It's Just Kevin's Corner

Thoughts from a Canadian Vicar


May 2006

Lots of Learning


Today was a long day with lots of learning and great conversation about growing church. I will be back to t. mark’s in a couple of days, no doubt armed with lots of good questions. While I was having good dialogue with 35 church leaders from across North America, Catherinanne saw some of the neat city. You can see pictures in the photo section.


I have met many people today with great stories of growth in the church. This is very inspiring as we all know that many of the conversations we all have are rooted in survival. The common thread seems to be lay strength. St. Mark’s is fortunate that we have strong lay leaders who drive change. Thank God for a good group of lay ministers. I was proud to speak of all of them today.

On Missing Birthdays

Robert Frost is certainly one of my favourite poets. He was credited with saying, “A diplomat is a man who always remembers a woman’s birthday but never remembers her age.”


I am many things, yesterday I was not a diplomat. I missed my sister’s birthday. Now oddly enough, Elaine was on my mind yesterday – perhaps that is why. Maybe tucked away in the recess of my mind was that morsel of knowledge.


Elaine above all people deserves to have her birthday remembered. She is the one person who will always send a card or a note for every occasion. I learned a whole lot from each of my siblings. Elaine taught me the value of caring. She is also the one that everyone says … “Kevin, you look a lot like your sister.” And I say – “Thank you – she is a beautiful woman, and a wonderful person.”


So today I say today – late… “Happy Birthday Elaine.” You have a strong faith and great sense of love for those around you. I wish I could be there so that we could share a laugh, a hug and a story or two. No one will believe that you are 53. Like good wine, you only get better with age. There I go again, no diplomcy – I was supposed to forget her age wasn’t I. Maybe I cannot be fixed! I love you, Elaine!     (Elaine is the one on the right in the photo)

Radio, Social Occassions & Church Growth


NOTE: Those who are used to tuning into CBC 1550 for “Jump Start Trivia” on Monday mornings you may have been dismayed this morning as it was a holiday. Don’t fret. It will air tomorrow morning at 6:40 AM. Tune in if in Windsor or listen live on line anywhere in the world at


We had a marvellous time at church yesterday – with great attendance at both liturgies especially for a long weekend. Jane was back yesterday as well which was exciting for all of us. Welcome back Jane – We missed you.

Yesterday was also a day of socials. We had a great time at Maureen Pasnik’s house. Many Thanks to you Maureen for your kind hospitality. It was a lovely brunch. I believe all who attended had a marvellous time. You can always count on a good party at Maureen’s house.


The evening brought a great birthday dinner for young Christopher Hornby. Chris turned 24 yesterday and we certainly enjoyed celebrating with him and with Lynne, Dave, Allyson, Enid and Brian. It was a great dinner, splendid company and a good occasion. We all love Chris and he brings a great deal of joy to all of our lives. Happy Birthday buddy. I look forward to many more Wednesdays with you and the Arby’s gang.


Today was a travel day for us. We had dinner with Catherinanne’s sister and her family. Chrim and Shawn and Julia and Sarah were great host and we were pleased to have time with them en route to Rochester. Thanks so much for dinner and for the tour.


I am looking forward to the next two days of learning. St. Mark’s is alive and it is growing. It is a Vital Congregation and we are at a place where growth for us not just something we are experiencing but it is as well the next natural step in our journey as a community. The prospect of the growth we see ahead of us means there is a lot of work to do. I want to be as well equipped for that part of our journey as I can. Alice Mann has done great work to help church leaders with the transition in parish size. Tomorrow I will meet this author of “Raising the Roof,” and I hope to glean as much wisdom from her as possible. The course that I am doing is sponsored by the Alban institute which is a hardworking body that is a wealthy resource to any church leader. You can visit their page at


You can learn more about Alice Mann’s book raising the roof by reading chapter one of at


Anyone who would like to read more can borrow a copy of her book from me at anytime.


Stay tuned to the blog for pearls of wisdom. Hopefully there will be tonnes of them!




Today I Smell like dirt!


Lots of planting today – the gardens are looking good.

While we tilled the soil my mind was with all of you in NL who were at the funeral. I planted a Flowering Maple. This is a beautiful plant it will live in a planter outside in the summer and reside in my office in the winter. I baptised him – “Robert Plant”


It was a good way to spend the day while my mind was really elsewhere.

