Tara Brach writes
“the spiritual path is not a solo endeavour. In fact, the very notion of a self who is trying to free her/himself is a delusion. We are in it together and the company of spiritual friends helps us realize our interconnectedness.”
There is something special that happens when we come together. That special something revolves around the notion that we are community. We are designed to embrace the interconnectedness that comes with being a party of the human race. That is often hard for us to see, let alone embrace, in a world which preaches individualism on a regular and ongoing basis. Every now and then we are given glimpses of what Kingdom living looks like. Each of those glimpses seem to revolve around people coming together. Each of those instances involves loving, sharing, and taking on the common joy or the common sorrow that comes with being a child of God on a journey of faith. Scripture says to us:
Two are better than one because they have a good return for their hard work. If either should fall, one can pick up the other. But how miserable are those who fall and don’t have a companion to help them up! Also, if two lie down together, they can stay warm. But how can anyone stay warm alone? Also, one can be overpowered, but two together can put up resistance. A three-ply cord doesn’t easily snap. - Ecclesiastes 4:9-12
Today was RAY DAY at St. Mark’s by-the-Lake. Today the community honoured the life of Ray Hinton by embracing the notion that we are better together than we are apart. Ray Hinton was an integral part of the community of faith in general and a wonderfully devout parishioner at St. Mark’s by-the-Lake. When he died so unexpectedly in March we were all saddened and we were all concerned for Marion. The Parish Council, under the leadership of Warden Christian Paulton, chose RAY DAY as a way to show Marion how much love we have for her as well as giving the people of God in this place a way to come together to and be present to one another in their grief. RAY DAY was a day to clean out the gardens and ready them for the spring and summer months ahead.
It is not uncommon to see Marion Hinton tending to the church gardens. It was not uncommon to see Ray, assisting her in the gardens. Ray has gone to his glory. So today 35 or so of Marion’s church family walked into the church garden with Marion and helped her the same way Ray would have if he were here. My Dad always said, ‘Many hands make light work.’ I saw that come to life today. It was awesome to see all of those people today supporting Marion and supporting one another. We had to leave for a wedding this morning and it was a wonderful feeling to drive away seeing so many of the people that we have grown to love so dearly tilling the soil together as they remembered Ray Hinton. The group cleaned out all of the gardens and they constructed a new tiered garden at the main entrance to the church/hall offices. The Ray Hinton Garden is highlighted by a beautiful stone that says, ALL ARE WELCOME – In Memory of Ray Hinton.
It is an awesome new addition to the property here. All of the gardens out there are amazing after today. There were bags and bags of yard waste prepared as they trimmed out that which is no longer needed and allowed new life to spring forth.
Watching them trim this morning I was reminded of the words of John 15.
“I am the true vine, and my Father is the vineyard keeper. He removes any of my branches that don’t produce fruit, and he trims any branch that produces fruit so that it will produce even more fruit. You are already trimmed because of the word I have spoken to you. Remain in me, and I will remain in you. A branch can’t produce fruit by itself, but must remain in the vine. Likewise, you can’t produce fruit unless you remain in me. I am the vine; you are the branches. If you remain in me and I in you, then you will produce much fruit.
Judging by the amount that was trimmed away LOVE SPRINGS ETERNAL at St. Mark’s by-the-Lake. There will be many fruits of love, justice, compassion, and healing to be harvested at our church because of the willingness of this community to embrace each other, and to reach out to one of its dearest members and hold her in prayer and in action as they tended to pruning that which no longer has life, to embrace the fullness of new life.
When I returned to the church at 5:15 pm it came as no shock to see that there was one person left in the garden…
You guessed it – Marion! Her smile, even through the tears, was tremendous. She was so very loved and honoured today. I am so humbled to be a Priest among many faithful priests of the faith at St. Mark’s by-the-Lake. I would like to say thank you to all who came and assisted today. You were a diverse group of all ages and you made the church look great – more importantly – you reflected well the Light of the Gospel. A day like today is a sobering reminder of what a special church community St. Mark’s by-the-Lake is. You never cease to impress me with how well you can reflect the hope that comes with being a Kingdom people.
We Will dedicate the Ray Hinton Memorial Garden tomorrow morning after both the 8 am and 10:30 am liturgies. Please join us.
You can see more pictures of today’s activities by clicking here.