By Cathy Hird

 One of the hazards of spring is that birds looking for good nesting sites sometimes end up in the house. Old stove pipes and cracks in the stone seem attractive to the bird until they end up trapped in the wall and have to scramble until they find their way out or in. Inside the house they panic, flapping around the rooms, banging into windows, trying to land on lights that are unstable, knocking over candlesticks. At our place, they usually get into our summer kitchen. I just prop the back door open and let them find their own way out.

Last weekend though, a starling found its way into the living room. The cats tried to help, but they just managed to tip over the plants on the window sills. Perched on a lamp shade, it panted with its mouth open. Eventually, I got close enough when it landed in the window to get a cloth around it. Closing my hands around it as gently as I could manage, I felt its heart thumping. I managed to get the doors open without letting it escape, and then, standing on the back step, I opened my hands, and it flew straight to the lilac trees away from the house that had trapped it, free and back where it belonged.



By Cathy Hird

When we think of a strong foundation for relationship, we think of Love. In contrast, spiritual teachers advocate Compassion, the kind of love that understands and forgives, that gives of self for the other. I suspect that all love is strengthened when a good dose of compassion is added.

This reminds me of a story that Jesus told when asked what the most important law was. He said, "Love the Lord your God with all your heart and all your soul, all your strength and all your mind; and love your neighbour as yourself." Luke recorded that the questioner responded, "Who is my neighbour?" Jesus then told the story known as The Good Samaritan. Here is my version of that story.

A man was walking in a narrow alley where a street light had burned out. Muggers jumped out and grabbed him. When he struggled, one of them cut his arm with a knife, and another pushed him to the ground. He hit his head hard. The two cleaned out his pockets and ran off.

aging-conference-regularBy Anne Finlay-Stewart

The new Council on Aging Grey Bruce Owen Sound initiative held its fourth of five regional introductory meetings at the Owen Sound Legion on Monday. The Council, born of a March 2014 Seniors' Summit, is intended to give voice to seniors' concerns, providing input at all levels of government and agencies to encourage quality services and programs. "Seniors helping seniors, championing good results from past work and building a local policy approach to issues" is how steering committee member Mike Traynor described the "muscle and meat" of the initiative.

Questions raised from the floor were not so much about the Council itself but included concerns about transportation, housing, isolation, and accessibility of services. Jan Chamberlain, chair of the steering committee, commented that it was exactly the kind of conversation that she expects to happen at the regional committees, each of which will have representation on the Council. "Will there be action on local issues? It all depends on these committees," said Traynor.


islam-cathy-feataBy Cathy Hird

The haunting chant of the call to prayer opens the silence of dawn in the cold clear air of Lenasia, an Indian township near Johannesburg, South Africa. The melodic chant summons the whole community to the day, even if those who do not yet need to rise roll over in bed. The community has churches and temples as well, but the call to prayer is broadcast to all and shapes the atmosphere of the community.

In Istanbul where there are many mosques, the chant begins in the east of the city, and then as dawn moves westward, each mosque in turn broadcasts the summons to begin the day with prayer. The call is given five times during the day, but later, as the city gets busy, it competes with the noise of cars and trucks, buses and voices. At dawn, the call is clear.

hands-compassion-regBy Cathy Hird

This week, I am telling a traditional story that is, in part, about choosing your leadership style. I will base my version on the way a man we know as Matthew wrote it.

At the height of the Roman Empire, a time of oppression and economic injustice, a man sees the need for a new pattern for his society. He bathes in the Jordan River, washing free of the system that oppresses his people. He rises from the water to seek a new way. As he rises, he has a vision that God has chosen him for the work of societal renewal.

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