full and free

Let me begin this morning with something a little unusual, perhaps – let me begin by asking about the difference between a thief and a robber. An unusual place to begin, yes, but as good a place as any, as we’ll soon see. As we think about the thief and the robber, we realize pretty quickly there’s a significant overlap between these two words – the thief and the robber are similar in that both take something that doesn’t belong to them – the thief and the robber both take money or property from the person to whom it rightly belongs.

So on the one hand these two words or concepts overlap. On the other hand however, we can distinguish these two words from each other. Specifically, the thief and the robber can be distinguished based on the method of their crime. A thief is someone who steals in a way that is sly or subtle – the thief tries very hard not to be noticed. If you are the victim of a thief, very often it’s not until well after the fact that you realize your wallet or a piece of jewelry has gone missing. It was taken in a stealthy manner. You didn’t even notice.

With a robber, it is much different – by definition a robber is someone who uses force or violence to take what is not his or hers. If a robber takes your wallet, you won’t have to wait a few hours to discover that your wallet is gone – you’ll know immediately that your wallet is gone because you will have been pushed to the ground or hit with something in the process of it begin taken. Continue reading

listening for God’s voice…

Most of you will know Summit Park in Westmount. Westmount itself, of course, is one of the three small peaks that make up Mount Royal, such a defining feature of our city. And at the top of the third small peak of Westmount is Summit Park – a 57-acre urban woodland, a nature preserve, with towering trees and walking paths.

In the month of May each year, Summit Park is a favourite location for many of the birdwatchers in this city. May is a favoured month because at this time of year many warblers make the return to their North American breeding grounds – these tiny, brightly coloured, insect-eating birds are on their way back from Central and South America where they spend the winter. So, as the sun rises early in the morning, and as the trees and leaves are warmed in Summit Park, the warblers begin to sing and to feed – and the bird-watchers are there, trying to catch a glimpse of them.

So it was that this past Thursday morning at 6:00 a.m. I found myself out on a cool spring morning, at Summit Park – binoculars hanging around my neck. Four of us had gathered there to go bird-watching… Now I have to tell you that I am an absolute novice when it comes to bird-watching. But one of that group of four was Alain Goulet – who is of course, known to many of us. I don’t know if you can ever apply the word ‘professional’ to a bird-watcher, but Alain gets pretty close to deserving that title. Like other seasoned bird watchers, Alain is able to see things and hear things and recognize things that a novice like myself barely notices. Continue reading