Sunday, August 22, 2010

High Seas Adventure

I traveled across town last week and got caught up in a high seas adventure.

No, I was not accosted by pirates - although I did see a few. I did not get sea sick - although there was a mighty storm and many people got soaked! What, you wonder, happened to me?

Well, I followed the scent of adventure and ended up at Memorial Baptist Church, where close to 100 children and 80 volunteers were involved in the annual Vacation Bible School.
Following the theme of an expedition on the high seas, the church sanctuary had been transformed into an ancient sailing ship complete with seagulls flying overhead.

Whales and dolphins swam in the craft room.

A talking chipmunk named Chadder starred in a video adventure that left us hanging at the end of each day's segment wondering if he would ever see land again and be able to stave off the evil intentions of the mutineers.

I think I have shared enough for you to get a taste of what happens at several churches around town when they host children from the community for a week of Vacation Bible School. Christian leaders spend hours of time and creative energy to help the children of Stratford have a great time while learning about God.

Through active games, crafts, fun Bible lessons, rousing songs, and amazing snacks, they share God's love with the kids who come. Thank you to all of you who volunteer to host these summer events. May God bless you and the children that you serve in this very worthwhile endeavour.

You can also see this article in Your Daily Source available at local coffee shops, businesses and laundromats in the
Around town with Helen Harrison
column on August 25,2010.

Thursday, August 19, 2010

Fine Art Photography

Yesterday I had the privilege of visiting the RPA Photography studio. Rob and Peggy Andrews moved to Stratford recently and set up a studio in their home on Shakespeare Street where they live with their two cats and three birds. Rob is a Fine Art Photographer accredited by the Professional Photographers of Ontario, and recently recognized in the National Image Competition of Professional Photographers of Canada as a photographer "with the ability to produce above average images for (his) clientele." (Press Release from PPOC May 12, 2010).

I was thrilled to see some of the exquisite artistry that he creates with a combination of top-notch equipment, an artist's eye for line and light, and a sense of adventure when it comes to the use of Photoshop on his computer.

Right now, until October 31, 2010, Rob is offering a special deal for pet lovers. He is calling it Puss and Pooch. (Did I mention that he has a great sense of humour.)For a very reasonable price he will give a client an hour of his time, photograph the pet on location in a favorite outdoor spo t as well as in his studio, touch up the photos and then provide a choice of pictures with half of the "sitting" fee going towards prints. RPA Photography also offers matting, framing, and mounting as well as other special features.

If you would like to see more samples of his artwork or to book a sitting, check out his website at

A version of this blog post appeared in Your Daily Source, August 19 to 27, 2010.

Saturday, August 14, 2010

Frozen Music?

I heard an interesting quote while watching a documentary recently. "Architecture is frozen music" (Goethe) and "Music is a fluid architecture of sound." (Roy Harris) This interplay of music and architecture carried me back to the Stratford Farewell concert of Jamie Klassen and Megan Franken on August 13 at St. James church. That evening I was struck by a quote inscribed in gold across the front of the sanctuary. "I am come that they might have life and that they might have it more abundantly" (John 10:10)

Savouring the expansive romanticism of Brahms' Intermezzos, I allowed myself to absorb the atmosphere of this historic church. The beautiful stained glass windows, including small ones placed at the top of each gothic arch to catch the sunlight, the elegant castings on the lecturns in the chancel and the lovely banners adorning the walls made me realize once again how abundant our life is here in Stratford.

I have the freedom to wander across town on a sunlit evening to hear amazing talent on a beautiful instrument and to listen, centuries after his lifetime, to the mathematical intricacies of Bach's Preludes and Fugues. Closing my eyes I could envision the Roaring 20's flappers dancing the Charleston to the ragtime frivolity of Scott Joplin. For me, the piece de resistance was the fluid line and harmonic undercurrents of Liszt's Grand Etude in D flat major, "un sospiro" (Italian for "a sigh"), a nickname given to the composition by those who no doubt like me, felt their spirits breathe with the rise and fall of the melody.

Yes, frozen music, fluid architecture, abundant life... all in Stratford on a summer evening.

Farewell, Jamie and Megan. May you enjoy abundant living as you pursue your dreams. We hope you will invite us to once again experience "the fluid architecture of sound" if you ever come back this way.

Friday, August 6, 2010

Sunset in the Park

I love to walk along the Avon at sunset.

The sky, the silhouettes,

The perfect reflections by the water's edge

The swans enjoying a bedtime snack.

There is peace in Stratford in the evening's glow.