All Saints' History brought to life ..

As many of you know Cliff Caprani has been looking into the life of Sidney Rich.  Sidney is memorialized with a plaque on the wall of the Chapel.  He was very young when he died and though I am intellectually aware of the impact the war had on our community, this story has brought it all home to be a much more personal way.  Maybe it's because my son is around the same age as Sidney was when he signed up to fight, but I'm suddenly painfully conscious of the fact that people who grew up in this Church left to fight and never returned, the tears shed here by the Church family and the solace sought by the grieving families.  Elizabeth recently told me that on September 11 2001, that terrible attack on the two towers, our All Saints welcomed a continual flow of people throughout the day looking for comfort and constancy on what we all knew to be a moment that would change the world.

So now ... over to Cliff ...

"One of the most important books that I read, in recent years, is The Art of Pilgrimage by Phil Cousineau. Mr. Cousineau’s take on pilgrimage is much wider than the traditional “spiritual” definition. He broadens it to encompass what he calls sacred travel. And in his eyes, almost all travel can be sacred, if undertaken mindfully.

He gives the example of a kid who’s mad about baseball being brought to the Hall of Fame in Cooperstown by his dad: that’s Pilgrimage, in Cousineau’s opinion.

Or the family member who journeys to the ancestral house, to explore her family’s history. If done with purpose & respect, that’s Pilgrimage.

Sidney Rich on his beloved motorcycle.

Sidney Rich on his beloved motorcycle.

A number of you know that I am making a film about Sidney Rich, a young man born and raised in Ladner who is memorialized on a plaque in our chapel. I plan to retrace his journey from Ladner to Ypres. I consider it a pilgrimage - and an extraordinary opportunity.

I find it compelling to spend time in the places that he spent time. Not exactly walking a mile in his shoes, but being in the same physical location.

I took the first step when Nicky & I went to Victoria for the day.  We spent the day filming in the places where Sidney had spent time a century ago.

Sidney leaves for school.  Neither he nor his sister look too happy about it.

Sidney leaves for school.  Neither he nor his sister look too happy about it.

One of the real pleasures of the project has been doing the research. The internet really is an amazing resource. I discovered that Sidney went to a well-regarded boarding school on Vancouver island - University School in Victoria. I managed to find where he worked: Gore & McGregor in Victoria. Imagine my delight to find the building is still standing ! And in use. Wow.

We pulled up outside 1812 Langley Street and tried the front door. It opened, and led to an elegant, marble-faced stairwell, & up to a landing on the mezzanine - the same stairs that Sidney would have trodden.

We filmed a couple of scenes, hoping all the while that we would not be discovered and sent packing.

From there, we went to St. Michael’s University School.  Their chapel is where the Honour Roll is located. It was here we filmed what may turn out to be the last scene in the movie: me delivering my final thoughts in front of this most poignant memorial. The plaque contains the names of sixty one pupils and masters who died during the Great War. It makes for sobering reading.

I am really looking forward to traveling to Europe in June. Even at this early stage of the project, I feel that I am better acquainted with Sidney than when I started.

Recently, Nicky & I had breakfast with some Christian friends of ours. We were talking about the film & my occasional doubts about the undertaking. It is, after all, the most expensive film that I have ever tried to make. My friends offered an insight that had not occurred to me before: Sidney wants his story to be told.

Sidney as a Cadet - (far left front row).

Sidney as a Cadet - (far left front row).

Could I ask for a more sacred mandate than that?"

Last week Elizabeth's sermon at Midweek Eucharist referred to Jesus repeatedly asking Peter "do you love me?" and wondering if Jesus' very humanity led him to keep asking that question?  Wanting, as surely as Sidney and all the rest of us do, to be remembered

Flower Pearson