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Community


Shortly after my mom passed away, I came across this blog post that someone I knew had written about my mom – and about my broader community in Toronto.  Since that time, I have been wanting to share it with you.  I’ve been thinking a lot about the importance of community in the past few years.  I haven’t looked into it, but I bet there are a million studies out there discussing the popular idea and oft quoted proverb that it takes “a village to raise a child”.  I know it is true because I am a product of it.  As I’ve mentioned before, I always find it so difficult to decide what city to live in. Each one I’ve lived has its own unique features that I love.  I must say though that one thing that constantly draws me back to where I grew up, is the wonderful extended family that has developed around me over the years.  I was reminded of this the week my mom passed away when my family and I were so blessed to have been surrounded by so much love.  Anyhow, please enjoy your read, written by a lovely woman who a few months before me lost her wonderful mom as well.

mothers

I am sure some of you will be able to relate to the kind of extended family i am about to describe. My parents immigrated from Egypt in the late 60s with a handful of other Coptic Egyptians. It was not long after that they along with a priest from Egypt formed the first Coptic Orthodox Church in North America…meeting in a small chapel on the second floor of a church that is still nestled behind the Eaton Center in downtown Toronto. Slowly more friends and families immigrated and congregated…and so, by the time I was born in the late 70s I was born into a community that was tightly knit by its roots of the home they left, the experience of immigration to North America and by their deep faith.

I was born into an extended family that knew me from the moment i came to be until this moment today. Going to church every Sunday throughout my upbringing i would see the same familiar faces, bond with the same friends i had since before i was consciousness of my own being and sense the many people loving me and watching over me and caring for me. Although i have been absent from Toronto throughout much of my 20s and into my 30s these connections were always there and this family would always care for me in my absence. They knew when i was overseas teaching in Southeast Asia, they knew when i was working in Yemen, they knew when I was living out East and through conversation with my parents were always thinking of and loving me.
The gift of this community and family is that it meant there were so many mother mothering each child. So many caring, smart, intuitive, passionate, warm mothers looking out for this flock of Egyptian youth making their way through an upbringing quite different than their own. We were all so lucky to have these moms lovings us in all directions…innately enveloping us.

And so, another such mother, just like my mom, passed away this weekend. It is not that i spoke with her very often but i knew she loved me and cared for me and always asked about me. She visited us in the hospital frequently when mom was sick. And she too has daughters who adore her because there is nothing not to adore. And she too has a congregation of children who grew up with her love wrapped round them.

It is the nature of life. It is inevitable. Our mothers are being taken. And it is juxtaposed by new mothers being given. Many of my Egyptian friends have children but it is only in the past couple of years and particularly this last year and in the coming months that so many of my dear friends from all different nooks of my life have become or are to become mothers. It is such an amazing time to see these sisters of mine become transformed…to see them born as moms.

And so, as always it is strange to feel as though i am watching something unfold beyond myself, beyond any of us. To see this great shift in life take form, where it feels as though changes are being made in order for new spaces to be created, where one things is making room for another without particular question or reason or qualifying manner as good or bad but rather simply being.

And so, much gratitude to mothers for all they have done and all they will do. To the moms that have mothered for so long and to those that are in their first moments. What a precious gift to be a mom and to be mothered be it by one or many.

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How do you decide what city (town) to live in?


I’ve been thinking a lot lately about how one goes about choosing where to live.  Perhaps this is because I have been moving around a lot in the last few years, and I am preparing for another move in a few months.  Now that I’ve lived in a few different cities (Toronto, Ottawa, Barcelona, Nice, Cape Town) and have experienced different lifestyles, I’ve realised that some lifestyles and cities work better for me than others.  Although I always thought I would end up in the city where I grew up (Toronto), now I’m not so sure about that anymore.  How does one go about making the decision about where to live? I mean, other than the obvious factors such as family/friends and jobs, what other factors can help guide this decision? Should we just decide to live where life takes us? Or should this decision be a more intentional one?  Even if one decides to live “where life takes you”, one is still often faced with the choice of what neighbourhood/suburb or type of home to dwell in.  So, keeping this in mind, what factors can we use to make such a choice? Again, you can choose to go with obvious factors such as what you like and what fits within your budget, but what I’m trying to get at, is that I think the decision involves a little more than that..


In fact, more and more, I’m starting to believe that one’s core values should really play a (big) part in this decision.  The more I think and read about this question, the more I am drawn to the conclusion that where you live should reflect your values and priorities (as much as possible anyway).  I also note that my internet search revealed that Ottawa is the best city to live in (in Canada), and Halifax is the second best (at least as of 2008: http://howtoliveincanada.com/best-places-to-live-in-canada/)! I guess that means we must be doing something right.  But I digress.

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