Archive for the ‘Published articles’ Category


I just finished reading a provocative article in the May 2017 issue of CCPA (Canadian Centre for Policy Alternatives) The Monitor, which is called Views of Canada.  In it, an indigenous writer, Tara Williamson, writes about the current move toward reconciliation as just another attempt by white settlers to assuage their guilt at forcing assimilation on the first peoples of this land.  She writes “If reconciliation were actually about making amends from the past it would involve actions that accounted for the ongoing legacy of colonization.  We would be having conversations about land repatriation.  We would talk about dismantling structural inequities.  You would give us back our children:”.  (CCPA The Monitor, May 2017, p. 22)

Harsh words.  Hard for us settlers to hear and understand, let alone accept.  Land repatriation won’t happen.  No elected government would ever support that, and I don’t think any government anywhere (nor in recorded history) has ever repatriated land.  Armed struggle and revolution is the only way that land has been redistributed.  Yet there is truth in Williamson’s words.  So what now?

What would Jesus do?  Did he live in a land that had been stolen from its inhabitants?  Oh, yes, the Romans ruled Israel during Jesus’ lifetime.  Yet he said, “Love one another, as I have loved you.  Love your neighbor as yourself.”

Who is my neighbor?  What would it mean to love first nations people as we love ourselves?

How would we see land use and land ownership differently?  The early Jewish people believed they were stewards of the land, not owners.  Could we get back to that?  What would it take for our society to change from land ownership to land stewardship?  Would the banks suddenly stop collecting interest on mortgages?  Are the environmentalists who believe in land respect and stewardship in line with aboriginals?  Do aboriginals and environmentalists work together?

As I weeded my back yard I realized I would not give my land away, not to anyone, no matter what colour their skin or their needs.

“Terra Nullius” is one of the principles followed by the European settlers.  It means “land belonging to no one”.  That belief justified making the Indian tribes who lived on the land invisible, despite their initial welcome to newcomers and their principles of “sharing the land”.  The key words are “belonging to”.  Land ownership is at the heart of settler mentality and colonization.  After all, most of our European ancestors came to the new world as impoverished tenants with no resources, and they came because of the promise of free land upon which to start over.  Are we willing to look at that?  Is land ownership just another of the structural inequities that we must examine?  Could “terra nullius” also mean “land belonging to no one yet everyone upon it”?

Without a common understanding of the land and our place upon it, and without an agreement to live in love and respect for all our neighbours, reconciliation is just a word.


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Published in Cricket Magazine, May/June, 2008, Vol. 35, No. 9, pp. 18-20

I am the author of this article, which describes the work of Julia Ward Howe and Anna Jarvis, who each tried to establish Mothers Day during the late 1800s.  Julia Ward Howe wrote the Mothers Day Proclamation in 1870, and organized Mothers Day for Peace, an event which was recognized in Europe as well as eastern U.S.  Anna Jarvis worked to establish Mothers Day as a day to honour mothers.  Since both events were within 3 weeks of each other, in 1914 the U.S. Congress joined both to proclaim Mothers Day as the second Sunday in May.  Anna Jarvis’s mother Ann established Mothers Work Days in 1858, to teach women how to improve sanitation and prevent disease.  They made a significant difference in the health of their West Virginia communities, and were involved on both sides of the Civil War, working in the field hospitals to improve conditions. 

Read the entire article, geared to children 10-14, in Cricket Magazine.  Learn how the purpose of Mothers Day has changed from a day of action for peace and health, to that of honouring mothers at home.  This may be available on-line, at www.cricketmag.com 

Or, here is the article I submitted to Cricket Magazine.  It is slightly longer than the edited copy that appeared in Cricket magazine two years ago. 


