By Ginger Dawn Harman
Friends, relatives, and neighbors filled the yard as horse and buggies framed the spring blossoms of wild cherry trees and crocus. A young boy with a hand woven wide brimmed hat sat sharing a bale of straw with a kitten. Women lined the tables with platters of cold beef, pepper cabbage, applesauce, and cheese. Behind them in the center is a red barn with an oak tree leaning toward the cupola. It reaches as if its long limbs are attempting to protect it from time and age. Barns were the heart of the community. One could feel the heartbeat of a farm by the outward and inward appearance. Today the barn was full.
The last time so many gathered was after the fire. Rumshpringa some said. Yet, deep inside a burning fury of emotions surged upward like the smell of cow manure on a hot summer’s day. Rumshpringa, was a chance to experience greater freedom. A tipped over outhouse, meeting a few English girls, but ultimately determining between the worldly and the church was everyone’s final decision to enter adulthood. Was this the effect of independence?
Grasping onto the wooden pegged ladder leading to the hayloft, each step reminded of growth and failure. Most would have been shunned for running away. Yet, youth and innocence protected one from fault and judgment. Secrets held the guilt and heavy main supports of the rafters. Nevertheless, every barn has a mouse or two that sneak in and hide underneath the hay. A few are expected to be present. After all, it is taught to turn the other cheek.
Walking outside, a horse neighed a warning. The Bishop stands off to the side with the Book of Tobit in his left hand. He lifts the sweet bread with raisins and says, “Pour out thy bread and thy wine on the tomb of the just, and give not to sinners.”
Looking upward a stubborn gray cloud casts a shadow over the cedar shingle roof. Pine planks were of perfect craftsmanship, six sides outlined the animal stalls, and a small cabinet shop jutted from the southwest corner. The community of brethren took eleven days to rebuild the massive structure. It could be seen from miles away and a curiosity had developed from the English neighbors.
Was it curiosity that led those astray?
Questions of honesty and answers of deceit laid the foundation that would protect and bring order to the community. Feeling like the freshly planted rows with seeds waiting to sprout, all join together in a circle.
The brethren nurture and protect as a breeze of sweet grass fills the air providing peace, nourishment, and security. That is what one always hopes for. Peace. A final peace. No one is perfect except the good lord above.
Yesterday it only took him eleven hours to piece, sand, and line with paper the six sided pine box. Extra care was given to add two pieces with hinges that fold down and open on both sides to allow for easier viewing.
No one had seen the wheat colored Western Union telegram that the policeman delivered. It burned as quickly as the barn had last year. The black typed words are etched into memory forever like the dark knots in the grains of wood. The United States Army regrets to inform you that Private….
Photos Credits:O.J. Harman
The following was inspired by a short story assignment with Fish Publishing