Treasure

For where your treasure is, that is where your heart will be also. – Luke 12:34

In celebration of Valentine’s Day, my Grade 5 class spent the day doing lessons and activities with a focus on the theme of ‘love’.   For their morning Bellwork, the students told me about one or two people (or pets) that they loved a lot and to list a few reasons why.  A couple of students had concerns that they couldn’t choose between the people they loved and I assured them that just because you pick one person, doesn’t mean you love another any less.  The responses and reasons varied, but the majority selected mom or dad (for spending time with them), pets (for cuddling), and one student selected David Beckham (because he is an amazing soccer player).  It was special for me to get to read their responses and a great way to start our day. Soul Pancake, the group responsible for the amazing Kid President videos, did an experiment where they measured a persons (self-indicated) level of happiness. They then asked the participants to write a letter to a person in their life that has left a lasting impression.  Once the letter was complete, the participants were asked to call the person they wrote to and read their letter.  Check out what happened:

 I asked my students to do the same and I am curious to hear their stories about what happened when I see them again.  I have been thinking a lot about ‘love’ lately and about the different people and things I love.  It all started a couple of days ago when I was challenged by my wife (don’t you just love when that happens?).  She had come home from work and mentioned that she had forgotten a magazine that was at work (our mail gets delivered there).  Immediately, I hoped that it was the latest edition of “The Hockey News”, a magazine I read cover-to-cover every month.  My wife told me, however, that it wasn’t “The Hockey News”, but instead “Compassion”, a magazine we receive as a result of having a sponsor child. I was immediately disappointed.  I didn’t want to read about children in third world countries.  I wanted to read about hockey.  Seeing my disappointment, my wife pointed out that it’s pretty sad that I care so much about hockey and so little about the third world.

And so, I began to think about love and about how I am spending the time I have in this world.  As Luke pointed out 2000 years ago, where you spend your time, the things you treasure, is also what you love.  The list of things I think I love the most would look something like this (and maybe not in this order):

God. Megan. Family. Community. Friends. Justice. Food. My dogs. Being outside. Learning. Reading. Writing.

I really do consider myself as someone who cares about the third world, who wants to build community where I live and where I work, who loves to read and learn about new things.  If I look at how I spend my time, however, I see a different picture of what I really love.  The things or people I spend the most time with are:

Work. Megan. The dogs. Hockey. Video Games. Browsing the Internet. Watching T.V.

I am hesitating as I write this, because I don’t really want to admit to myself or to the world the things I spend the most time doing.  Why do the things I think I love the most and what I actually spend the most time doing not add up? I wonder what would happen if I spent more time doing the things I love and less time on all the other stuff that comes into my life. Would I be happier? More fulfilled?  I think it’s time to find out.

Happy Valentine’s Day!

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Mary, Mary, Quite Contrary, How Does Your Garden Grow?

Early this past Sunday morning I received a call from my dad that my Grandma Mary had passed away.  Sad as it was to hear this news, in many ways her death can be seen as a blessing.  For the last number of years, Grandma had a long, hard battle with Alzheimer’s, which crippled her ability to remember anyone or anything.  In spite of her illness, I enjoyed visiting with her in her nursing home and looked forward to giving her a hug, getting to hear her laugh and (if I was lucky) getting to hear her sing some random Polish song.

Grandma Mary was a farm girl at heart and could always be found in the garden picking peas or tending to the flowers around her house. She was also one heck of a cribbage player (she even got a ‘29’ once), and made the world’s best paska, perogies, and cinnamon buns. My earliest memories of Grandma were getting up early to watch the Queen get up and playing a game of cribbage before getting ready for school. She always cleaned up house and defiantly didn’t take it easy on me and my brothers because we were kids.

Dad and I used to take Grandma to A&W for burgers and onion rings on a fairly regular basis.  I remember one time in particular.  While we were eating, a young man walked in with big muscles covered in tattoo’s. He was wearing a muscle shirt, combat boots  and had a rather large crucifix hanging from his neck (aka ‘bling‘).  Grandma (who also happened to be a very devout Catholic) saw the young man and a huge smile grew on her face.  She yelled out (as I attempted to divert my eyes from this intimidating individual) “What a nice young Christian man!” She then made an effort to introduce herself to this man, but was held back by dad.  (As I reflect on this, I notice that I judge this man without even knowing who he was. Who knows, he could have been a priest-in-training or something like that. Note to self: don’t judge.)

