Friday, January 22, 2010

Tout Bagay!

Dear Friends,

The novel which I am serializing on Hubpages has found its way mysteriously to my old blog at Dawsonwood, which is something that I would have done intentionally if had I had been moe computer savy.

The posts on this site are so much easier to follow...however...I carry on with Hubpages because I have notified a lot of people to look for the installments there.

Please note dear American friends...the character Jonathan George, M.D. PhD is more sympathetic than he first appears in the opening chapters of this novel. Indeed, there are some fascinating secrets about him which are revealed as characters become less stereotypical and more human. Indeed, that is the whole point of the book.

We have narrow ideas of one another and make snap judgments...or judgments based on far too little information. The characters in this book are moving towards acceptance of self and acceptance of other and the deep understanding that we are all one.

I have been aware that many novels today are colourless. Race is often just written out and physical descriptions are scanty. And, in a novel where race is not a major theme, this is appropriate. However, in this novel race is important because it is one of the keys to the understanding of the personalities and the essential humaness of all the characters. And then there is the wonderful notion of 'creole-ness' as well.

I am interested in editorial feedback from any of my readers since this version of the novel (version six counting the first five versions which were written at the novel marathon weekend) will not be the last. I would like to find a publisher for this book and to do a much, much better job of this than I did on the Dawsonwood Diaries. Please send me editorial input. Don't bother correcting my spelling...someone will do that...and its Canadian english spelling in the main anyway because Marcel Robinson is a Canadian of Haitian descent.

Thank you,

Saturday, October 13, 2007

You've got to read this:

by Robert Knighton

In the first weeks of my course on Spiritual Formation, the class was encouraged to take this phrase and meditate upon it. So simple. I belong to God. Actually, I preferred the longer version as found at the beginning of the Heidelberg Catechism: My only comfort is this: that I am not my own –but body and soul, in life or in death, I belong to my faithful Saviour Jesus Christ. Connie and I meditated upon the word ‘belong’ – and ultimately connected it to the verb ‘to long (for)’. Our deepest longing, that which drives us outward for meaning and reassurance, is to belong. We are hardwired for this – that’s why the cartoon ‘the Ugly Duckling’ stirs so many tears.

The timing was important. Over the summer, I had not been able to go to music camp as planned, to finish well my connection with official SA. Belonging became an issue again. I had not ‘belonged’ within the SA for fifteen years, then suddenly I ‘belonged’ again – what a grace and joy. God redeeming the years the locusts ate. Now I didn’t belong again. Defined out of existence. My ministry taken over by the Area Commanders.

I belong to God. Isn’t it interesting how we can allow ourselves to get distracted from this? At root, I know that anything I am or do is energized by belonging to Jesus, belonging to God. The LORD is God! He created us, and we belong to him; we are his people, the sheep in his pasture. (Psalm 100) And that nothing, ever, nowhere can pluck me out of his hand, remove me from his care. But in practicality, we interpret this through relationships with people, and organizations, and through circumstances and fruitfulness. Good things all – but potentially distracting.

Now these words penetrate my heart: I belong to my faithful Saviour Jesus Christ. In the Old Testament, salvation is portrayed as having our feet set on a broad plain. Free from smallness and restriction, alive to potential and possibility. The green pastures of Psalm 23. God leading us out of pasture land too long grazed, no longer capable of supporting life abundant, and setting us in limitless time and space. Then exhorting us to roam, to discover, to graze afresh, to rest – always secure in His care. How many of us feel that way? Mary, when confronted by tidings of the impossible answered "I belong to the Lord, body and soul, let it happen as you say”. (Luke 1:38)

Over the six weeks of living with these words of God, I have found so many ways of losing touch with this reassurance. Of feeling like an orphan. Or, like Elijah on the mountains Carmel and Horeb, alone and buffeted. Paul knew this feeling so well and spoke the words which break through the storm:. Whether we live or die, it must be for the Lord. Alive or dead, we still belong to the Lord. (Romans 14:7-8) Frankly, I prefer the alive. Yet sometimes the Deceiver suggests ways in which I am dead. “Whatever”, I say – “I belong to God.”

