Why did we move here?

On Tuesday evening we saw this hawk flying low over the Greencroft Goshen campus. Rodents beware.

Cogitation 32/210 Saturday 10 August 2019 Last November we sold our home and moved to Greencroft Goshen, a continuing care retirement community. The physical distance from Elkhart to Goshen is short (12 miles); the psychical measure is less precise, more like a pathway subject to the nitrogen flames that fill a hot air balloon.

From time to time I think about our move–some aspects of which are still in process. It’s not quite like an earthquake and its aftershocks. No, not nearly that. It’s a move we chose we planned, we made, knowing that we could have stayed in the home where we had lived for 42 years for some time longer. We also knew the change would open new options for a purposeful, more carefree and thriving life.

(Full disclosure: I worked at Greencroft Goshen, a not-for-profit CCRC for 10 years before retirement, almost 12 years ago). So, why did we move? There are the usual physical reasons, like not having to negotiate two flights of stairs as in our previous home–which we loved dearly, dearly. Or cleaning eaves, shoveling snow, and sundry such tasks–which we did faithfully and with satisfaction.

We were sitting on the patio having coffee and reading when a neighbor walked over and gave us gladiolas and tomatoes from his garden. Such a pleasant surprise. Beautiful. Delicious. Heartwarming. Years ago Rachel Carson said, “Those who contemplate the beauty of the Earth find reserves of strength that will endure as long as life lasts.”

What I like about a retirement community is just that: it’s a community within a larger community. We have freedom to divest ourselves from former things and invest in the greater non-material side of life. I came across this phrase this week: “With age comes a freedom and clarity about the things you love.”

What you can love with greater freedom and clarity in later life includes family, friends, hobbies, faith, nature, service–things that make a deepening difference in your life and in the lives of others.

With aging comes greater dependence and interdependence, not just some sort of change-resistant independence. I like that Greencroft is a not-for-profit CCRC, which means the programs and services are geared to the benefit of residents as stakeholders rather than for stockholders. Living freer of usual obligations of home ownership opens the window to common cause with others within a continuum of care. We are making our home here in independent housing and will have access to other levels of care as the need may arise.

The Greencroft campus includes a community center for use by residents and people in the larger community.
The Goshen News on Friday did a front page feature on the wild prairie proposed by two residents, Don Yoder and Gordon Cunningham on an almost 3-acre plot on the Greencroft campus. Animals and insects have taken up residence in the prairie. “We just wanted to get people acquainted with the outdoors,” the newspaper quotes Yoder, a retired landscape architect. There are around 26 different species of birds that regularly visit the prairie, according to Cunningham, a former docent at the Konza Prairie Biological Station in the Flint Hills of Kansas. The feature named five other local prairies, but missed the ones we walk by on the Goshen Collage campus. Associated Mennonite Biblical Seminaries in Elkhart offers another such prairie to promote a relationship between people and nature.
The care of residents for their garden plots is being rewarded with bounty.
Abraham Cowley (1618-1667): “The thirsty earth soaks up the rain, / And drinks, and gapes for drink again. / The plants suck in the earth, and are / With constant drinking fresh and fair.”

Art reveals one human story

Sign in the the South Bend Museum of Art in an exhibit, “Light Bringer: three artists, two continents, one human story.” We visited the museum on Wednesday as part of a delightful time visiting with our friend, Oscar Crawford, who came from Chicago to South Bend on the South Shore train for an afternoon of hearing, seeing, tasting–including lunch on the outside deck of The Emporium Restaurant, a walk over the bridge to the art gallery in Century Center, and, of course, a stop at the South Bend Chocolate Cafe for a drink and, yes, ice cream.
View of the St. Joseph River from the Century Center in downtown South Bend, Indiana–the city named for the southern-most bend in the river that stretches from Hillsdale, Michigan to St. Joseph, Michigan, where it flows into Lake Michigan.

Part of what I think about at this senior stage is how other people have invested in my life–parents, a long line of ancestors, the greater public, people of old, including the heritage and legacy of native peoples. I trust that with some degree of freedom and clarity of age I’m shaping a legacy of love for the young and unborn and the world they will inherit.

There’s a role for all to play

In a nutshell, here’s a word to Christians and people of other faiths on how to save the world. Honor creation, cultivate hope, discover new joy. I found the book on the environmental shelf at Goshen Public Library.

This week I read Climate Church, Climate World, by Jim Antal (Rowman & Littlefield, 2018). Antal makes no bones as to what’s wrong with the world and the redemptive roles waiting for greater response by religious faiths. Jesus, he said, “offered us a building plan, not an evacuation plan.” In one of his sermons he quoted G.K. Chesterton. When asked what was the most wrong with the world, Chesterton replied, “I am.” We all have something to do to recognize, own and right the wrong.

I quoted Abraham Cowley in the caption above. Here’s another phrase to guide us in reducing our investment in both selfish behaviors and self-centered fear: “Fill all the glasses there, for why / Should every creature drink but I, / Why, man of morals, tell me why?” I take the qualifier phrase from Antal’s sub-chapter section, “Self-giving love in place of self-centered fear.”

Charles Baudelaire (1821-1867) spoke of an anticipatory psychical journey: “La, tout n’est qu’ordre et beaute. / Luxe, calme et volupte.” Everything there is simply order and beauty, luxury, peace and sensual indulgence. (liii, L’Invitation au Voyage. Sorry, I have yet to learn how to add the proper accent marks in a foreign language.

May order, beauty, fullness, peace and wonder in decisions, steps and musings, large and small, this week, fill our hearts and minds and hands.

-John

8 thoughts on “Why did we move here?

    1. Thank you for your encouraging words, France. All the best in your endeavors, including a deep appreciation of the wonders of nature.

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  1. Wow, John, what a great commentary on the advantages of a retirement community. It’s like you graduated to another level of life.

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    1. Thanks for your good word, Steve. Nice image graduation is, facing life from a new, freer, if sometimes scary, vantage. I’m doing a second reading of the Greencroft Resident Information Directory. There’s a quote there from Wm Bridges: “Change is situational, on the other hand, transition is psychological. It is not those events, but rather the inner re-orientation and self-redefinition that you have to go through in order to incorporate any of those changes into your life.” Best!

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  2. Hello John,

    Thanks for your reflections on retirement, climate and life in general. Sounds like you had a good visit with Oscar on Wednesday. This is the time of year when Gardens give back and we receive beautiful flowers and vegetables. There is nothing like home grown tomatoes. There is even a song about that: “Only two things that money can’t buy, True Love and Home Grown Tomatoes”!

    Monty & Ginger

    >

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    1. Hi Monty and Ginger. So it’s really a song: Money can’t buy “True love and homegrown tomatoes.” I’m glad to add my 2 cents to that cheery thought–if that’s not an oxymoron. A good week to you!

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  3. I realize that people find change challenging no matter what. Little changes, big changes it doesn’t seem to matter. Being newly retired is a big change. Then I read a comforting statement that the only constant in life is change and that all change is beneficial. So I guess that is something to remember while we work through ever changing change!

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    1. You’re so right, Kaye. Change is everywhere except in some people’s heads. that’s a topic for our sibling gathering later this year. Ha, ha. We won’t change the date for that fine get-together. Best!

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