By Sharon Montgomery


            If the founders of Mother’s Day saw how we celebrate this day, they would be dismayed.  Ann Jarvis, founder of Mothers Work Day in 1858, created a day for mothers to work for better cleanliness and health.  Because two of her children died before the age of three, Anna asked doctors in her Appalachian community to teach her how to prevent disease.  On Mothers Work Day, and in Mothers Day Work Clubs throughout her county, those mothers taught others how to prepare food properly and clean their homes.  This gradually improved the health of their  families. 

            Sadly, not all children survived.  Although Ann gave birth to eleven children by 1867, only four lived to adulthood.  Their lives were cut short, perhaps by childhood diseases of measles, smallpox, diphtheria, whooping cough, or tuberculosis.  Infection spread easily among the mining towns and small communities.  Today most of these diseases are controlled by childhood vaccinations. 

Death was a constant presence in the area because of the Civil War (1861-1865).  Taylor County was a major battlefield between the Union and Confederate armies.  Since both sides surrounded them, Ann declared Womens Friendship Day, convincing local mothers to be fair to both sides. They went into camps to treat the wounded and to teach sanitation and disinfection.  After the war, local leaders asked these women to teach former enemies how to get along.

Ann invited people to  meetings.  She dressed in Gray and another woman wore Blue (the army colors).  Ann explained why they were meeting and asked the band to lead them in singing Way Down South in Dixie.  The woman in blue asked the band to lead them in singing The Star Spangled Banner.  Then Ann and her friend shook hands, hugged each other, and asked everyone to do the same, while the band played Should Auld Acquaintance Be Forgot.  In this way Ann honored the grieving hearts of her listeners, and showed them how to move on to rebuild their lives. 

Julia Ward Howe, a mother, author and activist, was inspired by Ann Jarvis.  Julia wrote the words to the Battle Hymn of the Republic early in the war.  In 1862 she and her husband, Samuel Gridley Howe, joined the U.S. Sanitary Commission.  More men died in the Civil War from disease in prisoner of war camps and their own army camps than died in battle. The Sanitary Commission helped to reduce those deaths later in the war.

 After the war, Julia  wanted to bring an end to war and equality for all people, regardless of race, religion, gender or nationality.  She wrote the Mothers Day Proclamation, calling mothers to leave their homes for one day a year and work for peace in their communities.  Julia translated her proclamation into several languages and  traveled around the world, urging all to join in a Mothers Day for Peace.   On the second Sunday in June, 1872, the first Mothers Peace Day was celebrated in Boston, Massachusetts.  For the next thirty years Americans celebrated this day in June.

In 1876, Ann Jarvis’s daughter, a twelve-year-old named Anna, listened intently during her mother’s visit to her school.  After a prayer, Mrs. Jarvis wished that “someone, sometime, would one day establish a memorial mother’s day commemorating her for the matchless service she renders to humanity in every field of life.” Years later, in May  1908, Anna Jarvis’s church, Andrews Methodist Episcopal Church, in Grafton, West Virginia, held the first Mothers Day Service.  Anna gave everyone a carnation to wear, white if a mother had died, red if she was still living. 

Anna wanted children of all ages to recognize and appreciate their mothers for their devotion and service.  At a large Mothers Day service in Philadelphia in 1908, Anna talked for 70 minutes, urging listeners “by words, gifts, acts of affection, and in every way possible, give her pleasure, and make her heart glad every day… if absent from home write her often, tell her of a few of her noble good qualities and how you love her.”  (Taylor).  Anna Jarvis asked many people to help get Mothers Day passed into law.  In 1913 Senate and Congress declared that Mothers Day would be celebrated on the second Sunday of May.   The first Mothers Day celebrated nationally was May 14, 1914.

 Julia Ward Howe did not lobby Congress to pass Mothers Peace Day.  She organized that day independently, and helped women become active politically.  Julia Ward Howe died in 1910, three years before the first national Mothers Day.

