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Saturday, December 17, 2016

"Overcoming ugliness with beauty, meanness with generosity, lies with truth and evil with good" at this Christmas time


Shortly before Christmas in 1948. I attended a service at St. John's Anglican Church where a prayer desk was dedicated in memory of my father Flying Officer James E. Morris, who was killed on active service in the RCAF on July 16, 1943 during World War II.

The prayer desk had been given to the church by the family in memory of my father, and I was seven years old, at an age where I was starting to come to terms with the fact that he was not coming home. 

Yes, I had my mother, Muriel E. (Hunt) Morris, my grandparents Edythe and George Hunt and  Lil and Harry Morris, as well as my aunt and uncle Elsie and B.W. 'Bubs' Zufelt and my Zufelt cousins, my aunt Marion Morris --- and my friends in Chapleau. All have played a most important role in my life.

But, to this day, whenever I reflect on my own growing up years, somehow I go back to 1948. 
Canon Sims

Let me share some thoughts expressed by Rev. Canon H.A. Sims, the Rector of St. John's at the service. They seem as appropriate today in our troubled world as they were three years after the end of World War II. In part, here is what Canon Sims. a World War I veteran,  said:

"There is not the slightest necessity for civilized men to destroy their civilization in warfare. Nothing is settled by warfare which could not be better settled in some more reasonable, humane and decent way.

"Warfare is caused by men  who have allowed the spirit of the devil rather than the spirit of God to determine their thinking.

"Peace does not come through wishing for it or through praying for it... peace comes only from those who make it; who work harder at making peace than men working at making war.

"We must make peace by working hard at overcoming ugliness with beauty; overcoming meanness with generosity; overcoming lies with truth and by overcoming evil with good."

During World War II. and in the years since, there have been countless families and children. who like me and my family, were affected by war, and acts of terror, and each time, which is almost daily, I shake my head a bit, and wonder why. But, I know, I care and I understand the lasting effect of these events on our lives.

However, here I am, at Christmas 2016, reflecting on the words of Canon Sims, but so thankful that my mother decided we would stay in Chapleau where she rejoined the teaching staff at Chapleau Public School, and my grandparents lived ---- and I had my friends, many of who remain part of my life, even though most of us  are no longer living in Chapleau.
Harry and Brigitte

On December 13, we lost one of our dearest and oldest friends, Harry 'Butch' Pellow, a member of one of Chapleau's pioneer families, who had been my friend since we were about five. Butch died in Toronto, and I will share more about him in the new year. My deepest sympathy to his wife Brigitte and family. Rest in peace my friend.
Chapleau gang at Butch and Brigitte party 2014

Recently,  there were two posts on Facebook sharing thoughts about Christmas I thought were awesome. 

The first from the Society of St John the Evangelist I I paraphrase. It suggested that if we think of someone in our life who is lonely, or hurting --- do something for them. Invite them for coffee, or a meal. Pay them a visit. Phone them. Show them they are not alone!. 

Jim Roberts. my good friend,  who lives in Cranbrook, a founding member of our Friday Morning Coffee Club,  but is originally from the United States, and served in the United States Marine Corps in Vietnam, posted a 'Dear Santa' letter on Facebook.
Jim Roberts

It reads: "I don't want much for Christmas. I just want people to be happy. Friends are the fruit cake of life, some smelly. some cooked in alcohol, some sweet, but mix them together and they are all my friends. At Christmas you always hear people talking about what they want and bought. This is what I want: I want people who are sick with no cure to be able to be cured. I want children with no families to be adopted. I want people to never have to worry about food, shelter and heat. I want peace and love for everyone."
CHS gang at 2012 reunion

Maybe, just maybe, if each of us in our own way, followed the thoughts expressed in the posts  by SSJE and Jim, we could move the world a bit closer to fulfilling the comments made by Canon Sims back in 1948. 

I have included a couple of photos from Chapleau gatherings in recent years --- one from the Chapleau High School reunion in 2012 and another from a party at the home of Harry 'Butch' and Brigitte Pellow in 2014. Chapleau folks have always been super at bringing people together. 

My very best wishes to all of you for Christmas and the holiday season. Every blessing!!!!  My email is mj.morris@live.ca






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Michael J Morris

Michael J Morris
MJ with Buckwheat (1989-2009) Photo by Leo Ouimet

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