Friday, October 30, 2009

Bobbie Gottschalk and Seeds of Peace at USF

Well this has been a frustrating week and an inspiring week. This week our school played host to a very special guest, Barbara “Bobbie” Gottschalk. She is one of the founding members of Seeds for Peace. The inspiring part is simply her life and impact. The frustrating part was that I never got to meet her, our schedules simply did not allow for it. However, I talked to colleagues who had her speak in their classes, who went out to dinner with her or attended her public talks. I spoke with students who were inspired by her. I did show video about her and the project in two of my classes.

So, while it was a personal frustration for me I am so happy that she was our guest for a week.

"Bobbie Gottschalk & Seeds of Peace"

Bobbie’s story is not the least bit ordinary other than she is a regular person, not a head of state, a writer or rock star who is changing the world by her determination. She is changing the world the only way she knows how, person-to-person. As Bobbie says, “Treaties are made by nations, peace is made by people.”

In 1993 she was approached by her friend, a journalist named John Wallach about joining him in a radical project. He had seen to much violence and sorrow while covering the conflicts of the Middle East. He wanted to create a program that taught young people from the Israeli- Palestinian Conflict to resolve conflict peacefully. From this Seeds of Peace was born.

From the conversation grew a dream that has affected thousands of lives. Seeds of Peace has a summer camp in Maine that brings Palestinians and Israelis together. They learn to work and cooperate together. They learn to see one another as people, they learn to value one another. The success has also meant that programs that help them fit back into their societies had to be created.

Because the programs have been effective more people requested assistance. The result is that Seeds of Peace have participants from the U.S., Afghanistan, India, Pakistan, Turkey and Cyprus. The program involves educators, journalist, anyone who wants to actively work for peace can find a way to contribute to Seeds for Peace.

Seeds of Peace has become a role model of NGO conflict resolution. Its advisory board reflects its growing international reputation. The board includes, former American Presidents George H. W. Bush and Bill Clinton, Her Majesty Queen Noor of Jordan, Shimon Peres of Israel and Palestinian Dr. Sa'eb Erekat .

Many people on campus felt a connection with Bobbie. The members of JustPeace were greatly inspired. Members of the Franciscan Family saw Ms Gottschalk doing the work peace-makers are called to do. Many of us in the behavioral sciences were proud to see she started out as a clinical social worker and school counselor. It was however difficult to listen to her and not feel called to personally do more in the cause of peace-making. So, to Dr. Matt Smith and all of those responsible for bringing this real life hero to the University of St. Francis, thank you.

The Path to Peace and Change

Wednesday, October 28, 2009

The Vatican Alma Mater and Simon Boswell

I am increasingly excited to eventually hear the Vatican Alma Mater CD. The blending of North African rhythms, Gregorian chants, orchestral backgrounds and the Pope praying sounds amazing. There is nothing average or ordinary about this C.D. I am particularly excited that the British composer Simon Boswell is a part of this endeavor. Simon adds many dimensions to this project. He is a Cambridge educated man. He is agnostic and he is creative, oh is he creative.

Santa Sangre (1989) – Triste

Boswell has been making albums since 1976. His musical career is eclectic to say the least. He toured with Blondie in the 70s. He began producing records in the 80s. It was not long before he was making connection in the international music industry. In the beginning of this career he wrote music for Italian movies. That however changed in the 1990s.

Simon Boswell - Hot Ice Soundtrack: A Midsummer Night's Dream (1999)

Simon got his big break when he wrote the music for Hardware. After that he became noticed and started writing music for big budget films. The most current and probably most familiar project was the music for the mini series Tin Man. The series was a reinterpretation of The Wizard of Oz. The music was haunting and almost served as an additional character in the story.

Central City - Tin Man Soundtrack

He has also worked on other projects. This includes working with the Vatican to set the words of Pope John Paul II to music.

So it should come as no surprise that Simon Boswell is involved in Vatican Alma Mater. He has the Italian roots, the experience in collaborating with other forms of music and working with folks from other countries. Finally, the Vatican knows the quality of his work. Yep, I can’t wait for the C.D. to be released at the end of November.