 American florists were happy that carnations were used to honor mothers.  Each year on Mothers Day more people gave flowers, cards and gifts.  Anna Jarvis was so angry at how commercialized the day had become that she started a lawsuit to stop a Mothers Day festival in 1923.  She wanted people to honor their mothers personally in word and act, not to buy something.   She protested against florists who overcharged for carnations.  Anna was even expelled   from a war mothers convention where women sold white carnations to raise funds.  “This is not what I intended,” Jarvis said. “I wanted it to be a day of sentiment, not profit.”

Most families use Mothers Day as one day to show appreciation for our mothers, often with breakfast in bed, flowers, cards, or going out for a family dinner.  The people who benefit the most are owners of florist and gift shops and restaurants, not the needy people in our communities.  Few people know that it was intended as a very different day.  Can you imagine the ghost of Ann Jarvis if she was taken to a restaurant on Mothers Day?  Do you think she might visit the kitchen to see how clean it was?

War and disease are with us still.  However, the efforts made by Julia Ward Howe and Ann Jarvis challenge us to continue their struggle.  How can we honour these courageous women who organized others to work for change?

What can you do?  Ask your mother what she wants most.  If she says, “For one day, I would love the whole family to get along and not argue”, then she is in tune with Julia Ward Howe’s proclamation.  When families live in peace, they take the first step toward peace on our planet. 

Is it possible to reclaim this lost cause?  Can we honour the founders as well as our mothers?  Some organizations hold Mothers Day Marches as fund-raisers for medical research.  Peace groups use Mothers Day for local peaceful protests. 

What could you do?  Think about it.  Don’t just send a card that you have bought.  Anna Jarvis’s obituary in 1948 said she was bitter about what Mothers Day had become.  She said “a printed greeting card was a poor excuse for the letter you are too lazy to write” (Wikipedia).  Ann Jarvis’s wish was that we remember the “matchless service she renders to humanity in every field of life.”   That is why Anna created Mothers Day.  Tell your mother why you love her, and thank her for something she did to make you happy.  Write your own letter or make your own card, perhaps with red carnations!  Talk with her, then get out of the house and act for peace together. 

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This  article is published in Rising Women magazine, April 2009.  Written for Ask Our Experts, it appears on p. 43.

My mother-in-law’s recent visit was difficult because she seems so critical.  I love her son, and she’s good with my children, but how do I deal with her superior attitude?

My answer:
      Traditionally, mothers-in-law are challenging.  Your husband, in the middle, needs to support you.  Tell him you will talk with his mother.  If he says, “No, I’ll tell her,” assure him you’ll be tactful and mature.
      However, your words “seems so critical” imply your mother-in-law is not saying things directly, but through body language.   When you are ready, share a cup of tea while talking caringly.  Tell her you are fearful she doesn’t accept you.  She will likely strive to re-assure you.  If she doesn’t, share your experience of a previous incident, explaining how you hoped she would respond.  She will understand and respect you more.
      If your mother-in-law gives unwanted advice, ask her to wait until you ask.  Explain you need time to figure out solutions.  (Often her generation believes they know best how to be a “good wife and mother”.  This may differ from your beliefs.)  Later, approach her about a relatively unimportant issue.  Present the situation and your ideas when seeking her opinion.  If you follow her advice and later share the results, your relationship will bloom.   Even if her suggestion doesn’t work, she will know you sincerely tried.  This will build trust between you, leading to easier sharing of other problems. 
      Parents need all the help they can get.   No one is perfect.  You, your husband and his mother can all learn, no matter what age.  Your mother-in-law could become a close friend. Relax, center, and meet her lovingly.  Together, you are a family.
      The function of a family is to provide a balance of discipline and nurturance, so that all grow to become contented mature people.  Too much discipline and not enough nurturance create a victim.  Too much nurturance and not enough discipline create a tyrant.  When a couple marries, they provide discipline and nurturance to help each other grow.  When in-laws enter, sources of discipline and nurturance expand.  Your mother-in-law’s critical judgement is  discipline, so accept and learn from it.  If there’s not enough nurturance from her, tell her you feel unloved.  Most mothers-in-law also want to feel loved, so will change when challenged.
      Have courage.  Make time for that cup of tea or walk together.  Create happy memories to balance criticism.  This is your chance to grow, and grow together.