Even though Alzheimer’s had damaged Grandma’s ability to process and remember, she sometimes had moments of perfect clarity. One such time happened once while visiting grandma in her nursing home. The times we spent visiting usually had a similar pattern.  We would go to her room, get Grandma, and wheel her down to one of the homes common areas.  We would then bring out some of the snacks (usually cookies or chocolate to satisfy grandmas sweet tooth) we had brought and have coffee with her.  One time Grandma, who had been singing to herself in Polish, noticed my wedding ring and with perfect conviction and clarity stopped singing, looked me right in the eyes, and said “Now that you’re married, you better keep your eyes off those other women!” Good advice.  Then she went back to singing.

Grandma Mary has taught me a lot of different lessons.  She taught me that life isn’t always going to be easy but that if you work hard, live a life of love, and keep your faith, you will be blessed.  She was a wonderful woman and though I will miss her for the time being, I am happy that she is now in a place where she has her mind back and she can be with her husband and those who have gone before her.  She is probably kicking butt at cribbage, working on her garden, and laughing. I love you Grandma.

D.

If you would like to see Grandma’s obituary, it can be found here.

To Which She Yelled “Yes”

Recently, a friend of mine (who also happens to be my boss) got engaged to her long-time boyfriend (Go Chantel!!).  I am very excited for them and wish them all the best in their planning and in their future lives together. This news reminded me of when Megan and I got engaged, a story I would now like to share with you.

How did I get so lucky? Photo Courtesy: http://www.LastMountainPhotography.com

How did I get so lucky?  Our story begins a long time ago at a place called Echo Lake Bible Camp, where we attended as campers and later as camp counsellors.   The decision to date was tough because I lived in Winnipeg, MB and Megan in Regina, SK (7 hours away according to Google Maps… though it’s never taken me that long). We long-distance dated for little while, but I couldn’t stay away and eventually ended up moving to Regina. Shortly after moving, I knew that this was the girl I wanted to be with for the rest of my life. We had gone “ring shopping” a couple of times before and what Megan really wanted was an antique ring, or a ring that had some family or historical value.   I went about trying to find such a ring to present my potential fiancé. At first, it looked hopeless, but I put some feelers out with my family to see if any ring existed.  One day, I got a call from my mom that there was a family right that I could potentially use and found that my grandma was in possession of it and it was mine if I wanted it.

My Precioussssss.....

After seeing the ring (which looked a little tattered from years of being worn), I decided to take it, have it cleaned and it see if it was something I could work with. I took the ring to a jeweller in Regina and had it cleaned and appraised.   At the time, I was living with Megan’s parents in Lipton, SK (an hour drive away) and eventually got the call that the ring was ready in Regina.  I was so excited that I decided to drive down to Regina to pick it up.

I called Megan to let her know I was on my way and she was… let’s say… rather annoyed at me.  You see, Megan was, at that time, studying Social Work at the U of R and was in the middle of studying for an exam.  I was too excited though. She reluctantly agreed to having a house guest but only on one condition: I must not speak to her at all.  Not ideal, but I’m flexible.

Not that flexiable though... Photo Courtesy: laubarnes

 Before going to Megan’s place, I stopped in at the Jewellers to pick up the ring to find… it was beautiful. Perfect. Amazing.  I then made the decision that tonight was THE night. I was going to ask the girl of my dreams to marry me.  I went over to Meg’s and sat in her room while she studied like crazy.  We sat there in silence for quite some time when the doorbell rang.  Meg left to answer the door and I had my perfect opportunity to set my plans into motion.

I lit a stick of sandalwood incense (one of her favourite smells), I turned on a playlist of her favourite songs, I made sure the ring was still in my pocket, and I pulled out a letter that I a written that I wanted to read aloud to her. My heart was racing and I started to get very nervous.  And then I waited. And waited. And waited. The person who came to the door must have had something pretty important to talk to Megan about.

As I waited the stick of sandalwood incense continued to pour its scent into the room, it created a kind of sandalwood cloud.  This cloud, mixed with my nerves and the intensity of the overall situation made me feel quite light-headed and I had to open a window to prevent from passing out. Finally, after what felt like months, I heard the door close and Megan walking towards the room. I read my letter, we danced to one of her favourite songs, and I knelt on one knee, pulled out the ring and asked “Will you marry me?” to which she yelled “Yes!” (thank goodness). We called some friends and family to let them know about the news, and then… Megan went back to work on her paper.

I love this girl

Ahhh… good memories 🙂  D.