Benedict XVI Recorded an Album in Honour of the Virgin

Tuesday, October 20, 2009

Rome and the Year of Africa

Rome is focused this year on Africa. Africa is a continent of vast potential and resources, of varied cultures and peoples. However, sadly, it is also a continent of civil war, disease, poverty and human rights abuses. To be sure there are few areas of the world that do not suffer war, disease or brutal regimes. The nations of Europe and North America are involved in those wars. However, the focus on Africa is appropriate.

There are few places on the planet were Christianity is growing at such an impressive rate. There are few places on the planet where right next to Christian communities Muslim communities are growing at an equally impressive rate. These peoples, often fellow citizens have a choice to make. They can either learn to respect one another, value each others unique dignity or they can ignore the teachings of their faiths and attack one another. The stakes are high, for them and the world.

Catholic Church Singing

So this year Rome has focused on Africa, the mother of nations. In March the Pope visited Angola and Cameroon. Just this past September the bishops of Africa and Madagascar meet in Rome for their episcopal conference. Currently the bishops are attending the Synod of Africa in Rome.

The suffering of the continent is great. The United Nations estimates that over 400 million Africans are living on less than a dollar a day. An additional 800 million people suffer from chronic hunger.

Operation Rice Bowl in Ghana

The Church is assessing what it can do to alleviate suffering and what it has failed to do. This includes an honest assessment by Church leadership about its silence prior to the Kenya election and resultant turmoil. The Church is also loudly calling out for reform and democracy. However, many of the bishops are calling for more basic changes. This includes valuing the traditional family. This includes a call for the end of oppression of women in the forms of prostitution, pornography and rape.

Additional threats to the well-being of Africans include the HIV/AIDS epidemic, armed conflicts, rampant corruption and multinational corporations exploiting natural resources. In the weeks ahead I will discuss the struggles Africans and the Church face if they are to find ways to grow, prosper and live in peace with their neighbors. However, I will also be talking about the celebration of faith that is the Catholic Church in Africa.

Kenyan Catholic Music

Saturday, October 17, 2009

World Music, Sacred Music and the Pope

I find myself drawn to world-music. It is a term that is way too broad to be useful. In my case I simply mean music that is a fusion. I have preferences, I like music fused with African and Caribbean rhythms, I like folksy music and I especially like to be surprised. Well, a new addition is being added to the collection of world music at the end of November 2009.

Geffen Universal is releasing a new and interesting CD album. It is a collection of eight new songs. The collection is titled Music from the Vatican- Alma Mater. The most unlikely performer is Pope Benedict XVI. He will be heard singing and praying.

What makes this a type of world music or fusion? Everything. One composer, Simon Boswell (of Tin Man fame) is a British agnostic. Another, Stefano Mainetti, is an Italian Catholic. The third, known for North African folk music and world music is Nour Eddine. Mr. Eddine is a Moroccan Muslim. The composers wrote eight new songs that combine modern sacred music, prayers and Gregorian chanting. The music blends the sounds and rhythms of North Africa with the musical traditions of the West.

His Holiness Pope Benedict XVI can be heard singing and chanting in Italian, French, English, German, Portuguese and Latin. His Holiness is accompanied by the Choir of the Philharmonic Academy of Rome which was conducted by Monsignor Pablo Colino. The Monsignor is the Maestro Emeritus of St. Peter's Basilica. Additionally, the Royal Philharmonic Orchestra performs on each track and they were recorded at Abbey Road studios in London. Face it, this qualifies for world music!

So, in the coming weeks I will be writing about this cultural and spiritual event. I will talk about the composers, the process and the history of modern sacred music. However, I will be writing as a novice to the subject, someone who just knows what he likes. I will not be writing as a serious student of the sacred music. This is music to pray by, to chant by, and to listen to in rooms lit with candles. It is music that restores smiles after long days and it is music that reminds us to hope. However, most importantly, it is music that reminds us that we are all connected to one another.

The Vatican Alma Mater

Friday, October 16, 2009

Holy Family Fraternity in LaGrange Indiana

On September 26th our Secular Franciscan fraternity, the Holy Family Fraternity did something a little different. Instead of having our regular meeting at the Campus Ministry building at the University of Saint Francis we had a road trip, well, sort of. We met at St. Joseph Parish Church in LaGrange Indiana.

