Thank Full for Something

I am thank full for nothing, Riley writes plainly in his journal. I read his words and look up to meet his face.

Really, nothing at all you are thankful for? He smiles, wrinkles his nose at me, and shakes his blond head side-to-side.


I think back to earlier that day, when I entered the three-room schoolhouse, the only aide guiding me to the classroom for second, third, and fourth grade boys and girls.

Be strict with them, she says with a knowing half-smile. A smirk, really.

The Hutterite girls flock my little table in the corner, gifting me with a bag of cheese sticks, wrapped cakes, a cookie, gum, candies, and homemade bread. Two of them ask me to put my hair down, to see what it looks like not lazily clipped up. I ask about their hair, disguised under a cloth to honor a code of modesty. They remove pins, and plain long hair falls from under it, and they proudly turn for me to see. It is their crown.

A few more girls come up to the table; ask me if I am married. I tell them yes and say his name, and they nod in recognition. He is cuuuute, Hannah says with big eyes. I laugh, mostly because I am surprised to hear this from the mouth of a third grade Hutterite girl.

We say the pledge of allegiance, sit down, and prepare for the routine. They ask me to go with them to see the geese at recess; it’s time to butcher. I respectfully decline.

After a long day of trying to recall math, and even worse, explain it, I finish reading Shiloh out loud and dismiss them.

The children walk me to my car, asking me to bring my pups the next time I come. I try to explain why this won’t work, but I give up.

Relaxing in my vehicle, I begin the two mile drive east toward home. Those kids have a good life, a village to raise them, and love that isn’t questioned. They are happy children in a community I don’t fully understand, and that’s ok.

Soon I am greeted by a 1950s farmhouse; the smell of cattle and silage and November air. A place that speaks love to me.

I let my hair down, still damp from the morning’s shower.

I am thank full.

South Dakota trail


60 thoughts on “Thank Full for Something

  1. What a small world. Although I grew up in South Dakota, I didn’t know about the Hutterite communities until much later in life, when my work took me back there. I was interviewing teachers in the district about the Reading program that had been using, and a Hutterite school was one of my stops. It was like stepping back in time. Like you, I didn’t fully understand, but I saw the value in it. Small world indeed.

  2. The simple clarity you share so freely here, thank you for that. Sometimes I need to remember that life isn’t all about deadlines, bills and money, schedules and school fees, it’s about the people we touch, and the love we can share with those who matter most to us.

    God Bless you and yours.

  3. I enjoyed your story today. My family and I live near an Old Order Amish Community, here in Ohio. My husband and I have become friends with one of the families. I get a great deal of joy learning about them… they do learning about us. It is a different world for sure, but there is something calming in their simple way of life.
    Thanks for your writing!

    • Hey Betty! Thank you for stopping in. Yes, it was a really good day to be out among the children. The colony school is much like a country school type of setting. It felt so disorganized (with three grades to teach), but my husband said when country school kids merged with the public school, they breezed through studies and were almost always on the A honor roll. Their confidence is astounding, and they rely heavily on one another for help.

  4. What a wonderful story! I am sure they were thank full for you spending time with them and learning about you. What a blessing to be able to teach and share with other communities.

  5. Very cool!! There’s something magical about teaching. I find myself drawn in whenever I visit my younger daughter’s classroom; her peers are always so accepting and enthusiastic. It’s charming.

    Glad to hear you’re subbing. The experience for you as well as the kids is novel and retains such a specialness. They’re probably longing for your next visit!

  6. Beautiful post, but I just have to let you know the gravel road takes me to a porch that leaks. A crack in the steps. Skunks under the floor. Some windows won’t open. Frost spiderwebs across them on the coldest days.
    It’s home. And yes, as you remind us….I’m thankful. Great thanksgiving reminder. I appreciate it.

    • lol, well, I suppose I could have went into that direction as well. A 50 year-old farmhouse does not come without it’s minor, sometimes major (eroded plumbing pipes!) setbacks. Hope you get that skunk problem taken care of!
      Thank you so much for stopping by and taking the time to comment. It was very nice to hear from you!

  7. This is wonderful! I love how you are able to see into the Hutterite world. I admire the devotion and dedication found in Hutterites, Mennonites, Amish, etc. Good for them for keeping their tradition.

    This post was beautiful. Truly. Thank you.

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