“Morning has broken,” and the bells of Holy Trinity welcome all into the church’s quiet, spiritual presence. Flowers and greenery, lovingly arranged by the altar guild, highlight the sanctuary, nave and narthex. With each liturgical season, the church becomes a hive of activity as members of the Guild gather with their secateurs and imaginations to fill the window boxes in the nave and transform the narthex with a wide variety of gifts from their gardens. Easter is a particularly special time as birds nesting with their eager chicks just outside the open windows join the congregation in songs of praise and thanksgiving. Surrounded with beauty, love and joy, we are fully connected with nature, and “all things bright and beautiful.”
Holy Trinity in North Saanich is a peaceful blend of sacred ground for worship, contemplation and remembrance. Every approach to the church invites a stroll through nature, with large, mature trees, both deciduous and coniferous; flowering and evergreen bushes; and crocuses and daffodils in the springtime. The cemetery part of the church property has seen improvements in drainage and irrigation, allowing for the introduction of more varied trees in recent years.
To enhance the feeling of an oasis of tranquility, evergreens define the perimeter along the southern boundary, and provide screening along the fence line that separates the cemetery from the nearest road. There are park benches at appropriate spots around the perimeter, which are frequently used by those who just want to sit a while in the shade and fondly remember lives shared.
Throughout the fair weather of spring, summer and fall, parishioners often linger on the pathways through the cemetery when on their way to, or departing from morning services. Even on those days when there are no services, the cemetery is frequently visited by parishioners and others from the wider community. The church and its cemetery, now more than 135 years old, form a centrepiece of the annual North Saanich Flavour Trail, when a few members of the parish don period costumes and explain the unique contribution of this heritage church, the church at the heart of the community, to the traditions and evolving culture of the area.
If that grand old Garry oak in the centre of the cemetery could speak, what tales of spiritual restitution might it tell?
BY JIM KINGHAM AND JUDY GERRETT