In the moment

Featured image: Marty poses with Simon Gingerich at Simon’s 95th birthday open house at Greencroft Goshen Continuing Care Living Community.

Cogitation 5:131 Saturday 3 February 2018   Ever been between times?

Such as in that space between an old and a new normal? The never, never land of time almost standing still? A moment that’s too deep in the past and too fretted in the future to be fully lived in the present?

My questions put me out of sync with the theme of my blog: Past, Present, Future: Live it Now!For a fleeting moment that’s what I feel as we’re wrapping up for time away in Cornwall, UK.

The longer I look at what has transpired this week, the better I get a grip on all the upsides of now. And, I’ve put political discourse on mute.

Hometown scenes

Progress on the aquatic and sports complex along the Elkhart River. Last year contractors were razing the old YMCA.
DSCN4188
A fuller after-the-snow-melt lower St Joseph River at Island Park.

‘Home from home’ anticipations

We’re looking forward to what’s familiar and what will be new in our stay in south west England, including having friends and family spend time with us there.

In this present buffer zone I’m reminded to take time to listen, feel, look, breathe, and, in a quote from  New Contact (March 2010), to pull up an empty chair.

New Contact (Tava Noweth in Cornish) is the parish magazine of St Anta and All Saints and St Uny churches in Carbis Bay and Lelant, Cornwall.

The article, “Where does your time go?” suggests putting a chair near where you are sitting. “In your imagination put onto it anything you are finding difficult or heavy at the moment. Share it with God. Put onto it anything that you are glad about. Appreciate it and enjoy God appreciating it with  you.”

We expect to fill all four chairs in our flat for meals with local and visiting folks. A lot of the time two chairs will be empty, though one may have a pile of newspapers and such in our modest-sized rental apartment.

I remind myself of thoughts of welcome I’ve piled on an empty chair:

Welcome to personal enrichment. Welcome to the unknown. Welcome to a land of legends, granite hills, ancient fields, disused mines, and sea. Welcome to Cornish friends. Welcome to daily walks. Welcome to spiritual pilgrimage. Listen to the sounds of a sea shell and Cornwall welcomes you home.

So in the moment, I’m home home and in a few weeks I’ll be home from home. It all makes for these list-long moments anything but listless.

T. S. Elliot (1888-1965) wrote “Time past and time future / Allow but a little consciousness. / To be conscious is not to be in time / But only in time can the moment in the rose-garden, / The moment in the arbour where the rain beat, / The moment in the draughty church at smokefall / Be remembered; involved with past and future. / Only through time time is conquered.”

On reflection, very good moments of the week

To conquer these current moments of in-between, I’m putting over-conscious thoughts of the past and the future aside while I celebrate the very good moments of the week.

On Sunday, Marty served wonderfully as worship leader and seminary student Mariah Martin preached on “The stuff of stars.” Scripture was 1 Corinthians 15:45-52. Mariah did a fine job of presenting the of physical body and spiritual being. Hymns included “When morning stars together,” “I sing the mighty power of God,” ” One is the body,” “Longing for light,” and “God who touches earth.”

Monday evening with our small group that includes three children, three engaged children ages 10, 6, and 2. We all played the game, Camping. Fun time. With popcorn and brownies warm from the oven.

Wednesday evening we shared a meal with friends at our house–Jim and Sally Longley back in town from Australia after a 10 year absence for Jim to further studies at seminary, and Ellie Kreider, musician, author, teacher, mentor, worship team convener, reverend, and much more.

Thursday lunch with Marty’s sister, Doris, this time in Shipshewana and coffee after at the Davis Mercantile across the street from one of Shipshe’s non-touristic venues, the Wolfe Grain Mill.

Friday, a belated Robert Burns lunch with friends Alice and Willard Roth and Gwen and Dean Preheim-Bartel at the home of Alice and Willard. Willard and Alice spent Christmas and weeks following with their daughter Carla and son-in-law Simon Barrow who live in Edinburgh, Scotland. Wonderful discourse. Delicious main course of Cullen Skink (smoked salmon and potato stew). Divine dessert: Cranachan.

Saturday, a drop-in birthday celebration in honor of Simon Gingerich’s 95th birthday.

Who are the Mennonites?

A few years ago the editors of New Contact asked me to write an article about the Mennonites.

I wrote (figures updated to 2016) that “It may seem surprising that today about two-thirds of the 2.1 million baptized believers in 87 countries are African, Asian or Latin American.”

I quoted from a book, Coming Home, edited by Alan Kreider and Stuart Murray, a comment from Ruth Gouldbourne, minister of Bloomsbury Baptist Church, London, and a member of the Anabaptist Network in the UK, this comment: “To be involved with Anabaptist ideas does not make for a comfortable life–thank God.”

The world communion of Mennonites gathers every six years under the auspices of Mennonite World Conference. In 2006 the MWC General Council adopted seven shared convictions. These can be found on the website http://www.mwc-ccm.org. The statement ends with this paragraph:

“In these convictions we draw inspiration from Anabaptist forebears of the 16th century, who modelled radical discipleship to Jesus Christ. We seek to walk in his name by the power of the Holy Spirit, as we confidently await Christ’s return and the final fulfillment of God’s kingdom.”

To the members of the Church of England with whom we worship while in the UK, I ended the article: “Together with you we are privileged to be pilgrims with God in serving a needy yet wondrously-created world. Blessing and peace ’till we meet again!”

Moments in the middle of things 

So, the week has been life in the middle of things. One reference puts the term, “in the middle of things” in Latin: in medias res: “In novels and epic poetry, the author generally begins in medias res.” Good to know. Copy my week.

On Tuesday in our walk home from the library we happened upon the Zamboni at work on the ice at the Elkhart Water and Skate Park. Oh, the temptation to cruise around the park on skates.

The Elkhart Water and Skate Park is open air, artificially-frozen, along the Elkhart River. How tempting it would have been to put on skates and varoom about. Better judgement kept the skates just flashing in my mind.

Intimacy of human and divine

I end with a prayer of praise from the booklet, Celtic Praise: Prayers of Praise from Cornwall, by Pat Robson, a prayer for Sunday that captures the endearing intimacy of humans with the divine. Robson is an honorary Canon of Truro Cathedral.

“Touch the stones, / my handsome, / they’re steeped in all our prayers. / Touch them with your softness, / feel the laughter and the tears. / Kneel in quiet, / my robin, / kneel and add our prayers. / The church is full of memories, / granite soaked for years. / Kneel in quiet, / my robin, / kneel, / for God is here!”

Peace lamp at Prairie Street Mennonite Church, Elkhart, Indiana.

Peace, gladness and a renewing stillness be yours in moments in the middle of things.

-John

 

 

 

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