Saturday, July 26, 2008
The station is large, noisy and very busy. There is a track on either side of the platform. One in the direction of Cote-Vertu and the other toward Montmorency. Underneath them is another platform with tracks heading in the direction of Agrignon and Honre-Beaugrand. For such a busy place it is very clean. There must be a lot of cleaners on staff. For a place so far underground it is bright. Most people do not have time to notice. They are always in a hurry, even when they are not. I wonder in the station does it to them. Do they feel too exposed here, sensing an urge to scurry away before they are seen.
Too late. I grin.
It is a great place to watch, looking over the railing to the open platform below. Four sets of stairs rise up to where I am standing, leading the way to the surface; or descending to the platform below, depending on a person’s perspective. The trains go on, rushing in and out, unaware of the fly. The noise is incredible, exhilarating. So too is the silence that fills the station in the absence of the trains.
Just then another train pulls in from the Cote-Vertu direction. It is fascinating to watch as the people exit. The doors open and they seem to pour out onto the platform as water poured from a pitcher. It is hard to see the faces in the crowd, just a big blur of motion. But I want to see the faces. I want to see the various styles of fashion. I want to see creases of worry and the smiles of friends. I want to take note of the seriousness of the business suites and the haggard look of the mom. I want to share in the wonder of the children as they see it for the first time, and sense their thrill of adventure. I force myself to see them.
The whole thing reminds me of a heart. The tunnels are like the veins bringing in the city’s essence and the arteries taking them out again. The station acts as a chamber where the essence mingles, separates and gets circulated to the extremities. If one stands long enough to notice one can sense the rhythm of the place. In, mingle, separate and out. In, mingle, separate and out. Most of the essence is not even aware of the dance they are part of or of the greatness of its role in the life of the city. I can see it and it makes me want to dance along. It is a wonder to behold and greater still to realize it’s beauty.
I am amazed at the speed of it all. Within seconds of the train’s arrival people dissipate in every direction. The doors open, hundreds of faceless bodies pour out while others push in. Some of the bodies rush across the platform to another waiting train. Others disappear to the platform below. Still others head up, rushing past me as if they are drowning and need to get to the surface for air. Then the trains roar away with the essence of the city safely tucked away. Silence follows and it all starts over again.
As I watch I also see that this place is a great equalizer. It does not matter who you are, where you were born or what errand you are on, everyone is treated the same. Maybe that’s why some people don’t like it and do everything to avoid it. Business suites are mixed with mini-skirts, granny dresses, and polo shirts; lots and lots of polo shirts. It is summer. Tall, short, wide and thin. Black, white, yellow, green, turquoise (the hair). French, Spanish, Arabic, Cantonese, even some English.
What is amazing to me are the millions of people living on the surface totally oblivious to the activities below. Some have never even been curious enough to descend to these hidden places. Perhaps it is more fear than absence of curiosity. People can be funny about these things. It’s their loss. They are missing the dance. But then again, most of the participants miss it as well, not being aware, not seeing, not understanding.
I am startled from my deep thoughts and reflection of the dance. From a faraway place the station comes screaming back into my view. There seems to be a voice much nearer than the din of the passing crowd of essence. It has the same effect on me that a teacher’s voice has a on a student; sucking the student away from his daydream to the cruel reality of the classroom.
I realize the voice is being directed at me. At me!!
It belongs to a middle aged woman who stands three feet behind my right shoulder. I feel caught, embarrassed, exposed as I turn to her, trying to make out what she is saying. She is a foot shorter than me, with back wavy hair. Her face is not quite right. It looks a bit distorted, perhaps from confusion. Yes, from confusion. I see it in her eyes. My mind is slow to focus on her words. Ah, she is speaking French, with a very thick Spanish accent. No wonder. I adjust without realizing I am adjusting. The words become familiar.
She is looking for directions. Vendome? Not far from where I live. Not this platform. The one below. Orange line. Direction of Cote-Vertu. Second stop. You are welcome.
A heavy blanket of realization descends upon me as she hurries away; I was seen.
