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This episode came after a call to Canada. It was a delightful thing - a pastorate without minister, hidden in the deep recesses of this pastoral panorama. On the way, I had scurried to catch the Canadian-Pacific aircraft, grasping my many books and rushing to the gang-way, as it was held down till I embarked, engines running.
In Vancouver, I learned that damage to some fingers of my left hand could have led to my rejection from these sisterly shores, had I not been "professional" - so I was spared what appeared the fate of some who had to retrace their aeronautical steps, in Honolulu.
Across the Canadian Rockies, that fearlessly imposing, imperial scene of grandeur that seemed as limitless as the skies, deeply reflected in the sylvan streams which at times emerged, delicate but lustrous, from the snows, one emerged to a healthy stint of skiing (my first) at Banff, ending in repetitive ski-lift journeys to the unthinkable top. There at the summit, moving like nemesis from the lift to fall lightly into the supportive snow, I looked spellbound, amazed at my fortitude, to create my zig-zag method of negotiating the expanse downwards.
At first it was difficult to think of any other means of doing so, making small journeys to the waiting arms of snow at each side; but this may at the last this was forced to capitulate to a more straightforward descent, for the last of it was so hard that its precipitate drop allowed no alternative but simple rush. In the end, the descent seemed merely a delight, and the world of skiing smiled.
Through the happy and mellow middle-lands and prairies we then travelled, past the big cities to the Atlantic coast, where the enormous ferries plied their trade, one of them engulfing an entire, extensive tourist train in its midst, as if a mere item. Then into the Arctic seeming blue, blazing though cold, austere, brilliant with ice spangling it, we sailed.
The ice-breaker was a valiant ship, and would stand back and charge as necessary, to destroy the barrier of ice that floated in its path - almost as if it enjoyed the feat, and found an interest in life because of it. As I surveyed, semi-ecstatic these enormous scenes and vast spaces, colourful to a symphony of oceanic art, I was approached by a fellow passenger at the railing.
"Business or politics?" he tersely queried.
"How did you know?" I responded, amazed.
"Oh! nobody goes there for anything else!" was his rejoinder.
Allowing for a specialised Canadian humour, this was still a remarkable statement. The Island in SUMMER, as I later learned, is of course a scene of sentiment because of Ann of Green Gables, the theatrical version of it, the land forms she supposedly inhabited, and possesses some appeal and even allure for many, from the golf course (on which I played, and splendid it was with its long, narrow fairways melting into the sea of pines and the distant waters), the mellow climate, the friendly people ... as attested by the hordes of American - not to say Japanese -tourists! Then the scene of ocean sweeping out in nobility, drawing narrowly in with dignity, is one intimate with quiet space and drifting cloud. But in Winter!
Snow like a dream of whiteness, then seemed almost to dispense with reality: the fences, the streams, the paddocks all seemed to yield to its almost universal presence. Not so cold as interior Canada, because of the Gulf Stream, it yet could mount 8 feet high banks of snow, left by the diligent and unremitting snow-ploughs in some necks of the roads.
The Gospel, however, was needed here as an earlier episode in this series has already narrated. It seemed almost an invasion of lostness to bring it in, even in the church; for things seemed to have drifted from that essential channel to the Author of all this wonder and grandeur. Praise God He has so many servants to reach to so many places, till the Lord comes - the Gospel of grace in His mercy reaching throughout the entire earth. It is His; and heaven is too, the wonder being He is so prodigal to entreat entrants to find this better haven where holiness is as natural as are the oceans to the Isle.