Monday, December 03, 2012

Tomorrow's challenge...

Joan, reading the "directions" - "Ruby Sunday"on the trail. 
40 years the day! There's been lots of adventures! :)
We have several pieces of art that give have given great pleasure over the years...and great inspiration. Two are on the sidebar of this blog. One of them is a portrayal of Joan's yellow sea kayak in the Salish Sea, and the neighbouring Coastal Range of British Columbia. It was created by our good friend and stained glass artist, David, in Calgary.

The other, a fabric art created by two wonderful women, Evelyn and Joy, includes two sea kayaks against a back drop of the rising sun and the Southern Gulf Islands, near where we live on Vancouver Island.

A third piece was a gift from Joan on a "significant" birthday some years ago. It is titled "Tomorrow's Challenge" and is a painted exposed wood inlay by Canmore (Alberta) artist, Fraser McGurk. A mountaineer is seen to be looking up at the inviting summit of a distant mountain - you just know that the plan is to accept that challenge.

"Tomorrow's Challenge", an everyday reminder back home.
Yesterday was a rather special day, a "ruby" day you might say. I may be one of the few guys who had no idea that on your 40th wedding anniversary, an appropriate gift might, a ruby. When I was briefed on that fact, thanks to the good folks here at St. Margaret's Parish, I opted instead for the "thrift" but far-more-fun option.

In lieu of a gem (expensive and rather dull in my mind), I suggested an awesome day out in the Scottish mountains. Much to my relief (but not my surprise), Joan accepted my anniversary "gift" with great enthusiasm! Gifts, after all, that work for both the giver and the receiver are absolutely the best! :)

It was the first real "wintry" day since arriving in Scotland just over two months ago, and with our days here now numbered, it was important to get some "elevation". We've been deeply touched by this rugged and ancient land and the warmth and kindness of its people. Since the beginning of time, people have sought out "high places" for the purpose of reflection and thanksgiving.

Winter had come to Loch of our most favourite places.
The snow-capped hills, with always the next one on the horizon, were reminiscent of "Tomorrow's Challenge", the artwork that hangs so clearly visible back home. It is so essential to have dreams and to welcome new challenges in life. The "same old, same old" may to some extent be comforting, but it doesn't lead to new discoveries, new growth, and new opportunities. Challenges help us discover who we are. The fact is, when we welcome new challenges in life, we are usually pleasantly surprised!

To look up, and into the challenges "tomorrow" will offer is to be drawn forward.
New challenges test us, stretch us, affirm us, remind us of how much is possible when we are willing to open the doors of the "boxes" that will always hem us in and limit our living. As for me, there have been times when I've shied away from certain challenges. I can honestly say that I have never felt good about that - there have only been regrets about what could have been learned and experienced - even through failure. Failure, after all, always offers important lessons beyond value.

We went up as far as we could before losing light. The view was amazing, the perspective refreshing, the challenge of the hill literally breath-taking, but exhilarating.

And it's always "forward" we must go.
Returning to the trailhead, the sun setting behind the high hills above the glen, we reflected on how essential it is that all people everywhere have the luxury of dreams and the ability to ponder with joyful anticipation each and every sunrise and what the next day will bring.

All too many in our world live lives constrained by the daily struggle to simply survive, until the next day comes. We must do better and work towards creating a world where all can dream...and grow...and be affirmed in anticipation of hopeful possibilities.

Following the setting sun, comes the star-filled night.
Sunrise always follows, with the promise of "tomorrow's challenge".
That, in itself, may be the most important "tomorrow's challenge" that we ever embrace.

From Arbroath, the "Birthplace of Scotland", on the edge of the North Sea,



  1. Aw, what an amazing hike that must have been. It looks so beautiful with the snow cover. It must have been cold. I am sure Joan was thrilled with the hike rather than a "red rock". Although I still think my idea of sharing with her, as you climbed, 40 reasons why you love her, could have added a romantic aspect to the hike. Oh well there will be time on the flight home for that.

    See you soon!! :)

  2. For heaven's sake, Linda, I'm British! It was, admittedly, a small but it was a serious "expedition". But thanks for the suggestion. I shall give it some consideration before our 50th. Joan's already rolling her eyes. :) D.

  3. Happy Anniversary to both of you. What enchanting photos and beautifully written Blog. Glad you are both having such a wonderful time.

  4. Thanks Jen, it really is such a beautiful place - all you have to do is point the camera and push the button. It's a guaranteed lovely image every time. Best wishes to all. D and J

  5. I agree with Linda 100%. Maybe I'll have to get 2 red rocks for you when next I see you, and you know where they will be from. Only thing is you will have to pick them out for yourselves. Loved the blog and those lovely pics, but glad I do not have to worry about the snow. Have a safe and great flight and show Joan what 40 years has meant to you.

  6. Thanks for that J. I think your "red rocks" come from a slightly warmer climate! :) Duncan.

  7. Happy Anniversary to you both! I think it's a lovely way to spend an anniversary - and the memories will, I hope, bring a "ruby" warm glow

    Have a safe journey home, and haste ye back....

    Kind Regards

  8. Happy Belated Anniversary to you both!!! Hard to believe it's #40!! Although, we're very close behind (37). So wonderful to read your words and all that they bring to our life!! Enjoy!! Talk to you VERY soon :-)

  9. Thank you Ian. Indeed, the memories will be warm of a land where the sun always shines...even through the rain. We'll be in touch. :) Duncan and Joan.

    Hi Carol and Ray, thank you and wonderful to hear from you. Looking forward to connecting. 37 eh? You're not far behind! Haha! D and J.

  10. here's to 40 more to a couple that makes this 30 year old feel lazy!

  11. Many thanks for your your kind words, Lee. I think it might be more that I never post anything until we've fully recovered and are able to move our stiff, aching, and complaining bodies. ! You would get a different perspective! Haha. Duncan.

  12. 40? Seriously? Impressive. May you have many more.


  13. Thanks PO, we appreciate that. "Many more" sounds like a great plan! :) Warm wishes to you. Duncan and Joan

  14. Happy Belated Anniversary Duncan & Joan! It's amazing how fast the years go by but the memories remain as fresh as the day you met your significant other. Congratulations on your 40th!


  15. Thank you for your kinds wishes, Mark. Yes, the time passes so quickly and so much more the reason to live each moment fully and with thanksgiving. Warm wishes to you and Robyn. Duncan and Joan.