I write this post from a hotel room looking over deserted streets of downtown Edmonton, Alberta. It’s Monday morning and it should be busy out there. Newly arrived in town I should be out sightseeing and enjoying the sunshine. The sky is blue and the local website warns people to keep an eye on uv levels if they are planning to be out for long. But that’s not the main problem.
The main problem is that it is cold, very cold. It was -29C earlier ‘feeling like’ -38. The danger is frostbite in less than a quarter of an hour on the prairies outside the city. The advice is ‘bundle up’.
I saw one or two hardy souls out walking earlier. They had taken the advice to heart. These were balloon people with large scarves wrapped round and round so that they could only just see. They were striding out purposefully – the ice underfoot seeming to be more like stone than the slippy wet stuff I am more familiar with.
The ballooning – the bundling up – is very wise. I walked round the block yesterday evening with ordinary winter clothes augmented by mountaineering leggings. After 5 minutes it felt as if I was out in my pyjamas. I was glad to get back indoors.
I am here to lead a retreat for the clergy of the diocese of Edmonton. It will be ‘silent’ apart from my talks, which is perhaps a good thing as it means that no one will be able to challenge me on writing books with titles like ‘Barefoot Disciple’ and ‘Barefoot Prayers’. I have a feeling that on this occasion I won’t be suggesting some barefoot walking the retreat grounds as a spiritual exercise. Mild frost is one thing, this is serious stuff. I can imagine feet adhering to the ground.
While I am hear I am going to learn as much as I can about the Church’s Truth and Reconciliation process, which is being followed in the light of the 1991 apology to First Nation people who attended Indian Residential Schools run by the church.
I will blog as best I can, about all I learn, hopefully moving beyond weather stories.
Next, though, I am off to meet Bishop Jane Alexander who invited me here in the first place. I will bundle up before I venture out.