Now that God has called my attention to these words, this assurance, my meditation has been upon them as well. What are the fruits of belonging? What are the implications? The service possibilities? I now understand ‘the renewing of my mind’ as being given eyes of belonging rather than any consciousness of alienation. A couple of years ago, I took as ‘my verses’ Matthew 11:28-30 from The Message: Come to me. Get away with me and you'll recover your life. I'll show you how to take a real rest. Walk with me and work with me—watch how I do it. Learn the unforced rhythms of grace. … Keep company with me and you'll learn to live freely and lightly." I now understand them as ‘belonging verses’ -that just like God used to walk in the garden with Adam and Eve, because they belonged to Him, so He wants to walk with me, because I belong to Him.

Paul once exhorted the Corinthians, everything is yours, including the world, life, death, the present, and the future. Everything belongs to you, and you belong to Christ, and Christ belongs to God. (1. Cor. 3:22-3) When I am discouraged through a sense of any lack, that is not the Spirit alive in me, but the Accuser. ‘My father is rich in houses and lands.’ And I am the child of the King. How weak are the measures which we use to evaluate this richness– material goods, release from sickness or pain, important ministry! Everything belongs to us because we belong to God! No room whatsoever for the benighted philosophy of scarcity – our lives can speak in all ways the wonderful assurance of abundance. We are not people terrorized by the ‘bottom line’ – but as those who belong to God we are resourced by the fullness of God’s riches.

(A new covenantal catechism) Question 1. Who are you?
I am a child of God.

Prayer: Lord you are my light and my salvation; whom shall I fear? You are the stronghold of my life; of whom shall I be afraid? Hear, O Lord, when I cry aloud, be gracious to me and answer me! O God of my salvation! (Psalm 27:1, 7, 9f)

Question 2. What does it mean to be a child of God?
That I belong to God, who loves me.

Prayer: You O Lord have done great things for us, and we rejoice. Restore our fortunes, O Lord, like the watercourses in the Negeb. May those who sow in tears reap with shouts of joy. Those who go out weeping, bearing the seed for sowing, shall come home with shouts of joy, carrying their sheaves. (Psalm 126:3-6)

Jesus my Lord will love me forever,
From Him no pow'r of evil can sever;
He gave His life to ransom my soul -Now I belong to Him!

Chorus: Now I belong to Jesus, Jesus belongs to me -
Not for the years of time alone but for eternity.

Tuesday, September 18, 2007

Dawsonwood Is Alive and Well

Dear Blogging Friends,

Dawsonwood Cottage is alive and well. I'd better post this on Facebook if I can figure out how to do it, because some of you seem to have become Facebook addicts and I have not posted here since last spring. This is about what God is doing in our lives.

We welcomed an international student from Vietnam, Vu Pham, on September 7. Fifteen years old, he is studying in Bracebridge this year in Grade 10, but doing Grade 11 math and chemistry. He joined the soccor team last night and is off to his first tournament today!!! It is fun having a young person about the house. So much fun indeed, that I did not hesitate in the slightest to say yes to offering shorter term accomodation to another student. "D" is finishing Grade 12 and, small world that it is, knows Vu in another context.

So the Knightons are experiencing the excitement of teenaged boys after raising our two girls. Rob's knees are aching from several games of tennis with Vu over the weekend and I am actually cooking for the first time in what seems like months. Well, it is months because my wounded hand has made all manual labour difficult. It is also a challenge to make meals which have even a semblance of Asian acceptability. Vu has given me the skinny on stir fried vegetables and there will never be soggy stir fry in this house again!

Yes, the hand. Still swelling irratically. Still sore. Still scarred looking. An anomaly they say, with respect to the scarring. Personally, I don't care about the scar. I have lived long enough to deserve every war wound on my body. However, this scar seems to have a life of its own, becoming raised and prominent and dry after certain activities and inflamed after that. Sometimes massage helps, sometimes it seems to make things worse. I would welcome tips from anyone who has experience of scar tissue.

