Showing posts from March, 2010

A Good Friday, Most Definitely

Simon of Cyrene

I could scarce believe my ears
As the Roman soldier said:
“You there, stranger, lift that cross,
Follow Jesus, good as dead.”

I had missed the troubled crowd,
Having just come into town.
Now I pressed beneath the load,
Joined to him who wore a crown.

All around humanity,
Yet my thoughts were fixed on him.
Why the back ripped to the bone?
Why the cruel and thorny brim?

How he struggled to ascend!
How he laboured for his breath!
Yet I sensed his body strove
T’ward the hill marked for his death.

It became a strange desire
To relieve his tortured frame;
To receive the brunt of burden,
But to go on just the same.

I was reckoning in me
A compassion yet unknown,
While he nobly took the taunts:
“Where’s your kingdom? Where’s your throne?”

Momentarily we stopped
To console dear grieving friends.
In his voice was total calm,
Real concern for their lives’ ends.

Then, too soon, my privilege passed.
We had come to Calvary.
“Thank you friend,” he gazed at me,
Then they nailed him to the tree!

Oh, the truth welled …

The Danish Side

My mother is not much of a story-teller. Dad has that propensity. Mom was always the good listener, sitting often at the kitchen table, hearing out the teen-age boy with his many challenges. I always treasured her support. Words, though few, were appropriate and loving. She was extremely artistic. Oil paintings of scenes and still life. Tasteful backyard gardens. The finest of popular music on the high fidelity record player - Tony Bennett, Frank Sinatra, Keelie Smith, Julie Andrews, Percy Faith, Mantovani and Henry Mancini.

There were times when she had to be both mother and father, Jack taking to the road in his Regional Manager's position with Dominion Rubber. On one such occasion she suffered the undeserved guilt of being on the watch when her son was on a construction site and throwing stones with another boy. An errant stone took out about sixty percent of the vision in my right eye.

Mom had not had an easy upbringing. At age fourteen she lost her mother, Hertha (nee Jaeger) t…

The Road Home

The land looks much the same
And the peaceful country lane,
Winding gently past the fields my youth had known;
And again I feel the breeze,
Hear the birds, smell the trees;
But I wonder if a welcome waits at home.

Much too long ago it seems,
I had yielded to false dreams
And embarked a self-sufficient prince, I thought;
On a pleasure-seeking quest,
With a yearning for life’s best.
Oh what woe and waste my birth-right soon had bought!

All the women and the wine
And the friends I thought were mine
Quickly stripped my purse and pride down to the bone,.
Then, quite destitute of aid
In the mire my ways had made,
I remembered bye-gone family times, alone.

How the father of my youth
Had displayed a love for truth,
And for righteous work and ways to chart one’s course.
And no doubt reports had come
Of the folly of his son,
Of the family riches lost without remorse.

Could I somehow still return?
Could I live and lose and learn?
Could I yet retrieve the joy which I once had?
But, unworthy as a son,
Let me just return as o…

Beautiful Woman

She is extraordinarily short. Face aged well beyond her years. Long-nosed. Hearing impaired on both sides. Hearing aids in place. Large eyeglasses. Irregular teeth. Balding above the forehead. Blunted tone of voice. Speaking impaired.

She is a beautiful person. I don't know her by name, but I have often seen her and had an exchange at an early morning coffee shop on my way to work.

Usually she is in the company of some disabled "workshop" friends who manifest Down's Syndrome. She is their consummate friend and help. Cheery. Generous. Hugging. Smiling. Bearing with their hurts and disappointments. Seemingly, like loving little children, all.

In the past there appeared to be a "boyfriend" who was as large as she is small.

I marvel at the patient treatment which they all get from staff and patrons at the Tim Horton's. Seldom an irritated sigh or shuffle or superior look from the others. Even when they are taking long in the line-up or changing their minds abou…

Phil and Painful Speech

Phil is a young single man in his early thirties. We met him at a study group in a small inner city church. In short order it became apparent that he is afflicted with a most unusual speech impediment.

