Featured image: Jack Frost decorated the garage door at the home of Doris Mast, Marty’s sister.
Cogitation 6/184 Saturday 9 February 2019 “Up-anchor and away,” I said to the piles of papers moored on my desk–or something to that effect–as I cleaned up for travel to Cornwall, UK.
In the process I found assorted items begging for notice before being shredded or refiled. Some appear below.
The nautical imagery could imply we’re sailing across the pond. Not so. I just like the image of a slower, steady pace that ship travel entails. It will be air to London, train to Cornwall, on foot (five minutes) to our rental flat, Ahoy There! Ahoy-hoy Carbis Bay/St Ives!
Notes from my desk
- A quote from Lawrence Hill: “When it comes to understanding others . . . we rarely tax our imaginations.” The Book of Negros, (HarperCollins, Toronto, 2007).
- Last paragraph of a book review, sadly with no notation of the book’s title, date or newspaper. Thankfully, the reviewers name, Allan Massie, appears at the end: “This is the best sort of historical novel. It respects the past and brings it alive. It is alert to ethical and cultural differences. It shows that people in the past often thought differently from us, while at the same time reminding us that they experienced the same emotions.”
- From a note card: “Legends say that hummingbirds float free of time, carrying our hopes for love, joy and celebration. The hummingbird’s delicate grace reminds us that life is rich, beauty is everywhere, every personal connection has meaning and that laughter is life’s sweetest creation.”
- Paper supply I found getting ready for our move last year: 200 Sheets Typing Paper, G.L. Perry $1.97, 11/94.
- New Year’s reflection, shared a month ago with a small group of friends concerning a Thumbs Up / Thumbs Down personal experience in 2018. I chose to talk about our move to an independent living home in a continuing care retirement community (CCRC), 12 miles away.
- Thumbs up. The sweet pleasure of purging stuff. The glorious help of friends in a move that brought us closer–the real stuff. I can’t imagine being friendless, without people with whom to share, listen, commiserate, encourage, laugh, shed tears. Two thumbs up. No stairs in the new home. Friendly neighbors; Inquisitive squirrels. Mail delivered in the morning rather than late afternoon. Opportunity to shape a new home and explore life in a CCRC. Continuity with family and friends and finding new connections with people. Living freer, looser, more farsightedly, even more lightheartedly. We moved lots of memories with us. Anticipating God with us.
- Thumbs down. Stresses of transition. A sense of finality, as in, what we planned and prepared for during the last 10 years has come to pass. The move involved decisions, sorting, loss, grieving even in saying goodbye to 42 years invested in making our former house a home in a location we loved. Our house and property grew with us. We had to leave behind the flowing river, the footpaths, the accessible downtown, the tried and true. Our empty house seemed to call after us: why are you forsaking me?
- Green thumb addendum. Our new residence with Greencroft Goshen means we are part of a corporate community where expectations both ways run more closely together than in other living settings. The Greencroft organization has proven hallmarks in serving the varying needs and interests of residents and the wider community. Residents have a say in balancing their perspectives with that of management–the vital communication and provisions needed for promoting the best that life can be. Volunteer opportunities, services and activities abound, even as you can close your door and do your own thing. Promoting personhood at every level of living is a key part of the success of any community.
Remembering Leonard Brian Bender
Last July our extended family gathered to celebrate the life of my brother Brian Bender. He died of cancer. Brian lived with deep faith and resilience. His was one of the story sketches in a book, Overtime: Portraits of Vanishing Canada. by Karl Kessler and Sunshine Chen (The Porcupine’s Quill, Erin, Ontario, 2018).
Brian mixed livestock feed at B-W Mill in New Hamburg, Ontario. He is quoted, “We work with a batch ticket, which is just like a recipe out of a cookbook.” To stay competitive, milling is becoming computerized, and new equipment is replacing the old. For Brian, “It’s been a very good job, and it seemed like we could have a little fun, too.”
For a number of years Brian worked with children in institutional care in London, Ontario. He and his young family then took over the farm where we grew up. His last job of many years was as a feed mixer–and go-to storyteller.
Brian knew a lot about everything: about living, about dying, about living uncomplainingly with a visual impairment, about romance, about occupational transitions, about caring for others, about putting feet under Christian faith.
Talking on the phone as his disease progressed, I asked Brian where he got his passion for living, for faith formation, for discipleship. He lauded his experience in a large Voluntary Service Unit in London, Ontario. That experience, among others, exposed him to the wider world of people, of faith formation through Bible study, prayer and unit living, lasting friendships, and that glorious meeting with his life-partner, Vivian Peachey, a VSer from the Big Valley, Pennsylvania. Brian was blessed in the intimate mutuality of life with Vivian, their two daughters, grandchildren and extended family and friends.