The spell is broken. I put away my pen and notepad with mixed regret and anticipation. I consider the direction I will take. To where do I want to be circulated? Which of the extremities may benefit from my purpose?
The fly crawls away and joins the essence.
I’m not very good at this.
Thursday, July 24, 2008
The faces are all different and all the same. They are different in character but the same in essence; sharing the same withdrawn, unrelated, dispassionate look. Why is that? is the question that pushes into my note-taking mind. Why is that? I ask myself in my heart, testing the question to see if there was any validity in asking it out loud. I do not speak it of course because I have no one to speak it to. I am alone, surrounded by a hundred people.
I look again.
The faces have not changed even with the unspoken question; why is that?
Okay, so now the question is just irritating. Yes, it is true that the look is worn like a mask and I am pretty sure it is to protect whatever is hidden beneath it. But honestly, I am not that clever to figure out the answer. Forget about everyone else; why do I wear it? Oh, well, maybe that one is easier to answer.
I am an observer. A watcher if you prefer. I wear the mask to look like every other nobody I travel with. My clothes are bland. My hair is bland. My walk is bland. I do not look when I am being looked at. I do not speak to be spoken to. I barely exist. I am unwatched so that I may watch. Why? Arg! Again with the interrupting questions.
I do not know why. I just do it. Maybe because I can. Maybe because I want to see if I am any different. Maybe so I can ask myself these annoying questions.
What I do is really no different than what everyone else does. Have you noticed how they all work so hard at not entering into anyone else’s existence? They press against people they do not acknowledge. Their nostrils fill with the perfume of that attractive lady they pretend does not exist. They hide away behind daily papers, or drown themselves in unheard music, or lose themselves in fanciful stories they read. My book remains safe, at my side, in my satchel, in case of an emergency. I pat it to make sure it is still there. The fact is that we all try to escape in the crowd, mainly out of fear. Fear of what? Intimacy perhaps. Who can tell?
We are good at the whole hiding thing.
I saw a lady yesterday, an oriental looking woman. She was dressed nicely, had an overtly round face that looked familiar to laughter. She sat facing my direction. She looked to be watching something intently so I followed her gaze to see what had caught her attention in this manner. She was watching two young ladies in conversation directly across from her. I saw nothing of any particular interest. I looked back to her. Her gaze was still intense. I looked back to the conversation. To the woman. To the girls. The girls moved. The woman continued looking straight ahead, intensity creasing her face. It was then I saw the wires leading from her ears, disappearing into her jacket pocket. Ahhh ... she was not part of our world. She was off into the world of her heart, her mind or her soul. She had escaped. Escape is an easy thing.
Not everyone chooses to escape. I am not the only watcher you know. It is true that I watch in order to write but others watch just because it is in them to do so. They are the ones who choose to stand, seemingly doing nothing. They have no book, no music, no daily journal. They may travel with a friend or alone. They are the ones who always seem to avert their eyes as you look up feeling you were being watched. You suspect but you are not certain. Sometimes you catch them as they lose themselves in trying to figure out who you are. This is done by examining the clothes you are wearing, the book you are reading, the friends you travel with. When caught they give you a sheepish grin and then get off at the next stop to wait for the next train. It’s embarrassing to be caught.
The good watchers rely on the window reflections. A person can look right at you and never realize you are watching them. I use this method quite often with great success. Allow me to demonstrate it to you in the context of my journey.
I look around the crowded car. A little boy sits next to his mom, distracted by his toy. Short dark hair, dark eyes, well dressed. He sneezes five times. Odd. His mother smiles at him.
Behind him sits a young woman; twenty, perhaps twenty-one. Her hair has been cut short in some new style I have not seen on anyone else. It does not suit her face but I don’t think she cares. Her hair has been dyed but not in a bold manner. She is a student, probably a new one in town. She travels with her male friends but is quiet. She looks to want to disappear into another world.
A man stands pressed up to one of the doors. His hair is short, well cut with just the right amount of gel. His suit fits him well. He is out of place. Did his car break down? He keeps looking at his watch. He looks my way. Quickly I look to the floor.
