Canada is an ongoing project!
However over the near century an a half through wars and economic ups and downs a constitution has been forged, a charter of rights woven into the fabric of national life, the freedom which allows for diversity reflecting cultural origins, innumerable ways of religious expression, or none at all, form the vibrant mosaic of national pride and unity.
Our American cousins celebrate their national unity and joy on July 4th with Independence Day.
We celebrate on July 1st with the apt title: Canada Day.
It is the people’s day.
From the smallest village to the national’s capital, across the six time zones, coast to coast to coast the day of national pride and sheer joy culminates with fireworks, that explosion of colour and light which thrills children and allows adults to relax for a while and see the world through the eyes of a child.
My family has a great friend who invited us to join him for the evening to observe the fireworks high above the river valley in the heart of the city.
I emphasis high since the balcony sits some thirty-two stories up and I am terrified of heights.
However given we all entered the building several levels underground and the elevator moved quickly, smoothly, I did not really understand how high up we were until stepping not exactly onto the balcony but taking my place at the open balcony doors with my feet firmly planted inside the apartment!
When I was a boy I had no fear of heights, nor as an adult working a job which more often than I care to remember involved being on high rise roof tops trying my best to talk some troubled soul from jumping.
I never failed to rescue the potential jumpers, or rather I understand now, more accurately, by grace, no one for whom I was the person on scene ever jumped.
It was after years of that work fear of heights took hold and last evening was the first time in almost thirty years I had even come close to being not merely up high but actually looking out from the height!
My family’s friend, my son and his wife, the three little grandchildren were all out on the balcony enjoying the view, watching fireworks from various outlying towns and villages light up the horizon as we all chatted and waited for the main event, the city’s fireworks, to begin.
The children were excited, sometimes running around the balcony or jumping up and down, occasionally the youngest was jumping up and down close to the railing – which made me rather more fearful.
You know how sometimes you have a thought meant to be inside the brain, and there only, yet that thought doesn’t stay there!
It escapes from the mouth!
Yep I blurted out at the youngest: “Stop that! You’re scaring the %#%#% out of me!”
Thankfully I realized immediately I needed to get a grip and was able to settle down.
Shortly thereafter the fireworks began.
Then something happened unexpectedly within me, or rather several things happened which I see now as grace: I forgot my fear and mingled with the booming of the exploding fireworks heard clearly the children expressing their delight and excitement, the adults too; at that height the marvelous kaleidoscope of colours and shapes often seemed to be opening like huge arms inviting an embrace and I found myself filling with gratitude that I live in such a marvelous country, in such freedom while simultaneously being aware of He who IS Light from Light, who calls us to be, tells us we ARE, the light in the world.
After the show was over and we were preparing to leave my daughter-in-law and I had a brief chat and she looked at me, radiating love and beauty and said about my fear of heights – though my heart heard it as a word about all fear: “You have to let it go.”
It strikes me as a bit of a paradox that to overcome fear of heights I have to allow myself to be lifted up!
Lifted up as a little child, by Him, into His arms to be held next to His beating Heart.
Lifted up to be with Him on the Cross, the meeting place between us and the Divine Bridegroom.
This lifting up includes a willingness to lift up our hands in prayerful supplication, to lift up our hands to receive Light Himself in Holy Communion whereby His Risen Glorious Light permeates our beings more marvellously than those fireworks lit up the sky.
As the Apostle reminds us “…we, with our unveiled faces reflecting like mirrors the brightness of the Lord, all grow brighter and brighter as we are turned into the image that we reflect; this is the work of the Lord who is Spirit.” [2Cor.3:18]