to accompany and give back hope

Parish Nursing Health Tips



Your Parish Nursing Health Tips are prepared by
Margaret Black, RN EdD, PN


Parish Nursing Health Tip
posted for the week of July 24, 2022

Where Is Our Focus?

The events of the past week are now coming together for me and suggesting another health tip. As some of you may know, Melissa Reid is currently in Scotland, visiting Robert’s remaining relatives and scattering some of his ashes in his homeland. This reminded me of a similar trip I made many years ago where I picked up this cute souvenir in the gift shop at Inverness.  It shows a small Scotsman in a little boat taking a picture of a small bird on what he assumes is a rock, and totally missing the fact that it is on the tail of the Loch Ness Monster, which is eyeing him as an appetizer.


I used to use this to show my nursing students the importance of seeing things in context, a lesson that I also need to keep in mind as I have a tendency to focus on details and miss what is really important.

This week we learned of the terrible loss at Iona of Rena Mowbray. She had been with us for many years and we had many good times together years ago, such as when she and some others would come to our house to celebrate Hogmanay (Scottish New Year’s Eve). Also, I was her elder and parish nurse and on Tuesday mornings, when she was unable to attend church, I would deliver a printed copy of the sermon to keep her in touch with us. Mostly I just stuck the copy in her mailbox, telling myself I would visit her another time when I wasn’t so busy. Little did I know that time would never come. Now I live with guilt and sorrow for not ensuring regular visits. Rena, we miss you but are grateful you are now past the pain and loneliness, as you rest in God’s loving care.

Yesterday I had a phone call from Rita Hiorth, now living in Collingwood. She said she would be in Toronto today for an appointment and we arranged for her to visit me this afternoon but I woke up worried about details: should I set up inside or on the deck; how much cleaning up do I need to do, etc. Still focused on the wrong things, I need to focus on the joy of seeing her, not knowing how many other opportunities we will have to be together.

A recent sermon by Emily Bisset pointed out that our focus as Christians should be on showing God’s love through our actions, not just having good intentions. We are Christ’s body here on earth and He depends on us to show His love to others through  what we do. Our actions could include visits, phone calls, prayers, perhaps a card to let someone know we are thinking of them, whatever else occurs to you. The important thing is to connect with those who need us and help them know someone cares. From now on, when I am tempted to put things off because I am “too busy”, I will look at my Loch Ness souvenir and ask myself what is REALLY important on that day. I hope and pray that this tip may help those who read it remember to focus on the important things, not just the details.


Margaret Black
Parish Nurse


Parish Nursing Health Tip
posted for the week of June 12, 2022

“You Do Not Walk Alone”

Where is God walking with you right now? We all feel like we are “walking alone” sometimes and it can be frightening, depressing, and lonely.  What I have learned is that when I pray for God to open my eyes to His Presence in my life suddenly I see things I have totally missed or taken for granted before.

Pentecost Sunday was a perfect example. As you probably already know, I have a wonderful dog, Queen, whom I love dearly but she does present some problems on her daily walks. If she sees a dog that doesn’t belong to “her pack”, she can become aggressive in defending “her territory”. At 110 lbs she is a force to be reckoned with and I am no longer comfortable trying to do this on my own. During the week I have great professional dog walkers and on weekends I usually have a teenage male friend who helps me walk her but occasionally he has other plans. Then I resort to a list of other friends to see who can cover for him. Yesterday he went to Wonderland and we hope he enjoyed it.

I called all my usual group of young friends who act as back-up walkers when needed, but no one was available. We walked in the morning with a near neighbour and his dog but he was busy later. I was really afraid that I was going to have to walk Queen by myself in the evening and it haunted me for a good part of the day.  While I was doing other things, a song from our recent Village Voices concert, called “You Do Not Walk Alone”, kept running through my mind. Clearly a message from God which included encouraging me to look for other possibilities I hadn’t thought of.
And it happened! I spoke to a long-time dog-walking friend in the neighbourhood to ask whether his teenage son might be available to help out. His son was not, but he came himself and brought his beautiful preteen daughter who used to play with my grandson several years ago and who loves Queen. We had the most wonderful walk together that I have experienced in years! We remembered mutual friends and neighbours and our good times with them. We joked and laughed, just enjoyed being together, and his daughter had a great time patting and playing with Queen.

I realized that this was a gift from God that would not have happened if no serious problem had arisen. So when you feel that you are struggling alone with problems you can’t solve, ask God to open your eyes so you can see where He is walking with you. We are all God’s children and He loves us far beyond our human capacity to comprehend. And once you start to see God’s Presence in your life more clearly, you can help others to see it in their lives too and reap the joy of helping them.

Always remember YOU DO NOT WALK ALONE! 
Marg Black
Parish Nurse

Parish Nursing Health Tip
posted for the week of May 22, 2022

Even Rose Gardens Have Serpents!

God did give us a garden filled with all the flowers we could ever want but it came with a qualification. We were supposed to tend the garden and walk with God. Eve fell prey to the Serpent and ate the forbidden apple, giving it also to Adam. As a result we were all exiled from Eden to live in the world of struggle, pain, fear. loss, etc. that humankind has lived in since the beginning.

What has all this to do with us and the world we live in today?

For one thing, life has always had its struggles. As children we had to go to school, work hard to pass our exams, then graduate and go to work to earn a living. But these things came with many blessings which we might not have recognized at the time. We made many wonderful friends and learned much more than just what was in the curriculum. We dreaded mistakes and failures but they gave us learning opportunities.

If you never meet anything that challenges you, you don’t grow.  God has given each of us unique gifts that we are intended to grow into and use to serve Him and the people who need us. As the world so desperately needs God’s message of love, forgiveness, kindness, and helpfulness, this is a good time to ask ourselves how we can help.

