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Snippets of Wisdom

While sitting with my feet up, sipping coffee, my summer reading snuck up on me and caused me to ponder several facets of living. My cottage weekend was visited by words that packed a punch. Literary missives linger in my resting spirit. In my $8 bargain book by Julia Keller entitled, Sorrow Road, I uncovered priceless wisdom.

With some personal experience of death, I found that Julia’s character, Darlene, early in the novel, voiced aptly the mixed emotions felt by grievers:

Darlene was still grieving her father’s death … [She] was stunned, angry, turned inside out with the kind of despair for which there was no antidote. Grief was something you simply had to get through, howsoever you could. Grief was brutal, and it was cruel, and it lasted as long as it lasted. Grief could turn even the calmest, most poised and rational person into an emotional mess. And when grief was mixed with guilt, the guilt that burned and surged and twisted inside you because you so futilely wished you’d done more for your loved one, wished you’d stopped in more often and paid better attention when you did, wished you’d hugged him just once more during that last visit, and told him just one more time that you loved him, although, God help you, you did not know it was going to be your final chance to do that, to do anything –” (Page 20).

Julia Keller has the talent to capture the raw emotions felt by many people struggling following the death of a loved one.

Ms Keller in her writing blended incidences of sorrow with humour. I found myself chuckling as I read the quick retort, "As a friend of mine used to say, there is only room for one God. And the job's already taken." (Page 89) It was a useful reminder for myself.

Memory loss, dementia and Alzheimer’s are growing concerns in today’s aging population. Bell, one of Sorrow Road’s memorable characters, uses a striking metaphor to describe memory and it’s lost. 

Bell felt a gradual recognition of memory as more than simply an assemblage of known facts and mastered capacities and recalled experiences, and more, even, than personal identity, but as the very tent pole of life, every life, the solid vertical rod at the center of things. When it collapsed, the fabric gathered in folds around your feet; if the wind blew, everything was swept away. And the wind was always blowing. (Page 123).

I find it indeed true that memory is that “solid vertical rod at the centre of things”. Many of us painfully witness as memory, that solid vertical rod, collapses and robs those close to us of their hold on life.

The above heartfelt references clearly show that Julie Keller has an excellent expertise in expressing emotions and creating stunning mind pictures. She uses descriptive language with creative skill and talent. She is an author who has sent me, a reading addict, looking for her other books.

Nancy Wales, CSJ



Sorrow Road by Julia Keller. New York: Minotaur Books, 2016



Weekly Pause & Ponder

There is hope if people will begin to awaken the spiritual part of themselves, that heartfelt knowledge that we are caretakers of this planet.

Brooke Medicine Eagle.  www.google.ca


Undampened Spirits

In the pouring rain, on September 19th, four of us with rural roots arrived at the 100th International Plowing Match and Rural Expo in the tiny village of Walton.  Sisters Teresa, Kathy and I along with friend Helene were excited to meet Teresa’s brother Jack Ryan. Jack with his family hosted the five-day event held on his farm which had been Teresa’s childhood home. Wearing his chain of office, Mayor Ryan reigned over the tented city and the neighbouring 800 acres. The oldest to the latest information and developments in agriculture and agri-food industry were showcased. Over 500 exhibitors displayed the latest in technology, business and innovation. No wonder we were excited!

Smiles greeted us as we boarded one of the many large tractor-driven shuttle wagons from our pasture parking lot to the welcome tent and entered a world of everything agricultural. Bygone steel tired tractors and threshing machines now long replaced, sat beside huge digital and diesel machinery of every sort. Horses waited in their stalls, soon to be freed to demonstrate how ploughing used to be done.

The opening ceremonies held in the huge Mutual Square tent, featured local, provincial and federal politicians of every stripe. They emphasized what they had done for rural Ontario and how they planned to assist with educational, agricultural and lifestyle issues, to name a few. As the rain beat down on the canvas roof and threatened to slow the day’s events, a local speaker pointed out to the assembled politicians that this was a perfect example of how rural livelihood is subject to vagaries of the weather. Loud applause ensued. Point taken.

As we slipped and slid on the muddy “streets”, activities and entertainment on eight stages attempted to continue. The aroma from large food tents beckoned us. Exhibitors showed their wares. Nowhere did we see disgruntled faces. Smiles of welcome were everywhere among the crowd. The day’s representatives of the 1,500 volunteers cheerfully carried out their roles. Huron County hospitality reigned supreme.

At the end of the day, as we climbed aboard another bright red wagon that took us back to the parking area, we agreed that we had thoroughly enjoyed our historic day in the rain.  See you next year in Pain Court, Chatham-Kent!


Jean Moylan, CSJ






Weekly Pause & Ponder

Courage doesn’t always roar. Sometimes courage is the quiet voice at the end of the day, saying, “I will try again tomorrow.”

Mary Anne Radmacher, quoted in It’s Never Too Late To Begin Again, by Julia Cameron, p.191.


Attracting Peace . . .

There is a growing unease and anxiety throughout the world as the rhetoric between North Korea and the United States escalates around nuclear threats.  In response, Dr. Ericka Simpson, PhD and associate professor at Western University, is working with others to get a nuclear non-proliferation treaty signed.  She will be speaking at the Central Library on Wednesday evening in London.  Her presentation will begin at 7p.m. in the Stevenson & Hunt Meeting Room A.  The address is 251 Dundas Street, London, ON.

Come and learn what national and international peace groups are doing and learn some practical steps to support peace efforts at the local level.

There will be a large size petition for people to sign.  We hope you will join others as we seek ways to make our world safer.

Joan Atkinson, CSJ

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Copyright 2013. Congregation of the Sisters of St. Joseph in Canada.