Not a stutter or a stammer. It is more of a balk when the right words come to mind. Then the speaking of some "fill" until another word grouping is decided upon to say the intended thing.

In expression of thought, one might compare it to the man who intended to visit his neighbour 3 doors down his block counter-clockwise, took a few steps, stopped, then turned around and proceeded clockwise to travel around the entire block to reach his destination.

It is a sad and painful thing to watch. As in the case of a stutterer, one is tempted to jump into the conversation to offer the word or words causing the roadblock. I noticed that no one in the group volunteered such an intervention. They were prepared to wait it out, and let Phil have his say. This was the better way...for Phil.

I wo…

Railroad Family

My Dad has a real soft spot for railroads. As a youth he would accompany his grandfather "Lug" Watson, a locomotive engineer, on rides on the London and Port Stanley Railway to the docks at Lake Erie. His "Uncle Bill" Watson was also an engineer in the Sarnia and Michigan area.

I remember Uncle Bill very fondly. He and Aunt Betty would often drop by at my parents' home whenever shopping or the horse races or an itch for a drive would bring them to London. Uncle Bill's voice belonged in a much larger man. He was loud because of his living with my widowed and somewhat deaf great-grandmother Elizabeth Watson. It was surprising for me to learn in later years that Bill had once had a real struggle with alcoholism. Petite and smiling Betty and Elizabeth had seen him through the ordeal. (I never once saw my Aunt Betty upset or downcast. She ran variety stores in Sarnia and would often arrive with exotic Yankee candies for Scott and me. Even widowed and taking the b…

Special Ed Rough-House

As a college student I held many part-time positions at the London YM-YWCA. Boys'Club. Department Office. Building maintenance. Lifeguard. Swim Instructor.

I just had a flashback to a teacher who used to bring in about sixteen boys in a special ed class for a free swim weekly. These youngsters all had severe learning and behavioural difficulties. "Teach" ran the program. I counted the heads and gave occasional swimming tips.

The thing that stays with me is the comparative roughness of the event. "Teach" seemed hard with the boys. When they needed bawling out, they got it, and then some. Occasionally to make a point he would pick one of them up and toss him into the pool. The boys loved it. They were being treated like regular kids, or so they thought.

Doubtless there was a level of trust established in the group in other venues which made it OK for "Teach" to let loose like this occasionally. When he spoke, they listened. It was the most peculiar example…

Free Food

My family has fond memories of Forwell's Variety Store. Just two blocks from our first residence in Waterloo and situated directly opposite the campus of Wilfrid Laurier University.

The children ages eight and two at the time remember the rows of penny candy taken as treasure in brown paper bags. Lauren remembers the big kids from the college all around. Their styles. Their conversation. Jordan remembers the pretty girls who ran the counter, part-time employees going to school and making some money from Joe Forwell and his daughter.

The place was an all-purpose students' market...treats, batteries, first-aid, cleansers, groceries, hardware, stationery, novels, videos, fresh sausage, juices. So much under one roof!

The thing that we didn't know until later was Joe's compassion for students in need. They were constantly juggling expenses for tuition, books, rent, haircuts, O.S.A.P. interest, laundry, the occasional date.

Joe knew that many of them were away from home and not…


Pursuing Amalekites
With the image of their
Scorched village
Still fresh in their minds.
And angry, so angry
With the leader
Who had bade them depart from Ziklag.
Families left vulnerable.

Forgotten the times
Of his mastery,
His music,
His memories of
Meadow, stream and flock.
Of how he gathered them,
Some distressed, some in debt
Some discontented.

The trail and the camp
Had knit them.
He ever offering
Counsel and courage,
Just leadership,
Command with example.
Stores never failed.
Their shield and portion.

Receiving their rebuke,
He withdrew silently.
Alone with the
God of his sheepfold.
Gentle music perhaps.
Refreshment arrives.
Hope against hope
Glowing in his face.

