Category Archives: Sacred Harp

Good News and GiST 230

Oh, there’s so much GOOD NEWS everywhere I turn!

1. The movie we saw last night, Invictus, was so inspiring. On a side note, it’s interesting and a bit unsettling to have reached an age where I remember events that happened when some of my close friends were not even born yet. I remember the day the Berlin Wall came down. I remember being a member of Amnesty International and writing letters in support of the release of Nelson Mandela. I remember singing Jerry Dammers’ song “Free Nelson Mandela.” I also remember thinking that the letters and telegrams my monthly Amnesty newsletter asked us members to write were just tiny drops in a bucket. The newsletters said that in the beginning, floods of letters from around the world had helped gain freedom for some political prisoners. But as the tactic became known to dictators, it became less effective. I really never dreamed Mandela would be set free, much less go on to be president of his country! I highly recommend the movie.

2. From the recent special year-end edition of Maclean’s, Good Samaritans section:

When a P.E.I. landlord dropped an unzipped bag of cash on a windy day, money began swirling through the air. Passersby pitched in, reaching under parked cars and chasing down fluttering bills. When it was all over, Ian Walker had every one of the 10,300 dollars he started with.

3. Michigan is poised to go smoke-free. I can’t tell you how happy it made me when the Municipality of Waterloo went smoke-free. After the by-law was passed, you couldn’t even smoke inside a BAR or BINGO HALL. At first the bar owners said the law would drive them right out of business, but of course that didn’t happen. People adapt, find ways to cope. Windsor also has strict non-smoking by-laws. I’ve become so wonderfully spoiled by these laws that I can no longer tolerate even the tiniest hint of second-hand smoke. I literally hold my breath until I’ve passed a smoker on the sidewalk, or I change to the other side of the street.

4. A beautiful old church in town is going to get a $250K grant for restoration. I’d so much rather see Windsor’s heritage buildings preserved than replaced by ugly strip malls.

5. Habitat for Humanity just finished building its 50th house in Windsor.

6. There has been a huge outpouring of support for families who recently lost everything in a fire that affected more than one unit of an apartment complex. Windsorites have pulled together to offer money, clothing, a place to stay, Christmas gifts, appliances, furniture.

7. Both hospitals in this town are reporting lower mortality rates.

Did the Star decide to run only feel-good stories for the holiday season? Or are media enterprises starting to catch on that good news sells? Whatever it is, I would love to open up the paper and see so many positive news items every day.


Today being the second Sunday of the month, it was Sacred Harp singing at The Ark in Ann Arbor. Sylvain finally screwed up the courage to GO WITH ME!!! Remember, this is the guy who DOES. NOT. SING. So I had to assure him several times over that yes, it would be okay just to sit and observe and no, nobody would be upset with him for just sitting and not singing. Nor angry. In other words, it would be FINE for him just to sit and not sing. Really. Truly.

Not only was the singing fun for me, but Sylvain said the three hours did not seem like three hours. Someone had made about five kinds of cookies using recipes from the 1800s. The gingerbread cookies were shaped like hands with heart-shaped holes in the middle. WOW.

Oh, and before arriving at the singing, we had our very first ever Trader Joe’s experience. I had heard so much about that privately owned chain from American bloggers, so I was just dying to get inside one.  I’m not sure how big most Trader Joe’s are, but this one was probably on the small side. But that was okay since we only had a little time to spare for shopping. The most amazing buys for me were Trader Joe’s Pound Plus 72% dark chocolate bar for $2.99 (yes, it weighs over a pound and could hurt someone if you hit them on the head with it) and a bottle of Charles Shaw merlot for the same price. You pretty much can’t buy a bottle of dry red wine in Canada for less than $8, so that just blew me away.

To top it all off, the weather was wet and lovely. I was able to peel off my winter coat and walk around in just my turtleneck and vest.

