Unfolding years

Even though Mission Farm Road gives the semblance of being a private road, it is a mile-long town road (TH#38) that bypasses an otherwise unremarkable (save the Skyeship base lodge) stretch of Route 4. Traffic varies from very few cars per day to a burst of pickup trucks that comes through at quitting time, usually 5:10 p.m. Otherwise, the road serves as a nice place to amble and listen to all the birds.

Oftentimes people stop, get out of their cars or trucks, wander around some, and take photographs. If we manage to get out of the vicarage in time to engage them in conversation, we learn that many have a history with Church of Our Saviour. In most cases, they utter the famous words, “We were married here…” 20, 30, 40 years ago, “by Father Dan [Goldsmith].” (Those who can remember the Rev. Truman Heminway, priest here from 1931-1957, presiding over their marriages are few and far between.) Once they have made that connection, the conversation is off and running.

Just this past Friday, we enjoyed such a chat. The parents were dropping by to see about their son and future-daughter-in-law having their wedding at the church because the parents’ wedding had taken place here, back when. They reminisced about Father Dan: how he spent his days taking care of the farm, how they landed at Mission Farm one time at the end of his work day and were able to join him in evening prayer, and how he worked clad in his ankle-length black cassock despite the heat. They remembered the barn that once stood between the guest house and the current barn, that is precariously hanging over the bank, its foundations shot. And they, like so many others, remember the delicious corn he used to grow.

We walked into the cool church and the visitors took in its appearance, the lingering scent of incense, the votive candles and statue of Mary. They murmured, “It hasn’t changed at all.”

But, of course, the church and its community have changed over 30 years. Father Dan would never have imagined a woman priest standing at the altar or the altar separated from the east wall of the church. He might not have envisioned the farm without the livestock, though toward the end of his tenure, he let go of the heavy-duty farming. He would recognize, though, the flower garden his wife created.

When a couple gets married here, they sign the church register after the exchange of vows and rings and the pronouncement of marriage. By so signing, they enter fully into our history. Even in this time period, when the institution of marriage has been expanded to include same-gender couples, one thing remains true: 30 years down the line, couples will stop by Church of Our Saviour and say to whoever is out working in the gardens, “Oh, we were married here.” Over time, our lives become woven together through our connection with Mission Farm and this weaving surpasses whatever changes time has and will wrought.

“Musings from Mission Farm” is an occasional reflection on life in the valley on the Sherburne Flats. Church of Our Saviour (Episcopal) has ministered to the Killington region since 1894. The Rev. Lee Alison Crawford serves as its pastor and also volunteers as a Mountain Ambassador at Killington. All are welcome to worship with us Sundays at 9:30 a.m.

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