Many Over the Land

I was driving back from south London’s Costco this afternoon, having accumulated a good share of groceries and meds for Jody.  After rounding the Glanworth Curve, I saw some dots of white far up on the right.  As I got closer, I saw that the dots were seagulls, feeding on the dark brown of a farmer’s field.  Perhaps a thousand of them.  I was struck by the beauty, by the white and brown contrast, and by something else.  Something unspoken but so clearly present in the moment.  All these beings on God’s brown earth.

Five minutes later, far up on the left, was an orange stippling of the ground. Soon I could see that pumpkins protected part of another field.  The contrast this time was orange on brown, but no less lovely.  The gourds were another type of being, resting gently on the soil, waiting for pies and Jack O’ Lanterns.  Struck again.

Why did these displays draw me so?  And why did they happen one after the other?

My brain transported me back to 1992.  October.  The sixth game of the World Series, between the Atlanta Braves and my beloved Toronto Blue Jays.  I and 47,000 other faithful showed up at the SkyDome to watch the festivities. Except there was no baseball in Toronto that day, nothing happening on the field.  The game was in Atlanta, and we were watching it on the JumboTron.  I spent a lot of time looking at my fellow parishioners, worshipping at the shrine of the slider and the long ball.  Look at all of us, watching TV!  I loved them a bit.  They were my family of the evening.  And the moving sway of multicoloured dots filled nearly every seat.

As Mike Timlin threw the ball to first for the final out, we rose as one body, cheering and high fiving … the Blue Jays had won their first ever World Series.  Minutes later, maybe 20,000 of us were walking noisily up Yonge St. Such a flow.  Such joy.  And no looting, no overturned cars.  I walked north for the seven miles it took to get home, feeling the loss of the folks who turned left here and turned right there.  Family.

During the summer of 2008, Jody and I took the train to Quebec City to help celebrate the city’s 400th anniversary.  We decided to go see an evening concert on the Plains of Abraham, the site where the British defeated the French in 1759.  “Simple Plan” was playing.  We started up the trail which left the boardwalk by the Chateau Frontenac Hotel.  As we climbed higher, we could hear the band above us.  Finally it felt like the next rise would be our last … and it was.  As we reached the peak, we gazed down at a tiny stage very far away.  Between us and the band sat and stood and danced 100,000 people. So said the paper the next day.  Knolls of folks.  Meadows of folks.  A rolling blanket of humanity scattered on the plain.  I was struck dumb.  The music was fine but the spirit among us was … big.  So infinitely big.  I rocked and rolled inside my soul for hours.

Seagulls, pumpkins, baseball fans and concertgoers – spreading out to cover the planet.

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