By the time we got back to Windsor, it was too late to play a game or do a puzzle together. We had about ten minutes before Sylvain had to head home. So…I walked over to the book case and pulled out my raggedy old copy of Rain Makes Applesauce–the dust cover long ago lost–to read to him. I sure did love my Dr. Seuss books, P.D. James, The Story of Ping and A Fly Went By. But nothing could ever compare with Rain Makes Applesauce. I’ve been carrying it around since I was three years old. Well, my mom took possession of it while I was traipsing across the globe. But yeah, it’s the only book I still have from my wee early days on earth. It felt really good to share with Sylvain something so dear to my heart.

What was your absolute favourite picture book when you were tiny?

Mission – Joy List

I’ve not reported here on the last few Joy Rebel missions, but that doesn’t mean I have not taken them to heart. A few weeks ago, the assignment was about receiving and then about giving. I thought about the retreat I went on, how I allowed myself to receive the place to sleep, the food donated and cooked by others, the teachings and sessions guided by the monks.  I gave a little that weekend, as well…a couple of back rubs and a donation to the center.

It felt very good to claim a day off work, leave my household chores behind for a whole weekend and receive three days of  meditation and chanting and sisterhood with my new Thai friends.

This week’s assignment is to make a Joy list…ways we feel and connect with Joy.

  • I feel JOY when I sit down at the end of a day and read your blogs, find out what you are up to, smile at your triumphs and cry with you in your disappointments. That is the Joy of connecting with others like me.
  • I feel WAY LOTTA joy when I pick up that old, red, oblong song book and head over to Ann Arbor for Shape Note singing. I can’t even put into words what happens when I am singing in the hollow square. It is mystical. I will call it the Joy of plugging into the Divine.
  • I connect with joy when I am birdwatching, like this spring when I tromped through the woods near here and found my first ever Cape May Warbler singing in a spruce tree.
  • I feel joy when I am communicating with an animal – whether getting kisses from a dog, offering a peanut to a squirrel or caw-caw-cawing to a nearby crow. They caw back. I think they are saying, “Hey, you silly human!”
  • I connect with joy every night when my head hits the cool organic cotton/bamboo pillow case. There in my wonderful beddie, I feel as if I am crawling back into my mother’s womb, all safe and tucked away from the problems of the world. For me, my bed is safety and sleep is the ultimate sweetness.
  • I feel joy when I get to visit with a friend.
  • I feel joy when I hear Farsi spoken (please pray for the people of Iran).
  • I connect with joy when I am planning a meal, doing the shopping for the fresh ingredients, and cooking.
  • I feel joy when I make a spontaneous connection with a stranger…a exchange of smiles while passing on the sidewalk or a random act of kindness or witty repartee in the checkout line.
  • I feel joy when the problems my mind manufactures evaporate and I get that knowing feeling in my bones that everything is just as it should be, I am right where I am supposed to be and all is right with the Universe.

If you make a joy list, please let us know so we can come read it on your blog.

PS. After I posted this last night I thought of three more areas whence I derive HUGE joy:

  • Giving! When something I have to share helps someone else, that lights up my whole week.
  • Learning! After I shut off the laptop last night and settled down with the medical terminology text that I borrowed from a coworker (what a blessing to have access to her book, since the course cost her thousands), it occurred to me that it’s hard to top the degree of contentment and excitement I feel when I am learning.
  • Teaching! It makes me so so so happy when I am teaching. I enjoy showing my coworkers the advanced features of Excel, for example. If you have a job that involves pulling reports into Excel, please ask me about VLOOKUP. I would love to teach you that!

Grace in Small Things – 92

  • Doing my week’s worth of cooking, taking my time peeling and cutting each vegetable, washing each sprig of cilantro, stopping to taste and thank the sun, the earth, the rain and the farmers.
  • Farmers, we’d all be dead without them.
  • A beautiful sunny day, perfect for my drive to Ann Arbor for Shape Note singing.
  • Only getting lost once. I don’t get mad when I get lost. That would be silly because then I’d be mad all the time! Instead of cursing the waste of gas, I consider it the price of learning “ok, now we know home is not THAT way.” By process of elimination, I will eventually have the way there and the way back memorized.
  • The way Spirit rises up inside me when I am part of the hollow square, singing Sacred Harp. I cry, I get goose bumps, and I remember on a cellular level that there is nothing to fear in this good, safe, all-loving Universe.