Bahá’í Temple of South America,

Lately we’ve taken an unusual interest into the architecture of tiny homes, avidly touring them on YouTube videos.   There’s something intriguing about the savvy use of space for maximum storage, and the unique design people bring to the décor of their homes.  Skylights, built in loft ceilings, create a spacious feeling, and tiny homes are often located in beautiful settings.  The owners express a lightness that comes from being free of debt and responsibilities for larger homes.  Their materials are often a combination of lucky finds from the demolition of older houses, or re-purposed wood to make floors, ceilings, kitchen counters and furniture, or old stained glass for windows.    And most people readily admit that they could not have built these homes without the combined volunteer labour of friends and family.

The word bricolage comes from the French, and conveys the idea is that there is a range of diverse materials, whatever or whoever is available, to construct a place or maintain a life.  Bringing them together emphasizes not only their uniqueness, but also that each piece contributes something to the whole.  Sometimes what has been rejected from one place becomes valuable in another.

The Bible picks up on this theme when it points to Christ as the stone that was rejected by the builders that eventually gains the place and honour of the cornerstone or capstone.  Sometimes it takes a long time to determine how something or someone can be the best fit.   For the Bahá’í Temple of South America, architect Siamak Hariri found the perfect luminescent stone in a quarry in Portugal.  The owner told him that this vein in the rock had been waiting for seven generations.  Rejected for decades, but finally the perfect choice for this sacred space.

Bricolage is not only an architectural term, but can also be a literary one.  Myths and stories, too, constantly borrow and adapt from what is at hand in each unique telling.  The details of the story matter, call us to pay attention.  The weaving of the tale pulls in threads from many sources.

We’ve been living in a disposable society, people and things easily discarded when there’s no longer perceived value.  That attitude seems to be shifting as we become aware of the impact on our world and realize the beauty that can result when we use what is at hand or re-purpose the treasures of the past.  We can include different cultures and ways of being human to make a beautiful mosaic.  With this special kind of insight, there is potential in all created things.

The Junk Box

My father often used to say,
“My boy, don’t throw a thing away:
You’ll find a use for it some day.”

So in a box he stored up things.
Bent nails, old washers, pipes and rings,
And bolts and nuts and rusty springs.

Despite each blemish and each flow.
Some use for everything he saw:
With things material, this was law.

And often when he’d work to do
He searched the junk box through and through
And found old stuff as good as new.

And I have often thought since then,
That father did the same with men.
He knew he’d need their help again.

It seems to me he understood
That men, as well as iron and wood
May broken be and still be good.

. . .

Though bent and twisted, weak of will,
And full of flaws and lacking skill
Some service each can render still.

Edgar Guest


Missed Perceptions

By chenspec, Pixabay

I’ve been watching a library video series on the world’s mythologies, which is a fascinating subject.   While many tales stretch credulity, there seem to be some character types that consistently pop up.  For example, the trickster who is prone to play pranks on both gods and men.

The Yoruba tribe of West Africa have the trickster named Eshu, and the story is told that he daily would greet two farmers as he walked the path between their two fields.  The farmers were the best of friends, and were so similar in their routines and beliefs that they could barely be told apart.   Ordinarily Eshu wore a black hat, but one day, among other costume changes, he decided to wear a hat that was half white and half red.  After he had greeted them and walked on, the two friends commented on his change of clothing, one saying he was wearing a white hat and the other that he was wearing a red hat.   They proceeded to argue and eventually came to blows, the friendship abandoned in each farmer’s faith in his own sight, and his determination to be right.

When others challenge your point of view, you tend to want to cling to your own assertions without considering that it is possible something else is going on.  The Yoruba myth might be centuries old, but tunnel vision is an all too common human tendency.

My parents were sitting at their dining room table one day, when my father looked out the window and commented on the beautiful gray car that was leaving the neighbour’s driveway across the road.   When my mother looked out the window, she saw a blue car and immediately challenged his statement.  While they were busy arguing about it, my brother (a trickster in his own right) had seen that there were two separate automobiles.  It was unlikely he would have been heard anyway in the scuffle, but he was too busy laughing to clear up the matter.

The role of trickster isn’t necessarily to make trouble – it does seem to be important in challenging the status quo.    The farmers were so alike that there was a kind of stagnancy.   “Error often creates a path that leads you out of your comfortable assumptions.”  (Steven Johnson, Where Good Ideas Come From).

During the time my husband owned his own trucking business, he learned that it’s far better to make decisions than to keep hesitating.  Inaction incurs a cost higher than that of making mistakes.   When green summer students were hired at my workplace, accepting their fresh outlook opened up the possibility of implementing new ideas.  From different perspectives, through trials and error, we grow, and go on to new possibilities we’d never considered before.

J.R.R. Tolkien, master of fantasy tale, drew many inspirations from Norse mythology, and wrote the following poem in The Nameton.  To find new views and worlds, as he did, you have to be willing to take that second look.

Still round the corner there may wait,
A new road or a secret gate,
And though I oft have passed them by,
A day will come at last when I,
Shall take the hidden paths that run,
West of the Moon, East of the Sun.




“Perhaps in their humblest guise
We entertain angels, all unaware.
Great things from small acts do grow
When we kind hospitality show.

Trudy Prins



English is a confusing language – words that look similar often have very different etymologies.   Host can mean thousands of people or angel-armies or stars in the skies.  Host can refer to the communion bread, Christ as the sacrifice who hosts and nourishes us through the sacrament of his body.  And host can mean to open one’s home and cupboard to share what we have with those we love and befriend.

Ontario’s pandemic restrictions have eased somewhat in Stage 3, and it is such a joy to be able to prepare meals, put crisp clean linens on beds, bake tasty treats that can be shared with others.  And to receive hospitality myself, the tea-tray on the patio table with fresh-baked chocolate zucchini bread, gifts that feel like luxuries after months of social isolation.

Our local theatre is once again in need of billets for its actors and stage crew, and it feels good to share our home in this way.  When we built this house in 2010, it was never intended to be for just our own use.   Restrictions will mean smaller audiences for the actors, but their joy is in their craft, and we can be a small part of making this possible for our community.

Over time, I begin to more fully understand that my real Host is the God who provided the harvest bounty I can share with others.  I can open the door to my home, because I have been given a home.   We are all guests on this earth God created as our habitat, none of us entitled to anything.  There is a sacred communion in this providential Hosting, this earth-home and its harvest shared with thousands of others.

The stressful times when we tried to outdo ourselves and others in preparing for guests  have gone, and replacing that is much more joyful and relaxed attitude.  People matter far more than perfection.

In the Biblical story account, sisters Mary and Martha were hosting Jesus at their home.  But Martha, busily banging pots and pans in her kitchen preparations, resenting her sister,  had lost sight of what was really important to her guest.  Mary, sitting at Jesus’ feet, gave him the gift of presence, and was blessed in turn by what she heard.  (Although I think I would have left her the clean-up!)

Whether host or guest, all good gifts are meant to be savoured and enjoyed.  Meals together are nourishing to body and soul and times together are priceless.



Come in the evening, or come in the morning,
Come when you’re looked for, or come without warning.
A warm welcome you’ll always find here before you,
And please enjoy our company, we do implore you.

(adapted from “A Welcome, Thomas O. Davis)