Tracing the rainbow of our faith
When I was 26 and living in the UK, before we had children, my wife and I decided to quit the rat race. We sold our first apartment in London and moved to the country.
I had Devonshire roots, so we found ourselves a thatched village in the heartland of North Devonshire and purchased the house of our dreams — an elegant Georgian residence with six bedrooms, all of them defined by their own period color scheme. It had a west wing and an east wing and a room for storing apples from the espalier fruit trees that adorned the Italianate walled garden.
We did a lot of entertaining: I would like to say that it was because we were incredibly hospitable people, but in reality it was, “Come and see how big our new house is!” All by itself this house said, “The people who live here have made it!”
But that was not true. Neither the bedrooms in their many splendid colors nor the west wing nor the east wing could disguise the fact that I had a deep and unsettling conviction that something was missing. I could not say what it was, but in all the mystery an ache remained. The quiet despair within me was only temporarily distracted by the next grand interior decoration project or the next big vacation.
When we had exhausted the list of all the people we could think of to visit us in our big house, it dawned on us that we should get to know some people who lived locally. As a last resort, we went to the local parish church on a Sunday morning. The church was cold and dark, and there were more draughts than people. My wife sat down and was immediately told that she was in someone else’s pew. Given the few parishioners, the probability of us sitting in someone else’s seat was not high, but we apologized profusely and moved.
A curious smell of mildew and wood polish stayed on your clothes for hours after leaving, but there was also a small group of people who would become good friends. They were not the only people in the church, but something about these particular people stood out. I was intrigued by and drawn to them. They invited us for meals. They were interested in us.
One of them asked me, referring to my revered career as an attorney, “But how can you do that as a job if you honestly don’t find it fulfilling?” And I thought, “Because it pays the bills on my lovely big house … what a dumb question.” Just occasionally they would say something like, “Have you prayed about that?” — which of course we hadn’t — and they always spoke about Jesus like they knew him personally. I decided that I liked them sufficiently that I would not hold that against them.
The hymn books in the church were so old they should have been in the British Museum. On the inside cover, the publication date read 1870, which, I speculated, was also the number of species of dust termite that lived within the pages. Deep amongst the micro-organisms was one very old hymn that I developed a soft spot for. It had quite a pretty tune, and one line in about the third verse grabbed my attention: “O joy that seekest me through pain, I cannot close my heart to Thee, I trace the rainbow through the rain, and feel the promise is not vain: that morn shall tearless be.”
Whenever I sang this hymn, my throat tightened and my eyes filled. Other hymns from this primordial collection were filled with bewildering words like “consubstantial” or else they exhorted you to raise the “Trisagion ever and aye,” which was kind of fun to sing but difficult to apply in the home or the workplace. But I knew what a rainbow was, and the idea of looking out onto a stormy horizon and tracing one with your finger through the rain was at least a possibility.
A little while later, my new friend Richard (the new rector at the church) asked if we would like to join a group that was exploring the Christian named Greenwich Botanical Center (formerly the Garden Education Center) for its Fall Family Festival. The exciting, fun event will be held amid the natural surroundings of the Montgomery Pinetum on the grounds at 130 Bible St. from 2 to 4 p.m. Saturday. There will be activities for both children and adults, including a scavenger hunt called “Who Lives Here;” tree ID games; and indoor activities with art projects with leaves and a wood-whittling demo. Hot cider and doughnuts will be served. Visitors can also stroll through the newly plaqued arboretum in the Pinetum. For more information, visit www.greenwichtreeconservancy or call 203-622-7380
United Way gala
The Greenwich United Way will hosts its 85th anniversary celebration “Pearls & Prohibition” on Saturday at the Greenwich Country Club. The festive celebration happens once every five years. The event will honor past board chairs and pay tribute to the year 1933 when the Greenwich Community Chest & Council was founded. The Greenwich Community Chest & Council became the Greenwich United Way in 1975. Funds raised through this event will support critical programs that meet the health, education and selfsufficiency needs in town. The event will include a live performance by two awardwinning artists, Arthur Migliazza and Shana Farr; highend wine raffle; and live and silent auctions. Vintage 1920s and 1930s inspired attire is encouraged. Visit greenwichunitedway.org for more info.
Farmers Market time
A Farmers Market is held from 9:30 a.m. to 1 p.m. every Saturday in the Horseneck commuter parking lot at Arch Street off Exit 3 of Interstate 95. All produce and products sold at the market are grown and prepared by the farmers themselves — or fished locally. The Greenwich Farmers Market has been in operation for more than 20 years. It will continue into November.
Family gallery tours
The Bruce Museum, 1 Museum Drive, host Family Gallery Tours from 11:30 a.m. to 12:15 p.m. on Sundays. The tours are best for ages 6-10. Free with regular admission, and no registration is required. Tours are scheduled for Oct. 14, Oct. 21 and Oct. 28.
The Bruce Museum will debut Imagination Playground blocks at its annual Fall Family Day. Made of a lightweight foam that is non-toxic and microbe resistant, the bright blue blocks come in a variety of shapes that can be creatively lined up, stacked, and connected, inspiring children to design their own imaginary objects and places. The “Block Party” will take place from 1 to 4 p.m. Sunday. It is free for Bruce members and for visitors with museum admission. Children ages 2 and up can play with the new blue blocks and create art centered on engineering. For more info, visit brucemuseum.org or call 203-869-0376.
Farm owner Stephen McMenamin walks down the rows of vegetables growing at Versailles Farm in Greenwich. This is the last weekend of the seasion for the farm stand at Versailles Farm, which will be open from 9 a.m. to 6 p.m. Saturday and Sunday. The farm uses French intensive methods, growing for flavor, nutrition and good digestion. It is located at 56 Locust Road in backcountry Greenwich.
The Rev. Drew Williams