The next few weeks are exceedingly busy. Rob is going back to school. No not his PhD.. As a matter of fact, he is selling his complete library of theology. He's on a different track at this stage of his life. He is studying spiritual direction at Tyndale University, figures he has done this work for the last thirty years in various ways, but is choosing to do this intentionally for whatever years God gives him. His contract with The Salvation Army ended when that organization reinvented its structure for supplying pastoral care to its ministers. Change calls for a creative response.

We are into autumn birthday season. Rachael will turn 6. Sarah will turn 30 and AAAAAAAGH!, I will turn a factor of these numers. No not 180! Rob and I have our 40th wedding anniversary on the 14 October. We are having a family celebration on the Sunday of Canadian Thanksgiving and taking a cruise in November. Barb and Dylan and children will move into Dawsonwood while we are away to look after 'the boys.' Sarah and Jeff are celebrating their anniversary on October 16. Resigned that I would never get my 'wear' out of it, I finally sent the expensive dress I bought for that day to charity. Sarah said, "Mom, get over it. It's been eight years!" Unbelievable.

And all you young mothers out there...don't be smug. Time flies whether you are having fun or not. So have fun. It will be your turn soon. You'll be filling your empty nests with other mother's sons. People will be astonished when they see your wedding photos. They will say politely, "Oh yes, I can see that is you. The smile is the same." Your daughters will enthuse, "Mom, you were beautiful." You will look into the mirror and scarecely recognize your own faces.

Bless you all.

