Tuesday, 24 July 2012
Wednesday, 2 February 2011
I don't like to travel but I went to the Dominican Republic to be with them on their special day. Sheila and my children, William and Sarah, went as well.
Duncan's family comes from the west coast of Canada and my family comes from the east coast and although some in the family had met each other most hadn't.
The trip included Mary & Duncan, their two children and 40 other people many of whom hadn't met. It was a wonderful spiritual experience to see two families separated by distance, blend so quickly and so firmly.
While I was there, I wrote this:
Stephen King recently wrote "inside every man is a stranger." I think that's true. There are parts of every man, woman and child's mind, experience and personality that remains a stranger, a mystery.
A funny thing happened, at least to me, on this wonderful wedding excursion. I found that I let my stranger that lives inside me experience this special place and these special people.
I let my stranger talk to Ruffie's stranger and I came away from that conversation not only knowing him a little better but knowing the stranger inside me a little better as well.
A little while before young Katie's third birthday party, I had a chat that I will remember for the rest of my life. I talked to Camille.
It was a beautiful moment.
I was sitting down on the grass and looking up into her beautiful eyes and beautiful face. I let the stranger inside me participate in our little "get to know each other" chat.
Camille said that she loved the way that my family got along so well together.
Instead of letting Peter E. O'Neill esq. comment on that, without full disclosure, I was honest.
I said, "it's not always like that."
The stranger inside me said "I come from a family with strong personalities."
When we love, we love fiercely.
When we battle, we battle fiercely, but when it's really important, we can put it aside; no matter what!
Camille paused before she said anything and lowered her head slightly and if I had not been sitting on the grass, looking up, I would have missed the mischievous glint in those beautiful eyes as she said softly,
"Sounds like my family."
Camille wheeled away from that conversation and I walked away, but I walked away knowing the stranger inside me a whole lot better.
Thank you very much Camille and thank you Mary, Duncan, Connor and Maggie for giving us a chance to meet the people that have been part of our family for almost two decades.
Family since then, strangers no longer.
In giving us this wonderful period of time, space and love, I think that we have all learned a little more about the strangers in ourselves.
May God Bless us and keep us well.
Sunday, 16 January 2011
I was about 12 – 13 years old when I went to visit my relatives in my father's home town of Mulgrave.
I was a strange fellow, still am. Never did quite grow out of that. I don't think I ever will. At least I hope I don't.
I liked girls but I think I was too nervous and I think odd, so much so, that the girls in school never took much notice of me.
When I went to Mulgrave, I met a girl that seemed to like me for me. She had beautiful auburn hair and pale skin that I can see in my mind's eye even to this day.
We were just kids and I had played kissing games a little before, but this was different. Scarlet wanted to kiss me because she liked me. We were in a grove off of a path, my cousin was there and a couple of other people.
We kissed. It was the innocent, precious kiss of two kids that were becoming young adults. Nothing like the rutting of teenagers or young people exploring their sensuality or sexuality, it was sweet.
I was down the next summer, but didn't see her. Our paths didn't cross.
The next summer, my cousin came to stay in Miramichi for a couple of weeks. I was still sweet on this young lady and I asked about her.
In kind of an offhand, matter of fact way, my cousin told me that she had killed herself. She was probably 14 at the time.
According to my cousin, her parents were religious and didn't want her to go to dances or out with a crowd that included boys and wanted her to attend a particular church weekend with the family.
She didn't want to go and stayed home. When her parents returned home that weekend, she had taken her life. Why, I don't know and I won't ever know.
Some things are just above my pay grade.
What I do know is that, I would have loved to have seen her radiant face and hair one more time. Maybe even stolen another kiss? Time, space, distance and circumstances didn't allow that.
She was a pretty young lady and would have grown into a beautiful woman. That didn't happen but I know she is somewhere in the peace, love and thought of the Universe.
Dance with the Great Spirit Scarlet,
From now on, Scarlet, I'll look back with only fondness; when you dance with the Great Spirit and all my friends, say hello for me. They are all as nice as you.
Tuesday, 16 November 2010
Noah's soul burned inside him, yearning to be free.
I was there the day that Noah Augustine was acquitted of 2nd degree murder. I was a relatively young lawyer who had only three jury trials to his credit but after the evidence and summations, I was sure of what the verdict would be.
We were outside on the courthouse steps, smoking, awaiting the verdict and there was a few of us.
Someone, maybe it was Noah, pointed to the sky and exclaimed a single word. "Gitpo".
There, almost due north of the courthouse, was an eagle. The eagle circled the courthouse a number of times and then flew off.
I sensed the total lack of inhibition from Noah and his friends when witnessing this signul. I knew absolutely, down to my very core, that these people around me were experiencing what they perceived to be the essence of "God". There was a reverence that I can't properly explain.
An omen or coincidence, I don't really know to this day exactly what it was, but since then I have come to believe that Gitpo was there for me.
My son was only 13 months old and Sheila was pregnant for Sarah during the trial, I had love surrounding me but I was living in darkness.
Noah and I both had our struggles and demons. We were bonded in that way. We understood how a false face could mask those struggles. We reached out to each other in the quiet desperate moments. Whatever our differences and arguments, we were friends.
