Thank you

You don’t say #2, 19 September 2016–From medieval mystic Meister Eckhart: “If the only prayer you ever said was ‘Thank you,’ you would have said all the prayers.”

I can hardly fit in all the “Thank you” prayers of the week. I’ll try.

Thank you for houseguest Marcia Parker and visits with “old” friends

Marcia currently lives in Lansdale, Pa., and lived in Elkhart in the 1970s. On  Sunday we joined a few of the people from the former Open Circle Sunday School class at Prairie Street Mennonite Church for lunch at India House. In the afternoon our thank you extended to visits with Carrie Diener and then with Anne Yoder. Anne’s health keeps her homebound even as her keen mind spans the globe.

Birthday celebration

Thank you for the day we celebrated Marty’s birthday (September 12). We walked along the Lake Michigan Beach in New Buffalo,  had lunch at Brewster’s Café in New Buffalo, did a bit of shopping at Lighthouse Place Outlets in Michigan City, drove along part of the Indiana Dunes National Lakeshore where 1933 Century of Progress Homes from the Chicago World’s Fair are getting a facelift, and took a backroads dilly dally drive home.

Thank you for a woman who bucked convention

This thank you is for an informative tour of the home on Sylvan Lake, Rome City, Ind., where Gene Stratton-Porter (1863-1924) lived and wrote for five years. The gate posts are made of pudding stone found in Michigan. The oak tree was Stratton-Porter’s favorite, next to which she and her daughter are now buried. Stratton-Porter was a favorite author of Marty’s mother,  Ruth Dintaman Mishler.

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Thank you for evolving language

Duane Stoltzfus, Goshen College professor of communication, gave the first lecture in the fall Afternoon Sabbatical program. The word “sabbatical,” the committee notes, suggests time away from daily routines to refresh minds and spirits. Duane addressed, “Evolving With Language: When the Rules on Courtesy, Profanity and Other Usage Give Way.” Duane said we should not take ourselves or language too seriously. Have a sense of wonder, create whole new worlds to communicate our thoughts and feelings. Keep to the high ground of shifting language standards and expression. Thank you!

Thank you for people building a just and sustainable peace

The Kroc Institute for International Peace Studies at the University of Notre Dame sponsors an annual lectureship, The Dialogues on Nonviolence, Religion and Peace, endowed in 1999 by Anne Yoder and her family. We attended the lecture and lunch on Thursday. Sanam Naragid-Anderlini spoke on “Peacemaking in the Age of Extremism: Inertia or Innovations in Mediation and Diplomacy.” Naragid-Andelini is co-founder and executive director of the International Civil Society Network.

Dialogue, the lasting solutions that come when opposing parties talk to each other, is our best hope for peace. Economic and social factors go together in building peace. We do not yet have a culture of peace ingrained in us, yet peace-building alongside development shows a conceptual shift toward recognizing a society more at peace than in conflict. The vast majority of people in the world are moderate, nonviolent and kind, people given to “responsibility sharing” in creating a  better world for all. She made a strong and compelling case for women around the world to be leaders for peace.

I asked her what signs and actions would make for a better world by 2020. She said the end to all wars, citing Yemen and Syria. Just imagine the benefits of an all-society approach to disarming the democratization of violence we’ve seen in recent years. Sure, you take realities into account, but imagination is more important to achieving such a peace, she said. How I wish I’d have a copy of her speech; the spirit of it nonetheless infuses my thoughts (and actions) with hope and deep peace.

Thank you for fertile soil

On Friday I helped prepare and plant grass seed in  a section of soil around Jubilee House, home for Voluntary Service workers sponsored by Prairie Street and Fellowship of Hope. The space had been used for a good number of years as a demonstration garden. Such gardens are now being cared for in other parts of the city.

Thank you for two readings of the week

A Great Reckoning, the latest novel by Louise Penny and Common Witness: A Story of Ministry Partnership between French and North American Mennonites, 1953-2003, by David Yoder Neufeld (Institute of Mennonite Studies, Elkhart, Ind., 2016). Anne Yoder kindly lent me her copy.

The Mennonite church efforts in postwar France included church planting, sheltered workshops, African student ministry, and an Anabaptist research center. The flyleaf quotes Allen Koop who studied late twentieth-century mission in the country: “no other missionary project . . . fostered cooperation as close and as productive as that carried out by French and North American Mennonites. No other mission succeeded in combining evangelism and church planting with significant social work to the same degree.” Certainly there were hiccups and road bumps along the way but the story stands.

David Yoder Neufeld is a grandson of Anne Yoder. He Is PhD candidate in The Division  for Late Medieval and Reformation Studies at the University of Arizona.

Thank you for the food we eat, the thanks we can expend

Thank you for fine meals Marty planned and prepared this week, with left-overs marinating in the fridge. A lip-smacking thank you.

My prayers this week have been guided by the New Testament instruction of Timothy, “First of all, I urge that supplications, prayers, intercessions, and thanksgivings be made for everyone. . . .” (1 Timothy 2:1)

Thank you, Meister Eckhart and all other pray-ers.  -John





3 thoughts on “Thank you

  1. How nice it was to be a “guest of honor” in both your household and your blog this week, John! It is also a gift to have the written and pictorially enhanced description of the many stimulating events we enjoyed together. Thank you profoundly.


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