ABC – One Two Three - Hi Rise (September)
ABC – One Two Three
We turn a corner from the milestone of summertime walk into the Labour day weekend and cross the bridge of return. There is a new pulse and rhythm that takes us down a down a difference. For some it is back to work, for millions it is back to school and for others it is stay at home. There are many choices, stay home, go to school or hybrid of the two. It is the return, the newer normal. The return is learning the ABCs. I recall from my youth the Saturday morning cartoons, the Jackson Five, especially Michael Jackson singing “ABC one two three you and me…” . ABC the first three letters of the alphabet inherited from the Phoencians, and the Greeks. ABC represent the first steps for of beginning, reading and exploring the mystery and the wonder of book learning and life exploring. September once the 7th month now the 9th month after the Romans included July and August. ABC our first steps in these early months of a pandemic world. ABC on line, in person, social distance, physical distance, apart but not alone. We open the door. Our newer normal, takes place when we draw from the deep well of the familiar narrative to walk on the hidden roads.
In the summer months we received word of three new homeless shelters in the Yonge and Eglinton neighbourhood. The call to action was immediate, help, SOS, May Day, May Day, May Day. Help to heal, help to mend, help to restore. Help came in grocery gift cards, in hygiene products, in people of the hood saying “what can we do? “what is our call to our action now?” It is fishing education, more than providing food, but taking a step further in the new beginning of the newer, the ABC is social enterprise teaching people to cook and prepare meals that are economic, healthy and on target with the traditions of and cultures of the people. The key word is plant the seed and watch it grow.
ABC begins literacy and understanding. In my personal corner literacy was a personal challenge for me. In grade one I was in a reading readiness class, in grade two we were divided into six reading of incremental increasing skill level. At the beginning of September, I was in reading group 1, the basic level, with help of teacher and parents I lept forward to reading group 6 by November. It takes a community to offer the tools of literacy. Literacy begins with ABC the learning and comprehension skills that open pathways. Literacy continues with the ABCs of every corner of life. In the Davisville neighbourhood ABC is the call to action to make a difference and transform the lives of people on the edge.
In every neighbourhood of the City of Toronto, the GTA we hear the call to action to make a difference.
ABC – is the call to reach out in this season of return to find, to discover the how, why and when of NEVER ALONE, always together today.
This past summer the greatest gift of my August birthday was taking four bags of hygiene products (donated by the people of Manor Road United Church,) and deliver a grocery gift cards for people on the edge. ABC begins again as look inside ourselves and see the world for the first time to discover the meaning of the word “YES” in this landscape of the newer normal, the newer literacy, Open hearts, open minds, open doors.
Let the Sun Shine In - Hi Rise (August)
August in the Month of midsummer. Ancient Celts called this time Lughnasa, marked
the beginning of the Harvest Season. For many this would have been a time to step out
into a moment of adventure. The small town fairs and festivals will be quiet or going
virtual. The Canadian National Exhibition will be silent. The time of pademic has caused
us to regroup and rethink.
We look inside to discover who we are on the outside in this time of inside, zoom calls,
facetime, virtual encounter, ravenous are we for even the small gatherings.
Ignited are we by the cry of Anti- Racism, Black Lives Matter. I recall in my youth
during the Jurassic era, it was the miniseries “ Roots” the protagonist, Kunte Kinte
that stirred my conviction to take a stand in my teenage years.
The Saga of a North American Family by North American author Alex Haley. According
to Haley, Koonte Kintei was based on one of his ancestors: a Gambian man who was
born in 1750, enslaved and taken to America and who died in 1822.
According to Roots, Kunta Kinte was born circa 1750 in the Mandinka village of Juffure ,
in the Gambia. He was raised in a Muslim family. One day in 1767, while Kunta was
searching for wood to make a drum for his younger brother, four men chased him,
surrounded him, and took him captive. Kunta awoke to find himself blindfolded, gagged,
bound, and a prisoner. He and others were put on the slave ship the Lord Ligonier for a
four-month Middle Passage voyage to North America.
I say it is time to watch the miniseries Roots again to help all people understand the
roots of “ROOTS” . We look to our past to navigate the new course for today. Closer to
home we tell the tales of Canada being the leading stretch for the underground railroad.
Closer to home we recall the 1850’s North American abolitionist conference led by our
very own Mary Shadd.
In 1853, Shadd Cary founded The Provincial Freeman, a paper published initially in
Windsor, Ontario, then in Toronto and Chatham, Ontario. “Devoted to antislavery,
temperance and general literature” was the slogan.
Closer to home we had the music and magic of Oscar Petersen. Closer to home my
niece, father is Michael Thompson from Barbardos. Closer to home in the United
Church of Canada we have the movement United against Racism. Closer to home we
have crossroads where can make inroads in our Neighbourhoods. Closer to home we
held the first Anti-Racism March in Midtown, Yonge and Englinton led by Leslie
Solomian and Suzi Morris.
Closer to home let the sunshine in as we look to ignite the grit and grace, O Canada,
United we stand together.
There is No Place Like Home - Hi Rise (July)
We have heard the words, “there is no place like home”. Better still, “distance lends enhancement”. We need space, we require a time out. Traditionally the month of July has been the system launch for the summer rhythm. The advent of COVID-19 has written a new normal. People are discovering that home is the place to stay, where we are apart but not alone. People are discovering that they need to self monitor their own safe health practices. People are becoming more aware of their neighbours the former strangers who in some contexts are becoming new found friends. Together, we need to navigate the new normal, in order to discover the new ways of operating in our private and public spaces.
There is no place like home. The new normal is a one way navigation in our grocery store. The new normal is keeping a safe distance. We are making progress with our forward momentum. I am a United Church minister, all programming is a Zoom platform. Sunday Mornings at 10:30 am, our monthly Ceilidh at the Manor kitchen party at home, Manor with Heart, Tuesdays at 5 pm where we chart the needs of the community, 6:30 pm Tuesday Bible study at the Manor Walking in the Word, the Anam Cara Corner, Wednesdays noon Midweek worship, Come and Find the Quiet Centre, 4 pm Zoom Yoga at the Manor, Youth at the Manor 6:30 pm on Wednesdays and games night at the Manor. The Zoom platform is implemented by the team.
There is no place like home. On a personal note the new normal includes virtual coffee and drinks night where we reach out to family and friends. These conversations satisfy the deep hunger in the need for human contact.
We want to remember that we are not alone. At Manor Road United we continue to offer grocery cards and we have created a Samaritan Fund. The Rotary Club of Toronto is providing block grants up to $20,000 for COVID-19 food security. The stories are many, that become legends, both ballads and laments. Tales of comfort and moments of terror, that reflect our turbulent world right now. The new normal are the ideas on collision with contrary perspectives as we witness global protest. Millions of people face limited access to sufficient resources. We hear the cries of the wounded and are ready to risk and willing to listen and learn from each other. We are planting new seeds of compassion and ready to risk and nurture bridges that mend heal and transform. In the month of July, there will be no place like home, to restore, renew and redeem. Hope is now.