Life is full of blessings. Some are big, wide umbrellas of abundance that we are consciously thankful for each day. Others we count as small, minute drops of joy that we sometimes fail to name or acknowledge. The health and happiness of our family and friends - big blessing. Adding real cream to a cup of tea - little blessing. Spending your life with the love of your life - big blessing. A warm sweater on a cold evening - little blessing. Blessings are, of course, relative concepts based on our personalities and life circumstances. That creamy cup of tea might not be your cup of tea! There has been one blessing, though, that has made my list, which I carry around in my wallet on a yellow sticky note. In these last few days, it has become more prominent than ever. Being reared to the Gut in Branch - big blessing. Through the years when asked where I’m from, I proudly share that I’m from downtown Branch, the hub of industry and culture and community life. I think John (Foster) was the first to recognize the Gut for its downtown vibe. (Side note: As I write these words on a plane on our way home listening to the crowd behind me loudly talk about navigating Montreal during the morning commute, I want to say “Listen honey, there are quiet places still left on Earth. Let me tell you where we’re from.” Something tells me they wouldn’t appreciate the nudge.) The magnitude of this blessing has been amplified in recent days with the significant loss of two anchors of Branch, Mrs Annie English and Cyrilly. Not only has our community of 230 lost two residents in as many days but we have lost both of these great people from our seaside circle where both had lived for decades upon decades. They were our resident historians. While the rest of us have emigrated, some to town, others to the mainland and the States and some of us over to the Cove, these two remained. Can you even imagine the changes they were both witness to as skiffs became 45 footers, as the plant closed and the hall opened, as friends and family moved or passed away. Mrs. Annie was the guardian of the boundaries of the Gut. It always seemed that our little haven began on top of the Gutpath and ended at Mrs Annie’s. Her presence represented in some way the collective wisdom of our own little piece of Branch held safely and proudly in her spirited self. And then there was Cyrilly, our neighbour and friend for many years. The fact that Cyrilly remained in Mrs. Bell’s and Mr. Cyril’s house was a comfort. As I look across the Cove each night, my eye is inevitably drawn to the quiet darkness of the Gut. The lights that are scattered around the place are landmarks at night, marking each lane and nook. Except down to the Gut. Cyrilly remained in that big green house - thoughtful, faithful, rooted. Their loss will be felt deeply not only by their families but by the Gut itself, by the sea, the waves that knew their names, by the Gutpath, the little incline of a road that carried them home one last time this week, by the old graveyard, our centre, by the protective harbour which gave our little enclave it’s name. Mrs. Annie and Cyrilly called the Gut home for most of their lives, right until the day God called them. Just take a moment to reflect on that sense of place; to live the last minutes and hours of your life in the place that you call home. There is great honour in that. Undoubtedly, there is a great reunion in heaven this week as all the crowd from the Gut welcomed two more friends. I imagine them all sitting on the Height, Mrs. Bell gently smiling, Poppy making them all laugh, Mrs. Annie telling a few tales and Cyrilly smiling, adding his own stories. They have arrived Home once more.