Monday, June 26, 2006


Harry Lehotsky is a Baptist minister and rabble-rouser in the core of Winnipeg's downtown. In the last few months, he has been diagnosed with pancreatic cancer. His legacy is long, though his life sentence is short. I have worked off and on at one of his church's ministries, the Ellice Cafe and Theatre, and have been privileged enough to see a true servant at work.

Tonight I went to "A Big Harry Night of Fun," a fundraiser put on by the West End Biz. The money raised will be put towards a new mural that will be added to the neighbourhood's increasingly colourful streets. There were speeches, dancing, tributes, and sermonettes. My favourite part of the evening (besides all the donated baking and a reference to the Cafe as "Le Hot Spot") was when Joan Hay, an aboriginal community activist, got up to speak and pray.

Her prayer was a simple, conversational, ground-level statement of gratitude. It went something a little like this:

I am not waiting for You to answer all my questions or fix my problems: I am thanking You right now.

I am not holding out for change or for things to suddenly turn better: I am thanking You right now.

I am not waiting until I get that job or achieve that goal or become who I want to be: I am thanking You right now.

I am not waiting until I've made sense of my past and put things in order so that I may understand: I am thanking You right now.

How often do I think of prayer as some magical wand or worse--vending machine? Prayer is talking to God, in spite of what might come of it. In Gord Downie's words, it is looking up to the sky above and saying "Hey Man, thanks." Pretty simple, and I like it. When we cease to be grateful, we are blinded to what God is doing in our lives.

Saturday, June 24, 2006

muddy waters

The cloak of familiarity is heavy
my shoulders droop
with its weight and warmth.

Every turn the old haunts,
faces I know or recognize
and have forgotten (me).

At a bright cafe on the corner of the dusty intersection
of Ellice and Sherbrook
I am mopping floors again.

Not forgotten: Re-placed.

Missed. Gone.

I can't find you, Great Prairie City.
Isolated, plain, caracature of ice and fire.
I am lost among thousands of my own footprints.

I trace my nostalgia in yours.
Shoes, frames, books, sweaters, receipts.
Pawn shops a testament to our constant "too much."

I am back and I am dragging my feet.
finding my place,
Trying not to be afraid in a house too big for one.

The skin of the places I've been is peeling from my heels.
There is movement latent in my bones.
Orbit and Axis meet in a confused dance.

For now I'll just keep sending out homing devices
like Noah's dove
hoping for a handful of soil from the solid earth I've heard so much about.

Wednesday, June 21, 2006

close as a tattoo

Now that I've succeeded in surprising a sufficient number of people in my life, I'm ready to show the world my first tattoo! After years of journal-sketches and toggling back and forth between images, I decided on a compass rose, the beautiful symbol found on old nautical maps. (Thanks to Mike at Stark Raving Tattoo in Victoria for his beautiful work!)

This new mark on my body symbolizes the two poles I often find myself struggling between: home and travel, stasis and momentum, permanency and adventure. The prophet Isaiah said "Whether you turn to the right or to the left you will hear a voice behind you saying: This is the way, walk in it." That kind of faith--found somehow in even the seemingly random wanderings--has always given me a sense of direction that is more comforting that latitudes and longitudes.

I might lose my way again. I might make new trails that branch off of the ones others think I should be on. I might fall, I might follow the wrong star. I might wander, but as Tolkien says, I will not neccessarily be lost. Something will always point me Home. Some wind will always push me, sometimes gently and sometimes not, towards my own True North.