My writing has taken a hiatus in the last few weeks. A busy schedule and a creative drought have conspired together to keep me from the blogosphere.
One excuse is that I’ve been in Canada for a visit, largely away from significant computer access. Protocol prevents me from telling you exactly where, but I’ve been checking out a job possibility with a parish. However, I can tell you I’ve turned down the invitation to take the position; a “bridge too far” kind of thing.
I’m married to a Canadian, and 4 Canadian citizens have sprung from my loins, even though I myself am not one (wonders never cease). Though they have been raised by a father who lays claim to American, Brazilian, and Dutch nationalities, it is the Canadian identity of their mother that my children seem to have most readily embraced. I think because it is the easiest to wear in an international setting. Even many Canadian cultural traits – against all odds, and never having lived in Canada – have been imprinted on their souls.
Two years ago we happened to visit a church in White Rock, BC, on a Sunday when they were celebrating an important event in their community life. After the service, on a table at the center of the church hall, was a cake the size of half a ping-pong table. Cake and coffee was served, but I was missing out because I’d been cornered by one of those enthusiastic make-the-visitors-feel-at-home-by-yacking-their ears-off types with serious hair, dressed in pastel colors and smelling of Chanel. As the reception drew to an end and people headed out to drive away their super-sized cars, I finally shook her off and made it to the cake table.
I had to laugh. “Canadians,” I said, as I surveyed the remains. There, in the middle of a vast area once occupied by innumerable slices of cake, was one solitary piece left over, begging to be eaten. Immediately I recognized a pattern which plays itself out over and over again in my household. Canadians, unlike their southern neighbors, never take the last slice or piece of anything. They always leave it for someone else to take. But of course no-one ever does, ’cause they are ALL Canadians. Over and over again in my home, I – the American – am called upon to dutifully finish the last bonbon of chocolate, the last slice of cake, the last ounce of cola in the bottle, the last friggin’ peanut in the bowl for goodness sake!….all because my ever-loving Canadian wife and daughters do not want to appear rude and insensitive to the needs of a hurting world.
On my recent visit to Canada I arrived early at one of my appointments, so I spent 30 minutes checking out the Anglican cathedral. As I was getting out of my car I noticed that a police officer was waving off another car whose driver he had just ticketed for some offense. “Have a better day!” he called cheerily to the driver, knowing it could no longer be a good day for them. How typically Canadian.
Personally I think the world would be a better place if there were more Canadians around. They seem to have preserved a dose of optimism, kindness and decency that is sorely missing in other parts of the world. Sure, I know it’s a stereotype. But seeing as I’ve got to go through life being outnumbered 5 to 1, it’s not a bad stereotype to have to live with.