Friends, Re-Turn Sunday, thanks, books+, trees

Post 48/2021 Saturday 27 November . . . A week ago, we joined Alice and Willard Roth at Cabin Coffee for a breakfast bite and palaver in a heated “igloo.” The cafe has two such “igloo” facsimiles. It was fun to watch a dad and two children make the most of the other one. After breakfast we walked to the public library and then headed home on the Mill Race path. Today we stayed home and got busy with Christmas.

Angels each year find their place among the ornaments decorating our Christmas tree. We put the tree up today (Saturday 27 November). It’s not perfectly shaped, but not nearly as scrawny as the one my brother Will and I cut down in our woods on the farm as our first family Christmas tree in memory. Our tree today, as then, represents the surge of emotion, gladness, joy, togetherness, anticipation, celebration, the promise of peace, that follows on the heels of the Advent season. More angels pictured below.

150 Year Anniversary

On November 21 we attended Re-Turn Sunday: Prairie Street Mennonite Church at 150 Years. It’s the congregation in Elkhart, Indiana that we’ve been part of for almost 50 years. It’s big time sad that with our move to retirement living at Greencroft Goshen, we are putting down roots in a nearby congregation, while Prairie Street holds a proud and dear place in our hearts.

Prairie Street follows a hybrid model of church, where diversity and inclusion of God’s reign reigns. PTL!
From the bulletin: Pastors Quinn Brenneke and Cyneatha Millsaps, “and the people at (and scattered beyond) Prairie Street Mennonite Church, continue to proclaim the old, old story of the newness God brought to the world in the life of Jesus Christ and the work of the Holy Spirit, a still unfolding transforming story.”
Rev Clara Hadley of Caanan Baptist Church, Elkhart, was the guest preacher. She was introduced in a fairly lengthy “moment from the heart” by Elkhart City Mayor Rod Roberson, who recalled the many change-oriented connections Prairie Street church has had with the neighborhood and wider community since the days when he and others knew it only as “the white church.”
Refreshments, visiting and memory-sharing followed the worship service.

Bulletin excerpt from pastors: “Jesus’ family knew the peril of time. Years ago they faced an impending end as we do today, but they rehearsed an alternative history. Their worship was a regular cycle of practicing rest, abolition, land redistribution, and debt cancellation. Life was to exist as if history weren’t doomed. Every fiftieth year–to be called a Year of Jubilee–would mark the beginning of a new cycle.

“This 150th anniversary at Prairie Street Mennonite Church is a Year of Jubilee. With this proclamation, we initiate Jesus’ own tradition to speak prophetically into the course or history. We will rehearse a different story today, joining with the prophets in declaring that ‘as a garden causes what is sown in it to spring up, so the Lord God will cause justice and praise to spring up before all the nations’ (Isaiah 61:11. Though the unraveling of time and threats of the future will tempt us to turn against hope, we will boldly re-turn to the One who is our true beginning, end, and eternity.” -Pastor Cyneatha, Pastor Quinn

Giving thanks

We had the privilege of giving thanks on Thursday with a few friends at our home. Marty prepared a fine meal. At the table, Vicki, Fern, Gene, Phyllis, Marty and me, each shared something from our store of gratitude. In addition, we showed two DVDs of our walks in England and Italy, “as moments of gratitude” for the opportunities we have to travel, walk in various parts of God’s good earth, and interact with people we meet. In fact, we’ve become fast friends with people in the United Benefice of Caribs Bay & Lelant Diocese of Truro in Cornwall, UK, and with members of the West Cornwall Footpaths Preservation Society. Thanks be to God!

The Cornish flag, a field of black with a white cross, flies with others at Fiddler’s hearth in South Bend. We noticed it on a walk there on Wednesday.

At Thanksgiving dinner, I read a few paragraphs from Anne Lamott’s book, Help, Thanks, Wow, The Three Essential Prayers (2012, Thorndike Press, Large Print Core).

Here’s Lamott’s first paragraph in the section on Thanks: “‘Thanks’ is the short form of the original prayer I used to say in gratitude for any unexpected grace in my life, ‘Thankyouthankyouthankyou.’ As I grew spiritually, the prayer became the more formal ‘Thank you,’ and now, from the wrinkly peaks of maturity, it is simply ‘Thanks.'”

