Posts filed under ‘friendship’

Earthen Vessels



Pastor Annette shared the music she had chosen for the weekend retreat ahead of time so that I could learn the pieces on my guitar. I was intrigued by the theme—Earthen Vessels—and the theme song by the same name, written by John Foley of the St Louis Jesuits. Each retreat member was to bring an earthen vessel hidden away in a wrapper of some sort.

Twenty-three women met at a church camp for our yearly Mount Zion Women’s retreat.  Worship, theme, food and crafts are all planned in advance, assuring an organized and enjoyable weekend for all.

Upon arrival at the camp, we greeted each other. There’s always someone coming for the first time and those who return year after year. This time one of the new people had ministry experience and the other, from my hometown, was in seminary.

We introduced ourselves, put our earthen vessel, still concealed, on the floor in the centre of the meeting room. We were to write something about that vessel and not put our names on the paper. The papers were mixed up and we picked one from the envelope. Then the activity was finding the person who got our note. After everyone had found the person with their note, we revealed our vessel and shared its significance to us. There was everything from an antique container for liquor to a newer vase or pitcher that someone used for pouring maple syrup. My vessel was a small container that was made by my friend Valda who’s done a lot of pottery.


our earthen vessels

We ended our first evening session with worship, and sang two of the songs the pastor chose. Social time followed with all kinds of snacks around the large kitchen counter in the Stone House.

Doris and I had an 80-something senior sharing our room. We settled in and I told Pat a bedtime story, one I’d written for my first book. It brought a few chuckles. Was it the late snacks or the anticipation that kept me awake a long while? I don’t know, but I did eventually sleep.

The next morning, we had breakfast on our own, with the choice of muffins, toast, fruit and cereal. And the early bird, Donna, had the first pot of coffee ready. By nine am, Anne led us in stretches and movement to some lively music. Another tradition of this group is a lively game of Pictionary on Saturday night.


We started the morning session by examining the meaning of vessels that have cracks in them and watched the video with Leonard Cohen’s Anthem. After that thought-provoking poem, we considered how we, as earthen vessels, also have cracks in us, and we pondered how God loves us in spite of those cracks. One exercise was breaking down some old clay pots and discussion of those things that cause breaks in us. And when we have those breaks and let God in, that’s letting the light in.


Arlene and Ida putting finishing touches to their craft

Our pastor leader found something interesting as she prepared for the weekend, that there’s a Japanese art called Kintsugi, in which an artist puts pieces of pottery back together with a sort of glue to which gold is added “that give a new lease of life to pottery that becomes even more refined.”

I found our music worshipful and moving and the sessions provided great discussion. We listened to videos by Dr. Brené Brown, Jeff Christian, and the esteemed Jean Vanier, winner of the Templeton prize for his work founding L’Arche. All of these speakers had one thing in common, that they were willing to show their vulnerability. Jean Vanier said in the clip we heard, “Connection is why we’re here; it’s what gives purpose and meaning to our lives.”


We ended our retreat with another session of worship, including communion and anointing of hands to go forward and use them in connecting with others and serving God while we did so.

I left the retreat encouraged, enriched and inspired as I know others did by their last words at our sessions. We have much to think on over the coming days and look forward to retreat next year.


Ida’s turn at Pictionary


May 2, 2019 at 2:24 am Leave a comment

Piece by Piece book signings

Piece by Piece.cdr


Please note that I have several book events already set up for Piece by Piece


April 13th, at Family Home Health Care Centre in Palmerston ON, from 11 am to 3 pm

May 11th, at Tavistock Public Library, Tavistock ON, at 11 am, reading and signing books

And I will be at the Tavistock Fall Fair in September. More news on that one later. All of my books available at this event.

More in planning stages

March 14, 2019 at 3:15 pm Leave a comment

Coming: Piece by Piece

Piece by Piece Book Cover

Today my publisher and I made the last few scans of the pdf  for my book, Piece by Piece. We’d done the careful combing through more than a week ago and further refined some pieces of the text and layout.

It’s been another learning experience about the way a file of content goes and also working with the printer to make sure everything is sitting well and ready to go to print.

It’s best to take that extra few time to look over the manuscript and make sure everything is as it should be. Fortunately I have a good publisher at Angel Hope Publishing who knows the program and how it should work. Glynis also has an amazing daughter, Amanda, who helps her with the graphic design part  of the process.

