Grindstone Island News - June 29, 1994
On Thursday morning John Marks left the Toad Hall garden to fend for itself and hid himself away at the organ in the fresh and sparkling church to play a lifetime's worth of beloved hymns from the new hymnal that was given by the family and friends of Polly Rusho to honor her life, labor, and lessons. Polly died after a long fight against cancer last October. It is a wonderful hymnal, full of old songs Polly loved, but it also holds a whole realm of new hymns which the congregation will enjoy learning and the organist will play from the loose-leaf copy he was given. The hymnal was used at the very first service of the year, the baptism of Ronald Gregory Kowalkowski and Robert Graham, the three-month-old son of Ronald and Beth Rusho Kowalkowski.
The 11 o'clock family service on June 24, began with the little congregation's singing "Shall We Gather at the River" from the bright new book. The grandparents, the great-grandparents, the cousins, aunts and uncles joined in the hymn which bridged the high arch of emotions the family shared in that service.
Then they all returned to the south shore to talk and eat together at Marjorie's and Leon's, the old homestead, until late in the afternoon.
On Sunday, the rain we had all welcomed for our gardens, finally blew over and the sun brought a great crowd to the Sunday service. Everyone came eagerly because most of us had been around the Thurso comer at least once last week. The carriage house shone bright and clean in its new sheath of siding, making the restored church look even nicer. And the room behind the church sanctuary was cleaned, as cleaned and freshly scrubbed as the inside of the carriage house.
The new caretakers, Aleatha and Chris Williams, with much help from Marjorie Garnsey, Aleatha's mother, had polished, painted, hammered, sawed and decorated the old buildings so people who had seen their work before Sunday spread the news among their friends who came from the north and south and east and west of the island to enjoy the miraculous reawakening of the church comer. Ken Deedy arrived with a man for each wheel on his four-wheeler, the Marras came down the road with the twins clinging, one to Phil's hand, one to Yuvonne's, the Rushos came in cars, vans and a truck. Mrs. Shirley came with Elanie Brooks, "Doc" and Phyllis were there to get things started. The church was full - the Jacksons were there, Erma and Brenda Slate brought Brittany, Ed Barlow, Judy Bacci and Liz. Everyone came - too many to name...
They came to welcome their new minister, Mary Beers, a United Church of Canada candidate for ordination at Queen's Seminary College in Kingston, Ont. (On Thursday, her husband, Phil and her two daughters, will arrive to make the parsonage home for the summer.)
Again, the hymnals brought new life to the service. Children filled the front pew and after Mrs. Beers told them the story of the little girl who got out of bed and walked when Jesus said to her, "Daughter, arise," They settled down to draw themselves in bed in the picture Mrs. Beers gave them to color - (with whole hand-fulls of new crayons!).
The grown-ups, too, were led into the middle of the crowd in the gospel story to ponder the "whole truth" of the woman whose faith healed her when she merely touched Jesus' garment. Faith, we saw from our place in the crowd is the whole truth of a lifetime of living, suffering, of reaching out to be healed knowing that God wants all his creatures to be whole, that as we sang in the new-to-us hymn, "Jesus' hands were kind hands." And last, we sang Polly's favorite hymn, with tears in our eyes, "I come to the garden alone," and bowed to receive the benediction.
Next Sunday we will have a pot luck lunch after the service, and Debby Marra will, as she has for so-many years, teach the first Sunday school class. We're going to have a good year! We're even having vacation Bible school from Aug. 1-5. If you want to sign some children up for it, call Mary Beers at 686-3113. At the board meeting after church, "Doc" said, "Anyone who wants an updated church mailing list should let me know. I'll get them a copy."
The honey locusts are in bloom, the pasture roses smell nearly as sweet, the river is sparkling blue. So it is.