I’m not from the prairies, but when I arrived in Vancouver I was coming from them. In actuality, I’m “from” Ontario, born in a small-ish (by Ontario standards) city adjacent to cottage country east of Toronto. Raised on my family’s farm across the bridge, I grew up surrounded by water—the Bay of Quinte to the north and Lake Ontario on all other sides. Today only my grandparents still live there, and agri-tourism dominates in an economy become dependent on transplants and visitors from Toronto. The rest of my family now happily reside on the other side of Toronto, just past the thriving suburbs-turned-cities of the GTA and in the heart of Dutch communities and thousand-plus acre farms.
One of the things I love about the prairies is that even though people often speak of them in terms of isolation (so few people so far spread out), when and where there are people, there is so little to obstruct the view that you can actually see them. It seems to me that with there being so much room on the prairies, there is somehow so little room left for indifference. The prairies are where I learned to truly see people.
I remember a sunny afternoon in the spring of my first year of college. Standing in the intersection of the dorm hallways, dust particles dancing in the sunlight, a dear friend who was graduating that year said to me, “from now on, you will always be missing someone.” It can now be said that she was right. Today she’s a mother, and we are living on opposite coasts from one another. But what I’ve discovered in the meantime is that it is a tremendous thing to have people to miss. Not only does it remind us that we have loved and been loved, but it means that we get to live in hope — in anticipation of the next time we see their faces.
Despite the fact that I now miss the wide open space and sunsets of the prairies, I went through significant culture shock when I first moved from Ontario to southern Saskatchewan (I honestly didn’t think I would make it!). This last migration, however, even farther west to Vancouver, has thankfully involved less shock. Immersed once more in a land of trees and rocks and water, I have the tremendous privilege of living in a community that loves to laugh, eat, cry, dance, and pray together. I’ve heard that Vancouver is a place of transience and my experience of the city says that might be true; however, Vancouver has become for me a place to try out some rootedness, some spreading out and sinking down. I guess you could say that I came here for Regent but in many ways have stayed for the sake of community — and, of course, for St. Pete’s!
By way of random facts — as good a way to conclude as any, I suppose — I can tell you that I have climbed the great wall of China and slept in a ger on the steppes of Mongolia; I am a late-blooming Harry Potter fan (so much so that I had to give him up for Lent); I know how to milk a cow, ride a horse, and drive a tractor (well, the latter mostly in theory); I thought that Mt. Rushmore was a natural wonder until, like, grade four (I was far less impressed when I found out the truth); and I’ve seen About Time upwards of probably two dozen times (Rachel McAdams and time-traveling gingers for the win!).
Thank you, St. Pete’s, for reading! It’s a gift to worship with you, and I look forward to blogging with you and meeting many more of you, virtually or otherwise.