Driving from Deacon Greg's Ordination toward Fr. Rod's First Mass of Thanksgiving, I was somewhat startled to see a darkly clad man with a child at his side driving a horse-drawn cart down the side of the US Highway 52. I have nothing against carts or cart horses - my family has owned a team of draft horses since my childhood. We are not, however, in the habit of driving them around our country roads. Apparently the Amish are.
Shortly after passing the cart, I suggested to my driving companion that we could perhaps enjoy a piece of pie as we had plenty of time to spare. Within minutes, we saw a sign directing us into a parking lot for a hole-in-the-wall with plentiful pie and ice cream. The sign, as it turns out, lied. The shop was closed. What we did find, however, was a young Amish woman selling a wide array of jellies, preserves, candies, and pies from her own kitchen. Offering a prayer of thanksgiving for providence, my companion purchased two preserves and a strawberry-rhubarb pie (they were single-serving pies) and I purchased a raspberry pie. After this indulgence, we hurried on our way.
A few small towns later, we noticed another group of dark clad men walking down the street. Ahh, more Amish folk, we assumed. We were wrong again. The long curls, and the blue and white fringe escaping from beneath their shirts was more than enough to convince us that we had discovered a group of Hasidic Jews on a leisurely stroll as the end of Sabbath neared.
Mass in Dyersville was beautiful. It was as though Fr. Rod had been saying Mass his whole life. My driving companion and I hadn't the time to remain for a reception, though. So, we headed out. This time, as we passed through the town where we had seen the Jews, we paused to drive around and look for a Synagogue. We failed to find it, but as the sun had set, the Sabbath was over, and we did see a number of small boys in yarmulkes playing in the streets. Further along, we found a house with a huge menorah in the lawn. We passed another horse-cart in the dark.
So, it would seem that Minnesota and Iowa still hold untold surprises for the wayfaring stranger. It may seem a little coarse of me to take such interest in people. I don't think it is, though. My interest in them is not as objects, per se, but as people who have made the choice to live in a very counter-cultural manner. As might be expected, there is something attractive about that for me. It is a pity that I didn't have more time to stop and chat. I would have liked to have known more about the way they choose to live.