Tuesday, October 06, 2009

Vacation - Some Reflections

Last week we were blessed to have a week of vacation. Thanks to a generous gift by some friends in our church our first destination was Boyne Mountain. Boyne is a great resort center in Northern Michigan, known for its ski slopes and golf course. During our stay it rained several days but that did not deter us from having a great time. We had some down time, but much of our time we went out to see some sights.

One day we went to Mackinac Island. To get there we took the kids across the big bridge and then hopped onto a ferry over to the Island. We spent most of our time at Fort Mackinac. The boys really liked the Fort and all of its attributes. Asa was called on to participate in preparation for firing the cannon which goes off every hour. We also waflked out to Arch Rock and around the Michigan Governor's mansion. Anna and I wondered with a setting like that, why would a governor would want to spend a summer anywhere else than the Island.

Another day we went to Castle Farms. Castle Farms, located near Charlevoix, was founded by the CEO of Sears and Roebuck in 1918. Originally it was a working dairy farm with cows housed in a barn that is built like a French castle. Those who have been to real castles have questioned the similarities, as in, this is a poor imitation to real castles that you'd find in Europe. However, it's still impressive. I'm amazed that at one time it housed cows and horses. Today it hosts weddings, community events, and tourists. I asked a staff person about the costs of holding a wedding and she replied, "depending upon the time of year and location within the castle it can range from $1,000 to $10,000."

Before we went to Castle Farms, I took a drive over to Lachine, MI where there is a used tractor dealer, Sumerix Implement, which handles mostly Allis-Chalmers machinery. I saw some tractors that I had only read about or viewed in pictures. I enjoyed the visit and found the drive to and from Boyne filled with crisp and marvelous color.

On Friday we left Boyne and headed to Detroit. This trip was to encompass what some might see as polar opposites regarding sights in the state of Michigan. We saw it as engaging the dynamic world that is around us. Just as we found many things to explore in Northern Michigan, we also found many things we would like to explore in Detroit.

Aravis loved riding the escalator in the hotel. Asa and Moses loved riding Detroit's People Mover.

Thanks to my cousin, Regina, who lives near Wayne State University, we had some guidance on where to visit. Regina suggested visiting Detroit's Eastern Market. It was cool, misty and filled with people and a cornucopia of produce and flowers.

Later in the day we had dinner with Regina. We were talking about the things her church is involved in and she mentioned that they started a produce sales truck, similar to an ice cream truck, that could visit the neighborhoods. She said one of the big stores missing in downtown Detroit is grocery stores. There are no Wal-Mart's, Kroger's, IGA's, Spartan Stores - not because Detroit has said stay out, but because they have not wanted to be in the city. A result of this absence is a lack of healthy food. Regina said that the staple food for many in the inner city is processed foods that they can pick up at the nearest liquor store. If you're looking for a business to open, or a mission to fulfill, let me suggest a grocery store in Detroit.

Regina also said that because of budget cuts in the city of Detroit, bus routes have been limited, thus the only way for a Detroiter to get to Eastern Market is by walking or by driving, and that's something those most in need just don't have and can't do.

In the afternoon we visited the Detroit Institute of Art. The DIA is surrounded by a plethora of other museums. The next time we visit Detroit, we're going to make more time for some of the other museums. The DIA is a marvelous place with a tremendous holding. Anna and the kids loved the Egyptian artifacts. They were enthralled with the mummy. I loved the religious art. Catching my eye was the bright blue color that adorned many of the works surrounding the infancy of Jesus. Mary's veil in several of the renaissance works were painted in this fashion. I will have to explore why.

On Sunday I went to Mariners' Church of Detroit. Mariner's is an historic church next to the Renaissance Center. It worships in the Anglican tradition using the 1928 Book of Common Prayer. One of the lines in the worship folder that caught my attention was this: "a House of Prayer for all People."

After worship, Anna, the kids and I joined Regina for brunch and then we went to her church, Citadel of Faith Covenant Church. Citadel of Faith is pastored by Harvey Carey, a recent presenter at Willow Creek's Leadership Summit. The church is worshipping in a rented facility north of Wayne State University. The service began at Noon and went a little past 2 PM. The singing was lively and in the African American spirit. They had a keyboardist who did the cantor(leader) work and a tremendous choir. Pastor Carey had a lively sermon out of Genesis 15.1-6, with a main theme of faith, but it also touched on a number of other areas - like membership and ministry, apologetics, social decorum, and a theology of righteousness.

It was a joy to worship in both churches and sense God's presence among the people gathered in both places. They were like two different worlds, but both worlds worshipping the Lord, our creator and redeemer.

We returned home, not necessarily rested, but full of rejoicing in the beauty and creativity of God. Even as we drove through places in Detroit where there are buildings without windows, we saw new development, new townhouses, and in Citadel of Faith, we experienced new faith. This is Grace and Hope - that Redemption is happening, in a city, in a people, and for us all.

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