Sometimes I get to thinking long ago and far away thoughts. Sometimes long ago and far away thoughts make me smile. Sometimes long ago and far way thoughts make me cry. But some of my favorite long ago and far away thoughts make my mouth water.
I was on a long fast one day when I had a long ago and far away thought that made me laugh and cry and it made my mouth water. The far away part was in the countryside near a charming little village called Charm nestled in a place they call Doughty Valley in Holmes County, Ohio.
Since Holmes County is remote, everything in Holmes County is remote. Charm is a remote village in a remote county and the place that makes me smile and cry and makes my mouth water is not even in Charm. You can’t even see it from there. It is off a side road of a side road.
It’s a bakery run by an Amish woman named Mary. They call it “Mary’s Bakery” (The Amish folks are great cooks and bakers and impressively enterprising, but they are just not all that creative when it comes to naming things.) Anyway, I’ve been making my way to Mary’s Bakery for years. Usually I stop to get a cup of real coffee to take with me, because whatever it is Mary serves is not coffee. Then I walk into Mary’s gas lit bakery and I go over and stand in front of the huge glass bakery case. It is filled with a variety of cheese tarts. There are raspberry, cherry, lemon, blackberry and plain cheese tarts and they are good enough to put a smile on your face, bring a tear to your eye, and make your mouth water all at the same time from miles and miles and years and years away.
If something is good enough, it can make you smile, put a tear in your eye, and maybe even make your mouth water from many, many, miles away and maybe even many, many years away. Something that good calls you across many miles and back over many years, back and back again. That should be our goal in our homes. It is by our daily efforts and by the exercise of Christ-like love that we gather our sons and daughters and others we cherish around the fire of real Christian life.
Genuine faith lived out in daily family life should be a very, very winsome thing. Our conversation and our courtesies, our patient listening and our gentle words should be like the fragrance of supper on the stove that draws our children in from riding their bikes to the supper table.
Then maybe one day when our children are miles and miles or years and years away, they will still have the memory of the fragrance of our faith. Maybe the voice of that faith will call them back and back again to the faith of their fathers. Maybe it will make them smile and cry and make their mouth water for more.
Riverfront Character Inn
January 3, 2005