Sunday, May 15, 2011

The Milky Way

      My son said, Dad, God turns on the streetlights. We were coming off a country road into a built up area around dark and the streetlights had just come on. He said it right away, look Dad! He might have been six years old. His Mother had made a wise decision to put him into a Catholic French immersion program where he experienced some great teachers and a little bit of religion. I guess he made some kind of a connection between God and light. I didn't dissuade him. You  know, really you can make a good theological argument for God turning on the streetlights. I remember the comment from the little fella because it came from that sacred place of childhood imagination.
     Out on the farm we could look up on a clear night and see the universe. Underneath the universe long distance planes etched fine lines north to south and all points of the compass. It was sort of like they were tickling the under belly of infinity. (And beyond!) The Kid and me standing on the back stoop on a clear night could see the great swath of stars and unseen worlds, (unseen except in the imagination) the cosmic footpath of light just around the corner at a few million light years. The Milky Way! Who really turned on those lights I wonder?

     In Parkdale the sky drifting over the sharp edged buildings isn’t much to look at. It’s kind of soupy at times, other times it's just plain washed out. In our Parkdalian version of the sky there’s not much up there to inspire you beyond the basic orbs. Maybe some guy in a light plane trailing a banner over the Sky Dome. Turbo props taking off from Billy Bishop. Once a year the CNE brings American made jets to town and scares the bejesus out of the local bird population. The Big Smoke including Parkdale is more about looking down, looking away, looking at your reflection in the plate glass. But that’s OK.  Parkdale has its own Milky Way to inspire a little bit of wonder. I mean if you've managed to hang on to a little of that sacred imagination!

     The Milky Way is a lane that runs parallel to Queen from Dufferin to Cowan, about two and a half City blocks. It’s a narrow passage with graffiti and tagging, ragged trees growing out of concrete, a concrete road, broken and in need of repair in places. The lane is a short cut option if you believe short cuts in the City actually get you anywhere faster. It's not much used during the day. After dark might be another question. In fact wait just a minute! Yikes! Suddenly, even as I write, a deadly night has fallen and it is filled with ominous portents of evil! OMG! What is happening?

     An oily mist oozes along the lane. Overhead staccato bursts of lightening are etched in a sky bruised yellow and purple. The air is sharp with the smell of ozone. There is a macabre pit-a-pat of hail on the slanted roofs. Ice pellets bounce in the lane like a army of fleeing marbles. A leprous looking rat skitters along a wall and dives through a chain-link fence. They come marching in, metallic green grey helmets, robed in sulphurous black. It's the  Samurai-Vader mob that has been plaguing the Milky Way. They are grim and determined. Whipped on by their relentless master they exude the stench of cruelty.
     With the Samurai-Vader mob The Way has suddenly fallen on hard times. The hail ebbs into the sewage drains. The lane is quiet and eerie. The mob taut and restless. Night has sunk into the deep pit of its own lurid propensity for evil. OMG. I can't believe this is happening! Is there no Way Out?Will the dark tide of lawlessness rule in Parkdale? Is there no one to show us The Way of Hope in The Milky Way
     But wait! Do I not hear the William Tell Overture? The ground shakes. A benevolent breeze wafts down the lane. What is this I see? Who is that riding to the rescue on a multicoloured Triceratops and wearing the Aluminum Helmet of Justice and the Golden Sword of Truth? Is that not the Silver Sceptre of Peace and Harmony? Perhaps all is not lost. Perhaps Hope has come to the The Milky Way after all! Who is that Kid?

Nunc adhibetur iocum

      Paddy, after a long day quaffing at his local, staggers into a Catholic Church. He enters a confessional booth and sits down. He doesn’t say a word, but manages a few pathetic groans. The Priest, impatient for the penitent to unburden himself of his sins, coughs a few times to get his attention. Paddy continues to groan. Finally, the Priest, out of patience, pounds three times on the wall. Paddy, annoyed, barks at the priest, shut up over there youse, there's no paper on this side either.

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