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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.
Categories: Soft Edges
Tags: learning, piano, recitals, mistakes, duets
Sunday June 5, 2022
England is having a grand party to celebrate Queen Elizabeth’s platinum anniversary – 70 years on the throne. (TV doesn’t tell me how enthusiastically the Scots and Welsh are joining in.)
“Lillibet” and I don’t have a long personal history. Minimal, in fact. Our life stories intersect at only two points.
Categories: Sharp Edges
Tags: Queen Elizabeth, 70 years, A, .C. Taylor
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
Sunday May 29, 2022
Yet another school shooting in the U.S. Nineteen children and two teachers dead -- plus the shooter himself.
As I write this column, authorities are still trying to fathom the teenaged shooter’s motives. Was he influenced by extremist ideologies? By prejudice? By social media?
I suggest that the terms we use, in examining motives, are themselves part of the problem. Traditional interpretations of “right” and “left,” liberal and conservative, get in the way of understanding.
We need to start again.
Try these definitions on for size. The right worships the individual. The left worships the group.
Tags: politics, labels, right/left
Thursday May 26, 2022
A rhythm was running through my head when I woke up: “Dah dit dah dit dah dit dah…” No words, just a mesmerizing beat.
Ever had one of those earworms that won’t go away?
During my shower, a word inserted itself to the relentless rhythm: “Patsy.” Then the rest of the words came trickling back: “Patsy Atsy Or-ee-ay… Workin’ on the railroad.”
I cannot imagine where that memory came from. It wasn’t in any of my dreams that night. The last time I remember singing it, I was a teenager, sitting around a campfire, each of us trying to holler louder than everyone else.
Tags: Earworms, hymns, interchangeability
Sunday May 22, 2022
This May, Americans are all riled up about abortion. A leaked draft of a forthcoming judgement, written by the conservative judges on the U.S. Supreme Court, suggests that the Court is likely to overturn the 1973 Roe vs Wadedecision that has, for almost 50 years, allowed American women to have safe and legal abortions.
In Canada, May is Cystic Fibrosis Month. Cystic Fibrosis is a much less divisive issue than abortion. But the two are linked together for me. You’ll see why.
Our son was born with Cystic Fibrosis, CF. It’s a hereditary illness. Both my wife and I had to be carriers of a recessive gene. Our two genes combined to give our son CF. He had nothing to do with it – he was the innocent victim.
Tags: abortion, Cystic Fibrosis
Thursday May 19, 2022
I don’t live alone anymore. For the past few days, I have shared my home with a wasp. A black-and-yellow wasp, that is, not a White-Anglo-Saxon-Protestant WASP.
I don’t know how this particular insect got into the house. I keep my doors closed. I have screens on all my windows. Nevertheless, the other day, a wasp came buzzing into my office. It circled around me a few times, settled on my screen, watched the cursor go by, circled me again, peered at my face, and flew off.
It did a similar routine that evening, when I was cooking supper.
Almost as if it was looking for company.
I wonder if it’s lonely.
Tags: prayer, lonely, Wasp
Sunday May 15, 2022
The small congregation to which I belong, Winfield United Church, got national attention in Broadview, a national magazine.
Winfield is a relatively successful congregation. It is not, for the moment, threatened by closure or amalgamation. It raised more than half the cost of its new building, right beside the famed Okanagan Rail Trail, by donations. Its Thrift Shop provides outreach to the whole community.
But the Broadview article didn’t deal with any of those. It was about a woman “emotionally and sexually abused” by her minister -- 37 years ago.
Tags: crime, sexual abuse, corporate defence
Thursday May 12, 2022
We all know about life’s major decisions. You know this decision will affect you for the rest of your life.
I am only realizing, late in my life, that smaller decisions, things I didn’t bother thinking twice about at the time, can also affect the rest of one’s life.
When I was ten, I regularly went to a barbershop a couple of blocks away. The barber kept a stack of comic books for his customers to look at while they waited.
I got hooked on Batman. I loved the way he dispatched his foes with a single mighty uppercut that came all the way up from the floor. Ka-Pow! Blam! Smash!
My family moved away from that barbershop, but I never lost that mental image of Batman’s invincible fists.
Tags: wisdom, Batman, cooperation
Sunday May 8, 2022
Small stories open up into bigger stories. The CBC’s Go Public” series investigated a small incident where an Uber driver called one of his passengers a nigger.
When the passenger’s girlfriend defended him, the driver ordered her to shut up.
All captured on video.
It should have been an open-and-shut case. The girlfriend sent the video to Uber.
But Uber didn’t apologize. It shifted into corporate defence mode.
Tags: corporations, Uber, apologetics