Wednesday, July 1, 2009

Canada Day

Today is Canada Day-- that is, a celebration of the day (in 1867) when Canada was united as four provinces in a single country.

I have two things to say about Canada Day: first, Marcie and I have (for our whole marriage, actually) acknowledged Cinco de Mayo, which is not, in fact, the Mexican Independence Day, but is simply a day in honor of Mexican heritage and pride. We usually commemorate Cinco de Mayo by eating out at a Mexican restaurant. We have never acknowledged any observance of our northern neighbors, however. I think that will have to change this year, when we will have pancakes for supper tonight-- with maple syrup of course-- in honor of Canada Day.

Second, one of my most distinct memories from seminary involves Canada Day as its context and grounds. I will attempt to re-create the memory in words, but alas, I fear it will do little justice to it.

One of my more recognizable (on campus, anyway) classmates was a man named Lou Best, who is a retired Colonel in the U.S. military. Lou had spent a long career serving all over the world, and he had a rich sense of cultural and ethnic awareness. Lou spoke a number of languages with conversational fluency, including Spanish, French, German, Korean, Japanese, and a couple of African dialects-- and it wasn’t uncommon to catch Lou in conversation with one or more international students in their native tongue.

Lou was also one of the most gregarious and likable fellows around. AND, Lou loved to play jokes and pranks. Finally, because of his age and former career, most of the professors at Covenant Seminary regarded Lou as more of a peer than they did most of us, at least outside of the classroom (and sometimes in the classroom, as well).

With that in mind, imagine this scene: on July 1, 2003, I was sitting in a classroom with about 60 other students, studying biblical Hebrew under Jay Sklar. Jay (he told us to call him Jay) is about my age, and had begun teaching at CTS only a couple of years before then. Jay is also from Canada.

This was an evening class that met twice a week, for almost 3 hours each meeting. The normal events of that class included about 30 minutes of homework review, after which we would have a quiz. When we finished the quiz, we would take a break for about 10-15 minutes.

On that night, right before the quiz was to begin, Lou Best bursts in the doors. In his arms he is carrying a large cake box, and as he walks through the classroom toward the front he is announcing loudly the history of the formation of Canada. Jay, flustered by this sudden interruption, is fumbling for words and trying unsuccessfully to get a word in during Lou’s monologue.

When Lou gets to the front of the class, he opens the box to reveal a cake decorated as a Canadian flag, and immediately begins to sing the Canadian national anthem-- in French.

Jay just stands there awestruck, then slowly steps to attention and places his hand over his heart. Lou sings the entire Canadian national anthem-- in French-- and then smiles, shakes Jay’s hand, and walks out, leaving the cake for us to enjoy during our break.

We were in tears laughing so hard, and at that moment I realized anew how thankful I was that I was in the Kingdom with Lou, and would enjoy him and his antics for eternity in fellowship.

Happy Canada Day, everyone!

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