Winter’s face holds mystery, meriment, and woe

Warmth. Beauty. Utility. Talent. Memories. This is a section of the Featured Image, a quilt made by Marie Troyer from our church. Quiltstitcher extraordinaire, she is.

Cornwall Cogitation #11 Saturday 9 December 2017   The first snow on Thursday sent notice that we’re facing honest winter in northern regions.

First dusting of snow on Thursday. In the spirit of Roger Miller’s quote, “Some people walk in the rain, others just get wet,” I say, despite the cold, with proper preparations, I want to shiver with the best of them.”

Late week snows across a wide swath of the US caused woes for cities, travelers, and probably animals. Good time to be a child–or like a child.

On Friday we traveled to  Richmond, Indiana for the final public poetry event (at the Levi and Catharine Coffin State Historic Site in nearby Fountain City) arranged by Indiana poet laureate Shari Wagner. Her two-year-term concludes at the end of the year.

Among Albert Camus’s comments on the seasons is this note of encouragement for a blizzardy day: “In the depth of winter I finally learned that there was in me an invincible summer.”

The sentiment applies to the invincible spirit that guided people like Levi and Catharine Coffin. They moved to Fountain City to give their lives to helping slaves reach Canada where freedom was guaranteed. An estimated 2000 freedom seekers stopped at the Coffin House en route to Canada.

Let pictures tell the story

To Pablo Picasso’s statement, “Painting is just another way of keeping a diary,” I offer this paraphrase: Photography is just another way of keeping one guessing about the who, what, where, when, why and how of the recorded scene–if left uncaptioned.

So, I’m offering you a set of photos, most with captions, intended to highlight some of the stories that unfolded this week.

Awake to the World: A Poetry Reading

Poets who took part in the reading at the Coffin House Interpretive Center in Fountain City were Angela Jackson Brown, Shari Wagner, J.K Kato, Jessica D. Thompson, and Linda Neal Reising. Inspiring, fun, community-building. The setting, occasion, and poetry made for a special one-of-a-kind experience. Thank you Shari and all others involved.
Joanna Hahn, sit manager, led a tour of the Coffin house, where the family lived until they moved to Cincinnati in1847. Check out the State Historic Site story at

The excellent Interpretive center opened on December 9, 2016. It’s on track to welcome 12,000 visitors by yearend..

For more information on Indiana poets, see

Chicago cheer

We spent Tuesday and Wednesday in Chicago, kind of an annual pilgrimage.

Chicago is a December tradition for us, reaching back into the previous century. It’s a shout out to a season of wonder.
Jan Lauver, Marty, and Laura Kraybill pose in the chill of the out-of-doors at Christkindlmarket. Laura is wrapping up her MDiv studies at Garrett Theological Seminary and joined us for a noon concert and lunch
Dame Myra Hess Memorial Concert at the Chicago Cultural Center.
We were guests of Oscar Crawford for our two days in Chicago. Here we’ve been transported to musical heavens in a cello and piano program in the Dame Myra Hess Memorial Concert series at the Chicago Cultural Center.


Macy’s Christmas tree anchors the Walnut Room. We did not stay for lunch this year, though tempting.

Museum of Science and Industry

“Gather ‘Round Christmas Around the World and Holidays of Light” has been a museum feature for 75 years.
We’re standing in front of the Canada tree, one of 54 nations that are part of the Gather Round exhibit of trees and light. We were greeted by the sight and sound of what seemed like a thousand children connecting with the excitement of the season and to their own tradition displayed by the trees and light.
Native America. “Wilderness is not a luxury but a necessity of the human spirit,” wrote Edward Abbey.

Sunday night moon, 3 December

Super moon, 3 December 2017, taken from our deck in fairly balmy weather.


Advent 1 gathered us ’round in worship. Advent invites us to lament, remorse and penitence, said preacher Frances Ringenberg. “Lament is prayer that cries out to God,” she said. “Can we continue to hope for awesome things . . . hope that God hears us in the midst of all human hopelessness?”

The Scriptures are like shafts of light, Frances said, leading us “to participate in the miraculous unfolding of Advent.”

Thanks be to God for all the people who day in and day out knit the world together. And for those who distill truth in poetry. For all who, in the words of David R. Mosena, president and CEO of the Museum of Science and Industry, take the opportunity “to learn how faiths and cultures from all corners of the globe celebrate the holiday season.”

And for children who delight in the snow.

Best! Chase woes.


Sunset as we headed out to dinner in Richmond, Friday.
From a current exhibit in the Chicago Cultural Center.

4 thoughts on “Winter’s face holds mystery, meriment, and woe

  1. John: Your weekly missive puts you in the company of preachers who must prepare each week for the Sunday sermon — only your deadline comes a few hours earlier. Enjoyed all the photos — and especially the moon shot. We do enjoy following your weekly reflections.


  2. John & Marty, It’s so thoughtful of you to share your eye for beauty and let me tag-along on your delightful side trips. Thanks!!


  3. Thank you for showing me a bit of the festivities in Chicago through your camera lens. And I share your sentiment about the cold. Brrrrr, it’s a bit snowy and cold in Canada too. I’m sitting with a warm blanket over my knees just like mom would do. In the car she would use one of my old wool kilts. That super moon was amazing and I marvel that all over the world the moon looks the same. Gives me a tiny perspective about how big the earth is yet we are one tiny planet. Christmas is around the corner……..


  4. Hello John,

    I knew relatives of Levi Coffin in Minneapolis through the Friends Meeting. I am still in touch with Linda Coffin whose father was Gordon Coffin. Quakers have a long history with the Underground Railroad.

    If you get back to Richmond, Indiana some day, there is an exhibit at the Wayne County Historical Museum of my father’s arrowhead collection. He was fascinated with all things that related to Native Americans and had an extensive collection which we donated to the Museum about 4 years ago. Jim Harlan is the Director there and if you want to be a name dropper and say you know our family, he would likely give you a personal tour!




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