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Thursday April 21, 2022
My alarm went off at 5:30 Easter morning. Through my window, on the far side of the lake, a full moon was slipping behind the mountains.
I heard a thump. A bird had flown into my window. Quail aren’t noted for intelligence – but even they know it’s easier to find sunflower seeds at my feeder than to scrabble around in the undergrowth looking for leftovers from last fall.
A quail, a nerf-ball of feathers, lay motionless on my deck. Broken its neck when it hit the glass, I assumed.
But I had an Easter sunrise service to attend. So I left it for later.
Categories: Soft Edges
Tags: Easter, Quail, sunrise, service, lake
Sunday April 17, 2022
The sun has not yet risen. It’s Sunday morning. A small group of Jewish women straggle along a path towards a cliffside cemetery outside the city walls. Gravel crunches under their sandals. Their breath makes little clouds in the chilly morning air.
The sun has not yet risen. It’s Sunday morning. A small group of Ukrainian women creep from the underground bunker where they have been imprisoned for the last few days. Even underground, they could feel the earth tremble aa bombs showered on the city above them.
Categories: Sharp Edges
Tags: Easter, Ukraine, women
Thursday April 14, 2022
These days, every newscast about the war in Ukraine includes a warning about “disturbing images.”
Victims lying in the streets, hands tied behind their backs, a bullet hole in their heads. Bodies, wrapped in plastic, laid out like speed bumps. Trenches with the dead stacked like sardines.
Tomorrow’s “Good Friday” church services should carry a similar warning: “This service may contain disturbing images.”
Tags: Good Friday, Cruelty, sadism
Sunday April 10, 2022
The world changed last Friday. Pope Francis asked Canada’s indigenous peoples to forgive his church.
Indigenous leaders have kept the residential school issue before the public. The Truth and Reconciliation Commission headed by Justice Murray Sinclair heard more than 6,500 testimonies from survivors. Ground-seeking radar identified close to a thousand bodies buried in unmarked graves on lands around those schools. Court cases documented physical and sexual abuse.
So we were kept well informed about the need for an apology.
But we have not heard how – or if – theological understandings have been changing in the Vatican.
And that, to my mind, is the overlooked news from the papal apology.
Tags: Pope Francis, apology, confession
Thursday March 31, 2022
A summer evening, in beautiful Butchart’s Gardens, near Victoria. B.C. On a grassy meadow, people -- young, old, and in-between -- sprawled on blankets, listening to entertainment from the Gardens’ open-air stage.
The singer was belting out a Barry Manilow piece.
I write the songs that make the whole world sing.
I write the songs, I write the songs.
Several people got up and left. I felt sorry for the performer.
It must be discouraging for any performer to watch people leaving. It would have been discouraging for Barry Manilow himself, if he’d been there. No matter how many million songs you’ve sold worldwide, it hurts when people don’t want to hear your song.
Who are you, when what you’re good at doesn’t appeal anymore?
Tags: Losses, Manilow, somebody
Sunday April 3, 2022
I won’t offer excuses for General Jonathan Vance, Canada’s former chief of defence staff. Earlier this week, Vance pled guilty to a single charge of obstruction of justice. He was under investigation for sexual misconduct with a subordinate officer.
There’s no question about the sexual liaison with Major Kellie Brennan.
After their affair became public, Vance tried to get Brennan to deny their relationship.
There’s no question about that, either. Because Brennan recorded his phone calls.
Vance’s attempts to protect his reputation indicate that he knew he had done wrong. So why did he do it?
Tags: sex, macho, Gen. Vance, army
In her semi-memoir Eat Pray Love, Elizabeth Gilbert describes being taught Balinese meditation. She had just spent four months in India learning -- sometimes painfully -- Yoga meditation. It involved physical postures that had to be practiced. And memorized texts that must be repeated precisely. Over and over.
But her guru in Bali simply said, “Smile.”
It was the Balinese attitude -- Smile. Always smile. Always face the world cheerfully.
It seems to me there’s an underlying truth there. We receive what we’re tuned to.
Tags: Eat Pray Love, resonance, Bali, smile
Sunday March 27, 2022
Some magpies in Australia proved themselves smarter than a group of scientists. Magpies are known for their intelligence; they belong the corvid family which also includes crows and ravens.
A month ago, Australian ornithologists hoped to learn more about how wild magpies socialize. So they devised miniature backpack transmitters, weighing less than a gram, that they could strap onto individual magpies.
They designed the backpack so that the magpie carrying it couldn’t possibly remove it.
They reckoned without the intervention of other magpies.
Tags: altruism, Magpies, Australia
Thursday February 24, 2022
I took my bicycle for a ride along the Mission Creek Greenway in Kelowna, not long ago. I didn’t bother checking a map –why bother? The creek runs down to the lake; the Greenway follows the creek; what could go wrong?
Except that the trail I was riding along abruptly ended at a wire fence.
Clearly, the main trail had diverged somewhere, but I was so preoccupied with my own ride that I didn’t notice. It must be somewhere to my left. And fortunately, there was a trail of sorts leading that direction.
The trail was rough, but passable. Until I got to a little stream, seeping down through millennia of rotting vegetation, just too wide to leap across.
Tags: God, Job, bicycle, Satan
Sunday March 20, 2022
For St. Patrick’s Day earlier this week, I wore a green T-shirt and an Aran Islands sweater. And orange underwear. Covering all my bases, so to speak.
Ireland, as I’m sure you’re aware, has been troubled by conflict between the orange and the green. The Protestant and the Catholics. The north and the south. Monarchy and republic.
Today, Ireland is relatively peaceful. The Good Friday Agreement of 1998 largely eliminated the violence of “The Troubles” – 30 years of bombings and shootings.
Unfortunately, bombings and shootings continue in other places. Most notably these days in Ukraine.
And the suspicion, the ill-feeling, that plagued Northern Ireland for generations now shifts to other groups.
The CBC’s National newscast reported a few nights ago that over 600,000 people who have Russian connections, or Russian names, or who sell Russian products, are finding themselves treated with same suspicion
Tags: Russians, internment, suspicion