There is nothing
But to follow him.
(Though murder had been
In their hearts.)
He also sorely misses
Wives and loved ones.
"There might yet be victory.
Let us be up and active."

1 Samuel 30:6 - And David was greatly distressed; for the people spake of stoning him, because the soul of all the people was grieved, every man for his sons and for his dau…

How Could a Loving God?

Tell me, could a God of love
Bring war upon the earth?
Or grip a life in cancer’s curse,
Or maim a child at birth?

Tell me, could a God of peace
Delight in streets of crime?
Or shackle once-whole lives to drugs,
Or prostitute youth’s prime?

Tell me, could a God so wise
Take pride in filthy air?
Or look with joy on wasted streams,
Or wildlife, once so fair?

Tell me, could a God so just
Let guns control the realm?
And how could hunger waste the weak,
With justice at the helm?

I’ll tell you, friend, please take
The time to study in your Bible,
To see that God is not at fault,
But Satan, our arch-rival.

For once the whole creation bloomed
When Man first got his lease;
Full-binding through God’s spoken word
For love and health and peace.

But then pride’s fallen cherub came
To make his subtle play.
And pledging Adam power and fame,
He snatched the lease away!

Prince of this world, an enemy?
Most certainly he is.
But victory through Christ has come.
Repent and become His.

For time is counting out the age,
And soon the lease…

Have I Seen?

Have I seen
Around the corner
Young mother in wheelchair
Pushed by sensitive son
Legs limp and thin
After the accident?
Or at the store,
Frail, neatly coiffed elder
Holding purchases
Mere inches from the eyes
Hiding her blindness?

Or young man
In the one good suit,
Files underarm,
Seeking again today
That job of promise
In the wake
Of broken promises?
Or single mother
In the parking lot,
Trying to contain
Three youngsters
Who cry, compete
And complain?

For so long they were invisible.

But then came
A Great Pain,
A faltering,
A disruption
In schedule
And in connection.
An embarrassment
A helplessness
A slip from the ranks
All in the mercies of Providence.

And I see them now,
And I feel the pulse
And reach out.

Up and Gone

I dreamed of a City
Which had stretched
To the point of bursting.
Its new zones
Boasted two-by-four, truss,
Storm-pipe and cable.
Its old zones, their
High-rises and
Desperate renewal.
Smog, signs and noisemakers
Were everywhere.
Traffic constituted
The armoured blood
Of its arteries.
Milling crowds, the corpuscles.
Birds were not to be found.
They had left abruptly
For some remote wood-lots
And fields
Unsuitable for construction.
Few spoke of their
Life was just too busy,
Scheduled, connected,
But occasionally,
I made contact with
An old-timer,
In one of the sterile
Paving-stone parks.
His eyes would flash with glee
As he remembered the comic
Antics of the skipping sidewalk sparrow.
Beautiful purple of a
Grackle on freshly cut lawn.
Tapping of industrious downy
Woodpecker on the old oak.
White shower of
Pigeon wings at the
Civic fountain.
Crimson explosion of
Cardinal at top-of-tree,
Caroling with water-pipe
Scolding of blue-jay
In some territory dispute
With a squirrel.
Persistent gutturals

Nurse Ula

She came running after us to the hospital elevator, "Don't leave. He will soon wake up. He has been talking about your visit all day."

We had come to the hospital to see how my 87 year old father was doing after a serious fall and some blood infection arising from a foot wound which was not healing. Seeing him sound asleep Hilary and I had decided to allow him another forty minutes rest while we sat downstairs in a lounge.

This nurse, Ula, had thought that we were giving up and going home. Upon our return it was evident that Ula had really caught the fancy of my Dad. She came in to change an intravenous bag of anti-biotic and the conversation became animated, and my Dad was clearly happy; "There's a young lady who enjoys what she is doing and it shows."

