The Wrong Side of the Storm

We are scattered by storms, and we are gathered by storms. Our storms may be physical or political, economic or spiritual. Sometimes, we are battered by a nasty confluence of all four. Whatever their nature, storms force us to move.

And Hurricane Sandy certainly moved us.

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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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Writing is Home

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I read Rumors of Water: Thoughts on Creativity and Writing by L.L. Barkat while spending a week in a church that’s been converted into a home.

Writing is like that. Its presence towered over most of my life with the stillness of a holy temple. Grandiose. Imposing. Until I finally flushed a toilet, heard truth echo through a cavernous sanctuary — with the noise of everyday water.

Writing, it turns out, is a place to inhabit.

Modern culture has discombobulated our sense of place. The hub of the kitchen table no longer holds together the farm and work shed like it once did. Now our most important occupations are prone to the sprawl of square miles, states, even countries. We do our best to knit together these habitations of work, family and faith, using long threads of concrete interstates and digital texts.

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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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Brace Yourself

Soon after our first child was born, the doctor informed us that Henry might have congenital hip dysplasia.

Aside from that, he appeared perfectly healthy. Even so, Mom and Dad left the hospital with a small limp of anxiety.

Another doctor confirmed the diagnosis a few weeks later. As a new parent I knew Henry’s first step was still many months away, but now it wobbled with a new kind of uncertainty.

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