Lives enabled pure

It is a Saturday morning and I am so well situated on a wooden lounger next to a most elegant lake and it is quiet except for the hum of traffic on Rue de la Parc Lafontaine and the footsteps of the occasional jogger.

CarreSaintLouisVectorTomorrow at this time I’ll be singing “I am souled out”, for that is the song that Jireh uses as Julien balances the individual mike levels and then the section levels. Tomorrow is work, at the “Lanaudière” festival, and the pleasure of performing, but today, in a swap for Sunday, is reflection and satisfaction in God’s blessings.

I read scripture daily and this morning, instead of the usual breakfast table or living room setting, I took the Bible down Prince Arthur to Carré Saint-Louis, that most Français of Montreal parks and sat next to the two-tiered fountain and opened the Psalms. I have a fountain psalm – one of my very favourites, Psalm 87, but this morning I stuck with where I am in the structure of my read-in-a-year program: Psalm 140; and then Solomon dedicating the temple (and preaching a really good sermon) in 2 Chronicles 6 and 7; and Jesus teaching a lawyer the meaning of the word “neighbour” in Luke 10; and Paul, about controlling my body in 1 Thessalonians 4:7-8 (NIV). “For God did not call us to be impure, but to live a holy life. Therefore, he who rejects this instruction does not reject man but God, who gives you his Holy Spirit.” All of that – all 4 readings and the Psalm that sprang to my heart in view of the fountain that says “we belong” – spoke to me this morning. God gives us his Holy Spirit. Being holy is my calling, and it looks entirely like Jesus. “Pure” is my word of reflection for this year et, le voilà, there it is, just like that, God’s Holy Spirit, teaching me what pure looks like in all 4 readings. His Holy Spirit, convicting me and showing me the better way.

And there’s even more in store – God speaks through nature and I have Annie Dillard along as an interpreter of that. I have 3 fruits, bought on the way, with me. A fig from the near East, framboises provenant du St-Joseph-du-Lac, and half of a dragon fruit from the Far East. May God’s fruit which comes from lives-enabled-pure be in evidence here in Québec and throughout the whole earth. Selah.


Week of Canoe and Garden

My week's pleasure...was canoe...

My week’s pleasure…was canoe…

...and garden
…and garden
At 7:30 or 8 am, I headed out into the windy Bassin Chambly
At 7:30 or 8 am, I headed out into the windy Bassin Chambly


Finished my out and back expedition around 2:30 pm. Very Happy!
Finished my out and back expedition around 2:30 pm. Very Happy!
Next day I'm on a mission to transplant...
Next day I’m on a mission to transplant…
fragrant eucalyptus plant acquired near Chambly to full sun plot
fragrant eucalyptus plant acquired near Chambly to full sun plot


…informed by Annie Dillard’s view of the world…and this breakfast rest stop in Parc Mont Royal.



Georgian Bay Connection memories

1985 - A Yates / Bell advent celebration
1985 – A Yates / Bell advent celebration
Beast of Burden – Working the Duntroon Farm
Prize sheep – one of Jordan’s first
Chip and Old Block?
Denis and Lynda
Shauna and Gavin
Introducing Carol Bernard – Christmas 1998
Introducing Ryan Wark
Jessica Bell endorses Dairy Queen
Eating up the Camera – Jessica, Seth, Jason
A friend with Leggo is a friend in deed – Nixon and Liana
Liana Yates
Liana in Haiti
Melanie and Jason – 1 year before Haiti
Melanie – November 1992
Nathalie and Melanie – Pause before Grace
Roots (at Leadership Advance)
Timed photo
Servant Concert – Nathalie on Drums
Separating the Sheep from the Goats
Sandy and Ryan
Blue Jays Fans at the Kingdome, Seattle
Seth and Jason
Visions of Sugar Plums – the Marx Brothers
At going away party
Youth Team Reunion – First 3 teams
Jordan – early portraiture
Hanging on to childhood

so I could worship

Do you know the Scripture where Jesus passes by a fig tree, somewhere near Bethany, if my memory is correct? [Matthew 21:18-22. We do fact check our blog so as not to lead the Internet-gullible astray.] There are a whole range of trees mentioned in the Bible and while many of the references are figurative, some are literal trees, like the oak or terebinth trees of Moreh (where Abram built an altar) and then his living place for a long time became the oak trees belonging to an ally, Mamre.

Nothing roots a story in history, so much as a tree. I guess it is because trees outlive the humans who live near them. If I am a Canadian who knows something about sycamore trees, it’s not only because I’ve been reading Annie Dillard, “Pilgrim at Tinker Creek”, but because, as every Sunday School kid can tell you, Zaccheus was in that kind of tree and he was destined to meet Jesus.

This infamous fig tree in Matthew 21:18-22, however, was not mentioned because of what it bore, but because it did not bear any figs. So Jesus cursed it; the disciples heard him doing this, saw the result and reported it in Scripture; and almost 2000 years later, one Saturday night, I’m Googling “fig trees” so I can make sense of the story to my grade 2-3 Sunday school class. You might say like I did, “Do we have to incorporate in our Sunday school curriculum stories like these that are placed among the difficult-sayings-of-Jesus?”. But it was right there in the middle of the lesson plan with a Sunday school moral like, “Be fruitful, or else…” attached to it. As a responsible grade 2-3 Sunday school teacher I felt I had to give the kids something more than this, so I delved into fig tree research.

