To make Comments write directly to Jim at email@example.com
Thursday August 11, 2022
I made a momentous decision a few months ago. I decided to quit playing minister.
A few people may be surprised that I’m NOT a minister. Because I often write about religious topics. I also write about evolution, life, economics, politics, and occasionally even mathematics. Somehow, no one suggests that makes me an economist, biologist, or mathematician.
Perhaps they assume that no one could possibly be interested in theology unless they were being paid to do so.
Categories: Soft Edges
Tags: decisions, minister, ordained
Thursday July 28, 2022
Last weekend marked a significant anniversary. Twenty-nine years ago, on July 23, 1993, Joan and I moved into our new home here in the Okanagan Valley.
It’s the longest I have ever lived in one place.
The previous longest was 25 years in Toronto – equivalent, I sometimes joke, to a life sentence without parole. Then we moved west. Back west, actually, since I had grown up in Vancouver, and Joan in the Kootenays.
So we watched our worldly possessions disappear into a moving company’s container, locked up our now-empty home, and set out across the country in a Honda Accord packed full of suitcases, house plants, and two panicky cats.
The cats yowled for 100 miles, and then became – dare I put it this way? – catatonic. They shut down. They didn’t eat, drink, pee or poo for five days.
Tags: alone, Anniversary, moving, retreats
Thursday July 21, 2022
One morning this last spring, I went out for my morning walk. Unexpectedly, bird song surrounded me.
“Where did all these birds come from?” I wondered.
Then I realized they had been there all along. I just hadn’t been able to hear them. Because I had new hearing aids that let me hear the higher frequencies of bird songs.
As time has passed, I’ve learned to recognize some characteristic songs. The American Robin’s cheer-up, cheer-up, cheer-up. The goldfinch’s ti-dee-dee-dee. The doves, always in pairs, making cooing sounds at each other. And, of course, the magpies, which are capable of imitating every other bird, but prefer to sound like nails on a blackboard.
They were all there before. I just couldn’t hear them.
Tags: listening, Bird songs, hearing aids, mindfulness
Thursday July 14, 2022
The other day, I heard a CBC announcer intone, “between you and me.”
I was shocked. He got it right!
Pronouns, it seems, have become the litmus test of language competency.
Back when Joan I and I were buying our first house, the real estate representative told me, oozing sincerity, “I would like for you and I to be friends.”
I considered any such friendship unlikely. Him and I were not grammatically compatible.
Back in high school, English teacher Jean Skelton made our entire class chant, over and over, “between you and me… between you and me… between you and me…”
Tags: Language, pronouns
Thursday July 7, 2022
Every storyteller runs into difficulties. A retired Ontario minister told me his favourite children’s story disaster. He started, like me, with a question: “What is furry and runs up and down trees?”
He tried again: “What hides nuts for winter?”
Still no answer.
Somewhat desperately: “What has a big bushy tail and beady eyes?”
Finally one girl held up her hand. “I know the answer is always supposed to be Jesus,” she said. “But it sure sounds like a squirrel to me.”
Tags: Bible, storytelling, worship, meaningless words
Thursday June 30, 2022
Two scenes. Or maybe two sides of the same scene.
My street has been torn up for several weeks. The municipality is installing a new water main. I don’t know why -- the water pressure coming into my house already exceeds municipal standards.
Installing the new pipes involves ripping up several blocks worth of paving. Digging a ditch. And filling the ditch in again. All of which involves a lot of heavy equipment. And because it affects traffic, the construction company requires flaggers.
Flaggers do not have an enviable job. Aside from low pay, they either stand around feeling useless most of the day. Or they get abuse from impatient drivers, angry at being delayed for no apparent reason.
Tags: Flaggers, STOP, construction
Thursday, June 23, 2022
I started writing a journal in December 1964. Ironically, I didn’t set out to chronicle my life. I intended to write a magazine article. For fame, or glory, or something.
That autumn, I had taken a night-school course taught by author and ghost-writer Raymond Hull, co-author with Lawrence J. Peter of the best-selling book, The Peter Principle. I never completed that course, because I got a new job in Prince Rupert, far up the northern B.C. coast.
During my first weeks in that rain-soaked, rock-hewn, isolated city on an island in the Pacific, I compiled my impressions into a magazine article, following the conventions Hull had taught me. I sent it to his class.
I never heard anything more about it. But that article established a habit of writing down my impressions. And so I continued.
Tags: Raymond Hull, Journalling, Jeremy Lent
Thursday June 16, 2022
It was not a typical breakfast conversation: But then, we weren’t a typical breakfast group.
For around 25 years, a group of guys -- who all worked for, with, or in Canadian churches -- have met at least once a year to talk. About almost anything.
We haven’t solved any of the world’s problems. But we’ve had a good time not solving them.
And so, on this particular morning, we found ourselves wondering about the difference between guilt and shame.
Tags: Shame, guilt, indigenous peoples, settlers
Thursday June 9, 2022
Piano recitals are back.
My church has a wonderful grand piano. Piano teachers love to bring their children to play on it, to the applause of their admiring parents and adoring grandparents.
Until Covid-19 came along, we used to have up to a dozen piano recitals a year. During the pandemic, some teachers abandoned recitals altogether. Others did virtual recitals.
But as the pandemic restrictions eased, the recitals have come back.
I’m the sound man. I get to attend, without having to play anything.
Tags: learning, piano, recitals, mistakes, duets
Thursday June 2, 2022
As far as I know, none of my friends are in imminent danger of dying – thanks to pills, pacemakers, and physiotherapists.
But we have all had warnings of our mortality. The future is not infinite anymore.
The editor of my elementary school’s newsletter mused about her shrinking mailing list. “When I don't know what's happened to classmates,” she wrote, “it makes me sad. Sort of like I haven't said a proper goodbye.”
We don’t like goodbyes. As Rabbi Kami Knapp wrote, “People feel uncomfortable with the feelings associated with goodbyes, or we become too busy to take the time to properly say goodbye.”
Many of our words for parting deny the possibility of permanent separation, whether by death or circumstance.
Tags: death, goodbye, partings