Sunday, 30 September 2012
This has been my last week on the Island. To describe it as bittersweet would be an under statement but I am having trouble finding the exact words that would fully caption what I am feeling. Perhaps if I begin by sharing this week’s events I will be better equipped to explain myself.
It started off with a bang, quite literally. Last Sunday night just as I had tucked myself into bed and finished reading a chapter in A Wind at the Door, by Madeleine L’Engle, a heard a boom! It sounded like muffled fireworks but there was no crackle of colour followed by it. Sirens could be heard all over the city coming closer and closer. Another boom pounded through the night and then a BA-BOOM!!! That was not the sound of fireworks that was the sound of something exploding. I looked out my window and could see a screen of smoke fill the night sky over the city. My roommates had also heard the explosion and we gathered outside on the front step in our pajama’s standing on our tip-toes, craning our necks to see what caused the commotion. Fire truck, police, and ambulance sirens robbed the night of any peace and scattered confusion and curiosity through out the city. We could barely make out where the fire was and what was on fire but we could see the glow of orange flames on the base of the curtain of smoke. Being in the technical age that we are Nathan pulled out his phone and within minutes the social network was a buzz with what was burning in Charlottetown. The whole scene seemed apocalyptic and poetic and it reminded of the Billy Joel song ‘Miami 2017.’ Turns out the cause of calamity can be credited to a tour bus that had caught fire. Thankfully there were no passengers on the bus and the bus driver escaped without injury, but the bus is one big piece of charcoal now.
Monday brought a lovely stroll through down town Charlottetown, I had some errands to run and it was a beautiful day for a jaunt. After I mailed some letters, took care of some business, made a stop at the bank, and other such practical adult tasks I sauntered through my favourite part of town. I breathed in the harbour, walked under the shade of the Basilica, and took a short cut through the Province House grounds. I found a new coffee shop on Water street called Young Folk & Kettle Black. The coffee was superb and I treated myself to a blueberry buttermilk tart as well. I took my coffee time on a park bench behind Province House and watched tourists mill about, taking pictures, asking questions, maps unfolded in front of them. No doubt these were the tourists from the cruise ship that had just come to port. As I enjoyed my coffee time I noticed an elderly gentleman on the park bench across from me also having a coffee break. There was something so simply beautiful about this man. He was wearing grey pants and a maroon sweater, his hair line was reseeding but what hair he had left was salt and peppered and long and tussled. His face was thin and weather with beautiful wrinkles leaving a trace of his expressions and emotions, and to complete the picture a pair of brown loafers hugged his feet. I smiled at him and I think he smiled back, the corner of his mouth twitched for an instant so I took that as a smile. He lit up a cigarette, leaned back on the bench and watched the tourists walk past. He was a vision of retired life.
Tuesday brought a blessing of women. I attended woman’s group in the evening because I knew that I wouldn’t be able to make it to the one the following week since I would be most likely packing and crying. It was a beautiful blessing to be apart of the women that evening. The rich sound of women in conversation is deeper than any sound. We can talk about every subject under the sun and when we have exhausted all those we still find more to talk about it. It’s not just that woman have an ability to talk and talk and talk, it’s where we talk from. Women speak from their hearts and to each others hearts. Underneath the everyday conversation about work, family, husbands, and food there is a constant ribbon of nurturing. When a woman asks, “How are you today?” she is genuinely asking how are you feeling. She is asking, how can I pray for you today? Is there something I can do for you? Do you need a hug? Do you need me to hold your hand? There is no sweeter, more genuine and empowering affection than affection from a woman. I needed those few hours with those sassy women who I have come to love, come to role model my life after, come to admire and derive inspiration from, come to cherish and to uphold.
Wednesday was sublime, I spent a few joyous hours in the afternoon with a friend from school. She invited me over for coffee and we sat on her couch, eating delicious home made squares and doing what women do best, talking. She lives a stretch out into the country and driving to her house was beautiful. The autumn colours are starting to tip the trees and rich smells of the harvest are on the breeze. It was a day when I finally felt excited to go home, where the promise of seeing my family and friends put a smile on my face and a happy skip in my heart. My friend has a son who has a tire swing and I couldn’t resist the urge to have a go at it. I barely fit and the ratchet straps that held it to the tree cut off the circulation to my legs but it was fun to swing back and forth for a bit.
What would my last week of Island life be without a trip to the beach to hunt for sea glass? And who other to go with than the beautiful Bernice? We strapped on our rubber boots clutched our buckets and were off to the south shore. I had heard of a great beach by Canoe Cove that was supposed to have sand dollars, start fish, and sea glass. However, the tide was against us that day and instead of showering the shore with such treasures, it was carpeted with 6 inch deep sea weed. Yuck! We found one beach that looked promising and came away with a few pieces of sea glass but the real natural wonder was the thousands of sea shells and sea snails! There were literally millions of them of all sizes. Most of them were suction cupped to rocks in clumps but some were sliding their way back to the ocean. It was like the March of the Penguins only for snails, the Slide of the Snails!
