Remembering why we live in Banff

“O Lord, our Sovereign, how majestic is your name in all the earth!  You have set your glory above the heavens… When I look at your heavens, the work of your fingers, the moon and the stars that you have established; what are human beings that you are mindful of them, mortals that you care for the?   Yet you have made them little lower than God, and crowned them with glory and honour.”  – Psalm 8 – selected verses.

With Richard Clarke leading worship at Rundle last Sunday, Miho and I decided to zip out to Invermere for a quick visit to the area.  She had never been there before.  I hadn’t been for about 20 years.   We enjoyed strolling in town, venturing inside some of the more alluring shops and stores (we stayed away from the bakery, I promise!).  “Dave’s Book Bar”, a store I remembered from two decades past, was still going strong, although in a newer, better location; a truly unique, quirky, interesting shop filled with varieties of items you’ve probably not seen before, as well as books.

Our short trip wasn’t just about shopping.  We enjoyed some average Japanese food at a local Sushi joint,  splurged for an outstanding German meal at The Black Forest restaurant,  and made Tim Horton’s runs for our breakfast meals.  On Sunday I had the privilege of attending worship at the Windermere Shared Ministry Church in Invermere (Anglican and United), where Rev. Laura Hermakin led an inspiring service among a relatively small crowd in a gorgeous new sanctuary  (ideas for a future relationship between St. Georges and Rundle?).   Her wonderful sermon was followed by the Sacrament of the Eucharist (she’s Anglican) or as we might call it – Communion.  How interesting it was to see the congregation offer both “common cup”, with real wine,  as well as the little cups, with real grape juice, to suit the preferences of the different traditions in that amalgamated church.

Our quick trip finished with a visit to the fascinating Fort Steele tourist attraction and then the drive back home.  Just after we passed through the Park gate on the way through Radium, we saw a large sign with flashing lights at the side of the road, which read “Bears on road.  Slow down now.”  I commented to Miho that the guys had forgotten to remove the sign from the weekend (assuming some anonymous “guys” had put up the sign – it could just as easily have been some anonymous “girls”).   But how wonderfully wrong I was.   Within a few minutes we witnessed, as if on display just for us, two bears strolling through the grass, munching of dandelions.   We remained at that site about 15 minutes then carefully headed back out on the highway.  Within another 2 minutes we saw another black bear, foraging along the ditch.  A few minutes later and a few kilometres down the road, we encountered a massive, burly, mean-looking black bear and chose not to take any pictures but to just watch in awe at his awesomeness!   It was the kind of bear no other bear would want to mess with.   Further on down the road we came across a Grizzly sow with two cubs.  Incredddddible!  Then by chance, thanks to Miho’s keen eye, two moose meandering out from under the brush looking for water.  All tolled, in one day, one afternoon,  we saw 5 black bears,  3 Grizzlies,  2 moose, dozens of deer,  and a partridge in a pear tree!   It was one of those perfect, amazing days words can’t describe, and you feel as if all the planets and stars and galaxies have aligned themselves especially for you, that such a day couldn’t possibly have occurred by coincidence or by chance.

Do we ever forget why we live here?   I suspect not.  From talking with you and hearing of your passion for nature’s wonders, for experiencing the outdoors; hearing your exuberance in recounting an animal sighting of your own,  it seems to me we share a sense of wonder, reverence, and gratitude for the natural blessings of this land that doesn’t diminish with time.  We don’t forget or don’t often forget.  When the mid-July traffic congestion along Banff Ave. gets us down, perhaps we look up at Cascade and remember.   When the umpteenth tourist has asked us where the tunnel is for Tunnel Mountain and our patience has worn thin, maybe we recall yesterday’s canoe trip to Canmore or recall our own naive enthusiasm when we first came to town, and our patience is restored.  Or early on an August  Monday morning when the Starbucks lineup is ridiculous, we imagine, while waiting for our coffee, the hike up Fairview soon to come the next weekend.   Do we forget why we live here?   I hope not.

The great Reformer John Calvin, founder of Presbyterianism, in his catechism listed as the very first “Q & A” the following:  “What is the chief end of human life?”    Answer:  “To glorify God and enjoy Him forever.”    To glorify God, to enjoy God forever.  Not only to glorify God but to enjoy Him.   Calvin was also the author of the mostly now rejected doctrine of “total human depravity”, thank God!  But here in the catechism something powerful is revealed.  To enjoy God, who has graced us in Jesus Christ, who has extended God’s grace to us – this is part and parcel of what it means to glorify God, and is the chief end of human life.   Are we enjoying God?  It’s allowed, it’s encouraged, perhaps it’s required of us?

The Bow Valley Chorus will be singing Saturday night at St. Paul’s, as has been mentioned.  Two songs to be sung are from Paul Winter’s Missa Gaia or Earth Mass.   It’s a celebration of both the earth and its Creator,  the wonders of the world in which we live and the One is the Author of all the wonder.

May we never forget why we live here, my friends, and may we never forget the One who is the Source of all things good.  As proclaimed so effectively in a song from “Godspell”, “all good gifts around us are sent from heaven above.  So thank the Lord, then thank the Lord, for all his Love.”

Rev. Dave Crawford is the minister at one of the Banff churches, Rundle Memorial United. Learn more about our current activities, our Thrift Shop, and how to get married in Banff.