The car veered toward the fence post and I had less than a second to react. There was no ice, and the driving conditions were near perfect. “Look over there,” I blurted and pointed my finger in the direction we needed to go. The car swerved back onto the driveway, and we passed by the fence without incident.
I was the driving instructor and the passenger. Experiences like this are not uncommon with new drivers. The student driver was fixated on the fence post, thinking that she did not want to hit it. Fortunately, I developed a sixth sense about things like this and so I was able to redirect her gaze. (And yes, I also had one foot covering my own brake pedal.)
It was one of the most difficult weeks I’d ever known. The depression that’s shadowed me for most of my life had come on with a vengeance. One afternoon it left me completely immobile. All I could do was lie still and breathe.
Call it a moment of grace, or a fortuitous firing of the right neurons. Whatever the case, my breathing quietly caught my attention. I thought: Well, I can breathe. And something within me said in reply: That’s good. That’s very good.
Such a tiny response, sounding so much like the whisper of God, started my recovery. Strangely, it also said something to me about myself: You are resilient.
“I could never have handled this so well if I hadn’t had you in my life.”
This message came from one of my spiritual directees recently, after they had addressed a particularly difficult family situation. The text surprised me, because the work we had been doing in our sessions didn’t feel related to the family situation, and I wasn’t sure why this directee connected it with our time together.
In January of this year, the Saskatoon Open Door Society began offering “Structured Conversation Circles.” Because there are not enough spaces for refugees and immigrants to take formal English classes, we are hoping that these Conversation Circles will provide a place for them to learn some English during the wait time. I volunteer twice a week. As an educator, there is nothing I appreciate more than students who are eager and excited about learning!
The voice of compassion calls us to reach out and minister to one another. After all, the origin of the word "compassion" is the Latin word "compati" which means, "to suffer with." With the recent spread of a stomach flu that is going around the school system in my town, the word "compassion" instantly conjures a vision of parents caring for their children.
When I was a child, my family spend many spring vacations visiting the Smoky mountains in Tennessee, USA. To those unfamiliar, our favorite destination offered a combination of natural beauty, and what my father affectionately referred to as, “tourist traps.” The tourist traps took advantage of families vacationing together in the mountains, offering overpriced entertainment in the form of old-time photos, arcades, haunted houses, oddity-museums, and gift shops. I’ll never forget my first encounter with a stereogram (a 3D image hidden inside another image). Popular in the late nineties, these pictures offered a seemingly magical optical experience for the viewer. Stare long enough at a repetitive and colorful pattern and eventually an altogether different picture would emerge.
Miriam, Moses, Aaron, and all the Hebrews left Egypt in a hurry. They could only take a few precious possessions with them. Amid the chaos of a sudden escape, being chased by the Egyptian army, they headed towards the Promised Land. Dusty bedlam, unknown future, and fear pursuing them.
God interceded and the waters crushed Pharaoh’s horses and chariots. The Hebrews arrived safely on the other side of the sea and began their journey into a new future.
Do you know what Miriam and the women did next? They brought out their tambourines.
“Then Miriam the prophet, Aaron’s sister, took a tambourine and led all the women as they played their tambourines and danced.”
Lately, I've been thinking a lot about what it means to be honest. Having never been prone to lying, it's easy to consider myself an honest person. Perhaps that's why I’ve always been fascinated to watch other people interact with the truth.
Veronese, Paolo. The Feast in the House of Levi. n.p., 1573. Oil on canvas.
On 18 July 1573, Paolo Veronese was called before the Roman Catholic Inquisition because he had created a massive painting for the San Giovanni é Paolo monastery titled, Last Supper of Jesus Christ with His Disciples in the House of Simon. A quick glance reveals that it’s very different from other Last Supper paintings. Concerned, the authorities called Paolo in to explain his picture. Here’s an excerpt from the proceedings.
The word “grace” means favour, God’s favour toward us. Grace can be both creative and redemptive. As an unmerited favour from God, grace often leaves us in a posture of astonished amazement and gratefulness.
“How can I make a return to the Lord for all the good he has done for me?” —Psalm 116:12