In her article, “Landscape and Community“, Maxine Hancock shares something of her transition to live in the Annapolis Valley (Nova Scotia). Her reflection leads to a prayer for companionship. Here is an excerpt and her prayer:
“Our mountain is most often bright and sunny, but one November, a few years after we had moved, fog rolled and settled down around us for most of a week. The fog acted as a blotter, blanking out the lovely landscape below, sucking up even the shortening light of early winter days. Suddenly, one afternoon, I was overwhelmed up with grief and loss. My desolation of spirit was profound. I felt stripped of identity, friendships, and community. I felt how far away I was from all my friends and most of my family. I was finding, as I had been warned before coming, that there would be no easy welcome here on this coast where people lived in intense familial and social networks intact from their childhoods. I felt how few I knew; how few knew me—or even showed any desire to know me. And I wept from the core of my spirit. Finally, still weeping, I lit a candle to place in the window, then found my grandmother’s little purse hymnal and looked up John Henry Newman’s great hymn, reading it as prayer, “Lead kindly light in the encircling gloom / The night is dark and I am far from home.”
“Dear Lord,” I whispered (or more properly, whimpered,) “wherever I have lived before there have been companions for my journey. So I believe that if you have brought me here, you have appointed some companions for me, and you have appointed me to be a companion to some. Please now reveal these people to me—give me eyes to recognize them and to welcome them when they come into my life.”
And then, quite wonderfully, companions for the journey came into my life, one by one, each a special gift received gratefully from the Great Giver of “every good and perfect gift,” together forming a community of which I am a part. The landscape is lovelier far now that I can name people who live along the roads we drive, and know a little of their stories; lovelier far now because now, when under the silver moonlight that floods into our mountain home, I sit, awake at night to gaze at the pewter gleam of the Minas Basin and then scan the constellations of lights that mark the little towns and acreages and farms along the roads, I can name before the Lord friends and neighbours, pastors and congregations, as far as I can see.
Landscape without deep relationships may be fine for a tourist. But, as I have learned, it will not do for a pilgrim. For now, at least, I am a “settled pilgrim.” This beautiful place and space—both landscape and community—has truly become home.”
Maxine Hancock is Professor Emerita of Interdisciplinary Studies and Spiritual Theology, Regent College. The author of many books and articles, she now lives in Nova Scotia, with her husband, Cam. You can visit her at her website: www.maxinehancock.ca