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Month: March 2022

The Mysteries of Water

The Mysteries of Water

It’s a song that wholeheartedly beckons us into its crystalline realm. Beware, though. For at times, it will vehemently caution progress. Go no further. This is the song of water.

The sounds of water can dramatically vary from a calm-inducing bubbling and trickling, maybe even a resonant rush to a deafening and violent roar culminating in a crash against the shore. Regardless of its temper, we cannot help but find it mesmerising as it hypnotically arrests our attention, drawing us into its world. We are spellbound. Throughout our lives, we have both worked in it and played in it. To what extent does water have a hold on us? Why are we so bound to water?


One of the most important things to bear in mind is that humans are composed of mostly water. The human body consists of more than 65-75% water and it is central to our internal manufacture, as water is the major element of our cells. So, it is critical to our existence. It features in a host of other biological functions that are also critical to our survival. Water plays a key role in regulating our body temperature, something many of us note on a hot day when we perspire. At this time, water being held in the middle layer of our skin is then brought to the surface as perspiration. Afterwards, the water is then evaporated, thereby, cooling our bodies.

Meanwhile, water also plays a role in carrying the myriad nutrients and oxygen to the multitude of cells in our bodies. At the same time, it dissolves those nutrients and other minerals therby making them accessible for our bodies. Water helps moisten the tissues in our eyes, nose and mouth. We also notice another role for water when we move around as it lubricates our joints. It’s also been found that drinking just 500 ml of water can increase our metabolic rates by 30%. And it can also improve our moods meausurably by preventing dehydration. These offer a mere selection of the ways water plays a vital role in our very survival, something that greatly enhances our relationship with this critical essence of life.

Culture, Literature and Religion

And in so doing, it has also entered our religions, with prominent examples from Christianity such as baptism and the fact water symbolises purification in the form of Holy Water. In Hinduism, water acts in a similar manner, for water of the River Ganges is said to have the power to both cleanse and purifiy body and spirit. Similarly, in Islam, water symbolises wisdom and it is a part of life; we live, breathe and consume water.

Meanwhile, our literature is equally filled with reflections of the role of water in our lives. Noteworthy examples spring to mind such as Moby Dick where water is representative of unpredictability and transformation. William Shakespeare draws on the power of water in Macbeth as a symbol of purification. The chaos and inherent unpredictability of water are depicted in The Perfect Storm, a book and later a film. It is a tragic story that casts the life-giving characteristic of water with the story of fisherman against its mortal dangers.


We are moved by the flow of water and its inherent sinuosity and rhythm. Water is a symbol for life, with its substantial, yet intimate link with all the characteristics of who we are as creatures on this earth. And much as the life we seek, the flow of water has a constancy to it, a definitive path it steadfastly follows. Much like its connection to life, water is the symbol for rebirth and transformation.

Water also symbolises movement and change while simultaneously being a symbol of both stillness and tranquility. Think of a lake, shimmering glass-like in the moonlight. Sometimes water can function as the symbol of chaos, change, power and other things beyond our control. In all of these instances, we can envisage the magical flow of water, this way and that, haphazardly turning to the right and then quickly shifting to the left.


Our deep bond with water also stems from its fullness, covering a range of senses—touch, smell, sound, sight. It is in part symbolic of our innate link with the sky, the earth and the sea. We are often in awe when we step over a rise and behold a magnificent vista of the sea with its crashing waves, the traces of white caps lacing over its surface. However, it is only people such as fish catchers who know both the beauty, as well as the terror of an unforgiving view of the sea.

How many of us can recall walking along the beach, the water racing over our feet, the particles of sand skittering over them in the backwash. Perhaps we can stir in our minds the sensation of sinking into the water in a bathtub or luxuriating in the pecking droplets of a shower. All reflect the cherished sensation and touch of water on our bodies. But water can be equally ominous as anyone caught in a pelting rainstorm can attest.

