#91 – A Gift by Increments

Way back in November, I told Sam that for my Christmas present I’d like a slideshow for my iPad, with highlights of travel and just plain ordinary events of our 49+ years together.

An exciting encounter for us new Canadians

Sam’s taken lots of photos over the years, so I thought it would be pretty easy for him to pull such a slideshow together.

I was wrong. He took this opportunity to look through his negatives and scan (or pitch) a whole drawer full he had never dealt with! My Christmas present is still evolving, as Sam hasn’t touched most of the 1980’s negatives yet.

But what I have so far is a wonder – starting with our wedding in 1969, a few pictures from the 1970’s and 1980’s, then picking up our lives again from 1990 on.

Only twice did we travel outside North America together. The first experience came in 1977, when we were invited to join the Schleitheim II Study Tour sponsored by TourMagination.  It came at an excellent time for me, as I was owning and trying out my theological voice during those years. I think the tour leaders were startled when various participants didn’t accept their interpretations of 16th century Anabaptist history!

Petra, tombs for the poor

Our second time outside North America came 30 years later, when we went to Israel, Palestine and Jordan with our friends John Kampen and Carol Lehman. John, a Dead Sea scrolls scholar, wanted to test how he might lead an archeological tour for students at his seminary. We had always wanted to travel to that part of the world, so we said “We’re in.” I was fascinated by how Herod maintained his presence in 1st century Palestine with many palaces, now archeological sites.  But the visual highlight of that journey had to be visiting Petra, the stone wonder in Jordan.

stone-angeljpgIn looking at the photos, we recalled that we did much of our North American sightseeing on the way to the assemblies of various Mennonite bodies.  Usually one of us was a delegate or a board member. In one trip to Manitoba, we looked up sites related to the Canadian novelist Margaret Laurence, enjoying the large stone angel  (actually a shepherdess) in the Neepawa cemetery which she immortalized.  On the way to Sioux Falls, South Dakota,  we found a Laura Ingalls Wilder plaque, and I now wish we had spent more time looking for the other Wilder sites nearby.

The conferences we attended have mostly faded in memory,  but the sights we encountered in the 90’s continue to delight and nourish me. Driving to a conference in the U.S. South, we came upon the Peaks of Otter with its deliberately “primitive” lodge (no TV or phones in the rooms), located just off the Blue Ridge Parkway in Virginia.  We discovered the rugged Washington coast and the rain forest and alpine meadows of the Olympic National Park on our way to a conference in Oregon, and loved the scenery so much we went back.

olympic-national-parkHow these roundabout journeys to conferences have nourished us through the years….

We found that we both enjoy historical discovery as well as the scenery, although I rebel against guided tours from which one cannot escape the line! Since 2004, we’ve focused on a Maritime province every five years. So in Nova Scotia we took in both the Black History Museum near Shelbourne, NS and the touristy Peggy’s Cove.

Lately we have found some Ontario oddities, such as the very basic motel in Thorold where ships silently passed through the Welland Canal in the middle of the night, right outside our window.

Both our historical explorations and the scenery we have encountered have been backdrop for spending good downtime together. My incremental gift from Sam, still in process, reminds me again of the beautiful world we have been given to care for  and enjoy, and moves me to celebrate all the years we’ve done it together…

Questions for Reflection

  1. How do you remember and celebrate the places of beauty or historical importance you have explored  by yourself or with travelling companions over the years?
  2. How – if at all – does that remembering nourish your soul?

Next week: TBA







6 thoughts on “#91 – A Gift by Increments

  1. What a thoughtful and wonderful gift – for you and for Sam. You have such amazing ways of finding nourishment for your spirit (and nudging us to do the same).

    Muriel Bechtel
    515 Langs Dr., Unit J,
    Cambridge, ON
    N3H 5E4
    Home telephone: 519-219-3344
    Cellphone: 226-338-6915

    Every sunrise brings the promise of a new beginning.


  2. Sue, I enjoyed reading this account of your request to Sam and seeing your photos. I love to study other people’s photos and to hear about the people and places caught in time. Your photos did that for me and they let me in on the life shared by you and Sam. I love to join family and friends (and strangers) in retellings of past experiences. For me, it links the present with the past, and I feel connected to the people and the places in the photos and stories. And to the photographer and storyteller. Thank you.

    Jan Steiner


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