Negotiating My Faith


I have never been a religious person.  I have always had a faith, but I guess I was raised that faith is something you practice, not get when you go to church.

The farm was my church.  God was with us in the trees, the birds, the deer.  I respected nature and admired the creations.

Paula and I raised our children to have a faith – we always said grace and reminded our kids that we need to be grateful and appreciate the things we had.

Paula always wanted to join a church, though.  Her Dukabor heritage had introduced her to a different world than I was used to.  He father, Michael Malloff, did not approve of the way the Russian community would cater to their spiritual leader – Peter Verigan (sorry about the spelling!) Michael was a hard worker and to him, it didn’t seem right that a man could become wealthy without doing the hard work.  Michael withdrew his support for the Russian leader and although he remained a man of faith, he did not attend church.

Don’t get me wrong.  Paula and I did spend some time at church – the first church we attended in Barrie was Burton Avenue Presbyterian.  Paula taught Sunday school and Stacey was baptized there. But, when we left Barrie to move out to the farm at RR#1 we just seemed to be living in faith and didn’t feel the need for church.

Several months before she passed away, and I almost wonder if she knew it was coming, Paula joined Collier Street United Church with Stacey and her family.  I wasn’t interested.  I didn’t feel the need to advertise my faith or to be a church member.  I didn’t see the benefit.

Paula would often attend church services to hear Dennis Posno preach.  She’d come home feeling better – lighter – and sometimes Stacey would read Dennis’ sermons to me that had been posted on-line.  I have to admit he was good.  I enjoyed his sense of humour.  He didn’t seem to take himself too seriously – and that was good enough for me.

It was November of 2010 when my world collapsed and I watched as paramedics took Paula away from me.  I thought Paula was coming home – she always had come home before.  She was strong.  She had been a nurse.  I was worried, but I felt that it was best for Paula.  Stacey tried to bring her home where she had wanted to be – but on the morning she was to come back to me – she passed away.  She made a journey that no one had really anticipated.

Not a day goes by that I don’t think of Paula – I see her in my dreams and I see her in my wake.  I know I need to be with her – but for some reason the good Lord has decided that it is not my time.

I still have faith – and I am confident that I will be with Paula again one day in the House of the Good Lord.

For some time, I was able to go to church with Stacey and I really enjoyed hearing Dennis.  He always made a point of coming over to me and asking me how I was doing.  There were many others that did the same thing.  I felt welcomed there at Collier.  It made my road a little less “lonely” to walk down.  I still missed Paula terribly but it gave me some comfort to know that the Minister had known Paula and had been the one to preside over her funeral.  I joked that he was now presiding over my life – but not too much.

I feel grateful to Dennis for the gift he gave to my family and I.  He must have sensed to “lay off” the preachy stuff and stick with the essence of Paula.  He represented her life beautifully.

I think what I appreciated most about him was when he came to my home to gather stories about Paula – he sat with us and listened with an open heart for almost two hours.  Okay – what I liked about him even more was that he joined us for a glass of wine.  Wine, in my world, represents celebration.  And I guess that night – we were celebrating and rejoicing in Paula’s life.

Between Ruth – who looked after Paula during her final moments and Ruth and Dennis  – who continue to look after my family after Paula’s final moments – I have enough faith.

One day I will join Paula if I’m lucky enough – I know my family will be okay while they continue to accept the hand of our Good Lord.  They will never walk alone.

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Categories: Life's Lessons, The Farm | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , | 5 Comments

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5 thoughts on “Negotiating My Faith

  1. Nikki McLaughlin

    Hi Bill, 🙂

    I just wanted to comment on this post. My family was never a religious family either. Most of grew up in the bush a 45 min drive in one direction and an hour drive in another direction to the nearest towns. I was taught to respect the land, the trees, nature and the things around me in general. My grandpa hunted and we gave respect and used every possibly part of that animal always, there was never any waste and my grandma made sure of it. We had faith and my Grampa always said that we didn’t need to go to church to show that.

    There were times that my Gram went to church but she always let us choose weather or not to go with her, she never forced it upon us.

    On this past New Years Eve my Grandma was taken to the hospital and I was sure that she would come home because through my whole life my Grandma had always been so strong, I kept putting off going to see her and when I finally did we visited for a while and then we left saying we would come back after dinner and didn’t say I love you. We didn’t go back because something came up and we had to drive back to Barrie a few days later I tried to call her and there was no answer so I tried to call her 3 or 4 times for the next few days but I never got through, I thought that she was on the phone because yo see my Gram had the gift of gab and was always on the phone. We were informed that she has Anurism’s in her heart and she was supposed to have surgery. Then it happened three months ago yesterday my world fell apart when on March 2 at 10am the biggest anurism in her heart burst and she passed away.

    She taught me that it is okay to believe in whom I want to believe in she always told me even if I were purple all over she would love me no less. I spent some Sunday’s mornings at Collier and I really enjoy listening to Denis he is a wonderful person who has helped me through some tough points in my life with his words.

    Again I want to thank you for posting, although as I read this post and write this response I haven’t stopped crying I am grateful for your strength in sharing your journey’s up’s and yes downs.. My Grandpa is having such a hard time dealing with my Gram’s death, and reading today gave me the iea that next time I go up to visit him which will be soon I am going to take my laptop in and read him your blog and ask him to share spme of his stories with me. 🙂

    Thank you so so much for sharing and helping me heal a bit more today.

    Nikki

  2. Excellent Post….. Share more stories about your marriage. The good, happy, sad, struggles, and blessings!!!! All of your post seem to come from your heart and I just love it!!!!

    May God Bless you and your Family here on earth and in Heaven!! 🙂

    • Thank you for those kind words – yes, they are heart-felt if nothing else. It is still rather difficult to talk about Paula – but I’m getting there. And thanks for the blessings. Cheers!

  3. Donna Langman

    Perhaps God was calling Paula closer to Him by calling her to one of His houses of worship and community. He was preparing her to meet Him face to face! The gift of Jesus Christ to us is the best gift ever and you don’t have to go to church to accept it either!

    I love my church mostly for the feeling of community. People who love God and all that he has given come together to recognize The Creator of it all. Of course, I usually learn a few things from God’s book, The Bible and I love to sing!

    Thanks for sharing!

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