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The Spur

I heard a new word a while ago. At least, it was new to me. My husband and I were attending an evening worship service at a church conference. A young man stood on a stage, ready to lead a large audience in worshiping God through music. As his band adjusted their equipment, he chatted and scanned the audience. Suddenly he grinned and said, ?I see there are a lot of Chrispies here tonight.? A few people chuckled. I was just about to ask my husband if he knew what a Chrispie was when the young man said, ?You know what a Chrispie is, don't you?? He then asked all those who survived the 60's to raise their hands. ?You're all Chrispies ? Christian Hippies.? Although I tend to resist labels (it's a left-over from the 60's), I had to laugh and admit my husband and I fit the description. We lived through the era of rebellion, that time when anything having to do with the ?establishment? was held suspect. Some of our attitudes and opinions still show the influence of that philosophy.

For instance, I dislike the word religion. It makes me think of a large institution whose only goal is to control its members. It conjures up images of sober-faced people climbing . . .

One of my daughter's favourite cartoon movies is Ice Age. She has watched it so many times she almost knows the dialogue by heart. I must admit, it is a funny movie. Like all good cartoons, the characters bear a striking resemblance to some people I know. People like you and me. My favourite part is the sequence where the three main characters, who are on a quest to deliver a baby back to his parents, come across a group of Dodo Birds. Because of the advent of the Ice Age, everyone is hungry. The Dodo Birds are hoarding a small pile of melons. Our heroes try to acquire one for themselves, with hilarious, but tragic results. The Dodo birds immediately go into panic mode, running in all directions trying desperately to hold onto the fruit. Their efforts result not only in the fruit being lost, but the birds themselves self-destruct in the process.

There's a lesson here for you and me. I know you won't like the analogy, but we are a lot like those Dodo birds. We run around, often in panic mode, trying desperately to hold onto things that can't help us. Our pile of melons takes the form of all kinds of things ? jobs, money, big houses and fast cars, perfect appearances, top . . .

It's a classic tale of good and evil, loyalty and betrayal, greed and honor. It was a popular book when it was first published and over the years it has been made into both movie and video versions. It was a modern video portrayal of Treasure Island we watched one night last week, and, though we knew the story, it captivated all of us. There was one scene which was especially effective. The characters believed they were only a short distance away from discovering the treasure hidden by the notorious pirate captain. They were climbing into the interior of the island, through deep gorges that echoed with their footsteps. Then another echo began to ricochet around them. It began as a whisper and slowly increased in volume and intensity. At first the treasure hunting party tried to ignore the sound, but as it grew they became more and more fearful. The echoes were impossible to escape and the men were certain they were hearing the voice of the dead pirate, warning them of their doom!

Shortly after seeing this video I came across a quote that made me think of it again: "To write is to make oneself the echo of what cannot cease speaking." (Maurice Blanchot). The echoes in the video of . . .
The C.E.O. stares blindly out at the spectacular view from his office window. After years of conniving and manipulation he is at the helm of the company. He had great plans for his future but circumstances have dictated otherwise. He ponders the wreckage of two failed marriages and children who rarely call. He has no friends in the company. His dictatorial style of management left no room for friendship. He tries to think of someone, anyone he can call just to talk, just to help ease the burden of his position. He can think of no one. He stares at the year-end financial statement lying on his solid oak desk. The profit margin has shrunk and his benefits have disappeared. He knows it will be a matter of days before he is unemployed. A man who controlled the flow of millions of dollars and the lives of thousands of employees has hit the brick wall of reality. His control of his own destiny was an illusion.

Since the garden of Eden, control has been a big issue. It was Satan?­s ploy to tempt Eve with the illusion that she could control her own destiny. Adam thought that would be a good thing. We have lived with that illusion ever since. Eventually, the illusion runs into . . .
This time of year makes me a bit jittery. It's that time when people ask, "Do you garden?" I take that question personally. I guess it's a hold-over from my Yukon days, but I always have the feeling the person is really asking, "What are you good for, anyway?" The question always makes me squirm because I'm not good at it. I inherited my mother's black thumb. I'm death to fruits and vegetables.

Not that I haven't tried. For twelve Yukon summers I dutifully planted rows of cabbage and broccoli, peas and lettuce. I even built a greenhouse and kept a fire burning in it at night to keep a few tomato plants alive. Once I replanted three times when late frost hit, only to have it all wilt from an early one in August. With a season of twenty-four hour sunlight, the plants that survived grew furiously. So did the weeds. A neighbour once drove by, honked and called out ? "tendin? the weed bed, are ye?"

I wanted to give up, but at the end of each summer, I harvested what had managed to survive. I was thankful there was a grocery store in town. We . . .

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