I learned many things about fig trees and when they should bear fruit and all, but the thing that sticks with me that has me writing this blog today was about a particular variety of fig tree that has male and female trees or flowers or something (don’t make me do the research again) and there is this one particular type of wasp that hangs around the male tree long enough to get pollen on the feet and then flies into the female flower and dies there. The wasp gets incorporated into the fruit, the fig, and it is only by this wasp that the tree can produce figs at all. Now don’t worry, adults, I was discrete in how I passed on this VERY interesting bit of fig info along. The author who put this info on the internet made it clear that it was only one particular type of rare fig variety that had these male / female trees and associated wasps. This wasn’t something I used to explain Jesus cursing the tree as it is highly unlikely that the type of fig tree between Bethany and Jerusalem operated like that. This was treated as bonus info for a grade 2 / 3 Sunday School teacher who has a keen interest in nature but, who, unfortunately already had enough science credits in high school so he never took biology [sad, but true].

Right after the fig tree lesson we served up the name brand Christie Fig Newtons which I had splurged on since my kids deserve only the best. There was a higher than normal amount of half-finished cookies that day, which I put down at the time to “kids-these-days” but, now that I think of it, might also have been accounted for by a certain wasp-like crunchiness to that snack.

Now that I’ve raised this difficult-saying of Jesus in a blog, some of you might want to know why Jesus, indeed, did this. Was the fig tree symbolic of Israel? Maybe, but I wasn’t using that with my grade 2 / 3 kids. Don’t want no part in raising more miss-guided anti-Semitics. Here’s what I take from this story: Jesus, knowing that this would be reported in Scripture, taught in church (and even in some Sunday school curriculums), and studied by teachers, wanted to create a special “wink-of-the-eye” to me and my kin in the 21st century who would delve deeper and learn something of the intricacies of creation as it pertains to figs. I don’t write this tongue-in-cheek, as my reaction at the moment that I read about the wasps was nothing more or less than throwing up my hands to creator-God and Lord of all trees in WORSHIP. He knows my name. He knows how I hang out on my terrace garden at watering time happy that my flowers have created an urban environment for bugs and bees. He knows each tear that falls and, believe me, my tears are all about God’s goodness.

Picture of a half-eaten fig

Canoeing Petawawa

I’m going to say this picture is from 1988. Gavin Wark can look up the date of our Petawawa canoe trip, but that’s my best guess based on the fashion I’m wearing:

4 items – 1) Adidas Abdul-Jabbar low-cut runners, CanoePetawawa_Tedwhich were likely discontinued by that time but I kept the old pairs for canoe trips like this 2) Black sweat pants with green and white stripe as a premium from Fujifilm – sent in box tops from the film cartridges or something like that.  During the 1984 – 1985 youth team I shot a LOT of film – before then I would not have used 6 rolls of Fuji 35 mm film in 6 years! 3) Green neon sweatshirt.  All of the 1984-1985 Ontario Youth Team bought this horrendous neon green colour as that was the year that neon was in style.  The advantage of wearing a neon colour on a canoe trip in Algonquin Park is that no hunter is going to mistake you for a moose (but again, this was July, not hunting-season yet) 4) Hat is Indiana Jones style put out by Biltmore-Stetson.  While I had more than one of these over the years, I probably only started buying these post-1987 when I moved back from Montreal and resided close to the factory outlet for these hats, which was in Guelph, Ontario.

Whatever I’m eating couldn’t possibly taste better as it is at the end of a long day canoeing the Petawawa River in Algonquin Park (Ontario). This is the campsite at a log chute….Just went searching for one of my Algonquin Park canoeing maps.  I quote (from memory, as I didn’t find it) “The Petawawa River, from Cedar Lake to the hydro line is very dangerous and should not be attempted…”

But we did attempt it and we succeeded…on the first day past Cedar Lake, probably because the water levels were high, or maybe we portaged our way around the scarey stuff and here we are camping at the log chute (which, for sure we portaged around).  The next day on a set of rapids that we decided to shoot, probably because they weren’t very long and we could see all the potential hazards like the ledge we had to drop over, we left my canoe behind in the whitewater.  First we swamped and then one end of the canoe got held up by a rock and swung around toward the teenager in the middle who (THANK GOD) scrambled up on the rock before the back end of the canoe was also pinned against a rock and the current ripped a hole through the fiberglass.

We completed that trip with the 5 of us in one Bluewater canoe.  I recall that we couldn’t have more than two or three of us paddling at a time as the gunnels in the now over-loaded canoe were only an inch or so above the water and couldn’t bear any rocking of the canoe.  On the upside, we now had 5 guys and only one canoe to carry over the remaining day or two of our route.  We took every portage – no questions asked.


_____End of roll selfie

Mirror-produced selfie – end of camera roll ~1983

I do not own a selfie stick…yet…but my long arms and the way that extending them gives me something to do to take my mind off the heavy responsibility of auto-portraiture means I’ve be known to have a picture of two…that I like…of me!  Back in the days of film cameras I might have had a 36 exposure film in my 35 mm camera and the earliest picture might have dated from several months earlier.  By the time you filled the film… So we used to do various things to fill the roll…and the selfie was invented.  This is the way I looked, to me, in 1983 or 1984.  By late July 1984 I bought my first SLR camera – a Canon AE-1.  This is the camera previous to the AE-1 which had a viewfinder and I’m using a mono-pod (I was serious about photography) to hold it steady as I take a picture into the mirror in my bedroom.  I could usually get 26 pictures out of a 24 exposure film but the last one was partly obscured by a number (50089 – I cropped this).  That explains what this was – a picture of me in my coolest shirt (LCF rugby-style) sporting a moustache (which stayed with me until 1996).