A Record of Waterloo Region headline says today
Winter is over today, but expect a ‘fickle spring’
The article has a picture of a woman watering new flowering plants in the Colour of Paradise Greenhouses, while meteorologists call for a mix of sun and cloud and a high of 8 C.
After the bluster and the cold of winter, I’m ready for spring. Ready for warmth and more sunshine. I couldn’t resist it this morning, being the first day of spring. I grabbed the camera, put on my winter jacket, and headed outdoors to see what the new shoots in the garden were doing. Sure enough, the narcissus bulbs are sending their shoots up higher and it won’t be long before they send up a flowering head and bloom, while some snow still edges the flower bed in the sunny spot in front of our home. click
On side of the house that tends to have more shade, I saw the early stems of the lilies among the debris of winter and the cedar mulch of last summer. Click.
I headed for the backyard to see what was coming up there. Nothing yet, but just then a huge flock of geese flew through the sky above me. I heard the honking before I saw them. Their formation was not the usual “v” but a series of “V’s” across the bright blue sky and they so not so high so I could identify them as Canada geese. And as they passed by, other birds made themselves known with their cheerful twitters in nearby trees.
My neighbour, Ruth, reported on Facebook that a robin awaited her as she stepped out of her place of work. Next thing to check will be the buds on the trees. I’ll be taking note.
There’s nothing like new life to celebrate spring, except perhaps a new grandchild who beat them all this spring.
A bird sits on the topmost branch of a cedar in our backyard. He looks one way and then another. I open my office window a crack to check if he’s singing. He’s not, at least at this moment. And then he takes flight and I cannot see him anymore. The sun is shining in a light blue sky that holds fluffy white clouds. The air is still cool, but the snow banks have been shrinking and what’s on the sidewalks is turning into a small lake.
I thought to wear my rain boots instead of heavy winter boots yesterday when I prepared for my walk, and it was a good thing, for as the sun warmed the atmosphere, the puddles on the sidewalk and near street corners had grown large enough to slosh through and get one’s feet very wet.
Two young boys, just home from school, stood on top of snow piles next to the sidewalk and gathered whatever snow they could grab and tossed it in the water on the street. Perhaps they were checking how fast the snow would melt, or was it a science experiment, trying to displace water from the already growing small lake on the road?
Teens skateboarded down the middle of the street, talking as they went, and separated enough to let a car pass as it came close.
The streets are widening too, with the receding snow. I haven’t seen a robin yet, but I’ve heard the cardinal call. Is it spring yet?
After a long winter, with much snow and dark nights, I’m ready for spring to show its face, ready to see the earth come alive and the buds form on the trees, but I am not rushing time, for each moment we have is one we will not have again.
In the past few weeks, we’ve heard news of the death of three people, two elderly relatives and my friend Kathy, which has been difficult. Good-byes are hard, even knowing they go on to heaven. Those days of mourning are not to be rushed.
At the same time, we also await the arrival of a new member of our family, at the beginning of life beyond the womb. And I do not want to rush those last days of the mother-to-be preparing her heart and mind for the birth of her baby, or the baby’s father to recover from what may have been a viral bug. He needs to be well to attend the birth of their first child. The obstetrician has said, “It’s time.” And so soon, we shall meet our new grandchild who has indicated life through many kicks and movements within its little warm fluid-filled sack.
In the church year, we’re in the season of Lent, a slower more reflective time, with dark shadows, death, and a lot of waiting. It’s interesting how Lent parallels our anticipation of spring after a long winter, in the northern hemisphere, and how that promise of joy comes at Easter when we often see the first hint of flowers coming from the cool earth.
New life, and that brings me back to the anticipated baby.
I think this baby may yet beat the arrival of our spring flowers, and then we shall be stepping lively to meet this little one and congratulate the new parents. There may be tears, of both joy and sadness, when this baby arrives. Perhaps we’ll even sing as loud as all the birds together. The baby’s young cousins will meet the baby they have been waiting for, and welcome the baby with kisses and gentle hugs.
Yesterday, I received news that a friend had died. She’d been very ill, but I was still not ready to hear the news. This morning I posted over at Canadian Writers Who Are Christian about our our hellos and good-byes.
Tuesday evening, as I wrote, a good-bye lay raw and heavy in my heart. Another good-bye in a string of weeks, and this one for a friend who has died. As family and friends come to terms with this new loss is an underlying knowledge of where she goes from this life.
Kathy will no longer wear the mantle of illness, nor endure more treatments that gave her extra time, or even to make do with what little energy remained. But she will wear a new covering of light and be reunited with her young grandson Leif who predeceased her months before.
My friend was a welcoming kind of person, the kind who found you new to a place and invited you in, that no one be left standing out in the cold of indifference. I know, for I have been the recipient of that caring on more than one occasion. I was grateful and always remember those times. Read more here.
A bouquet for Kathy. She loved flowers.
display of books, artifacts and head dress relating to African heritage
A week ago, members of St Philip Lutheran and the Black community in Waterloo region attended the Black History Month celebration hosted by Maranatha Lutheran congregation. As their home is at St. Philip, that’s where the events were held.