Those who have spent time wandering along the seaside will remember the smell of the salty air. Fish catchers know it well. It is a smell that will bring with it the years of being close to the sea. For some, it is an ambrosia, an aroma that speaks of a life embedded in both the joys and woes of the sea. The whims of water.

As part of Our Way of Life

Finally, our intense connection with water is tied to its versatility in our lives. It is intertwined in our lives. Simply, after a long walk, jog, or bike ride, we reach for none other than a large bottle of refreshing water. When not drinking it, there are numerous ways it makes it into the foods we eat—salad, stew or soup. We enjoy ourselves immensely in ways closely linked to water. Whether it’s at the cabin situated on the pond where we can readily go for a swim or paddle our canoe, water features largely. As mentioned already, water is fundamental to vocations such as fishing. Potentially passive and flat-calm or angry and vociferous, it doesn’t matter. For fish catchers, the lure of the sea is difficult to ignore.

For as long as we can remember, our lives have been intimately bound to water. We are beautifully dependent on this element, at the same time as respecting its every mood. It plays a role in countless aspects of our lives. Water is the liquid of life.

Spring — From Green Budding Leaves to Exploding Stars

Spring — From Green Budding Leaves to Exploding Stars

Photograph of the Milky Way

With the coming of spring, we feel the deep connections that innately bind us to the gentle and gradual changes our world magically undergoes. We witness the beauty of our many plants patiently waiting as spring nears. In silence, they remain poised with a buoyant energy ready and eager to be released. Come spring, their buds soon turn a vibrant and rich greens as they begin to flourish and grow. Likewise, the birds flock to our various feeders or peck at seed strewn on the ground. This they do, even while they pair up, readying to rear the next generation—endless hours of feeding, comforting and protecting. But amidst this discourse with nature, let’s take a moment to turn our heads skyward. And when we do, we note how, like here on our small planet, there are many things happening at springtime in the galaxy1and the universe beyond.

Throughout the year, armed with a telescope, we gaze heavenward and spy on countless stars—Pleiades, Cassiopea or Andromeda. However, during the spring in particular, we are privy to a true spectacle. At this time, when we peer beyond the Milky Way, our home galaxy, we can spy a vast cloud of galaxies known as the Realm of the Galaxies, a dramatic name that expresses the true grandeur of our universe.

The Realm of the Galaxies is also known by its more practical name, the Coma-Virgo galactic cluster. It is a name borne of the fact the Realm of Galaxies spans the borders of the constellations of Virgo and Coma Berenices. Just to orient ourselves, what is known as the Local Group is essentially the term used to describe where we live—our neighbourhood, so to speak.

We’re part of the Milky Way galaxy, but just around the corner, we’ll find the Magellanic Clouds and Andromeda galaxy. All are members of the Local Group, which is big, containing a little less than forty galaxies. Although this may appear immense, in the Realm of Galaxies, the Virgo Cluster alone boasts about 2,000 galaxies. The Virgo cluster of galaxies is around 60 or 70 million light years from the Milky Way (a light year is understood as the distance that light travels in a vacuum in one year is approximately 9.46 trillion kilometers). While the Milky Way contains maybe around two billion stars, by comparison, the Virgo Cluster likely holds trillions of stars. It’s mind-boggling.

The Virgo Cluster is home to several startlingly beautiful groups of galaxies, two of which are a part of Markarian’s Chain. Near the middle of this chain are two other galaxies, known as Markarian’s Eyes. Still further away, around 320 million light years, is the centre of the Coma Cluster. While it is difficult to conceptualise, it is absolutely heaving with galaxies, perhaps as many as 10,000 or more. At its centre is a cloud of gas, heated by extremely high temperatures. The majority of the galaxies within the Coma cluster are ellipticals, with an abundance of dwarf and giant ellipticals (a dwarf galaxy is a small galaxy of about 1,000 to several billion stars while an elliptical galaxy is shaped like a stretched-out circle).