Friday, June 01, 2007

Guest Blog From Robert

Connie’s challenge has stayed with me throughout this month. Since it is true that, until it can be said of me “In him is life” and of our churches “in them is life”, we are falling far short of the glory of God which He intends for us, we really must have the fullest possible picture, expectation and reception of life.. Our weakness in witness to the world, in fellowship with each other, and in communion with God spring from our want of life. So what is life?
I have become convinced in my heart that Jesus’ own preaching of the Kingdom gives us the best picture of the life he himself experienced and which he was bringing to the earth. For example, according to Matthew and Luke, when John’s disciples came to inquire into the nature of Jesus’ messiahship, the Master replied "Go back and tell John what's going on: The blind see, The lame walk, Lepers are cleansed, The deaf hear, The dead are raised, The wretched of the earth learn that God is on their side. (or, in Luke, The wretched of the earth have God's salvation hospitality extended to them) Is this what you were expecting? Then count yourselves most blessed!" (Mt. 11, Lk 7 TM) Again, Matthew records as part of the feeding of the four thousand, When the people saw the mutes speaking, the maimed healthy, the paraplegics walking around, the blind looking around, they were astonished and let everyone know that God was blazingly alive among them. (Mt 15, TM)
Life as Jesus lived and as He gave to others is the ability to notice, appreciate, celebrate, incorporate and participate in what God is doing in the world each and every day. That is why Jesus portrayed his ministry as giving eyes and ears, tongues and limbs, why He healed outcastes and embraced the ‘poor in spirit’ including them out of their exclusion from worldly society. That is why He gave life to dead people, to nephesh met, dead souls.
I do not believe that abundant life has anything to do with material affluence. The so-called health and wealth gospel was devised for the itching ears of North Americans and is a travesty of the truth. I was formed with the expectation that life is about noticing and appreciating what God is doing when I was twenty-one, and on Youth Service Corps in Fonds-des-Negres, Haiti. I encountered so many Christians who celebrated the richness of life in Christ while having literally none of earth’s goods, nor having expectation of them! The witness of these simple, ‘poor’ people was not based on ignorance but upon richness of vision. The prevalence of voodoo was the parody and corruption of the spiritual energy which we felt in the church – sort of like the Garden of Eden experience all over again. Many of our people knew themselves to be walking and talking with Jesus each day- the flip of this is that some were tempted into embracing a more controllable spiritual experience, a magic, through voodoo.
Life at its foundation is the ability to notice God and what He is doing. At a church in which there is life, the time spent together is all about noticing God – whether it is a liturgical church filled with Scripture reading and written prayers and sacred service, a Quaker community waiting on the Spirit, a contemporary fellowship with great singing and gifted worship leadership or a traditional congregation with eyes open and ears ‘dug’ for them by the Spirit. As people leave a living church service, they are convinced that they have noticed God in the compassionate fellowship, the corporate attentiveness, the joy, the love, the grace, the hope expressed. “We have together been with God”.
Living Christians spend moments during the day, and time at the end of the day, just to record on paper or in memory all of the gracious sights and sounds of God at work they have noticed, in all of the various and surprising ways He has shown Himself to them and spoken to them. Not likely in Theophany but through intentional and ‘serendipitous’ contact with people and situations, by momentary glimpses and fixed vision. And living Christians pray with passion and purpose “ see Thee more clearly…day by day.” Abundant life is about the richness of the vision- the quality, the clarity and the breadth of that which we hear and see. Jesus taught His followers over and over, “if you have seen me, you have seen the Father…I only do what I see the Father doing, so to see me at work is to see Him at work”. This remains the first part of the paradigm for life. And as Jesus suggested to John’s disciples, it is here and now for us a gift of God that we who otherwise would be blind see and we deaf hear.
Over the years, the most common spiritual lament I have heard as a minister is that people no longer ‘see God.’ Try as they might, whether they run to the east and then to the west, God seems far away. A famine of hearing has overtaken them. They cannot find Him- He seems to be hiding His face from them. Praying the Psalms which speak directly to this difficulty is a help. But so is sabbatical and Sabbath, time bought out of the busyness of the market place, time of obedience to God, and the discipline of writing down everything which comes to our notice. God will be in this. God will always honour our discipline of notice.
We notice because God helps us to notice by His Spirit. This ‘Friend’ specially given to us in the Church is for the purpose of our vision, But when the Friend comes, the Spirit of the Truth, he will take you by the hand and guide you into all the truth there is. He won't draw attention to himself, but will make sense out of what is about to happen and, indeed, out of all that I have done and said. He will honor me; he will take from me and deliver it to you. Everything the Father has is also mine. That is why I've said, 'He takes from me and delivers to you.' "In a day or so you're not going to see me, but then in another day or so you will see me." This is the beginning of the reality of “In _____ is life.” He or she or they notice God.
And taking notice, living people and living churches ponder these things in their hearts, they consider the ways of God, they reflect, they contemplate, they search for truth. Is this what you were expecting? Then count yourselves most blessed!" The Spirit does indeed bring discernment, but life is also about our disciplines of contemplation. We need the word of God to dwell in us richly. Life absolutely requires examination and consideration, it does not happen by some kind of spiritual osmosis. If we desire life, our schedule must reflect this – in time for private personal contemplation, in time for corporate study and prayer. There is no such thing as life Lite, available to us through reading a good book in our spare time, or listening to Christian radio on our way to work.
Jesus regularly led his followers away from the hustle and bustle to specifically consider the ways of God. Living Christians and living fellowships and churches must do the same today. Even when we discipline ourselves to write everything down, if we don’t then study what we have written it becomes, as James said, like those who glance in the mirror, walk away, and two minutes later have no idea who they are, what they look like. Investing time to consider what God is showing us is our critical contribution to life. Jesus often castigated his followers for their lack of understanding – they just were unwilling to pay the price of considering The Way which they were being shown.
Wisdom is God-breathed, as is ‘heart’. But both happen as part of disciplined spiritual lives in which churches and individual Christians place themselves under the tutelage of the Spirit, to consider and appreciate the things they are hearing and seeing. God has made it clear that His thoughts are not our thoughts, nor His ways our ways. And yet He graciously allows the transformation to happen, the renewal of our minds, until this mind is in us which was in Christ Jesus. That is the gift of life - that they may know you, the only true God, and Jesus Christ, whom you have sent. A knowledge which engages us!
A chronic weakness in the church and in individual Christians today is the lack of such integrated knowledge. Somehow, Jeremiah 31:33-4 "This is the covenant I will make with the house of Israel after that time," declares the LORD. "I will put my law in their minds and write it on their hearts… No longer will a man teach his neighbor, or a man his brother, saying, 'Know the LORD,' because they will all know me, from the least of them to the greatest," declares the LORD has been extrapolated to mean that all of this life wisdom comes passively, perhaps ‘charismatically’, without any work on our part. A Great Lie from the Deceiver!! There is a cost to life – there is work to be done! How gracious of God that such work can be so joyful and ‘heart-warming’ when done in fellowship!