For many of us, as we grow older, we start to think, “I’ve done my bit. It’s my time to rest, relax, let others worry about these things.”  Or maybe even, “I’m too old, tired, sick. I have nothing left to give.” That’s the Serpent in our garden. We need to be careful not to fall prey to this temptation. I’m not suggesting that we haven’t earned the right to rest and relax. That’s important. What I am focused on is, “I have nothing left to give.” That leads us to feel like we don’t matter any more, that we have no purpose.

Life without purpose is not life, it is mere existence.

We all have something to offer. Experience and wisdom! Recently I found a birthday card that I loved. It said, “Don’t think of yourself as 50. Think of yourself as 21 with 29 years worth of experience.” Not only was it funny, it was also a good reminder of what we acquire as we continue our journey through life.

Look around your neighborhood and see lonely, frightened, lost people that you can reach out to and befriend. Learn about their problems and see if some of your life experience can be helpful. Pick up your phone and call friends that you haven’t seen for some time. Find out what’s going on in their lives and give them your support. Smile and say hello to those that you pass on the street. That makes the world a friendlier place. Not only do these small things help others, they give us purpose, meaning, and joy. And above all, you can always PRAY for others. That’s our part in tending God’s garden.

Margaret Black
Parish Nurse

Parish Nursing Health Tip
posted for the week of April 10, 2022
Coincidences or Gifts?

    Yesterday I was taking my late morning walk past the house of a beloved friend from church, an older woman who lives alone. I usually just wave at the house and pray for her as I go by but this day there were two cars parked in her driveway. I was concerned that she might be ill and that family members had come to help her so I stopped to check. As I was ringing her doorbell, Rev. Paul, our wonderful Interim Minister, also arrived at the door much to my surprise. The surprise was even greater when the doorway was suddenly filled with three other friends from the church that I had not seen in person for 2 years! Coincidence? I don’t think so. This was clearly a gift from God which expanded into an impromptu party as we were both invited in for a visit and glass of wine. Hugs all around. Lots of laughter and chatter as we caught up with each other’s lives and experiences over the last 2 years. 

    One member of the group mentioned that COVID had actually brought some good things into her life as well as grief and pain from losses she had suffered. The good things were related to the use of technology to keep in touch and socialize with family members spread across the country in different time zones. Playing amazing computer games in the middle of the night with family in different time zones and locations. How joyful it has been to actually see them while talking with them, as it is with seeing other church members during our hybrid worship services. It was valuable to be reminded that even in the midst of very difficult times, there are always some good things to be grateful for. Most especially the love of family & friends.

    Rev. Paul and I were encouraged to join them for lunch. I knew there would be an abundance of excellent food but unfortunately I was unable to stay. As I left the house to continue my walk, I could feel the presence of God so strongly with me.  Normally I spend my walking time praying for a long list of people and situations who need help but this can become depleting. On this occasion I just opened myself to God’s presence, obvious in the natural world around me on this spring day, birds singing, trees starting to show tiny buds, etc. It was so calming and beautiful to just BE with God instead of filling each moment with words or thoughts. The whole experience was definitely a GIFT, not a coincidence. How many times do we miss the gifts we are given because we are focused on too many other things?

May you enjoy whatever gifts you receive each day.

Margaret Black
Parish Nurse

Parish Nursing Health Tip

posted for the week of February 13, 2022

God's Way:
From Hatred and Devastation
Comes New Life & Giving

    Over 80 years ago, in Greece, sixty thousand Jews lived peacefully in Thessaloniki. It was a valued and vibrant community. Most of these Jews worked in the port; so much so that the port of Thessaloniki was even closed on Saturday, Shabbat. Great emeritus rabbis also lived and studied there. Everyone rubbed shoulders and appreciated one another.

    But on 2 September 1939, on the eve of the outbreak of World War II, it is on this great community that the Nazi terror will eventually descend. On 6 April 1941, Hitler invaded Greece in order to secure its southern front before launching the famous Operation Barbarossa and its great offensive against Russia. Of the 60,000 Jews in Thessaloniki, around 50,000 will be exterminated at the Birkenau concentration camp, in record time! The massacre of the Jews of Greece was brief but intense. Very few will have the chance to make it. But among the survivors there was a family known as Bourla.

    After the war, in 1961, a son was born into this miraculous family from the camps. His parents called him Israel–Abraham. He grew up and studied veterinary medicine in Greece. A brilliant student, Abraham will get his doctorate in reproductive biotechnology at the veterinary school of Aristotle University in Salonika. At the age of 34, he decided to move to the United States. He changes his first name Abraham, to Albert. Albert was integrated into the medical industry. He progressed quickly and joined a pharmaceutical company where he became Head Manager. Abraham (Albert) rose through the ranks and got his appointment as CEO of this company in 2019.

    Throughout the year Albert decides to direct the efforts of the company to try to find a vaccine against a new virus (Covid) which has just struck the world. He expends great financial and technological efforts to achieve his goal. A year later the WHO (World Health Organization) validates his company to produce the long-awaited vaccine. His vaccine will be distributed in several countries including Germany, which counts thousands of dead from the pandemic.

    Ironically, this vaccine which will save the lives of millions of people around the world including many Germans, was led and pushed by a little Jew from Thessaloniki, son of Holocaust survivors from whom most of his people were exterminated by Nazi Germany. And that is why Israel became the first country to receive the vaccine - in memory of his grandparents and his parents, who gave birth to Israel-Abraham Bourla, known today as Albert Bourla: CEO of Pfizer.
Once again, I am indebted to an internet article by a man called Clive. Thank you Clive for giving us this information.

Margaret Black
Parish Nurse