LaGrange is a great little town. It has a beautiful Courthouse Square, a pretty main street business section and it has murals. However, we were there for worship and fellowship.

So, in this town in Amish country, in a town where the Protestant Churches are considerably larger, we had our Franciscan meeting. That of course was appropriate because the priest at the church is Father Mark Weaver or Friar Mark of the Conventual Franciscans.

Holy Family Fraternity Secular Franciscans Getting Ready to Break Bread

First we had Mass. It was nice to participate with the Parish members. The church was simple but nice. It had a warm, welcoming feel to it. It had great sprawling greens outside the window and yet it was in town. Friar Mark introduced us to his congregation.

The church will be celebrating its 75th anniversary and the bishop will help them kick off the event. Now LaGrange is a small town, just under 3000 people. That does not stop this town from having some big events. That includes the Vatican Exhibition of the Eucharistic Miracles of the World. This will include a display 126 Eucharistic miracles from around the world and throughout the ages. Not too shabby for a small town in a rural county!

St. Joseph Parish LaGrange Indiana

After Mass our fraternity went to the social room. We had a pot luck meal. Friar Mark blessed our meal and blessed us with his company. Afterward he served as our formation leader. He told us about St. Joseph of Cupertino. He is the patron saint of pilots and students. He is the patron saint of students simply because he was not the brightest candle in the room and yet became a priest by shear persistence.

St. Joseph of Cupertino

After fellowship and formation we planned for Transitus and the Feast of Saint Francis. It was a nice day in the country. I liked the church and the town but it was the warmth and humor of Friar Mark that I really enjoyed. We hope to have him in Fort Wayne as a guest of our fraternity in January.

Holy Family Fraternity Just Taking Our Leave

Saturday, October 10, 2009

A Franciscan Weekend

Last weekend was a wonderful weekend. Saturday night marked Transitus. That is the time of the Year (Oct. 3rd) which we commemorate the passing of Francis from this life to the next. It could be a sad occasion but that would indicate we don’t get it!

I joined some of my Secular Franciscans at the chapel at the University of Saint Francis. This is a small, simple chapel. I was in for a surprise. It was lit with 36 candles. The music was up-lifting. “Brother Leo” was there to guide us through the service. Afterwards we all had refreshments with the Sisters of Perpetual Adoration.

Blessing of the Animals at USF

The next day was the Feast of Saint Francis. First our Seculars met. Sister Anita lead them in their formation readings. I then talked about my experience at Emmaus Ministries and how that fit in with our call to come to the aid of lepers. It was well received.

Blessing of the Animals II

After that we all went to Mass. Father John was eloquent. Immediately after the service we went outside to the statue of St. Francis by Sufi. There Father John blessed the animals of the neighborhood. People brought dogs, cats and chickens. Yep, it was a great weekend.


Prayer of Saint Francis in Front of Saint Francis

Tuesday, October 6, 2009

Matt Maher's Litany of Saints

Letanía de los Santos - Matt Maher's Litany of Saints

Matt Maher at the University of Saint Francis Fort Wayne

So, yesterday was bag pipes, reggae and Mexican hip hop. Today is Matt Maher. That is quite the cornucopia of music!

Matt Maher is one of the most famous and popular Catholic musicians around. He travels the world performing, with his group and with others. In Toronto, during World Youth 2002 he sang for the pope. Even more impressive, his song, “Litany of the Saints” served as the official Papal Evening Prayer. Matt was joined in singing by a crowd of 700,000.

He has been performing around the world ever since. However, he works at keeping perspective, of not becoming a celebrity. That includes missing awards and recognition when the events clash with his parish responsibilities. I cannot imagine that but then I suspect he is a lot more consistent in his faith than I am.

So how did he end up at the University of Saint Francis? Two of our students, peer ministers, heard him in concert last year. They then went up to him and asked if he would consider playing at USF and he said “yes!” They then contacted Jan Patterson, the Director of Campus Ministry, who has worked at arranging the concert.

The concert was well-attended. Besides students, faculty, and staff, the sisters came down from the mother house. Students from high schools and parish schools joined us. It was covered by Christian radio stations, Protestant and Catholic.