Beginning with a service of celebration, we gathered in the sanctuary, with members of the Starlite Steel Band providing the music.
Such enthusiasm and life in their music.
And the altar flanked by beautiful flowers
Emmanuel George, rep from Faith Life Financial, greets Pastor Claudine Carlson, guest preacher for the service.
Peter Braid, MP for the Kitchener area, shared a few words of celebration as well. He spoke of having been among the Canadian delegation to go to South Africa to attend the funeral service of Nelson Mandela. In 1995, the first official Black History month was celebrated and January was the first month to officially celebrate Lincoln Alexander, who has provided a good deal of leadership to Canadians.
Pastor Claudine spoke of humanity’s quest to reach perfection, and how we humans want to be like God. We want power and “do not succumb easily to God’s power.” God wants none of his people to be enslaved and his call is to liberate those who have been enslaved. How easy it is for us to despair, yet “in Christ we are all one” and Jesus promises never to leave us.
We can celebrate the tremendous strides that have been made regarding injustice, yet we still have a long way to go. Our call is to pray, work and write letters. Pastor Claudine reminded us of the definition of God’s grace: “that you cannot do anything to make God love you more and you cannot do anything to make God love you less.”
The service included communion.
Hugs for Sharon, Maranatha Council Chair, on the way out of the service
The ladies, ready to serve the lunch
Serving the lunch
Three long tables and only a couple of empty chairs. Well attended and the food was yummy.
A few colourful hats
(Photo: S. Fletcher)
Then after the tasty lunch, a speaker, Rosemary Sadlier, representing Ontario Black History Society (OBHS), who spoke on the History of the Black people in Canada. She is a recipient of the Order of Ontario for her work promoting Black History. She is the author of six books on Black History.
“Canada was the promised land. Canada was Canaan and the North Star.”
According to the OBHS website, on the Black people’s contribution to Canada:
As a people, with roots dating back to 1603, African-Canadians have defended, cleared, built and farmed this country; our presence is well established, but not well-known.
Rosemary created more of a dialogue with people in attendance, and answered questions with grace. It was a most interesting presentation .
(Photo: S. Fletcher)
Indeed there is much to celebrate, such as our past Governor General Michaelle Jean, and of course the achievements of Lincoln Alexander, the first Black Canadian elected to the House of Commons and who was also a Governor General.
In all it was a good celebration of important milestones of our fellow Canadians.
Appreciation to S. Fletcher of Link Picnic Festival, for graciously sharing her photos. The others are my own.
A bright blue day with sparkling snow
Sunday, January 11th, at St. Philip Lutheran Church, our covenant partners, Maranatha Lutheran congregation, said an emotional good-bye to their pastor of nine years—Pastor Peter Kuhnert and his family. As well we celebrated the baptism of Jesus on this day of the church year.
Pastor Peter`s wife, Pastor Karen Kuhnert, assisted with the service, with Bishop Michael Pryse, of the Eastern Synod of the Evangelical Lutheran Church on hand for the ceremony of release. Pastor Peter welcomed Pastor Claudine Carlson, interim pastor for St. Philip, to say a few words in introduction. She will also be doing a communion service once a month for Maranatha as part of her work here.
And though Pastor Peter has been pastor of Maranatha and not St. Philip, we have shared the space and celebrate Lenten services and supper together as well as Christmas Eve and Black History Month services, and thus we have gotten to know both him and his family. I might add that my brief time on the liaison committee has helped with that too.
Member of the Starlite Steel Band played as members and guests entered the sanctuary and again during communion. (photo: S. Fletcher)
Emmanuel George, Faith Life rep gives a contribution to Sharon Heeralall, council chair of Maranatha. (Photo: S. Fletcher)
The service opened with remarks from Pastor Peter and Sharon Heeralall, council chair of Maranatha, who welcomed all in attendance and gave an emotional and heartfelt thanks to Pastor Peter on behalf of their congregation.
Bishop Pryse, in his brief remarks, called on his memories as a child of this congregation (St. Philip), the first baptized at St. Philip, and promised support to Maranatha Lutheran as they move forward. “We will walk forward together, celebrate the sweetness even among the bittersweet.”
The singing was joyful and mixed with tears too, as Maranatha said good-bye. We go forward together—St. Philip and Maranatha—knowing that Jesus Christ is with us and that God holds our futures.
In his sermon, Pastor Peter recounted his time and various events with his congregation. He reminded us that “every day we are washed in God’s blood” and that “Baptism is a day of endings and beginnings.” … “Thank you to Maranatha for inviting me into your sacred spaces.” In reflection on the past year and a half in covenant partnership, Pastor Peter added, “Thank you also to St. Philip for welcoming us into your building.”
[ Personal note: Soon after returning home I learned that the first great grandchild of my friend Karleen in Colorado was baptized this same day.]
Photos © Sylma Fletcher at Link, by her gracious permission. Other photos © C. Wilker