Prayers for Peace and Healing

I am grateful to my colleague in Nova Scotia, Rev. Rick Pryce of the Evangelical Lutheran Church in Canada for this simple prayer service following the horrendous and senseless tragedy in Portapique.

Rick Pryce

In the wake of the horrendous mass killing which we saw in Portapique and the surrounding area in Nova Scotia yesterday, the following prayers are offered.

Light a candle.  Take some time.  Be honest about your feelings, whatever they are.

And let us work for peace in our hearts, peace in our homes, peace in our land, and peace in our world.

For a text version, click here.  Prayers for Peace and Healing.

For a video version, click below.

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Warmed by the Sun, Tutored by the Songhees

I have not written a post in a very long time. Commitments to my family and church have occupied me full-time so that A Sparrow’s Cry has had to lie dormant.

But I am away from my day-to-day responsibilities for a few days and want to share with you about some learning I am engaged in.


I want to make a beginning in learning about Canada’s Indigenous people–their history, culture and issues they face–and I want to learn it from their perspective and not through the western lens I was taught in school.

Why am I doing this? Because education is the first step in Reconciliation.

I am taking a MOOC through the University of Alberta – “Indigenous Canada” which I learned about when reading, “Building Trust Before Truth: How Non-Indigenous Canadians Become Allies” by Robyn Ward.

I am also learning a lot by taking the #Next150 challenges.

My favourite one so far is the “On Whose Land” challenge. It asks,

“Do you know on whose traditional territory you live?

Have you ever been traveling in Canada and wondered which Nations call that region home?”

I was at Beacon Hill – in Victoria, BC enjoying a glorious evening with family and came across a marker identifying the site as having cultural significance to the Lekwungen people, known today as the Songhees and Esquimalt Nations. The marker is a bronze casting of an original cedar carving, conceptualized and carved by Master carver and Songhees First Nation Elder, Clarence “Butch” Dick and depicts a spindle whorl, a tool traditionally used by Coast Salish women to spin wool.

Lekwungen Marker

Lekwungen Marker detail

Is the Coast Salish Wool dog depicted here?

Mekwungen Marker 2

The Lekwungen called this hill MEE-qan or warmed by the sun. At the bottom of the hill was a small, palisaded village that was occupied intermittently from the 11th to 18th century.

Lekwungen Info Plaque

You can learn more about the harvesting and cooking of the bulbs of the Camas lily here and here. And UVic’s Martlet has a lovely write up about the first time a Songhees-led pit cook was done on a Parks Canada National Historic site.

In your travels this summer what have you discovered about the First Nations, Inuit or Métis people that were there or still live in the region you visited?


Brother Sun, Sister Moon – Teach us!

Some say that awe-inspiring sights like solar eclipses encourage empathy and generosity and group cohesion. I don’t know if today’s eclipse, which will be viewed by millions, can bring about more peace and cooperation in our increasingly fractious world, but it is worth praying for:

Brother Sun, Sister Moon,

as millions of people turn their attention to the solar eclipse today,

may your cosmic dance inspire not only awe and wonder,

but also teach us humility about our place in the universe

and encourage us to pursue peace and cooperation with one another

for the sake of our fragile planet home.


[NASA photo; in the public domain]


Prayer during BC Wildfires

We pray for all those whose lives have been disrupted by the wildfires raging throughout our province. We pray for those on the move, and for those still in their homes, cutoff from electric power–their bags packed, with their cell phones batteries quickly depleting, and waiting for the evacuation order.

We pray for those who are fighting the fires with their shovels and hoses, for those who pilot the aircraft dumping water on the fires, those who give directions and escort people to safety, and those who water roofs and save houses.

We pray for those who have lost homes and photographs, treasures and pets.

We pray for those who do not know if their houses remain, and those who wait without hearing any news at all.

