Monday, April 25, 2011

Sawdust, Knacksot and Faspa…

Saturday was a day for cleaning and getting everything ready for Sunday. Fresh Soagespoohn (sawdust) strewn across the freshly cleaned floors signified the end of a productive day. The sawdust kept the floors clean from dust longer.

Sunday was visiting day. Families either sat at home waiting for another family to come onto the yard. Or they drove around to other people’s places until they found someone at home. Traditionally, they sat in their vehicle until the host noticed them and came out to invite them in.

If you happened to be staying at home this particular week, you would have your meddachschlop (mid-day sleep aka nap) right after lunch while slowly roasting the knacksot (sunflower seeds) in the oven in preparation for guests that could potentially arrive mid-afternoon.

My mom tells me that this did not happen in her family, but in many homes the men settled into one room while the women were in another. The men were heard to chat about community events and farming; the host may show the men around the farm. The women talked about homelife, children, and about who had been ill or had passed away.

Both the front room (living room) and kitchen held big bowls of the roasted knacksot. The men would put large amounts into the pockets of their pants, and the women would place them onto a handkerchief in their laps. Many a person would stuff their cheeks with the knacksot, and shell them one by one with their front teeth, gently pushing the shell to just below the lower lip letting them all gather on the chin until they fell down to the floor on their own. Others sent shells flying right onto the floor to mix with the sawdust. Children enjoyed the crunch crunch crunch of this Sunday ‘carpet’ as they ran in and out of the room while playing.

Around four o’clock the faspa (light Sunday afternoon meal) would begin. The men ate first while the women served. Everything sat ready in the kohma (pantry room off the kitchen): the buns, kringle, Zockastetja (sugar cubes), freshly churned butter, suppsel (plum jam mostly), brown and white cookies with coffee. The Zockastetja were dunked in coffee and eaten with the buns.

When it was their turn to eat, the women took the spot that their husband had vacated and ate off of the same dishes. And, of course, the women continued their visiting while cleaning off the tables and washing dishes.

Sweeping up the Soagespoohn mixed with knacksot shells after the events of the day scrubbed the floor clean. Another weekend done.

Monday was laundry day…

Check out the blog post that inspired this post:">"No Cheese or Baked Goods Have ever Been Baptized into a Mennonite Church" ...You might also enjoy Velafnis, Tjast and an Obsolete Kissing Song.

Sunday, April 17, 2011

It's Wise to Think alot about Death?

Focusing on death would seem to make one a morbid person to our natural way of thinking.

But look at what I found recently in preparing for a presentation on grief. Ecclesiastes 7:3-4 (nlt) says: "Sorrow is better than laughter, for sadness has a refining influence on us. A wise person thinks a lot about death, while a fool thinks only about having a good time."


Shortly after this, I went to see a theatre production of ‘Tuesdays with Morrie.’ at Gallery 7. In short, it is about a journalist’s weekly visits with his dying professor. Morrie feels that people refuse to believe that they will one day die. As a result, they have many regrets as death comes closer because they have not lived their lives as fully as they would have liked. Morrie says, "The truth is . . . once you learn how to die, you learn how to live." Morrie wants Mitch, the journalist, to see how he can appreciate the smaller, more genuine things in life, knowing that his death is approaching. I thought this spoke to what the writer of Ecclesiastes was saying in part.

Death is not the greatest loss in life. The greatest loss is what dies inside us while we live. ~Norman Cousins.

Some people are so afraid to die that they never begin to live. ~Henry Van Dyke


Death never takes the wise man by surprise; He is always ready to go. ~Jean de La Fontaine

For the Christian, it goes beyond learning to live well here on this earth. We also live in the assurance of what comes after this life. Death need hold no fear because Christ has won the victory over the grave in His death and resurrection. So physical death takes us into the presence of our Saviour with whom we live forever.

“The day which we fear as our last is but the birthday of eternity.” ~Seneca

We live because He died and rose again. Hallelujah!

Friday, April 8, 2011

Precious Little Hands...

I have a vivid picture in my mind of an event and I hope that I can do it justice in ‘painting’ it for you.

Two love seats and one large comfy chair…one of us seated on each with my big black cat taking up residence on the arm of the chair that my friend is in. My friends ‘daughter’ is seated on a love seat, happily sipping (gulping is perhaps a better description) her glass of cranberry juice. I’m seated on the other love seat closer to my friend as we chat about some things going on in our lives. Soon there are tears flowing (well, we’re women after all…)

As the tears start to flow, the daughter puts down her glass and comes over to gently pat the face of her ‘mom’, wipe the tears and give her a hug. She then sits back down. We continue to talk. After a time my friend and I decide to pray. I reach my hands across to her and we join hands, close our eyes and begin to talk to God. Suddenly we feel small hands touching ours, hands that are wanting into the circle of prayer.

Did I mention that my friend’s ‘daughter’ is a woman with Down’s Syndrome? She's all of 4 feet high and when asked how old she is, she says that she's 8 but really she's closer to our age. Like my ‘daughters’, my friend did not give birth to this precious gal but for all the reciprocal love that is there she might as well have.

So, of course we each joined a hand to one of her hands, with fresh tears in our eyes and continued to pray. This picture is still vivid in my mind's eye.

I’ve seen writers like Henri Nouwen and Mike Yaconelli speak of how much individuals like this ‘daughter’ have had to teach them. Both of these men speak of spiritual awakenings and growth as a result of such relationships. I can attest to that in my own life.

I am so blessed to have relationships with many a person with a ‘disability’ whose 'ability' to love openly and unconditionally is often much greater than my own.

Sunday, April 3, 2011

The older I get, the less I know…

I was thinking the other day about
how true it is that the older I get,
the less I know even though I thought
I knew so much when I was younger,
and that this would never
happen to me.

In attempting to write about it and
looking online a little,
I came upon a blog
which stated it so succinctly
that I wanted to share it with you:

"As youth, we think we know it all.

As adults, we fight to hold onto what we think we know.

In the end, we have to let it all go.

Learning teaches us there's too much to learn.

The more we understand God, the more incomprehensible God gets.

We can live to learn. But why don't we learn to live?

Try to love one more something today that we didn't love before.

Try to lay one more brick to shelter someone else before the sun sets.

Try to let go of something, so we can lend a hand.

The older we get, the less we know.

The less we know, the more we must rely on God and each other.

The more we must practice community and communion.

It's as if our world were designed for this very thing."

I think that says it all so why reinvent the wheel by writing another blog about it.