How important this is. Dad is separated for a couple of weeks from my Mom because of treatment arrangements for both of them following their accident. Mom has been transferred after hip replacement surgery to a…


Trials Leading us to Christ

“When he heard that Jesus was come … he went unto him, and besought him that he would come down, and heal his son:”

John 4:47

The trouble in his home sent this man to Christ. Perhaps he never would have gone at all had it not been for his son’s sickness. Many of those who went to Christ in the olden days were driven by their distress of heart. They tried everything else first, and then at the last moment they hurried to Jesus.

The same is true in these days. Many persons who have never prayed before have gotten down upon their knees by the bedside of their sick and dying children and cried to God on their behalf. Many persons have first been sent to God by their own troubles. It was not until the prodigal was in sore want, and every other resource had been exhausted, that he said he would arise and go to his father. Many sinners never think of Christ until they are in despair under the sense of guilt. Not until they see the storm of wrath gathering do they seek…


Last week I thought several times about Alice. Hilary and I spent five days at London University Hospital (London Health Sciences Centre) with parents who were recovering from a serious mutual fall in their home.

Mom, age 83, was recovering from hip replacement surgery. Dad, age 87, was being monitored for some concerns which had shown up in his post-trauma check-up. He is almost blind from macular degeneration and cannot be at home alone.

I know the hospital to be world renowned for complicated neurosurgery and heart surgery.

Alice was a dear friend of my mother-in-law. Her husband Chuck, bull dog and jovial in appearance, was an executive in advertising at the London Free Press. When Hilary and I were first married our quaint little upstairs apartment was close to the residence of these family friends. I would often hail Chuck in the morning walking to work.

Both were considered as lively contributors to any party. Animated conversation. A tasteful joke. A song from any one of a number …

Seeds of Heaven

(Today's entry in Come Ye Apart by J. R. Miller)

Fruit unto Life Eternal

“He that reapeth receiveth wages, and gathereth fruit unto life eternal:”

John 4:36

Those who work for this world often fail of reward; but those who do God’s work are sure of good wages and of glorious harvest. “The wages of sin is death,” and the wages of much of earth’s toil is disappointment; but the wages of doing good is life, and the joy is sure and eternal. It is often hard work which the Christian has to do. The sowing is ofttimes in tears, but the reaping is always in joy. Christ Himself found the sowing hard and sorrowful, but He has never been sorry in heaven for what it cost Him here. The old prophet having spoken of the sorrows and sufferings of Christ’s life, said, “He shall see of the travail of his soul, and shall be satisfied.”

We have other examples of the same. When He had gone through His sore temptation and was “an hungered,” we are told that angels came and ministered unto Him. In Gethseman…

Allah's Marketplace

The Arabic Christian, Hany, quietly looked for a corner in the busy Cairo market to set up his little table. This would be his second attempt at giving out free New Testaments. The pastor of his house church had given him the requisite warnings and advice. "Allah" was in charge of that place and all of the authorities.

For the first two hours no takers. Most women, with faces covered, breezed by without making eye contact. A couple of curious elderly men, and evidently quite poor, took copies. A couple of little boys headed in Hany's direction but were re-routed by their mothers.

Then a group of five young men approached. The evident leader stepped forward and asked what he was trying to sell.

"Not selling anything. I have Gospels of Jesus which I would like to give away."

The cynical Egyptian took a copy, flipped through some pages, then threw it down into a puddle. He stepped forward boldly right into Hany's face, paused and slapped him across the side of the…

Fond Remembrance

You have much
To be thankful for,
As you boil your leftovers
And wait for the
Bathroom wax to dry.

The boy is out
Doing his deliveries,
And Connie is late
At school with her project.
Ted will phone
Tonight from Calgary.

He has been so
Tired these last few weeks.
But the Company
Has a new customer.
Big one…out west.
He’s the senior driver.

Still you’re lonely,
And the bills are there.
In various colours.
From the top of the fridge.

