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July 9, 2010

Greetings from God’s Country!

Filed under: Uncategorized — Anne Hines @ 11:57 am

I’ve arrived in Lucky Lake, Saskatchewan and can honestly say I love it here. The people are lovely, the praries are breathtaking. Of course it’s so green here this year folk are calling it “Little Ireland.” No flooding where I am, just miles and miles of glorious scenary.

On top of all that, two days ago I had an epiphany. I suddenly realized the reason for ten year old boys.

Having known many ten year old boys, I confess I’d been a bit foggy on this in the past. In the years I taught Sunday school, for example, I recall trying to referee a staging of the Easter story featuring Christ’s Walk To The Cross in which every male ten year old participant wanted to be a court solider and no one wanted to be Jesus. The upside of this is that at least it shows that they knew the story.

The reason the boys wanted to be soldiers of course is that they’d get to hold spears. Or something that looked a little like a spear. Or something that didn’t look like a spear at all but which, if used to poke the small girl in front of them who was pretending to be the grief stricken mother of God she would spout real tears and it would be very satisfying.

No one wanted to be Jesus. I finally coaxed little Raymond Mooney into the role on the condition that Jesus would also get to carry a spear. At that point, the theology of the Easter story started to get a little murky.

But two days ago, it suddenly hit me why we really and truly do need ten year old boys.

I am now ensconced in my new parish in Lucky Lake, Saskatchewan. Liz and I arrived in Lucky Lake just over a week ago to find the manse full of church ladies cleaning. As we walked to the door I heard one lady say, “Oh look, here comes the minister!” and I looked around to see who she meant. This was not an auspicious beginning.

Eleven days, one funeral, a health care centre service, some pastoral visiting, my first committee meeting and having filled out all necessary documents to now be a resident of SK, however, I’m feeling quite settled in my new charge. Yes, living in a small centre is a change from a big city. In a few days I’ve gone from saying, “Look! There’s a parking space!” to “Look! There’s a car!” I find I no longer bother flipping on the weather channel. Here, we just gaze a hundred miles down the prairie and see what’s coming at us. And, I’ve learned how long I can expect a car in SK to stay clean. As a rule, the front end will be covered by a thin layer of dust before the back side has actually left the car wash.

I’ve already learned how to do a proper two-fingers-raised greeting to fellow motorists. My first efforts to be properly friendly involved waving frantically as other cars passed which, this being Saskatchewan, led more than one person to pull over to help, concerned that I was obviously having a seizure.

There are challenges to my new life. I’m waiting for a new fridge to come because the one now was originally purchased, I believe, by someone in the time of Moses… who was looking for something inexpensive. 24/7 it cycles through “low, mind-numbing droning sound,” “alarmed, as if Pharoah’s army is attacking, screeching wail” and, usually reserved for the hours between 2 and 4 AM, “loud, angry at the world sound.” On a recent visit to Wallmart in Saskatoon I bought sleeping pills for the first time in my life, reflecting that it’s not a good thing when you have to drug yourself to be able to deal with your appliances. Mind you, I had a food processor that nearly drove me to drink… but that’s another story.

Mostly though, I love my house and my town. I have slightly overgrown flower gardens that glisten and gleam in the early morning sunlight. I have quiet around that stretches for days. I wake up to the sound of birds rejoicing to find it’s morning again and that it’s good to be alive. The people here offer kindness as easily as they smile and breathe. I have neighbours who stop to pass the time of day and to share a joke or ask me if I need anything, anything at all.

And, I have an extensive… extensive… “God almighty you have a lot of room here”… stretch of lawn.

Which is why, two days ago I discovered that the job even comes with the rural SK equivalent of a fitness membership. It comes in the form of the aged gas powered push mower I found in the manse garage.

My gas mower (once a neighbour very kindly taught me how to start it) makes a sound that is slightly more outraged and aggrieved than my refrigerator. I quickly learned that there are certain conditions it simply refuses to be pushed over. These include large clumps of dirt, small clumps of dirt, entirely flat and totally even dirt, sticks of any size, shape or description, and grass.

The only way to convince the machine to move at all is to stand with the push bar at arm’s length, shove one’s rear end as far out as possible and heave yourself at the mower as if you’re trying to straighten out a tilting brick wall. By doing this over and over you can easily mow about a foot and a half every half hour. And needless to say, this is a tremendously entertaining position for the neighbours to watch the new minister slogging her way around her football-field sized yard in.

There are upsides to mowing at about the same speed as the grass is growing behind me. Mostly though, these are for the deer flies. Rather than having to chase me around the yard, they’re able to dine in a leisurely fashion. I believe this is Saskatchewan’s version of the Slow Food Movement.

When I finished, my yard looked like a farmer’s field. Row on row of healthy, high tufts of grass showing that I haven’t quite grasped the art of where to place the mower at each go-round.

But, I have suddenly realized a healthy, high appreciation for ten year old boys. Obviously they are sent to us because only someone with that kind of energy and spunk can possibly take care of my mowing needs.

Today, I will trot downtown (six stores, all of which I can see from my front step) and post an ad for the most hyper-active, overly energized ten year old boy this town has to offer. For payment I am prepared to offer something in the range of “whatever it takes.” Plus, he can have all the sticks he wants off my property to take home and use as spears.

Cheers to all and will write again next week,

Anne

If you’re in central Saskatchewan, please come and see me at any of the following church services:

Sunday, July 11 Beechy United Church
Sunday, July 18 Birsay United Church
Sunday, July 25 Lucky Lake United Church

All services start at 10 AM.

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