Recently, we took advantage of the fact that I was participating in a Summit that had me staying in the heart of downtown Toronto, to visit a unique treasure known as Kensington Market. (By the way, the Summit gave me a tonne of great blog material — so I enjoyed it thoroughly!). I have vague memories of visiting Kensington Market as a child in grade school. The purpose of the school trip was to engage in “the cultural diversity of the city and participate in the richness of its culture”… or something like that. As students, we were only allowed to buy something if we had not had it before. I remember picking out a rich banana square from some Asian bakery (I always remember food details). I could probably find a tonne of them now, not far from my own neighbourhood… but back then it was something different. The class soon discovered a shop that had fresh sugar cane… and half of us came back sucking sweet juices out of the green, fibrous sticks. It probably wasn’t that fresh after all, but we thought it was great and some old Jamaican guy made a profit that day! We all pretended to be from the Islands and swayed along to Bob Marley songs as the school bus bumped along on the ride home. I suppose the teachers accomplished their wishes.
Our more recent “adult” trip (although we dragged along the younger two to …umm… engage in the cultural diversity of the city and participate in its richness of culture… ) was a unique clash of feasts for the senses. We weren’t exactly sure where the market begins and ends, as it is spread over several blocks of residential and main streets tucked into allies and in between old homes and meeting houses. We started along Spadina Avenue and its discount stores filled with cheap t-shirts and Canadian souvenirs. I abandoned my family for a short moment as I ducked into a small art supply store to look around.
I am not much of an artist, but I love these little art supply shoppes, piled high with coloured pastels, a variety of brushes and canvases in various sizes. It’s a little collection of whims, a peculiar example of diversity. Such an eclectic mix of colours and textures, yet all designed for the creation of something beautiful. Not to mention it just looks cool. After finding my crew again… who had lost track of me… we headed along a side street. A large, white truck was unloading cardboard boxes of ripe mangoes and the smell of the tropics hit us. “Now,” says the hubby… “Now, we have come to the right place.” The marketplace store was filled with baskets of exotic fruits and veggies with their cardboard price signs scrawled in magic marker. The hubby shares with the kids that this is the way he remembers shopping overseas. He used to run as a kid to buy a glass-bottled Coca Cola — cool and icy. We turn the corner again and weave our way through the crowds, taking in the sights — shoppes of authentic Mexican delights and street fairs, an Indian spice shoppe with teas and incense. We passed the middle eastern restaurant recommended to me at the Summit. Organic whole food places have popped up everywhere… all those young, hippy, artsy types going green… secretly I am jealous and gaggle at the waste free containers of pantry staples. A tiny bunch of champagne grapes would cost you $14 if you wanted such a luxury.
I sneaked into a little organic print shop stocked with natural products and handmade cards. Just for a minute. The kids crossed over the street to a little park and splash pad to play a bit… because they know how mom easily gets distracted in craft shops and her minute takes forr-everrrr… (insert eye rolling from children and spouse here). When I did join them, it was hot and my feet were beginning to swell up… so I rinsed them off in the splash pad and watched some cute little girl dash in and out among the random squirts and fountains… she was laughing so innocently and gleefully that it made me smile.
We wandered back and stopped for official Italian gelato… two flavours allowed, but the kids picked the familiar. Hmmn. Need to expand their thinking and get them out of their comfort zones more, methinks. I took a few snapshots of the street art and allowed my senses to take in all the colours again. I’m not a downtown girl, but every now and then ya gotta see some graffiti.
After my little getaway downtown I couldn’t help but think that I had a little glimpse of heaven in those few days. Not only had I sat at the feet of some very learned men and women and gleaned insights on so many topics, but I worshiped with others with different styles and backgrounds unlike my own. Then we took in the sights, sounds and smells of people who were craving cultural comforts of their native homes. Others were clinging to social beliefs and political freedoms… organic, pesticide-free foods or animal rights. Searching people who were clinging to their ideas of “goodness” in a fallen world. Even the artists were trying to express things through the colours splashed on walls and concrete planters.
Our heavenly Father has created us with such diversity… each with our own unique talents and gifts. Even my own four, who have been raised in the same house with the same set of genes, are so different from one another. It’s kinda like that art supply shop… our world is stacked to the ceiling with textures, colours and blank canvases that God has given us, and it is up to us to use them well. To create something beautiful. To display our wares and share our wealth with others. The bible tells us (Matthew 25 and 1 Corinthians 12) that the Spirit gives us gifts and talents of all kinds and we are to use them “…for the common good…” You can take that a variety of ways, I suppose, but I have to think that if it says we should use our gifts, then, by golly, we should use them! Please share your thoughts and talents with others… and never stop learning from those around you!
I get kind of excited when I think about Heaven… not only to see Jesus face to face, but to walk down the streets of gold and chat with people from all over the world… to hear their stories of how they met Jesus, and what their traditions were. To taste the food in Heaven (oh… can you imagine what gelato… or chocolate… will taste like in Heaven?!) And no one is going to argue which way is the right way… because we are all there already… face to face with our Saviour and fully aware of all that He has given us. The rich diversity of colours and textures and shapes… simply for our pleasure. Forever. Hmmmn… as the old hymn says “what a day of rejoicing that will be…”
Have you been super excited to share in this adventure with me as we “muse” each week?! We are so close to 100 followers! How exciting! Would you consider sharing with a few friends and ask them to join us? I’ve got some fun changes coming and need as many friends to be a part of it as possible! Thanks much!