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Home 2017-04-17T07:03:24+00:00

Awe and joy on the journey

By | December 24th, 2016|

(The Hamilton Spectator - Saturday, December 24, 2016) MUKONO, UGANDA ✦ It was just past sunrise in Congo at a mission refugee camp. This is when I walked into it. It was a certain and gentle light. It was in a church. I was alone. It wasn't much of a church, just plain with a dirt floor and simple benches and open ceiling. The space was empty. Still. Voiceless.

Winning, like losing, is about more than meets the eye

By | December 9th, 2016|

(The Hamilton Spectator - Saturday, December 9, 2016) KAMPALA, UGANDA ✦ The story of 2016 is the story of surprise. Surprise isn’t always the worst thing in the world. When all goes as expected, day after ordinary day, it’s hard to remember what matters in life.

How a simple skipping rope changed lives

By | November 12th, 2016|

(The Hamilton Spectator - Saturday, November 12, 2016) KAMPALA, UGANDA ✦ It started with a skipping rope, a plain green skipping rope, the kind you’d find at any dollar store. It was a simple investment. You’d be forgiven for opting to instead spend the money on your morning double-double.

Belief, truth and monsters who are all too real

By | October 22nd, 2016|

(The Hamilton Spectator - Saturday, October 22, 2016) KAMPALA, UGANDA – It's hard to know what to make of it somedays, what to make of these remarkable matters like belief and truth and monsters. I mean, when I was a young reporter I wrote about a monster that nobody believed in, and even that caused a stir. It was the so-called Lake Erie Monster, affectionately known as LEM.

On gardening, grace and writing

By | October 8th, 2016|

(The Hamilton Spectator - Saturday, October 8, 2016) MUKONO, UGANDA ✦ Someone (a writer, naturally) once said that writing is like prayer. Prayer, it seems to me, is like gardening. I’ve struggled with all three. The small garden behind our African home is testament to this. Many seasons it’s been a disappointing annoyance. Nearby trees steal valuable sunlight and nutrients. I suppose the space should never have been chosen to start.

(Flying around) a small world

By | October 6th, 2016|

It’s the other day and, unbeknownst to me, an old friend of mine, a Canadian we knew from Yemen way back in the day, is about to become a father. His name is Gabriel and, [...]

Answering the tough questions

By | September 27th, 2016|

The Children’s Mother has returned from Tanzania which means, besides the addition of some fresh flowers in the house, I can focus anew on what it is that I do. When you discover what this [...]

Talking to my dinner plate again

By | September 19th, 2016|

So, it’s that time, Single Daddin’ It, again. As you might recall, this is when the children’s mother is out of country and I am left to look at my dinner plate and ask it [...]

We live with our parents, even when we don’t

By | September 17th, 2016|

(The Hamilton Spectator - Saturday, September 17, 2016) ABOARD KLM FLIGHT 535 TO UGANDA ✦ I’ve always envied people who could watch their mothers grow old. My mother, I’ve shared previously, passed on when I was in kindergarten. I hadn’t seen her for two years prior to that. Funny to think of it here, half asleep at 40,000 feet.

We’re back

By | September 9th, 2016|

We’re back in Africa (with the cats and dog and everyone else). So is this blog. They, the Ugandans, always call it a holiday. “So how was your holiday?” they’ll ask. It gets too complicated [...]

In honour of my father and his well-lived life

By | August 27th, 2016|

(The Hamilton Spectator - Saturday, August 27, 2016) HAMILTON, CANADA ✦ It was a different time and place on the day I watched another human being die in my father’s arms. I was just a boy. Bert had epileptic seizures, medically uncontrollable then. Tall and lanky, he’d crumple and fall hard on the floor in the house, or outside under the apple tree, or in places between, shaking, convulsing, rigid as a board. I’d watch. All the time. Bert lived with us.

Happy Death Day: here’s to getting clarity in life

By | October 31st, 2017|

I walked through the cemetery today. I often do. It was me and the cold and the wet and my old umbrella. The umbrella is covered in deco of old newspaper headlines: the Jays won the World Series; Gorbachev was dismantling the USSR. My umbrella and I blew around like the news

Is God simply a figment of our imagination?

By | October 7th, 2017|

It was a recent evening at the University of Toronto when I was reminded of it all, that hope is better than skepticism, that faith is better than doubt, that love (in the abiding sense of charitable love) is better than fear. I was reminded, too, how I’ve always felt more kinship

Facing death and seeing the heroic nature of life

By | September 23rd, 2017|

I don’t believe in war. In name and in family heritage, I’m Mennonite. In spirit, I’m pacifist. But children, it seems to me, should have a working knowledge of war. Because in war there’s not only darkness and fear, there’s light and courage. There’s humanity. There’s humility.

End of summer, back to school, time for JFKs

By | September 2nd, 2017|

So, my children, like children everywhere, are about to return to school. This brings some uncertainties. It’s my children’s first-ever September back-to-school in Canada. More so, I’ll need to work at having more JFKs again. Before I explain what a JFK is, let me say that in