Sunday, April 29, 2007

Behold Thou Art There

Okay, so those of you raised on the KJV will be able to fill in the rest of this quotation. There is nothing like that old book for resonating phrases and metaphors which stand the test of time.

Psalm 139:8 (King James Version)
8 If I ascend up into heaven, thou art there: if I make my bed in hell, behold, thou art there.

I've been making my bed in hell quite a bit over the last month. Barb had the lovely new baby. I got post partum depression. It was like the big push was over; he was here; he was healthy and lovely...and now what? I had trouble getting out of bed. The adrenalin rush was over. I suspected my anti-depressant meds were not working and felt, well, hellish.

It always helps to talk these things through and I did; with God and Rob and my sister-in-law Heather and just as the clouds lifted and I felt energy returning and started to get into spring cleaning, I had a major accident with a sliding glass door, cuttung several tendons and a nerve in my right hand. Last Sunday I had plastic surgery to repair the damage and this week I started physio...painful but absolutely necessary to get back the use of my hand. The physiotherapist requires me to do ten repetitions every half hour of an exercise which is the therapeutic equivalent to giving the world the middle finger.

In the meantime, Rob got a call from a specialist who is looking into some of his health problems. He is back on antibiotics for the fourth time in five months.

And then, he was notified that the Salvation Army was changing the way it delivers Pastoral Care and that his contracts would not be renewed.

I did my usual rant...much, much shorter in duration these days...I just have bits of negative garbage which have to come shooting out of my mouth for a few minutes. I don't believe any of it, but somehow I have this sort of magical thinking that if I say the worst things which come into my mind this will pre-empt anything worse happening...or if more bad things happen, they can't possibly be as bad as the scenarios I have already concocted. This means I cannot get any more depressed or disappointed.

A few supportive prayers later, I didn't feel as bad. And by this evening, I was feeling triumphant. Barb had whizzed around the house cleaning for company which was coming to Dawsonwood for an overnight. Dylan had assessed and started into basement repairs necessitated by my breaking the slider and had hacked away at a little dry rot problem in the basement. Theren help was so welcome.

I found that I can type in some manner using my right thumb and left hand.

Rob will apply for his CPP. We won't starve. And to tell you the truth...Rob is as happy as he ever is...he says..."More time to play with my grandchildren." And maybe God has something better in store for him which will not require travelling 2,000 kms. per week!!!

Psalm 139:7-10 (King James Version)

7 Whither shall I go from thy spirit? or whither shall I flee from thy presence?
8 If I ascend up into heaven, thou art there: if I make my bed in hell, behold, thou art there.
9 If I take the wings of the morning, and dwell in the uttermost parts of the sea;

10 Even there shall thy hand lead me, and thy right hand shall hold me.

Wednesday, April 04, 2007


William David Harris
April 2, 2007
Soldier's Memorial Hospital
Orillia, Ontario
10:02 p.m.
A miraculous 7 lbs. 10 oz.!!
Mother and baby doing well; having a couple of days in hospital to establish breast feeding.
Thank you for your prayers. This is indeed a miracle.

Thursday, March 22, 2007


Here is a picture of 'the princess and the frog' from last Hallowe'en. The frog doesn't look like he wants the princess to kiss him. We don't know yet whether or not he wants to share his bedroom with his expected new brother.

Okay, so Barb hasn't had her baby yet. We are into week four (at least) of bed rest for her and while it has been taxing on all of us...especially Barb...check that out at has meant that the baby has grown more and is now, by ultrasound a whopping 6 lb. 4 oz.!!! We are really rejoicing that the bed rest (couch rest) has paid off, Barb's blood pressure has been better and the baby has had a chance to get more nourishment. Thank you to those who have been praying for her and her family.

I am grateful...that is all I can is the extent of my spiritual reflections at this point in time. And I am feeling relieved and humorous tonight...maybe that is Spirit.

Here is a picture of an unidentified friend on my recent trip to Florida.

I can't risk messing up this simple post by trying to add any more snapshots. I'll post some of the new baby and his sibs and cousins when the time comes...the fullness of time, of course.