Monday, November 02, 2015

A Bit o' Heaven on Earth (Peter Black)

My Beloved and I finally broke free from the heavy, slow molasses that clung to and characterized our driving experience through much of Toronto on Highway 401, as we headed east. Multi-story towers diminished in number, and eventually the box-like sameness of sprawling condominium developments and modern cheek-by-jowl homes yielded to the welcome sight of nature’s autumn colours in glorious profusion.

This would be our first visit to the “The King’s Town” – Kingston, Ontario – in ten years. We’d moved away from there thirty years ago.

Kingston Ont. Murney Tower
We’d decided that during 2015 we would drop in quietly and unannounced at each of the churches we had served during the years of our pastoral service. The project was all but completed, except for Kingston. We left that to the last, since Kingston was the furthest away from home.

During our almost five years of living there in the early 1980s we met some memorable characters. Among them was Bob. A former penitentiary inmate, his life had gotten turned around by the grace of God during his incarceration. Following his release he attended our church for some time and married Lisa.

One of Kingston, Ontario's Marinas
While becoming established in following Jesus consistently, Bob continued developing his graphic arts and crafting skills. These days he’s busy working on his custom metal-work creations.*
His popular hand-crafted belt buckles are mailed to many countries around the world. He and Lisa have developed a home-based business, and continue in their walk of faith with Jesus.

"Nigerian Girl"
Fine art by Robert Aucoin
See website URL below.
Several years ago Bob and I had been in touch by phone and email, at which time he gave me express permission to publish his real name (instead of a pseudonym) in a newspaper and a magazine article, and also to include a print of his stunning pencilled portrait titled, “Nigerian Girl” (see pic).
He later extended the permission to include both an edition of the article and the portrait in my book, “Raise Your Gaze . . . Mindful Musings of a Grateful Heart” (see below). However, until my wife and I made our recent trip we hadn’t actually seen the couple in more than thirty years.

We really hoped to see them again, but didn’t want to inconvenience them or have them change any plans they might have. And so, while in the city I phoned to say that we were in Kingston for a couple of days and would very much like to see them. Wonderful! They and their daughter were home and gave directions to their beautiful lakeside community, some kilometres outside the city.

News from across the years flowed freely. It was a marvellous time of catching up on
Bob & Lisa.
(Sorry: I've lost resolution along the way.)
 our respective families and the joys and challenges that the Lord had brought us all through. May and I sensed deep grace and trust in the couple’s lives, and our hearts felt truly blessed by their warmth towards us.
An added bonus was in our meeting Lisa’s 94-year-old mom. This bright, cheerful lady insisted on getting out on a chilly day to mark her ballot in the Federal Election, despite having a fractured back.

The vivid autumn hues on our drive up from Kingston to our friends’ idyllic surroundings by the lake, while truly impressive, were outshone by our visit and fellowship.
Heaven kissed earth for us as Bob and Lisa welcomed us into their home amidst hugs, handshakes and greetings, after all these years.
It was truly a little bit o’ heaven on earth.

Robert Aucoin’s website: *
The above post is a modified edition of an article published in Black's column, P-Pep! in The Standard Guide Advocate, October 29, 2015.

Peter's second book is a compilation of inspirational articles on a variety of themes from his weekly column. These are interspersed with brief expressions intended to encourage. Ebook edition is available through Amazon.
ISBN: 978-0-9920074-2-3 (Angel Hope Publishing)
Peter's first book: “Parables from the Pond” – a children's / family book (mildly educational, inspirational in orientation, character reinforcing). Finalist – Word Alive Press. ISBN: 1897373-21-X. The book has found a place in various settings with a readership ranging from kids to senior adults. Black's inspirational column, P-Pep! appears weekly in The Standard Guide-Advocate (of Southwestern Ontario). His articles have appeared in 50 Plus Contact and testimony, and several newspapers in Ontario.


Janis Cox said...

Oh Peter what a lovely story of redemption. And such a blessing to meet again.

Jenny Burr said...

Peter, what a wonderful idea to revisit the areas and churches where you and May and your family once lived. Thank you for sharing.

Rose McCormick Brandon said...

Many aspects of this story to enjoy - redemption, visiting your past, friendship. A very good read.

Peter Black said...

Blessings and joy be multiplied and returned to you Janis, Jenny, and Rose!
It has been a tremendous joy to meet Bob and Lisa and a goodly number of former congregants who are still pressing on in their walk with the Lord, as we've visited our various old 'pastures' during the year.~~+~~

Carolyn R. Wilker said...

Thanks for sharing your story about Bob.

Glynis said...

A lovely, uplifting story on many counts. What a wonderful time of renewal and refreshing it must have been for both you and for May.

And oh, how I love this drawing of the Nigerian girl. Absolutely breathtaking.
Sounds like such a lovely road trip, Peter.

Kathie Chiu said...

It's so nice to go back and visit places we pastored. We did that a couple of years ago and got to visit with Kathleen Gibson, and her husband Rick. We met them during our time at our very first church and have stayed in touch over the years. People come into our lives and are such a blessing. Thanks for sharing.

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