over 50 years, told us to honor our commitment. My sister’s family gathered around them in the hospital. My brother and his wife flew in from the United States.mom

I felt excluded and anxious. When I wasn’t giving a performance at the church, I wandered around my house, crying on and off and staring. The daily to-do list no longer mattered. I wrote something for my dad and read it to him over the phone and was assured by my family that he understood every word. The idea that I wouldn’t see him before he died was unthinkable, but how many people get to say goodbye? Yes, he was dying. It was a decision on his part. He was told he’d never walk again and might require a feeding tube. He could hardly swallow and food had become unpalatable anyway. If he chose to keep fighting, he’d be shuttled off to a long-term care facility where they’d prop him up, drooling, in a wheelchair to wait for the stroke that would finish him off. Who wants to live like that? Well, there are some people, pambecause I’ve taken care of them, but I wouldn’t want to live like that. He did the courageous thing and refused anymore treatment and went off his medications. He let go of the need to eat and drink. He decided not to suffer anymore and to allow his body to rest from its striving. Of course, the hospital staff would provide good pain management. Miraculously, the stroke wiped out his sick alter ego and dad was restored to us in the last 10 days of his life. He was present, full of faith and hopeful, even making jokes with the doctors. It was a gift from God.

My daughter and I gave our last performance on Christmas Eve and my family spent Christmas day in the car for a semi-treacherous 10 hour drive through the mountains. We arrived at the hospital and dad was still cognitively there. We sang Christmas Carols at his bedside and he mouthed the words. myrontimWe told him we loved him and he groaned and squeezed our hands.

In the next three days, I busied myself at his bedside caring for him. I combed his hair, washed his face, cleared the goop from his eyes, brushed his teeth, moistened his mouth, and applied lip balm. We lovingly spoke to him and touched him, sang hymn after hymn, read scripture, prayed, did positive meditations, and played soothing classical music my son had on his iPod.

As I watched him there, all ribs and bones, lying still, using every ounce of energy he had to breathe, something we take so for granted, the thought came to me that one’s deathbed has to bepolly the loneliest place on earth. He’d become so small and fragile. I figured if I was dying, I would want to be held, so I climbed into bed with him and embraced what was left of him. We told him we’d walk him as far as we could, but that we couldn’t take him all the way. I was praying I’d be able to keep that promise. Our family was scheduled to leave on the 29th due to work/school commitments. If he didn’t die while I was there, I would have to say goodbye knowing I would never see him alive again, as my brother had to do. 

On December 28, my sister left the hospital to pick up my mother. My son and I remained. My dad’s ear was turning red, so I enlisted my son to help me reposition him. After we turned him, I took his head in my hands to give him some mouth moistener. I kissed his cheek and told him to go on home. Then, he delivered his final word, a melodic “Oooohhhh” and he was gone. The abruptness of it was shocking. We’ve all had people disappear from our lives through broken goodbye2relationships and distance, but death is such a sudden break, a swiftly severed tie. How can someone be there one second and not be there the next? A second. That’s how quickly it happened. I suppose birth is the same, but the excitement we feel when welcoming a little one is much more agreeable than the grief we feel when saying goodbye. Still, I like to think his last exclamation was his first glimpse of glory, his first face to face with Jesus. After the nurse confirmed his passing, we called the rest of the family to join us. When they arrived, we prayed together and left the hospital.

God says our days on this earth are numbered. There’s not an infinite supply, there’s a limited figure. There’s an expiration date and, from what I’ve witnessed, a best before date. We can eat healthy, stay fit, and get the rest we need, make all the right choices, but we’ll still end up in the same line. We’re all on a death march. The body, like anything mechanical, breaks down with wear over time. When disease sets in, we can manage pain and symptoms and prolong life with goodbyedrugs and repair and even replace parts with surgery, but our bodies aren’t meant to go on as is. They are perishable, in need of the resurrection power of God. The nurses told us to take as much time as we needed with “the body”, but with what we believe, clinging to that body would be madness. Never before have I felt so close to eternity and so encouraged by the promise of the resurrection. We were able to walk away in peace knowing that God still has plans for dad’s body. We’d done what we came there to do. We’d delivered our dad to the doorway and he’d stepped through it. He wasn’t there anymore. He’d been discharged to a far better place.

