Trac­ing the rain­bow of our faith

Greenwich Time - - NEWS - By The Rev. Drew Wil­liams

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.

Block party

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.

Tyler Size­more / Hearst Con­necti­cut Me­dia file photo

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.

Con­trib­uted Photo/ /

The Rev. Drew Wil­liams

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