I’ve just finished writing a sermon for New Year’s Eve based on Ecclesiastes 3:1-14. This is the piece of Scripture that Pete Seeger used when he wrote his famous “To Everything There is a Season”. The passage has fourteen couplets with the same formula: there is a time to….and a time to…. usually comparing opposites.
For us 2015 seems to have covered the full range of times, both the good and the not so good.
Our year has been complicated and doesn’t really lend itself well to the chronological reporting we usually manage in these year end summaries. Things have overlapped, affecting each other, pushing us in directions we would not normally have taken.
The year could be broken down into three large themes:
- The Bike Ride
- My Mother’s Short Illness and Death
- Our Move to Haldimand County
I’ll try to sort through them in a logical way.
In last year’s letter, I ended with a hint toward big plans for 2015 and “more on that later”. Those plans, in their infancy then, were to make a trek by bicycle across the continent. We spent months planning, mapping routes, scouting accommodations, reading the blogs of those who had gone before us. The internet is a wonderful thing. We were pleased that the Lucknow Community CRC was able to find a full time pastor who would start before the beginning of summer to allow us the freedom to leave the interim position I had been filling there.
By mid April we were pretty certain the bike trip would happen. Arrangements had been made with Jocelyn’s aunt, near Vancouver, to provide our jumping off point, our flight was booked, the bike had been tuned up, and we were getting out on some rides trying to prepare our bodies for what was ahead. It was during this time, my brother called concerned that something was wrong with our mother. She seemed to be having some abdominal swelling which she was blaming on the after effects of a bug she caught on a Caribbean cruise a month earlier. She had not taken her issue to the doctor, figuring it would pass with rest and time, but she certainly was not her active self.
On May 10th I led my last service in Lucknow. It was a wonderful service with six individuals professing their faith becoming full members of the congregation. My 21 months in Lucknow were good ones. There had been warnings about the wisdom of pastoring the church where I grew up, but I am not aware of any of those concerns that ever came to reality. In my time there I preformed six baptisms, ten professions of faith, three funerals and two weddings. It was a busy time, but the time was blessed. Leaving was an odd experience because our roots remain there, Lucknow is still our church.
On May 14th we left for the west coast with our bike in a big box and our little trailer and pannier bags packed into a couple of big duffel bags. We spent a couple of days in Maple Ridge, rebuilding the bike and preparing for the trip ahead. You can read about the trip beginning here and on J’s blog here. Its enough to say here that it was an experience of a lifetime that we hope to repeat in some way.
On May 25th my mother was diagnosed with ovarian cancer. By this time we were as far away from home as we could be, just beginning to head east from Prince Rupert. We kept in regular contact with home, and when mom was admitted to hospital in mid June, we wondered if we needed to end the trip. By July 3rd we had reached Duluth and mom left a message on our phone telling us “not to worry” “to keep going”. On the 9th the call came though, we needed to get home as soon as possible. We had made it to Thessalon, ON, just over 5000km.
We got home in time and were able to be with mom during her last days. We said farewell on July 21st. She went home, fearlessly, into the arms of her Shepherd God. Her funeral was beautiful and is still being talked for its amazing music and wonderful singing.
The rest of the summer left us displaced. We had not intended to be home until at least early August and even then didn’t know what was in store next. J went to work in her pottery shop and I went to the bush and cut wood for 2017. We moved my tools completely out of her shop so she could reorganize. I started building bird houses. My consulting work had become smaller over the summer and did fill a few days. We visited a few churches looking for interim pastors but it wasn’t till Thanksgiving that a firm offer came through from the Maranatha CRC in York.
At the beginning of November we moved, part-time, to a granny flat just south of Caledonia. My position at York is 75% so we actually still spend about half our nights at home in Huron County. York CRC is a bigger congregation with more worship services and more opportunities for pastoral care.
I am busy. J, not so much. She is doing a lot of knitting and works hard to organize herself to efficiently make use of the pottery shop when we are there.
On a wider front. R , J, and D moved to Victoria BC in June where J found work with a software company. R continues her Post Graduate Fellowship with the University of Ottawa. D is now full time in daycare. J and L bought a house and Oakland and got another puppy (Gemma ?). J, M, and I continue to do what they do. J has one more semester to go in her Master’s program.
In Ecclesiastes 3 the teacher says no one can fathom what God has done from beginning to end. We are left at the end of this year with our questions, questions for which there are no answers. We realize that life seems to have little respect for our plans, but we continue to have faith that God watches over and cares for us.