Breath and Breathless

My latest in the Christian Courier…


It is good to celebrate our embodied life in God’s creation.

The men (they are mostly men) arrive at the clinic and take their seats in the waiting room. It’s a nondescript medical office with a busy receptionist, examination rooms and various types of medical equipment. This clinic is unique, however, because the patients all arrive with a black nylon bag over their shoulders. Some of them look like lunch boxes while others could easily be laptop bags. It reminds me of something out of a Mysterious Benedict Society novel. Are these the nefarious Ten Men bringing their disguised, deadly devices for retooling, all the better to threaten adventurous children!? Alas, the reality isn’t so interesting. These patients are being treated for sleep apnea and are bringing their CPAP machines to their consults with a respiratory therapist. They are fantastic gizmos, no doubt, but wouldn’t make an appearance in children’s literature.

Maybe it’s only my perception or projection, but I sense an eye-averting awkwardness among patients. Would that be unusual? We humans are awkward about our bodies at the best of times. More so, perhaps, when the apparatus carried, surreptitiously, is all tubes and headgear and mask. It’s not the kind of thing you’d be keen to acknowledge in just anyone’s presence.

A medical device you wear on your face, and to bed, gets very close to the most private dimensions of our lives. It’s also about your breath, and what is more intimate? And contrary to the impulses of contemporary culture, public sharing of the private isn’t always meaningfully therapeutic. Sometimes it’s worth keeping private things, well, private.

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Loving Rob Ford

Mayor Rob Ford speaks to media after his meeting with Premier Dalton McGuinty , Police Chief Bill BlI confess that I am not a Torontonian. Rather, after more than fourteen years living in Montreal I’m almost at the point where I could safely call myself a Montréalais.

So the challenge of loving Mayor Rob Ford isn’t my particular challenge. Rather, the newly elected Denis Coderre is my challenge – because no, I did not vote for him!

Nevertheless, the question of loving Rob Ford is a huge question these days, both for Torontonians and the rest of us across the country.

It seems safe to say that the number of those who love Rob Ford has been in precipitous decline in the past few weeks. Though is also fair to say that there has been large constituency of Ford-mockers and Ford-haters out there for some time. Over the past two years they have made a regular appearance on my Facebook feed, as well as in plenty of other spaces.

This weekend, the whole question of love him or hate him was brought to mind by three tweets by Tabatha Southey, who is a writer for the Globe and Mail. In the first tweet she referenced a Toronto Star article that explores the challenges and possibilities of rehab – where Rob Ford is expected/hoped to end up in the coming weeks: Continue reading