Oh Canada! A Prayer for my Country

On this day of our country’s 150th anniversary, I’m at home alone. My husband is in Europe and the rest of family and friends live away or have other plans.

I’ve never been one to join the hoopla and rah rah of nationalism. Right now I’m in the best place I can think of… my own home, on my own. My plan is to stay put all day. This morning I walked along our road on my usual circuit. A toad killed by a car caught my eye, and I carefully removed it to a shady bush to spare it further indignity. Such a fleeting little life, snuffed out. It reminded me how we humans occupy a similar small space in the grand scheme of the universe. Even 150 years pales in comparison with eternity.

 

The Comfort Maple on home turf

So for this notable day, I chose as my model for meditation a grand old tree, the Comfort Maple of Pelham, now thought to be 500 years old. Like me, she has deep roots, older than the country that holds her. Hers draw on soils built over thousands of years with the bodies of billions of life forms. She breathes air from the breath of ancestors, human and pre-historic. My roots are formed from my ancestry of French and Scottish settlers mixed with North American Aboriginal blood. My breath is her breath. We share the present and the past.

The Comfort Maple doesn’t need a day of celebration – she is a celebration in herself. Each day, each minute, is a full appreciation, a prayer, of the moment. But as upright as she is today, she is declining, well past her best-before date. She is a grand old dame, destined for the same dust she has drawn upon for centuries. If she’s allowed to die naturally, she will stand for a few more decades, slowly returning to the soil all that she has taken, and more, will provide nesting and breeding space for a whole new set of creatures. Her passing is every bit as important to the natural world as her many years of service in life.

Mother Tree 2017 Framed fabric collage 18×18″

Countries, as we know them, also come and go. We don’t know what will happen over the next 150 years. My hope for our country mirrors my hope for humanity: that we will thrive without ever putting ourselves above the common good. The only purpose for borders is to keep other countries from impinging on a set of arbitrary freedoms, goals and regulations. The natural world does not make borders. At some point in the future, perhaps all borders must dissolve for a united world, and, at the risk of sounding disturbingly unpatriotic, I hope we have the trust and courage to let ours go if such a remarkable opportunity presents itself.

I adore this country, and celebrate it every day with all my heart and soul. I feel so lucky, so grateful to have been born on her soil. I’m in full support of parades and parties, and all the positive energy around them. But as for me, I will stay near and quiet today, listen to the birds, note the shadows, hold a caterpillar in my hand. This is my Canada, my beautiful beautiful Canada. May we accept the wisdom of an old maple, who by gracefully surrendering to the present, teaches us all we need to know for the future.

Black Swallowtail butterfly caterpillar in our forest of bronze fennel

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11 Responses to “Oh Canada! A Prayer for my Country”

  1. Davida Maconald says:

    Such moving thoughts eloquently expressed. A world without borders, now there’s a thought to gladden the heart. My thanks for your soothing words from a sadly unsettled UK.

  2. Dave says:

    That was truly awesome, Lorraine. I, like you, spend a lot of time in quiet reflection. Walking along the Hamilton Beachstrip, the many paths of the Royal Botanical Gardens or just sitting on the back patio, coffee in hand, listening to the birds – enjoying the quiet. How often my thoughts come around to thinking about this beautiful and welcoming country of ours. We are so fortunate. But we all have a responsibility to make sure Canada remains so – welcoming to all, accepting of all. We must preserve the beauty of every region – fauna and flora. Blessed are we with our ‘home and native land’! Be it ever so!

  3. judy martin says:

    This post fills my spirit, makes me tear up. Thank you Lorraine for your eloquence on this day, and your work, which always has moved me, from the very earliest days.

    Specially like these words:

    My hope for our country mirrors my hope for humanity: that we will thrive without ever putting ourselves above the common good. The only purpose for borders is to keep other countries from impinging on a set of arbitrary freedoms, goals and regulations. The natural world does not make borders. At some point in the future, perhaps all borders must dissolve for a united world, and, at the risk of sounding disturbingly unpatriotic, I hope we have the trust and courage to let ours go if such a remarkable opportunity presents itself.

    happy day

  4. Marlene P says:

    Lorraine,
    I love that you moved the toad off of the road. I would have done the same thing. While cleaning the upstairs today, I killed a spider that was desperately trying to elude me. It took several tries with the duster to sweep it out to where I could stomp on it. I apologized to it, as I always do, and felt a little bad. Outside, he would have had no worries, but in my house… All life is precious, and your eloquent essay on nature and life brings home how insignificant all the posturing is that’s going on in my country. But I do fear for nature in the future with the current administration’s philosophy. Happy Birthday Canada from this USA citizen. ☺

    • Lorraine says:

      Marlene, Thank you for your thoughts. I’ve become more and more sensitive to the small lives around me, to the point where my heart breaks for each one … carrying them off the road, out of the house. Even my ‘war on rabbits’ is half-hearted. So I know what you are talking about! xx Lorraine

  5. Mom says:

    Precious daughter
    You forever amaze me, when did you become so wise??
    Because of you I have learned to appreciate nature in
    all it’s beauty and wisdom.

  6. Vivian Cothros says:

    Thank you for your beautiful words Lorraine. You have expressed my feelings and thoughts better than I could have done it myself. I am also enjoying a peaceful domestic day and wishing the best for our country.

  7. Anne says:

    Beautifully put, Lorraine!

  8. Betty Compeer UE says:

    Dearest Lorraine, such eloquence. You have left me breathless. I too am having a Canada Day alone,the first in 25 years since Hubby is awaytaking care of a family member in Ontario. Thank you for your wonderful words. I will be going to a lovely area called Cattle Point to take in some sunshine and reflection.

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