On giving thanks when real danger is averted, she writes, “I personally clutch at my chest and cry, ‘Thanks, my God, thanks,’ and at such moments I would kneel and press my forehead to the ground if my right knee would not begin to sob. Then I usually move to: ‘I owe You big this time, I’ll never ask for anything else. This time I mean it.'”

Funny, insightful, down to earth, Lamott unfolds transformative truths in prayer.


I finished reading Walking Away by Simon Armitage (noted two blogs ago). My main interest lay in the walk that covered the same area of the South West Coast Path that Marty and I have walked in Cornwall along the Atlantic and Isles of Scilly. I like Armitage’s self-deprecating style and the fact that he did this 265-mile walk in 24 days, with recourse only to hospitality from prearranged readings of his poetry. At each reading he’d put out a sock for the “freewill collection.” I winced each time he described how his shoes were good for nothing but the rubbish bin, yet still he carried on lacing them with pink baling twine.

I cheer Amitage in his “Reckoning Up,” concluding chapter: “I won’t be doing any more long walks. This walk was conceived as unfinished business, chosen as a direct alternative and a determined, symmetrical opposite to the Pennine Way, and that business is now concluded. As well as describing differences in geography and landscape, the mischief-maker in me had it in mind to compare the generosity of the people of the north with those of the south, and to compare my poetic standing in the two regions based on the contents of the sock, as measured in pounds and pence. But as the days went by that notion began to fade, or the crudeness of it started to dawn on me. In the end I didn’t even count the takings, just dipped into the stash whenever I needed to and settled a credit-card bill for rail fares, steam-train rides and taxis on the way down, for planes, trains and automobiles on the way home, and for clothing and gear bought in advance, including one very expensive hat. In the end I was left with little to call a wage of any kind but enough to have existed happily and healthily for the duration of the trip and to have paid my way and proved a couple of points, one about being able to live on my wits and my feet for three weeks in an unfamiliar part of the world, and another regarding the vitality of poetry and people’s ongoing interest in it, whatever its contemporary reputation.”

Thank you, Simon Armitage, for a stimulating armchair recap of your walk and introduction to your poetry.

A reconstituted main library opens: On Wednesday we had an appointment in South Bend in neighboring St. Joseph County. Of course, we took the opportunity to walk there and do lunch. After lunch at Fatbird Restaurant, next-door to the Morris Civic Theatre, we walked to the St. Joseph County Public Main Library. Wow! It was under reconstruction and expansion from November 2019 to November 2021. The Grand Opening was November 14.

Rather than go on and on about its expansive old and new features, I’ll just refer you to their website

Marty has long been an advocate for racial justice and equality and here clasps hands with Dr. Martin Luther King Jr., and Fr. Theodore Hesburgh. We came across this sculpture in downtown South Bend.


At the start of the week there were still some leaves intact, changed, still holding on, resplendent.
Swish, swish, carpets of leaves greeted us in many places, here just beyond the Greencroft campus.
Trees bare, crops in, rain and snow forecast for the weekend, gratitude for earth, wind and sky.
Beads of ice form a necklace-like display on a leaf.


This Christmas cactus was a gift from great-niece Jenny to her grandmother, Doris, in nursing care.


Angels abound, tidings of peace

Peace to you and to your household.


4 thoughts on “Friends, Re-Turn Sunday, thanks, books+, trees

  1. Congratulations on 150 years for Prairie Street Mennonite Church! I am sure you miss being able to worship with them on a regular basis.

    Marty looks right at home next to Dr MLK! We just bought The 1619 Project and look forward to reading the history we were never taught in school!

    We leave for Florida on Tuesday and are looking forward to warmer weather. Have a great time in Cornwall!


    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. —Maxine Shonk, OP



    1. You’ve got a re-turn of your own, domiciling, doing music, donning summer clothing in Florida. Enjoy! We’ll see you when it’s summer up here.


  2. So many good things here, including a glimpse of Willard & Alice, the Prairie Street Church anniversary, and Marty holding hands with MLK.


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