Catherinanne and I moved to Windsor over nine years ago. Before our move we had lived in Wabush, Labrador for a little over a year where I was the Associate Priest in the parish of Labrador West. The rector there was a great man who was also Archdeacon of Labrador – Francis Buckle. While it would be true to say that we were a contrast in characters, he nearing the end of his time as a parish priest and me at the very beginning, we were, I believe, a good team and I valued my lessons learned from this learned presbyter. Francis is since retired and I keep him in my prayers regularly. The people in that community were truly amazing. It is a cold, yet beautiful environment. We still have visions of the Northern Lights and remember with laughter standing in our driveway and whistling at them to “make them dance.” The parishioners in the churches of St. Peter’s in Wabush and St. Paul’s in Labrador City were simply wonderful and hearty people. They were “salt of the earth” and they were wonderful to me and to Catherinanne.

We lived on a beautiful street Called Baltimore Ave. The street was on a hill and afforded us a brilliant view of Labrador City and Smokey Mountain when we came out our “back door.” The street was made all the better by the people who lived on it. The Martins across the street became good friends – Kim and Bailey, then children spent two days helping us move in and unpack at 52 Baltimore. They showed up when the truck pulled up and they won our hearts in a hurry. Their Parents Bev and Gord soon got to know us as well and we very quickly entered into each others lives. There was Larry Snow who ironically helped us clear a path through the “snow” on the front lawn with his massive snow blower when our moving truck came to bring us here to Windsor. The “Kevin” who lived next door helped me with my Caribou licence. The meat was marvellous. And who could forget “Ronnie,” the red headed Irishman from the Southern shore of Newfoundland who lived down the street who and had the greatest sense of humour. At the end of our street lived Oscar and Cheryl Hardy along with their granddaughter Kayla and the cat Rosie. Cheryl and Oscar had us in their home almost every Sunday for dinner. We became very close and loved the time we spent with them. Hospitality is a particular form of ministry and Oscar and Cheryl had it down to a science.  Father Daniel Holman OSB in describing Benedict’s way of love reminds us that “Because hospitality always involves giving something of ourselves to others, it is a spiritual practice.” It would be safe to say that we felt the warmth and love of the Hardy family and were nourished well in their home.

Cheryl made contact with me last week for the first time in a long time and I am so grateful. It was surprising to hear that Kayla is grown and moved away to school. I was happy to hear that Oscar is retired and enjoying one of his great gifts and talents, woodworking. (He made the most amazing Grandfather clocks. My greatest regret is that I never had him make one for us!) Among Cheryl’s many talents is her giftedness at art. I was pleasantly surprised to find out that she has a blog where she highlights her art. You can visit it by clicking here.  I looked at her paintings and a flood of emotions came to me. I got to see Rosie the wonder cat, the front of their house brought back a lot of memories. But mostly I was pleased to see the prominent role food takes in her art. Cheryl is an amazing cook. Cheryl and Oscar had opened their home and table that we could break bread together regularly. Seeing the saucepan that was Oscar’s Mom’s was just so touching and it brought back to mind the conversations we had about Oscar’s mom.. Family, love, hospitality, giving, humour and friendship are real touchstones of this woman and they are well expressed in her paintings. Take some time to visit this woman’s site and in turn visit her daughter Angela’s site (you will see a link on Cheryl’s page.) Cheryl’s gifts have been passed on to her beautiful daughter who is a great artist who is in studio in Chicago.  

It is good when the past catches up with the present. Gives me an opportunity to pray in thanksgiving for those who have been so loving along the way. Thank you Cheryl for the great offering of yourself.