There are a couple of things I took from this experience and I know there are lessons still to come. Firstly, that good days on earth are preferable to more days. Why are we trying to keep people alive when they’re clearly dying? I’m speaking primarily of the elderly who are seriously ill. Is life the goal no matter what kind of life it is? We like to pat ourselves on the back for saving lives and normally, when we save something, it’s viewed as a positive and even heroic thing. In my estimation, there is nothing heroic, nay even charitable, in buying people time filled with suffering. My dad’s death wasn’t a tragedy. He was 81. He lived a long, wonderful life. He was released from years of loss, discomfort, and sorrow, because he wouldn’t accept anymore life-saving efforts. Do we really want to spend our last moments railing at death? Is this peaceeven appropriate when we as Christians profess to having hope beyond the grave? If we believe in an eternity where tears, pain, and suffering are no more why are we all trying so hard to stay here? Shouldn’t death be welcomed and the body be allowed, finally, to do what it wants to do, what it needs to do, which is to stop doing and stop hurting? When my time comes and my body is crying out for relief, I hope I’ll listen and think carefully and prayerfully about what treatment I’ll accept. Of course, this is a decision we all must make for ourselves, a decision best made before we’re unable and the decision defaults to our loved ones.

Secondly, don’t wait to tell people what they mean to you. Tell them every day. Tell them in detail. loveShow them you love them in tangible ways and you’ll have few regrets. God was gracious to me. I was able to say goodbye, to say what I needed to say to my dad, but for many people, the death of a loved one is a surprise. Don’t let your important words fall on dead ears. Speak now.

I know I’ve painted a bleak picture. Was it all bad? No. There were moments, glimmers of lightheartedness. A year ago, my sister and I had a special time with my parents. We had the privilege of spending a night together at a Health and Wellness Retreat called the Sparkling Hill candleResort just outside of Vernon, BC. After lounging in the many and varied steam rooms and saunas complete with aromatherapy showers, we dissolved into the hot tub, and then swam in the big outdoor bathtub with the snow softly kissing our upturned faces. We ended off the night with a delicious, four-course, candlelight dinner. My dad was relaxed and with us and we enjoyed reminiscing with him and my mother about their life and ministry. The stranger formerly known as my dad was back the next morning, but my mother, sister, and I are so grateful for that one magical day.

They say your life flashes before your eyes when you have a near-death experience. I would say this happens at the death of a loved one, too. Putting a memorial service together was a necessary and much needed stroll down memory lane. Combing through family pictures to prepare a slideshow dad4reminded me that my dad was once a child full of shenanigans, a school boy full of new found faith, a young man full of dreams, a graduate full of hope for the future, a husband and father full of love for his family, and a leader, pastor, and professor, vibrant and fully engaged in doing God’s will. On a wintery Saturday in January, we commemorated his life by bringing out our precious, most personal memories of him and stringing them together to tell his story in the light of God’s grander tale. It was a joyous celebration by God’s grace and for his glory. If you were able to attend or watch it online, we thank you for joining us. If you prayed or called or sent cards, we’re forever grateful. We’ve known God’s comfort and strength before and since. The family of God is a beautiful thing.

I don’t think I’ll ever be done grieving the loss of my dad. I share his DNA and we did life together. He shaped who I am like few others. His absence is incomprehensible, because we belong to each other. He’s part of me and not even death can diminish this. I’ll long to see him again for as long as I live. It’s a good thing God has a reunion planned. I hear it’s gonna be out of this world!

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If you haven’t seen the memorial service and would like to, you can find it here by scrolling down past the obituary. It will be up for a year. https://www.springfieldfuneralhome.com/obituaries/mayforth-ronald/

Posts come out when I feel like it. 😀 Scroll down to the bottom of the page to receive notifications of my posts via email. Thank you for giving me some of your precious time!

Hark

For my Dad, Ron Mayforth, the one who led me to the light.

