We had decided that this, the year when Canada would celebrate 150 years as a country, that we would spend our holiday time to see as much of this great land as we could.
On our trip, we watched the sun rise at Cape Spear, the eastern most tip of land in Canada. We drove the Cabot Trail, visited Peggy’s Cove, and drove across the Confederation Bridge to visit Anne at Green Gables. We walked on the ocean floor among the Hopewell Rocks and marvelled at the majesty of the icebergs near Bonavista. We visited with Canadians from our past and with people who have more recently been introduced into our lives.
Slowing down to do some hiking and biking as we went allowed us to see things we couldn’t have seen from the car. Since we were hiking on some unfamiliar trails, we made sure we took note of landmarks so that we could find our way back to where we had started. Things can look different when you turn around and it’s easy to lose your way. As we adopted this practice of looking back, I began to think of the importance of doing this in our daily lives. This trip was kind of a metaphor for that. We designed it to remind us of our history; to do that we needed to look back.
In life, we can get so caught up in setting goals and moving forward that we can lose sight of where we have come from. When we forget where we have come from, it is hard to find our way home.
I was lucky on this trip; I got to stop and visit Uncle Roy and Aunt Muriel. Uncle Roy is my Dad’s brother and this special Aunt and Uncle are my only living relatives of their generation. Their ‘kids’, my cousins, were an influential part of my childhood; we spent our summer holiday with them on their dairy farm in New Brunswick. Time spent with them as a child was magical and this trip was no different. While Jim spent time watching with fascination the workings of the new milking robots in my cousin Terry’s dairy barn, I had time to think about the great roots that had been planted for me with this family. Whenever my ‘determination’ surfaces these days, I am reminded that this is the ‘McCullum’ coming out in me! It was so good to be with family and to feel like I was home.
In the same way, we stopped and had meals with both of our new in-law families. Matt’s mom and dad welcomed us to their cottage in Nova Scotia and we got to see where home was for Matt. In Ontario, Cara’s mom and dad welcomed us to their farm for a wonderful visit and we learned more about where home had been for Cara. Since we have known Matt and Cara we’ve been most up to date with their recent lives and dreams and goals; their moving forward. It was nice to turn around and appreciate where they came from.
In Ontario, I attended my high school reunion. Except for two people, I had seen no one from that era for four decades! What a homecoming that was! It was so special to look back and re-connect with the people who were part of my life as I was becoming myself. They mirrored for me little pieces of myself that I have forgotten to appreciate.
When we take even a brief time in our daily lives to turn around and remember where we have come from and what experiences and people have helped shaped us, it gives us a sense of grounding; a sure footedness as we march forward toward new goals, challenges and adventures.
I am guessing that as Canada celebrates 150 years, it is also a very good time for Canadians to look back at the markers and milestones that have led us to the present. Not all markers in our personal or in our country’s history are good. But all teach us something. Some of them remind us of things that we never want to do again and some remind us of things we should do more often.
As I find myself back on the familiar soil of Alberta I feel at home; at home in my house, at home in my country and at home in my heart. I am grateful to have had this time to turn around and to notice and appreciate where I have come from.
As you move forward in this week of celebration of our Nation, may you too take time to look back and notice the people and places that have guided you safely to the place you call home today. May you also recognize that as you create new memories with those in your life today, these will serve as markers in years to come as you look back.
My inquiry for you this week is, ‘What guidepost am I creating?’
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