From within this peaceful image, mixed messages emerge; there’s a sense of solitude and isolation, even as the presence of the church connotes community.

The Isle au Haut church is dwarfed and surrounded by the encroaching forest, and, if you look carefully, it is about to be overtaken by the looming fog bank, just visible but closing fast. The church, and perhaps all it represents, seems almost insignificant, like flotsam, floating along on the swell of a wave, pushed by ever-changing winds and tides. Metaphor abounds.

The practical Yankees who built churches along New England’s coast often put a cod atop the weathervane on the steeple. That fish was an elemental staple that literally sustained lives here for centuries.

In cod we trust. Faith meets pragmatism. Not a bad combination.

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Meredith Ralston