Last Good Friday

Our church in Ottawa asks people of the pews to share on Good Friday, and last year I was one of them. Each speaker is assigned a portion of scripture which are the words Jesus spoke from the cross.  “Why did I get the ‘“Eloi, Eloi, lama  sab  ach thani’ reading?” I asked Brent. I …

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The most precious and painful thing I will ever write

The obituary of the Rev. Dr. Canon Gordon Brent Stiller “Look at that golden light!” That is what Brent would say as he steered a boat past the woods and the rocks of the Kawartha Lakes at a certain time in the early evening. Brent delighted in sunsets, birdsong, a perfectly barbequed steak, well-thought out …

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Bye bye to my dog

Dewey was born almost 14 years ago, in an Ontario town I can’t recall. He was the only boy puppy left of his litter, and he sat timidly in the back of the pen, trembling amongst all the girls vying to come home with us. We chose him on the spot, of course. His first …

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Small space, big space

The other day I walked by a young girl who lives on our street, sitting outside on the bottom step, reading a book. I felt an instant camaraderie with her, as a reader, first, but specifically as an outdoor reader. When we moved into Centretown, which is in downtown Ottawa, we downsized in a massive …

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You should write your memoir. My dad did.

My dad, who is 85,  spent a few months in Spain a couple of years ago, sitting on a deck writing his memoir out by hand on legal pads. He conquered it by writing various topics one after another, and he worked on this most mornings. He wrote about his strongest childhood memories, what it …

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Walking is one of the best things we can do

Today, I clipped the leash onto Dewey, my most reliable walking partner — he always says yes, he never says no — and coaxed him 4275 steps, according to my iPhone. It was a fruitful walk. I complimented a woman on her purple corduroy pants — wide wale.  “Thanks!” she called out, and seemed mildly …

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How to write your life

I am waiting with bated breath for a memoir to arrive in my inbox, written by my father. Working title? My Story by Russell S. Durling. I’ve been a tiny bit coach and a big part cheerleader for my 85-year old dad, as he worked his way through a project he had talked about for …

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Here’s to the good pastors

Discouragement over pastors and leaders who fall is weighing heavy on almost everyone I know, especially women. It is a thick, wet fog. A long and depressing bewilderment. I spoke to a good friend the other day, and part of our conversation was groaning in pain over the miserable, latest, greatest, spectacular fall from grace. …

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Pass the peace, please

Every now and then during church, Brent does something that makes me so uncomfortable that I try not to glance around nervously to see how other people are taking it. (Generally speaking, spouses try not to swivel their heads around to see how things are going…) I’m not referring to his jokes, because usually I’m …

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Little moments that keep us going

The other day the bottom fell out of my bag of pears. If the bag is the flimsy grocery store produce one, light green and very difficult to open once pulled from the roll (especially now that we do not lick our fingers in public), the bottom is likely to fall out if your pears …

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What is your daily creative ritual?

Ta da! This is an announcement that I have finally finished Daily Rituals: How Artists Work, compiled and edited by Mason Currey. My sometimes-writing partner Patricia owned it first, and intrigued, I ordered it from a bookstore called Perfect Books, using a gift card given to me by another friend. (So, a perfect combination of …

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How to recover from creative rejection (according to me)

“Sometimes you’re the windshield, sometimes you’re the bug,” has got to be one of the best lyrics from a Mary Chapin Carpenter song to which I have ever sung along poorly. It also sums up nicely the experience of being a creative person trying to find a place in the world for your work. Sometimes …

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