We look up and are in awe of the pageant of planets and stars before us. For many of us, the sheer size and the distances of these seemingly boundless galaxies defy our understanding. They are breathtaking. And strangely similar, when we look around at the various plants, trees, and animals that come to life during the spring, here on our home planet, they are equally extraordinary and captivating in their complexity.

Whether the tiniest bud of an alder surrounded by spruce and fir or a massive star going supernova somewhere in the Virgo cluster, they are a reflection of spring. Both occupy two extremes of the gallant spectrum in our universe, ultimately unified, together as one.

1. Any numerous large-scale aggregate of stars, gas, and dust such as the Milky Way.


Happy Spring!

Happy Spring!

Here in Placentia, winter is bidding a fond farewell in the only way it knows—snow and sleet fit to chill us to the bone. Nonetheless, this is indeed the first day of Spring, and true to form, the frigid weather will very shortly warm, the snow and promised freezing rain shifting to a more kindly rain by tomorrow. So, in honour of the days to come, I wanted to share this gentle reminder.

Over a century ago, it was Henry Wadsworth Longfellow who confided that, “Kind hearts are the gardens, kind thoughts are the roots, kind words are the flowers, kind deeds are the fruits. Take care of your garden and keep out the weeds, fill it with the sunshine, kind words and deeds.” Yes, that time is coming! Happy Spring…!

Mount Carmel Cemetery

Mount Carmel Cemetery

As with all cemeteries, it is a solemn, wistful and, at times, humbling experience to read the inscriptions on the headstones at Mount Carmel cemetery in Placentia, NL. Images of the Blessed Virgin Mary, Handshake symbols, Angels and many more adorn several of the headstones. Each offers a message, less to the spirits on high, than to families and friends still here on earth.

Statue of Blessed Virgin Mary at Mt. Carmel cemetery in Placentia. (Photograph: Lee Everts)

It is a journey into the community’s past as one reads the names of the people who have helped to shape the Placentia area over the decades and centuries. And whether safely tucked away in the memories of their descendants or gracing the pages of our history books, these individuals remain a vital part of the community.

In 1786, a Father Bourke built both a chapel and a Priest’s residence. At the time, he also made place for a graveyard which, as was the custom, surrounded the church. In the subsequent decades, on the same site, Father Morrison built another church in 1829, completing it in 1830. This was subsequently taken down. And then, in 1878, a Father Clancy had the foundation stone laid for a new church. Although work did not begun in earnest until 1886, by 1889, the church was largely complete. This would come to be Sacred Heart, still currently offering services in Placentia.

Sacred Heart church in Placentia, NL. (Photograph: Lee Everts)

And thus, the landscape of Placentia changed with not only the erection of the Sacred Heart Church. It also signalled the construction of Our Lady of Mount Carmel Cemetery on Dixon’s Hill. As part of the construction and design of the new church, it was likely Father Clancy who had the graves along the front and side of the church moved to “Our Lady of Mount Carmel” Cemetery. There are actually 2 or 3 headstones with discernible writing that remain in the crawl space below Sacred Heart. Several others are also present; however, they are crushed and more difficult to access.

Although a good number of the headstones are decipherable in Mount Carmel cemetery, others are less so. Those that can be read are primarily from the middle to latter nineteenth century. Although, some of the headstones removed from the previous church no doubt commemorated lives led in the eighteenth century.

However, the priests would have had many of the earlier graves placed near St. Luke’s Anglican church. Prior to 1713 when the British won the War of the Spanish Succession, claiming Newfoundland as a prize, St. Luke’s was a Roman Catholic church.

Photograph at the rear of Mt. Carmel cemetery (Photograph: Lee Everts).

By the twenty first century, time had had its way and, as a result, parts of the cemetery had fallen into disrepair. Bearing this in mind, in 2011, William Barron recognised that the cemetery was in need of some attention. Thus, in that year and the beginning of 2012, Mr. Barron and others from the cemetery committee, partnered with the now defunct Placentia Area Development Association (PADA) to undertake the repairs to the cemetery. Workers filled the ground around 454 graves that had sunk. In addition, they restored 196 headstones, some being either glued or angle-ironed in an erect position.

