Sunday, August 7, 2011

Henry vs. the Summertime

After the trip to Manitoulin, Henry has enjoyed being back at daycare with his friends, but sadly with the "heat dome" they were confined indoors for a couple weeks. In that time they painted t-shirts, made rice-krispy treats, pizzas, strawberry sundaes (yes Henry likes ice cream!), did finger-painting, splashed around the water table, had wacky hair day, made pizzas, painted with feathers, made musical instruments and last week with the heat lifted they had an outing in a local park which Henry particularly enjoyed.

We had a visit from my brother, his wife and Henry's cousin. They splashed around outside in the turtle pool and Henry was confronted with having to share his toys, not just the neutral ones at daycare. A much different prospect altogether.

Henry and his cousin Emily.

Henry has taken to dogs like a hungry tick. S bought him an interactive dog book with movable flaps and fuzzy pictures to touch. Every time we pass a dog his arm goes out and he usually just says "itzzzzz" but then "dog" or "doggie" will come out of his mouth soon thereafter.

The words Hanky-Doodle has uttered so far are: dada, mama, dog/doggie, book, tree (sounds more like ghee), pickles (a recent development) and just yesterday he said "Ho Fredo" when he saw the Italian book that his grandma/nona gave him called "Ho Caldo, Ho Fredo." He babbles an awful lot with more and more complex sounds developing. Most popular lately has been the repetition of what sounds like "bagel bites."

Speaking of food, he is off the purees. He won't eat them anymore now that he's discovered feeding himself messily with his hands. And hummus. He loves hummus.

Henry and the Indicident with Black Beans.

It's been fun taking him out and about on the weekends and Toronto in the summer is full of festivals. Happily, many have been near to our house. In the past few weeks he's attended the Little India Festival, Beaches Jazz Festival and Taste of the Danforth.

Henry enjoying kulfi at the Little India Street Festival

Dancing at Taste of the Danforth, and yes Henry, they're clapping for you.

We also enjoy being close to lots of parks, some with wading pools, others with splash-pads. Last week on the way home from daycare we stopped by East Lynn park where they have the weekly farmers market and Henry was able to splash around with the older kids. A nice way to end the day.

And Henry loves the sand, so jaunting down the street (25 min. walk) to the beach is a great boon to our quality of life living in the east side Toronto.

Henry vs. Beach

When all's said and done, Henry is much more fun as he's growing older. We can take pleasure in his joys of discovery and delight in showing him to places, tastes, words, people and objects. His days are full and busy and he appears to be enjoying himself considerably. And with all of this heat, hustle and bustle, sometimes it's just all too much for the little guy...

Monday, August 1, 2011

My Return to Church: A Case Study

I am offering to reduce the mammoth complexity of religious disagreements into one word: misunderstanding.

A misunderstanding of religion to be spirituality. (According to me,) religion is a man-made creation, like the tower of babel, that is trying to reach "heaven" or the divine.

But surely, the closest we can come to heaven on earth is by basing our actions on Truth, Love, Joy and Compassion? That can be done through religion or without it, but it sure helps to have some sort of guide.

Within the last year S & I have been attending an Anglican church regularly, which for me is after a 10 year absence. The reason? Henry. We agreed that exposing him to religion, tradition and spirituality is good for his development as well as being a part of a community. We both appreciate the influences the church has had on our lives in those respects.

And so I see tremendous importance and value in religion and in many ways I am a defender.

But I find it very difficult to defend religion when it promotes exclusion, violence and oppression.

I am deeply disappointed when the any religious/spiritual institution offers immunity to sexual offenders, especially pedophiles. And I am even more outraged when it promotes discrimination and exclusion towards anybody.

And what is to be gained from the campaign waged against homosexuality? It always has been, is now, and ever shall be. And for those who do view homosexuality as cased-closed 100% evil, why does it top the list of priorities? Why not address rape, torture, the institutional poverty of millions, climate change, water and food shortages, human rights abuses, the greed and materialism that is eradicating any notion of holy and sacred?

I won't say that I don't understand why not. Because I do.

The answer is fear and ignorance. But mostly fear.

I used to believe in the supremacy of Christianity, of God's word, of being a "good person" washed clean of sin and blame every Sunday. I used to believe non-Christians were going to hell and it was my duty to lead by example. To help save them. I used to pray for my non-Christian friends. I thought saving myself until marriage was imperative and that homosexuality was perverse and scary. The devil clearly has his wicked way with secular culture and it was to be mistrusted. The unsaved lacked strength, strength that can only come from a personal saviour.

And then I realized that people and life are much more complex. Life as I experienced it didn't match with the beliefs I had been zipped up in. But to make that leap of faith, so to speak, and move on from my childhood beliefs, was not easy. It was not a linear progression. I had to face a lot of fear and trust God. I followed my god-given instincts. And it has taken about 15 years. I am back at church now, with a more mature and inclusive approach.

But many people don't make the return back to church, leaving the pious confused and scratching their heads.

My experience is not your experience.

Ding, ding ding! People are all different, all 6-7 billion of us. The statistics support the idea that most, if not all humans have spiritual needs and experiences.

And why should 6-7 billion people all believe the same thing?

I don't think it's possible.

But with our without religion, spirituality will continue to find us all.