Wednesday, August 12, 2009


Garrison Keillor writes about how he grew up in the "Sanctified Brethren" denomination and as a result never learned to dance or even to move in a coordinated, graceful fashion. He once tried to sweep into a room and someone told him, "You must be Baptist," and he said, "No, when I was growing up, we thought Baptists were liberal."

I don't often think of such things but I did when we were in Africa and I was amazed at how Kenyans just know how to move. In worship, especially, but other ways too, clapping, swaying, just moving in a way that was a joy to watch.

Unlike, I am sure, how it is when I try any sort of movement. I normally limit my moves to such things as marching down grocery store aisles (I am told I have a reputation for marching) or filling the dishwasher, or sitting down. I don't try much clapping in rhythm or swaying, being Mennonite and all.

But this week I am teaching summer Bible school, and when Mennonites lead singing with a hundred children, they incorporate all the moves they never use otherwise. "Walk walk walk, in the light," we sing, marching west, then east, repeating the line. And at the end of each line we clap.

And then there's "Wrapped up, tied up, tangled up in Jesus" which involves maneuvers more complicated than double crochet, and "It's a great thing to serve the Lord," and other songs which require hands and feet doing things in a manner that coordinates with the words.

I am terrible at this. I walk walk walk to the right with my row, focusing on singing and walking at the same time, then ok, now I need to turn and keep singing, and suddenly everyone claps before they change direction, and I simply can't do it. I just don't have it in me.

In "It's a great thing" the moves change so fast I can't keep up. Sweeping arms, crossed arms, pointing up, and I am always two steps behind. I can either sing or try to do the motions right, not both.

Rachelle and Phebe, the song leaders, are great at this, so maybe it's a me thing and not a Mennonite thing.

Either way, it's a bit too much like being back in Miss Jensen's P.E. classes, trying to jump hurdles or dribble a soccer ball.

Quote of the Day:
Jenny: How come you never make chocolate chip cookies without chocolate chips?
Amy: That's like making hamburgers without hamburger.


  1. Chuckle... I can understand.

    Thanks for teaching Bible School even in a busy summer. I was introduced to the Mennonite Church as a Jr. High student when someone invited me to Bible School. I was very impressed. I moved away from that community for college, grad school, and jobs but 40 years after that Summer Bible School I was baptized into the Mennonite Church. It would never have happened without the dedication of an older farmer who took time out of his summer to prepare and teach a bunch of kids. I will be eternally grateful for his gift to me.

  2. Thats me to a T... unless there's a good strong rhythmic clap going, I cannot clap (in time) and sing. But I've learned when you're with kids, they don't really care.. as long as I'm not the one up front leading the group! :)

  3. I know what you mean. Sometimes I wish we'd have a little less reserve in those ways and could just "let go". I think we're too self-concious and miss out on some good things because of it.

  4. My hubby has no rhythm. Not sure if it's inherent or in the training (he grew up sorta like Garrison but on the mission field so even stricter). The year we spent in Uganda helped him loosen up some, but he still has no rhythm. Now if he'd been an MK from Africa, things might have been different. Because the thing is, in Africa even the Anglicans dance. LOL