I have learned a lot about shoes.
There is a short lady directly in front of me. Well, that is unfair. Most people appear short to me. She is sharing the same pole but her back is turned to me. She is wearing a nice green dress with just a slight hint of sweet perfume. If I am not mistaken I believe I had seen a cross around her neck when she got on at the last stop. I look to the window to see if my memory was correct.
My heart stops for an eternity.
She is a watcher. She is watching me. She is watching me in the window reflection.
I am shocked. Devastated. Violated. I am being watched. This is not right. I am the watcher. The shock sends a shiver through my body.
In the surprise of this revelation I have forgotten the rules; I have forgotten to turn away. My eyes are locked with hers. I am embarrassed. I feel my face turning red. It’s on fire. I feel like I have broken some unwritten rule shared by a brotherhood of strangers.
Wait a second here; she’s still looking at me. She hasn’t turned away either. She has locked her eyes with mine. She’s broken the same rule. I feel like I need to report her to someone. For a fleeting moment I think that this fact will help me. It doesn’t. I am still feeling shocked and ... well ... awkward.
I realize then that she is looking at me with a sly smile on her face, as if we shared some deep and important secret. She knows me. At least she knows what I am. And I know the same about her. Who is she? What do I do now? Do I speak to her? Would that be breaking another unwritten rule of the brotherhood of strangers? Obviously it is a sisterhood as well. Am I brave enough to even acknowledge the existence of such a thing to this woman who does not seem so much a stranger as she does family? Odd.
Before I can even figure out all the questions, let alone the answers, the doors open. Our gaze is broken. She steps through. The doors close. The train moves. She does not look back.
What just happened here?
Is this loss? Is that what this feeling is? Why?
All I know for certain is that, well, I’ve been seen. Life will never be the same again.
Tuesday, July 22, 2008
This is such a great city to live in.
That was the thought that went through my mind as I sat overlooking the little street below. There was nothing particular about the street that put that thought there. I think it was just a sense of belonging.
It was not a main street but a common side street like so many others that one can find throughout the city. It was narrow with cars parked on both sides, all facing the same direction, giving it a crowded feeling. The buildings that formed a solid wall on either side of the street were no more than two stories in height. Looking at it with these buildings as walls of stone it put me in mind of that time I canoed down a narrow gorge. Not necessarily the best of times.
I enjoyed my vantage point, overlooking the scene below from the second floor restaurant. There is something renewing in the observation of simple city life; a Coke cup on a basement window sill; the coming and going of delivery trucks; a pedestrian off to some appointment; people waiting for the bus; a cyclist stopping at the store for water; a mother pushing a stroller; a stray cat.
Out of all the buildings on that little street there was a grey one opposite me and down a bit that had caught my eye. It was grey because that is what colour the owner had chosen to paint the brick. I surmised it was an attempt to hide the true condition of the bricks beneath but some of them possessed a rebellious nature, losing their facing, exposing their true colour to the critical eye of the world. It looked not unlike wounds on a body, revealing the flow of the red blood within.
The building was not in great condition. The windows needed work. The stairs to the raised front door desperately needed replacing. The balconies above had a sagging look to them. Overall the building had a tired, warn-out feel to it, as if it had existed one decade longer than it should have. It was different from all the other buildings, having a third floor in the form of an attic apartment. Every other building on this street had only two floors. I noticed the attic to the condition of the slanted roof. The shingles were in awful condition and I wondered how much water seeped into the apartment during the rain. We were expecting rain later in the day. I wondered if the tenant beneath those shingles would appreciate the rain.
I do need to say that it was neither the bleeding walls nor the seeping tiles that had first brought the building to my attention; these observations only came with a second examination. Instead it was a simple object sitting on the basement apartment window sill that had caught my eye; a common Coca-Cola cup. Perhaps it was the contrasting colours that grabbed my attention; or perhaps the thought again of the tenant, looking out to see other people’s garbage sitting on his window sill. I wondered if he would appreciate that more than his neighbour, a few couple floors above, appreciated the rain?