Hang in there, girl.
Everyone will be home
This weekend.
And Saturday dinner
Is planned with Kate
And her fiancé.

Remember how your
Sister came to your
Kitchen table.
And cried that Frank
Wanted to call it off,
After eighteen months.

Remember how the
Two of you
Had really prayed.
For guidance, for healing.
(She the seasoned
Career girl.)

Remember four summers
Ago, Veronica.
When you had had
Your own doubts about Ted.
The phone calls, late nights,
And feeble explanations.

Remember at the
Last school, your boy’s
Circle of tough friends.
The merchandise hidden
In the basement.
The …

One Fine Anglican Lady

Hilary and I were somewhat apprehensive about this visit to London to University Hospital. Her father Charlie had had a serious downturn in alertness. Alzheimer's. He had fallen and hurt himself. It looked as if the arrangements for him in the old family home, with daily house-care, were coming to a close.

For years there had been an awkwardness in my wife's relationship with her father over matters of religion. We had left the Anglican Church for something considered to be more evangelical. Charlie saw it all as fanaticism.

A stop at the north end of London at a coffee shop. Hilary had to use the ladies' room. She seemed to take an inordinate amount of time, but then appeared all smiles. Apparently she had struck up a conversation with another woman. Common interests of home-schooling, church activities. This woman was Anglican. She had assured my wife that there were good and legitimate things going on in that way of worship. Sincere, seeking Bible courses. Exciting new ap…

Healing in His Rays

It hurt me fifteen years the same,
And I thought that it would
Continue to torment my life,
And cripple me for good.

Oh, how I hoped the medicine
Would gently ease the pain;
But doctors told me not to hope
Too hard, lest it remain.

Each morning, I would fear the sun
Which called me from my bed.
I wanted to stay safe and still,
And nurse my pain instead.

I nursed the curse of memories
Of aching wasted days,
And thought that there was naught on earth
To cause me joy or praise.

From time to time, some friend would come,
And urge me to take heart;
As if by some strange strength of mind,
My symptoms would depart.

But nothing changed, and each new day,
My heart sank deeper still.
Experience and doubts and fears
Had robbed all strength of will.

Then one spring day, my mail contained
A letter from a friend,
Which praised a risen, healing Christ
Through whom my grief would end.

I read with hunger every page,
And scriptures she revealed
About the Lamb of Calvary,
‘By whose stripes we were healed’!

Could this be true, such pow…

Given to Hospitality

Landseer Remains

It was true
The great artist
Had come to the croft.
The Husband had
Set it up with
The Interior Man.
Margit’s * cooperation

Hardly the time
To lime-wash
The plaster walls
Of guest-room.
And soak, pound and
Breeze the bed-clothes,
Before arrival of the
Chronicler of heather,
Nature, heritage, race.

Other women would
Not get the news
‘Til Sabbath Meeting.
Margit was near
The singular
Honour of it all!
Though He was not
Overmuch with her fare.

Of a day’s outing,
Whatever the sportsman’s
Dress or kit,
Or eyeglass or brushes,
It was always His
Sky blue eyes
‘Neath craggy gray brows,
Probing, dancing,
Which fascinated.

The Man was noble,
Cautious with words,
Sensitive in commendation.
Enrapt by the land.
(If only Husband had
Responded to her many
Requests to fix the
Horrid fissure in
Guest-room plaster wall!)

Daily, Husband and dogs
Would escort “Sir”
To some edge of the heath,
Arrangements made
For rendez-vous point
Seven hours distant.
Husband then busied
With endless demands
Of the wee fa…

Which Wolf?

(With thanks to Bible teacher Abe at the church.)

The lesson began as the native grandfather paced the forest trail with the youth, life happening all around, in the trees, in the air, underfoot.

"I tell you, we come to realize that two wolves are in constant battle in our hearts, son. I still must deal with it, leaning heavily upon the Great Spirit.

