Eyes to See

 

Recently, I decided to drive through Winnipeg's North End. I wanted to see for myself the part of the city that everyone tells me to avoid.

I saw heartache, felt it as a woman leaned against the dirty brick of an old hotel in a known prostitution district, where rooms are rented by the hour. Another woman with orange-red hair walked in front of my car. Her eyes gambolled beneath a glaze of overstimulation. She barely made it across the street. Old men with long, frizzy beards stood on the sidewalks, their net worth bundled up in shopping carts.

No one wants to see this desperation.

So we chase after the larger city, a Winnipeg lined with beauty. Continue reading

Once We Give Them Feet

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I’m folding up chairs because that’s what you do after eating lunch at church.

Or at least until you run into Harry.

Harry stops my work. He tells me that he and his wife, Margaret, have been praying for our family. They’ve heard something of the story surrounding our move to Winnipeg, but now Harry, 82, has some stories he wants to share with me. And he’s a much better storyteller.

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Valerie’s Got It Covered

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The sun enters my classroom after my students leave, and I’m thankful once again for how light can melt the side of my cheek.

Valerie parks her heavy custodial cart just outside my room. Through the window in the door, I see her unroll and tear off two trash bags. She reaches for the doorknob.

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Stretching a Prayer

This is my seventh hour in the classroom, and the sun surprises me, clearing up my coffee mug with fresh peppermint tea.

Today even the boys band together. They’re wearing pink t-shirts for a reason. Especially the basketball players. One sits at the back of my room. But he’s not reading, at least not like the others.

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Super Bowls, Plates, and Trophies

When we arrived downtown, the fog was thick. Later that night, while we slept, the wind and rain hammered at two sides of the hotel.

And yet hundreds of conference attendees, the next morning, still drink coffee like strangers. 

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Even If China Attacks

James runs past the front door of our church to find his coat. He sort of skids when he looks up and sees Jesus standing outside the tomb.

James slows, then stops, and pivots long enough to find the holes in the feet, and the ones at the wrists. He soaks up the image in the painting, quietly, without the help of adults. And then he’s off running again.

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Reading and Writing

My four year-old sits quietly in the pew with his pen and paper. All around him, the sanctuary is dark and full of mystery. 
 
His slow hand moves and concentrates across the space and centimeters of paper. I hear deep, unspoken conversations taking place between him and the lines and shapes. 
 
He works like a surgeon, speaks from behind a mask. On my side of childhood, words can get lost here.

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