Driving home from Brownville Sunday night on the old 136/67, I passed a Mennonite church. I am not the least bit religious (and you should ask me sometime why I’m no longer attending church), but, oddly enough, I’ve never passed up a church whose doors were open. This place was lit up and had a few cars, so I U-turned and hesitantly stepped in. A woman with a delightfully plump baby of about 8 months came over to me. “Please come in,” she said. “I don’t have anything to cover my head with,” I replied. “It doesn’t matter,” she assured me, “you are welcome.” Welcome. What a lovely word!
Mennonites are the people you see at county fairs and reenactments: with bonnets and calf-length dresses, selling delicious jams, jellies, breads. The men usually in the background, bearded, with hats. This was a traditional service — women on the left side of the room, men on the right. Almost all the women had their hair pinned up, covered by the small bonnets.
The elder was talking to the kids about a man who acquired a rock for every time someone hurt him, or every time he held a grudge. Pretty soon his pockets got so full, he had to dump them all out in his front yard. People came from miles away to see his rock collection. Finally, someone asked him, “where is your other collection?” The man didn’t know what he meant. “The collection you have when people did you a good deed.” So the man began planting trees for every good deed bestowed on him.
I wanted to hear the rest of the service, but it was getting dark and I had at least two hours’ drive left. I left as quietly as I could, thinking about rocks and trees.