Edhird's Blog

Restoring Health: body, mind and spirit


1 Comment

The Passion of Louis Riel

By the Rev. Dr. Ed Hird

‘The first time I received the Holy Eucharist, I was trembling,” said Louis Riel.  Born at St. Boniface (Winnipeg) on October 22nd 1844, young Louis Riel had a very sensitive, passionate spirit with zero tolerance for bullying.  According to Mousseau, ‘nothing irritated him as much as an abuse of strength against the weak.’  Riel also had a deep life of prayer and fasting, commenting in his diary: “Fasting and prayer are the two great keys to success in time and eternity…Nothing can resist fasting when it is done with humility, sincerity and devotion.  Fasting opens prisons and releases the most hardened criminals…Three or four days of fasting accomplish more than an army on the field of battle…”

His mother Julie had wanted to be a nun.  Instead she sent her Red River prairie-born son in 1858 to Montreal to become Canada’s first Metis priest.  Riel was deeply impacted by his mother’s spirituality, noting that “the calm reflective features of my mother, her eyes constantly toward towards heaven, her respect, her attention, her devotion to her religious obligations always left upon me the deepest impression of her good example.” Riel was very Christ-centered, praying in his diary: “Lord Jesus, I love you.  I love everything associated with You.”

You can imagine the shock to his mother when Louis dropped out of the College of Montreal just four months before his ordination. Louis went to live with the Grey Nuns in their convent.  His father’s recent death had weighed very heavily on Louis as the new head of the Riel family.  Also complicating his ordination plans was that he had secretly become engaged to Marie Julie Guernon, only to have the engagement quashed by her racist parents.  In his diary, Riel commented: “Men can struggle as they will against the will of God and oppose its fulfillment, but they never succeed in excluding it from the guidance of human affairs.  God has everything in His care.  Have confidence in Jesus Christ…”

Returning to Winnipeg, he discovered agricultural, social, and political devastation, especially among his Metis people.  When Riel stood up for the rights of the Metis, he woke up our sleepy Canada nation.  After taking over the Hudson Bay Company’s Fort Garry, Riel successfully forced Prime Minister MacDonald to recognize Metis land rights, and to accept Manitoba into Confederation as a full Province, and not just another territory.  Riel stated to the Federal negotiator Donald Smith: ‘We want only our just rights as British subjects, and we want the English to join us simply to obtain these.’  On May 12, 1870, the Manitoba Act, based on the Métis “List of Rights,” was passed by the Canadian Parliament.

The tragedy of the Red River Rebellion was the Riel-authorized shooting of Thomas Scott.  As a result, Eastern Canada would settle for nothing less than Riel’s head on a platter.  Colonel Wolseley’s troops wanted blood.  Leaving Fort Garry, Riel said: “We have fled because it appears that we have been deceived.”  Bishop Tache later said regarding the promised amnesty: ‘The Rt. Honourable John A MacDonald lied like a trooper’

In escaping to the USA, Riel comforted himself, saying: “No matter what happens now, the rights of the Metis are assured by the Manitoba Act; that is what I wanted –my mission is finished.”  Writing to his good friend Bishop Tache on Sept 9th 1870, Riel said: “My life belongs to God.  Let him do what He wishes with it.”

The time of exile in the USA was very painful for Louis Riel.  Bishop Bourget comforted Riel telling him that “…God, who has always led you and assisted you up to the present time, will not abandon you in the darkest hours of your life.  For he has given you a mission which you must fulfill in all respects.”  Riel began to move more in the prophetic, sometimes experiencing intense joy and deep sorrow in church services. With a great effort, Riel tried to suppress his weeping: “My pain was as intense as my joy”.  In Riel’s diary, he memorably said: “The Spirit of God penetrated my brain as soon as I fell asleep…The Spirit of God affects us where He wishes, and to the extent that suits Him.”

