A Word to the Spiritual Seekers: Celebration and responsibility

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By Don Murray

“Summer time, and time and the livin’ is easy.”

Shortts Lake resident Don Murray

It’s Canada Day morning. Emily and I are out on the lake; she in her little kayak and me in my old rowboat. The lake is quiet with only a couple of boats plying the water. No fear of being swamped in the wake of a big power-boat. There is a deep peace in the stillness. The lake doesn’t wake up until noon.

It is afternoon and we are lounging on the deck overlooking the lake. The day is perfect and the lake now hums with activity. On one side we hear the delightful squeals of children as they splash down the waterslide.

On the other side young people are enjoying diving off the wharf and the general joy of being young. Out on the lake the cacophony of many boats mute the conversation. But it is Canada Day and they are having fun. The sailboat race is on and their billowing sails grace the lake with a gallant dignity. We watch as they come about into the wind, close-hauled to gain what advantage they can. Then, as they return, it’s racing with the wind, spinnakers ballooned out in spectacular colour. 

Now it is late evening. As darkness descends the lights from across the lake send their gleam across the water. Fireworks begin their noisy, spectacular, display of colours bursting in the darkened sky. First one from across the lake, then another down at the end, and more join the glorious din. Out on the lake several boats move in sedate quietness, adding their lights to the mystic beauty of the dark silhouettes that surround us.

We sit for a time, allowing the wonder and beauty of the day to seep into our souls. The parties – some rather exuberant I hear –  go on into the night, but they do not disturb our repose as we retire with a deep serenity after a Canada Day well celebrated.

We need such times to deepen our communion with the human spirit, the living world about us, and the great mystery of it all. Later we can ponder what it means to be alive in this world, now. What does it mean to be a citizen, a Canadian? How can we follow the promise that was given to Abraham and Sarah that “in you all the families of the Earth shall be blessed” (Genesis 12:30)? 

We are a gifted people. We live in the so called “developed” world. The latest in technology surrounds us and is at our fingertips. We live in a democracy where we have some say, however tenuous at the moment, in how we are governed.  We live in relative peace and security. Compared to much of the word we are blessed beyond measure.  

“To whom much is given, much will be required” (Luke 12:48). These words ring in our minds, hearts and souls. We bear a responsibility to one another and the world.

To be a worthy nation we must first keep our own house in order. We are not all among the blessed. How can we grow as a compassionate people where the welfare of our neighbours near and far is our concern?  

Governments and corporations, and not to forget ourselves as individuals, tend to act in their own best interests; often to the detriment of many.

And wouldn’t it be good to hear more about what our taxes do, and could do, for us rather than the constant complaint about high taxes. I don’t like paying taxes any more than anyone else, but I am proud of our common-wealth; all the education, health-care, justice and protection that are ours. I would happily pay a few more dollars to better care for the environment, and deal decently with natives, immigrants and our veterans.

And Canada is one among the family of nations. In a world fraught with tensions, wars and atrocities that numb our minds, how can we be a healing and creative force? I lament for our nation that was once highly regarded within the world community, but is no longer. 

Canada Day passes, but the world carries on. We rise more connected and more committed to carry forward the values that make us truly human and build up the community of humanity.


Don Murray is a retired United church minister. He lives in Shortts Lake.

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