Leah Perrault

Leah Perrault

Perrault works in Catholic health care in Saskatoon and writes and speaks about faith. Her website is leahperrault.com. Her Register column will appear monthly.

June has been swirling its way through the world with an unbridled intensity in my world. Band concerts and ball games, kindergarten orientation and musicals, appointments that must be completed before school gives way to summer holidays. National Indigenous Peoples’ Day is offering more opportunities for building relationships, Pride flags are flying, and Juneteeth celebrates African-American emancipation from slavery.

It was quiet Saturday morning at home after several full weekends in a row. I had hoped to sleep in but the youngest was up early counting down the minutes until I got out of bed. The sun was shining in spite of a forecast for rain, and my head was an inexplicable cloud of shame. I have been practising living with joy, and so I committed to look patiently at the cloud with love.

I love the first walk out with the kids when the snow melts. Pressing on thin ice till it breaks. Wading into puddles. Dropping snow into running water to see how long it takes to break through. I love the way that spring breaks through the winter, and we feel renewed by fresh air. Mostly, I love how easy it is to taste joy on that first spring walk.

Several weeks ago, Eliot brought home a note for his school ski trip and asked if I would like to come as a chaperone. I know these requests could stop coming and I love being out on the hill, so I planned to go. I have been a snowboarder since my teens, which was surprising even two and a half decades before I could be called middle-aged. I went to be with him and his friends, and I went (without smaller children in tow) to test out if it is time for me to trade my snowboard in for skis. It is getting dangerous to risk a fall.

When I first encountered 12 step spirituality in a room of anonymous strangers, I was introduced to “the God of our own understanding.” The concept felt foreign to me, and a little bit dangerous. What would all these people do to God with their own understanding, I worried. 

There’s a strange tenderness in harsh Prairie winters. In the midst of deep fog, the temperature swings slowly, visibility declines, ice and frost coat the roads and the windows, and the hoar frost wraps the power lines and the trees. We can easily get lost in fog, and our movement through it is reduced to wandering one miniscule and tentative step at a time, our senses attuned to the tiniest and most immediate signals of our place in space and time.  

Receiving the gift is the last stage of Advent becoming Christmas. Jesus arrives and we receive the One we have awaited. The seasons and feast days of church calendars exist not only to change the colours and routines of faith life, but also change the way we live our whole lives. We learn to practice waiting — in joyful hope — for Jesus to arrive. And this practice waiting and receiving is meant to help us get better at waiting and receiving in the rest of our lives too.

The birds took their time this fall, lingering on the Prairies longer than usual. We got more sunshine and warm days than we usually do in Saskatchewan, with autumn stretching nearly two months before the blizzards knocked us squarely into winter. Most of us aren’t ready anyway (how is anyone truly ready for six or more months of winter?). The birds did their practice flights and then took off, if late.

Presence has been swirling around me, chasing me in the fall wind, working its way through my hair. I taste it in time with friends, in singing in a choir, and in the longing to run away from what is hard.

Owning less has been a necessity and a goal as we downsized our home with our last move. And last fall, I took up the wooland.com challenge to wear the same dress for 100 days in a row. I was intrigued (as a knitter) by the prospect of wearing wool, exhausted by the choices in my closet every morning, and challenged by the impact fashion has on the environment.