I’m delighted to show off the cover and will make an announcement when the books are available for purchase. Here’s the back cover copy:

Piece by Piece is a narrative on life with family, friends and the world around us with all its twists and turns, sorrows and joys. Sometimes resembling pieces of a quilt that make up a harmonious whole.


I’m taking pre-orders, so speak for your copy. Contact me through my website:





February 14, 2019 at 1:39 am 2 comments

A Women’s Retreat

Could it be two weeks already since our women’s retreat. I look at my planner and it most surely is. Last year our retreat was cancelled when the church camp was closed for the winter and until May. Our retreat, originally Mount Zion Lutheran Women’s retreat, is always held in late April and has been held at Camp Edgewood at Eden Mills, ON, for many years. This year we were in for a treat because we were at Stone House at Hidden Acres near Shakespeare, Ontario.


We ate, gathered and learned in this building, and the accommodations were good too. We had time to explore the camp in free time as well, so we weren’t indoors all the time.

Our theme for the weekend was “Seeing God in Surprising Places.” We arrived early evening on the Friday, unpacked our gear and food contributions, dug out our Bibles for worship and greeted each other. It had been two years since our last gathering so it was good to see each and catch up on what’s happened in others’ lives. Among them were two newcomers to the group, and they came with musical instruments.

Friday evening’s questions for pondering included these questions:

What’s the dream/project or vision you feel called to in this time of  your life?

What is one tangible part where you can start where you are?

In small groups we talked about seeing God not only in church, but also in the community and where we’re asked to serve.

A really interesting question that we carried with us in our conversations for the weekend:

Where do you see assigned seating?

In the world there is assigned seating, but in the kingdom of God, there is not.



Saturday morning, we gathered again for discussion and worship. And we changed our seating arrangement often that weekend.


As women, we  are called upon for many roles. We’re often wives, mothers, sisters, care givers. Add in work commitments and we may be business owners, employees, and in my case, a writer too. We often have many identities. We talked about identities that we carry around.

Some of the questions we were asked included: Which ones need to shrink? And which ones need to grow?

Pastor Anne kept adding on layers of questions for us to discuss in our small groups: When does one identity fight for prominence (my own words) over another?


Pastor Anne Anderson, our spiritual director for the weekend, handed out nesting Russian dolls for us to open  until we reached the smallest one. The last one was indeed very tiny.


Most dolls of this sort that I’ve seen before were similar to this one, where all the dolls are modelled after women and they get tinier and tinier as we open up one layer after another. I had never seen the kind that housed different characters within.

One question on Saturday morning for us to ponder on our own:

If Jesus could talk with you personally today, what is the message he would give you?

Consider that question any time and come up with your own answer.


We followed the discussion about identities with an activity.


some of our results



After lunch we did a craft directed by Helen Weber. Here’s one example of our journal and jar with journal topics.





We ate, we laughed, sometimes cried as we shared things in our lives, knowing that what we said in confidence in the group stayed there. We enjoyed each other’s company. During spare time, we went outdoors for a walk and enjoyed nature.







One of the other buildings at camp



A new person to the group. We sat on the swings and chatted. We both love to take photographs.



And some of the time we just sat and visited.



Here are a few questions that we contemplated that you can too:
Where do you encounter God?

How do we celebrate who we are? And how do we live that out in a diverse society?


May 5, 2016 at 12:32 pm Leave a comment

Yet another loss



Late in November as I began to make plans for Christmas, I thought about my friend Patricia. It had been some months since we last talked, not because I didn’t think of her, but more a case of the commitments in my life with family and work. I picked up the phone that Saturday to call her. I was surprised to get the message: “This number has been disconnected.”

Maybe I had dialed incorrectly. I tried again, only to get the same message. It was a puzzle. I knew she had not been well and I thought back to our conversation in August when she told me that she didn’t know how much longer she could keep going. Her health was not good, with a mix of diabetes and heart and lung problems. She seemed to be just hanging on and though she was still in her apartment, she was receiving daily help. Had she been admitted to hospital? Was she in a nursing home, unable to communicate? Had she suffered a stroke? So many thoughts raced through my head. My heart rejected the other possible option—that she had died— but in my mind I knew it might be possible.

