Nova Scotia New Years Update

Greetings my friends in Christ! I write to you from our new home in Williamswood, Nova Scotia, where the front door is exactly 4,864km away from the front door of 131 Church Road, Spruce Grove. (At least, that’s what Google Maps told me!) Fortunately, Michelle hasn’t rescinded my password from the church website, leaving me unfettered access to go in and post this. Hah!

Right off the bat, Jean and I thank all of you from the bottom of our hearts for the many lovely Christmas wishes we received in the mail from you a couple of weeks ago. When grabbing the overstuffed envelope from the mailbox with the return address of St. Aug’s my first thought was, ‘Oh, they’ve sent me some kind of booklet or something.’ How lovely for Jean and I to then discover a ream of good Christmas wishes for us to read together one evening after dinner! Your many kind thoughts were all really touching and I think I might have gotten a little teary.

Jean and I are mostly settled now, with a few more boxes to open, and then ponder where to place their contents. If there’s been any overwhelming quandary with this move to a house that’s about 60% of the size of our former home, it’s that we thought that more would fit into it. First world problem. My acquired experience and talent in the use of Kijiji and Facebook Marketplace in selling off dozens of items before the move continues to pay off in doing likewise here in the Halifax area after moving here. Sigh.

A few St. Augustinites have corresponded with me by email over the past few weeks, providing me with news of the parish and its people. Michelle has kept me on the newsletter mailing list and I am happy to reconnect with all of you – in my heart and mind, at least – in worship and community when reading and keeping up with the news.

After contracting COVID on my fourth day here (fortunately Jean was spared), things didn’t get off to a flying start with me, especially when searching out a new church home. So, it was a few weeks into being here that I finally sat down to do some research about what Anglican churches were within a half hour’s drive of me. The number is roughly a dozen, with the Anglican church being established and getting a significantly larger foothold here a century before venturing into the prairies. Having never “church-shopped” before, it’s tough to know what to look for and how to know exactly where I’m supposed to fit in. Guess I’ll have to leave it up to God to give me some sort of sign! Perhaps the feeling that I’ve found a new spiritual home will become obvious to me when I’m in it.

One thing I feel compelled to tell all of you is that what’s happening at St. Augustine’s – Parkland is miles ahead (in so many ways) to many of the churches whose doors I’ve darkened over the past few weeks. Any church where the liturgy is exclusively BCP – with the old, non-inclusive words – is a long-term write-off (and personal turn-off) from the outset. Who could ever expect a church that functions and operates as if it’s 1965 to last more than a few more years?! And why would I want to be involved with such a thing? Surely Jesus himself would have a tough time turning that boat around!

Helping me somewhat in my new church quest is the reestablishment of a personal acquaintance begun a long time ago. Canon Trudy was the minster who officiated at both my father’s funeral 23 years ago in Guelph, Ontario and my youngest brother’s wedding a year later. She has “retired” about 25 minutes away from me. (I double-quoted that term because she’s currently the interim at a church that’s about 30 minutes away, ’cause nobody ever really retires from the Anglican church, as Rev. Neil knows.) She and her life partner, Ann, who happens to also be ordained and is the executive director of the Diocese of Nova Scotia and PEI, have been very helpful in guiding my search. Ann was able to give me some inside info about a former parishioner of St. Aug’s. (More on that later.) Jean and I were at Trudy’s current church for the Christmas Eve service and then went to her home afterward to celebrate “Réveillon” with Ann. (Click here – or just ask Jim Orieux – if you want to learn more about this French Canadian celebration that I had no clue of.)

About a month before moving to NS, I placed a “widget” on my computer desktop that would tell me the current weather conditions in both Spruce Grove and Halifax. Since then, I’ve noted that only twice in the past four months has the temperature in Alberta exceeded that around my new home. Autumn here has been unseasonably warm – and excessively dark, raining and windy – according to neighbours and friends. Only a couple of skiffs of snow have been seen in the past few weeks and our Christmas Day (and New Years) here have been very green and brown. I state this knowing that it’s been unseasonably cold there for December and am not trying to make any of you feel any worse! I’m just reporting. The photo that heads this post was taken on Christmas Eve day from my home office window toward the lake. Yes, that mesh pattern is from the window screen!

Remember how I mentioned that Ann (ED of the local diocese) was helpful to me recently? Well, she was able to find out that Treena MacDonald, the long-time musical director of St. Aug’s and my “church musical partner” for a decade, currently held the same position in the Anglican church closest to me! (When attending that church in August when I was down here “accepting the keys” to our new home, Treena had not yet been given that position.) On New Year’s Day I “reattended” Emmanuel Anglican Church in the Halifax suburb of Spryfield and hid in the back pews (totally contrary to my habit and preference, of course) and surprised the heck out of her at the conclusion of their lessons-and-carols service! Just to make all of you St. Aug’s oldies feel even older, as I did when learning this yesterday, Karmen (Carmen?) just turned 17 and Sam recently became 16!

Do you hate paying sales tax? Well, after decades of simply adding 5% to the cost of most retail items, I now have to triple that percentage! This really hits when a simple, fast food meal at $8.50 adds up to pretty well ten bucks when paying at the till!

Think natural gas is expensive? You should try heating your house with fuel oil for a couple of months! As I mentioned before, autumn in NS has been unseasonably mild and our home is considerably smaller than the one we left in Spruce Grove – but it isn’t a drafty, century-old farmhouse. However, we’re currently consuming about $450 worth of oil each month and the coldest we’ve experienced is maybe minus five for a few days. Sigh.

Jean, Rufus (our 12-year-old husky), and I ventured off for a hike on New Years Day to Crystal Crescent Beach, a 12-minute drive down the road. That’s where and when the photo below was taken. (Rufus has never liked getting his picture taken.) Note teh tons of kelp and seaweed behind us. We took a wrong turn on the way back and ended up walking for about 30 minutes longer than we should have.

Thanks again for the Christmas notes and your prayers for our smooth adoption to our new environment.

Cheers and blessings!

Ian

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