Jim Taylor's Columns - 'Soft Edges' and 'Sharp Edges'

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Published on Saturday, October 14, 2023

Celebrating Easter with Canada geese

Thursday April 13, 2023

We had a Sunrise Service on Easter morning. In a park, on the edges of a lake. A couple of Canada Geese wandered up from the water. As our minister talked about the significance of Easter, the two geese stood a safe distance behind her in rapt attention, heads cocked to one side.
For a while, I thought they might join us. Then they wandered off, to pick bugs out of the grass.
Those two geese took me back to a day in northern B.C., in Hazelton, which is actually three Hazeltons clustered together along Highway 16, the “Highway of Tears” that connects the prairies to the north Pacific.
Highway 16 sweeps to its most northerly point to get around the massive rock bulk of Rocher de Boule, the mountain that looms over, broods over, and dominates the three towns. The mountain gets its name from the huge rocks known to rumble down its slopes, wreaking havoc on anything down below.
I heard a noise. It seemed to be coming out of a clear sky, a cacophony that might have been anything from garbage cans clanging to the screeching of an unlubricated axle. It seemed to be coming from the far side of Rocher de Boule. But this was not the sound of crashing rocks.
And then I saw it. Over the crest of the mountain came geese. Canada geese. Thousands of them. Migrating farther north, to their breeding grounds.
You’ve heard of passenger pigeons darkening the sky? So did these geese.
Geese honk when they’re flying. No one knows why. It seems illogical – surely they could use that energy better for flying –but it’s a fact. They honk. (Maybe they do it, like those bumper stickers, to show that they love Jesus?) They wee deafening.
I stood watching them for nearly an hour.
And my heart lifted.

More than a one-shot wonder
And so it seemed symbolic that two geese should waddle into an Easter service. I see them representing the earth’s annual resurrection. When life that has been buried, sealed in the darkness of the soil, comes roaring back.
Or honking back, like the geese.
New life springs forth from its earthen tomb.
Suddenly, there is hope. There is new life. Hallelujah!
No doubt some will see my comparison as odious. Heretical, Even blasphemous. The Resurrection with a capital R, they’ll say, is about a single, never-to-be-repeated event. The one time in recorded history when a human being died and came back to life.
But if it’s one-time-only, never-to-be-repeated event, why should we bother caring about it?
Would you wax rhapsodic about, say, a spectacular Walmart sale two years ago? Of course not. You missed it; it’s over; too bad.
Or build your life around a Grand Prix race won by Tazio Nuvolari before you were born?
If something that happened 2,000 years ago has no relevance to today’s life, why celebrate it?
Easter matters, I believe, because it speaks to us of daily truth. There are resurrections all over. When the son who vanished into the snake pit of drugs and homelessness comes home. When the tuberous begonia that the cat shredded stubbornly sends up a new shoot. When you emerge from an endless tunnel of grief and see new horizons opening up before you.
There are resurrections everywhere.
Hallelujah!
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Copyright © 2023 by Jim Taylor. Non-profit use in congregations and study groups, and links from other blogs, welcomed; all other rights reserved.
To comment on this column, write jimt@quixotic.ca
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YOUR TURN

Last week’s column, about how the Good News got spread by not being protected, was perhaps a trifle academic. But Laurna Tallman called it one of my best. I’d quote her directly, but my keyboard suffered from too many cups of coffee spilled over it, and the new keyboard has some different keys on it for special functions, and one of those keys managed to erase Laurna’s letter. Gone gone gone…

Sandy Carpenter agreed with Laura. “I must say that this column on giving away secrets is one of your gems! You put forth so many great points: that translation from one language to another is never perfectly accurate; that the story lives on despite the human foibles that have carried it across the centuries, etc., etc.
“As I read your words on this Holy Saturday, sweating and praying through putting the finishing touches on yet another Easter sermon, I am reminded that Easter is a humbling moment every year because, despite our attempts at loving the story to death or destroying the story as myth, the story lives on as a word of hope within the chaos and fear of this world today. And can we ask for anything more than a word of hope in this uncertain world?”

Frank Martens thought that Judy Lochhead’s comments about still more snow in Winnipeg were a denial of global warming. I took them as jocularity. The kind of humour that tries to make light of one’s trials. It used to be called “black homour” – I don’t know what the term would be now. But I know that surgeons, accountants, and professors have their own brand of it – and you should attend an undertakers’ convention sometime!

Anyway, Isabel Gibson called last week’s column “fun and thoughtful.”

And Clare Neufeld thanked me for the compliment of putting his words in twice!

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Psalm paraphrase

This paraphrase of Psalm 16 was inspired by two deaths among our relatives in a single week.

1 Life is short, Lord.
Like a breath in the night, it disappears into silence.
2 Human relationships all pass away;
we cannot depend on them for comfort in old age.
Only you, God, are forever.
Why should I put anything else first in my life?
3 Some people hold you as their closest companion.
They are the saints.
I would like to be like them.
4 Many people claim to put you first,
but they chase riches and popularity, privilege and power.
5 I say that there is nothing in life but God.
God is all anyone needs.

7 In the silence of the night, I listen for the breath of God:
In the bedlam of a business day, I watch for a whisper of wisdom.
8 I keep my mind on God.
God surrounds me like the air I breathe;
God buoys me up like water.
9 Even in a time of loss, I raise my arms to God's embrace;
My heart rests easy.
10 For you are a loving God.
Though our lives end, we do not vanish into the lifeless void.
11 No, you gather us into your warmth;
there we will enjoy the endless sunshine of your smile.

BIG Update – Wood Lake Publishing is closing, after 41 years of producing materials for churches all around the world, matrials that didn’t require you to park your brains at the door when you come in. The current inventory of books is selling at huge discounts. If you want to buy any remaining books – including the last copies of my own Everyday Psalms -- get in touch with Wood Lake Publishing, info@woodlake.com, or 1-800-663-2775. Do it now!
Some e-books will still be available. And I have some extra copies of some of my own titles. More on that later. But right now, if you want printed copies of any Wood Lake titles, you have about one month. Then that’s it, forever.
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Author: Jim Taylor

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