Hamilton Spectator

It takes courage to get through this life

I know an African, a long-time family friend from Uganda, named Q. He was born in a house with a dirt floor in a closet normally storing things like suitcases. He told me while we drove to Entebbe’s airport. “Mother didn’t want to get other parts of the house dirty,” he said.
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Taking life one day at a time under the African sun

There’s a red dirt road in front of the university guest house where I sometimes sit, in the doorway, barefooted. I watch the African sunrise. And the monkeys. I listen to the birds. Or watch children pass by. They remind me of Hannah, our youngest.
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Looking outward with grace

It’s still that time for resolutions, or at least new year reflections. But before I share what I’d like to improve on during my own 2024, let me say that I recently looked at a woman sitting across a restaurant table and talking – well, complaining – to me. I looked at her face. Some context. I enjoy people-watching.
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Some thoughts on Christmas

I recently watched a debate involving a couple of academics, two cerebral rock stars who talked at length about life, including the nature of goodness. The secular humanist explained that goodness doesn’t depend on God or supernatural agents. “But if they’re around, they can step up and show where we’re wrong.”
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Courage is what makes peace possible

Courage is defined in Webster’s as “mental or moral strength to venture, persevere and withstand danger, fear or difficulty.” Not that we don’t know courage when we see it. But it’s a good time to consider it because courage, it seems to me, is the story of 2023. Then again, in war, courage might be
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Pondering death and what comes next

Forty-five years ago today, on November 18, 1978, more than 900 people died in the Jonestown massacre. They were Americans in a Guyana settlement named after Jim Jones, a self-proclaimed prophet who’d been once lauded as an exceptional voice and humanitarian. Jones’ followers
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People, people everywhere with nobody to talk to

We’re all lonely to one degree or another, this side of eternity. If it was different, there’d be no longing. Or expectation. Even so, we’re living in unusually lonely times. Some call it a loneliness epidemic. Alice Aedy, a British filmmaker, calls it a dystopian time. “Almost Orwellian.” Call it
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Peace is hard, but peace is possible

Think of the war in Gaza and think of flowers. This, with a nod to Banksy. He’s the street artist who moves anonymously at night to paint public spaces. Often powerful images – you’ll see them from Paris to Detroit – they pull at our collective conscious.“ The Flower Thrower,” painted
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A Thanksgiving walk in the woods

It was a tea house and I was having, funny enough, coffee, and the woman waiting on me was pleasant. She brought extra cream and looked at the book I was reading. It was my birthday, a summer day. The book was, “Count Your Blessings.” Then she said somewhat indifferently, “My father would
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The upside of the “Get Married” mantra

Here’s something for young people. Who you marry will have a larger impact on your life than your career. I’m reading about it in The New York Times and The Atlantic. There’s a new wave of research. Marry and be happy. This is what it says. It’s interesting because it’s easy to assume
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It’s still summer. Let’s give our feet a hand!

Today I’d like to give some advice to Canada’s soccer players. But first let me say that I’ve decided to finally start that rock-and-roll band. We’ll call ourselves “The Barenaked Feet.” This is because “The Barenaked Ladies” is taken and “The Barenaked Men” conveys certain images
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Good relationships need more than good kissing

Let’s see now: Cynthia, Cloe, Cindy, Carole, Cassandra, ah, here we are. Cathy. The first girl I ever kissed. (Or did she go by Kathy?) (This doesn’t include the failed kissing venture in the park trees involving Penny and Patty with myself and my boyhood buddy, Paul, on that summer day
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Contemplating Canada’s birthday

I know Canada as much as anyone. I’ve tasted its vastness. Live long enough with even a half-curious mind and you’ll get out here and there. I’ve spent time in each of our provinces. Even today I’m in the mountains of Banff with my boy, Jonathan, celebrating his 18th birthday.
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Fatherhood is better than gold – Don’t take it for granted

“We’re losing Jonathan.” I blurted out the words in the backyard to my sister during a recent gathering. Jonathan, that’s Jonathan Thomas Froese, is Child #2. The boy. It felt strange to hear the words tumble from my mouth.
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Exploring mysteries on the other side

The life of my mother-in-law, Mum Chamberlain, is now marked in a burial plot near the shade of old trees. Recently it’s been celebrated in various ways. It reminds me of fireworks. Not that “celebration” is a perfect word for these matters. Death can still drag in its bag of
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