Matt Maher at USF: "I'm Alive Again"

With the first song it was clear the concert was a success. Students began clapping, singing and dancing. It was also clear that this was not a rock concert but a worship service with rock music.

Matt Maher at USF: "Your Grace is Enough"

With each new song the students became more involved and participatory. The energy was powerful. High schoolers, college students and older adults were rocking and praising. In between songs Matt talked about his faith in a way that was celebratory and full of thanksgiving. He was not preachy, just passionate.

Auditions for "Sister Act III?"

The sisters came down from the mother house. They got into the spirit of the concert. I tried to video them but the lighting was too dark. I have only the briefest of clips, dark and not in focus. However, it captures their enthusiasm and joy. Matt described the sisters in the back row as “beautiful” and he was right.

Matt Maher at USF and Everybody Jumps!

By the end of the concert everybody was up, everybody was dancing and jumping. The clip reflects the enthusiasm of the audience. It also captures the guitarist breaking a string and the drummer and bass player realizing they had to fill in a little. Watch the end of the clip, the audience is really into Matt and the music and they are clearly happy to be there.

Finally, after the concert Matt and the band spent time with the audience. Matt then graciously agreed to be interviewed. He spoke of his musical gifts, his faith and the influence of Saint Francis in his life. It was a great night and I look forward to Matt visiting our campus in the future.

Matt Maher at USF Talking About Music, Faith and Francis

So, that was my weekend. It was so stimulating, so full of surprises and joy. I know small cities can be boring, lucky for me, I live in Fort Wayne!

My Fort Wayne: Viva Fort Wayne Fiesta

Viva Fort Wayne Fiesta: A Little Music and Dance

After a day of fife and drums, bag pipes and African and Caribbean rhythms there was only one more thing to experience, Mexican music! Downtown at Headwaters Park the local Mexican-American community, along with communities in Michigan, Ohio and Chicago were celebrating Hispanic Heritage Month. This was the Viva Fort Wayne Fiesta. The food was great. Dancing was everywhere and not all ametures. Dance troups included: The Andino dancers from Ecuador, Ballet Amaneceres de México, and the Indianapolis Ballet Folklorico. The music got people up off there feet. I had never head Mexican hip-hop before.

Probably the most unusual part of the day was the Chihuahua races. They were not taken seriously. The races were an excuse, along with the Jalapeño Eating Contests, to make money. And that money, well 100% of it, went to Jorge Gonzales, a 16 year old in need of a kidney transplant. 16 different agencies, communities around the Midwest, all united to help this young man. It is clear, I have every reason to love my city!

So that was my Saturday. Three different festivals, different music, different food, and all were welcoming. Tomorrow…the Matt Maher concert at USF. THIS is a great weekend.

Viva Fort Wayne Fiesta: And Some More Dance

My Fort Wayne: The African/African American Museum

I took a tour of the African/African American Museum. It was a perfect day. People were happy and the sounds of music permeated the building. The museum is ten years old. It is beautiful, powerful and growing.

The first floor begins with a poster of our President, there is no question that people here are proud of President Obama. The next room is the African Room. It has artifacts from West Africa. The room connects to the Passage From Africa Room. Here there are artifacts of the slave ships. From the ceiling hang models of slave ships. It is a sobering room. Behind this room is a gift shop and then two rooms with paintings from local artists.

African-African American Museum: Passage to America

The second floor has a number of exhibits. This includes a room of Fort Wayne African Americans who have changed the city. There is a room dedicated to athletes. There is one dedicated to Audubon. The paintings for birds are replicates done by a local artist.

African-African-American Museum: The African Room

I had questions and volunteers were happy to answer my questions. However, when they could not answer my questions they referred me to one person, Hana L. Stith, the curator and founder of the museum. She is a fixture in the city culture. She is a mover and a shaker, she is a blessing.

Hana was nice enough to grant me an interview. I did not know she was a graduate of the University of Saint Francis, or as it was known then, the College of Saint Francis. She attended the college when it admitted its first male student, times have changed.

Curator Stith takes a great deal of pride in the museum and she should. It is an anchor in the cultural corridor of Fort Wayne. It is visited by many students from northeast Indiana. It is gathering artifacts from the areas underground railroad. It discovers local talent and highlights that talent.

