Every time we take down one calendar and put up a new one there is, I think, some sense of anticipation of what is to come, a feeling of mystery, maybe even a sense of dread. Each new year brings change. Change is inevitable. It’s the unpredictability of the change, its lack of control, or at least our inability to get our hands around it, that leaves us, at this time of year, with mixed emotions.
For us, 2016 was a year of unprecedented change. We began the year knowing there would be change. I was into the second month of my interim pastoral position at Maranatha CRC in York. We knew the position would be over by the first of November and we would be leaving our little apartment, likely holing up in our Huron County home until the next opportunity for ministry showed itself. Other than that, the beginning of this year held little uncertainty and few anticipated surprises.
Change came in many forms and it does come, sometimes without warning, and sometimes announcing itself well ahead of time.
It comes, beautiful and miraculous, in the form of new grandchildren E and N within weeks of each other. Those little hands and trusting eyes all wonderfully put together, are a great gift (at least to grandparents, their parents seem a little tired at times, and may not see the wonder of it all at three am).
J’s Mom and Dad with R many years ago
It comes, sharp, sudden, and painful, in the form of surprise loss. J’s dad passed away early in the year after complications from heart surgery. While there is always the risk of trouble with any surgery, we were anticipating some years yet with B, years with better quality of life, years of his wisdom, and ready laugh. Instead the family gathered with friends to say good bye
, to grieve another loss, find ways to go into a new reality.
It comes, uprooting and disorienting. Just before our summertime bike ride from Huron County to Halifax, our daughter, J, announced that she and her husband, M, were moving their family to Belleville where M and his brother were going to launch an engineering firm. By the time we got back, they had bought a house, and booked a moving truck. We began drives from home to Belleville and soon started to wonder what it was that was holding us in Huron. Certainly we had good friends there, and both my dad and brother were nearby, but, all of our immediate family, our children, had left to start lives far enough away that visiting any of them for an afternoon had become quite impossible. We started riding with a realtor and by early December we had sold our properties, sold the home we always said we wouldn’t sell, and purchased a new home in Prince Edward County. In mid December, we moved, sneaking out between snowstorms, our lives piled into a forty three foot trailer.
During all of this, my contract in York did end, and an opportunity presented itself in Fruitland. I accepted a call to this church located between Stoney Creek and Grimsby. Neither place is close to Prince Edward County, so just days after the moving truck was unloaded, we were riding with a realtor again, and quickly purchased a condo on Lake Ontario as our second home, anticipating an early February beginning to a new interim ministry experience.
Change has been our constant companion this year. We’ve grown too. J has expanded her skill as a spinner and dyer of wool. Her fingers, rarely without knitting needles, produce more and more intricate designs. Her creations in the pottery shed (a new one is being build right now) become increasingly accomplished. We are now able to put into real practice the title “grand parent” like we were never able to before. The experience of a large congregation has made me a better pastor.
Living in a new place will bring change as well as we explore the area, make new acquaintances and, with time, friends, as we take this new house and turn it into a home, hopefully one we enjoy so much that we will strongly suggest that we will not be selling it any time soon.
It has been a year of change. We would like to control it, anticipate its effects, but, we recognize that we can’t, that one who is greater and wiser, better able to see ahead, walks with us through all of life’s uncertainty.