I’ll skip my accounts of Friday, and Saturday because they contained the same activities: reading, writing, and avoiding packing. Sunday’s activities are what I want to dwell on, what I want to remember.
Sunday was my last service at Charlottetown Community Church. For the past year they have lovingly folded me into their congregation, put up with my silliness, encouraged my music, prayed over me, walked with my spiritually, and befriended me. Just because it was my last Sunday there does not mean that those blessings will cease, that is the great thing about how God works, His spirit can carry over time, distance, and place. It carried on like any regular service until I was asked to join Pastor Tom at the front of the sanctuary. He announced that I would be leaving and that they were sad to see me go but they wanted to take this opportunity to pray over me. He called up who ever wanted to come, place hands on me and pray over me. I looked around the congregation and who should flock to my side but the women. The women. I was floored. Not one man came to my side to bless me, except for 3 year old Colby of course who came up with his mother, Teressa. To be honest if I wanted any man at my side praying for me it would be sweet Colby. These women prayed over, placed a lace of blessing over my body, and spoke truth and God’s word into my heart. After Pastor Tom prayed he asked if the ladies had anything to add. A God moment train ride was prophesied, laughter and joy in seeing my family and friends was wished for me, and a ripple of prayer for the desire of my heart ran through the women, but it was Teressa who bravely spoke it, honouring it, publically naming it, shamelessly and certainly commanding it,“We ask for a husband for Joelle, faithful God.” The women responded in a united, “Mmmmmm!” While all the prayers, visions, truths, and wishes were spoken over me, the most profound moment was when Teressa asked for my husband. God has provided for me over and over this year. Showing His love and deep faithfulness in ways I can’t even remember clearly enough to write down, but I know they were there, like a sparkle on my stomach or a wink in my ear. If God can provide so freely and joyously to me in my everyday needs then how much more delight will He have in providing me with the needs of my heart? I am sharing this very raw desire, this open window into a shadowy place in my heart because it is time. Being a single woman has been wonderful. It has truly freed me to jump ship and venture to the Island where spiritual, emotional, and physical eternal foundations have been laid. I have wrestled well with God and desired a love with Him and learned what that looks like and how tangibly real it is. Through that love walk with God, He has shown me how my husband is to love me, and I’m not ashamed to ask for him anymore. It’s time. As Bryan Adams puts it so beautifully, “I’m ready to love you, I’m ready to hold you, I’m ready.”
So this is it. This is the third last blog for Mama Jo. You can expect one the night before I leave and one after I have settled back into Ontario, and then that’ll be it. I am going to close by answering 5 questions that have been asked of me over the past month.
What have you learned while being on the Island?
I am a treasure that is worthy to be found. I am a woman of valor, bravery, grace, independence and dependence. I have learned to make caramel sauce, danishes, ice cream, and chiffon cake. I have learned to eat, to really eat, and to not feel guilty about it, to celebrate food because with good food comes greater company. I have learned to stay true to the center of my being to where all my emotions, questions, and passions are met and answered in song. I have learned to always see the best in people until proven otherwise, and even then that they are deserving of love and a smile. I have learned the art of smiling to myself in public, to laughing out loud, and being genuinely pleasant with strangers.
What is your favourite part of the Island?
The land, the water, and the people. The land is surprisingly hilling, it bends and curves like a rich line of music and it is so fertile. It has that magical green colour, the colour of Scotland and Ireland, it is no wonder there is an air of mischievious magic surrounding the Island. The ocean. Enough said. The people on the Island truly are one of the most friendly people you will ever meet. Down to earth, hard working, blue collar folk that have mastered the art of ‘doing nothing.’ Without hesitation they open up the front door, pour you a glass of ice tea and pull up a chair for you to rest your rump and spin some tales.
What are your plans for when you get back home?
Running full tilt into the arms of my family and friends, crying and laughing unashamed. Singing, really singing. And oh yeah, I supposed I should start that pastry cook position that I got hired for back in August.
What are some of your accomplishments since being on the Island?
The invention of Mutant Onion Cheese Baby Bread, (see earlier blog post ‘Bread Gone a Rye’ for full story). Faithfully writing this blog has been a big accomplishment and lesson in discipline. Loosing 15 pounds but then gaining it all back in pure muscle on my thighs from biking all around the Island, seriously.
Do you have any regrets?
Not taking up my brother’s advice and going skinny dipping in the ocean on my birthday. It is the only thing left to do on my Island to do list. But I still have 2 days left so here’s hoping I will find a window of opportunity.
A statue by Province House
Big old cruise ship with lots of curious passengers.
Red sand stone cliffs.
Under the sea
Red, red, red, sand stones.
Slide of the Snails.
They are every where!
Michelle and I
Isabella, Rebecca, and myself
There was a potluck after church and they blessed me with a cake, with lots of beautiful autumn colours!
I love all the red!
Oh yeah, I finally got initiated at the chocolate shop two days before I left. To make this even funnier my boss was the one that spread chocolate all over my face and then she dragged me to the window for the customers to point and laugh at.