Farnham & St. John's
The Weekly Message
“What I Did This Summer”
Remember going back to school in the fall and an early composition assignment? That homework assignment when we had to write about “What I did on my Summer Vacation.” Well, that’s the Epistle Message theme for our September Epistle Messages. Each week we’ll feature some of your Summertime stories. If you’d like to share, let me know. You don’t have to write it out, maybe just some “quotes” as I am happy to interview you and then weave your thoughts/words/reflections into the Message. Be thinking about your summer and check out what pictures you took, because the highlight of Epistle Messages seems to be the visuals. Remember, a picture is worth a thousand words.
Here goes with the first Message on this theme as I reflect on my 2019 summer.
“Rocks & Hills”
What a summer! New Mexico twice, Washington State (Seattle), Alaska and Canada and finally the Blue Ridge mountains outside of Boone, N. C. For the first time since I was ordained, this year I will have taken my full four weeks of vacation. Please congratulate me on this because it makes me a better friend, pastor and companion of this journey we take together on this path called “Life.” Reflecting on the landscapes of my time away I realized that they all involved MOUNTAINS. I didn’t plan this rocks and hills vacation theme, that’s just how the summer’s design fell into place.
River landscapes have always flowed through my life. But I was reminded of all the “I lift my eyes to the hills” times I also spent as a child and young adult: summer camp or family vacation times in the Blue Ridge, weekends at UVA and that first glimpse of the mountains heading west on I-64 towards C’ville, hiking and camping as a young (20’s and 30’s) adult with family and friends. Then the last major trip Buff and I took: two weeks traveling through the mesas of the Southwest, the Grand Canyon, Monument Valley and up into Wyoming and the snow- capped Cascades. What amazing memories that are part of me forever!

As much as I love the river and ocean, there’s something about mountains that stirs a special excitement and awe in me. They are majestic, as are the towering cliff faces or forested primal landscapes they offer outlined against the sky, defining close or far off horizons. And unlike the river and ocean, they don’t move around randomly or noticeably over the tiny amount of time you and I will inhabit this earth in the vastness of cosmological time.

In a way I have always felt very “safe” in mountain landscapes – like the familiar psalm 121 seems to imply. Like God, the mountains neither slumber nor sleep; they offer themselves as an immovable, protective, embracing, solid presence. They are molded, carved, shaped by the weather in their environment (like us metaphorically), but they are sustained by the bedrock upon which they rest. Built upon or carved out of rock, they are deeply grounded. Though susceptible to underground cataclysmic shifts and external weather they appear to withstand the primal elements of time with amazing grace and presence. Of all the building materials available to us, isn’t rock the most enduring? I think of Christ: “Upon this rock, I will build . . . .” I think of the people in my life that have been “a rock” to me (also those that haven’t) and how my life has been structured and built most solidly by their strength and nurturing presence, and by my awareness of God’s Presence reaching out to me within all of Creation.
But back to summer 2019. Mt. Rainier framed by the plane’s window as I flew into Seattle. Glacier Bay in Alaska where rugged Alaska’s mountain landscape is home to eagles, mountain goats, bears while whales surface in the water’s chalice shaped bowl the mountains offer. The Sandia mountain range that rings Albuquerque’s horizon. The massive mountain boulders that live in the rushing water of the Blue Ridge mountain landscape of western N.C. at the Valle Crucis retreat center where my summer ended. 
How imprinted on my mind, heart and soul are the mountain ranges thousands of feet below me as I flew across the U. S. towards New Mexico early in the summer. My heart-scape holds the rocky Alaskan landscape that embraced the fijords on which a little seaplane landed where I was rocked gently in a primal rhythm as I stood on a fragile pontoon and drank deeply of the pristine mountain air. All my senses hold a forever
memory of a steep trail winding up the side of a N.C. mountain as my daughter and I followed the sound of rushing water to stand beside a mountain stream cascading over boulders, its spring fed waters seeking their final destination into a waiting ocean, but nourishing and sustaining growth on every stream bank in its path.

As I left my final summer mountain top experience a week ago with early morning misty cloud-clothed mountains famed in my rear-view mirror and headed back to the Northern Neck I thought about the year ahead waiting for me. And I prayed the hope that, like that mountain stream that spills itself along its path towards coastal rivers, the Bay and ultimately the ocean, I, too, may be used by God to refresh and nurture what lies waiting in my path.

By God’s amazing grace may it be so

Mount Rainier photograph by Torre Hinnant
All other photographs in this article by Torrence Harman, including background stone wall.
Psalm of the week
1 I lift up my eyes to the hills—
   from where will my help come?

2 My help comes from the Lord,
   who made heaven and earth.

3 He will not let your foot be moved;
   he who keeps you will not slumber.

4 He who keeps us
   will neither slumber nor sleep.
5 The Lord is your keeper;   the Lord is your shade at your right hand.

6 The sun shall not strike you by day,
   nor the moon by night.

7 The Lord will keep you from all evil;
   he will keep your life.

8 The Lord will keep
   your going out and your coming in
   from this time on and forevermore.
Recently at Farnham & St. John's
Susan Crowley photo
Anne Neuman photo
On Sunday August 25th Farnham & St. John's participated in the 400th commemoration of the first enslaved Africans arriving at Jamestown by joining Presiding Bishop Michael Curry and the National Park Service's "Ring Bells for Remembrance" ceremony.
and on Sunday, September 1st, Gretchen Weiler stole the show as her brother, Theodore, was baptized at St. John's.
Anne Neuman photos
Gretchen Heltzel at brother Theodore's baptism
Crab Basket Raffle
The crab basket was won by Paul Atkins, who saw a poster for the raffle at Belfield Physical Therapy.
Mr. Atkins is having PT for his heart; he had a heart attack Memorial Day weekend and had to be resuscitated twice before he got to the hospital. He also recently narrowly avoided stepping on a copperhead one night in July. His luck continued in a minor way when he won the bushel of crabs, which he plans on having when visitors come from Oregon later this month. Congratulations, Paul! staff photo
Click here to see the September

Torrence's column, "Faith Matters"
is on page 19 this month.
In the Church
Sunday Sept. 8 th
Morning Prayer
and National Grandparents' Day

Joint Congregation service
10:00 a.m. at Farnham

no service at St. John's
Sunday Sept. 15 th
Holy Eucharist &
Bishop's Visitation

Joint Congregation service

10:00 a.m. at Farnham

no service at St. John's
Sunday Sept. 22 nd
Holy Eucharist &
beginning of Sunday School

Joint Congregational service

10:00 a.m. at St. John's

no service at Farnham
Sunday Sept. 29 th
Morning Prayer

Joint Congregational service

10:00 a.m. at St. John's

no service at Farnham
In the Parish Hall

Come Worship With Us

Sunday Service this week

10:00 a.m. St. John's Church
Warsaw, VA
Farnham Church
St. John's Church