It is getting close to the end of our official time with Faith UMC here in Grand Rapids Michigan, and because of that, hardly a day has gone by this week without some kind member of the congregation taking us out to yet another part of the city that we haven't yet seen... Yesterday Kathy and Herb Ranta took us to the wonderful Mayer May House on Heritage Hill, a 100 year old home, designed by Frank Lloyd Wright and refurbished by the local furniture company, Steelcase, 20 years ago. It was beautiful... some of it very reminiscent of Charles Rennie Mackintosh's work. The whole tour was free, and we were taken round by a guide who clearly loved her subject. But we are very grateful to Herb and Kathy as we would never have seen it if left to our own devices...
That was also the case with a tour today through Michigan Natural Storage, a cold strage facility in SW Grand Rapids, based in an old gypsum mine. They don't normally give tours any more because of insurance issues, but Phyllis and Wayne Buttermore are related to the owners and were able to get us in. So we have now seen Michigan from a totally unique angle ie. underneath.
Then later this afternoon we went to the Gerald Ford Presidential Museum in the centre of town, with Laurie and Ed Bawden. Now given that Ford served for such a short period of time and that his presidency was overshadowed by the demise of his predecessor Nixon, I really didn't know much about him. Most of what I did know was the caricature of the safe but dim ex-football player who had taken one hit to the head too many. But whilst a Presidential Museum is not going to trash the person it is named after, I came away with more of an admiration for him and a greater appreciation of the no-win situation he was in. He was certainly not the intellectual dummy some made him out to be, qualifying in the top third of his Yale Law class. But he was, by his own admission a work horse, not a show pony... And one who knew his limits... Three times in the course of the tour, and in the inscription opposite his grave I read his favourite text from Proverbs:
in all your ways acknowledge him, and he will make your paths straight.
We may not always have locals to guide us... but God is always there.