parkdale united church

429 Parkdale Avenue, OTTAWA, Ontario K1Y 1H3

 

DON’T LEAVE HOME

WITHOUT IT

 

As a full-time editor, I am often buried in reports and dictionaries.  By noon each day, I can’t wait to go out for a walk.  Recently, during my daily walk, I saw a captivating billboard for a vacation at a luxury resort.  

 

I was reminded of my family’s mini vacation to Cincinnati (Ohio) and reflected on how I steward my vacation time differently than a decade ago.  Like most people who enjoy travel, I still look for adventure, breathtaking scenery, cultural diversity, a sense of the local history and a change from my usual routine.  I plan months in advance and am happiest when I get to see a part of God’s awesome world that is new to me.

 

The difference is that I was content to leave my worship routine at home when I was younger.  After all, I was on vacation.  Now I make time for my faith when travelling and am thankful that God never takes a vacation from me.

 

We arrived in Cincinnati on a Saturday evening so that my husband and son could attend a football game on Sunday.  Not being a football fan, I had other plans.  I was on a mission to see the biblically-based Creation Museum, which is renowned for its life-size recreation of Adam and Eve in the Garden of Eden.  Although it was not formal worship in a church (as I had done on previous vacations), it was a meaningful substitute.

 

To support the local farmers, my husband and I arose early that Sunday morning and walked to a nearby market for breakfast.  Away from the comforts of our hotel, it was that walk which introduced us the poverty and racial inequity that surrounded us.  We passed a local church and noted that the parish priest was already out talking with the less fortunate who sat on the church steps.

 

As we crossed through an inner city neighbourhood with boarded up houses, it was humbling to think about the determination and strength of character that must be required to live in such meagre, unsafe surroundings.  I was not sure that I would fare very well under such adversity.  I was deeply troubled by the poverty that surrounded me and felt helpless as a visitor.

 

I prayed for the residents as the tour guide drove me to the Creation Museum.  The museum surpassed my expectations.  Each display area contained realistic life-size biblical figures, as well as spectacular photos of all that God has created in nature and in his beloved children around the world.  Thought-provoking videos depicted the troubles of a modern secularized world and encouraged visitors to seek answers in the Book of Genesis.

 

Having seen the displays, I then wandered out into the museum’s heavenly botanical garden.  There was an arched bridge over a babbling brook and a pond that was filled with water lilies.  Beyond the bridge was a walkway through the wetlands and I was conscious of my ecological footprint on God’s creation.  Past the walkway was an elaborate petting zoo that housed two camels, a donkey, sheep and other animals.  I couldn’t wait to share my experiences with my husband that evening.

 

With only a few vacation hours remaining, we also set out bright and early on Monday morning while our son slept blissfully.  As we searched for a restaurant for breakfast, church bells beckoned us.  While we were not able to locate the church bells that chimed so beautifully, we came upon an open door to another church.  We entered briefly and admired the magnificent architecture and stained glass windows.  I said a prayer for my Parkdale family from who I had been absent the day before.

 

After breakfast, we walked briskly across the bridge to Covington (Kentucky) and back again to the hotel.  As we crossed back from Kentucky, we paused to reflect on the significance and history of the Ohio River below us.  Black slaves had crossed those very waters into Ohio, a free state, more than a century and a half ago.  I pointed out to my husband the blue tents among the bushes along the Cincinnati shores.  I said a prayer for the homeless who slept in them.  Admittedly, I probably would not have noticed the tents had it not been for the tour guide who had drawn them to my attention the previous afternoon.

 

As always, God’s timing was perfect.  As we waited in the airport to return home, my mind flooded with mixed emotions.  I had been inspired by the Creation Museum, but remained troubled by the poverty-ridden inner city.  Knowingly, my husband handed me the newspaper.  It was open at an article about a woman who had travelled to Cincinnati.  She was so moved by the wretched condition of the inner city that she settled there and opened a clinic for street people near the very church where we had seen the parish priest greeting his parishioners.  At last, I was at peace.

 

Planning a vacation this summer?  Pack lightly, but remember your faith and don’t leave home without it.

 

Respectfully submitted,

 

Barbara Hennessy, Chair

Stewardship Committee