Last Sunday I was the lead off speaker for our summer series – “What nourishes my spirit?”– at Rockway Mennonite Church. Our summer services are informal, with presenters from within the congregation and time built in for response.
“For the past year and a bit, I’ve been considering this question regularly,” I began. I spoke of the genesis of this blog, and my beginning hunch that “my blog would honour what I experience through my senses as a doorway to the holy,” as well as celebrating things like Mennonite community.
I’ve recently re-read my first 60 blogs, and tried to put them into categories. I found that the verses of my favorite hymn – For the beauty of the earth – form a template for many of them.
For instance, verse 1, For the love which from our birth over and around us lies, inspired my reflections on “My Childhood Home” (blog #45) and “Cousins” (blog #3). Verse 2, For the beauty of each hour, brought to mind “Sunday Afternoon Drives” in Old Order Mennonite country (blog #8) and “Sinking into Peace on the Bruce” (blogs #10 and 62).
A book I’m presently reading, Vesper Time: The Spiritual Practice of Growing Older by Frank Cunningham, suggests that in our senior years we look for an “arc of nourishment, a leading theme that fed the multiple phases of our past” (p. 1).
My own “arc of nourishment” surely began in the Mennonite community of Souderton, Pennsylvania in the 1950’s and early 60’s. It curves through Goshen College in the late 1960’s, and then into the Mennonite world here in southwestern Ontario in the 1970’s and 80’s and beyond.
A good deal of my personal work in life has been learning to celebrate the similarities and navigate the differences between the Mennonite community that nourished me early on and the one I now espouse, while being grateful for them both!
I find it fascinating that some of my blogs start in childhood in Pennsylvania and continue in the Waterloo Region of Ontario. For instance, our Sunday afternoon drives into the countryside around here hark back to the drives we took in my Dad’s 1939 Buick Roadmaster to look at fields of grain he’d heard about.
And to my surprise, I’ve found that many of the same things that nourished me before my diagnosis of cancer continue to nourish me now. Having cancer strangely heightens my nourishment and joy in nephews and cousins and their spouses, in old friends and in my childhood home remembered. Cancer heightens my nourishment and joy as I walk through Rockway Gardens across the street or drive through Old Order Mennonite country (full of my fifth cousins!) or as I gaze at the ever-changing sky from our 10th floor condo windows…
And it has certainly increased my nourishment and joy in my present church community; our worship space at Rockway is now a true sanctuary for me, enfolding me in God’s care. Thanks be to God!
Question for Reflection:
Has a troubling time in life heightened your experience of those things which nourish you most or which you especially enjoy? If so, what did this reveal to you?
Next week: TBA