Every year for the last four years, our church has had the opportunity to share a Live Nativity Production with the people of our city at a local Christmas Craft fair. Along with a couple of goats, volunteers are gathered from every age group. We usually have a real baby Jesus, a gaggle of kids playing either scruffy shepherds or cherubic angels, young adults to flesh out the roles of Joseph and Mary, and seniors of both sexes to play the Wise Men. This year, as I participated, I was struck once again by the story that marks the coming of God to us. So often, the lowliness of his birth is emphasized, the fact that he came as a helpless baby to an unknown, unwed teenager and her tradesman fiancée from a little town of little regard. There were no premium cotton sheets waiting, not even a proper crib or, for that matter, a sanitary, comfortable place for Mary to give birth. She hunkered down and grunted in the hay, not unlike the farm animals surrounding her. Hardly the dignified procession with the requisite pomp and splendor befitting the King of kings, but, if we look elsewhere, his arrival wasn’t completely without fanfare. Continue reading “Hark”

Polly’s Picks for Pics

From Left to Right:

1)   Bring on the Bling

For many people, Christmas is represented strictly by red and green, but who can deny the power of bling to accent our holiday trimmings. This shot of shredded tape on a power pole, with a little help in processing, made me think of gold ribbon.

2)   Starry Night

There’s a hardware store down the street from where I live. It has a home décor section and, from time to time, I go in looking for photo opportunities. I’ve had this pic of this most unique light fixture for some time and never knew whether I would ever share it. It fits here as the star has always been a symbol of Christmas, playing a key role in the Christmas story and  adorning the tops of Christmas trees.

3)  Editorial Ice

Big icicles like this one are a treat to capture, but this looks nothing like the original shot. I like to play with my pictures.

4)  Blue Ribbon Special

A beauty of an old fence. Peeling paint and wood can be magical!

5)  The Heart of Christmas
This is glue, of all things. Some artistic soul swirled it on in a pattern on the loading dock at a grocery store and affixed something to it, never imagining that only the glue would remain and some weirdo would come along and take a picture of it. I can’t tell you why this reminds me of Christmas. It just does.

6)  Wood Angel

Being an alley girl, I’ve taken many pictures of old fences. I look at these knots and see the pastel wings of an angel. 

7)  Silver Bells

The silvery gleam and dainty blue berries ring true for the holidays.

8)  The Gift of Light

I took this picture after Christmas a couple of years ago. This gift bag was sitting on my daughter’s dresser and the way the light caught the ribbon was captivating. 

9)  Ornamental Fence

I love the iridescent glow of this fence and the jaunty stripes on this knot. This pic puts me in a festive mood!

Posts come out when I feel like it. 😀 Scroll down to the bottom of the page to receive notifications of my posts via email. Thank you for giving me some of your precious time!

Sayonara, Social Media

I’m giving up Social Media. After a good and maybe not so good 10 years or more of posting, scrolling, skimming, perusing, liking, and commenting on Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram, I’m done. I’ll leave my accounts up for the purpose of contacting people. Otherwise, I’m putting my phone down.img_9450

I’ve only had a cell phone for five years. I remember the days when I left the house and the now antiquated payphone was my only means of communication. I always liked being unreachable, which is why I resisted getting a cell phone. Every day, I free floated through a beautiful, bustling collage of sights, sounds, and smells with all my senses firing. It’s a rich world we live in. It’s too bad we’re so often tuned out. Continue reading “Sayonara, Social Media”

Polly’s Picks for Pics

From Left to Right:
1) Brickety brick brick, brick brick brick
Unusual brick peaks my interest. Anything out of the ordinary does. I like unusual people, too.
2) The Meaning of the Word Awesome
It was obviously the intention of the architect here to have people enter, look up, and be awestruck, a fitting tribute to the God who designed this wonderful world. Notre-Dame Cathedral Basilica in Ottawa, Canada.
3) Polly Eloquent’s Dumpster Art
I started taking pictures three years ago in order to have something to post on Instagram. I was wandering through alleys, my eyes hungry for something, anything, to capture. A dumpster, a large metal waste receptacle found behind most businesses, seems an unlikely object to photograph, but because I don’t have the means to travel, I was forced to make do, to look closely at everyday objects. Now, whenever I’m at a store or business, I usually visit its garbage can, a practice that has gotten me more than my share of questions and weird looks, but that doesn’t take away from the pleasure I receive finding and revealing these unnoticed masterpieces.
4) I See You
I look for interesting ways to incorporate people into my photographs.
5) Softly Comes the Light
I crave light. I’m always opening the curtains. In the darkness, I feel tentative and sometimes afraid, like it might swallow me up. Light, especially the natural light of the sun, is warm and inviting, offering clarity. Still, photography has given me an appreciation of the fanciful play between light and shadow that I now see everywhere I go. I’m grateful for this revelation.
6) Perty Poser
My children laugh at how long it takes me to take a picture. I’m almost in slow mo when pressing the shutter release button. Maybe I’m trying to steady myself. Maybe it takes awhile for me to find the right composition. Maybe it’s because I’m never in very much of a hurry and don’t like to be rushed. Consequently, animals and insects are subjects I rarely capture. Yet, this beautiful creature sat resting, sunning itself with nary a flutter. Thank you, sweet thing.
7) Curl and Prickle
There’s a good and bad side to every quality. A pleasing curl and a biting prickle.
8) Wintery Wall
This image reminds me of blizzards I’ve driven through on my commute home from the small town where I work. The snow billows against the deep dark and I’m suddenly so small and untethered, a prisoner in a cosmic snow globe, hoping against hope that I won’t float up and away and be blurred out, erased in the whirling white.

