Tuesday, September 24, 2013

Greet One Another

Greet One Another
Some borrowed books have a background. I can’t resist sharing this one with you.

Quaker Meeting House, Appleton, Maine   
     “Greet one another with a holy kiss.” In all the places I have lived, never have I been a more doted-upon-recipient of "greet one another" than while attending a little country church in Appleton, Maine. We were the newcomers – the outsiders. Our family had no kinfolk in the county - or the state for that matter. Mrs. M’s grinning greeting on a Sunday morning, her kiss and squeeze of the hand, kept me from sinking into a Slough-of-Despond during the dark winter months. The sincere happy-to-see-you countenance of Mrs. M. (a little old lady with divine energy) and her tall, gentlemanly husband Mr. M., was a constancy. I could rely upon it. So could our entire family.
     I haven’t ceased to wonder about the affectionate nature of Mrs. M.
     Love has different modes of expression. And this was one mode that I was given a beautiful example of. I am still in need of making, “Who can I bless today - brightly?” a consistent part of my own Christian character – especially in the midst of life’s struggles and cares.      

     The white wooden church in the photograph is a Quaker Meeting House preserved by the historical society of which Mr. and Mrs. M. were members. It is similar but many times larger than the quaint but rickety church (also built around 1840) our family worshiped in, down the road.

     The Meeting House pictured here had a congregation that sadly dwindled and disappeared long ago. Wired for electricity at one point, it has no plumbing, no “heat and air,” no parking. 

     Yet, the church has something going for it: a quiet, peaceful, sanctuary where all is calm. A member of the historical society (guess who?) handed Sophia the key. The acoustics in the sanctuary make it a good place for voice practice. Sophia kept the key in a safe place – even after our family left Maine for Pennsylvania in 2005, dreaming to return one day with a husband she was praying for, whoever he might be.

     You can see by this photograph that she did return - for a brief visit last year. Her husband, Andrew is holding the camera.

A grandson gluing a coat of many colors
     Of the congregation of country-folk we joined, the children outnumbered the adults three-to-one. Sunday school was held for collective ages. The older children joined the adult Sunday school, family-style, in the sanctuary.
     Mrs. M. was our son’s Sunday school teacher, who turned 75 when we lived there. She had the feminine grace and inner strength of characters portrayed by actress Greer Garson in the old movies. Her style of dress remained what it was in the days of her young womanhood, the 1940s. She must have felt perfectly at home in a blouse and wool tweed skirt, considering the fashion irreplaceable. It suited her petite figure well.

Haying a field in Maine
"It took us 12 days to hay that field when I was a boy. Now it takes 2 hours," Mr. M. said.

     The children loved and respected Mrs. M. Her husband confided in me one morning that his wife had taught Sunday school in that church since they were newly wed. This amounted to about fifty years. Mr. M. (ten years her senior, a WWII merchant marine) attended the church since he was carried through its doors as an infant in the early 20th century. I liked hearing his reminiscence. As a young man he dug holes for the telephone poles that brought electricity to the farm-folk in the 1930s. Around that time, he helped build the new wooden pews we were sitting in, all eight rows of them.

Rockland Harbor

     Mr. and Mrs. M. had no children or grandchildren who joined them in worship inside the Appleton church. Their children and grandchildren lived away. But this couple, set on encouraging, applauded every children’s recital with the interest of proud grandparents, distributed hugs at every mid-summer baptism (at Hobbs pond), attended every fellowship supper, every mid-winter sing-song and the Francis Schaeffer video series at our house.

wild flowers on the Maine coast

inside a Quaker Meeting House - 19th century

     Each December Mr. and Mrs. M. opened the door of their Victorian farmhouse to the congregation for a Christmas party.

     Each June, their backyard was the happy scene of the Sunday school picnic. I remember sitting in the shade of their overgrown lilac bush, breathing in its sweet fragrance, basking in rare hospitality.

     Few Mainers opened their homes but Mr. and Mrs. M. made us feel like family.  

     One cold Sunday in late autumn, while hanging up heavy coats, wet with melting snow, Mrs. M. told Dean about a book she had read to eager listeners. In fact, so eager were the listeners, she read the book from year to year where she had been a teacher’s helper at the village school. Remarkably, she had remembered hearing about the Boy Scout incident in the story when it occurred in 1939. It became national news. Some years later she heard the author, Donn Fendler speak and bought an autographed copy of his book Lost on a Mountain Maine.

     Mrs. M. had the foresight to see Lost on a Mountain in Maine to be the kind of book a dad would enjoy reading to his son. She guessed Dean would be interested. And he was. Therefore, the following Sunday she loaned him her copy.

     Dean read it aloud to Nigel. Mrs. M. was correct. Both father and son did enjoy this short book with a big story.

Nigel on the top of Mt. Battie Camden, Maine in 2000

     Eventually Dean ordered a copy of our own. When the recent edition arrived he noticed that some of the Christian content had been edited – what small mention there was of supplication and thanksgiving to God. Isn’t it disturbing that the editors who work for secular publishers consider Christianity a blot on society and an offense to the general public – especially when there have been people like Mr. and Mrs. M. in the world to give it a good name? 

