The Point is The Present

I’m not sure I’ll be able to articulate this.

It’s been a week now since our return from the tar sands.  I have been striving to maintain some semblance of a contemplative practice.  Here’s what’s come to me.  At the heart of it all for me, it’s been about love.  And the generosity of strangers.  And somehow trying to figure out how to be of service.

It’s about love. 

Sharing the journey with others in  a deep way, I learned a lot about my fellow pilgrims’ various orienting stories and approaches to life.  No two of us were alike.  Whether we were Catholic Sisters, Buddhists, simply spiritual or philosophical, we all had unique words and thoughts to make meaning of our experience on earth.  It brings to mind the Charter for Compassion, wherein our work in the world transcends nations, religion and ideology.  I believe that at the heart of it, on a good day, whoever your god, whatever your goals, we’re all just striving for love.

And a little more love would go a long way towards healing some of the hurts we have been inflicting on people and planet.

So that’s my take-home message here: LOVE MORE.

The Generosity of Strangers.

Celina and Clara taught me more than the history and current reality of what it is to be from Ft McKay.  They showed me that opening your home to a stranger can crack open that person’s heart.  And that in breaking bannock together you can pray for peace.  What I need to do now is to strive to keep my heart wide open to let all that love flow in…

Being of Service

The final point really hit home last night on the plane.  I sat beside a mother who spent the past year holding her 9-yr old’s hand as she fought off the cancer that had overtaken her young body.  I listened as she spoke about  what had supported her through that year.  About the friends who had disappeared, and those who hadn’t.  About the Thai family who provided free sticky rice for her young daughter, as there were times it was the thing she could stomach.  About the groups who gathered to bring meals to their home.  And about all of those small, kind, daily gestures that wove a net of support and love to make all the difference to a family feeling completely alone.

I had always been more a fan of the grand gestures.  It’s easier.  I could buy a present for someone or plan a splashy surprise.  And I have expected and appreciated the same in return.  Perhaps it’s the cumulative impact of these stories of struggle, perhaps it’s a sign of maturity or shifting priorities but regardless of the source, I feel differently now.  I think that what actually matters is showing up.  And this is what I’ll now strive to do.  To just SHOW UP day after day to be of service, in whatever form that may take.

In service of earth, animals and each other,  I will strive to show up.  And I’ll let my love and my hunger guide the way.

“The love of wilderness is more than a hunger for what is always beyond reach; it is also an expression of loyalty to the earth, the earth which bore us and sustains us, the only paradise we shall ever know, the only paradise we ever need,

if only we had the eyes to see.”

―     Edward Abbey

May I be blessed with the eyes to see and the courage and the strength to keep striving.

Thank you for your companionship and love on the journey.

Over and out,

Heather xo


About the author: Heather Hendrie loves life. She is grateful to have this time to ponder the mighty Athabasca in the presence of the other incredible pilgrims. She loves water, playing outside, bike parades, sunflowers and sun showers. More on her misadventures may be found at:

7 comments… add one
  • Debra Shogan

    Beautifully written. Thank you Heather.

  • Whoa! Thanks for teaching me, sister!

  • your pilgrim friend, Maureen

    This is so beautiful, Heather! Thanks for posting it. I miss you, but I know we are continuing the journey … now settling in deeper within us, to the inner landscape of soul. You are beautiful.

  • I’ve just come across a gorgeous poem that seems to encapsulate exactly what’s happened for me this September…

    In a Tree House by Hafiz

    Will someday split you open
    Even if your life is now a cage,

    For a divine seed, the crown of destiny,
    Is hidden and sown on an ancient fertile plain
    You hold the title to.

    Love will surely bust you wide open
    Into an unfettered, blooming new galaxy

    Even if your mind is now
    A spoiled mule.

    A life giving radiance will come,
    The Friend’s gratuity will come –

    O look again within yourself,
    For I know you were once the elegant host
    To all the marvels in creation.

    From a sacred crevice in your body
    A bow rises each night
    And shoots your soul into God.

    Behold the Beautiful Drunk Singing One
    From the lunar vantage point of love.

    He is conducting the affairs
    Of the whole universe

    While throwing wild parties
    In a tree house – on a limb
    In your heart.

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