It is a glorious day here – the sunshine was lovely – we have had so much rain lately I almost forgot how great the sun is. In nay event I was warm, I was occupied, I was in the earth, I was in touch with the sacred and I was present with my family – even though I could not be there.


Cheers for now – gotta go water Robert Plant!

Do you smell like dirt?


Margaret Atwood said “In the spring, at the end of the day, you should smell like dirt.”


Congratulations Catherinanne. You have fulfilled that purpose. You smell like dirt. Catherinanne and I love the garden. We had very little knowledge or desire for that part to do a lot with the mess that we inherited for gardens here at the rectory. A few years ago everything changed. With some assistance from parishioners we were able to get perennials from many peoples gardens. The result is a lush full large perennial garden that gives joy to our heart daily every spring and summer. Catherinanne really gets into it. Today she was out in the garden – pulling weeds and planting some annuals. Tonight she smells like dirt.


Last year we added a garden at the front of the house. We planted some things there last year but this year we have supplemented it with a Mulberry tree as well as a juniper. I also gave Catherinanne a lilac tree for Easter that we planted at the side of the house. We both like what we see. It gives us great joy to see the flowers as they spread and grow.  Ralph Waldo Emerson said “the earth laughs in flowers.” Perhaps that is why I have come to love the garden so much. I love to laugh and every one of those flowers as it opens brings me great joy. I like the fact that we can bring life to something – make it grow. I can’t wait for tomorrow. We will plant some more. Perhaps as the family are gathered in prayer for a funeral I can plant a perennial in memory of Robert. I’ll name it Robert Plant! It will remind me of how great God’s love is. The great thing about this time of year is that while I watch everything die in the fall I am given new hope in April and May as the plants are resurrected. Yeah – I think I’ll put in a perennial tomorrow. “All of us go down to the earth, yet even at the grave we make our song; Alleluia! Alleluia! Alleluia!”


Watch for photos of the garden tomorrow.

Love Will Remain

  Hope and faith will both come to an end when we die. But love will remain. Love is eternal. Love comes from God and returns to God. When we die, we will lose everything that life gave us except love. The love with which we lived our lives is the life of God within us. It is the divine, indestructible core of our being. This love not only will remain but will also bear fruit from generation to generation.

When we approach our deaths let us say to those we leave behind, "Don’t let your heart be troubled. The love of God that dwells in my heart will come to you and offer you consolation and comfort.



This meditation was delivered to my inbox the day our friend Robert Died. Hoe appropriate really. Love remains even after we are gone. In dying we lose everything but love. I think we all think about our mortality from time to time. I suspect that we are like many others, in that we worry about those we might leave behind. This theology of Henri Nouwen’s should be reassuring to all of us. The love, the divine, the good that is in each of us will live on in and with those we leave.


Robert Harnum will as well live in this family, in his community and in his friends.  We will hold up all that was good in his life and pray that it will be of benefit to this world. Tomorrow we will keep the family in prayer as they say their final farewell. We pray that we may all hold onto love!

Robert Harnum – Rest In Peace

 Two boys, young 8 and 9 I believe. They were orphaned when their parents both died of TB in Newfoundland over 60 years ago. Their father was my grandmother George’s brother. They were my Dad’s first cousins. My father at the time was a young man caring for his parents (Pop had Beriberi) and his younger sister. He took the boys into his home and raised them to adulthood.


Sam and Robert were brothers. They were left parentless together. They went to work together, they had fun together, they had homes together (just across the brook from each other), they fought cancer together, and indeed in the past 18 months – they have died together.  


Today is a sad day for the family. But Robert’s battle these past weeks has not been easy. While all of us who knew and loved him are saddened and hurting, we have to be thankful that his suffering is over.


When I was a young lad we used to still have what we called “times” in the old church hall which was the one room school. “Are you going to ‘the time’ tonight?” you might say to your neighbour. One year, before the old school was removed, we had ‘a time’ on New Year’s Eve. I had a fairly new stereo – dual cassette deck – it was a classic. It was all set then, I would play the dance. I remember it well. All of the couples of Whiteway were there. What I can see today in my mind’s eye is Robert and Isabelle at ‘the time.’ I can still see him really having a great time. Enjoying a drink, a laugh and a dance. Robert had a great laugh – it was unmistakeable. There was lots of laughter that night.