Because of the intensity of his spiritual experiences, his friends hid Riel in a Montreal insane asylum.  After being released in 1878, Riel commented: “I did pretend to be mad.  I succeeded so well that everybody believed that I really was mad.”  Perhaps Riel’s insanity was like King David’s feigned insanity before the Philistines (1 Samuel 18:13).  Riel stated: “If I did disappear or if I should lose my mind, their relentless persecution may be relaxed…Then my enemies would probably cease persecuting my Metis people.”

In 1884, Riel returned from Montana with his family, at the urgent request of the starving Metis, to Batoche, Saskatchewan. Wilfrid Laurier, later to be Liberal Prime Minister, later declared on the floor of the House of Commons: “Had I been born on the banks of the Saskatchewan, I would myself have shouldered a musket to fight against the neglect of governments and the shameless greed of speculators.”  Riel unsuccessfully petitioned the federal government before attempting to capture Fort Carlton.  “I can almost say it”, noted Louis Riel, “our cause is shaking the Canadian Confederation from one end of the country to the other.  It is gaining strength daily.”

Riel’s cause however was militarily doomed.  Most of the 250 Metis had shotguns or old muzzle-loaders, but a few had only bows and arrows.  My great-grandfather Oliver Allen, as part of the 1,000-strong Toronto militia, had Sniders, Winchesters, cannon and a Gatling gun- the forerunner of the machine gun.  The Gatling gun had been loaned to them by the US Army, and operated by an American Lieutenant Arthur Howard. While conquering Riel, my great-grandfather met my great-grandmother Mary Mclean a Regina Leader news-reporter sympathetic to Louis Riel.  Right before Riel’s hanging, Mary Mclean, who was fluent in French, disguised herself as a Catholic priest in order to interview Riel.  Her newspaper editor had told her: “An interview must be had with Riel if you have to outwit the whole police force of the North-west.” Riel said to my great-grandmother on Nov 19th 1885: “When I first saw you at the trial, I loved you.”  Shortly after, my great-grandparents Oliver and Mary married and relocated to start life anew in BC!

Before Riel died, he passionately prayed in his diary: “Jesus, author of life!  Sustain us in all the battles of this life and, on our last day, give us eternal life.  Jesus, give me the grace to really know your beauty!  Grant me the grace to really love You.  Jesus, grant me the grace to know how beautiful You are; grant me the grace to cherish You.”

My prayer for those reading this article is that we too may discover the passion of Louis Riel for his Saviour Jesus Christ.

The Rev. Dr. Ed Hird, BSW, MDiv, DMin

-previously published in the Deep Cove Crier/North Shore News

-award-winning author of the book Battle for the Soul of Canada

for better for worse-Click to check out our newest marriage book For Better For Worse: discovering the keys to a lasting relationship on Amazon. You can even read the first two chapters for free to see if the book speaks to you.

 

-The sequel book Restoring Health: body, mind and spirit is available online with Amazon.com in both paperback and ebook form. In Canada, Amazon.ca has the book available in paperback and ebook.

It is also posted on Amazon UK (paperback and ebook ), Amazon France (paperback and ebook), and Amazon Germany (paperback and ebook).

Restoring Health is also available online on Barnes and Noble in both paperback and Nook/ebook form.  Nook gives a sample of the book to read online.

Indigo also offers the paperback and the Kobo ebook version.  You can also obtain it through ITunes as an IBook.

To receive a signed copy within North America, just send a $20 cheque (USD/CAN) to ED HIRD, 102-15168 19th Avenue, Surrey, BC, Canada V4A 0A5.

– In order to obtain a signed copy of the prequel book Battle for the Soul of Canada, please send a $18.50 cheque to ‘Ed Hird’, #102-15168 19th Avenue, Surrey, BC, Canada V4A 0A5. For mailing the book to the USA, please send $20.00 USD.  This can also be done by PAYPAL using the e-mail ed_hird@telus.net . Be sure to list your mailing address. The Battle for the Soul of Canada e-book can be obtained for $4.99 CDN/USD.