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Shy Son

This article was published in Rising Women, Vol. 11, Issue 3, in January, 2009

Ask An Expert

My sensitive son dreads speaking to anyone not in our family.   How can I help him overcome his shyness?  

Your son is likely an introvert, an inborn personality factor.  Introverts prefer to observe, listen, and think before speaking or acting.  They are so sensitive to outer stimuli they easily become overwhelmed.  New people are unpredictable, so expectations are unclear.  He would likely prefer to do and say nothing rather than say something wrong.  He could appear paralyzed as he thinks through various responses.

Introverts take a long time to master small talk.  When someone asks, “How are you?” he might think that person really wants to know.  He may not feel authentic saying, “Fine.”  Could the two of you role-play situations before attending them? Model different responses. He could play someone else, seeing situations through another person’s eyes. 

Help him decide what situations need: social rituals, politeness, banter, or genuine conversation.    Use a non-verbal signal or code for each category. Ask him for examples of how to respond in each case.  If he doesn’t have suggestions, then model a bad response.  This can be a lot of fun!

Enrol your son in sports or community activities that interest him.  Give him many opportunities to meet others.  In a new situation, encourage him to stand or sit with others who are quiet, and just say “Hi.”  He can look for something in common with them. 

Encourage him to think of questions to ask, if he really wants to know the answers.  Avoid asking questions about physical appearance, but questions about an item someone is wearing are usually appreciated.  People love to talk about their possessions.  Sometimes it helps to repeat a question.  For example, if an aunt asks, “How do you like your teacher this year?”  he could simply repeat her question then give a  short reply like “So so.”

Show him how to listen with interest.  Even when one is bored, asking for more details can lead to information that connects with what one already knows.  This is more interesting for both speaker and listener.

Relax.  Give your son time.  For everyone, there’s much to be gained by listening.   With practice and non-critical acceptance, your son will share his story…  if he wants to, and should he choose.

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Healing Touch and ARC





Since 2003 I have expanded my practice of Healing Touch to include a form of healing called ARC (A Return To Consciousness).  ARC combines energy work with dialogue, so healer and client can process thoughts and feelings that arise during treatment.  I joined the ARC program to work on chronic issues, not to become an ARC practitioner.  Through ARC I have experienced >200 hours of class instruction, read twelve assigned books on healing and spirituality, received supervised practice in giving treatments, documented my independent ARC treatments, and received feedback on those treatments from Pietro Abela, the founder of ARC.    During these years I also took a fifth course in the Healing Pathway program, the Communion of Saints, at  Naramata Centre. I like both programs, and feel that each offers valid healing experience.  As a perpetual student, I read an additional five books related to healing, but not part of the ARC reading list.  I became an “ARCoholic”, as those of us in the program jest. 

 Last spring members of my Healing Touch group at Knox United Church came to my home to give treatments as I recovered from a broken elbow and surgery.  Being on the receiving end of Healing Touch clarified for me some differences between ARC and Healing Touch.  I had downplayed the value of Healing Touch because I was so focused on ARC teachings.  From March to May my energy and physical body were so weak I could only handle Healing Touch.

What Healing Touch offers is balance, so the body may more effectively heal itself.  This can come without awareness, but it surely comes.  Healing Touch works on energy and mystery.  The unconscious world is met, received and nurtured, helping the client relax to allow his/her Soul and body to heal itself.  I accepted life and energy at work, and rested in Divine Mystery, trusting myself to care by the Greater Good.  Thus, Healing Touch can address a multitude of unconscious currents.  Thank goodness. Healing Touch requires trust:  trust of the healer, trust of the process, and trust that Divine love will bring the psyche into balance.  Client and practitioners deal with “what’s on top” and move to a place of relaxation and harmony. 

