another helpful and informative 253

The Toronto Blessing is an almost worldwide charismatic phenomenon which started in a small church not far from what I think of as Malton (now Lester B Pearson International) Airport. It involves an active experience that includes talking in tongues. The Blessing appears to be able to be passed on from one congregation to another.

Worldwide charisma? Canada? It does not sound like the country where I was a child.

I drove back to my home village through skyscrapers. I hadn't seen it since I was 11 years old. When I was young, that road, the Number 10, ran through farms and woodlands. You could see panicked deer running back into the trees. Now there were only a few farm buildings left. One I seemed to remember, a barn with a white dancing horse painted on the roof. Otherwise I recognized nothing.

The village itself was even spookier. Its name, Meadowvale, had been highjacked by a suburban development on the other side of Streetsville, and so it was now called Meadowvale Village. A collapsed sign just outside it announced that it was a Heritage Village.

A kind of invisible bell jar had been dropped over it, protecting it from change. This is probably easier for a place that is near an International Airport. Who wants to develop land under flight paths? Meadowvale looked as it had done in 1962, except that the faces of the 11 year olds I left behind were now as lined as my own.

It had once been the boonies, inhabited by the descendants of Scottish immigrants. We used their vowel sounds and said "aye?" instead of "you know?" like Americans did. I went to a one-room schoolhouse that had been built in 1871, and went to a United Church of Canada Sunday School. I wandered in woods, swam in the Credit River, walked through fields almost all of which have now gone. They are just outside the magic Heritage circle. They are built on, covered by stretches of suburban housing.

About a mile from my old church, now an evangelical centre, there is a Coptic Orthodox Church. There is a mosque. Canada was once rich, monolithic, raw. As someone else said, Canadian artists once expressed alienation, now they express difference: gay Canadians, Coptic Canadians, Armenian Canadians, Italian Canadians. Let alone French Canadians.

Something is moving, of which the Blessing is only a symptom.

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