-Click to purchase the Companion Bible Study by Jan Cox (for the Battle of the Soul of Canada) in both paperback and Kindle on Amazon.com and Amazon.ca 


1 Comment

‘Been Like a Mother to Me’

By the Rev. Dr. Ed Hird

My late mother never forgot the time that she opened up her Mother’s Day card and read the words: ‘You’ve Been Like a Mother To Me’.  “But I am your real mother!”, she said.  “Exactly”, I responded.  “That’s why I chose the card.  It’s wonderful that you were not only my birth-mother but also have been so genuinely motherly to me’.

I have been so blessed to have a mother who has been so full of care and compassion through the good times and the bad.  But not everyone has been so fortunate.  Some people have been raised by their birth-mothers who were so wounded that they were unable to express love and nurture during the formative years.  This can leave people with a big hole in their hearts and a sense of loneliness that is hard to express.

Drs. Dennis Cloud & John Townsend, best-selling authors of ‘Boundaries’ and ‘The Mother Factor’, believe that ‘mothering is the most significant, demanding and underpaid profession around.’  When they interviewed people about their definitions of true mothering, certain words came up again and again:  nurture, care, bondedness, cookies, and trust.  Drs. Cloud and Townsend were able to name five basic needs that must be met by a mother, in order for us to be healthy and secure:

Safety

Nurture

Basic Trust

Belonging and Invitation

Someone to Love.

 

Safety, says Cloud & Townsend, comes in the form of a person who is predictable, stable, and danger-free.  Without this person, the child remains in a state of panic or anxiety, unable to love or learn.  I give thanks for my mother who gave me this gift of personal safety.  I always knew intuitively that whether I was a success or a failure, obedient or rebellious, my mother would always be there for me.

The second need that mothers meet is ‘to nurture’.  Webster’s Dictionary says that to nurture is to ‘feed or nourish’.  When I was troubled at school by bullies or exams, my mother was always there to feed me, with cookies, milk, and a listening ear.  I remember going through deep struggles as a teenager about the meaning of life and career choices.  Mom was always there to listen.  True, I often rejected her advice and was closed to her deep spirituality.  But most important, her nurturing and food were always there when I was struggling.

The third need that mothers meet is ‘basic trust’.  Drs. Cloud & Townsend teach that basic trust is the ability to invest oneself in a relationship.  Healthy people let themselves need and depend on others without fear.  We live in a high-tech disposable age where everything is up for grabs.

There is an enormous fear of commitment and long-term intimacy.  Yet simultaneously many of us ache from the absence of such relational rootedness.  My wife and I have been happily married for 41 years.  I believe that a big part of why I have not self-destructed my own marriage is because of how healthy my mother was.  My mother modeled for me the value of hanging in there through the thick and the thin.  My mother demonstrated a deep faith and trust that good would always come out of even the most tragic situations.  With the help of her favorite comic writer Erma Bombeck, my mother could always find something to smile about, even when life was not ‘a bowl of cherries’.

The fourth need that mothers meet is ‘belonging and invitation’.  All of us, say Drs. Cloud & Townsend, have the need to belong to someone and to something bigger than ourselves.  Belonging and love are at the root of our humanness.  My mother, as a gifted chauffeur, was forever driving me to endless soccer, baseball, hockey, chess, swimming, & skiing lessons.  She knew that I had a deep need to belong and to grow.  My mom also did her best to involve me in Sunday school, confirmation classes, youth groups, and summer camps.  I had no idea how much I really needed the church family to be my ‘spiritual mother’.  Like many in our individualistic age, I figured that I could do any spirituality better on my own.  My mother never forced religion down my throat, but the door was always wide open.  Thank God for my mother introducing me to God’s family.

The fifth need that mothers meet is ‘someone to love’.  There is perhaps no greater wound in a child than having a mother who just can’t love you.  We know intuitively that everything about true motherhood is about love and caring.  Yet some moms have been so damaged that they are what Drs. Cloud & Townsend would call ‘Phantom Moms’: moms who are not really there in any tangible sense.  Others have moms who Drs. Cloud & Townsend call ‘China Doll Moms’: moms who are so fragile and stressed out that no one can get too close for fear of shattering them.  Without a mom who can show us real love, we end up feeling unwanted at a deep level and estranged from our true identity.  Thank you, Mom, that once again you came through for me in a very practical way.  For 62 years, my mom showed me time and time again that I mattered to her, and that she really care.  The love of Christ that I saw in my mom allows me to show that same love to others.

