Roadmaps and Heart-Maps

Maps: Finding Our Place in this World[1] tells the story of life and lives through cartography (the study of maps).  A companion volume to a Chicago Field Museum exhibit, Maps chronicles that geography is more than simply the lay of the land.  According to the editors, an atlas charts not simply the place people live but how that place changes people.

It seems obvious from Genesis 10, that where a person lives impacts what they do and how they live.  We all come from “common stock”: all people everywhere are equal since we are all “blood”[2].  Yet, it is The Table of Nations genealogy which emphasizes the connection land has to people.  Land Creates Vocations[3]: where one lives may determine what he will do in life (e.g., living near water may indicate a maritime career).  Land Creates Nations[4]: clans, nations, languages, territories indicate sovereignty of what is “theirs”.  Land Creates Home[5]: God set places for all to live.

Perhaps a map tells us as much about us as it does about our location.  In this fifth and final segment concerning “place” I thought it would be good to hear from a person whose life has been shaped by a place.  Rob and Deb Wingerter are the patrons of Mahseh Center.  Rob’s vision for a retreat-study center began twenty years ago on Lake Bruce.  Deb’s family roots here go back sixty-five years, allowing Mahseh to become reality.  Here, in Deb’s own words, is the link between people and place, between roadmaps and heart-maps:

On April 17, 2007 my mother, Dortha Strong Waidner left this world and joined Jesus in heaven.  She was 91 years old and had lived a long and full life.  She first came to Lake Bruce in the 1930’s because her grandfather John Morton Strong had a trailer on Guise Park Road.  He didn’t own land there but he did some work for the Guises and so they let him park his trailer there.  In 1941 my grandfather Clarence Strong purchased five lots from Linc Overmeyer with the intention of building a cabin for his father.  Clarence also wanted a place to come and fish and relax at the end of his work week at Studebakers in South Bend.  The war came along, my uncles were drafted, and the cabin was not built until 1946.  During construction John Morton Strong died.  So the cabin was used by all the Strong’s and their church friends for resting and fishing.

In 1947 Dortha returned from living in California and Lake Bruce became her refuge, a place of peace and renewal.   In June of 1955 when I was 8 months old my mother packed up me, my older sister and my nephew Billy and my dad drove us to Lake Bruce.  We stayed there all summer and early fall.  My dad came on the weekends and my mother and sister had no car during the week.  When groceries were needed or ice for the icebox, my sister would row the fishing boat across the lake to Johnny Dillinger’s store.  They had no indoor plumbing, washed the diapers by hand and hung them on the line to dry.  But once again Lake Bruce was my mother’s refuge, a place for healing and hope.

Over the years my mother and father developed many close friendships at Lake Bruce.  May Kline who lived in the house (now gone) at the corner of Lake Shore Drive and 150N was a close friend of my mother’s and my grandmother’s.  It was May’s father Linc who had owned all the land on the east shore.  Bill and Margaret Werner who lived in the old Lake Bruce Hotel next to the railroad tracks (now gone) were also good friends.  Margaret knew everything that went on at Lake Bruce and anything you told her would most likely end up in the Observer where Bill worked.

Lake Bruce has always been a special place created by God for people to come to for refuge and retreat. The peace and tranquility that comes with God’s presence is there for all who come and open their hearts to it.  For 61 years it was my mother’s refuge.  Now she is where there is no need for refuge.  Heaven, where there are no tears, no sorrow, no pain, is her home now.  She was welcomed by my father, my sister, my grandparents, Bill and Margaret, May, and many, many others.  I am so thankful that God has given me and my family this refuge to keep us going in this broken world until He calls us home.

Dr. Mark Eckel has been a lecturer at Mahseh Center since 2008.

[1] James R. Akerman and Robert W. Karrow, editors.  University of Chicago Press, 2007.

[2] 1 Corinthians 15:47-49; Ephesians 3:14, 15.

[3] Genesis 10:5.

[4] Genesis 10:5, 20, 31.

[5] Genesis 10:32; cf. Acts 17:26.

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