Growing up in America, Thanksgiving Day was one of the highlights of the whole year. Some years my family travelled to feast with others, other years guests came to feast with us. I remember the leaf piles, laughter, and Atari games with my cousins, and when we were home, I remember the five kernels of corn.
We would sit at tables that had been fully extended, knowing that the biggest feast of the year was waiting in the kitchen. We could smell it. We could nearly taste it. The tables were dressed up with the best tablecloths and plates, and on each one of those plates were five carefully counted kernels of corn. Before we ate them, my mom reminded us why they were there: she told us about the Pilgrims who landed in the new world seeking religious freedom, and how they struggled to survive those early winters in the wilderness. She told us how local Native American tribes helped the struggling Pilgrims, teaching them the right times and ways to fish and grow crops in a new environment. But then, just when they started to get ahead, a ship full of new settlers arrived without food supplies. To keep themselves alive, the entire settlement was reduced to a ration of just five kernels of corn a day. Could you imagine? Somehow, they made it through that winter and lived to bring in a good harvest the next year. As they celebrated that harvest with the local tribes who had helped them, they began their feast together with a reminder: five kernels of corn were placed on each plate, “lest anyone forget”.
Continue reading Five Kernels Of Corn
We’re later than we intended to be, but we’re still early. It’s our turn to help set up. The children take chairs from me as I bring out the stacks, then there’s the projector and the microphone, plus I need to run through the music with the others. We won’t have much time, but we never do, and we always manage to pull it off. We joke that if our band had a name, it would be A Wing And A Prayer.
Only a few minutes before we start, and familiar faces are smiling their greetings from across the room. As the hum of conversation grows, I see my children playing with their friends in the aisles between the chairs—are they being too loud? I see a few people slip into a side room to pray before we start. Through another door, I catch the movement of busy preparations in the kitchen, teas and coffees don’t make themselves, and they’ll be needed straightaway after the service.
Continue reading I Feel It On Sundays The Most
You wouldn’t notice it, if you walked by. It’s just a tree, next to an old house on a university campus. There’s a nice view from the hill, so you’d look at that, not a random tree. But I go there for the tree. To me, that tree, with the ground under it, is sacred.
Twice, I sat at a table under this tree. Twice, I set the table up and decorated it and prepared it for a surprise and a question. Twice, I worked up my courage to ask a question at the table under the tree, and both times I heard the same answer, the answer that changed my life:
Continue reading Yes
The door was stuck.
My two sons (3 and 1 at the time) had locked themselves inside the bathroom, and the stakes were high: the younger one had an ongoing problem where he would hold his breath and pass out if he got too upset. He got upset a lot, but one of us had always been there to bring him back around. What would happen if he passed out inside the locked bathroom..?
“Don’t worry, boys, we’re right here”
I used my happy voice, and tried to explain to the older one how to put the key in the door and turn it. It didn’t work. A few more tries, knowing that there was only one other option.
Continue reading Kicking In Doors Is Harder Than It Looks In The Movies
Put a kiss in my hand,
And while you’re away I can hold it
Up to my cheek
And be happy
Knowing that you really love me”
Here’s a kiss in your hand,
And while you’re away you can hold it
Up to your cheek
And I’ll give you
My love from a long way away”
My daughter is seven, but her love is much bigger than her size would suggest. She said this (ok, I’ve paraphrased) before I left home for a week, and here I am sitting on the other side of an ocean with my hand on my face and no one knows why.
I could see their faces, right there in the pile of rubbish at the dump. They were looking through the window of the broken playhouse, smiling pure joy at me – the joy of a child with a small space to go in and a world to look out at. I hadn’t expected them here, though. I was just doing a bit of spring cleaning, not ghost hunting. But even with rubbish all around it, that window was the frame of priceless memories painted in such vivid colour I could hear them laughing and calling “Daddy! Look at me!” through every one of its faded cracks.
Continue reading Ghosts In The Rubbish
Language is a flowing river, and our individual words are carried along in the current. Some meanings float along the surface, slowly morphing with time, while others remain lodged in the riverbed, unchanging for generations. Sometimes, though, a word that had been static for centuries suddenly breaks free and rushes to the top, changing more in a month than it did in the previous millennium. So it is with the word “influencer”.
Continue reading You Can Influence People More Than This Blog Post Can
A few years ago, when the children were smaller, time together just as a couple was a rare treasure, even harder to find than it is now. There were always little voices and little people, with their sound effects and observations about dinosaurs and bodily functions, effectively preventing any completed adult conversation (unless it had to do with snacks). Stealing time away from the children was no easy task. That’s why we were so excited to finally get the chance to have a lunch date. Continue reading Stolen Moments
There’s hardly anything more common than eating. It takes time, money, and effort, but that doesn’t stop us from doing it multiple times a day. In fact, we shape our lives around our need for food: companies and schools build lunch breaks into the schedule, holidays are celebrated with feasts, friends meet at coffee shops, and lovers woo over candlelit dinners. Clearly, there’s more going on here than simply keeping our bodies functioning. And don’t forget the gym memberships and diet programmes designed to compensate for our meals – you might say our relationship with food is complicated. Whatever else you say about it, though, you have to admit that food is powerful. Beyond it’s nutritional value, it packs an extremely high relational value as well (although it often seems that the foods with the least nutritional value have the most relational value, like ice cream and chocolate and cheesecake and pretty much every other dessert).
Continue reading The
Nutritional Relational Value Of Food (Why Our Family Eats Together)
My mother’s father was good at asking questions. I didn’t see him often since he lived far away, but when we did visit I knew at some point he would focus in on me specifically (I suppose he did that with everyone), and that’s when the questions would start. They began as standard fact-finding questions about what I was studying or doing in work, what I was reading or enjoying in my free time. In conversations with most people, this is where the questions stop. If the chat continues beyond them, it shifts to weather or sports or some other kind of neutral common ground – but talking to my grandfather was different. The normal questions were just the beginning.
Continue reading My Grandfather’s Questions