Sunday Mornings as a Young Girl
Written Winter of 2011
I remember Sunday mornings as a child. My dad was usually the time manager and tried desperately to get us all out in the car at “half-past” eight for a 9 o’clock service. It started early in the morning by waking us up to the Mennonite Hour quartet blasted from our living room stereo. We often just grabbed an apple for breakfast and it sometimes seemed like a mad rush for all of us to get in the car, which would have included my older brother, Steve, and my sister, Linda. But soon we were riding contentedly to church with many of us still munching on an apple.
My dad’s main goal in arriving early to church seemed to be to get a window seat on the left side of the sanctuary. When we were successful, Daddy promptly put his Bible on the window sill and seemed to draw some unknown pleasure from this act. Perhaps his father had done the same thing before him. My dad used to say, “I held Beverly in church till I couldn’t see over her head.” I guess I didn’t have any younger siblings to usurp my place on Daddy’s lap, so I continued till I was close to 13. After all the lifesavers were used up (Mom didn’t let us chew gum in church because she said we “looked like cows chewing our cud”) and I still became “rutchy,” my dad would sometimes draw me a picture. I’d like to say this picture was different each time he drew it, but actually it was the same picture with just moderate changes. He drew a tree stump in detail with wide roots and tree rings on the top. He drew the surrounding area with distant trees and grass. I think I often added flowers to the scene. But always in the center of the tree trunk was an ax and then the finishing touches were always the words, “Well done!” At the time, I just enjoyed seeing a picture and thought my dad was an excellent artist, but I often was a bit perplexed as to the picture’s significance. Why was the job well done and why the picture of a tree stump with an ax in it? I think I asked him once and he replied with a smile and a nondescript answer “Well, it’s a job well done!”
Looking back on it, I think it had something to do with looking towards heaven and a hope on my dad’s part that God would consider his work well done. He loved being out in nature and it was something easy to draw that perhaps he had used in his chalk drawings that he had done in the 1950’s and 60’s. It certainly was a picture that always rose to the surface when he sensed my boredom in church. I don’t remember listening to the sermons in church because at that time I think the sermons felt way over my head. But I suppose I did receive a message…. work hard and God will reward you. I do hope my dad found the reward he strove for in heaven. -BBM