Posts come out when I feel like it. 😀 Scroll down to the bottom of the page to receive notifications of my posts via email. Thanks for giving me some of your precious time. Be blessed!

Move it and Lose it: A Former Fatty on Going Lean

The word fat has been in my vocabulary since I was a child. I’m sure there was a time when I was small in size, but I don’t remember it. I was never a wisp of a girl, it’s not how I’m built. When I see pictures of myself in preadolescence, the first word that comes to mind is stocky. I’m reminded of an impish boy pointing at me on the playground, hismoveithotdog eyes flashing, as he sang, off key, the popular, Ball Park Frank’s jingle, “They plump when you cook ’em”. He wasn’t inaccurate. Plump. That’s me, for most of my life anyway. Continue reading “Move it and Lose it: A Former Fatty on Going Lean”

Lessons from the Valley and the Mountaintop

Take control of me, Jesus. The current management is woefully incompetent.

Almost 6 years ago, I went back to school to change my career. To say I went back to school is incorrect, because I’ve been in school now for 52 years. The school of life is always in session. Life lessons are a moment by moment occurrence. If we’re aware, we’ll acknowledge the lesson, learn from it, and be changed for the better. If we go through life on autopilot, never recognizing what life is trying to teach us, we may IMG_8308someday regret our inattentiveness. Just as in school, there are some lessons we want to learn. We lap them up, like a parched dog slurping noisily at a water dish. We apply ourselves with every ounce of our time, concentration, and giftedness. Other lessons, we must push ourselves to learn. I have a friend who received a grade of 62% in one of his high school courses. Worried that this low mark would affect his chances of getting into university, he went to the trouble of taking the course again only to end up with 63%. I do find this humorous, but also baffling, because I get it. It’s true, some things we can only learn the hard way. Continue reading “Lessons from the Valley and the Mountaintop”

The Mystery of the God Man

The only unborn 

The creator and sustainer

The three-in-one ensconced in sweet community

Thought up this grand experiment of love

Brainstormed this big idea

Split the darkness, broke the silence, spoke the cosmos and it’s creatures into being

We, the creatures, once deceived, threw off our Father’s rule to follow our own will

And all seemed lost

But, The Holy God, the Spirit, filled up flesh in all his glory

The clockmaker took on the tick of time

The Word graced the page by entering the human story

And the origin of light

Laid bare the truth and made the shadows flee away

The sculptor morphed into clay

The good news wrapped itself in swaddling clothes

The wounded healer took on all our sickly woes

The gentle sage told us, showed us how to live

And the world watched in wonder

As the God Man strode the land

For we did not recognize him

We did not know the scent of our own breath

We did not know from whence we came

He came in love

To walk the lonesome road and hang upon the crooked tree 

To wash, with his own blood, the stain of sin

To sacrifice himself that, in believing, we may live with him eternally 

To battle death and win

To claim us as his children once again

To reunite us and invite us in

To glorious communion with our maker

Our risen Saviour

Reigning now and forever more

Hallelujah to the King of kings

Jesus Christ is Lord

 

Happy Easter! 🙂

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Your Hair is None of my Business

I was part of a conversation recently that disturbed me. Someone shared a story about a pastor friend. This pastor decided he’d like to try having long hair and began growing his hair out. When his hair reached a certain length, a deacon approached him, advising him IMG_5924to get a haircut. He kindly refused, saying he liked his hair the way it was. The deacon replied, “Well, do you like working here?” I couldn’t believe it. A church threatening termination of employment over a hairstyle. According to the person telling the story, the congregation had no other issues with the pastor, they were pleased with his ministry amongst them, they just didn’t fancy his long, gold-y locks. Continue reading “Your Hair is None of my Business”