I have two favourite words.  The first is a popular choice I’d guess: Love.  James Taylor wrote “There ain’t no doubt in no one’s mind that love’s the finest thing around.”  I agree, James.

I venture to say that my other favourite word is the choice of no one else.  Mind you, I haven’t met all eight billion of us.


I’m not talking about cartoons.  No, there’s another meaning.  To animate has its origin in Latin: the verb “animo” means to fill with breath, make alive, encourage, embolden.  It’s to see the extraordinary in the ordinary, to bring to vision an extra layer that shines like the sun.

We’re surrounded by ordinary moments.  How can we breathe life into them?  Take a bus for instance.  In Canada I was used to a sign that said “Out of Service” – not open for passengers.  Yesterday I saw one in Ghent that said “Pauze” – approximately the same I imagine.

Pretty basic stuff.  Nothing really to notice … until you glance at the graphic: a steaming hot cup of coffee.  The driver is taking a break, and enjoying it.

There is a blessing in the sky if we have eyes to see.  It’s not just blue and clouds.  No, it’s blue … and a fairy princess who slowly drifts away.

I love it when my mouth drops open without being prompted to do so by my brain.  There is wonder here, a majesty, a feeling of being dressed up in your finest.

It’s possible to see inside things, to fall into their essence, to unite with a mystery hanging out there in the mist.

Our fingers grow longer when we reach to touch the unknown, when we don’t compare this moment to a previous one, when depth appears in what many see as flat.

The moments of awe are sitting beside us, waiting for our approach.  Some very large being wants us to come along for the ride.  Something is here that’s always available, something that feels like home.

Let’s go find it.

How Does Change Happen?

It was a few days ago.  I was out and about, in Belmont and in the country on my almost daily walk.  It was cold.

As I turned west on Borden Ave. heading out towards the fields, a headwind blasted my skin.  Toque on, hood tied tight.  The left right, left right of the moment turned into a slog.  And then the snows descended … or better said, they were pretty much horizontal.  As Borden Ave. magically morphed into Glanworth Drive, my black coat was also transforming – into white.  Pebbles of snow/ice massaged my forehead.

About two kilometres later, I turned north on Old Victoria Road, a gravel surface.  There were clicks on the side of my hood but my skin was spared the fury of it all.  It’s not far at all to the pavement of Manning Drive, and a couple of hundred metres before the intersection, the sun came out.  The slopey edge of the asphalt shone brightly.  Very cool.

As I turned right onto the smoothness, the shiny blackness of the road was a wonder.  As far as I could see, the glow ran towards Belmont.  The sun was bright and so was the road … everything seemed so alive, so animated.

I basically blew along, with the wind urging me forward.  Something caught my eye on the edge of the road, where the gravel greets the pavement.  Little spots of light grey had emerged, maybe three inches in diameter.  They were dull when seen next to the shine.

Later similar circles began to grace the crown of the road, every twenty metres or so.  Occasionally there’d be a wee dip in the asphalt, and lightness showed there too.

I was approaching the boundary between where I’d been (officially the City of London) and where I was going (the Municipality of Central Elgin).  At the sign, the road switched from pristine smoothness to a mottled tar-and-chip surface, with little stones embedded.  Not really rough but no longer a skating rink.  Suddenly the wetness was dark brown/dark grey.

Over my time on Manning Drive, the spots of light grey slowly expanded.  On a little rise ahead, I couldn’t tell if there was more wetness than dryness.  There seemed to be big patches of both.  When I got closer, I saw that my distance vision was tricking me … the light grey was still in a severe minority.

As the village water tower grew, so did the dullness.  Swaths of dry began sweeping across the road.  The shine was retreating in the sunlight, ever so slowly.  Standing in one spot, I couldn’t see the transition but it was obvious as I walked on.

And then the welcoming sign: “The Village of Belmont, 1961”.  Just a few dips in the asphalt left to embrace the wet.  As I approached the intersection with Main Street, the path beneath me was totally dry.

I stopped.  I smiled.  It was such a privilege to be in the middle of change.  The sun had worked its magic.