Dr. Gerry Turcotte
At Christmas last year a dear friend, knowing my family was going through a difficult time, put together a remarkable care package: gifts for my children, beautiful wine, books and more.
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Recently a senior member of the university's legal firm sent an email to us. It began, "Hi Fools"! This is not an inspiring salutation first thing in the morning, and especially so from a lawyer working on a sensitive matter.
The end of one year and the beginning of another is strange in anyone's language. Enormous energy is expended preparing for a transition time that is, let's be honest, fictional at best.
It is that time of year when we begin to plan, personally and institutionally, for the holidays. This is the time when families gather, but also when workplaces bring their people together to thank them for all they've done. It is a time of remembrance and celebration.
I read a funny story recently about a teenager who brought her new boyfriend home to meet her parents. They were appalled when they saw him: he was covered in tattoos, piercings, and more leather than a herd of cattle.
As a Canadian I have always viewed Thanksgiving as more of an American holiday, and certainly this was the perception of many people overseas where I lived for years.
It is not unusual at this time of year for people to prepare for new beginnings. While this may be a formulaic feature of New Year's celebrations, the reality is that for many the end of the holidays and the start of the school year marks a fuller restart.
The June floods of 2013 in southern Alberta were traumatic by any indicator. Significant destruction of property, devastated infrastructure and thousands of displaced people - though mercifully few lives lost.
Over 250 flood narratives have been found spanning virtually every culture on earth, from the Sumerians to the Aztecs, and they testify to a global phenomenon unlike any other that has since visited our planet. Stories of raging waters have a strange power that tap into this primordial occurrence which underpins our collective psyche.
In an article entitled "Art and the Beauty of Faith," Father Raymond de Souza references the writings of Cardinal Joseph Ratzinger, who before he became pope wrote that there were "two compelling 'arguments'" for the Church's faith being true – the first was the lives of the saints and their living "Christian witness"; and the second was the art that [the Church] has nurtured in her midst."