I learned a great deal about spirituality from Noah and my many friends in the Mi'kmaq community. I was for many years an avowed agnostic, but have since accepted something different.
I choose to believe that what I saw that April day, over the courthouse, was a manifestation of the Great Spirit. It was a realization that faith, thought and belief has its own invisible mass.
This Faith, Thought and Belief gives cohesion and centre to that most human of concepts,
Thank you Noah, for being a guide in that journey towards Hope. No matter the cost.
Dance with the Great Spirit my friend and may peace, hope, and comfort come to the people who cared for you.
Saturday, 13 November 2010
What of that justice for those whose eyes or souls see nothing but darkness?
The ignored, the silent population who are practically screaming for justice, what of them?
Who speaks for the quiet people? Is there not a voice that can be heard above the cacophony of the self important?
Will someone step forward and be that voice without being seduced by image, style and self indulgence.
Too often the passion of justice gets lost when looking in the mirror. Courage fails. The ability to stand in front of people with naked emotions and truth eludes most of us.
Courage to take a punch or an insult is sometimes insignificant compared to the courage needed to explain and show that truth.
Strength, courage and justice comes from something else. Bravery and courage are not scarce.
This bravery and courage can be seen in the eyes of the drug addicted baby; it is in the eyes of the street person, hungry, but too proud to beg, reaching into a dumpster for food.
Bravery and courage abounds, yet people with full bellies are sometimes too satisfied to see it. Bravery and courage abounds.
The first stanza of the poem is:
To see a world in a grain of sand,
Do we have the ability to perceive …….
Monday, 27 September 2010
When the broken hearted people of the world agree, there will be an answer let it be. (The Beatles)
When the entire world pays attention there will be a miracle. In short form, my brother Donnie hopes that the miracle will be that his personal hero, Terry Fox, will come back to life to set the same example of sheer determination that went into every step that he ran. From this miracle and this mentor, the world could turn to the same goals as many have: feeding the poor; clothing the naked and curing cancers of the soul and body.
On any anniversary of Terry's magnificent run, how could anyone disagree with this?
I agree 100% with my brother, but my miracle might be different. I want the same thing as Donnie except I did the "math" differently.
There is more than one way to come up with the same solution, but much time is taken up by others talking about how they arrived at the same destination.
Metaphorically speaking, often, by the time they have explained their various routes, the train has left the station. They missed going to the next stop together.
Donnie and I and others like us took the road less traveled by, making all the difference in our lives and as a result those of the lives around us, yet we arrived at the same destination with the same solution.
This solution is to look out for one another as humans. We worked really hard but unfortunately took that "work" home.
I personally have described my miracle as the whole world getting together and in the words of Jesus "Feed the Poor" and Gandhi "teach India to spin". Donnie agrees with me on this. This has to be a first step; do what you can.
Donnie and his wife Barb, and son Alexander bought me a car in 2007 and my brother stayed six weeks with me so I would get my license, get off the couch, take a shower and generally start paying attention to the world around me. And most importantly, he quoted Winston Churchill "Never ever ever ever ever give up."
Sometimes, at cost to his own health, he with his love and intensity, told me to get up off the mat and start fighting harder than I have ever fought."Everyone likes a comeback," he said.
He turned my marathon of despair into a marathon of hope and for that I am forever grateful. Ross Pierce a law school friend of mine, gave me a hell of a compliment after the Globe and Mail article came out when he said the world could use more Peters.
The same could and should be said about my brother. He's a giant compared to me.
I told my story in public first to my brother Donnie at a self help meeting and things evolved from there and landed in the Globe.
Someone at the meeting heard it and asked me to speak somewhere else and now because of that you may be reading this. Funny how things happen? Carl Jung talked of synchronicity. For me, all I can say is:
He ain't heavy, he's my brother (the Hollies).
Friday, 16 July 2010
By Harry Walker
Given in Handwritten form to
Peter, William and Sarah O’Neill
on August 29, 2006
When I was going to High School, I lived on a farm about four miles from the school which was located in the town of Stayner, ON.
Our farm was on a back road; and, in winter, such roads were not ploughed out – only the main roads were ploughed at that time (around 1940). The area where we lived was also considered to be somewhat of a snow belt.
However, about two miles away, was a railway line that ran into town that was always ploughed out. So, a neighbour boy, Leighton Grainger, and I, often rode horse back as far as this line, and then walked the rest of the way. At the tracks, we simply turned our horses loose.
These were farm work horses and of course, we had no saddles. We just rode bare back (such horseback riding is not really very comfortable, but it is better than tramping through deep snow.)
When we let our horses go, they always went back home. I have thought about this since then and now realize that these horses were choosing security and comfort ahead of freedom. Most tame or domestic animals will do the same thing.
Most people are also inclined to choose comfort and security ahead of freedom. I know that during my life, I have often made this choice myself.
But it is when we choose the other option that we make the most progress, and gain the most in understanding.
It is always easier to stay in familiar territory. It takes courage to try something new. We must take risks if we are to realize life’s potential; its possibilities.