The Blast of Winter

We got our first snow of the year in Edmonton a week ago, but for the past two days we’ve had our first real winter storm – about 15 cm of snow, and temperatures tonight going down to -27 C with a wind chill of -35 C.

Here are some photos taken Friday morning at about 8.20 as I was arriving at the church for Morning Prayer.

‘O ye Frost and Cold, bless ye the Lord; praise him, and magnify him forever.
O ye Ice and Snow, bless ye the Lord: praise him, and magnify him forever.’
– Benedicite, Omnia Opera

On the eve of a very special day for me.

This is another one of those ‘catch up’ posts.

I love winter, but even I’m getting tired of this Edmonton winter. It feels as if we’ve had snow and cold for months on end with very little relief (although, to be fair, we did have a warm spell a few weeks ago). The parking around our neighbourhood has become very congested because we live near one of the new LRT (Light Rail Transit) stations and there is not adequate parking on site, hence commuters use the residential streets around as a free parking lot. That causes congestion at the best of times, but when snow ploughs have left huge wind rows and thereby narrowed the streets considerably it’s even worse. Pox on the whole business! I love winter, but even I am looking forward to spring, snow melting, sunshine, days at the beach, a week camping and hiking in the mountains, sitting on the hill at Gallagher Park for the Edmonton Folk Music Festival…

On Monday night my friend Alex Boudreau and I played a last-minute gig at the Second Cup coffee shop on Gateway Boulevard and 34th Avenue. I say ‘last minute’, because Alex had been booked to play the regular Monday night gig there and he invited me to join him at the last minute. Alex and I used to play music together a lot, but we’ve been doing so less frequently recently. He has been getting more into bluegrass music, and I’ve learned a lot more traditional folk songs since the last time we played together. When we share a gig we do some songs by ourselves and some together, and we joke that ‘we practice live!’ Anyway, we had a really good time and agreed that we should do it again before too long.

Last night a small group of us started a Lent book study at St. Margaret’s; the book we’re using is John Bowen’s The Spirituality of Narnia: the Deeper Magic of C.S. Lewis. In this book John examines the Christian roots of the Narnia series and what it can teach us about spirituality and walking the Jesus Way. There are eight of us involved in the study – six made it out to the first one – and we had a very fine conversation. I’m especially looking forward to the last week of the study when John is going to have a Skype conversation with us about the book.

I’ve conceived a new traditional folk music project, which I call ‘A Folk Song an Hour’ (a play on Jon Boden’s very fine ‘A Folk Song a Day‘ project). The idea is that I will gather a group of people together for four hours on a Saturday afternoon and guarantee to teach them to sing (and play on guitar, if they play) at least four traditional folk songs. The emphasis will be on the words and the tune rather than on guitar artistry, as is only proper with traditional songs. I asked for ten people and twelve have signed up for it; we will be doing it on Saturday May 7th from 1-5 p.m., venue to be announced. There’s room for a couple more, but a maximum of fifteen, so if you’re in the Edmonton area and you’re interested, call me as soon as possible.

Tomorrow at St. Margaret’s we are holding a ‘conversation’ on the difficult subject of war and peace; we’re calling it ‘War and Peace: What’s a Christian To Do?’ We will be examining the different ways of interpreting the biblical material (just war, pacifism etc.) and then sharing our own views and listening to one another. Ten of us will be participating in this conversation from 10 a.m. to 1 p.m. It’s a very timely and important subject and I’m looking forward to it.

Then on Sunday after church we’re having a ‘Giant Omnibus Pancake Event’. This is really a combination of four things: (1) our annual Shrove Tuesday pancake supper, but on the Sunday before instead, (2) an appreciation event for our former administrative assistant who moved on to other things a few months ago, (3) an appreciation event for our many volunteers, and (4) a recruiting event for new volunteers. We expect that a good time will be had by all (and many pancakes consumed!).

Finally, tomorrow (March 5th) is a very special day for me. I was baptized as a baby on December 29th 1958, but on March 5th 1972, with my Dad’s help, I prayed a simple prayer giving my life to Jesus and asking him to live in me. My experience is that praying that prayer (or, rather, God’s answer to that prayer when I prayed it) set the course for the rest of my life in ways I never imagined at the time. My Dad is nearly eighty now, and I will be talking to him some time tomorrow to remind him of that special day. I will always be grateful for his challenge and his encouragement as I began my intentional Christian journey.

First Snowstorm of the Winter

We had our first real winter storm yesterday. Here’s Nick off to work on the bus (many of them got stuck and were hours late yesterday).

Our parking lot this morning.

Our back yard.

View of our parking lot from our upstairs window.

People were getting stuck trying to get out of the parking lot, and helping each other push and shovel. Winter storms always bring out the best in Edmontonians, I find.

We didn’t use the white Taurus yesterday, obviously!