Wednesday, November 17, 2004

Notes From My Knapsack 11-21-04
By Jeff Gill

Johnny Appleseed in his wanderings around east central Ohio carried a pot on his head and a knapsack over his back, says the legend.
He may well have slept in what’s now the downstairs tavern of the Buxton Inn, and knew folks now resting eternally at the Beard-Green Cemetery on the grounds of Dawes Arboretum, or at the Old Colony Burying Ground south of Granville. As a lay preacher in the Church of the New Jerusalem, John Chapman carried in his knapsack Bibles and tracts to give away on the teachings of Swedenborg, from which the New Church folk drew their scriptural interpretations, along with sacks of appleseeds and even bundles of saplings ready to plant.
But other than a few Kokosing-side lots in Mount Vernon, the traveling horticulturist carried his possessions and his passions in a simple knapsack.
With the last of some 170 “Hebron Crossroads” columns, I’m beginning -- or actually continuing! – a column title I’ve used in one setting or another since 1977, “Notes From My Knapsack.” In Scouting and church-related newsletters this caption has been useful to me for collecting thoughts, stories, and news under, and it feels good to continue writing with that header.
The knapsack will still stroll up and down the old National Road, from Gratiot to Reynoldsburg, and it may (like another well-traveled knapsack, that of John Muir) roll down the hills ahead of its bearer into Raccoon Creek, and back up again past Highwater to Homer and ‘round about the long way through the Welsh Hills.
And the old columns and new are still archived at for those who are interested in yesterday’s news, where the knapsack was always in use!

Lakewood, the name of the school district and region (from Buckeye Lake to Dawes Woods, of course), is holding a Community Thanksgiving Service at the high school on this Sunday night at 7:00 pm. Nov. 21 you can begin your week of Thanksgiving with youth in leadership at the Staffilino Performing Arts Center auditorium, representing Hebron Christian, Hebron United Methodist, Jacksontown United Methodist, Licking Baptist, New Life Community, and Water’s Edge Ministry among others.
The offering will help support a special Thanksgiving meal program run out of the Jacksontown Food Pantry. Come give thanks, or find a service near you, but the Lakewood Area Ministerial Association will do a great job with theirs!
It has been a pleasure to be associated with this steadily growing community worship event the last five Thanksgivings, with this the fourth year at the new high school as we get closer to filling even that auditorium. The middle school and high school youth from many different area churches have brought a whole new vitality to the style of worship and music shared there, along with traditional tunes from bell choirs and younger childrens’ choruses.
They are also pleased to have again a group from the Lakewood High School choirs led by Judith Rauch, which always brings a strong sense of community in concert to the service.
I will miss being with them, but I’m also looking forward to sharing a weekend with my dad at Gettysburg, Pennsylvania. While July 1, 2, and 3 are the key dates in 1863 for the battle fought there at the hinge of the Civil War, Nov. 19, 1863 is also a key date in their history.
On that date, some four months after Pickett’s Charge and the long, slow retreat back into Virginia by Robert E. Lee, the Union set up their first National Cemetery at Gettysburg, and asked the finest speaker in America to deliver an address for the dedication.
Oh, and late in the planning, the committee thought they probably ought to invite the president to come and offer a few remarks at the end.
So Senator Edward Everett of Massachusetts gave a two and a half hour oration praised mightily at the time, but try even with Google to find a text of it. And President Abraham Lincoln spoke for less than two minutes, including one great error in that little time.
He said, “the world will little note, nor long remember what we say here.” There Honest Abe was wrong.
Yet he was speaking to the ages when he went on to say of the Army of the Potomac, “. . .but it can never forget what they did here.”
So I go to remember, and to give thanks.

Jeff Gill is a writer, storyteller, and occasional preacher around central Ohio and Licking County. If you have news or notes to share for the knapsack, e-mail him at