Tuesday, July 28, 2015
Taste and See
I grew up attending Crosshill Mennonite Church. It was a yellow brick building that offered you a choice immediately after walking in the front door. You could follow the green carpeted steps downstairs to the church basement to hang up your coat, go the bathroom, and chat with friends, or you could follow the green-carpeted steps upstairs to the sanctuary to select your pew, passing rows of mailboxes for the members with last names of Gerber, Erb, Yantzi, Wagler, Brenneman, Steinmann, Klassen, Nafziger and Roth, neatly typed under each box that was stuffed with our Mennonite church business.
The pews in the sanctuary were wooden, straight backed, narrow and shiny. The green carpet aisle separated the pews and lead up to the simple platform where the pulpit stood in front of a tall wooden cross. There was no piano on the stage, no Canadian flag in the corner, simply the pulpit and the cross.
During the summer, Crosshill Mennonite hosted a Vacation Bible School. It began at 9 a.m. and ended at noon. It was every week day for two weeks.
I remember being picked up by Carol Erb. My brother Robert and I would pile in the back of her two door red car and sit squished in beside Sonya and Ryan, Carol's two children. We would get to church, grab our stuff, pile out of the car, and hang around until the pastor would ring the hand-held bell to round us up.
Steve Gerber was our pastor. He was tall, thin, with dark hair and darker rimmed glasses. I don't know this for certain, and my mom may tell me he is from a different clan, but I'm thinking he is a relative as my paternal grandmother was also a Gerber. I believe us Mennonite folk are all related but my mom laughs at me and says something like, "Ach nooah."
'Taste and see," he said one morning. "Taste and see that the Lord is good," Steve said.
Steve stood on the outside steps of Crosshill Mennonite, right in front of the doors that welcomed you inside wearing his navy blue polo shirt and dark dress pants, The light of the morning reflected in his glasses, and the recently rung bell now hung lifeless in his hand. He stood and proclaimed those words to all of us Mennonite kids in our neat lines, separated out by grade and led by our teachers who would show us the way to our proper places. Our classrooms were waiting for us. Our books were piled on make-shift tables in the church basement, our names printed neatly in the top right-hand corner, waiting to be opened, read, and written in.
So much to learn.
So much to taste.
So much to see.
I loved it. I loved the smell and the feel of those VBS textbooks. I loved my VBS box that I bugged my mom to find for me on that first morning of VBS. It was probably just a shoe box but we all had one. Inside was our offering, our scissors, our memory verse card, our pencil, or snack for recess, and of course our Bibles. I loved sitting on the inside green-carpeted steps that lead up to the sanctuary with my best friend Jayne. We'd sit there before the bell rang and just be side by side. We were always side by side. I don't remember what we talked about. We might have been comparing our boxes or their contents. We might have been talking about what we did yesterday afternoon. I don't remember. I do remember the bell and running outside to line up.
"Taste and see," he said as his face seemed to look up and away, seeming to know something that I wanted to know.
And so I did. I tasted and it was good. I saw, I memorized, I believed and it was all good. Back then I didn't have a taste for worry, or fear, or striving, or wanting, or sorrow, or longing to be better, to be more. I simply tasted and saw and it was good. All of it was good.
God was good.
Today as I sit and remember those VBS mornings I shed a few tears because sometimes, along the way, amidst the worry and fear, the striving and wanting, the drive to be better, to be more, I forget.
I forget about my VBS box.
I forget about those textbooks with stories of Peter, Paul, Abraham, David and all of my Anabaptist forefathers. I forget my once upon a time when I trusted and believed. I forget how simple it all was and how easy it was to be simple.
So today as I get ready for work, as I sit in my van and drive here and there, thinking about what it is I want to do with my life, flipping over in my mouth the tastes and flavors that I've now grown accustomed to, I'm going to remember those neat lines of kids waiting to go inside, those sturdy pews, that red car that was faithfully there every morning to pick me up and take me to VBS, those moments beside my dear friend and remember how simple it was.
How good it tasted.
How clear the view truly was.
Today, with all those memories behind me, I will taste and see that the Lord is good.
at 8:09:00 PM