The one wolf strives for uncleanness, hatred, envy, evil report, theft, lying, lust, argument and unearned praise. The other raises the standards of love, joy, peace, patience, gentleness, goodness, faith, meekness, self-control.

If you look at a man in the quiet time, in the unnoticed time, you will see the signs of the struggle on his face. You may also ask the Great Spirit to show you how the battle is going."

A hawk flew overhead, spreading back its beautiful red tail as it lighted high in the oak. Both men observed it with respect and noted a hush among the scurrying ones, ever present.

"Well, which wolf wins, Grandfather?&q…

Open Letter to the Bruised

Dear Wounded Neighbour:

Have you been hit hard? Sickness? Money pressures? Unemployment? A broken relationship? A grievous death? Monotony and depression?

Memories have become debilitating assailants. The answer is not in looking back. This morning's sunrise was something new. The fresh air entering your window something God-given. Never lose sight of the fact that you are under the watchful eye of heaven.

Suffering is our common lot in a fallen world. But for many, the testimony has been "a coming through". Get out there in the society, if only for the exercise and fresh air. You will see many other stories of challenge right around the corner. You will also see the many simple niceties. Parents with a beautiful little child. Elderly with the grace and distinction of a former generation. Teenagers with the wide eyes of romance. Public servants doing their duty with courtesy and a smile.

And in this venture, smile. Seek to engage. Render a simple service. Converse spontaneou…

Gold Is In the Giving

Silas Marner
This is one of my favourite pieces of literature, written by George Eliot (pen name for Mary Anne Evans, 1819-1880).

A young man has been scandalized in the big city, accused of pilfering from church coffers and summarily stricken from the rolls of his Bible-believing, evangelical fellowship.

He arrives at a quaint village of simple, kind folk where he expects the safety of relative anonymity working as a cobbler. His workmanship is good and the business grows with a bewitching stash of gold coin building in the cottage.

Unfortunately Silas is given to periodic epileptic spells which render him unconscious. During one episode his cottage is visited by drunken young aristocrats, homeward-bound from the tavern, who find him blacked out and then proceed to pillage his cottage and take off with the golden stash.

The miserly Marner is devastated by his loss, but resolves to work even harder for the accumulation of unrighteous mammon.

On another winter's evening by the fire Silas…

Upon His Leaving

See it boldly through,
My Lad.
Gain some ground
Each day.
Help a neighbour
Bear his load.
Don’t forget to pray.
Claim the vision
That is yours.
Be prepared
To wait.
Sift it through
The will of God.
Don’t procrastinate.
Show some child
The path of right.
Keep within
The laws.
Honour elders
All the time.
Help them, just because.
Know that you are
Not the things
You possess, or don’t.
Be a man
Whose word is bond:
What you’ll do,
Or won’t.
Exercise a
Listening ear.
Not too quick
To speak.
Recognize the
Of the poor or weak.
Seek in friends
Some budding signs
Of the Saviour’s heart.
Though, sometimes our
Faith requires
That you stand apart.
Find a mate
Of equal yoke.
One who knows
The Lord.
Daily pour out
All your heart.
Show her, she’s adored.
Providence will
Set your own
Blend of good
And bad.
Never let a
Bitter root
Rob the joy you’ve had.
So much more
That I might say.
But its time
To close.
You are in
The hand of God.
This your Father knows.

Deaf But Not Down

I could hear that familiar off-tone yodel from behind. Sure enough, my friend Terry, doing his Saturday morning shopping. Parked his bike out front. Had his habitual fire-up coffee at the Tim Horton's.

We had developed quite a rapport over the months. First as he questioned me on products in the grocery store. I had felt awkward. He was deaf. I could not sign, but he pressed on with a sort of charade effort and with note writing on a piece of scrap paper. It really wasn't that hard.

He was trying to show me how lean our store was on diabetic friendly products. Over the following weeks Terry would often seek me out to display his bargain finds in the store. A whole chicken. Pork tenderloin. Big jars of Maxwell House. Tiny tins of mandarin oranges - his favourite treat.

