The Stuff of Life

Dusk was just settling in as we completed our seven-hour journey through snow from Washington, D.C., to Rifton, New York. We drove up a long hill past a large building labeled "Community Playthings" and knew we had arrived.

Several years earlier our community at Sojourners began a day-care center in our low-income neighborhood in Washington, D.C. We put out an appeal for funds and received a large package from the Bruderhof, the community behind Community Playthings. It came with a note explaining that the community lives in voluntary poverty and could not send money, but they wanted to support our ministry. The package contained a brand new tricycle. A few months later we received a gift of large wooden blocks.

For most of us at Sojourners, the name Bruderhof brings to mind sturdy toys. In February, at the invitation of the Woodcrest Bruderhof, we traveled to upstate New York to find out more about the toymakers and their community.

As we crested the hill, a stream of people made its way toward us. The chill of the night was just setting in, but we felt enveloped in warmth. Smoke curled from the chimneys of the buildings that dotted the hillsides, their windows giving out warm glows of light. The handshakes of the sisters and brothers were heartfelt and welcoming.

We were guided to the Arnold household. Coffee and juice awaited us, as well as cakes—of the hearty and sweet German variety which would greet us every morning for breakfast and several times during each day throughout our stay.

Dinner followed in the huge, community dining room. All the adult members and the older children gathered for the evening meal, which opened with beautiful four-part singing and a moment of silent prayer. After we were warmly greeted and introduced to the community, a microphone was passed in turn to each of us who had come from Sojourners.

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