The last couple of days have been beautiful here in southern Manitoba. I have been told that tomorrow it is supposed to be 16 Celsius. For my American friends, let me delve into my knowledge of the last 4 years living in Canada and convert that for you. That is….pretty nice out. The other day, I sat outside on the bank of the river down the bridal path in the sun reading a book, and I was reminded of the simple pleasures I find in this place.
One of those most definitely is the Bridal path; a beautiful path through the woods along the river. I love to wander the paths in those times I need to be alone, to think, to pray, to procrastinate (let's be honest here), to yell at God, to praise God, to be myself before God. It’s amazing how often I will see deer or other wildlife. Just the other day as I was sitting on the river bank, I saw what looked like a log floating along…until I realized it was swimming--towards me. This muskrat (at least I assume it was a muskrat) swam right towards me to within a few feet, starred quizzically at me for a couple of seconds, and then dove beneath the murky waters. I heard the knocking of a woodpecker, the rustling of branches, saw the glint of sun on the water, and was struck by the beauty of the moment.
Walks. I love walks here at Prov. Whether it be late at night under the shining stars, unpolluted by city light, or during the day, trudging out past the lagoon and through the woods, or simply walking to and from my apartment building to the school. I walk back and forth a lot living in Prov house, and though at times it becomes tedious, and I choose to hope in my car and drive the distance instead, I am trying to be a bit more environmentally (and wallet) friendly and walk often. One of my favourite parts of this walk earlier this year was a bush I would walk by. It was thick with green leaves, and every time I would walk by, about 20 or so birds would fly out. It always boggled me; like natures version of how many clowns can you fit in one car. Some of my best conversations at Prov have been on late night walks with friends.
The Cafeteria is another joy of mine here at Prov. I love when all of my friends are gathered around the table laughing, sharing stories, and patiently enduring my puns. The cafeteria is what makes Prov what it is. I can spend hours in that place talking and nursing a cup of tea. Some of my dearest friendships have been formulated in that place.
Tea times are another simple joy. It’s amazing how a nice warm drink, dimmed lights, and some quiet music can bring out the best of conversation. I miss those stories with Mike Quiring and Dom Gagne that would teach and make me my sides hurt with laughter. I enjoy the fellowship I have with my friends now every Tuesday night. These people are some of the most precious friends I have.
Simplicity of life in the middle of nowhere. Over the years, we’ve had to make our own fun here at Prov, and I’m sad to say that I think we may be slowly loosing this ability…or at least maybe I am. I remember the joys of the apple hucking club…simply finding the fun in chucking rotten apples from the cafeteria at trees, dumpsters, or straight up into the dark night sky and then running to dodge the mushy missile before it splattered on the ground. Or games like “can’t touch the ground” where we tight rope across the railings from the student center to the well. Stick races in the Rat River when the water is high enough to move them, and of course the Human Bridge. My all time favourite is boys against girls charades, however. Where else are you going to get a girl to act out “urinal cake” or “nothing”?
There are many young couples in Seminary here at Prov with little kids. I love watching these little ones when they are in the school. As everyone moves busily above them with a destination and goal in mind, they stand there low to the ground, wide eyed and full of wonder, drinking it all in, eager to learn what the environment can teach them. I am continually amazed at a child’s ability to find joy in a piece of string, or a rock. There is so much we can learn from a child, so much we have forgotten with age.
What would a simple pleasures list be without music! When I am washing the dishes, it is always nice to have some sweet tunes in the background, or a good sermon. My current favourite: Bob Dylan. The man is a genius. Sure he is a bit of an acquired taste, but so is coffee, and there is a reason that Starbucks rules the world. Same reason that Bob Dylan will always be remembered as one of the greatest American musicians ever. I think Bob found joy in simple pleasures too.