Last week was a week in which ordinary Ontarians showed their mettle; a week in which I was so proud of the grace and greatness that came to the surface under great pressure. That's why I had to share the words I heard from Provincial Constables Dell Mercey and Terri Patterson, and Mike Thompson over the past few days.
On Friday, March 12th, Paul and I drove into the heart of small town Ontario--a patchwork of rural farming communities--plain and simple towns; nothing fancy.
It was early in the morning when we set out; a gray, misty morning at first, with a damp cold that seeped into our bones. We turned up the heat in the car and hunched our shoulders against the chill outside.
We passed through Harriston, where a sign proclaimed, "$3,300 raised for Haiti." And that's nothing unusual; these communities are full of salt of the earth, good people.
Outside of Shelburne, through the fog rose mile after mile of tall, three blade windmills; turning lazily in synchonization; looking like aliens that had landed overnight.
Two and a half hours of driving and we were in Wingham, population approximately 3,000.
A piece of Wikipedia trivia notes about Wingham that:
The entire town is served by the single postal code of 'N0G 2W0'; a self-effacing mnemonic for the code reads as No 0ne Goes 2 (to) Wingham, 0ntario.
Well, on Friday, about 8,000 people went to Wingham.
By 10.30 a.m. we were seated beside Pete and Sue in the Wingham arena, ready for the 1.00 p.m. funeral. If we had been chilled before, a deeper chill settled in over the next four or so hours, sitting on top of an ice rink, but it was a small thing in comparison to the honour it was just to be there.
The Thompson family mingled with those waiting, reaching out with hugs and, incredibly, smiles, of welcome. They had a strength and peace that could only have come from God.
We watched a sea of officers in blue and gold fill the rows across the aisle, and our eyes filled with tears as we watched a team of boys in blue Stainton Hardware hockey sweaters file in and take their seats, boys Vu coached and who his boys play with.
In the corner of the arena a group of boys who looked to be teenagers stood in a circle, holding hands and praying. I had seen them on the platform earlier, practicing;the Wingham Pentecostal Band; comprised of three guitarists, a keyboard player and a drummer. Ordinary teens who the previous Sunday had led worship in church, never imagining that before the next Sunday they would be thrust into the public eye and leading thousands of people in song.
Pastor Timothy Bjorkman, an ordinary, relatively small town, pastor, who would deliver a gospel message to thousands, with the prayers of his church and others behind him.
Both the Wingham Pentecostal Band and Pastor Bjorkman, shone.
Pastor Bjorkman preached John 3:16 and of making good choices:
Selflessness over selfishness; mercy over judgement; life over death. And he spoke of Vu's final act of selflessness on the day he died.
Heather Pham and her boys, showed outstanding courage, grace and dignity. Ordinary people--but cut from finest cloth.
This past Sunday at church, we sang an old hymn. The last verse seemed so appropriate to share here.
O Cross that liftest up my head,
I dare not ask to fly from thee;
I lay in dust life’s glory dead,
and from the ground there blossoms red
life that shall endless be.
From the hymn by George Matheson--1882--Oh Love That Will Not Let Me Go
In yesterday's comments a close friend of Heather Pham's family sent this link
OPP Constable Vu Pham Funeral