Sunday, December 26, 2010

Coming Home

Amy was at SMBI for twelve weeks, and then she came home, and I feel sorry for her. She hasn't complained a bit, I hasten to say, but I still feel sorry for her.

If you've ever experienced a Mennonite short-term Bible school, you know how it is. Intense, first and foremost, in friendships, classes, crushes, theology, discussions, just the whole spiritual atmosphere. Lots of people around, lots of personal reflection on who you are and who you're going to be, lots of growth.

And there's a consistent routine and cooks who make meals on schedule and deans who keep everything running smoothly and maintenance men who fix things. And people drop everything to pray with you and listen and have intense conversations. And give you backrubs.

And you spend 3/6/12 weeks getting to know a lot of totally new people as well as possible, which always makes you feel like you're on the edge of an amazing discovery. WHAT?? A Lancaster-PA guy who builds gazebos for a living can quote Winnie-the-Pooh as well as I can?? Awesome.

Or that's what it was like when I went to Bible school, and I gather the essentials haven't changed that much.

And then if you're like my gifted daughter, you spend a week on choir tour before you come home, and that ramps up the intensity even more, if that can be imagined.

And then you come home.

Home. Where all the guys are either brothers or dads instead of potential crush material, and they scatter the newspaper all over the living room, and hog the shower, and while your dad might enjoy an intense spiritual discussion if he hadn't been hauling cracked corn all afternoon and didn't have a sermon to study for, your brothers would rather talk about Get Fuzzy comics and the Ducks' spread offense. And your dad still hasn't fixed the porch swing that was broken when you left, and your brothers' bedroom is still just as messy.

Home. Where your mom is all frazzled because she seriously overcommitted herself all through the month of December, and when you get up late the next morning all happy with the rain on the roof and in the mood for a cup of coffee and a long spiritual discussion, your mom has already left for play practice at school and the dishes aren't done, and you know she's hoping you'll do them, and the kitchen is dark and has an odd smell, and you wish you could be in the kitchen at Bible school, where the lights are always on, and the cooks are always cheerful and glad to see you, and the coffee is always hot.

Home. Where sisters are young and annoying, and you have to live with them, like, forever, unlike the (few) people at Bible school who were also annoying. And they talk your ear off in the evenings about things like which insects are harmful and which are not, and about what they dreamed last night, and the night before, and they listen to your Bible school stories to a certain point, but they really don't Get It, because everything you say reminds them of more bugs or dreams or something equally mundane.

And it doesn't occur to anyone to offer you a backrub.

Home. Where both your parents mean well, and it's not that they're not saved or anything like that, but really have they had any spiritual growth in the last year? Have they read anything that stretched their minds? Have they really thought about what they're doing, and why, and about their impact on the world? And you know if you would broach the subject they would sigh and try to come up with answers to humor you, and then in the middle of the conversation your dad's phone would ring again and he would talk in his loud voice about Uncle James's ryegrass purities, and your mom would holler at your brothers to gather the upstairs laundry, and then she would shriek because she forgot to get the chicken out of the freezer for supper, and you would wonder why you even bother.

So that is why I feel sorry for Amy coming home from Bible school. She has been sweetness itself, let me hasten to say, and hasn't complained a bit about the level of chaos and clutter that greeted her, but I listen to her Bible school stories and look at her pictures on Facebook and see her smiling at texts from her friends in the East, and remember what it was like for me many years ago, and so I feel sorry for her and anyone else who has to finish at Bible school and then come home.

Quote of the Day:
"But it's no fun if everybody just agrees!"
--Stephie Smucker, at the Wilton Smucker clan dinner today, when we were talking about how the Smuckers love to argue for the sake of arguing


  1. One would think you just got back from BibleSchool yourself. Goodness

    The saving grace of it is that you know there are 70 other fellow students going through the same--and you call them and bawl.

  2. You forgot to add the part about the schedule.....I came home from Bible college and had to go by my PARENT'S schedule and I was used to coming and going according to MY SCHEDULE!......

  3. So, so good, Dorcas. I remember coming home from RBI and being drug into the reality of a job and friends who hadn't had "The winter Bible School experience." Also wondering how many people in my home church really were living a spiritual life. They seemed so dry and half dead. But it was some of those same people who gave money for a Bible School dorm or campus.

    Every time I listen to a Bible Institute choir the memeories come back. joy- IN

  4. That is beautiful, Amy's Mom. :) Thanks for writing, and understanding!! -Amy's friend from SMBI

  5. Very good! I could identify with only one exception. My parents often took the time to sit and talk about spiritual things with me, even if they had other things pressing. Late into the night we would talk and it's only now years later that I realize the great sacrifice they made by doing that. But I am so thankful for this blessing!

  6. You said it perfectly. The withdrawal is exquisite bitterness.

  7. My sister and I read this blog post and said, "She's right on!"

  8. wow, i echo the first comment, this is right on...