When John Lennon wrote Strawberry Fields Forever he was inspired by the long days as a young boy when he played in the trees with his friends in the gardens outside a Salvation Army orphanage in Liverpool England. The gate pictured above is the gate to the entrance of that orphanage.
All around the world were the Nests, the fond names of these children's homes.
Near the corner of Broadview and Danforth in Toronto was one of the last standing true orphanages run by the Salvation Army. As tales of scandals and abuse increased the Salvation Army and their care of children remains unscathed.
I was fortunate to be there for part of my childhood around seven years old. I share wonderful memories.
A beacon of light in the middle of the darkness before and the darkness after in my life.
In the night lying in bed I would often sense one of the women caring for us, checking on me, turning me over gently as they believed lying on one side too long was bad for us children. They would turn us over and softly pray over us. I would pretend to be asleep, feeling such comfort.
Watching the Santa Clause Parade from the birds eye view of the Eaton's Centre is another memory.
Picnics at Centre Island, and visiting the CNE were exciting days.
We were taken to the Shriner's Circus. We all hung on to ropes to ensure we did not stray from the group.
Christmas at the mansion and the gift of a Barbara Ann Scott doll gave a little girl joy.
The old mansion was torn down in 1976. It was a beautiful estate surrounded by huge chestnut trees. All that remains today is the old Coach House.
However the memories remain.
I venture to believe that the seed of my faith that was buried in rocky dark soil was planted in that Orphanage.
In all the cynicism in a world that swirled down in to darkness the memories of that place remained in my heart.
God bless the Salvation Army who brought some joy in to the hearts of children who for a time were outside the gate.
I wish that the recipe for the care of these children could be put in a bottle.
I think the recipe was found in one word.