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Louise McEwanI spent Canada Day on a plane traversing the nation. On the 150th anniversary of Confederation, it seemed appropriate to fly from the Atlantic to the Pacific. The aerial views provided an opportunity to enjoy the vast and diverse Canadian landscape in one fell swoop.

Our day began at 4:30 a.m. Atlantic time. The weather was overcast and somewhat dreary. By 7 a.m., we were in the air. It was the first of three flights with connections in Toronto and Vancouver.

Fourteen hours later, we landed at the regional airport near our home. We stepped onto the tarmac in Castlegar, B.C. A wall of hot, dry air hit us. It was a stark contrast to Halifax, where heavy rain had forced the cancellation of the city’s Canada Day parade.

The forecast for the Kootenay region was hot. So rather than head home, we made the hour-long drive to the shores of Slocan Lake. It was a bit of a push, given our level of fatigue, but once we arrived and stepped out of the car, we felt refreshed. We prepared to celebrate Canada Day with our daughter and her family.

Our granddaughter wondered if we’d go to the fireworks with them. The fireworks were an exciting event for her. She was going to be able to stay up late. As the daylight dwindled, so did my energy – but her excitement was contagious. Off we went to watch the display. It was spectacular. The silhouette of the Valhalla Mountains provided a backdrop to the brilliant bursts of light. It was so beautiful that I forgot to be tired. But when my head finally hit the pillow, I was out like a fizzling firecracker.

It was an unusual way to celebrate Canada Day. From the air, the physical diversity that is Canada is obvious. From coast to coast to coast, Canada’s varied landscapes – from the sea to inland communities, from the Shield to the Rockies, from prairie to mountain valley, from tundra to desert to coastal rain forest – are a source of wonder.

Travelling along the nation’s highways and byways, we see pieces of this vast and diverse land. We glimpse only a fraction of that which exists, of the promise held within a particular landscape. Snow-covered mountains send forth life-giving waters. Crops in the field hold the promise of food for the table. The semi-arid desert appears barren in contrast, yet contains its own living secrets. In the darkness of oceans and lakes lies abundance.

Some landscapes leave an indelible impression. There is an ineffable beauty about them that takes the breath away. Years later, the mind’s eye can recall them with vivid clarity. These are the landscapes that I consider spiritually charged, that speak about transcendence, that imbue a sense of the sacred, that stir the receptive soul with an awareness of a divine presence.

The landscapes of Canada are a source of inspiration. Summer provides the opportunity to encounter some of the nation’s breathtaking landscapes, to pitch a tent and dwell awhile in the heart of nature’s grace and beauty.

Louise McEwan has degrees in English and Theology. She has a background in education and faith formation. 

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