Twice on Sunday: Worshipping in Bowbells, No Dak


They were both good, let me tell you that up front.
And they both put me in tears. That, too.
People remembered my family in both houses,
and that floored me. There was the same Gospel
from Mark, James and John both elbowing
others to sit next to Jesus. And while I’m warming up,
let me not compare, because Shakespeare says
comparisons are oderous.
Once again, I think this is too much.
It’s not even Gospel to worship twice.
Sitting here like Lear says,
as one of God’s spies. Early in the service,
during the greeting, saying my name,
Jim Bodeen, the older woman’s face lights up:
Oh my God. We know your family.
We’ve been your family. I’m Pauline Hermansen.

When was the last time you cried shaking hands?

I take notes on the sermon. It’s that good.
Husband and wife, Pastors Marilyn & Eugene Moeller
back and forth in the pulpit.
Jesus always has a 3d class ticket.
The ones who ended up beside him were criminals,
not James and John.
Speculating some, Pastors say maybe
one disciple died of natural causes.
Methodists aren’t afraid to say Social Justice.

Still, the morning belongs to Pauline.
We were your family. That’s bold.
There’s others. Gary and Rosalie Melby.
Marlen Jacobson. Marlen thanking me for coming back.
Yesterday they took down the hardware store.
Saturday nights it was elbow to elbow on Bowbells streets.
Now it’s all gone. Palmer Nelson
used to keep the bar open until midnight,
and then give away tricycles for everybody’s children.
Two men. One boy stayed. One boy left.
We share silence for losses on both sides.

At coffee, a table full of women my age
remember my Grandpa.
Charlie Homiston, Chief of Police.
The women say, He was so good to us.
We used to chant:
Charlie Chicken, Howard the Coward.
Not to their faces of course.
Those two cops loved us too much.
Howard was Howard Cory.
I’ll come back to the Methodists
if there’s anything left in tank. The social Gospel.
Their Jesus, and that third class ticket.

have some surprises, too. Quilts hanging
on the back of every pew. This is the Sunday
of the blessing of the quilts. World Mission.
Women wearing t-shirts, Live Generously.
Sanctuary full. All ages. Lots of children.
I tell Pastor Michon Weingartner, I was baptized here,
Bethlehem Lutheran, 1945. I’m itinerant.
Everything about me is interim.
The Godof the rural Church told me to return.
We left in a bad time.

I let the camera run during her service.
I want Colleen and Kelly, friends in Yakima,
quilters, to see these quilts.
Pastor Michon serves two congregations.
Bowbells and Kenmare. Rural ministry.
Two communities. Two confirmand groups.
Doing the same thing twice.
Blessing quilts and quilt makers.
Her people share the word.
She tells me what’s good about both.
And what’s hard.
She guides me to the oil and back. I see
how oil can make things difficult
as well as pay bills. She talks about
some things in Rugy for country ministry.
Whenever I say country people
I thinkof Flannery O’Connor. At the end
of worship, there’s a potluck of slush burgers,
and I eat two. Salads made with farm cream.
Juneberry Crisp. Juneberries from Tasker’s Coulee.
And all kinds of people from my family.
Colleen Peterson, and the Peterson house
in Flaxton. Here to hunt from Wyoming.
All the Peterson boys, and all the stories.
Wayne, Gary, Kennie, Allen and Norman.
A book for each boy. Candles and blessings.
Home that confirms photographic memory
in a rural child’s life. One man says,
It’s the family picnic that kept stories alive.
After the family picnic was gone there was no way to keep track.
Vickie Clark and Rolf Aufforth, Wayne Olson’s wife.
Wayne’s home with his cows. He loves those cows.
Using Mom & Dad’s name, Wayne & Lucille.
Asking about my brother and sister: Chuck and Vonnie.
Other names Karen gets and I don’t.
Then this, and Karen’s got it on film:
Walking out, greeting people,
I turn to the woman behind me. Joan Christiansen,
she says, and I say my name.
She says, Oh no. Like, For God’s sake:
My name is Miss Knoke. I was your 4th grade teacher.

We’ll return to the Methodist Gospel another day.

Jim Bodeen
with Karen Bodeen
Bowbells City Park
Bowbells, North Dakota
17 October 2015

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