The best news of all is that even if our mothers couldn’t fully meet these five basic needs, God can make up for any love deficit.  As the Good Book puts it, ‘though your father and mother forsake you, I the Lord will receive you.’  My prayer for for those reading this article is that each of us may discover afresh the amazing love of God, especially as seen in the loving arms of our mothers.

The Rev. Dr. Ed Hird, BSW, MDiv, DMin

-previously published in the Deep Cove Crier/North Shore News

-award-winning author of the book Battle for the Soul of Canada

for better for worse-Click to check out our newest marriage book For Better For Worse: discovering the keys to a lasting relationship on Amazon. You can even read the first two chapters for free to see if the book speaks to you.

 

-The sequel book Restoring Health: body, mind and spirit is available online with Amazon.com in both paperback and ebook form. In Canada, Amazon.ca has the book available in paperback and ebook.

It is also posted on Amazon UK (paperback and ebook ), Amazon France (paperback and ebook), and Amazon Germany (paperback and ebook).

Restoring Health is also available online on Barnes and Noble in both paperback and Nook/ebook form.  Nook gives a sample of the book to read online.

Indigo also offers the paperback and the Kobo ebook version.  You can also obtain it through ITunes as an IBook.

To receive a signed copy within North America, just send a $20 cheque (USD/CAN) to ED HIRD, 102-15168 19th Avenue, Surrey, BC, Canada V4A 0A5

– In order to obtain a signed copy of the prequel book Battle for the Soul of Canada, please send a $18.50 cheque to ‘Ed Hird’, #102-15168 19th Avenue, Surrey, BC, Canada V4A 0A5. For mailing the book to the USA, please send $20.00 USD.  This can also be done by PAYPAL using the e-mail ed_hird@telus.net . Be sure to list your mailing address. The Battle for the Soul of Canada e-book can be obtained for $4.99 CDN/USD.

 -Click to purchase the Companion Bible Study by Jan Cox (for the Battle of the Soul of Canada) in both paperback and Kindle on Amazon.com and Amazon.ca 


1 Comment

A River Still Runs Through It

By the Rev. Dr. Ed HirdA%20River%20Runs%20Through%20It

It’s hard to find a really good movie that the whole family can watch together, without exploitive sexuality and violence. My extended family could not stop talking about ‘The River Runs through It’.  So eventually I too saw the movie and  joined the ranks of the enthusiastic “River” boosters.

 

The movie is directed by Robert Redford and the star of the movie “Norman” looks remarkably like a junior Robert Redford. It is set in the Midwestern United States of the 1920’s. Its breathtaking scenic shots are reason enough as to why this movie was an Academy Award winner.

 

The movie begins by having the elderly Norman recall his father’s words: “Someday when you are ready, you might tell our family story. Only then will you understand what happened and why.” An intriguing feature of this movie is that all the meaningful statements are deliberately understated in a way that provokes curiosity. For example, Norman commented: “in our family there was no clear line between fly fishing and religion.” Norman doesn’t really explain what he means, Instead he just teases your imagination, and then moves on. The symbol of life at its best was “the river running through.”

 

A%20River%20Runs%20Through%20It2Again and again, as tragedy and setbacks hit the Maclean family, they seemed to find solace and refreshment by returning to their family river, the big Blackfoot. As the movie put it, “Beneath the (river) rocks are the words of God. Listen … and if Paul and I listened very carefully all our lives, we might hear those words.”

 

Norman’s father was a rigid, but well meaning Presbyterian minister. There were times in the father’s life where his rigidity seemed to totally alienate his sons. Yet again and again their common love for the river would bring them back together as a family.

