Wednesday, 30 January 2013


The grey sky stood over the city like an angry teacher assigned to detention. Thick arms of accumulating nimbus crossed themselves in front of me as I drove my car home. His voice purred, but it was the unpredictable, growling purr of a jaguar in the woods. The Grey was quietly asserting his power.

"I don't need to make you miserable," said the Grey. "I am satisfied with sullen weariness or numb solemnity. But if you provoke me - if you so much as smile - I will make you cry." As if to visually punctuate this thought, the Grey picked up a ruler and began to slap it against his open palm. Again. Again. The sound was distant thunder, to match the lightening  in his eyes.

I drove through town in silence.

Waiting at a red, I caught the eye of a girl in the next lane. She tipped her head to the ceiling, miming her subversive disapproval of the weather. I consented her opinion with the raising of one brow and the suggestion of the beginning of a comrade's grin.

I received my first warning in the form of a hailstone striking the windshield.
The chip was small, but noticeable in my field of vision.
I faced the front quickly.

The streets were a slurry of ice and sand and crumpled paper coffee cups. Traffic signals flicked green and yellow and red like the ticking of the classroom clock as it inches towards the end of day. I looked up from my dashboard in time to see an orange Volkswagen Beetle swimming through the slush in my direction. Without my permission, a memory flashed across my mind and jabbed at my sense of humour. At the last second I clamped my jaws around the laugh, cutting its potency from a burst of happiness to a pathetic sort of chortle, but the volume of mirth didn't matter much. The ruler came down hard against the roof of my car, commanding the vibrations to deafen my senses and abolish any amusement in my thoughts.

Then the rain came.
Strike two.

The trees wept and trembled as I passed them, like the kid in the front row who was refused a hall pass when he needed to pee. Grey stomped up and down the aisles called Centre and Main with billowing clouds like furrowing eyebrows and the ominous slap, snap, crack of thunder. Every tone of colour had fled the city streets, taking refuge from the storm in basement record studios and libraries and the country loft spaces where the artistic types tend to live. The whole world looked like it had been shaded over many times, with progressively darker and softer lead pencils.

The candle of hope in my head was struggling against the building wind; its little flame fought with every drop of water. "No fire in the classroom," said Grey as he quickly snuffed out what was left of my withering optimism.

Just as I thought the torrent was going to drown me out for good, as I watched Grey put down the ruler and pick up a yard stick, at the moment I thought, "Well, I'm done for! I'll be stuck in detention for the rest of my life!" and was about to let the tears fall right along with the rain, something happened.

There was a knock at the door.
Look to the east.

A thin shaft of light caught the sky by surprise. Where the sunbeam fell on the buildings, colours rushed back to their proper places. Rust-red brick, evergreen shutters, canary-yellow welcome mats, shimmering chrome towers of industry, the rich coffee-coloured small business signs, the royal blue of a school uniform: a sensational palate of texture and hue that blossomed with life as the classroom door was forced open wider and wider!

"Time's up," said this new bright spot of sky. "The bell is about to ring. Gather your stray thoughts and stack those negative emotions back on the shelf. Misery for another day. Detention is over. You're free."

The patch of glowing, streaming light exploded into a thousand rays of uncatchable brilliance. The Grey was dispelled and Light assumed authority's throne. I smiled broadly to the sun, picked up my attitude and drove down the highway in peace.

It was the end of day.
And the rainbow wins again.

Saturday, 5 January 2013

Crash, Bang

Let's start with an honest acknowledgement of stupidity and recklessness, before we go any further. There are driving rules; rules that are written as imperative commands, not flexible guidelines like the Pirate Code. Put simply, persons in the active charge of moving vehicles have the responsibility to obey the laws imposed upon them in order that they, their passengers and everyone else on the road remain safe.

Knowing that - having had the message of "drive carefully" called over the noise of a revving engine every time I have ever left the house - did not stop the foolish invincibility that I felt when I pulled onto Highway 60 without my seatbelt fastened. I was leaving the kennels after a long day, with Jess by my side, just chatting. I was going slowly, driving to the weather conditions, but I still slipped a bit in the intersection. To avoid a dangerous turn, I decided to move forward and catch the off ramp instead, when the coast was clear. FYI, that particular move is called an illegal U-turn, as stated on my fancy ticket. We both looked, both believed that the way was safe, and were both wrong.

Very suddenly, I couldn't hear anything. I saw, but could not understand. I remember Jess screaming something, but all I could scream back is that I couldn't hear her. Then I couldn't see.

I remember Jess jumping out to yell at the other driver. I remember them trying to yank open the door. Black truck. Strange voices. I remember wiggling my toes, somebody called the police, Jess telling me to turn off the car, and then I saw my Mum's sunglasses in what used to be the dash. The lenses were shattered. Something had happened. Not good. Jess sassing everyone, just like she would. Chris and Shayna appeared instantly. A ski patroller held my neck straight. Someone found me a blanket to cover my trembling body. Glass in my teeth. Questions. A familiar face in uniform brought the first of my tears. Blood on my face transferred to my hands. The doors came off, they lifted me out, and I was in the ambulance. Five minutes, they said. Turn off the lights, they said. You can call your Mom at the hospital, they said. But God bless Chris for jumping that call and getting my family there long before I would have been handed a phone. They told me I was out there for 40 minutes. It felt like ten.

Everything comes in flashes until I see my first nurse - Karen Stark - from church. I ask her to pray with me, and she does. Needles and drugs, then x-rays and stitches. The Lord cushioned my night with Christians I knew and trusted. Thank God for Dan Moore and his strength, and thank God for Esther Jennings and her patient care. Thank God for Matt and his coffees for my waiting family, and for anyone else who contributed what they could, whether or not I ever know. Thank God I'm Canadian and didn't have to pay for anything - not even parking.

I left the kennels just before six, and got myself into bed by three in the morning - on my own - no broken bones.

I will need to keep relatively still for a while, but I'm feeling miraculously well. Based on the car, I should be in a wheel chair... or a coffin. But instead I am here, whole. A few years ago someone told me this: "My life is immortal until my work for the Lord is complete." I have claimed it before, and I claim it now. Jesus still has work for me in this world. I still have a job to do - and as long as that is true, I'm not going anywhere.

If you're a friend on Facebook you'll soon be able to ogle my eye. If not, rest in the knowledge that five stitches and a shiner are the worst of my visual injuries. Truth be told, I have more bruises from the last three weeks of dogsledding than from getting t-boned two days ago. My arms are weak and my shoulders and upper back are in pain, so please resist the urge to hug me better or shake my hand. We've resorted to gentle, affectionate patting on the head at home, or kisses on the cheek. I won't be creeped out if you join in.

So... buckle up. Take a deep breath. Count your blessings, and praise the Lord.