ANS #30 – The Awkward Month?

I usually think of November in Pennsylvania and Ontario as the dreary month – if not the ugly month – an awkward switch between fall and winter, with trees bare and colours mostly gray.

Fall-along-Susquehanna
The Susquehanna River near McKee’s Half Falls, north of Harrisburg, Pennsylvania

But before church last Sunday I embarked on a neighborhood walk in light-rain-that-turned-heavier and noticed:

  • Raindrops perched on the needles of evergreens
  • The odd rose or geranium still blooming
  • A few decorative pumpkins holding their shape and colour
  • A small bush with clusters of red berries, planted in a church garden
  • A few trees still full of yellow leaves
  • Raindrops dancing on a side street
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From YouTube

I enjoyed sounds like:

  • The ping of raindrops landing one by one on my umbrella
  • The swoosh of tires hitting puddles on a main road, sending spray my way
  • The rattle of a full rainspout disgorging its content onto the cement below.

Yes, arriving back at my condo building was lovely, but so was the walk.

As a child, I found it consoling to curl up on the backseat of the car as we drove along in the rain. The rhythmic windshield wipers mesmerized me, leaving me feeling safe and happy.

But when I drove myself to church a bit later, the windshield wipers gave a rhythmic grating sound which was not very soothing.  Nor was it relaxing to not be able to see well when I backed out of my parking space to head home.

After lunch, I went to the second of two funerals (a day apart) at a church I used to pastor. On that dreary day, I felt enveloped by a beautiful calming sanctuary.  I found the stone on the wall behind the pulpit which reminded a certain member of his dog Fudge! I felt welcomed by the greetings of many people from my past.

I felt enriched again by the lives of the two patriarchs who had died recently. One of them, Ralph Lebold, paved the way for women to be able to serve as pastors in what is now Mennonite Church Eastern Canada. Most of us earlier female pastors in the conference were at his funeral.  Among other things, Ralph also pioneered clinical education for pastors in the Mennonite Church, getting training himself, setting up a site at the church he pastored, and convincing the seminary of the value of this approach.

Helen-Jim-Reusser-Red-Bay
Helen & Jim Reusser at their cottage at Red Bay

The other man, retired pastor Jim Reusser, was an important mentor for me when I pastored that congregation, through his service as a member of our Ministry Team of mostly lay people.  Sometimes he pushed me to try things I was unsure of, such as offering anointing for anyone who wished as part of  a Sunday morning worship service during  Lent.  After the memorial service, I loved telling and hearing favorite stories about Jim around a table of retired pastors!

…So yes, November in Ontario is an awkward transition month. It’s a time for autumn to end and for reminders that winter will be upon us soon. But it’s not an ugly month, not really. For there is much beauty in rain, in the vestiges of fall, and especially in remembering the many good things brought into my world and into the world of Mennonite Church Eastern Canada by Ralph Lebold, Jim and Helen Reusser, and many others who have gone before.

Even the chill wind last night as I scraped ice off my windshield couldn’t pierce through my grateful spirit….

Questions for Reflection:

  1. How do you think of the month of November ? Awkward? Ugly? Or in some other way?
  2. Who do you remember this month for the “many good things” they brought into your world?

Next week: TBA

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