The only reason I bring this up is because of what happened next as I sat sipping my coffee. In about the time I have taken to describe this building to you I became aware of an older lady who had come into my view at some point in time. I had not noticed when she entered the street. I realize now that I only became aware of her as I had become aware of the building. Had she always been there, unnoticed? As soon as she registered in my conscience I had this sense of liking her.
She wore a flower-patterned cloth hat that fit snug on her head, hiding her grey thinning hair. I could tell what it was hiding because of the wisps that had won their freedom from the confines of the masking hat. She wore a white jacket, like a lady’s waist jacket with a belt around her middle. Her dress was of the plain sort. To add some contrast to this she had placed a scarf around her neck to hang loosely in front of her. I knew it was for contrast because a scarf has no other purpose on a hot summer morning. Even now I enjoy the thought that the scarf was just for effect. I took a sip of my coffee.
As she continued her slow walk down the street I could see she had a pronounced limp. I wondered if she had an operation but refused to acknowledge it by refusing a cane. She seemed to me to have that kind of character. She had a satchel on her right side and an umbrella hooked on her left arm. I could not help myself from smiling as I noticed the white running shoes with the knee-high socks. This was a very determined lady, I thought to myself.
As I continued to watch she suddenly stopped her walk from unknown places to unknown destinations to consider a bag of garbage that had been tossed to the side of the walkway. It was not a large garbage bag but an ordinary Couche-Tard bag that had been used for garbage. It must have been overlooked by every other person who passed it by that morning; by everybody but this lady. While shaking her head with disapproval she picked up the bag with two fingers and in a single fluid motion stepped to my Coca-Cola cup.
Understand when I say my Coca-Cola cup I am not taking responsibility for it only that it was the cup I had noticed earlier. I guess in this sense this wonderful lady and I shared in its possession. She was not even aware that she shared any connection to a strange man who sat in a widow a floor above her watching while sipping his coffee.
Without missing a step she picked up the cup, walked to the edge of the curb, dumped its contents into the street drain and then set the cup and the bag back on the basement window sill for the next person to take care of it. I had this feeling from her actions that she believed she had done her part, now someone else could finish it. From my viewpoint she had cleverly taken something unseen and made it visible. Perhaps this was meant to provoke a reaction in someone else. I liked the simplicity of it. Having done her duty she was free to go on her way, which she did.
Now, it is the actions that followed that provoked me into believing that this lady was worthy of immortalizing with paper and pen. As she limped her way up the street, heading off into oblivion she suddenly stopped. The thought that quickly formed was that she had just spied another garbage bag out of place on her tidy street. But this thought was too fast in forming. She quickly turned around and stared hard at the garbage which was still sitting on the window sill. To no one in particular she shook her head as if she were scolding herself. She limped back to that cup and bag, picked them up and, with some effort, limped across to my side of the street, promptly throwing the unwanted items into the public garbage can. I might add a garbage can that was in plain sight of that little bag the entire morning. Then she was gone from my sight and so was the garbage.
Without even realizing it this dear lady had brought a smile to my day and perhaps to the tenant’s as well. I realized she shared many similarities to that grey building to which she had paid such a good service that morning. Yet she was of much firmer stock and bore her age far more gracefully than the poor building had been permitted. Where the building had been forced to give up this dear old lady was still going strong.
There is a lesson here to learn I believe. I have no doubt that this lady belonged to that street, cared for it and even bore the disgrace of its members with a mighty fortitude that had seen her still cleaning other people’s messes. It is as if she were trying to lend a bit of her grace to it without it every acknowledging that fact; like a relation that everyone is ashamed of but for whom everyone tries to cover with their own grace. Yes, that’s how it felt on that street, like family. So, even when she could have passed on the care of this family into younger hands she did not let go of the grace that was needed.
As I left my place of observation that day, feeling pleased for what I had seen, I was careful of one thing; to place my coffee cup in its proper place. Such grace leaves a lasting impression upon the soul.
