Lemons to lemonade

Community COVID-19 Featured

Group makes memories from time spent in lockdown

Like turning lemons into lemonade, a couple of congregation members from St. David’s Presbyterian Church in Toney River turned a pandemic lockdown into a beautiful work of art.

Last spring, the church’s Mission Awareness project, initially intended to be completed by the children of the church, was cancelled due to the COVID-19 pandemic and the health restrictions against social gatherings. But they were able to expand one of the ideas put forth at that time that involved the entire congregation.

Marjorie Fraser, one of the church elders, wanted the congregation to participate in the compilation of an album or scrapbook that would represent what each member did to “get through the lockdown and year 2020.”

Church members were asked to consider how they spent their time in lockdown, how they spent time as a family and if they undertook any new adventures. They were also asked: How do we continue to be bound together as faithful servants of God?

The idea took flight and many members and families in the congregation participated.

Mona MacDonald, who worked extensively on the project said, “And all summer long we put reminders on our Facebook page.”

MacDonald and Fraser received the submissions from the congregation and finally, several weeks ago, the project was complete. The result is a binder with approximately 75 pages of photos, descriptions, poems, songs, new hobbies, walking trails, gardening, trips and such from congregation members who were happy to share how they got through the pandemic.

Every picture has one thing in common: smiling faces! Whether it’s a photo of family members planting a garden, walking a trail, kayaking on the river, visiting Pictou Island, or just enjoying time together as a family, the enjoyment they had getting out of the house on a safe adventure or being together is evident.

One page shows a timeline of photos from first-time gardeners planting in their garden through to reaping the rewards of their crop, another contains photos of the Vacation Bible School which was held virtually with lessons being available online and craft kits being delivered to the homes of kids, and another photo shows a new baby born during the lockdown.

“And that was hard because grandparents couldn’t go to the hospital at that time,” notes MacDonald.

“People had their own ways of occupying the children and themselves during the lockdown.”

Flipping through the album Fraser smiles, “Everybody has nice photos.”

Interspersed throughout the collection are uplifting quotes or short scripture passages. There is even a song written by MacDonald at the height of the pandemic. “My COVID sing,” she laughs.

The album is aptly entitled, “Till the Storm Passes By” and it details how one congregation or group of people managed their lives in the midst of the pandemic. It will be available for church members to borrow to take home so they can take it home and read it.

The congregation continues to gather together in the church every Sunday and, in keeping with the public health regulations, they wear masks – even while singing in the choir – and keep their two metres of distance between families in the pews – and they have fun doing it. One photo in the album shows a picture of a pew blocked off with a sign saying: Thou shalt not sit here. They are following the rules and making the best of a difficult situation.

‘Til the Storm Passes By

(Mosie Lister, circa 1953)

In the dark of midnight have I oft hid my face

While the storm howls above me, and there’s no hiding place

‘Mid the crash of the thunder, Precious Lord, hear my cry

Keep me safe till the storm passes by

Till the storm passes over, till the thunder sounds no more

Till the clouds roll forever from the sky

Hold me fast, let me stand in the hollow of Thy hand

Keep me safe till the storm passes by

Mona MacDonald, left, and Marjorie Fraser look through the book of memories they created from fellow congregation members at St. David’s Presbyterian Church in Toney River. The book contains photos, poems and more shared by the group detailing how they got through the COVID-19 lockdown last summer.  (Jardine photo)