Vignette|Pen & Mirror

calamus pluma

calamus pluma
Image: Kelsey Scalaro

They had both come from very different places. Their journey to Reverend Meadow’s flock had been filled with a few pauses here and there, from one house church to another or finding themselves in a new relationship after two churches got married: so many stories that led to their friendship …

When they finally met, even though they were totally different, it was like they had found a treasure for which they had always been looking, even longing. In fact, whenever Styla and Specul had a chance to hangout, they often talked about the different things they had witnessed since they were last together. Whenever fortune so shone, it was like they had never been apart. Often, the conversation began with a conjunction, as though there had never been a pause since the last time Styla found she had been left near Specul.

“Didn’t they just look beautiful?” Specul boomed in his ornate voice. Though the church was quiet now and Steeple had stopped her ringing, Specul’s prim and proper presentation remained immaculate. It was not that he was prideful, but he was always grateful that he could reflect back each person’s beauty as they gazed into him.

“Oh, were they?” Styla inquired in her clear whisper.

The mirror and pen often found themselves together after a wedding or funeral, baptism or welcome of new members. Both were well cared for heirlooms of their church. Heirlooms that reached all the way back to the time when all of those different people decided to unite. Sometimes Styla would get excited remembering the signing of the union document in that cavernous arena. It was often a story on which they would reflect when something new happened.

“Yes, indeed. Ruth and Naomi were both handsome and beautiful. The way the various shades of ivory complemented what the other was wearing. And the punch of colour of Ruth’s lavender accessories and the ivy that was in Naomi’s hair, joyfully-tear-making in their splendour!” declared Specul.

Styla rolled this image around: since she was unable to often appreciate … or admittedly understand … what he saw, she reflected on the similarity in what she felt.

“It sounds a lot like the moment one of them passed me to the other, as they could sign the marriage certificate. The moment their hands touched, I felt all flush with care and compassion. I could even sense, in the quivered pause, their evident attraction. I felt proud to be part of this day, Specul!” Styla added.

mirror mirror on the wall

mirror mirror on the wall
Image: opethpainter

After they shared their notes and impressions, from the marvel of how an organ and electric guitar could actually make beautiful music, to the giggles from the wee people as the pigeons flew as the steeple sang, Specul paused for enough time that Styla wondered if he had been covered.

“In all the excitement, I forgot about the worry for Mrs. Habib,” Specul finally said.

“Oh no: why?” she inquired, obviously worried.

“Well,” he continued in a low bass, “you remember that after she and her family arrived from Mosul Pastor Meadow had to help them get acquainted to the different things Christians did here in worship?”

Styla responded affirmatively.

“Well I didn’t realise,” he continued, “that though she and her husband are Christians, they have many Muslim family members and some of them have been hurt recently.”

“Oh no!” Styla declared with shock.

“I’m afraid so. Pastor Meadow is trying to help her figure out if she should go and help. While they were talking, it is clear that the election is making people angry and some think hurting those who are different is okay now,” Specul concluded.

This time it was Styla’s time to pause. In fact, she was quiet so long, that Specul thought she might have been collected by Tatiana without him seeing her.

“Well that makes sense,” Styla declared, interrupting Specul’s worry.

“What do you mean?” he asked.

At first Styla spoke so fast in her whisper that he had to ask her to slow down. Finally, with just enough pausing between words, she shared that she understood what everyone was signing before the wedding: a petition!

Inaugural Service

Inaugural Service
10 June 1925, Mutual Street Arena
Image: The United Church of Canada

The stone church had a history of activism, of putting themselves in harm’s way to protect the ‘least,’ they would say. Styla was not sure – then – why all the different hands were gathered, in fact she ran dry more than once as they signed the document. Calloused and soft gentle ones and shades of earth and rose coloured hands held her. She could sense their smells: garlic, rosemary, and curry to name only a few. But each one held her firmly – she thought that grip with which she was embraced spoke to their solidarity for one another.

Styla and Specul paused … and as they were separated, they did not know what was next for Mrs. Habib, but they knew she was not alone. They also knew that even the stone church was not always immune to the causes that Reverend’s Flocks confronted – graffiti had scarred the church and windows broken in the past – but the people stood together and their voice always spoke as confidently as steeple’s announcement each time a new day dawned …

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2016-12-28T23:12:29+00:00April 8th, 2016|Tags: , , , , |


  1. Jayne Whyte April 9, 2016 at 10:00 - Reply

    I had supper with a friend yesterday. She lives in an apartment block. A lot of new people moved in about a year ago. “So many languages that I did not understand. I started to feel uneasy. So I put a note under every door inviting to an Open House in my apartment on Sunday. Lots of people came, got acquainted, ate and laughed together. Now we are neighbours who greet in the hall with smiles and a bit of shared language. I feel safer. That was a year ago. I need to do it again. And this time I’ll make sure it is not during Ramadan when my Muslim neighbours fast during daylight.”

    • Richard April 9, 2016 at 12:51 - Reply

      Hi Jayne,

      I think that is one of the greatest gifts I have received recently! What an amazing story! Did you friend frame this as a personal choice? Was it grounded form a place of faith? Curiosity? Wonder?

      I am inferring – with your sharing – that Pen & Mirror would be companions of in this instance?

      How truly wonderful to hear this story – thanks so much for sharing such vibrant hope!

      • Jayne Whyte April 9, 2016 at 22:47 - Reply

        My friend, aged 80 plus or minus a few years, is a woman of faith. And hospitality, generousity, love. We were talking about the need to build community where we live and she shared this example. When I read the Pen & Mirror blog, I thought of the Silver Teapot that might need a bit of polishing to be ready for the Open house. But like Pen and Mirror, Silver Teapot is ready for new opportunities and challenges.

        • Richard April 9, 2016 at 23:00 - Reply

          Silver Teapot, eh? I think I would like to her that story too! The Vignette feature has allowed me to be playful in exploring issues before church that prose alone often finds too awkward. Pew was an interesting character too 🙂

          As for your friend, I think I like her a lot Jayne!

          Thanks again for your taking the time to engage and share! A real blessing.

Your reflections are most welcome!

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