At the time, alongside, the physical reparations, PADA was also able to document over 200 names. The remaining names will hopefully be similarly archived at a later date. However, since this time, individuals completed substantial work recording both the names and images of headstones across the island of Newfoundland. As would be expected, they included Mount Carmel in this project.

Today, like cemeteries around the world, Mount Carmel receives a frequent stream visitors. Each finds the graves of their family members or friends and soon poignant memories or ones that bring a smile form in their minds. Simply being there is often enough. Just the giving of our time shortens the potent links between the living and the dead.

Finding Your Passion

Finding Your Passion

It’s frustrating. We’re trapped in a deadbeat job, our work not particularly inspiring. But we acknowledge grudgingly, it pays the bills. Still, sadly, we lack the motivation to do anything except follow the path we’re on. Every day is written in stone as we wake up, get ready, go to work, come home, maybe play on the computer or watch television and then go to bed. Ditto for next day. Some of us have reached a point in our lives where everything has become too normal and predictable, the edges of our lives now dulled and smooth. Why are we even bothering? After all, there is no passion to fire our spirit.

You see. That’s just it. Passion. It may be just a word, but it holds within it a breathtaking degree of strength and potency. It barely encompasses the sheer dedication, love, excitement, and tirelessness with which we commit to the passions of our lives. Time will often cease to exist. When we look up, we can’t believe how late it is. And oftentimes, our passion to do something is closely tied to our innate fires of creativity. The idea is to identify an activity that not only empowers us to rise in the morning, it becomes a driving force in our lives.

Now, the notion of a passion for anything may be somewhat foreign to some ears. “How am I supposed to find my passion,” people may ask. But don’t lose heart. There are numerous methods by which we can find our passion.

For one, we can take some time to simply explore what we enjoy spending time doing. What would be do for nothing or what are things we do and then completely lose track of time? Another hint is that to create also draws from the same energies as our passions. Whatever it is we bring into being, channelling the spirits fostered and formed in our hearts, can be a stepping stone toward identifying our passion. If we’re the sort who loves to locate the hidden connections and associations between different ideas, creating whatever we create may just be our first step toward uniting us with our passion. See what develops.

Then, it might take a little ingenuity to determine how our passion can transform into something from which we can make a living. Maybe a love for cooking can transform into a life as a chef, the owner of a bakery or a blog centred on cooking. If someone has always loved tinkering with their computer, maybe it’s time to look at learning how to become a computer scientist or engineer. Trust me. It’s worth our time. Finding our passion in life is not going to happen without a little work.

And we can’t be deterred by the notion that our passion in life must also be the means by which we make a living. Maybe the work we do is not pure drudgery and a siphon for our spirit. Making our passion the same way we make a living doesn’t always happen immediately. If that’s the case, it’s not the end of the world. For the moment, the most important thing for us to do is to simply give time to our passion.

So, for instance, say we’re a garage mechanic or own a café by day. However, on the side, we love to sing or paint or collect replicas of nineteenth century rail cars. Maybe we’d rather not change your job just yet, but there’s still a chance to give energy to our passion. Who knows, a little later, we might be willing to take the leap and marry our passions to our way of life.

Our passions are the conduits to our soul. They are energised by our very lifeblood. Whatever it is we create will be something we will always hold very dear, whatever it happens to be. For that object or expression will forever be a part of us. So, if we dare to find our passion, we won’t be disappointed.


Unconditional Love

Unconditional Love

“I have never met a person whose greatest need was anything other than real, unconditional love. You can find it in a simple act of kindness toward someone who needs help. There is no mistaking love, it is the common fibre of life, the flame that heats our soul, energizes our spirit and supplies passion to our lives.”

Elisabeth Kübler-Ross