Rusty Nail: a reflection: Rev. Ted Hicks- October 26th


Psalm 126

In its original form, this Psalm reflected the experience of Hebrew exiles in Babylon/Persia finally able to return to their homeland a generation later. In this contemporary paraphrase from “Psalms for Praying” (Continuum Press 2002), Nan Merrill universalizes the experience of displacement, longing, and homecoming.

When the Divine Lover enters the human heart, all yearnings are fulfilled!
Then will our mouths ring forth with laughter, and our tongues with shouts of joy.
Then will we sing our songs of praise to You, O Beloved of all hearts.
For gladness will radiate out for all to see;
so great is your Presence among us.

Restore us to wholeness, O Healer,
like newborn babes who have never strayed from You. May all who sow in tears reap with shouts of joy!
May all who go forth weeping, bearing seed for sowing, come home to You with shouts of joy, leaving sorrow behind.

A Time of Silence for Centering and Reflection

 From your life experience, how do you relate to the themes of displacement, longing, and homecoming?  What is “home” in Nan Merrill’s version of this psalm?


A rusty nail. A four-inch rusty nail. Long enough to be called a spike? I don’t really know much about that sort of thing. But my father did.

He was a fisherman first, leaving school in grade eight to row the skiff for his father. Coming originally from Newfoundland, my grandfather knew and passed on to my father all the skills needed to do whatever had to be done to forge a livelihood. Together, Grampa (Joe) and Dad (Jim) built a fish boat in their backyard in East Vancouver, the Joe-


Jim, then towed it down to the Burrard Inlet to launch it. Grampa made his living in the offseason as a carpenter and Dad, working beside him, mastered those skills too. So, when my parents married, they bought a piece of land up the coast near where Dad moored his boat and he built their first house there, using the shakes and timbers he split from the trees he felled to clear the yard site.

There is an official name now on that road just outside Gibsons but in those days it was called Honeymoon Lane and maybe some of the oldest-timers still remember it as that. It got that name because more than one young couple was starting out there as well. It was a tight little community, made closer by looking out for one another and the stories they told and lived. One of those stories is how neighbours worked together to clear the land and help build each other’s homesteads. Dad and Mom helped Bob and Lou, their nearest neighbours, both couples staying friends even after they eventually moved on to other places. Dad worked side by side with Bob, helping him build a log house in a clearing next door, not bothering to split the logs they cut out of the forest.

That’s where the rusty nail comes in. Many years later, when I was a dad myself, Dad and Mom came with my little family as we retraced old steps, driving by their first house, still standing, sound and lived in. By that time, Dad was retired after moving off the fish boat onto the coastal ferries, first as a deckhand then as a mate and finally as a skipper. Just past their old fence line, I pulled onto the shoulder on Honeymoon Lane where Dad did a little quiet reconnoitring and pointed to where he thought the log house used to be. We broke through the bush and sure enough, not far off the road, we found the remains of the old log house amongst a tangle of brambles and trees that had grown up around it over the years. Dad was a man of few words but that is when he told the story of that house. “I helped him more than he helped me as it turned out,” he said, matter-of-factly and without rancour, which was his way. Dad told me about stringers, the first logs they laid to create the basic shape of the house and to use as a level base to build up from. Those stringers were still there, if rotted and sagging over the years, and out of one of them an old rusty nail had worked its way loose enough that I could pull it out with my hand. I have no way of knowing if it was one my Dad had driven but there was a fifty-fifty chance it was and – on whichever side of those odds it fell – it was part of the story my Dad was telling and had created by living it.

Now that old rusty nail lies among other memorabilia in a small wooden box on my bedroom dresser. It connects me to a family, to the lands of my forebears, and to a long, long story still writing itself. Everything that nail holds seems to beckon to me, silently passing on all it wants me to know and understand and integrate into who I am when I am most myself and into the story I am writing with my life.

 

For Further Reflection

 Are there mementos you keep in your home?
 What are their stories?
 How do those stories speak to you?
 What role do stories play in our various faith traditions?

Are there particular stories in our faith traditions so deep that their meaning is still beckoning to you? What are the stories you tell about your life and hope the next generation will remember and explore?

 Are there hard stories you need to find the courage to tell to help you heal?  Where does your heart go when it goes home?

A Song: Wood River, by Connie Kaldor

A song about a river, about life flowing on,
and about a place that once was home, is no longer, but is always calling us back. The Wood River is in southern Saskatchewan near where the singer-songwriter grew up.

Oh won’t you come with me where the Wood River flows. We’ll watch it meander slowly as the sky turns from red to dark. And as that sun goes down we’ll throw our arms around each other and tell the dreams that are deep in the heart.

but the heart sometimes needs a little help to figure that out.

So won’t you come with me where the Wood River flows. The little Wood River knows that it goes to nowhere but that doesn’t stop it going or them willows growing or all the lovers showing their hearts to each other there.

Because the heart is bigger than trouble and the heart is bigger than doubt



So won’t you come with me where the Wood River flows …

Bless You

Bless the current from Alpha to Omega in which you flow.
Bless you when, in this moment, you relax into it and trust it to take you where you need to go.
Bless you when you need to swim against the current to redress some imbalance within you or in the world around you. Bless you when you need to find a quiet backwater in which to float and rest awhile.
Bless you when you sense you are out of touch with the flow and determine to feel after it afresh.
Bless you.
Bless you.
Bless you.

Peace to You Ted

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