by Ben Samann
Recently, on a beautiful rainy Sunday, I resolved an issue that has weighed on me for years.
I ran into an old friend of the resort, Cathy, who is currently in a seminary school. Cathy is lovely, passionate, and very respectful, so I asked her a favour: help me sort out the assortment of religious and antique items in our old chapel.
For a bit of context, in 2001, the previous owner of Viamede relocated a little chapel to the property. It had been built in 1877 as St. Paul’s Anglican Church in Haultain, about 10 minutes up the road from us. When this was moved, it came with a huge assortment of religious items, from crosses and bibles to bits of fabric and wooden plates. I’m not a religious man, and so I had little understanding of which items hold meaning, and for what reason.
Cathy and I spent time looking at, through, and into box after box of items. Her respect of both religion and the world came through over and over, as she described the significance of items both as religious symbols and their meaning to the community. The kneeling bench, of a rather odd design, she suggested would be more valuable to us than to another church. “How many people knelt on this during the most important times of their lives?”
We found countless linens, candle holders, and plates, each with their own mysteries, and each with a clear connection to the region. Some were donated by the community, with names and dates, others with limited context except to show a general purpose. And as we unraveled a green linen, to signify new life, we discovered a mother mouse with 3 babies trying to escape the plastic tote it was stored in.
Some quick reactions (and mediocre pictures) later, she was running off into the bushes behind the chapel, carrying off one baby after another.
Cathy left with an assortment of crosses and other items. I left with a much better understanding of the respect the remaining items deserve. My task has grown monumentally – find a way to showcase and respect the human history intertwined with the countless items that remain.