Saturday, July 19, 2008
We met under a tree. It was on the day I had slipped out to a little park. I had found it on one of my many trips of discovery.
It wasn’t much of a park. There was a children's play area, a track and field, a basketball court, a patch of grass and some woods. Well, some would call it a wood but, having grown up in a wood, I saw it merely as a garden of trees. Still, it was tranquil, and that so happened to be the one quality I was looking for on that day.
I sat on the bench that had its back to the trees and faced the playing area. I would have preferred it the other way. The bench was awkwardly high, as if it was placed there for very tall people. I am of that kind but it was even too high for me. It was old, painted black and an object of amateur carvers. The one redeeming feature was the tree stump. It was nicely positioned in front of the bench, acting as a foot stool; a feature I had rarely found in other parks. So, what was awkward became comfortable.
I had not been there for very long. I had surveyed the activity of the park, wrote a few notes and started into a page of “Huckleberry Finn”, but I was not to get any further. Just as I began to lose myself in the misadventures of dear Huck the rain began. I tried to ignore it at first, hoping that it was just a few isolated drops from a stray cloud that was being rebellious on this beautiful day. I realized it was not to be when it began to rain in earnest.
I must say, I was annoyed. This day had begun with such promise. Sure it had rained early. In fact the rain had awakened me just after 5 am but it was shortly after that the sun had broken through and had made its promise to bring warmth to the day. Yet, I could not ignore the fact that I was getting wet and so were my books. I scrambled to gather them up and then, assessing I could not make it back to the shelter of the metro station, ran for the familiar covering of the trees.
The green canopy was not thick enough to keep all the rain off but it was far better to be there then standing out in the now torrential rain. I moved from spot to spot until I found one that had the least amount of leaks. I stood there in the garden of trees, weighing my options. The cars rushing by on the nearby city street ignored me as their wipers madly worked at keeping the rain out of the drivers’ vision. The children had all scurried inside except for two brave souls who found this to be a grand adventure, hopping from newly formed puddle to newly formed puddle. I smiled as I imagined the reaction of their parents when the children walked through the door.
There was a bus shelter on the corner. For a moment I contemplated joining the others who had crammed themselves into it as they attempted to avoid the sheets of rain that moved across the quiet neighbourhood. I quickly dismissed that idea. The reason I had come to the park was to make an attempted escape from people, for a few hours. I did not fancy even one minute in an already overstuffed bus shelter with people who would politely avoid my eyes and try to pretend they were alone. No, I would rather take my chance with the trees.
As I turned from the bus shelter to see if there were any other options I was shocked to realize I was not alone. It seemed I was not the only one who considered the trees a good option to hide from the storm. As I had turned from the bus shelter our eyes locked on each other. We seemed frozen on the spot. I was startled to see him as I am sure he was startled to be seen. So there we stood, under the tree as the rain fell around us. The only sound was the muffled noise of the passing cars and my heart beat.
He looked me over as if to assess if I posed any particular danger to him. I stood as if fixed in this brief moment in time, not wanting to frighten him. I could tell by the quick rising and falling of his chest that his heart beat as fast as mine as we stood no more than a few feet apart. His eyes were inquisitive as they darted about, taking in as much information as he could. His head and body did not move, only his eyes. From those eyes I was left with little doubt of his intelligence.
I wanted to ask him if he was from this neighbourhood. I was not. I decided against it. I was afraid that any spoken communication would shatter the spell of the moment. That’s what it was or at least felt like in that city park, standing in front of him; a spell.
It was not much of a move, more like a test of motion to see my reaction. I refused to react, standing as if I were only another of the many statues in the city’s parks. I had no desire to move toward or away from him but remain a simple observer of the events that were to unfold.
He moved again.
This time there was more boldness to the motion. It was a full and confident step. It was a step toward me. My pulse quickened. Why would he move toward me? I questioned myself. It seemed contrary to his nature. The glint in his eye told me of his intent to take another step.