May your courage be with those fighting the fire…may your comfort be with all those who are hurting…


adapted from“Service of Worship During the Firestorm,” by Rev. Mark Wiley 

(photo in public domain)



Blessed are the lawyer flash mobs

We live in world where where the most powerful nation on earth elected a man who succeeded and rose to the top at the expense of others…who deplores and despises the very people  Christians are called upon to give special place and favor.

To show just how anti-Christian Donald Trump is, Michael Stark juxtaposes Jesus’ beatitudes and real quotes from Donald Trump.

Jesus said, Blessed are the meek…                                                                                                              

Trump said “My life has been about winning.  When people wrong you, go after those people, because it is a good feeling. I always get even. My life has not been about losing.”

Jesus said, Blessed are those who are persecuted, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.              

Trump said,  “I’m putting the people on notice that are coming here from Syria as part of this mass migration, that if I win..they’re going back.” And he made good on his promise by signing an executive order banning all refugees from that war ravaged land.

But the focus of Jesus’ ministry is not not the King Herods of this world…

God chooses to be on the side of the weak, the forgotten, the despised, and the justice seekers pleading their case–like the “Lawyer flash mobs” at airports trying to get the unknown number of visa and green-card holders being unlawfully detained at airports released.


I like to imagine that if Jesus were to update his Sermon on the Mount with  Some Modern Beatitudes, he would say…

“Blessed are those who hunger and thirst for righteousness, for they will be filled. 

….blessed are the volunteer lawyers who are working pro-bono preparing habeas corpus petitions for detainees at American airports and the thousands of men and women who inspired by their  better angels got in their cars  or hopped on a train and rallied and stood outside and shouted “Let them in!” Blessed are the journalists who search for the truth and write it and help the public separate fact from fiction. Blessed are the artists and poets and actors throughout the world who are arrested and jailed for speaking truth to power.

Blessed are those who hunger and thirst for righteousness. You are of heaven and Jesus blesses you.

You can follow the volunteer airport lawyers on twitter by subscribing to this list . You can search for the hashtag #helpthelawyers .

Also, you can read a lovely first person account, “My Day Volunteering with @OrdLawyersHQ” 

And then there are the refugee detainees right here in our own city…

Blessed are the forgotten ones hungering and thirsting for justice…the asylum seekers held in detention in the basement of the Vancouver Airport–where neither visitors or lawyers are permitted entry…which immigration lawyer Phil Rankin called “the most isolated place in Canada.”





img_0024December 6th marks a tragic day in Canadian history. Fourteen young women were murdered in Montreal on this day 26 years ago. We take time today to remember women and girls who have lost their lives through violence and who suffer from abuse in their lives right now. We can take action by speaking up about violence and by encouraging people who commit violence to get help.



God of Life, today we stop and remember women and girls who are suffering from harm and abuse. We pray for open hearts and minds to support women and girls. Help us to offer hope to one another and to act to end violence against women. Help us to bring about a world where women and men – boys and girls are able to love and to be loved. AMEN

Source: Ontario English Catholic Teachers’ Association –


Called to Share in the Convulsions of the World

I am very, very troubled by the turn the world has taken. On top of the Trump election, Interpol has elected China’s Hongwei Meng, Vice Minister of Public Security as its President. This is extraordinarily worrying given China’s longstanding practice of trying to use Interpol to arrest dissidents and refugees abroad. I don’t know how Canada voted, but can’t believe that the int’l community could be this ignorant.

As Sam Zarifi, of the International Commission of Jurists tweeted:

And as Christians, if we want to gain our souls and not lose them  in some Faustian bargain,

“Our calling now and always is not to sugarcoat the gospel as entertaining diversion from a writhing world but as the power from God for sharing in its convulsions as people of indestructible hope.”



Photo credit: Al Jaugelis, Sculpture by Rubén Martinez in Museo de Arte de El Salvador 

And as Sarah Kendzior in her prescient piece in the Globe, “A Fascist’s Win, America’s Moral loss”  exhorted us, that if we care about human rights the days are upon us that we will need to count the cost if we are serious about fighting for the rights of others and accept that our lives will be at risk. We will need to:

“Find strength in fighting for the rights of others. [because] It is better to go out fighting than to have nothing worth fighting for at all.”


