Our year that was, still is

Post 52/2021 Thursday 23 December . . . I’m looking back to spring forward, offering a pictorial glimpse of our journey through 2021 as we get ready to push or be pushed into the new year. A year that was ponderous. A year beset by the pandemic. A year portentous for the future. A year, nevertheless, filled with goodness and promise.

(Featured image: Reading has been a pleasure again throughout the year, as has the miniseries on Acorn TV of All Creatures Great and Small.)

The global quandary, posed by a virus and variants invisible to the naked eye, has been in our thoughts, prayers and actions.

I thank God for the biblical themes that guided us through the Christian observance of Advent, a time of prayers, penance and sacrifice in preparation for the celebration of the birth of Jesus Christ. The first candle of the Advent wreath symbolized hope, the second candle symbolized faith, the third candle symbolized joy, the fourth candle symbolized peace. Each came to pass 2000 years ago, even as we await their greater realization.

I’m impressed and grateful for the reflections of Pope Francis in his Christmas speech on Thursday to Vatican cardinals, bishops and bureaucrats. The Associated Press (Dec. 23) titled its news story, “Pope demands humility in new zinger-filled Christmas speech.” He called on the clerics to seek out the neediest with humility.

From AP: “‘The humble are those who are concerned not simply with the past but also with the future, since they know how to look ahead, to spread their branches, remembering the past with gratitude,’ Francis told them. ‘The proud, on the other hand, simply repeat, grow rigid and enclose themselves in that repetition, feeling certain about what they know and fearful of anything new because they cannot control it.'”

The news story further quoted Francis: “All of us are called to humility, because all of us are called to remember and to give life.” Amen.


January 1, at home at Greencroft Goshen, where the sounds of the snow removal crew on roadways and sidewalks could wake you up in the early hours of morning. Thank you!


The lighthouse on South Beach at South Haven, Michigan, serves as a beacon for sailors and boaters on Lake Michigan, but, apparently not for some silly people who dared to walk on potentially breakthrough cavernous ice. Truth be told, we once did that, too. Once. Years and years ago.


“THANK YOU TO THE HEROS WHO WORK HERE.” Thank you! And thank you to all the essential workers locally, across the nation, and around the world who cared for the sick, dealt with those who pushed back, put themselves at risk, lived out their calling. It’s been hard. the toll has been high. May the lessons we’re learning from the persistent pandemic and implications of rising global temperatures dawn on a wider number of people who still dodge the truth.


We spent a week in a cottage on Kelley’s Island, Ohio, on Lake Erie. It’s a glorious place to explore on foot. A profusion of forsythia bloomed around the island.


Robins in the nest, faithfully fed by the parents.


The strawberry field across the street from Greencroft yielded a goodly crop. We picked a few quarts.


Greencroft residents took responsibility for planting and tending a number of flower gardens on the edge of Greencroft’s field of Native Grasses and Wild Flowers.


Family: Mishler, Miller, Mast, Bender. We enjoyed a cookout and a lazy summer confab. A blessing.


A Blue Heron came to feed, but sadly, the water feature is still fishless.


Ah, the joy of being together with family in Ontario, after a two-year pandemic-imposed hiatus.


Quinn Brenneke and Cyneatha Millsaps, pastors at Prairie Street Mennonite Church, Elkhart, Indiana, open the worship service at the 150th celebration of the founding of the congregation by John F. Funk.


We have the great privilege to be aunt and uncle, and great-aunt and uncle in the extended family of Doris and the late William Mast. Doris is Marty’s oldest sister. Niece Jan, her husband John (right) and Jan’s children Jessie–with Zooey, Mike, Marty, Jan, Ben, Jenny and Rory. The dessert, after the plates were cleared, was pineapple cake with cream cheese icing and coffee.

May humility guide our steps anew. Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year!


5 thoughts on “Our year that was, still is

  1. I enjoyed the pictorial review of 2021. All wonderful moments in time. Moments are free. They are available to all of us no matter where we are. The only requirement is our attention. More than any holiday gift, this is where meaning lives, and meaning is what we remember most. Now I’ll make some moments to remember.


  2. Thanks, John! Wonderful memories from a year of the pandemic! Thanks for including the photo of our reunion. I really like the Carole’s at the end of your letter!

    Merry Christmas!


    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



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