Monday, June 11, 2012

June 10, 2012

We drove through the sheeting rain and the flailing wind, Dad, Deb and I did, to be in the Hanna church this morning for its 75th anniversary.

There are many reasons I am always happy to go to Hanna on a Sunday morning: Dad's long-time family friends, Lawrence and Edith, go there along with their son, Phillip, and his wife, Sharalyn. Doreen, my Nana Ironside's great friend, goes there. We know so many people with so many stories from Dad's and his siblings' histories, and they're all ready to share them with us. I love that they knew and loved my Uncle Gordon, Dad's elder brother.

Another reason I love to go is that they have a fancy electric keyboard at that church - but it remains covered up, for the most part, and the trusty old piano with the scuffed case and the sweet tone that comes from a piano well played is invariably chosen.

I love how Pastor Paul isn't afraid to wear his heart on his sleeve regarding his love for his church and for his people and his burden for his community.

I love how sociable the congregation is, looking for a reason to celebrate or to break bread together. The most tasty potluck lunches I have eaten have been after Sunday morning service at this church.

But the thing I love most about this church is that it was here my Dad preached the last Sunday sermon my Mum would hear of his on this earth. 
The text was from Song of Solomon chapter 4:

12 A garden enclosed is my sister, my spouse; a spring shut up, a fountain sealed.
13 Thy plants are an orchard of pomegranates, with pleasant fruits; camphire, with spikenard,
14 Spikenard and saffron; calamus and cinnamon, with all trees of frankincense; myrrh and aloes, with all the chief spices:
15 A fountain of gardens, a well of living waters, and streams from Lebanon.
16 Awake, O north wind; and come, thou south; blow upon my garden, that the spices thereof may flow out. Let my beloved come into his garden, and eat his pleasant fruits.

He mentioned that this garden, created in the desert, had three sources of water: a fountain, a well, and streams from Lebanon where the run-off from the snow on the mountains would wend its way through the garden. 

The garden was enclosed; it was not a public park but a place created by a specific person for a specific person. It was a haven, an oasis, a sanctuary.

Interestingly, he went on, none of the plants listed are native to the area. All of them would have had to have been imported. Many of them were from India!

As he drew the sermon to a close he pointed out how verse 16 encourages the wind to blow upon the garden. And as the wind blew, the air would become redolent with the fragrance of the spices and plants in the garden. The garden's exquisite loveliness  would bless the tired passers-by as well as the parched soul who yearned for beauty.

I was playing the piano that day; I finished the closing hymn and then started playing a postlude. As the people made their way out, my Dad slowly came off the platform and walked toward my Mum. She stood up, stepped into the aisle facing him. So gently, so tenderly, they brought their faces together until their foreheads touched. They stood thus for long moments, gazing into each other's eyes. No words were spoken. None were needed. The love they had for each other was palpable in this sacred space with the muted buzz of the rest of the people - oblivious to this interchange - at the far end of the church building.

Today would have been their 51st wedding anniversary. As I sat there this morning listening to the sounds of the piano flowing out, swirling around me, wafting through the little country church, my heart filled with gratitude for these two people who created a beautiful garden of love, integrating and tending to its lush verdure, keeping the sources of water pure and not taking them for granted.

As a result, the fruits and the fragrance of their beautiful garden spilled out to their children, their grandchildren, their community, their work, and indeed to the whole world. After she passed away, Dad received letters from people in many different countries who had been blessed by her and by them both.

What a unique treasure their garden was and continues to be! I as their daughter am so grateful for the rich heritage I have been given.


  1. Thank you, Karyn! A few days after that message in Hanna, Dad and Mum came to our home and, wiping a tear from her glowing eyes, Mum talked about the sermon. "It was like being in heaven" she whispered.

    I'm so glad you were there that day, Karyn, and could share it with us. I'm so glad you could go back again this June 10th with Dad. The waters still flow and the air is still sweet in the secret garden. Blow on, good wind, oh keep blowing.

    Mel Slack said, "Paddy was the aroma of Christ." Her Beloved's presence brought the garden to maturity. Much love to them both today.

  2. As my heart overflows through my eyes once again ... Thanks for this, Karyn. Thank you.

  3. A love like that is so precious to commemorate even after half of it has moved on to Heaven. Thank you Karyn...LOVED this post and your dear family

  4. I loved this, Karyn--so beautiful.

  5. Wow! what an example and testimony of how we need to tend to our marriages and families. Reading this blog is always such an encouragement to me! Thanks Karyn

  6. Just finished reading a chapter in a book about tending your marriage garden! So applicable to us all

  7. How beautiful. I loved your mom and love your dad still. I have the privilege of seeing how their love has spilled over to their children and grandchildren. Karyn, I believe you received at least a double portion from them. And I am blessed to be a recipient of that. Thanks for sharing, in such a touching way, what is in your heart today.

    Love always,


  8. What a beautiful tribute to your parents! They have both been special to us!


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