Monday, March 19, 2018

Walking With Dad

December 24, 2011 by  
Filed under Daily Manna, Going Global, Monthly Articles

People often ask me if I miss Venezuela (or Costa Rica or Colombia)—especially in the middle of a Canadian winter. Actually, the only thing I really don’t like a whole lot about winter is all the clothing that has to be put on, and subsequently taken off, before I’m ready to face ice and snow!

Christmas in Latin America has lots to be said about it. Medellin, Colombia is absolutely aglow with lights during the Christmas season. One could not possibly be other than impressed with the fireworks on Christmas Eve and New Year’s Eve in Caracas, Venezuela. They go on and on and on and on and…well, only the deaf get much sleep!

Christmases while I was growing up were pretty tame compared to Christmases I spent overseas. The routine of just the four of us at Christmas dinner in Canada became five, ten, fifteen, twenty, twenty-five for dinner (depending on how many people I could find who had no where else to go) for turkey and all the trimmings in Venezuela.

But there was one event that nothing in Costa Rica, Colombia or Venezuela could ever replace.

Traditionally, Christmas Eve in my hometown was C.O.L.D. The first breath taken once I was out the front door just about produced lung-sickles. It was painful. The snow crunched underfoot and almost always there were a few flakes of the white stuff gently falling. My dad and I always walked the four and a half blocks between our place and the church together. He put his car up on blocks in the garage during the winter, which probably explains why a second-hand ’54 Ford lasted twenty years! But I digress.

My father wasn’t a talkative man so the walk to the Christmas Eve service was a quiet one. But that was part of its charm. The snow crunched underfoot. The air was cold and crisp. The snow was gentle and sparkled under the streetlights. Cars passed almost silently. In those days the city didn’t spread a lot of sand and salt around and turn the snow in noisy, messy slush. Then the streets were packed snow that created a great noise buffer. A lot of people put up lights on their houses and an equal number had wood stoves and I could smell the scent of wood burning and see the smoke hanging in the cold air—something I love to this day. Chimes ringing out Christmas music could be heard coming from several churches.

And Dad and I would crunch along in companionable silence. I loved to walk to church with him on Christmas Eve.

Guess what I thought of as we walked along?

Silent night, holy night,

All is calm, all is bright.

‘Round yon virgin, mother and child

Holy Infant so tender and mild,

Sleep in heavenly peace.

Sleep in heavenly peace. 

Christmas Eve is noisy in Caracas, Venezuela. People spend small fortunes on fireworks and by the time Christmas Day dawns, the air is stinking with the smell of burnt powder and heavy with the residue of smoke. But it always is an incredible light show. My last apartment faced down the valley toward the city and afforded a spectacular view.

Silent night? Sleep in heavenly peace? Not a chance. What the fireworks don’t manage to accomplish as far as noise is concerned, the all night parties at full volume do.

My cats, Lou Lou and Abby, hated Christmas Eve and New Year’s Eve in Caracas. They disappeared under a bed or into a closet at the first bang and weren’t seen until morning. We humans stayed up as long as we could to watch the display and some of the missionaries even shot off a few rockets of their own. You really don’t want to know about the one that backfired and rocketed through the living room several times before running out of fuel—fortunately without doing any damage to anything or anyone! It all had its charm. But there remains, even to this day, nothing like walking to church with my dad through our quiet winter wonderland.

You know, I have a feeling that with or without the winter wonderland, the walk to church with dad would have always been special. It probably wouldn’t have mattered if Dad and I had been crunching along snowy streets listening to church bells and smelling wood smoke, or if we had been shuffling through sand on a beach listening to waves rushing in and smelling night-blooming flowers. There’s nothing like the quiet companionship of the father you love, and who loves you, whatever the circumstances.

There are lots of Biblical characters about whom we know very little. One of those is a man named Enoch. We know he lived a long time and had lots of kids. But those circumstances aren’t what made Enoch significant in God’s story as recorded for us in the Bible. Genesis 5:24 (NIV) says: “Enoch walked with God, then he was no more, because God took him away.”

Enoch walked with God.”

Can you picture it? God is Spirit but His presence to Enoch was so palpable that it seemed as though they were companions together as Enoch walked through life. The idea of walking with God in quiet companionship is not so improbable. Now that I am living in my hometown again, and despite the fact that my father has gone on to glory, I can still feel him crunching along beside me on the way to church on Christmas Eve.

I have a prayer for 2012. I pray that I will be more conscious of the quiet companionship of God walking beside me in this coming year than I have ever been before. Someday, someone might say of me: “Lynda walked with God, then she was no more, because God took her away.”

Now wouldn’t that be a great epitaph? And isn’t that a great aspiration?


Lynda is a missionary, speaker, educator, writer, editor, and cat lover. She was born and raised in Timmins, the heart of gold mining country in northeastern Ontario, Canada. Lynda has served with Fellowship International for more than thirty years, first in Colombia, a brief stint on home staff in Toronto, Ontario and, more recently in Venezuela. She is currently on staff at First Baptist Church in Timmins, Ontario where her primary focus is spiritual formation. The author of Divine Design for Daily Living, a 365 day devotional journey through the entire Bible (published in Spanish and English),  Lynda blogs Lynda’s Grain of Sand, maintains her own website Northern Breezes , and has been seconded by Fellowship International to serve on the Communications team of The Fellowship of Evangelical Baptist Churches in Canada.

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One Response to “Walking With Dad”
  1. Rita Garcia says:

    Great epitaph and great aspiration, indeed! Lynda thanks for the inspiration and blessings you’ve added to my life during 2011, have a wonderful Christmas!

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