Friday, 26 October 2012


Just saw a photo of a shepherd playing with one of his sheep in a meadow in Israel. 

Couldn’t help but think how big and dirty the sheep looked. They weren’t those cute, fuzzy babies you see at petting zoos. These animals were shaggy and horned, kind of ugly really, with their varicoloured coats of black, brown and grey-white, bits of debris caught in their wool. I guess they poop, too, at least as much as the raccoons in my backyard.

Thought of how sentimental we get about Jesus as humanity’s Good Shepherd, picturing him cuddling a small white lamb. 
Thought of what a rough, messy bunch His flock of humans are – hooves, horns, dirt, loudly bleating, always consuming, “munch, munch”.

At funerals we listen to the sweet Psalm 23, comforted by the warm welcome of a dinner table, green grass and still water. Can you imagine how real sheep would wreck that family picnic?

Just feeling awed by the radical Christ – cosmos-creator who morphed into a faithful, rescuing shepherd of unruly sheep.

 “I am the good shepherd; I know my sheep and my sheep know me…and I lay down my life for the sheep. I have other sheep that are not of this sheep pen. I must bring them also. They too will listen to my voice, and there shall be one flock and one shepherd.” (John 10)

Dear shaggy Reader, let us be thankful, so thankful.

Sunday, 14 October 2012

Light in Every Ghetto

My clever, kind doctor relocated her office recently. It used to be in a neighbourhood just like mine – a middle class, comfortable ghetto where people’s gardens are like mini-parks and we say hello to strangers when we pass on the street.

Because she is the perfect family doctor, I have followed her to her new office in a very different area, closer to downtown. Driving there takes nerves of steel to avoid jaywalkers, delivery trucks and street cars. I park in a crazy mess of an outdoor mall where it’s unclear exactly which part of the pavement belongs to cars and which to pedestrians. As I walk toward her office I’m stepping on polka-dots of old gum. How can people just spit the contents of their mouths onto the ground?! Ugh.
There isn’t a tree, flower or blade of grass in sight. Instead I notice a chewed chicken bone beside an overflowing garbage can. Yuck.

I dodge two older folk riding bikes toward me along the sidewalk, neither one meeting my eyes, careless of any bylaw that requires them to ride on the street. I suddenly sense someone closing in from behind. I turn in time to step aside for a scary-looking body-builder, swaggering past in his sleeveless t-shirt. I notice a building across the street whose facade holds three gigantic red boxing gloves - his training gym, I guess. 
The intersection is dominated by a large building painted in a repulsive black and yellow giraffe pattern. 
At the traffic lights I smile sympathetically at a swarm of scowling students glumly heading for the stairs of their Secondary School. To them I'm invisible.
After crossing I enter the medical centre’s lobby and say “Excuse me. Thanks.” as I squeeze by the huddle of drug addicts waiting for their methadone treatment. It’s true. I checked. I feel sad.

This neighbourhood is not my home. I wouldn’t want to live here. I don’t like coming here. I don’t feel safe and it’s so ugly. 
Romero house is nearby. It’s a home for immigrant refugees, led by one of my heroes, Mary Jo Leddy (see her book, Radical Gratitude).
I wish I had her guts to be part of a community like this. I wish everyone had my choice of neighbourhoods.

Back in the parking lot I glance up at the grey sky that seems to match my concrete surroundings. A flock of pigeons flap above me, their pale feathers pretty against the dark clouds. I’ve heard some people call them “rats with wings” but I gaze at their flying loveliness for a moment of relief. I give thanks for the birds and for my doctor and for Canada’s universal healthcare.
I pray again for the energy to add my meagre bits of light and love to this unjust world.

Saturday, 6 October 2012


For goldenrod and purple asters banking a highway exit ramp
For neighbours, thoughtful and friendly
For the weightless majesty of hawks soaring
For non-profit artists who share their creative gifts at street festivals
For rainbow miracles when sunlight shines through a glass prism
For a three year old who runs grinning into my arms and lets me hug her tight 
For red and rusty garden mums that faithfully bloom in the dying season
For Canada’s political freedom and safety, imperfect though they are
For writers who have kept my Christian faith alive
For nature’s music in birdsong, river rapids, blowing pines trees, crickets and a crackling fire.
For all who labour persistently to bring justice
For pumpkins, apples, cranberries, onions, potatoes and farmers
For bodies that endure and heal themselves
For three daughters who are compassionate women.
For the breathtaking glory of deserts, mountains, oceans, and forests
For all musicians, from reggae to motet, from viola to conga drum
For sleep. Ahh.
For religious freedom and gender equality laws
For relatives and friends who put up with me
For the tiny wonders: grasshoppers, frogs, snails, moss and mushrooms
For all who feed the poor, cure the sick and visit the prisoner
For the astonishing star-filled night sky and scientists who discover creation’s deep secrets
For all who tell the good news of Jesus, Light of the world

“I will exalt you, my God; 
I will praise your name forever and ever.
I will meditate on your wonderful works. 
One generation commends your works to another. 
They tell of the power of your awesome works. 
They celebrate your abundant goodness
and joyfully sing of your righteousness
and I will proclaim your great deeds. 
You open your hand and satisfy the desires of every living thing.
My mouth will speak in praise of God. 
Let every creature praise God’s holy name forever and ever.” 
(Psalm 145, excerpts)