Suddenly disappointment came crashing in as I examined his intended path. I realized that he did not have the same motive as I had for seeking shelter under this protective tree. It would appear that I had been a mere interruption to his lunch, no more than a passer-by. Even as the scene registered upon my consciousness he triumphantly dashed forward and grabbed up his bread. To my surprise he did not dash away. He was bold, I had to admit. He stood with his bread in hand and stared at me, as if to see if I would challenge his claim. I remained a statue.
It ended as quickly as it had begun. Without so much as a wink he scampered up the tree to some secret lair where I have no doubt he would share this adventure with his buddies. I was once again alone, under a tree, in a garden of trees, in a city park, caught in a summer storm.
As I stood there, deciding my next move, I had a feeling that became a thought. I did not act on it and that lack of action has turned into a regret today. The feeling was that he did not simply disappear up that tree. I had this notion he had stopped his ascent part way up to take one last peek at this strange statue that had suddenly appeared in his garden of trees. Or perhaps it was a wood to him. I will never know; my respect for him would not allow another glimpse.
I walked home in the rain that day, a rain that refused to stop, strangely pleased with myself. As I walked I also wondered. I wondered what became of the children. I wondered how long the people in the shelter waited. I wondered who was the first to venture out into the storm. I wondered about the reaction of the bus driver when no one in the shelter moved to get on the bus. I wondered about many things that day on my way home. But I did not wonder about him. Him I knew.
Friday, July 18, 2008
My first thought was, why? Why would this old man take the stairs?
There was a woman behind him, waiting, watching. Concern would be the best way to describe her face. The etched lines that lent such character to her spoke the truth that this was not the first time she looked upon this man with such grave concern. She did not speak a word. Her actions spoke for her. She stood, behind him, waiting, watching, concerned.
What must her thoughts have been?
My eyes searched the scene for any obvious reason why this man would have made this choice. I must admit it was more curiousity than concern. Without much thought I had already judged this poor man. How brave of me to confess it now.
Then my eyes fell upon the railing of the escalator, the escalator I had judged without thought to have been a far wiser choice for this man of such considerable years. The railing was not moving. The thought poked my reality; the escalator was not moving. It was no more than a thing of empty promises.
In a breath my vision cleared, the world shifted and the fool was changed to victim. This man had not made a choice as there was no choice to make. He was a victim.
Guilt rushed upon me as if a river had been left to drain into the metro as I comfortably and self-assuredly rode my working escalator past the struggling man. Why should I feel guilt, I thought to myself, I did not cause this scene to play out in the metro today. Nonetheless it was guilt I felt as I rode my escalator away from the breathing man and the concerned woman, disappearing out of sight without a look back.
What can I write now? What words will comfort this foolish heart?
I say I saw a man at the metro today, but did I see? Did I care to see?
Wednesday, July 16, 2008
Some of you may be surprised that you are still on my email list. Surprise!
You are. As a result you are getting this update of email address.
I managed to hold on to my email address for almost 10 years but finally had
to give up on Bell. My new address is:
Take note of it, discard it, request to be removed from my email list; it's
up to you. God bless and have a most pleasant day.
PS - my apologies to those of you who received this more than four times.
He was a young man who had an idealistic father who believed that violence was a means to an end. The young man had no say in what he had to experience as a child. He may have had the same choice as any of us when he threw that grenade but did he have any choice in finding himself in that situation? Yes, he may have killed a man by his actions but was it not in an arena of war? Let him come home and stand trial as a murderer here but first bring him home.
Why would I even blog on this? Because I believe what is happening goes against our ideals as Canadians but even more importantly I believe what is happening robs us of the compassion of Jesus Christ. There are a great many things going wrong in our country but this is one wrong that can be righted. If we as Christians condemn this young man by dismissing the situation from our thoughts are we any better than those Jesus spoke against in his parables? We who have received so much grace through the forgiveness of our trespasses are we not denying Omar this same opportunity? Does anyone see any planks here?
