Tuesday, 28 April 2015

St. Mark's, Longueuil - Good-bye Part 2

Ahh... I think this will be an ongoing story as I'm ready in time to write p'raps in more depth... tears ... My heart reminded me last night that while the details of our lives and experiences differ, we are human together - grief, joy, ambivalence, looking back, being in the moment, looking forward ... all of it is simply human. And so...

Part of the wonder of the closing service at St. Mark's was the shared grief as well as joy. The enthusiasm of the singing - I think the roof should be checked in case it raised a couple of inches. All of us, I imagine, who were old St. Markers remember processing into church singing "Holy, holy, holy." For many of us, that means we entered behind Phyllis Millar, with Edith Miller and then Jim at the organ. Filling the choir stalls - soprano, alto, tenor, bass... How we sang on Saturday - and how I choked on my tears and had to stop to blow my nose...

Photo Jim Hoult as the church filled

Altar decked in red for St. Mark with the exquisite old embroidered frontal and super-frontal

My brother Jim practising before the service (Photo Jim Hoult)
Procession - Photo Donald Shields
Entering St. Mark's for the last time - Photo Donald Shields

All who were baptized at St. Mark's were invited to come forward and gather around the font. Most of us of a certain age were probably baptized at a private ceremony for family and friends on a Sunday afternoon. I was - in the family baptism dress of delicate linen and lace that had been lovingly stitched by my great-great grandmother Susan Jane Smith Woodier who had emigrated to Runcorn, Cheshire, England. She sent it home to Bermuda for Gram, Emily Millicent Spicer Hamer's baptism in St. Peter's Church, St. George's, Bermuda in 1891. It's come right down through the generations of our family ... 

A lump gathered (if lumps gather) in my throat , and tears in my eyes as people came out of pews and up to the font. There was a collective sigh or catching of breath - ohhh - emotion as we watched young to very old move forward ... prayers were said, and then two of the youngsters sprinkled everyone with water from the font. Someone (Dawn Smith, I think) said, "We're behind you, too!" Laughter. The children turned and water sprayed ... 

Sprinkling those who were baptized at St. Mark's with water from the font (Photo Jim Hoult)

Trudy Lebans preached one of the 'fabulous three" women who were ordained
out of St. Mark's 
(Photo Jim Hoult)

Listening attentively l-r Donald Shields, Server Lynn Lexima, Pascale Doucet, Ros Macgregor
(Photo Jim Hoult)

Pascale Doucet, a good friend of  Dr. Michael Grant, 12th Baron de Longueuil, read a wonderful letter from him to us. Pascale's ancestor AndrĂ© Lamarre and Michael's ancestor, Charles LeMoyne were best friends.

Preparing to concelebrate of the Eucharist with all robed clergy at the altar - Photo Jim Hoult

What a privilege to preside. Donald and I distributed communion - I the bread; he the wine. Tears again threatened and sometimes snuck through as I placed the wafer in the hands of old friends and family and gave a blessing to the small children who are not yet communicants. 

An aside: At our church (St. CHL) and in many churches, communion begins as soon as the child is old enough to receive. Baptism gives full membership in the church family, and since we don't wait until children understand the digestive system before we give them food to eat, and since none of us can truthfully claim to fully understand communion, all are welcome. 

Anyhow, Donald and I each went right to left - the usual - and passed behind the altar to return and begin again. Sharing communion took a while, I guess - but it was eternal time - and once in a lifetime - so what's the rush? I am so blessed to have been able to share in this way in the liturgy - and even to take communion to two people who were unable to manage the steps.... Sacred play of joy and sadness mixed, joy and sadness.

Madsen Family played "Jesus Joy of Man's Desiring after communion.
Eric Madsen, on the right, grew up with his siblings at St. Mark's. He was server, sexton, chorister, and more. Music runs in the family veins - and he, his wife and two of his children played cellos and violins - what a gift to all of us.  

Background left, Margaret Forbes (aka Margie to me when we were children) sat in her old choir seat where she sang alto beside Florence Hoult. She must have taken over my spot when I went to Boston. :-) her sister Janet was unable to be with us due to illness, but she was very much with us in spirit.

George (as we called him), the lectern eagle

I don't know when he grew a wooden back - and he doesn't polish up as he did in the 60's - not for lack of trying by Katherine (aka Kay) Bonathan, Canon B's younger daughter. (Photo to follow as soon as I figure how to keep it right side up. Sigh...) Others polished all the silver on Wednesday last week while George was getting spruced up.  

Other polishers and helpers. the men moved the choir stalls back and other heavy work.

Photo Jim Hoult

There are two Rolls of Honour. The names of many on the 1939 - 1945 I recognize, including Dad's near the bottom left. James Ascroft. Andrew Larson. Maurice Drolet who was a parishioner at St. Paul's Lachine. Sheppards. Millington .... 

I was aware as I sat in Canon B's stall of the 'presence' of Gram's, Auntie Joyce's, Dad's and Mum's coffins at the foot of the stair where the font stood for this service. 1964. 1981. 1992. 1995. So many memories. 

So aware of grief and celebration intertwined. I'd like someone to tell me who the old couple are who are at the font. What a moving image as one touches the font and the other reaches out to do so.

More will follow. Missing photos still of the beautiful display in the hall that Katherine put together. There will also be a link for the wonderful powerpoint that Christine Smith Jacobs created.

1 comment:

  1. Wonderful post, evoking lots of amazing memories. Thanks!
    Why didn't you go full hog and hold a bazaar in the hall too? LOL