These last months have not brought a lot of any of that. April 22, 2006 marked Isabelle and Robert’s 49th wedding anniversary. My family were gathered for my nephew’s wedding on that day. Isabelle was holding her husband’s hand in the hospital as he lay slowing dying. They were living out their marriage covenant. They were loving each other always, in good times and in bad, in sickness and in health. We only wished they could have been with us at ‘the time’ we were having.


I know that saying goodbye is hard to do. I had to say goodbye to Robert in April. I shall pray in thanksgiving for all that Robert was to his family, to my family and to his community. I know that he no longer is held slave to cancer but can now enjoy in fullness and in joy dancing and laughing and singing at the Great ‘time.’ At that ‘time,’ Robert is reunited with his brother Sam and his mother and father. We have lost but Robert has gained his freedom and reward. We can be certain that God sure knows how to plan a ‘time’ like no other. We still live in the glow of Easter – and by extension the glow of the promise of the resurrection. While we have lost our friend, we have to give thanks for the resurrection and pray for that time when we will be reunited with our brothers and sisters where every tear will be wiped away.   


To his children, Donna, Leonard and Trudy and to their families – please accept my deepest regrets and condolences. You are all in my thoughts and prayers at this most difficult time.  Robert will be missed.

Rhubarb Pies

The sense of smell can do wonderful things. I am sitting in my kitchen and I am thrown back I time to Nan and Pop Whyatt’s house. When summer would come in Newfoundland, it usually meant a visit to Pilley’s Island to my Nan and Pop’s house. My grandmother was a saintly woman and a real caregiver. One of my fondest memories is rhubarb pies. Tonight I am making some rhubarb jam. Thank you to Jack and Minnie Heeley who grew the stuff. I readied everything and out it in the pot and turned it all on. Soon the mixture fragranced the house with that smell that can only be described as delicious. It is a smell that for me immediately places me back in that little house on Pilley’s Island.


The pies that Nan made were legendary. Not just rhubarb either! She made raspberry, blueberry, lemon meringue, and bakeapple. She made the best pastry. She would spend hours on her pastry for her pie resulting in a pie crust that could not be beat.  In all that she did she put a lot of care, faith and love. It paid off. She fed me with pie that I shall always remember. She fed me spiritually and influenced who I am today. She gave me a mother that cares as much as she did – and that is more than I can ask for. She is with me often.


We lost Nan in 1992 at Christmas time. I miss her. From time to time she visits me. Sounds odd – I know. But it is, for me, very true. Today I smelled my way into a visit with her. I regret that I never told Nan of my plan to be priest in the church. She was such a devout Salvationist and such a holy person – she would have been pleased by that. More than all of that – I wish I would have told her how much her faith meant to me – and how very much I loved her rhubarb pies.


My jam is almost ready. Just a sec. Hmm … It tastes good – but it is a far cry from Nanny Whyatt’s. Oh well – the jam has already paid me more than I could have asked.  


You shall know Him in the breaking of the bread.


Hospitality is a great gift to offer anyone. Catherinanne and I are the most happy recipients all too often of the hospitality of so many in this parish. We are grateful for all of the goodness and love shown to us both,


Eating together is one of the most intimate things that people can do. Tonight Catherinanne and I were guest of a couple in the parish who by request shall remain nameless. I’ll say this – Thank you God for people who are so generous of spirit and so hospitable.  We were fed and watered. The food was tremendous. We were invited into great conversation and dialogue and we were loved by a precious four legged girl named Sara.


Life is interesting. God brings us together to break bread. I believe that in the conversation and interchange – God is there. Across the table, in the toast, in the laughter and in the debate – God is there. I wonder if we realize that we are so capable of participating in the sacred.


As a kid in Newfoundland I so looked forward to Sunday Dinner – 12 Noon. It was not so much for the food (although it was the best – thanks Mom) as it was for the act itself. We were all together. My brothers and sisters and their families would all be present. We would laugh and we would argue. We would joke and we would challenge. We would celebrate and sometimes we would weep – or at least I should say I would weep! No matter what happened there in the midst of the breaking of the bread there was a great sense of the holy. I’m not sure that I saw that at the time but I certainly see it now.


Tonight, as is true so many nights, I was reminded of how God is present in the breaking of the bread. Thank you to our hosts – you have a great spirit of love and hospitality.

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