So, this morning is an opportunity to count my blessings.
I guess I was one of the lucky ones. The freezing-rain and snow storm that yesterday and last night went through this part of Ontario was much worse farther south, where 100,000 electrical customers are without power this morning, so the news says. Hopefully, for their sakes, their power will be restored.
Today is Good Friday, a national holiday and the start of the Easter long weekend. Virtually all businesses are shut down for the day, as they will be as well Easter Sunday. But emergency workers like police, firefighters, paramedics and hospital emergency staff are the exception. So are, under these storm-aftermath circumstances, those we in Ontario still call “Hydro” workers, the ones especially who brave snow, sleet and freezing rain, and sub-zero temperatures to repair damaged power lines. They are often our “unsung heroes,” in the sense that in the long tradition of Canadian winters we’ve gotten used to them doing what they do, often in miserable conditions, to restore power to people whose lives are so dependent on it, in all sorts of ways. I think it’s fair to say most of us can hardly imagine what it was like to live without electricity.
On the Bruce Peninsula, including Hope Ness, that reality was not that long ago: The electrical age here began in the late 1940s, long after the first hydro-electric generating station at Niagara Falls began transmitting electricity to Toronto for those new-fangled electric lights. A small hydro-electric generating station was built at Barrow Bay, south of Lion’s Head. I believe there are still remnants of the dam that was built across Judges Creek. The stone-foundation building itself was long ago converted to a private residence.
I plan to install a solar-powered back-up electrical system here at Cathedral Drive Farm. I’m keeping some batteries powered up for a friend who already has such a system. Last night I connected a small inverter to them so I could plug in a lamp, and at least have some light if the power went off. As for the furnace and the refrigerator there was nothing much I could do but put on some extra layers and stay warm (Not in the frig, though, of course). Meanwhile, I could only hope it would stay below freezing in the house so the plants might survive.
But I got lucky, and so did they. The power blinked on and off a few times, around 9 pm last night, and I thought, “oh-oh, here it comes.” I scurried around, making sure boots, coat and gloves were at the ready in case I decided to make a run for it while the driveway was still passable. But I think, after all, I would have tried to tough it out. That’s me, that’s what I do, realistically, or not, I have to admit.
But after all, it’s led me here, to yet another challenge. However, like I told a stranger at a call centre yesterday afternoon, “I’m surrounded by Hope – as in Hope Ness, Hope Bay, and the Hope Bay Nature Reserve.” I like to think that’s no accident, and those are all hopeful signs.
And now, despite yesterday’s storm, we are in the Season of Hope, of spiritual as well as physical rebirth. The forecast for today is still pretty chilly, though clear and sunny. But spring comes back tomorrow.
I want to pay some due regard here to the fact today is Good Friday. I have my religious views: they tend to be quite broad and open-minded. I certainly do believe there is a spiritual dimension of being, in life, and in the universe. I daresay Finding Hope Ness is about being part of it, though I still have a long way to go in that regard, some days more than others.
I will also say I feel fortunate to have had the opportunity as a child to come into contact with a rich, religious tradition and learn a fair amount related to it – a Judaeo-Christian tradition, as it turned out. Had I been raised in another of the world’s many cultural-religious traditions, I might feel much the same way about it.
But, as fate would have it, my exposure was to Christianity, and a fairly liberal approach to it, I think, though I hesitate to use that word for fear of . . . well, you may know what. But I will be fearless for the sake of my commitment here to be entirely honest. And in that spirit I will also confess I have struggled with faith, and still do. There’s plenty of historical evidence that religion, or certainly the way it has been perverted, has done more harm than good. But whose fault is that? Like the Man said, forgive them Father for they are stupid.
So, for me re-affirmation of faith is a continuing process. Am I alone in that regard? I doubt it.
But I think that helps me approach religion with an open, inquiring mind, sort of instinctively, in a spirit of expansive discovery of fresh meaning.
And today – it being Good Friday, and all – seems like a good day to say I keep coming back to Jesus himself, the man and the spirit he was, and is. My feeling about Him is expressed best in the words of my favourite hymn, “What a friend we have in Jesus.”
I have this thing I do; and no doubt I’m not the only one: I open the Bible (The King James Version) spontaneously, without thinking about where, to let the spirit take me where it will.
The night of the storm, with the lights still flickering ominously, I opened it up to the Gospel of St. Luke and its account of the crucifixion. My eyes immediately fell on verse 39 of Chapter 23, where for a few verses it begins to speak of the two other “malefactors” crucified on either side of Jesus. St. Luke’s gospel is the only one that goes into detail about what was said, by them, and Him.
The first man challenges Jesus mockingly, angrily: “If thou be Christ, save thyself and us.”
But the second man rebukes the other. He tells him to keep his peace out of respect for God, and the fact they are being punished for actual crimes they committed, whereas “this man” has done nothing wrong.
Then he turns to Jesus and says, “Lord, remember me when thou comest into thy kingdom.”
It’s interesting, I think, that he doesn’t ask to be there with Jesus. Apparently, he doesn’t feel worthy. His conscience is weighing him down. He is full of guilt and shame. About what, we aren’t told.
But what we do know – and thank goodness for this gospel – is what Jesus said to him in response: “Verily I say unto thee, Today thou shalt be with me in paradise.”
Jesus asked no questions, there was no “third degree,” no, well, you better tell me what you did first. Is it possible Jesus knew, and maybe that man’s crime or crimes were not that bad, after all? Or were they?
It doesn’t matter.
It strikes me that man’s words must have given Jesus great comfort in the midst of His suffering; and then to be able to return that gift with His own was a real confirmation of His mission at a critical moment.
Those few verses in St. Luke are for me the most powerful expression of forgiveness and redemption as well as one of the most thought-provoking passages in the Bible. It’s a revelation.
I’ve often thought that if I could go back in time to any moment, it would be that one, to be with Jesus, and that blessed man. He is my friend too.
I look up at my office window now. I see the sun is shining. I hear the coating of ice breaking on the power lines coming to the house as the sun comes around and reaches them; time to see if the driveway needs clearing, or I can just take my chances and go get some fresh water at the ever-running, Berford Lake well.
Ah, that reminds me of something else. But it can wait for telling later.
This post is partly inspired by today’s daily prompt, fearless.<a href=”https://dailypost.wordpress.com/prompts/fearless/”>Fearless</a>