I grew up in a middle-class neighbourhood in west Edmonton. Our split-level house, painted white with black trim, gleamed when the sparkly glass bits embedded in the stucco reflected our bright Albertan sun. The house carried all the same characteristics of those in my neighbourhood in the 1970s: thick carpets (ours was orange), wallpaper with either flowers or plaid (different in each room), lineoleum kitchen floor (cream, of course) and doors with only one lock, not three.
My domain was downstairs in the basement where I did most of my “playing” – and where I grew up, so to speak. And on the basement wall – the dark panels of fake wood – my parents had hung a small decorative piece of stained glass. As I got older, I realized the orange, yellow and red blobs were not in fact just shapes – but formed letters. And as I learned how to form letters into words – I realized the words were “joy” “hope” and “faith”.
I grew up with those words on the wall every day. When I bashed the ping pong ball into the ceiling, when I cried because I wasn’t allowed to stay up late and finish watching “Love boat”, when I tried to sneak out of the house to meet my friends down the street … those words were on the wall.
Being Filipino, Catholicism is more than a religion – it’s a culture. In my house, faith was part of the house. Literally. In the décor. On top of the coffee table. On the walls. I didn’t realize until I was older that not everyone had three artistic versions of the Last Supper, nor crucifixes in every room, nor a statue of Jesus at toddler age – dressed in green Bermuda shorts and a tank top — in their homes.
Now as an adult, my impression is that Canadian culture of my generation doesn’t really value demonstration of religion. It happens – but my impression is that it’s not sophisticated.
I have a girlfriend who is working for a year in Botswana. In her blog, (or maybe in an email?) she remarked how different it was to start the day with a prayer. She isn’t particularly religious – but hearing people’s concerns, hopes … areas in their life where they need support … it brought her a different perspective on her co-workers, on how she related to them and on her workplace.
I wonder – if instead of adorning workplace walls with mission statements and visions – we instead put up simple concepts like – hope, joy and faith? I simultaneously laugh and grow wistful at the thought.
Words like peace. Respect. Forgiveness. Ohhhh – I’d love to see that word on my wall.
Forgive me, please oh funder, that my report is late. And I’l forgive you, oh government, for cutting all the funding to my agency.
That’s when I would also need words like – visionary, effort, and yet again, back to hope.