So, how did you spend your long weekend? Here in Canada, the first weekend in August, along with being one of the busiest camping weekends of the summer, it is also the weekend that is filled with colourful festivals across Canada to celebrate our Canadian heritage. Now that’s an oxymoron in itself, because Canada does not have one distinctive heritage as such. Canada is a melting pot of cultures and faiths so the Canadian identity is not so much a singular, distinct national identity but a colourful blend of nationalities that make up our Canadian society. In other words, if ever there was a culture that could be defined as the Heinz 57 variety…Canadian would be it!
Now for years we have usually been camping on the Heritage Day long weekend as a family, but this year we decided to have a “staycation” meaning we stayed home and instead became tourists in our own home town. So on Monday, my husband, my youngest daughter and I toured into Calgary and attended the Heritage Day Festival at Prince’s Island Park. My husband is Canadian but was born in Germany, and has Scottish and British roots; I am Canadian with Danish roots, so we fit the “Heinz 57” mould pretty well. But before heading there, we detoured over to see the “Body Worlds” exhibit at the Science Centre first.
If you have not had a chance to see the show a note of warning, it is not for the squeamish. “The BODY WORLDS exhibitions are first-of-their-kind exhibitions through which visitors learn about anatomy, physiology, and health by viewing real human bodies, using an extraordinary process called Plastination a groundbreaking method for specimen preservation invented by Dr. von Hagens in 1977. Each exhibition features more than 200 real human specimens, including whole-body plastinates, individual organs, organ configurations and transparent body slices. The specimens on display stem from the body donation program that Gunther von Hagens established in 1983. The exhibitions also allow visitors to see and better understand the long-term impact of diseases, the effects of tobacco consumption and the mechanics of artificial supports such as knees and hips. To date, more than 29 million people around the world have viewed the BODY WORLDS exhibits.” (http://www.bodyworlds.com/en.html)
My fourteen year old daughter, was not as thrilled about seeing the “insides” of bodies as we were and on more than one occasion used the term “gross”, however she had to admit that it was extremely interesting. She will never become a doctor or nurse, that is obvious. I was absolutely fascinated by the entire exhibit because each display vividly depicted how “fearfully and wonderfully made” we all are. Looking at the bodies, stripped away of skin, exposing muscles, tendons, blood vessels, and nerves, I couldn’t help but marvel how perfectly we are “knit together”. Nothing is there by accident, each organ, muscle or nerve serves a unique purpose in our bodies and the exhibit also shows what happens to the body if it is damaged by disease or injury. We are fragile creations but it is obvious we did not “evolve” to become human, we were created by a magnificent Creator. I thought it interesting that an exhibit that was for all intents and purposes filled with dead people actually celebrated Life!
I was still pondering on that when we walked over to Prince’s Island to watch the Heritage Day festivities there. I was struck by the diversity of dress, skin colours and speech. It was like hundreds of cultures gathered together to celebrate our differences as well as our similarities. On stage, performers from Chile, Brazil, Guatemala, Mexico, India, China, Japan, Hungary, Russia etc., were dressed in their national costumes and dancing their traditional folk dances. Booths were set up all around the park so we could sample foods from around the world and buy crafts, pottery, jewellery, and clothes from every country. It was spectacular.
Surrounded by all these “Canadians”, I was suddenly struck by something very profound. At the Body Worlds exhibit every body displayed there was identical under the skin. The only distinct difference was whether the body was male or female. “So God created man in his own image, in the image of God he created him; male and female he created them.” (Genesis 1:27)
Skin colour, race, religion, thought, opinion and ethnic origin may define us culturally, morally and ethically distinctive, but strip all that away and we see that our true common bond as human beings is our connection to our Creator!
And one day “at the name of Jesus every knee should bow, in heaven and on earth and under the earth, and every tongue confess that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father.” (Philippians 2:10-11)
Amen and Amen!