ARC, on the other hand, invites the client to be active in their healing and take the lead.  ARC treatments deal with “what influences what’s on top”.  ARC is for those who feel ready to work on underlying issues that could be affecting their health.  Habits of self-repression underlie much disease and illness.  ARC involves more parts of the psyche, especially leading to knowledge of our defenses.  ARC starts with a thorough grasp of energy fields, chakras, and healing treatments using energy.  Experience in Healing Touch, Reiki, or other forms of energetic healing is an asset before starting ARC.  I believe a client will know when it is time to work more deeply to address chronic problems.  Perhaps a client needs to be fairly healthy to prepare for ARC Bodyspeak treatments.  Health achieved through energetic healing readies a person for the next stage of growth.  From my own experience, my work in ARC has helped me grow up.  At seventy-two years of age, it’s about time!

            ARC offers a different, somewhat radical, paradigm of human functioning.  Accepting that each person is the sum of many parts is an early tenet of ARC theory.  That these parts are dynamic and interactive is another.  Some parts operate as defenses, protecting an exiled part, which is the inner child’s strongest emotion (usually fear).  The New Webster dictionary describes a defense as “that which shields or protects; vindication; justification”.  Thus, knowledge of our defenses leads to increased understanding and acceptance of  habitual behaviour.  It takes awareness to bring these unconscious behaviours to light.

ARC addresses our awareness that we seem to be multiple personalities, rarely integrated or balanced in the Self.  We operate in contradictory ways, frequently being untrue to ourselves.  Parts of us are even unlikeable (criticism, meanness, sarcasm), but we cling to those parts.  Without them what would we be?  Would other people control us, riding roughshod over our sensitive Inner Child?  How can we love and protect ourselves as we navigate conflict in our daily relationships? 

            The ARC practitioner is committed to being present with the client as s/he shares what sh/e notices.  Skilled questioning of feelings leads the client away from analysis toward integration of heart and soul.  ARC enables deeply felt emotional release, often leading to tears or rage.  ARC practitioners receive training and regular supervision in being present and maintaining safety for the client.  This therapy moves beyond Healing Touch closer to psychotherapy, similar to Jungian analysis (which I experienced 13 years ago).  Because ARC uses energy work as a foundation it first establishes balance before moving deeper.  ARC moves only as deep as is safe for the client.

            What is similar between ARC and Healing Touch?

            The commonality is the presence of unconditional love.  The practitioner acts as a conduit for Unconditional Love.  This loves streams through the practitioner, from the earth, from the universe, through the hands, heart, mind, soul and words of the practitioner to the client, for his/her greatest good. 

            Healing is healing, whatever the process.  The healing treatment may be the most intimate loving experience one can have on any given day.  It is beyond personal, and beyond the ego of client or practitioner.  It is beyond the mind and rational explanation.  It is a joining of energy which focuses attention on an individual, bringing balance to all parts of his/her being.  The client heals, with or without conscious awareness. 

              As we mature, we experience both balance and greater awareness.  Healing Touch brings balance; ARC brings awareness.  ARC makes the process more conscious, so the effects last longer.  With awareness, a person can choose to change his/her behaviour. Without awareness, unconscious parts can easily take over and perpetuate dysfunctional behaviour. 

            ARC requires courage.  Courage and willingness to name our parts, recognize them and use and accept them.  Courage to start working on the issues that have bedevilled us and stymied our growth.  ARC requires trust: trust in the healer, trust in the process, trust in the Divine Healer. 

            James Hollis, Jungian analyst, teacher, and author said “The best thing we can do for anyone else is to do the work on our own unconscious, to really grow up.  Some people might accuse you of being selfish, but that is not true.  This is the hardest work in the world.  Becoming aware of the Self, including understanding our unconscious drives, is not self-centred or selfish.  It is the most giving work possible.  Besides, no one can do it for you; you have to do it yourself.” 

            If you are brave enough.    


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