Give me my scallop-shell of quiet,
My staff of faith to walk upon,
My script of joy, immortal diet,
y bottle of salvation.
My gown of glory, hopes true gauge,
And thus I'll take my pilgrimage.

~Sir Walter Raleigh

A hiker, walking for pleasure, likes to choose between several alluring trails.
The pilgrim desires only the road that leads home.

~Frank W. Boreham

Thursday, January 16, 2014

Golden Days

These were the farm years, the Mennonite years, the years of the children.  
These were years of friendships, of family and of growing and establishing foundations for future days.

They were also years of stability, the stability that can only come from supportive blood family and from supportive family "under the Blood".

Looking back down the years, even the woes and travails add to the balance of the whole, giving their own special color to the threads of the tapestry then woven.

The country school the children attended, while a public school, was greatly influenced by the Mennonite community in which it was located as well as the Mennonite teachers and administration that directed the days and ways of it.

Work and play together made up the farm life.  Country ways and the seasons determined the tasks and pleasures.

Then came an abrupt leaving, a new road was taken, a new and different journey begun. Yet even now, we each look back to those day grateful for what was given, received and learned.  Those years remain near to the heart.

And then, recently this golden time was revisited.  Yes, you can go home again, said the Daughter.

We returned on a Sunday to hear the preaching of one of the scruffy lads that often visited our home in those early years.  Now he is "fully growed", a man of great insight and wisdom, a man after God's own heart.  What is more, he is a man who has chosen Joy for his journey.  

The countryside was virtually unchanged.  Names on mailboxes much the same as remembered.  Mennonites are 'root' people, not driven to change.  It was unspeakably comforting to know that such a place remains to this day.

Entering the church, a familiar landmark, to be greeted warmly, well, it felt like coming home even though it was not the specific home church of our past.  Still, Mennonites are Mennonites regardless of how conservative or progressive.  They still worship with order and stillness.  To this day the old hymns of the church are sung in full voice and complete harmony.  And Oh! how they sing!  It surrounds you, washes over you and provides the choice to stand in silence and weep, or join in the chorus.  We did a little of each.

After the glory of the worship service and the brilliance of the preaching, -(yes, the preaching was brilliant and after divorcing from my mind the images of a wild lad climbing out an upstairs window and walking along the roof of the farm house, greatly enjoyed and appreciated)- we were treated to a good old Mennonite meal around a family table.  Oh yes, the Mennonites cook as well as they sing!

This was a family who were choice and dear friends of ours in those past days.  We had not seen some of the children, now parents and grand parents for many years. Yet, as it always is with true friendship, we picked up where we left off so long ago. There was a delighting in shared memories, good, sad and silly.  There were minutes of outrageous  laughter and moments of misty reflection.

After warm hugs and kisses, we drove away with grateful hearts freshly aware of 'all the ways the Savior leads', of how He restores the years the locusts have eaten. We were reminded too, of the dynamics and blessing of true friendship, and the fact that we do and are affected by those who are placed in our lives and who remain in our hearts.