Port Stanley on a early summer morning can be a peaceful place, and it’s refreshing to walk its paths along the creek and to the end of the pier.  Nowadays the creek is being dredged, but the equipment had not yet been started up when we were there a few days ago.

Port Stanley wasn’t always this quiet.  Explored by travelers and adventurers in the 17th and 18th centuries, by the 1800s it was a major port, shipping grain and other products.  This continued into the 2000s; as late as October 2003, the Mississagi docked Portside to unload corn into trucks for wet milling in London.  The Cuyahoga, Lower Lakes larger sister vessel, was also in Port at that time.

After 1856, with the building of the first railway into Port Stanley from London, Port become a popular summer place, and there are many still around who remember their parents fondly reminiscing about the dances at the Stork Club.

Thousands turned up on July, 1912 to watch the first flier trained by the Wright brothers, Walter Brookins, fly  for three days in Port Stanley.  It was the first flight by a seaplane in Canada, and the first flight by a passenger in Canada.

In the last week there’s been visits by helicopter and seaplane, and many a resident has enjoyed a stroll to satisfy their curiosity about the latest project in the village.   Villagers keeping vigil, if you will, along with the Harbourmaster and those on official duty at the King George VI lift bridge.

Boats, planes, trains, and automobiles!  A library, a theatre, quaint shops and lots of sweet tooth opportunities – I count myself fortunate to be here.  The village has been growing by leaps and bounds, and there’s never a dull moment!


Beauty Bright and Bold

There’s beauty in both young and old,
In youth when life is bright and bold –
Gray hair with much wisdom crowned
And our world’s wonders have no bound.

All creatures know You as their source.
Your Life flows through our river’s course
You give each one breath; your spark
In the song of the whale, cry of the lark.


Wikimedia Commons

Ordinary Day

What is called our experience is almost entirely determined by our habits of attention.                                             William James

Some towns are very conscious of their history, and are keen to let a visitor know of important events that happened there.  Niagara on the Lake is one of these places.  We do enjoy that,  history can be interesting.  But this sign posted there made me laugh, because when I was younger, I often did feel that “nothing happened” where I lived.

One day, bemoaning a case of writer’s block, I voiced this sentiment out loud to my younger sister.  She chided me, saying “just look around you!”

If I stop hurrying, and observe life, it does reveal its treasure.  For example, there is such a variety of plants and flowers and insects and birds.  There are over 25,000 different species of orchids, over 300,000 species of beetles.   We just need to use our senses to awake to all of this teeming life we are imbedded in.

In spring we can take in colour and the perfume of flowers, the touch of the wind on our skin, the warmth of the sun on our face.  Like the poet William Wordsworth, we save these images up on our mind (and in this day and age, on our phones).    Every day our brain processes about 70,000 thoughts, a whole internal world alive and responsive to the life around us.   There is so much beauty that even the poorest of us has ample opportunity to appreciate it.

Then there’s the amazing life force of each person.  We all belong to humanity and yet at the same time each of us is  unique.  Even identical twins experience life as individuals.  Our lives and environment mold us,  etching stories on our faces.  The funeral eulogy reveals aspects of a person’s life that would have been so interesting to discuss with them.  A woman in my online Bible study noted that the people in our lives can be “blessings or lessons.”  We were meant to interact with nature, we are meant to interact with people.  We need and support each other in turn, appreciate and share the gifts we’ve been blessed with.

In his book Wisdom of the Ages, Wayne Dyer advises us to pretend to ourselves that this is both the first and the last time we are having an experience; it helps to give us a fresh eye and a sense of enthusiasm for whatever we are doing.

And when we do this, there is nothing or no-one ordinary, and there is nowhere nothing happens.


“Whatever God orders and whatever God guides, he provides. God’s work, done in God’s way, never lacks for God’s supply.”― J. Hudson Taylor

We spent a couple of beautiful days in Niagara Falls, the roar of the spring-swollen river hurtling down into the gorge was, as always, awesome in its power.  The tourist season was not yet fully underway, the weather warm and dry for the first time in weeks, and the tulips that had been delayed by cold and rain were blooming in all their glory.   Perfect timing to make our visit, after several delays and changes in scheduling.

I look back over events in my life, and sometimes wonder about the timing then too, how I found myself in particular places at particular times, in circumstances I certainly did not engineer on my own.

As a child, I wanted to be a missionary.  In those days it was considered a noble ambition, offering an exotic taste of adventure, to bring the knowledge of Jesus to the world.  Unfortunately, these days we are living its legacy of cultural insensitivity.  We knew our God so little that we failed to see that his truth was far wider than our limited experience, and so often killed joy and freedom by the very gospel meant to be good news.