My question is "Why Omar?" We have kids killing people on our streets and we do not lock them away for six years to be tortured with no trial. What has Omar done that is any different? Kids on our street kill for money and thrills. Omar killed because he was trained it was the right thing to do. Which is more frightening?
I am sure most of you have already dismissed this young man and hardly give him a thought. I wish it were that easy for me. The thought of that young man locked away for so long, with no contact with his mother, no word from friends, with no sign that anyone loves him tears at my heart. How much more when I hear those words, "You don't care about me"? Have you looked into the circumstances? Do you know his story? Do you know about his dad and his upbringing? Yes, it is possible that he is a murderer but let us treat him like one at home, with some compassion and hope that this young man may yet become someone great. Is that not the hope we have for all our children?
I am no liberal but I am a father. Let's bring this son home.
Monday, July 14, 2008
Of course this is all in the hope that it will help communication between home and school. It seems strange in a world where there are more methods to communicate then every before there would continue to be such a lack of communication. The problem is not in the system but in the manner and method. We say a lot but are we actually saying what people need to hear. Just because we say it does not mean any one is listening.
Often those who help in this area of communication state that we need to have people verify what we have said. This is very true for our children. It is not enough to assume they understood us and it is not enough to ask them if they heard us, we need to get them to repeat what we have said. It is only then that we know they have heard. Our Secondary students proved this many times last year. Just because they were in the room when the instructions were given does not mean they heard or understood.This is why we like using wikis for our communication at school. It allows us to repeat back to the parents what we think we hear them saying. This lets them know we are listening.
This is also true in our relationship with the Father. It is good for us to repeat back to him his instructions and his promises. As we do they sink in deeper and we begin to know that we understand. It also allows the Father to correct us where we are wrong. When we assume we know and we keep it inside we will discover in the crisis of our lives that we do not truly know. It is good to study, to memorize and to sing it back, pray it back, speak it back to God. Watch what happens to your heart and mind as you do.
It has always been about communication. Are we good communicators of God's love?
Friday, July 11, 2008
Preparing things from the Word has always been a thrilling and sometimes exhaustive exercise for me. I realize that most preachers will tell you that they find it to be a renewing experience, which it is, but I also find that there is so much power and concentration in the process that at the end of it all I feel I have lent my entire self to it. It is a work of the Spirit as he weaves through my thoughts and experiences and lends inspiration to what is written. It is certainly not the work of a man and it is a thrill for me to be part of the process but you can imagine what it must be like setting aside the time several times in the day. Fun, thrilling and exhausting. However, it is also renewing.
To God be the glory.
Most of you who know me know that I am a fan of CBC radio; always have been. From the moment I heard my first radio drama I was hooked. CBC does radio very well with informative shows that explore many sides of various issues and sometimes the exploration of the bizarre. I certainly do not agree with everything but it is interesting to hear other thoughts and ideas, to know how others thinking, to understand their perspective of the world.
One of the radio shows that I enjoyed, purely from an entertainment perspective was Stuart McLean's show "The Vinyl Cafe". For any of you who have listen you know that this show showcases some local Canada talent but also chronicles the adventures of Dave, the owner and operator of "The Vinyl Cafe". I enjoyed the show so much that I picked up one of Stuart McLean's books called Stories From The Vinyl Cafe.
The first story is about Dave and his son's guinea pig. Although it is his son's pet Dave has taken responsibility for looking after it. However, it is sick and losing its fur. Dave finds himself at a specialized vet's office where the vet makes a comment that they do not see many guinea pigs. He feels a bit silly. The vet tells him that it is most likely a tumor and gives Dave an estimate of the cost for the treatment of the animal.; $563.30. He felt an obligation to agree to this but he somehow knew it was wrong. So Dave does what any smart man does, he states he has to talk to his wife and escapes from the vet's office. It turns out that Dave has issues concerning the care of animals but the underlying thing here is that he was being asked to pay $563.30 for the treatment of a pet that cost him $50.
