Stay-Go-Be-Do #7

Post 39/Saturday 5 December . . . A fresh-cut Fraser fir graces our home. According to the tag, “Christmas trees bring new life to our environment. During its growing years this tree has cleaned the air, provided oxygen, secured the soil against erosion, made a home for wildlife and beautified the land. For every tree sold, 3 seedlings are planted in its place.” Thank you, good tree and thank you dedicated environmental minders.

Our tree in Christmas Present lets us get whiffs of pine fragrance, trace memories in ornaments and music, beautify our indoors, engage our souls in Advent reflections and inhale the Christmas spirit. In a weary world, in a ravaged land, my heart both pines and rejoices; waiting, weighted, even as wonder hangs in the air. As the song states, may God bless you and send you a happy New Year.

Some of our ornaments were gifts, others we’ve picked up on our travels. Precious all.

Goshen glimpses

City of Goshen, Indiana, county seat, population 33,566.

In 2020 Goshen’s Main Street was transformed into a better combination of parking and pedestrianization. Here’s a view as we drove north on Thursday afternoon.
The traffic lights at several cross streets are covered in favor of stop signs, a bid to slow traffic.
Downtown buildings to a large extent retain the beauty of original design. Some upper floors have been turned into residences.
West side of the Elkhart County Court House in Goshen. There’s another court house in Elkhart and the county powers that be are proposing to consolidate the two in a new location outside the cities.
Olympia Candy Kitchen is a venerable spot. Home to real lemonade and nut olive sandwiches. Yum!
We parked our car here after dropping off a chair to be recaned at a business nearby, then set off for a walk.
This bridge runs across the Elkhart River; we’re walking to Oakridge Cemetery.
Looking back to the Old Bag Factory. a place of specialized shops.
I’d have used the word “retention,” but “detention” augers up playful images of what happens, or at least it used to, to mischievous children in school.
The first sentence: “The earliest known burial in what became Oakridge Cemetery dates to 1832, the year after Goshen’s founding.” We’ve followed the path through the cemetery a number of times, but this time took time to reflect on “those who have passed on–and for their loved ones who cherish their memory.”
Infrastructure being installed through the park.

The City of Elkhart, our home for 40+ years

City of Elkhart, population 52,366. We moved to Greencroft Goshen two years ago and are pretty much getting acclimated there.

Following a number of appointments in Elkhart, we did a walk in the Wellfield Botanic Gardens and then paid our first visit to Artisan, to celebrate my birthday. We were surprised with a warm welcome by managing partner Brad Canniff who gave us a tour of the place, and a card and a printed menu that said, “Happy Birthday John Bender.”

Marty chose a root vegetable salad, and a main of scallops (roasted squash, mushroom, turnip, celeriac mash, sumac). I had a beet parfait and a main of salmon (pan seared, wild caught, red lentil puree, sorrel, braised cabbage, bacon). And as apropos to the occasion, caramel creme brulee. All tastily delightful, as you might imagine. The Artisan truly does offer fine food, pleasing ambience, and attentive service, encompassed in the words: exceptional hospitality. And I have a dear spouse who deftly took care of the bill.

Yes, it’s mask up time at the moment, wherever others are near in or out. As someone said, “Do not share your air.”

Wellfield Botanic Gardens

As we’ve found out, a mask even helps keep your face warm. Smile. Wellfield Botanic Gardens covers 36 acres and encompasses the city’s main source of water.
Kisetsu: The Year of the Island Garden (Kisetsu: season or time of year). This is the Wellfield’s newest themed garden space. From their website: “Each of our four seasonal shows . . . speak to the elements of seasonality and the Japanese concept of mono no aware, a sensitivity to the ephemeral or impermanence of all things.”
Main Street, downtown Elkhart, traveling south.
500 South Main, longtime home of the Hotel Elkhart and then Mennonite Offices and independent living residences offered by Greencroft Retirement Community. The building is under new ownership and under conversion to a boutique hotel. Both Marty and I at different times worked in the building, staff writer-editor at Mennonite Board of Missions and Charities for me, associate director of US Ministries at the MBM successor, Mennonite Mission Network, for Marty.
Lovely dinner at the Artisan included a sweet of Caramel Creme Brulee. We also nipped into an Apple Napoleon.

Lights in Goshen

Ox Bow County Park

Sure sign that this facility is closed for the season and maybe for some time.
The home of a fairy or fairies has expanded “out-of-doors.”

Last Sunday afternoon

Size: 135 acres. Located north of Bristol, Indiana, on CR 23, one-half mile north of the toll road overpass.
We took a side trail that eventually ran its course, so we retreated back to the main path, but with sights that showed past and present, as in, along with trees and undergrowth, a discarded seed drill and deer prints.

Ok, ok, but, no, you can’t go

Snuggles, at the home of Marty’s sister, Doris, made her wishes known, but watched (glared?) from a sunlit spot on the glider as we went merrily on our way.


Willard Roth, who chairs the Spiritual Life Committee at Greencroft Goshen, wrote an Advent reflection that appeared in this week’s Campus Life newssheet. Reprinted by permission.

Give thanks as we WAIT

by Willard Roth

Since early centuries Christians have kept time by the rhythm of the gospel seasons. The four Sundays before Christmas make up the new year’s first season. It’s called Advent, which means arrival or coming–the coming of Christ as a human being into a world of humans.

Advent is:

A time for getting ready

A time for preparing

A time for anticipating

A time for waiting.

We don’t like to wait. Lines and queues are frustrating. We want instant check cashing, and instant coffee, and instant oatmeal, and the traffic light to change when we get to the intersection, and microwaves when we count seconds rather than ovens where we calculate in minutes. Waiting is tough because we are out of control Not being in control makes us fearful, afraid, unsettled.

But stop to think of it, are we really ever in control of anything? Waiting belongs to the very nature of human existence: we wait to be born; we wait to die; we wait in between for kids to be born and parents to die. Yet most of us find waiting to be tough and troublesome, especially in a Covid-dominated year.

Writer Anne Lamott has said the two best prayers she knows are, “help me, help, help me,” and “thank you, thank you, thank you.” God, in this unprecedented time, as we move through the season of Advent once again, but in a way we never have before, we pray as we wait: help us, help us, help us; thank you, thank you, thank you!

Grateful for so much in this time of waiting


8 thoughts on “Stay-Go-Be-Do #7

  1. John, I believe the iron bridge you reference with word and photo is over the Elkhart River. On the second photo I can easily see The Old Bag Factory in the background. Nice photos.


    1. Thanks, Al. You are right. I’ve no excuse for mixing up river and creek, not even that it was so cold that day that I had brain freeze. I’ve corrected the caption. Good to know you enjoy seeing the blog. Best!


  2. Sounds like you had a good birthday, John! I am now one month post op and everything is going well. My new knee is still quite stiff but there is much less pain now and PT is really helpful. I was fortunate to get this surgery just before the latest surge in the virus. We still plan on driving to Florida in early January.

    May you and Marty discover moments of joy in this time of Advent waiting!

    Love, Monty & Ginger

    May the God of Wonder be with you, delighting you with the beauty of sunrise and the majesty of sunset, with the song of the bird and the fragrance of the flower.



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