     To read Dean’s dad-tested review, Lost on a Mountain in Maine click title.

     Except for the snapshot of Nigel all the photographs are from Sophia’s camera. Thank-you, Sophia.

Rockland, Maine at sunset

Comments are welcome,

Karen Andreola 


  1. You have inspired me to be a "middle aged woman of divine energy" to those around me. Thank you for this example and for being an example yourself even if just through the books and your blog.

  2. Dear Karen,

    You are such a heart-warming encourager. Thank you for these lovely reminiscences. I also appreciate the peek into Appleton.

    Moving away from dear ones we worship with is always hard. Won't heaven be wonderful. I often wonder how it will be...


  3. I enjoyed reading this very much. What a difference those rare hospitable souls make in the lives of others.

    My husband and I watched the Francis Schaeffer video series as a young couple (we lived in a large city and we checked out the whole set from the library), and it was so good. I'd like to watch it again someday, especially as our children get older (sharing it with them).

  4. Thank you for the lovely story and peaceful pictures. Wouldn't we all like to have a Mrs. M in our own lives! If we don't, perhaps we could endeavor to be like her.

    Thanks for being an encouragement to us all!

    God bless,

  5. What a lovely story of your friends in Maine. I enjoy hearing stories of Godly older people.

    I'm glad that Sophia was able to visit again.

  6. Angels like that make our love for Christ even greater! Thank you Karen for sharing... Maine is our 'hopefully' retirement spot :-D m.

  7. What a delightful story, that of Mr. and Mrs. M! Perhaps Mrs. M is one of the modern day "heroes" about which you wrote in the purple book? She seems so to me...full of warmth and encouragement and inspiration! Oh that we all could be like your friend!

  8. Karen- you ARE Mrs. M to so many of us through your blog!

  9. I'm honored. Thank you.

    Example makes the best sermon.
    Mrs. M came to my mind this morning when I woke up grumpy. Admonition wore a smile.

    I do miss my friends in Maine.

    Karen A.

  10. Karen,

    Thank you so much for sharing about Mrs. M. What a beautiful example. I long to be Mrs. M!

    Terrific encouragement for me today, Friend!


  11. Mrs. M sounds like Emma in Blackberry Inn.

  12. How very kind of the Lord to bless you and yours with such a wonderful good example as those you've shared with us today, Karen. You are that very encourager to us, don't you know?!

    Thank you, as always, for your uplifting words. :)

  13. I am always looking for "books for boys", although my son is all grown up I now have two grandsons who love books.

  14. Dear Karen, How I enjoyed this blog post, and also recently a visit with Mrs. M in her sweet welcoming home! She smothered me kisses and we had an all too short chat before I had to leave. So positive and drawing so deeply from the well of living water - she is one to emulate. All the stories, memories and sweet fellowship - thank you for sharing.
    Missing you. C

  15. Thank you so much for sharing this story...I for one would have loved to have known Mr.and Mrs. M. , although I have known some elders through my years that would fit a close match to them :) Sounds like they were a sure blessing to your family...I wish there were more Mr. and Mrs. M's left in the USA..and little country churches as well. So many big mega churches these days...where hardly anyone knows one another and sometimes you are not even missed if you don't happen to show up on a Sunday...but, alas there are little towns such as mine...with five little churches of its own...wouldn't it be wonderful if we could all worship together? Someday...someday :)

  16. Your blog has a calming influence on me. I like to return to it especially on stressful days or right after I have been through the ringer with my children. Thank you for the atmosphere you created here.

  17. Your photos are dreamy.
    And your words are as you say...

    "ministering to me"

    heavy sigh.

    What a fine example these folks at the little church have set for the body of Christ.

    I heard a wonderful message yesterday on how God doesn't save us to sit...he saves us to serve.

    The picture you've painted here with the collections of great photographs and noble words portrays just this.

    A Community of SERVE-ice.

    I'm taking notes and am looking into the Schaeffer videos. A good idea.

    Your book recommendations are always helpful. We're almost done with My Father's Dragon. So fun:) and preparing to crack open the pages of Elmer and the Dragon.

    Keep sharing all these ideas...

    Take Care~

  18. Dear Karen,
    I still cannot walk by your former, old, charming house on Masonic Street (with its very faded blue shingles) without thinking of you gliding to the library, light as a ballerina, carrying a pile of living books.
    Thank you for sharing pictures of days gone by, and of your beautiful grandsons!
    My youngest children went swimming in Port Clyde yesterday. We found hermit crabs. The trees are all aflame.
    With love and prayers,

  19. I'm curious what copyright date of the book Lost on a Mountain in Maine you would recommend getting? There are several copyright dates... Thanks for the suggestion!

  20. Oh, I'm glad you shared this with me. I would have read it eventually, but I'm so glad you brought me to it quicker. It does give meaning to the little egg. Hugs to you dearie! Laura