 

As Norman put it, “In the afternoon we would walk with him while he unwound between services and he almost always chose the path along the Blackfoot, which we considered our family river, and it was there that he found his soul restored and his imagination stirred.” Norman, of course, is making a clear allusion to the well known Psalm 23: “He leads me beside still waters, he restores my soul.”

 

In contrast to the modem tendency to “pigeonhole” religion into a small private slot, Norman’s father saw religion as a totally normal part of everyday life. Faith was as normal for him as breathing or fly fishing. Flyfishing for the Macleans was a symbol of an integrated and healthy spirituality pervading all of life. As Norman put it, “… Paul and I probably received as many hours of instruction in fly fishing as we did in all other spiritual matters.”

 

Norman’s father saw fly fishing as symbolic of the rhythms of life that we all need to discover. Norman comments: “As a Presbyterian, my father believed that man by nature was a damn mess, and that only by picking up God’s rhythms could we regain power and beauty. To (Norman’s father), all good things come by grace, and grace comes by art, and art does not come easy.” Norman’s father trained his two sons to cast “Presbyterian style”, on a four count rhythm between 10 a.m. and 2 p.m.

A%20River%20Runs%20Through%20It3

One of the most significant moments in the movie was the first time that Paul the younger brother broke free of his father’s instruction, into a shadow casting rhythm all his own. All of us, at some point, need to break free of our fathers’ spiritual instruction, to find a relationship with God that we can call our own Secondhand spirituality can only take us so far.

 

Paul stayed at home for college, unwilling to “leave the fish he had not yet caught. Norman went east for college, and entirely abandoned fly fishing.

 

When Norman returned home, he felt embarrassed and awkward down at the river, because he had lost touch with the rhythms of life while at college. Yet as the elderly Norman looked back on his life, he confessed that he was “haunted by waters”. Despite all the tragedy and horror of life, Norman’s returning to the river replenished him again and again.

As Norman put it, “… when I am alone in the half light of the canyon, all existence seems to fade to a being with my soul and my memories, and the sounds of the big Blackfoot River, and the four count rhythm and the hope that a fish will rise.” A Jewish Rabbi said 2,000 years ago: “Whoever believes in me, streams of living water will flow from within him.”

My prayer for those reading this article is that streams of  living water may flow through the middle of our lives, bringing a peace that passes all understanding.

 

 

The Rev. Dr. Ed Hird, BSW, MDiv, DMin

-author of the award-winning book Battle for the Soul of Canada

-previously published in the Deep Cove Crier/North Shore News

for better for worse-Click to check out our newest marriage book For Better For Worse: discovering the keys to a lasting relationship on Amazon. You can even read the first two chapters for free to see if the book speaks to you.

 

-The sequel book Restoring Health: body, mind and spirit is available online with Amazon.com in both paperback and ebook form. In Canada, Amazon.ca has the book available in paperback and ebook.

It is also posted on Amazon UK (paperback and ebook ), Amazon France (paperback and ebook), and Amazon Germany (paperback and ebook).

Restoring Health is also available online on Barnes and Noble in both paperback and Nook/ebook form.  Nook gives a sample of the book to read online.

Indigo also offers the paperback and the Kobo ebook version.  You can also obtain it through ITunes as an IBook.

To receive a signed copy within North America, just send a $20 cheque (USD/CAN) to ED HIRD, 102-15168 19th Avenue, Surrey, BC, Canada V4A 0A5.

– In order to obtain a signed copy of the prequel book Battle for the Soul of Canada, please send a $18.50 cheque to ‘Ed Hird’, #102-15168 19th Avenue, Surrey, BC, Canada V4A 0A5. For mailing the book to the USA, please send $20.00 USD.  This can also be done by PAYPAL using the e-mail ed_hird@telus.net . Be sure to list your mailing address. The Battle for the Soul of Canada e-book can be obtained for $4.99 CDN/USD.

-Click to purchase the Companion Bible Study by Jan Cox (for the Battle of the Soul of Canada) in both paperback and Kindle on Amazon.com and Amazon.ca