Forward-looking, outward-looking, upward-looking, that describes Brian’s passion for where footsteps can go. He liked the poems of Robert Frost, especially The Road Not Taken. The road less traveled was really an engaging and fulfilling one for Brian. A friend shared a fitting perspective on how we can regard partings in this life. She said, “Those we have loved do not just go away. They go ahead.” Such is the context of gratitude, love and hope.
On Sunday we sang We rejoice to be God’s chosen, a hymn by John Bell. The last phrase of the first stanza reads, “. . . we are pulled by heaven’s dynamic to become, not just to be.” So fitting. Life is about becoming, the sum of our doing and being. I also like Bell’s concluding phrase: “. . . with wonder that the best is yet to be.”
What “Earth” looked like, mid-1980s
This week I looked at one of the reference works I’ve barely consulted since it was published in 1987. It’s the 326-page Graphic Learning Earth Book World Atlas. I don’t remember how we got this volume, but our names are embossed on the cover. So it should have a life off the shelf more often.
Publisher ML (Mert) Yockstick wrote: “The Age of Information brought a new perspective to the planet Earth. Immediate access to information fostered a broader understanding of the world and precipitated a planetary mind change. As a result, communities and countries are slowly losing their prominence as our place of residence. The entire Earth is becoming our home. People on the other side of the oceans or continents no longer seem so foreign. We are beginning to realize our dependency on each other as human beings sharing the Earth and its environments.”
The online Information age exploded into the social media, smart devices of every sort, artificial intelligence (AI) age. Yockstick saw the world beyond 2000 and beyond as a time “when our capacity to view and understand the Earth will continue to expand. But so will our capacity to create damage to the already delicate condition of Earth’s environments. The waste of resources, depletion of natural life forms and erosion of human conditions are issues and phenomena that affect us all. When an error in human judgement affects the lives, well-being, happiness and health of millions of people across many nations, we are no longer dealing with cultural, spiritual or political ideologies. the very survival of humanity now depends upon the mutual respect for the Earth and its people.”
Has my mind changed about the earth? Yes. Growing up on a farm I thought the more land that got cleared for agriculture, the more fences that gave way to bigger fields, the more tiles put down to drain swampy land, the more commercial fertilizer used to supplement manure, the more pesticides used to combat crop diseases–all for the better.
Whoops. Slow down. Count the birds, butterflies, and wildflowers among nature’s passion for preservation. Strike a balance. Care intensely for water, air and earth. I agree with Yockstick: “Our survival and the survival of other species on Earth ultimately depend upon understanding our planet and physical environments.”
I was happy to discover the view Stacey Abrams has about nation and world in 2019. You’ll recall she presented the response to President Trump’s state of the union address last Tuesday. In an article in Foreign Affairs Abrams wrote: “Electoral politics have long been a lagging indicator of social change.” It took a long time for women to get the franchise, as it did for African Americans and other minorities.
Abrams was minority leader in the Georgia House of Representatives and the Democratic candidate for governor in the 2018 mid-term election. She received more votes than any Democrat in Georgia’s history, falling 54,000 votes shy of victory, “in a contest riddled with voting irregularities that benefited my opponent,” she wrote in the Foreign Affairs article.
Abrams said her campaign “built an unprecedented coalition of people of color, rural whites, suburban dwellers, and young people in the Deep South by articulating an understanding of each group’s unique concerns instead of trying to create a false image of universality.”
Abrams approach reveals a level-headed understanding of what is needed to heal the political divide, the social divide, the faith divide in the nation–people hearing each others concerns and together dealing with the growing pains of multicultural coexistence.
I conclude with a hastily scribbled partial recipe for Creamy Turmeric Cauliflower Soup. The incomplete recipe could send a cook’s hairnet flying or generate generous dollops of creativity. You have to imagine some steps. I may try it sometime.
From a forgotten source I wrote: “Briefly cooking pumpkin seeds and cumin in hot oil. Yellow onion, garlic. Flour and stock. Rice vinegar. Light brown sugar. Black pepper.” Oh yes, don’t forget the cauliflower. Who said creativity doesn’t belong in the kitchen? Or that recipes such as this might be a hit in a Not every meal needs to be perfect cookbook.
Up-anchor and cook away!
I’m looking forward to what adding Cornwall to the lead-in Cogitation, as in Cornwall Cogitation 7, will do for photos and commentary next time. See you soon.