Dignity and Dreams at La Palma

I almost didn’t see him. I was on a mission to bring home some souvenirs and my field of vision was saturated with color—the cheery red, blue, green and yellows of the handpainted wood crafts—jewelry boxes, dollhouse furniture, and crosses filling every nook and cranny and wall of the small kiosk. And then out of the corner of my eye, I noticed him. A young boy about 10 years old sitting at a small table to one side, an artist’s paintbrush in one hand and a carved plain wood letter of the alphabet in the other waiting for the young artist to transform it from naked wood to a playful folk art piece.


It was Day 5 of our trip to El Salvador last October and our hosts had arranged for a day trip to the town of La Palma for some sightseeing and souvenir shopping. As our van wound its way through the narrow streets of this village nestled in the pine-forested mountains near the Honduran border our eyes feasted on the murals painted in the distinctive La Palma style. Scenes from the everyday life of the campesinos (farmers)—brightly coloured birds, rabbits, flowers, and village scenes covered every spare wall, park bench and bus stop in the village.


La Palma is known for its characteristic decorative art style used on the exterior of buildings, on handicrafts, and souvenirs.

Decorated concrete park benches in the central park square of La Palma.

Decorated concrete park benches in the town square of La Palma.

It was El Salvador’s iconic artist Fernando Llort who taught the people of La Palma to draw and paint following his technique and designs. His desire to share his God-given talents and skills with others blossomed into an artisanal movement creating handicrafts using his motifs and led to the creation of a cooperative called La Semilla de Dios, or “God’s Seed”. Today there are dozens of cooperatives and workshops in La Palma where campesinos learn about art, gain marketable skills and find sources of income other than field work to provide for their families.DSC_8124_ICC_Change.JPG

I presumed that the young boy’s family probably belonged to one of these cooperatives. I wanted to learn more but I did not have time to engage him in conversation as our hosts were anxious for us to move on to our next destination. As I was being pulled away I did not even have time to learn his name—I will call him Fernando—but his demeanour and circumstances struck me and I wanted to take his picture to remember him by. I couldn’t help drawing a comparison with the children in North America who spend hours being passively entertained by virtual games, movies, and apps while here was a young boy actively engaged in a serious pursuit—creating art in order to contribute to his family’s very real need for income.


When Llort moved to La Palma in 1972 he had a dream to lift people out of grinding poverty and through art created by their own hands to gain a self-respect for themselves and discover their dignity as children of God reflecting the divine image. It was this dignity that I saw on young Fernando’s face. When I asked his permission to photograph him, he seemed surprised at first that anyone would take notice of him. But his modesty quickly turned to pleasure as he straightened himself, pride beaming from his face that he and his artwork were being recognized and recorded in this way. He seemed surprised again at the monetary token of my appreciation I offered him for posing for the picture, but it was the least I could do because he had given me much more than just a photographic souvenir to take home with me.

The hope, pride, and dignity shining from his face gave me a window into the hopes and dreams of all of El Salvador’s children—to be seen and heard and have their gifts recognized and affirmed, to be able go to school and have enough to eat, to be able to wander freely exploring the countryside and their neighbourhood without fear of violence…and most of all to live and grow up in peace.

Thank-you,  Fernando for your grace and hospitality. I pray you and your artwork continues to flourish and contribute to the realization of your dreams.


Photo credit: La Semilla de Dios. All other photos taken by Al Jaugelis



#FortMacFire – Prayer for Rescue Workers

Merciful Father, we commend to your loving keeping all who work to bring rescue and relief especially the firefighter, police, paramedics, medical personnel, and volunteers, all who are helping, Give them courage in danger, skill in difficulty, and compassion in service. Sustain them with bodily strength and calmness of mind that they may perform their work to the well-being of those in need so that lives may be saved and communities restored. Amen. (Lutheran Disaster Response)