October 6, 2017



















In the late winter of 1979 I was baptized. A very cold day. I walked to my home across two spans of the Disraeli Bridge. Down into the core of the city. Up a flight of stairs to my small apartment. Straight to bed. With a small black bible in both hands, pressed to my heart. Deep inside of me a prayer, that the truth of the book become a part of my lived experience. Likely delirious from my long walk in the bitter cold, I slipped into another state of mind. I could see little flames coming down through the ceiling. Then up again. As though the answer to my prayer was being downloaded. New software for a new future.

I began attending services with a small circle of friends. Held in their homes. This circle grew to be an intentional community. We occupied four houses on Bertrand street, in Saint Boniface. I learned much from this experience. Not theologically. In that regard I was already ahead of the others. Practically. Watching three men who served as elders, I learned how to mend fences, paint walls, repair leaking pipes, and all such things related to being a husband and a father. This learning would serve me well in the time to come.

I was employed as a Home Care Attendant. Every day I would visit elderly gentlemen needing practical supports. This included bathing. Maintaining the living space. Feeding. Getting persons out of and into bed. Also engaging visiting family and friends as they sought ways of giving dad supports and encouragements. Outcomes were consistently positive. There was Gus. His left side was rendered useless by a strong stoke. He lamented his loss. I pressed him to exercise what remained. When he wanted me to get him out of bed, I did only enough to support his own effort. Always exhorting increased effort. A big change from being wholly dependent. After a fair measure of time the old fellow gave me a nick name. "You are nothing but an old mid-wife. With you its always push, push, push." I took this as high praise.

During this time, every evening I walked a regular circuit. Summer and winter. The former testing my resolve in the face of heat. The later pressing me to endurance of frigid conditions. Along the way I met various persons. Somebody with their car stuck in the snow. Offering a push. A young person requesting a little money. Stopping to chat. Sometime leaving the money. Sometimes not. Always oriented to positive regard and honest respect. Midway in the walk I stopped in at a donut store. Sitting nearly invisible I heard conversations of all kind. A portal on the diversity of human being in any context. A taxi driver with a tracheotomy sitting with a coffee and a smoke. Blowing the smoke out through the air channel in his throat. Now and then I found my way into conversations. Looking back I see Socrates in the streets of the city. Sounds lofty. Still, I was a person who roused curiosity in many, by my manner and my language. People talked about me.