My Vision
April 27th, 2007 by Sonja

I grew up in a tiny town in the middle of nowhere in the middle of Vermont. Here’s a photo of the house and surrounding grounds that I spent the 5 years from 1st through 5th grades in. Granted this photo was taken in about 1900 and though the LightChildren think I’m ancient, I’m not quite that old … yet.

Kent's Corner

Now the Belchers (handily indicated by the red dot) were an elderly couple who lived down the road from us. Aunt Jo(sephine) and Uncle Greg. I used to visit them every Thursday afternoon for tea. They were originally from Canada and very delightful. They taught me many skills. How to make the cross bars on peanutbutter cookies. How to tell the difference between “like” and “as” and when to use which. How to play cribbage. And most importantly how to beep the letter “R” in Morse code. R being Uncle Greg’s first initial. I used to walk down to their house after school and Uncle Greg would bring me home on his way to the post office to pick up the mail.

Now, if you also look carefully at the photo, you will see that facing “my house,” and a little to the left is a somewhat large-ish brick house with two chimneys. I’m not certain what that building was used for at the time this photo was taken. But by the time we lived here it had become a museum called the Kent Tavern Museum. The building had originally been built as a home and “… from 1837 to 1846 was a stagecoach stop on the road from Montpelier to Canada.” Since we were only about 15 miles from Montpelier, this tells you something about the length of time it took to get to Canada in those days.

So it was a museum with artifacts from its glory days as a tavern. My mother was the curator. This sounds far more grand than it was. She loves history as much as I and this wonderful old building was lying fallow. So she rounded up some of the elderly ladies in town to get it open a few hours a week. The best part (as far as I was concerned) was the gift store and the fudge! That was a magical fudge recipe that I have never been able to duplicate. It was all volunteer to the best of my knowledge and the old ladies in town gave of their time and their institutional knowledge of town history to run it.

I knew every single one of those ladies by first and last name. But I would get ferocious looks if I dared use their first names. They had earned the title Mrs. So and So and I’d best use it. Even my mother called them Mrs. So and So. They were wonderful farmers wives who knew the seasons (all five) and when they weren’t helping their husbands, they were helping their daughters. They taught me a little about sewing, knitting, crocheting, tatting, drawing and whatever else they’d brought to keep their hands busy. You see, I had free run of the place when it was open as long as I didn’t bother the visitors and stayed out of the way. And those old ladies were a magnet to me. They had stories to tell. And I might get a piece of fudge.

Now if you look further around to the left at the pond and go around the pond to the left you’ll a sawmill. That’s Robinson’s mill and it’s still there. It was there when I was a child too. We used to go and play in it. Gingerly, because it was a kind of creepy place and floor boards were a bit rotten. But there’s an open area next to the mill that’s used a couple of times a year for town potlucks and cookouts (that’s what we call barbeques up north). We roast corn on the cob in it’s husks. Several people bring homemade baked beans. There are lots of hamburgers and hotdogs. When we lived in the house marked “my house,” we could just walk. But people of all ages came to the cook outs. Almost all of the adults knew all of the children’s names. At the very least they knew who they belonged to. Even if we’d wanted to, my brothers and I couldn’t get into very much trouble. My brothers tried pretty hard too. But someone always knew what we were up to almost before we thought about it.

I know that when you get a “certain” age you begin to immortalize your upbringing. So, yeah, maybe there’s a little of that going on here. And, believe me, I know about the down side of growing up in small town New England. It can be ingrown, inbred, insular and just as horrid as any ivory tower. But my vision for a healthy church looks like these vignettes from my childhood. There are old people who are interested in young people. There are young people who are interested in old people. There are people from all generations who pause and have time for each other; to listen to each other’s stories, to value one another for the gifts they bring. To understand that some people bring baked beans and some people just bring chips. And all of the grownups look out for all of the kids in a community because they know them and love them. The children, by the same token, know that they are known and loved by all the grown ups. The boundaries on the community are porous enough that people can come and go without regret or animosity. There is healthy respect for all embraced by all. That this healthy church will have many generations where all people will be welcome and all stories will be heard and the journey will include good food along the way.

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  • Calacirian » Best of 2007 - My Personal Favorites writes:
    January 1st, 20089:25 amat

    […] The Ways of Geese – perspectives on leadership Losing Ground – decision making My Vision – for faith communities Shavuot-The Feast of Pentecost the Megillah of Ruth Slice It, Dice It, […]

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