Rachel Brighton, shown here with sons (left to right) Harry, Rupert and Jesse, is a Sunday school teacher at St. James’ Anglican Church in Bridgetown, N.S.
When I think of the day my mother was buried, I recall the smell of rising bread dough in Wendy’s house and the plaited loaves my older sister and I were making.
We had attended the church service for our mother’s funeral, but being seven and nine, my father had asked our dear family friend to care for us during the burial service. It was quiet as we tiptoed around each others’ feelings.
I remember being appalled by my father’s helplessness as they wheeled him into my hospital ward. He was wearing black sunglasses to cover (I imagined) the cuts around his eyes from spraying glass when the car crash shattered the windshield and killed my mother. I remember, more painfully still, the torment that took hold of our family. But most of all, I remember the square, matter-of-factness of knowing that God let her die and that it was His call.
Now that my eldest son, Harry, is the age I was then (and I am many years older than my mother, Carol, when she died) I am deeply grateful to my parents-and theirs-for the comfort I found growing up with their resolute faith.
At the weekly Bible study nights at our house in Melbourne, Australia, young adults would spread out on the sheepskin rugs on the lounge room floor, reading scripture, praying and singing. We went to church once or twice on a Sunday and I was relieved when I was old enough to stay in church and not suffer through the platitudes of Sunday school, but could soak up the “full meal deal” of the sermons.
Now, Harry has re-kindled my interest in reading through the Old Testament-a tough slog otherwise-by asking logical, sequential, historical questions about the battles in Joshua and the succession of kings in the days of Daniel. It has come alive, for me, through him, and now it’s something we share.
I am constantly amazed at the fruits of faith in our family. In my own life, as a wife and mother of three, my faith has ceased to be a private affair. I cannot speak for how the rest of my family makes sense of God in our midst (as our five-year-old, Jesse, says: “You’re not in my brain”), but I can see that our mutual faith is a common currency, something that has a life outside of ourselves.
Jesse expresses this in pictures and in eloquent prayers that can go on for a long time, thanking God for family, friends, birds, trees and Noah and…
Rupert, who is three, expresses it in garbled language when we say our “words” before supper and when he rearranges the Lord’s Prayer at bedtime and sings Jesus Loves Me. Harry soaks up everything and expresses it in great words of wisdom that can rock us to our core.
We live in a pastoral valley surrounded by a ring of mountains and rolling foothills. Driving down the Clarence Road one fall morning, the mist was hanging in the foothills and the horses and cattle were feeding on the dewy grass. I was playing a CD of eclectic modern Irish folk songs, a part of my “escape” time when I drive. One of them was Road to Glory. Harry asked from the back seat, “Mum, why are they saying, ‘the road to glory’? The road is full of glory.” Apart from marvelling at his distinction between to and is, how had he come to comprehend glory? How had I come to comprehend faith in God at his age? One answer comes to us in the instruction in Deuteronomy: “Teach [these words of mine] to your children, talking about them when you sit at home and when you walk along the road….”
Rachel Brighton is a Sunday school teacher at St. James’ Anglican Church in Bridgetown, NS.