Dovetailing with the theme of Indianapolis’ annual Spirit & Place festival, our fall issue centers on Power. How do power structures in the church help or hinder our faith? How does the power of community help us through difficult situations? What does the power of a Sabbath provide? Stunning photography, poetry, prose – this issue has it all. Thanks for reading MennoExpressions!
Happy 30th anniversary to MennoExpressions! In celebration of this milestone, this issue centers around the traditional 30th anniversary gift: we started this year with an issue on “dirt,” followed by one on “interruptions,” and now come to our “pearl.” Something potentially pesky and irritating sits in darkness and silence and, over time, is transformed into something beautiful, precious, cherished.
Catherine Swanson offers up a wonderful meditation on what happens when she embraces the silence and trusts that there is something she can listen to and find precious and worthy in that space. Others share reflections on what worth they’ve found in these pages over the last three decades. Our artists each created something specific just for this issue!
Part of what I value so much about MennoExpressions is that it brings out the parts of people that you don’t normally see or find out about on Sunday morning. Such trust that contributors have placed in us, the readers, as they share personal stories and struggles. What a gift that is.
Erv comments that people must often be surprised when they are asked to write, not considering themselves a writer. I agree that it’s a very common answer, and yet more often than not, people push past their hesitation and create something transformative for the rest of us to appreciate. Thank you for trusting us – MennoExpressions, FMC, Shalom – with your stories and your art. Here’s to the next pearls of wisdom and cherished contributions!
I was trading messages with Michele, one of this issue’s contributors, and she joked that her “first thought about ‘interruptions’ is ‘my life’. Because when you are a parent, your life is just pretty much one of constant interruptions, isn’t it?” Seriously.
But whether we’re parents or not, we’re all bombarded with interruptions, big and small, as we move throughout our lives. Some of these interruptions are pesky, some are life-changing, some are welcomed, some are not. All of them make for some interesting reading and reflection here. Thanks for reading MennoExpressions!
In this issue of MennoExpressions, you’ll find artwork and prose themed around Dirt: the content includes stills from an experimental video performance in which dirt is used instead of makeup; reflections how dirt makes us clean; a story about repurposing contaminated property (where a dry cleaners used to operate) into a thriving community garden; a photo essay on compost; plus beautiful artwork and poetry. I think you’ll find something to dig your toes into. Enjoy!
Hurdles are present in each of our lives. Some are easy to see and therefore easy for us to make a plan to get over them. Others are not as clearly seen or recognized. Contributors to this issue of MennoExpressions discuss several different hurdles: those in our education system, emotional and physical hurdles during a painful pilgrimage, and a growing awareness of what advantages a white mom doesn’t share with her black children. What is a hurdle you are currently facing?
“In the midst of” seems to have struck a chord with our contributors. Not only are there glimpses into the lives of 22 (!) FMCers and SMCers (these interviews alone are worth opening the issue!) but other contributors share unique perspectives on what they are in the midst of, including:
- Karen West’s perennial search for harmony (her preferred term to “work/life balance”);
- Catherine Swanson’s haunting poem about a family who has fled their home and is desperately searching for a country to take them in;
- Jen and Nate Christophel Lichti’s exploration of their transition away from church and towards deeper community within their own family and with others;
- Martha Yoder Maust narrates what she sees in her downtown neighborhood as she takes a Saturday morning walk, while Pattie Mishler explores the gifts walking gives her;
- Two FMC college students reflect on their experiences living in France and Peru, respectively, this spring; and
- Laura Friesen’s journey through issues of power and connectivity while she reflects on Steve’s time at FMC as transitional pastor.
What are you in the midst of?
Have you ever had an assumption that proved incorrect? What do you think of the assumptions – visual and written – shared by contributors Kenda Resler Friend, Bethany Habegger, Dan Hess, Becky Oberg, Steve Thomas, and Michele West? Perhaps you have an assumption to share…
Many of the voices in this issue touch on people dealing with the consequences of being uprooted, jolted from one reality into another. How much do we not think about something routine in our lives – our health, our independence, our jobs, our families – until, in a heartbeat, it all changes?
This issue, dedicated to expressions of creativity, is packed with art and prose! A beautiful short story by Iona Wagner, reflections on their respective processes of creating art and music by Annette Bolton, Laurel Gerbrandt, Karla Hovde, Jeremy South, and Michael Stauffer, prose by John Hofstetter, and artwork by Gaynel Bryan, Ethan Nissley, and Jared Nissley make this an issue not to miss.
What do you think of when you hear “solitude”? Do you welcome solitude, or do you avoid it? It feels easy to avoid right now, what with the proliferation of digital devices and the real (or perceived) need to be connected, all the time. In this issue of MennoExpressions, writers Meagan Johnson and Carolyn Martin share their thoughts on the ways solitude is present in their lives, and Michele West and Carolyn share photographs which visually represent their views of solitude.