Leaving North Haven: The Further Adventures Of A Small-Town Pastor
Author: Michael L. Lindvall
Publisher: New York & Berkeley: The Crossroad Publishing Company, A Crossroad Carlisle Book, 2002
251 pages, ISBN 0-8245-2013-0, Paperback
Reviewed by Rev. Garth Wehrfritz-Hanson
In this sequel to Good News From North Haven, the Reverend Michael L. Lindvall continues to tell his heartwarming stories of many of the characters in his first novel.
The Reverend David Battles has now served Second Presbyterian Church for some ten years. He hadn’t expected to stay that long. He has learned much in those ten years. Yet, it is with a humble heart that he observes: “In these last ten years, I have come to know that I know less than I once did, but I do know this, just this: to see anything that matters, you must always bring two things to your looking—attention and love” (p. 23).
One character readers may remember is Minnie MacDowell, who had a fall and broke her elbow, was suffering from Parkinson’s and believed she was dying. On at least three occasions, she had gone through the ritual of having Reverend Battles ask her the question, “Are you prepared to die?” Then he was to read the twenty-third Psalm and pray the Lord’s Prayer. After this, she was to close her eyes turn her head to the window and pass away (p. 25). This ritual reminds me of a parishioner of mine who asked me every time I visited her: “Pastor, why am I still here? Why doesn’t the Lord take me home?”
The Reverend Battles, reflecting on if it was time to move on after ten years has this to say: “The town has come to be an unlikely home for us, but we can hardly stay forever. The hard truth is that in a year or two, maybe five on the outside, the church won’t be able to pay a minister a full-time salary.” (p. 38). This reality, of course, is an all-too-familiar one for many a mainline Protestant clergyperson serving in a rural and small-town parish.
In one of his adventures Reverend Battles thought he’d shot a ten-point buck deer. He had placed his gun triumphantly on the antlers, and one of the Wilcox brothers was about to take a picture when the buck suddenly came to life, got up, and ran away with the gun still in his antlers.
Then there is the young boy, James Corey, who is fascinated by a momma killdeer.
There is also the prophetic-like eccentric, Ivar Johanson, a bachelor, everyone is curious about his mysterious building project of Redi-Mix cement and chicken wire.
In the concluding chapter the Reverend Battles is celebrating All Saints’ Sunday, which was also his last Sunday at Second Presbyterian. Something surprises them and gets them laughing on that solemn day.
Those who love the culture and tales of small-towns and their churches will enjoy this novel. Clergy and laity alike will laugh, cry, and be edified by these tales of God’s loving grace.