One overcast Missouri Monday, while Bernice and I were visiting our daughter, Ingrid, and her husband, Mike, in Lee’s Summit, located on the big shoulders of Kansas City, we took a drive in the country. We scouted out three old towns—Pleasant Hill, Harrisonville, and Peculiar. Rural towns have the magic of a story in them!
As we turned into the heart of the Pleasant Hill—Main Street—we found the Antique shops on the block closed. I drooled when I saw the Carving Shop sign, but the shop didn’t open until late afternoon. We found Neighbors, an old cafe, and had lunch,
Harrisonville, the County Seat, is a history lesson. It was square in the middle of the borderline area during the Civil War. Hot controversies raged in families, local politics, and, not least, in the church. The calling of a pastor often split congregations. The railroad which ran through the town during the war years pretty well split the town.
I didn’t know what to expect in Peculiar. The only positive association I make with that word is when we call Christians a “peculiar people.” It wasn’t odd and the people were normal. We rummaged through a classy antique shop before going on.
Shortly, we pulled over to the side of the road. To reflect, I guess. Wide-open fields with a few fences to keep cattle contained and some creeks surrounded by thickets of trees lay before us as far as the eye could see. Quiet, wow, it was still! As I mused, I became nostalgic. I found myself saying to myself, “I like it here!” I felt grounded, real, “at home” in God’s universe. Bernice, with the green thumb, says that when she gets her hands in the soil, she feels she is shaking hands with God. I can hardly tell a daisy apart from a chrysanthemum, but I know the feeling!
There are other things that make me thoroughly at home here. Mike and Ingrid treated us like we belonged there. And there are old friends like Glenn and Maynette Lindell in Kansas City. Glenn was a Seminary classmate and roommate. We both like a little fun and occasionally have some radical things to say about religion and politics. More important, we are aficionados of baseball, especially the Royals and Indians. Right now, unfortunately, he has the bragging rights!
The last Sunday afternoon we were in Missouri, Mike and Ingrid took us out to Lake Jacomo and to a vast farmland area called Fleming Park, to see herds of buffalo. These huge animals came right up to the fence where we stood. I wondered if we should get too close. Soon we were feeding them sliced apples right out of our hands. I like to think they were gentle because we were from Ohio. The behemoth I was feeding graciously extended his tongue to my fingers, curled it around the apple, and slipped the apple into his mouth.
I asked Mike if they ever got angry. He told us of an experience with his teenage buddy. As they were approaching the fence, the bulls started to charge them. It was mating season, my son-in-law explained, and the buffalo considered them competitors. Imagine that! There is a kinship between animals and humans, another Missouri reminder of the oneness of life. Yes, I like it here!
“Home, home, on the range, where the deer and the buffalo roam... Pardon me, would I buffalo you on this?