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Thursday January 12, 2023
On New Year’s Day, I helped serve dinner to 120 or so homeless people in a downtown church hall. It was an oddly satisfying experience – and I hope I didn’t find it satisfying because I felt superior to them.
I didn’t have time to feel superior, anyway. I was too busy setting tables, buttering rolls, mixing salads, pouring glasses of water or juice…
And I had a great time doing it.
Why? I’ve wondered that myself. I suspect that I like to work in a kind of creative anarchy -- almost the opposite of military discipline (which, I hasten to add, is also essential sometimes).
Categories: Soft Edges
Tags: Homeless, dinners, anarchy
Thursday January 5, 2022
So here we are – 12th Night, 2023, the end of the fabled Twelve Days of Christmas.
Originally, 12th Night referred to the arrival of the Three Wise Men – although the Bible never says there were three – from the East.
My mother’s British traditions considered it bad luck to leave Christmas decorations up after 12th Night. In an eruption of winter energy, we took down all the tinsel and tinkles, the glass balls and nativity scenes, and packed them away for the next Christmas.
Tags: Incarnation, 12th night
Thursday Dec. 29, 2022
The waxwings are back! They swirl in the air by their hundreds -- perhaps thousands -- dense clouds of feathered wings beating the air into froth.
As far as I can tell, waxwings do not have a leader giving orders. No individual waxwing says, “Okay, all of you, we’re going to go strip Jim Taylor’s tree of its berries.” They simply arrive. And then, for no apparent reason, they leave. All of them, all at once. They whoosh off, perform a variety of aerobatic manoeuvres. The cloud of birds inverts itself, reverses itself, spins upside down and sideways, emulates a Mobius strip, and returns to my tree for dessert.
Tags: leadership, Waxwings, berries
Thursday Dec. 22, 2022
And I wonder how today’s news media would treat the most famous homeless couple of all -- Mary and Joseph.
We’ve all heard the story told in the gospel attributed to someone called Luke. About how Mary and Joseph travelled from their home village of Nazareth. To Bethlehem. To be formally registered in the city of their legendary ancestor, King David.
But have you really listened to that story?
When you read that “there was no room for them in the inn,” do you hear those two little words “for them”?
Tags: Nativity, Bethlehem, Mary and Joseph
Thursday December 15, 2022
I was sick a week ago. Medically, I just had a cold. A bad cold. Perhaps the worst cold I have had in ten years. I feared it might be Covid-19, despite a full house of vaccinations. A Rapid Test proved negative.
I thought of Covid because I had read that Covid can scramble one’s brain, randomly disrupting neural synapses that have formed a reliable communications channel for decades.
So that one suddenly can’t remember how to do the simplest things.
They call it “brain fog.”
Tags: COVID-19, socks, Brain fog, fingers
Thursday December 8, 2022
The first Christmas after Joan died, I decided not to put away all the Christmas decorations. They spoke to me of warmth in winter, of caring and compassion, of togetherness – themes I desperately needed that first year of Covid-19 isolation.
So, for the last three years, a small ceramic Christmas tree has been sitting on a table in my front hall. It’s not much of a tree – about 12 inches high, dark green, with whitish snowflakes on the ends of its branches. A light bulb inside shines out through coloured plastic plugs stuck into holes in the branches.
If I’m going out at night, I turn it on before I leave. When I come home again, it welcomes me back, glowing softly in the darkened entry.
Tags: darkness, light, Christmas tree, Lorraine
Thursday December 1,, 2022
This is the first week of Advent. Advent is the four-week period in which Christian churches traditionally prepare for the birth of Jesus. It’s considered a time of waiting, while we tidy up the dusty corners of our lives to prepare for a special visitor.
I don’t know about you, but I dislike waiting. I feel as if I’ve spent most of my life waiting for something, even if I didn’t clearly know what I was waiting for.
As a child, I waited to be considered an adult.
As a young adult, I waited for my career to find me.
As a father, I waited for my children to grow up. And when they did, I waited for them to come home.
Tags: future, Advent, waiting
Thursday November 24, 2022
A porcupine waddled across the road in front of me the other day. It’s an ungainly creature. Little short legs paddle along underneath a jiggling haystack of quills, with its lethal tail flopping along the pavement behind it.
Clearly, it sensed that it was in no danger. As long as it stayed right side up, that is. A predator can kill a porcupine only by flipping it over to get at its undefended underbelly.
When I got home, my cat ran to greet me. It arched its back, rubbed against my pantlegs. And then lay on its back, all four legs akimbo, to have its belly rubbed.
Whether we’re porcupines, cats, or humans, exposing our most vulnerable parts is a profound act of trust in another.
Tags: vulnerable, love, porcupine, underbelly
Thursday November 10, 2022
For a week, a while ago, I was a person with “no fixed address.” My daughter was out of town for a university reunion. That made me the designated driver/chaperone/security patrol for her two teenagers.
But I still had my own home, cat, and community responsibilities to tend to.
So I spent the week shuttling back and forth between two houses 30 km apart.
One morning, a woman pushing a grocery cart, piled high with all her worldly possessions, crossed the street ahead of me.
I felt sorry for her. At the same time, I must admit, I felt a flicker of scorn, maybe even contempt.
Then I felt shame. Because she and I were both in the same cart, so to speak.
Tags: baggage, Homeless, grocery cart
Thursday November 3, 2022
Another Halloween has come and gone. We’ve sent our children out into the darkness of night dressed as skeletons or mummies, ghouls and ghosties, and other things that go bump in the night.
Now the costumes have been put away for another year.
And I wonder what’s special about Halloween that we’re dressing up our kids for.
There was a time, of course, when people actually believed that the souls of the dead rose up from their graves and roamed the streets. The whole premise of Dickens’ Christmas Carol relies on Scrooge believing that dead still have a presence among us.
Tags: Hallowe'en, ghosts