An Interview with Ms Hana L. Stith: Curator

This was the second stop on my cultural tour of Fort Wayne. Two down, one more to go!

My Fort Wayne: A Breath of Afrika Festival

After spending the morning and early afternoon at the Johnny Appleseed Festival it was time to go the Breath of Afrika Cultural Arts Festival.This was the first year of this event. As soon as you parked your car you were greeted by the sounds of African drums, Caribbean beats and the smell of BBQ. More importantly, you were greeted with laughter and hospitality.

Breath of Afrika: A little Bit of Dancing

The festival celebrates the contributions of Afrikans and Afrikan Americans to the larger American culture. The festival showcases the East Central neighborhood. The neighborhood felt like, well, a neighborhood. Children ran around playing, adults met in small groups and laughed and talked. When you looked north-west you saw the buildings of downtown, the cathedral and the lights to Parkview Field. When you looked east you saw the African/Afrikan American Museum. All this while folks were dressed in African clothes, children beat drums, people sold art and food and people danced. The festival had poetry readings, Stan Champion and Roots Rock Society, and an Afro-Caribbean group called Timbalaye. The festival was sponsored by the museum and Three Rivers Institute of Afrikan Art and Culture (TRIAAC). TRIAAC is the home of the Three Rivers Jenbé Ensemble. This is a local youth group that uses Afrikan drumming and dance to learn about culture and responsibility. They are great and their performances were well received.

Breath of Afrika: A Little More Dancing

There were tours of the museum. There were also tours of the building behind the stage, the Kachmann Mind Body Institute. It was clearly a great day, with friendly folks at a neighborhood festival.

Sunday, October 4, 2009

My Fort Wayne: Old Fashion Rides at the Appleseed Festival

Cathi and I took our great, great nephew Andre to the festival. He had a great time. However, his favorite activity by far was the old fashion amusement park. It consisted of games, obstacle courses and rides, all hand-made using ropes and lumber. One of the rides was a little too scary for him, or so I thought. Cathi knew he wasn’t really scared. I was surprised when he complained that the other rides weren’t scary.

Johnny Appleseed Festival: Old Fashion Rides I

I loved walking thought the mazes with Andre to get to each ride. I could look behind me and see and hear marching bands. I could also look in front of me and see people playing on the shores of the St. Joseph River or watch birds gliding across its surface. What a beautiful setting for a festival.

Johnny Appleseed Festival: Old Fashion Rides II

My Fort Wayne: So Many Things To Do At The Appleseed Festival

What I like about the Johnny Appleseed Festival is that there are so many things to do and see there. You can shop, eat, watch, listen or ride. You can walk by a river or dam. You can be in a huge crowd or find a space by yourself. The sounds and aromas are powerful and I love it.

As we first entered the festival we came in contact with lots of music. We also came in contact with a group of folks making caramel corn. Not with a microwave or jiffy pop./ These were big fires, huge pots and the corn was stirred with both hands. It looked great and smelled better.

Johnny Appleseed Festival, Making Caramel Corn

Soldeirs were everywhere. That is not unusal. We have a fort so we are use to enactments. Ther were fife and drum corps folks marching thoughout thefestival. There were soldiers doing rifle demonstrations. However, my favorite was the cannon shot by the shores of the St. Joseph River. This is the river that comes down from Elkhart. A few feet away is a dam. So much to do and two more festivals to get to. Yep, I love the Fort.

Johnny Appleseed Festival: A Big Shot

My Fort Wayne: Johnny Appleseed Festival: People and Song

The weekend of September 18-19 was incredible. It is one of the reason I like fort Wayne. The city is a small city but it has a lot to do. On the 18th I attended the Johnny Appleseed Festival, Breath of Afrika Festival and Viva Fort Wayne Festival. I heard bagpipes, African and Caribbean music and Mexican hip[hop, all in one day! The following evening I attended a matt maher concert at the University of Saint Francis.. Yep, ya got to work at it to get bored in the Fort.

Johnny Appleseed is one of the most famous festival in a city known for it’s festivals. This was the 35th anniversary of the first one. We celebrate the festival at, naturally, Johnny Appleseed Park. It is named after Johnny because Johnny Appleseed, or John Chapman is buried there.

