Summer Stage #5, Saturday 25 June 2016–Endings, beginnings, interludes, uncertainties–no one word captures the drama of change we see all around. Something better lies just around the corner, we say, if only we’d find that corner. Thankfully we do have heartening precedents and prospects. It’s just the present that stumps us.
One “sure thing” precedent for me growing up on a farm in southwestern Ontario, Canada, was summer holidays when school let out the last Friday in June. There’d be work on the farm, everything from hoeing thistles in the fence rows, helping with harvest, weeding the garden, picking strawberries and tomatoes, and in late summer cutting wood on a circle saw. Each summer we’d spend a day at a beach on Lake Huron–and of course visit extended family for homemade ice cream and app-free conversation.
A major change of routine came at the end of Grade 8. Into what big pond would we jump? For me that jump meant going to high school, not yet a common thing back in the day. What helped me was that I had two uncles who had continued their education, my parents were supportive, and friends would later encourage me to continue on to college. I wasn’t cut out to be a farmer or drive a delivery truck for a wholesale grocer like I did for a year. Working life would take me in another direction, that of writer-editor for various not-for-profit church and other agencies. I value it all, from slinging bales of hay to dealing with dangling participles.
I have my maternal grandfather, Christian K. Bender, to thank for valuing educational pursuits. His Grade school teacher, Frank W. Case, tutored him in high school subjects before he left primary school. My eldest brother, Sandy, said, “Grandad had the equivalent of Grade 10. He wanted to continue but life happened. Losing his father and two brothers to an early death meant he had extra responsibilities.” Thanks for the confirmation, Sandy.
Granddad dreamed of becoming a barrister or lawyer, one of his childhood friends told me years ago. However, in an Amish-Mennonite community, and needing to support his single-parent mother on the farm, Granddad’s dream could not be realized. Chris, nevertheless, read widely, served as secretary-treasurer of the Cassel Cheese and Butter Company, taught Sunday school, was a progressive light in the Amish-Mennonite Conference of Ontario, and was the go-to person when people needed an important letter or brief written–or an advance on the milk cheque.
Frank W, Case, who was born in Woodstock, Ont., left Canada to teach at a business school in Duluth, Minnesota and in 1905 helped organize the Indiana Business College in Indianapolis, Indiana where he was vice president and manager.
I’d have half a million questions to ask Granddad Chris and Grandmother Katie, as I would my parents and aunts and uncles. Nevertheless, they’ve answered more questions than that through their strong, faithful, supportive lives, persevering even though severe hardships, adversity, and illness. God be praised!
The Elkhart River Queen floats again
After three years of being out of service, the refurbished Elkhart River Queen is back. Its first voyage since major repair and restoration will be July 3.
The sunrise, the UK referendum and an eagles flight
I’m looking back at a sunrise over the St Joe this week, realizing I’ve said almost nothing about the UK’s 23 June referendum vote that narrowly supports (51.9% to 48.1%) an exit from the European Union. We’ve much more to see and hear on that matter, so I’ll just say we’ve much more to see and hear on that matter, though I wish the matter had gone the other way. There, I’ve said what I see and hear and there’s more to see and hear before the matter is settled, like who said a simple majority was the best way to settle such a critical matter?
One thing the world needs at the moment is a moratorium on the word, “great,” and, for good measure, let’s throw in the expression, “No problem.” Wouldn’t that be sweet? Two problems solved by silence. I’m reminded of Jesus’ reassuring words in Matthew 6:25-34: “Therefore I tell you, do not worry about your life. . . . Look at the birds of the air. . . . Consider the lilies of the field. . . .But strive first for the kingdom of God. . . . Today’s trouble is enough for today.”
A healthy dose of certainty, along with the happy challenge of uncertainty for any trouble today, to you. –John