Family

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Family

A Bruderhof Sister's Day

November 23, 2017 by

There’s a short description of the Bruderhof in Section 7 of Foundations of our Faith and Calling: “It is his Spirit that calls believers to a life of love where work, worship, mission, education and family life are brought together into a single whole. We are convinced that such a life in church community is the greatest service we can render humanity and the best way we can proclaim Christ.”

This past summer, just for fun, I kept track of everything I did one Wednesday to see how the above actually plays out in real time. (Wednesdays are more than hump days on the Bruderhof! The rhythm of life changes meter for a day: we gather for a meeting instead of lunch and eat dinner at home with our families instead of a communal evening meeting.)

family photo of the Bazeley family
Johann and Jordanna with their children

6:15 a.m. Family breakfast. Before we tuck into our fried eggs, my husband, Johann, solicits prayer requests. The four-year-old prays (again) for a festival with cotton candy, helium balloons, and miniature train rides. (Our neighboring Bruderhof just threw a summer festival which we attended, and she’s been praying for another one ever since.)

The eight-year-old prays for peace in Syria.
“Why are they fighting?” asks the four-year-old.
Second graders are very wise: “Over oil.”
“Is that a bird?”
“No, silly. Not oriole, oil.”

7:15 a.m. Johann takes the children to the summer program in our Bruderhof school. Every day starts with boisterous singing, accompanied by their teacher’s accordion. Next is weeding their vegetable garden, swimming, and sometimes hiking, camp crafts, folk dancing…Yes, it’s as good as it sounds. Even better. My children, along with the eighty other children in Spring Valley community, will have a carefree and joyful day.

8:45 a.m. I head up to the community vegetable garden with a crew of sisters to harvest pickling cucumbers. We flip over the tangled dewy vines in the two-hundred-foot organically grown beds to uncover hundreds of crunchy cucurbits, creepy-crawlies, mud, and many more blossoms holding the promise of at least two more weeks of prickly arms and scuffed knees. By 10:30 a.m. we have ten bushels.

12:00 Noon. Everybody, except the youngest children, gathers in the shade of the white oaks outside our dining hall to sing and pray. Someone reads 1 Cor. 12: 4–6: “…Now there are varieties of gifts, but the same Spirit; and there are varieties of service, but the same Lord;and there are varieties of activities, but it is the same God who empowers them all in everyone.”

12:30 p.m. We run home to our apartment and eat a big stack of peanut butter and jelly sandwiches.

The blessings of communal life are so rich and varied. Isn’t this how Jesus wants his followers to live?

1:30 p.m. Johann and I head to the school where the students are gathering for afternoon activities. We teach Kindergarten once a week while their teacher takes the afternoon off for prep.

Today our destination is Mossy Island, a quarter acre covered in thick gray-green pillow moss, wild blueberry bushes and white and red oak. We cross to the island on a graceful Japanese-style bridge. Our ten students play for over two hours. They swim in the stream, daring each other to put their heads under the waterfall, float about on logs and make little houses with mud and sand.

5:00 p.m. Supper with the family. Corn-on-the-cob slathered in butter and lightly salted. Cherries for dessert while Johann reads The Courage of Sarah Noble by Alice Dalgeish out loud. Before we know it, the cherry bowl is empty, tummy ache is threatening and the story, sadly, is over.

6:45 p.m. Time to get the kids in bed. We sing a few lullabies for the baby, ending with “Hobo’s Lullaby” by G. Reeves:

Go to sleep you weary hobo
Let the towns drift slowly by
Can’t you hear the steel rails humming
That’s the hobo’s lullaby.

7:30 p.m. I catch a ride with two other sisters to the Uniontown Jail for an 8:00 Bible study with about ten inmates. We announce ourselves over the intercom, and wait outside until we’ve been inspected via surveillance camera. We file down the hall with cells on both sides. It smells terrible. The handful of new intakes slouched in their beds call out, “God bless you, sisters” as we pass – a blessing gauntlet.

An airless concrete room in the basement serves as a chapel. I had a nice little reading picked out, until I sat down next to Marita (not her real name) who asked me:
“I’m trying to remember a story about a woman at a fountain. It’s a beautiful story.”
“Oh. You mean the woman at the well?”
“Yeah. Can you read it?”
“…The woman said to him, ‘I know that Messiah is coming. When he comes, he will tell us all things. Jesus said to her, ‘I who speak to you am he.’” (John 4: 25–26)

9:30 p.m. Arrive home. Johann has cleaned up the house to meet the highest male standards of cleanliness, but my female receptors detect some loose ends. I criticize his house-keeping and we argue.

10:00 p.m. Say sorry to Johann, give and receive forgiveness, and think to myself: The blessings of communal life are so rich and varied. If only the inmates I met in the jail tonight could share this life with us. Isn’t this how Jesus wants his followers to live?

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About the author

Jordanna

Jordanna Bazeley

Jordanna Bazeley lives at Danthonia Bruderhof in Australia with her husband, Johann, and their four children.

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  • This is the picture of peace and brotherhood. May all people around world can learn how to live together in brotherhood and peace. May God help us all.

    METİN ERDEM