Have you ever found yourself in a similar situation where, at that time and place something seems like a good idea even though there is a feeling in the back of your head that it might not be the right thing to do? Of course we have all been there. That is why there is a law in place called "Buyer's Remorse". When a person buys a large ticket item, goes home and then realizes that they can't afford it or they must have been crazy to buy it, they are legally permitted to return the item, no questions asked. There is a short period of time that consumers have to return the item. It is to protect consumers from the pressure of salesmen, but I also suspect it is to protect us from stupid moments like Dave found himself in.
Too often we go through our day in this manner, often not even realizing it. We do something because it is what is expected of us or because someone suggested that we do it. Sometimes we put our brains in neutral and allow the current to take us wherever it pleases. We want to avoid this. We especially want to avoid this in our school year planning. It is the reason Keith and I met yesterday to go over some items and talk about some of the issues we feel need to be addressed in this coming school year. Our children's development is too important to allow ourselves to be guided by the current of popularity.
During this summer season most of the staff are hard at work preparing for the new school year because there is much to be done. We have to insure that we have all the teaching materials in place, that our lesson plans are prepared, that we have personnel for each of the courses, that all those taking part in teaching are trained and prepared to deal with the rigors of school life. Right now there is much investigation and research taking place, much discussion and a great deal of planning. Planning is the key word for our school. There must be well thought out purpose for everything we do. It must be done properly.
We would never want to find ourselves in Dave's situation in our school, where we are doing things that do not make any sense simply because it is what is expected of us. Our school is different. It is different because it is a school that was birthed in faith and continues to exist by faith. The only expectations we want to meet are those of our Lord Jesus Christ because his expectations far exceed any expectations of the world. It is good to know the perspective of teh world to understand why people do what they do but we can never emulate them. We have our measuring rod and his name is Jesus Christ.
There are some lessons we can take out of this for our life. Too often we live as if there is no purpose. We go through our day as if there is no purpose. If we do have a purpose it is often what others have projected on to us. However, there is purpose to our lives when we are living it in relationship with our Father. There is purpose and we need to do it properly. We need to think through our days, our weeks, make plans and stop costing. A purpose-filled life brings with it such satisfaction. We need to learn what it means to live to the glory of God. That should be our determination each day; to live for his glory.
Let's remember poor Dave in the vet's office the next time we start feeling something is not quite right.
Wednesday, July 9, 2008
As we have worked our way through the reform during this past year we have come to appreciate that there is a new way to learn. There is now so much information being produced that we either become overwhelmed or we shut it out. Neither response is acceptable. What we as teachers and parents need to do is learn how to apply filters so only the information that is healthy and good for mental and spiritual growth will be allowed through. This will be a constant adjustment as we go through life, helping our children to understand that these filters will need adjustments. We as parents must also struggle when to adjust those filters with our children, resisting the temptation to leave the same filters in place from 2 years to 18 years of age.
The good thing to know is that we do not need to go through this alone. We do not make our journey alone. First, we have the Holy Spirit who represents the presence of Jesus. He is our source of wisdom, discernment and strength. We also have many traveling companions in the form of each other. There is never a need for any of us to remain lost, lonely or confused, feeling overwhelmed. We are all learning together in this journey.
One thing is for sure, in this desire to learn and to grow we will make mistakes and so will our children. We should not hold back from fear of failure or of making fools of ourselves. We need to take risks and hope that our fellow sojourners will show us the same grace we are willing to show to them. This applies to our children as well. Forgiveness is one of the most important lessons we need to learn; a forgiveness that refuses to remember the offense. We understand the importance of doing this with one another but do we understand the importance of doing this with our children?
In this area of forgiveness I recommend a simple book by Amy Hollingsworth that we have in our school library. It is titled, The Simple Faith of Mister Rogers It is not so much a biography of Fred Rogers as much as it is an exploration of his spiritual insights. In the book Mrs. Hollingsworth gives a simple account of how this one lesson changed Mister Rogers for the rest of his life. Reading it may have that same effect on yours.
Stay in touch over the summer and I will try to keep you updated as to our progress in preparing for the new school year. God bless.
Pastor PaulTechnorati Tags: school, notes