The festival is crowded. It is next to the Allen County War Memorial Coliseum, a dam and camp grounds. The festival has food, kiddy games and rides, goods for sale, marching bands and lots and lots of music. All while folks are in period costumes.

Johnny Appleseed Festival: Hay, Songs and People

Johnny Appleseed Festival: Crowd and Singing

There were fife and drum bands, bag pipe bands, folk singers, traveling music and just lots and lots of entertainment.

Johnny Appleseed Festival: Bag Pipes

Meadow Brook Farm and the Quilt Garden Tour

Our last stop of the day was to Meadow Brooks Farm. The farm is an historic farm dating back to the Civil War. It was also the site of governors and congressman giving speeches about farm betterment.

The area was surrounded by corn and blue skies. The barn was red, the farm house looked like something from Lassie and I loved it.

Meadow Brook Farm Quilt Garden

The Quilt Garden was title “Your Grandmother’s Fan”. It was made up of alfalfa, buckwheat, corn, sunflowers and soybeans. It did not have its original beauty but the setting was great. On the barn was a mural and behind the barn a few livestock.

Meadow Brook Farm and a Few Friends

There were so many towns we did not go to, so many gardens we did not see. Still, I cannot wait till next year. This was a great day.

A Few Quilt Murals

Goshen and the Quilt Farden Tour

Goshen is one of our all time favorite towns to visit. We go there even more than Elkhart. We enjoy going to the "Old Bag Factory.” It is a renovated factory that houses shops, restaurants and is just a wonderful setting. Across the trolley trail is the Mennonite Service Committee. They have a resale shop there and all the money goes to good works. I usually stoop by the Service Committee and we talk about world issues. I just love being around folks dedicated to peace-making.

Goshen: The Old Bag Factory and Quilt Garden

Across the road is an old converted shop that is the studio for a sculpture. Then there is the old shop and log cabin that also houses antiques. It is next to this the the Quilt Garden was located. The garden had a scope for looking at it from above. It was supposed to be a “Bird’s Eye View” garden. The colors were great but the garden was also showing some weathering. .

Goshen: The Depot

Finally we went to the downtown area to look at a few murals. The downtown is home to restaurants, more antiques shops, the American Red Cross and the courthouse. Beyond the immediate area are churches, lots and lots of churches. Yep, Norman Rockwell would have loved Goshen.

Goshen Wall Quilt

The Quilt Garden Tour and a Stop in Elkhart

Our next stop was at Elkhart. I love this city. It has so many museums, an elegant downtown and rivers, boy does it have rivers. The Elkhart, Mishawaka and St. Joseph rivers meet here. There is a Railroad Museum, art museums, historical museums and there are historic homes. There are also parks and river walks that take your breath away. So it should come as no surprise that in a city of multiple Quilt Gardens we only saw one!

We only saw one garden because he took a tour of the Ruthmere Mansion. This took about two hours but it was oh so grand. The mansion was built in 1908 by the Beardsley family. It became part of a row of mansion for millionaires. The mansion looks out at the river.

This particular mansion is not enormous and in fact was made simply to entertain visiting guests and business associates. The building is beautiful. The Billiard Room has faux elephant skin wall paper, actually looks much nicer than it sounds. It has an early air conditioning system. There is original art all over the place. That includes Rodans, Tiffany class, porcelains and paintings. The wall papers are of silk and satins. The furniture is opulent and the dining room is just waiting to serve me.

There is a green house for one; it connects to the mansion via an underground passage. It is watered by a system that collected and used rain water. The building was green before we ever knew what that meant.

The garage was even interesting. The cars drove in head first. They parked on a round abut on the ground the round-about turned so the car was then facing out. That is because early cars did not have a reverse. There was even an electric car that had service in the Secret Service.

Nest to the mansion was the Quilt Garden. This one was titled “Flower Basket”. It was big, thirty feet by thirty feet. By the time we made the tour the weather had taken a toll on the garden. We didn’t car. I finally toured the mansion and behind us was the river greenway.