I told my husband about the call and my concern for her, and so late that evening he did a google search for her name and came up with the answer. He told me next morning that he had found the shocking news. I opened the email, hesitating, and then clicked on the link. There it was on the funeral home website, her obituary. It had been months earlier. A beautiful photo of her and a very short obituary saying she is “survived” by, and a list of her children and grandchildren, as well as two great grandchildren.

How could I have missed that? I went back to the obituary notice. There was no mention of a funeral service nor a time of visitation, but it stated the cemetery where I knew they had a stone. I had been there when she asked me to take her awhile after her husband had died, and so we had gone there one cool fall day.

There may not have been any mention in the newspaper, and because her adult children, whom I’ve never met, seemed to be always at war with each other, there would be no one, except her brother, to notify me. I had received no such call or a message of any kind, nor would I be first on their minds or even in their list of “people to be called.” When I got past the fact that she had died, I learned that her life had ended just days after my friend Susan, whose life we celebrated in August.

Tears flowed freely down my face. Another friend lost to 2015, but one where I could not console her family nor celebrate her life in the formal way. It occurred to me that she might not have requested a traditional visitation and memorial service. Who would have performed her last rites, or did she even get that option?

My daughters reminded me that even if I couldn’t be there at the time, I could still make a donation or do something. I looked into laying a spray of greens on their cemetery plot, because Christmas was one of her favourite times of year, but no such thing was allowed. It would have to be a particular style, and so I discarded that idea for making a donation in her name.

Here I am, only a few weeks away from her January 1st birthday, when she would have turned 72, when I traditionally called to wish her a happy birthday. I’ll have to commemorate her in a different way, by telling stories or writing about our friendship and what she meant to me. I’ve already shared the story of our first meeting with our youngest daughter and another friend. The rest will come in time, but for now, I know that she’s without pain and suffering.

My prayers, as I pass the apartment building where she lived, have been for her children and for a peaceful spirit for her. I have no photo to share except for the link to the funeral home that posted her last photo, but I printed out the photo and notice for my own remembrance.

I do have one consolation there, that she knew God and prayed often. She told me so.  And she often thanked me for things I had done, such as taking her to appointments, picking her up after a hospital procedure, taking her places, including to our home to sit and have a cup of tea outdoors and just enjoy looking out at the garden.

I think her body was just too tired to go on. Our goodbye was that last call in August. An uneasy message, but there you go. Sometimes that’s all a friend will have, apart from good memories.

Goodbye, Pat. Rest in peace.






All photos on this blog are copyright of C. Wilker unless otherwise mentioned.

December 20, 2015 at 5:15 pm 2 comments

Shakespeare Had it Right

This morning I posted over at Canadian Writers Who Are Christian as I usually do once a month. Here it is:

In his time, William Shakespeare knew a thing or two about the stage, but curiously, a thing or two about life as well. He wrote:

All the world’s a stage,
And all the men and women merely players;
They have their exits and their entrances,
And one man in his time plays many parts,
His acts being seven ages.

You may not think you’re on a stage, but really you are. While you might not be acting to earn your wages, people still watch what you do, how you behave.

Think of all the people who have been part of your life for a short or long time. Friends who seemed to disappear from your circle when they moved away or when life circumstances changed for one of you and you were no longer able to spend time together. Or a friend died and you seemed cut off from the family since you were merely a friend and not family. Many exits and entrances indeed. 

Read more here.

cradle Bethlehem

May God give you much peace and joy this season in the middle of wherever you find yourself.

December 12, 2014 at 3:32 pm Leave a comment








patience Waiting makes us exercise patience. What or who made you wait today? Perhaps it was waiting for your children to get dressed for the day, to come to breakfast, to tidy up toys. Or it may have been waiting on someone who is recovering from illness or injury. Waiting on a bus, waiting on a park bench, or waiting, like the boy in the picture, for the birds to come and eat the treat you left for them.


Jeff Goins writes in  The In-Between:

Our journey is full of rest stops…that signal the arrival of things we anticipate. Sometimes, they’re worth the wait.



Love is patient, love is kind…  (1 Corinthians 13:4, NIV)

October 5, 2014 at 12:38 am Leave a comment

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