I was impressed at how intuitive the man was. I just had to try ever so casually with the hand gestures and lip-reading, and he had it. I began to realize how liberating it was for him to have someone to "talk&…

Whistle Stops the Play

One kid was still out on the court. Coach Brown was in his office beside the gym waitng for the team to shower up. But someone was still out there.

PING, PING, dubbadubbadub, PING, fwoosh. He could see that it was Scott Kramer at the far end of the court. He had noticed something out of sorts with the boy during the practice. Reluctance to laugh at the jokes. Unnecessary roughness in the skirmish.

"Scott, take a shower. We have to clear out. It's really starting to snow outside."

"Yeah, OK Coach." The boy slowly placed his ball in the bin and headed downstairs.

It didn't surprise the Coach at all that Scott was much later than the others coming out. This was his second year on the team and he was really starting to carry his own weight. Not quite first string yet, but great in the practices and well worth putting in for at least one-third of the game. He was murder on rebounds and quick shots under the board.

"Scott let me give you a lift home.That snow is …


A single-lane bridge
In the country.
The Mennonites
Use it the most,
With corn fields
And cattle,
And wire-fences
Nailed to old posts.
A resting spot
North of the suburbs,
With black buggies
Easy to spy.
The horses all
Glistening and clopping.
A hint of a time
We passed by.
The father, broad-brimmed,
Stately teamster.
His bonneted wife
At his side.
The purple-dressed
Daughters behind them,
Enjoying the change
Of the ride.
Politely, they
Honour my presence,
Alone at the road-side,
By car.
I’ve come here to
Listen to nature.
Just out of the
City, not far.
With Bible and
Note-pad beside me,
A chance to see
Life on the wing.
As blackbirds explode
From alfalfa.
And plovers so
Fretfully sing.
Some rooster proclaims
From a barnyard,
His kingdom extends
To the lane.
A collie comes
Over to greet me,
With broad grin
And soft, flowing mane.
I’m thankful
For slow Woolwich
Its Mennonites,
Back-roads and corn.
And marvel at God’s
Of this sunny
Sabbath-day’s morn.

To Honour His Parents...

I remember making contact with an east Indian family back in Chatham. The parents were in their seventies and in failing health. They lived in an income-assisted housing development and they were having difficulties with the local Housing Authority. They had come to my law office. Something about some furniture acquisitions causing "the man" to take another look at their income disclosure.

I must confess that I do not remember their names, but their situation and their demeanour remains with me.

Their eldest son had come to facilitate the interview. He was in his upper thirties or young forties. Unmarried. Apparently on top of the situation of each family member. A middle daughter was married and having some difficulty with the husband. The youngest daughter was in college and living away from the parents, She apparently was the one most distanced from the old cultural ways of the east.

In a subsequent interview I learned that the son had left a lucrative engineering position n…


It is good to toil
With the men I know;
And to trim the trees
And to lay them low;
And to haul their bulk
To the stream below;
I am glad that the Lord sent me here.

And from time to time
When the mood is right,
In the vaulted wood
With its dappled light;
Where the blue-jay’s flash
Quickens shrill and bright;
I can sense that the Lord meets me here.

There’s a constant strain
From the whistle call;
As we scale the heights
Making giants fall;
And we swing our steel
And our chain and maul.
And I know that the men test me here.

But the dusk does come,
And the campfires burn;
And the grub is good,
And our thoughts will turn
To the ones at home,
And for those we yearn;
But for weeks we must still labour here.

Yet another time
The alarm will sound;
That a trunk has split;
That a man is downed.
And like mother birds
We all gather ‘round.
And I sense they are glad I am here.

Then the Sabbath day
Brings some extra rest;
And a few will come,
And by that I’m blessed;
And we search the Book,
And I share Christ’s best;
For the Lord of the …