Sunday, October 30, 2016

Church, Prayers, and my brother Ron

I was in Napanee at Hay Bay with my brother Ron and his family, Adell, Graeme, Andrew, Alan.  Tanya, Andrew’s wife has been there and Alan brought his friend Meagan.  Eva and Pepper the cockapoos are the going concern always.  Gilbert came out on my trip at the end of September when we took the SV Giri sailing. I was able to ride the Yamaha 250 motorcycle around the backwoods.  Ron had been in Kingston Hospital where his doctor, Dr. Tomiak has provided such thoughtful, loving care.  We’d been able to get him back home after that last visit.  His wife Adell is a real trooper.
Ron loves Hay Bay.  It’s so reminiscent for me of their home on the Red River by the University of Manitoba. He was to my mind so happy there and again so at Hay Bay   Beautiful wife. Proud father. University graduate. Hard worker. Haybay to me is just more acres and more square feet. There’s  something so similar for me in these homes. Ron acknowledged the similarities himself.  Getting home was so important to him. He’s planted so many flowers this last year. It’s been a while since he could kayak or bicycle. We did plant fruit trees together.  He has his salt water aquarium and guitars.  The wood burning fireplace created such a lovely fragrance at night. Adell is such a remarkable cooks. The dogs and boys are always on the go.
This last time though he wasn’t able to stand.  Adell had to take him in to the Napanee palliative care unit where "Dr. Tom” was caring and kind. The nurses were terrific too.  Ron hadn’t wanted to stay.  But his cancer had progressed. We considered options. Acceptance comes.  It was so sad to watch him wanting his body, and willing his body to move but seeing that no matter, the message was no longer getting through. His mind was fine and he was alert for long times, fully compis mantis and able to be with family. He enjoyed the company.  He didn’t want to go. Not afraid of dying but somehow not quite willing to leave the party.  Like a child yawning.
Always his family was there. Graeme sat by him all night, or Alan or Andrew. Adell was with him most of the time, day and night, a wonderful love story. . Days and nights I'd come by and find them holding hands.  I came and went  too.  My brother and I  talked of childhood and family.  I felt  a bit like the one with the watch.  Time ticking.   .  
Sunday Adell and I went to church. I took her to the St. Mary Magdalene Anglican church in Napanee. I’m now Anglican. We’d all begun as Baptists. Ron and Adell courted in the Trinity Baptist Church in Winnipeg. Adell and I have been to the Baptist church and the United Church in Napanee and enjoyed them.  I’d passed St. Mary Magdalene on the way to the Napanee Hospital.  I’d brought egg mcmuffins and coffee from McDonalds for our breakfasts.  Ron was able to enjoy a bite but I drank his coffee and mine.  He did like the red bull I brought him. It counteracted the morphine.
The church service was lovely. The church itself so British.  The people so friendly. Adell liked the music. I love her voice. She is a soprano and I’ve always loved the heavenly sound she makes when she sings. Ron and her sang together.  The Anglican music is more traditional. I listen to Praise music on the radio and love it. But this music just worked for me. The kind of Christian songs my mother and aunt sung years ago. The newer songs haven’t the same history, even though I so enjoy them.  I liked the priest.  I missed communion though. . Holy Communion service was early at 8 am.  I like those services.
We went back to the palliative care unit.  I talked more with Ron.  We have had a lot of conversations this last year, mostly about family and childhood.  I think of the songline, “there’s never enough time to say all the things you want to."
I like churches. I like worship in community. I pray.
Back home this last week Tom called. He was on his way to the Chinese Anglican Church, the Anglican Network of the Good Shepherd, near Ontario and 11th Avenue.  He said it was the opening of synod and there were celebrating Eucharist. The Archbishop of the Anglican Church of North America was there presiding. I liked the Chinese church immediately. It had what my friends in the Christian Medical and Dental Society  called  ‘bible based’  feeling.  So many of the Chinese like the Orthodox Russians I met in Moscow and St. Petersburg were persecuted for their faith and now take religion very very seriously.  It’s not an accoutrement but the centre of their lives.  Miracles happen in these places. The Gospel is truly the good news.
The joy was palpable.
I told Tom I’d been to St. Mary’s Magdalene in Napanee but missed eucharist so was glad he called.
The North American Anglican Synod was different from the Canadian Anglican Synod.  When Bishop Michael had been here the Anglican church split with the traditional congregations losing their churches and leaving the more modern Diocese of New Westminster, to which I belong. The Bishop divorced too.    I didn’t like that the diocese took the Christians to court but in the end the split created two churches, something going on since Martin Luther and certainly well established in Anglican tradition by Good King Henry.
I like eucharist. I believe in the body of Christ and the Blood of Christ. I believe in Jesus. I believe in Christ in the very fabric of existence which is essentially energy and matter is slow energy. The idea of Christ and the Holy Spirit and the historical Jesus and soul are all central for my life.  I struggle with the faith and courage and congregation but God has always been with me.  I like churches because I know that the majority of people there are spiritual seekers and somehow the meaning of that and the feeling of that lingers in this space for me. I feel edgy where wars have taken place though in general I like graveyards. I used to lunch in graveyards when I worked in Toronto and there was no other nearby green spaces.   I like hockey rinks,  playgrounds,  nature,  mountains, oceans and forests but I also like churches and temples and holy places of worship.
Now I’ve just come from St. James Anglican Church where I’ve attended for years since I left Christ Church Cathedral because of their anti dog policy.  Gilbert’s a therapy dog and was blessed by Dean Peter Elliott and Bishop Michael but he has other dog friends at St. James and he likes the kids there. His god brothers and sister are there and they all have group hugs.  I like the people too.  We missed Kevin and Anna today but expect the unexpected sunshine and heat of this day had them out with the kids. Laura said she expected Kevin would put up his incredible pictures of their morning with nature.
I say I’m a ‘winter Christian’. When the weather is good I’m so often out sailing or hiking or hunting, I miss a lot of days at church then. When winter comes I’m more likely to be in church because we’re in town on the weekend.
I’ve been praying for my brother, praying for his comfort, praying for peace. I’m praying for my family too.

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