‘Nothing is lost on the breath of God’

Featured photo: Brian Bender’s daughters, Rachel and Amy, stand in his place in the siblings birth order:  Sandy, John, Willard, Rachel, Amy, Mark, Kaye.


Cogitation 29   Saturday 21 July 2018   Family tributes to Brian Bender last weekend included a tractor parade to breakfast.

We drove on field paths and roads less travelled by to the Cassel Community Tractor Breakfast, July 14, at Cassel Mennonite Church, rural Tavistock, Ontario.

We joined more than 30 tractors parked in neat rows at the church. Animated conversation greeted us as we joined the line for scrambled eggs, tator tots, sausages, chelsea buns, toast, juice and coffee.

Waiting in line for the bountiful breakfast buffet.

BRIAN WOULD HAVE LOVED IT. This was his home church, the church where many of the people present had attended other community events, including coffee, doughnut and conversation mornings in less busy seasons.

The welcome to breakfast included a toy tractor display in the church lobby.

BRIAN HAD BEEN A CAREGIVER for children with disabilities in London, Ontario, where he and Vivian, his wife, meet in Voluntary Service more than 50 years ago. After 10 years in London, Brian and Vivian and their daughters moved to the Bender home farm in Oxford County. Besides farming for many years, Brian also worked at B&B Concrete, Kitchener, and for 25 years at B-W Feed and Seed in New Hamburg. In retirement he volunteered at the New Hamburg Thrift Store.

In his obituary the family noted that our parents “instilled in him a strong faith and a love of farming.” Amen. Brian died July 10, days short of his 71st birthday.

Cassel Mennonite Church was the setting for the visitation on Sunday afternoon and evening and the Service of Celebration and Remembrance on Monday.

Each grandchild had a part in the service. Joel Harder read Robert Frost’s poem, The Road Not Taken; Selah Harder sang and Kira Bender played the flute for Nothing is lost on the breath of God, by Colin Gibson.

God was among us as we gathered, as we engaged with a host of people, listened, cried, laughed, and commended Brian to eternal rest.

Fragments from Gibson’s song have played in my mind for days: “nothing is lost forever . . . told in God’s story . . . God sees with love . . . no beginning too late, no ending too soon, but is gathered and known in its goodness.”

EXPRESSIONS OF SYMPATHY have been a comfort to all of us. One friend shared a keenly poignant note of hope, “Those we have loved do not just go away. They go ahead,” she wrote.



Photos of the family’s breakfast run

The Massey Ferguson 35 was one of the all-around work horses, the 1949 Cockshutt 30 another one.
Lining up for the procession to Saturday’s breakfast at Cassel Mennonite Church, two and a half miles away.
Parking at the church.
Some of the other tractors–and spectators.
Ready to head home after breakfast; many had already left for whatever chores lay ahead on a memorable day.
Heading in the farm lane that used to be called the bush lane; youngest brother Mark driving the MF 35.
The tractor procession on roads less travelled proved truly memorable, with sounds, smells, vistas, thoughts converging in honoring the inward-, outward-, forward-, and upward-sighted legacy Brian leaves.


A glimpse of the home place

A STORM THIS YEAR brought down a part of the barn on the home farm where Brian and Vivian and children once lived. The farm, thankfully, is still in the extended family. The barn, built in 1900, will be razed in August.

Post-breakfast parking.
The 118-year-old barn will be razed in August, leaving tons of memories.
The memories a barn evokes. . . . Some lumber will be salvaged, some may end up as fuel for hot dogs and storytelling..
A cross-shaped beam and board stand out in the part of the barn blown down in a storm.
Hollyhocks have grown outside the farm kitchen window for more than 60 years.

PASTOR WANDA ROTH AMSTUTZ led the Service of Celebration and Remembrance and Interment. The bulletin cover, over a field of ripened wheat, had these words of Psalm 23:6: “Surely goodness and mercy shall follow me all the days of my life; and I will dwell in the house of the Lord for ever.”



7 thoughts on “‘Nothing is lost on the breath of God’

  1. Hi John: Your blog (Cogitation 29) captures a most extra ordinary memorial event at Cassel Mennonite. What a beautiful celebration of a special life by a special family and community! Thanks for sharing it. –Ray.


  2. Thanks, John, for sharing the story of the passing of your brother and the Memorial in the honor of the Memorial. He leaves you with pleasant memories. I remember about the dismanteling of the Diller barn. The pigeons had no home that night. We each took with us memories we want to keep forever!

    Liked by 1 person

  3. Hello John & Marty,

    Thanks for your tribute to your brother, Brian, and the photos of the tractor parade. Brian “went ahead” of the rest of you and he leaves the legacy of a loving family and a life well lived!

    Monty & Ginger



  4. I’m reading this on my phone but looking forward to seeing the pictures of all the tractors later on my laptop

    that barn was so big and weathered; I was always a bit intimidated by it, but it is odd to picture the farmhouse without it being there




  5. Thank you John for this wonderful summation of the weekend and events. Beautiful pictures from all.
    Donna Smith Holst


    1. Always a pleasure to gather; so bittersweet at Brian’s memorial, yet real, stretching, filled with love and hope.


  6. John, what a wonderful way to remember your brother, the tractor procession, time on the farm, sharing memories, and your own writing that brings some of him to us. Remembering you and Marty in this time of loss and change.


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