Elkhart: The Ruthmere Mansion: Quilt Garden

After looking at the garden we went over to the river. I walked over the bridge that leads to Island Park. The island is Elkhart Island, named because to the original Native Americans it looked like an Elk’s Heart. This is the land of the Pottawatomie and the Chippewa. The Beardsley’s were the premier settlers and the town could have been named after them. Instead they honored the original inhabitants and kept the name.

Elkhart River and Ruthmere Mansion

I love river cities. They are the site of mills, dams and growing culture (and of course pollution). I keep coming back to Elkhart and I don’t see that stopping in the near future!

Walking to Island Park: Elkhart Indiana

Saturday, October 3, 2009

The Dutchman of Essenhaus

Our next stop was in a tiny town of Essenhaus. The garden was weathered. The area was a small convention center. It was special to us for a personal reason. We knew the restaurants might be closed and we brought a picnic. We sat in over-sized hand-made rocking chairs and had a fine meal between the log cabins and Amish-like structures. The company and the conversation matched the food. Now that was a nice respite.

We had to make some decisions; there were far too many gardens and towns to see. So, we did not go to Middlebury which is a favorite stop for us. Ignore the tape, you are looking at Essenhaus. Well, it is time to move onto to Elkhart Indiana.

The Dutchman: Essenhaus: Quilt Garden

Shipshewana and the Quilt Garden Tour

Our first stop was to Shipshewana. This is a small town, a village actually only miles from the Michigan border. A little over 500 people live here. However, it is the center of Amish community. It has one of the largest flea markets in the world. It is the home of simple foods, tools, arts and crafts. It is the home of the Menno-Hof Amish/Mennonite Museum. It was a good place to begin a tour.

The first garden was on the museum grounds. It was titled “Dove at the Window.” “Peace” was a reoccurring theme for many of the gardens. The garden consisted of over 3,500 Begonias, that’s a lot of flowers! The setting was great. In front of the museum was a clothes line with Amish and Mennonite clothes hanging on the line. Behind the garden was a pond. It was all simple, consistent with Amish living.

The Menno-Hof Museum is a wonderful place to learn about all the different types of Anabaptists. There is a replica of the 16th century ship. There are displays that describe the persecution the Amish experienced in Europe. There is plenty of information about the world of the Amish today. It is definitely worth a visit, just not on a Sunday!

Quilt Garden Show: Shipshewana Indiana

There was a small reflecting pond between the museum and the road. It simply highlighted an already beautiful garden.

Menno-Hof-Amish/Mennonite Museum: Quilts Continued

Across the road was the Farmstead Inn. This was not an Amish structure. It is a massive hotel (massive for a town of 500) that serves the many visitors to this part of Indiana. The garden was titled “Shoofly Garden”. It was big, It replicates a quilt found in the town hall. The Shoofly represent a conductor on the underground railroad, again, social justice is an important value in this part of the state. The garden is made up of Periwinkles. There are 2010 white Periwinkles and 2810 rose colored Periwinkles, yep, that’s a lot of Periwinkles. If we were here any day but a Sunday we could cross the road and have a nice piece of Shoofly Pie.
There were more murals in town but it was time for us to move on.

Farmstead Inn: Quilt Garden

Our Quilt Gardens Tour of Northeast Indiana: 2009

On September 13th Cathi and I, along with our adult niece went on a little road trip. We spent the day in Northeast Indiana. We went from town to town looking at some special gardens. This was the Quilt Garden Tour. There were 16 gardens along with Quilt Murals.

Now it wasn’t the best time to go. We missed the best time by about two weeks. Also we went on a Sunday. That meant some of the gardens had lost their brilliance, some were damaged a little by wind. It also meant that we were traveling on a Sunday in Amish/Mennonite country. That meant the stores, restaurants and museums were closed. We did not mind. We knew this area very well.

We drove to Shipshewana, the center of Amish country in this area. We went to Elkhart and Goshen, two of our favorite digs. We also visited Essenhaus and some country gardens.

We say plenty of Amish. They were attending their house churches. That meant that early on we saw all kinds of buggies on the road. However, soon we only saw homes with buggies parked in the yard. But there were so many buggies parked in those yards.

It was a great day. The weather was sunny, the skies blue and the fields were showing that autumn was on its way. Most of all we had good company. The following will be a brief review of a wonderful day.

Amish Horses and Buggies in Wakarusa, Indiana