Saturday, February 27, 2016

THAT OLD CHURCH SAVED MY LIFE!

            During a recent visit with some old friends we naturally started reminiscing about bygone years and the many people, places and events that have affected our lives over time. As our day-to-day lives play out we never really know how much our lives will be affected by a particular moment, or a person, place or thing until we reflect back on that moment’s significance years later.
            As a general rule, during these sessions of “remember when”, discussions of the memories will trigger other memories about different people and different times and there is a snowball effect as the more one remembers the more one remembers, if you know what I mean, and soon things that you didn’t think you would ever recall are being recalled. Depending upon the peer group gathered one can relive events from high school, or significant family function events or your sports teams’ past accomplishments or how you fooled the heck out of ol’ Jimmy at work that time.
            The subject of the recent closing and subsequent sale of the Windthorst United Church was an event that triggered numerous memories for me, my wife and the group of friends who had gathered for that recent visit. You see, the Windthorst United Church would loom large in my life. My father, Rev. Lowell Hubbard, was the United Church Minister in the Kipling-Windthorst Pastoral Charge from 1970 until 1980. In 1975 my wife’s Confirmation into the United Church of Canada was held in that church with my Dad officiating at the ceremony. Debbie and I were married in that church in 1981, with Dad performing that ceremony as well.
Now those are some very significant life events indeed but my recollections took me back to some events that led to that church literally saving my life. Not in the figurative sense, either, but in the real physical sense.
It was about forty-years ago when a close friend and I decided on an ill-advised road trip on about the coldest day of the year after a nice long stint in the Kipling Hotel bar. Didn’t I tell you that it was an ill-advised trip? Now listen to the story and try not to judge.
The facts are that mostly drunk, almost men are not really, really clear thinkers at the best of times but at 1:45am on a Sunday in the middle of a Saskatchewan winter their combined IQ would be hovering about the level of the temperature, I’m thinking, which would have been low…very, very low.
Now you’ve got the picture. Anyway, two drunk, nineteen-year-old males headed out for food or girls or a party somewhere…thing is, we’re not exactly sure where we were going, but the half-ton truck we were driving broke down just outside of Windthorst merely minutes into our journey.
The short walk into town nearly froze us to death to begin with and with nobody answering their door at that awful hour we were pretty darn close to hypothermia and then digit loss would come next and then…who knows?
Well, we were at our wit’s end when I remembered that they never actually locked church buildings. Not back then, anyway. They don’t call them sanctuaries for nothing, I guess. What a blessing it was that the door opened when we finally got to the church and we cranked the furnace up and a long while later we finally warmed up enough to pass out. I will spare you the details of the headshaking reaction of my Dad and some of the congregants the next morning when they arrived for the early Sunday service to find the building occupied. Reactions aside, that church saved our lives.
I was happy to hear that Nick and Loreen Windjack had bought the old church. Word has it that they plan on hosting music concerts and special events there. Good for them, share the pleasure. Hosting events that bring joy, pleasure and laughter is a much better fate for a church building, which has been serving the community since 1911, than to see another window darkened building sitting empty in another small town in Saskatchewan.

“We shape our buildings; thereafter, our buildings shape us.”- Winston Churchill (1874-1965).

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