I seem to be on a trail lately,  following the story of missionaries who were not at all like that.  My curiosity began with a group called Bible Study Fellowship, and the woman who first led it, Audrey Weatherell Johnson.  After surviving a Japanese concentration camp in China during the war, she was hindered from returning.  She would have been amazed to know that her faithfulness in teaching a small group of women at home would someday have an effect around the world, including China.

Intrigued, remembering another missionary named Eric Liddell also was incarcerated there in a concentration camp, I searched the internet and found information about the China Inland Mission, which included one of its founders, Hudson Taylor.  Realizing that his European garb was a hindrance, he decided to dress in the clothing of the Chinese people.  Like the apostle Paul, he encountered danger, violence, personal losses.  To travel from England to China in those days required approximately months at sea, with all its attendant dangers.  He influenced many others who would follow in his footsteps, including Audrey Weatherell Johnson, Eric Liddell, Jim Eliot, and Anne Graham Lotz.

Because I’ve always loved the movie Chariots of Fire, I then read more about Eric Liddell and discovered that his widow Florence was buried in a quiet rural cemetery in Hamilton-Wentworth.  On the way to Niagara Falls, we stopped at the site, so far from her life with Eric Liddell, who she married in 1934 in China.  She returned with their two small daughters to family in Canada when it became too dangerous to stay there, and their third daughter, who never met her father before his death in a concentration camp, was born here.

We traveled on, and, looking for parking in Niagara on the Lake, we found ourselves by Queen’s Royal Park.  It was only by chance we came across this commemorative stone tucked into a inobtrusive corner in that beautiful park downriver from the Falls:

There’s history all around us.   Hudson Taylor visited Canada in 1888 and established the China Inland Mission in North America at the Niagara Conference.  Hudson Taylor spent 54 years of his life in China, despite all the obstacles and dangers, because his heart was with the Chinese people God loved.

We all have our mission field, though it may seem small and insignificant in comparison.    Love of God overflows into love for all his people. Knowledge of God is a treasure to share with courtesy and respect among all peoples.  Its essence is grace and mercy and truth, its justice rolls on like a river.






Rex Whistler – Cinderella/Fairy Godmother

Miriam Toews book,  Women Talking, is about a group of women trying to speak out the unspeakable, trying to determine a right course of action.   And maybe this type of sharing has always been powerful than it appears, though it may not involve action-packed drama.

Whenever I’ve been in on a circle of women talking, I’ve been struck by our common humanity.  I can see myself mirrored in their words.  Outwardly they may have made different choices, followed different paths, but we can learn so much from each other.  It’s also why I love to read biographies; how did people survive and thrive in difficult circumstances?  It’s a way of preparing for possible futures.

We are a consortium of the people we were at different stages in our lives. And multiple generations have contributed to the DNA in our cells.   Truly, we are fearfully and wonderfully made, as the psalmist writes.   So relationships are not only in a physical space, but stretch back into the past to influence our decisions today.

Physics has some intriguing things to say about these decisions: is it that of all the possibilities, we “collapse” the potential into reality?  Does there need to be consciousness or a Consciousness?  Are there multiverses in which a version of ourselves continues on the path we rejected?

Science often is a catalyst to improve lives, there is value in different viewpoints that often lead to practical inventions in daily life and in wartime.  But as a basis for reality, theories often prove mistaken, or inadequate.  Scientists are affected, like all of us, by social and political peer pressure, aligned in opposing camps or reluctant to upset the status quo.

It becomes a relief to rest in the Biblical truth of Hebrews 11:3, “By faith we understand that the universe was made at God’s command, so that what is seen was not made out of what was visible.”   Our minds are limited, we will never know the consequences of the paths we didn’t follow.  We can’t get our heads around the amazing miracle of the world as God created it, or the interplay between determinism and free will.  God’s thoughts are not our thoughts.  God breathes his speech into life, and time, and the course of human history.  He sees all, has created us not only as separate physical beings, but with some mysterious connection to Him and the others in our world.

So, to get to the Cinderella story, a story about a girl in distress because she’s suffered the loss of her mother, rejection and disdain from her stepmother and sisters.  As she weeps, her need summons her fairy godmother (from another, spiritual dimension?)  who magically makes it possible for her to begin a new life.  It makes me think of Hagar’s despair in the desert when she’s been cast out by Abraham and Sarah, how God comes to her rescue in such an astounding way that she names him, “The God who Sees.”

When we are women connecting, with God and with each other,  we no longer feel alone in this baffling universe.  And in that, the invisible becomes visible, we are seen, and can see.  We are given the gift of our true selves, and the power to choose our way.