Meandering Around the Grange Way of Life with Walter Boomsma
you don’t hear crying, the Grange is dying!
confess I “stole” and adapted that quote from a church brochure. Partly because
I love kids but also because I think we need to remember that when we think
about the “Grange Way of Life.” Janice and I recently had the opportunity to
attend an exciting and fun Grange Event at Halcyon Grange. We drove the long
drive in part because of the program but having visited Halcyon in the past, we
knew we’d feel welcomed and at home. We didn’t hear any crying but we did have
the good fortune to sit behind two young ladies: one who recently started pre-k
and another who is, as I recall, in third grade. They both were quick to
introduce themselves and we had time to chat about several different topics
before the program started. The younger and I seemed to connect quite well and
when she became bored with the program, she would often turn to wink and
whisper. She was truly an engaging young lady.
During the break, the woman sitting next to me commented to the effect that we were a wonderful family and that my grandchildren were very polite and well-behaved. She was quite surprised when I admitted that we had just met for the first time. I confess I kinda liked the idea of the mistake. Not only because they were cute and great kids but because we were in a Grange Hall at a Grange Function. I like to think we were modeling the fact that as a fraternal organization we often call each other “brothers and sisters.” Clearly, I’m too old to be the brother and sister of a four-year-old and nine-year-old, at least in the biological sense. But it’s also not just about biology.
Perhaps ironically, I’d been thinking I would write about the Grange Declaration of Purposes in my next Exploring Traditions Column. One of the specific objectives begins,
meeting together, talking together, working together, and in general, acting
together for our mutual protection and advancement. We shall constantly strive to
secure harmony, goodwill, and brotherhood…”
So on that night in Blue Hill, that objective was achieved, at least in part! But, as the saying goes, wait, there’s more! That objective in our Declaration goes in to say “…, and to make our Order perpetual.” I never did get a chance to discover if my new friend’s mom and dad were members of Halcyon—and in a sense, it didn’t matter. There was plenty of harmony (both musical and personal), goodwill, and brotherhood in the hall that evening. When people—even little people—experience that, they are going to want more. When people want more of what the Grange has to offer, there’s some insurance of perpetuity. It’s not great poetry but
you hear giggling, the Grange is sizzling!”
There’s a sweet
irony in the fact that Heather Retberg wrote about the same Grange event in “View
from the Farm” this month. She mentions a song that was played at the event—unfortunately,
I can’t remember all the lyrics but part of it is: “It’s just a drop in the
bucket ’til the bucket fills up…” (Read Heather’s Column to find out
what happens after the bucket fills up!)
We do well when
we consider that “small things” that happen in our lives—chance meetings, a
giggling child—may seem like a drop in the bucket at first. As our buckets (and
our lives) fill up all of those small things become absorbed but as they do,
they become even more important.
The small things
that happen in our Granges, at our meetings, may seem like a drop in the
bucket. But those drops are no less part of our Grange than what we often think
of as the “big” things. And they are no less important.
I often say that
sometimes we need to be reminded that little people are still people. They are
not so unlike us bigger people. They may cry easier, but if we don’t
occasionally hear them crying our Grange may be dying.
If we want to “fill
up” our halls and our Granges, maybe we just need to start putting more drops
in the bucket. Little people, little things… small contributions of time,
energy and money. They’ll seem like drops in the bucket, but the bucket will be
Any degree or ritual quotations are from the forty-sixth edition of the 2013 Subordinate Grange Manual or the most recent edition of the Pomona Grange Manual. The views and opinions expressed in “Exploring Traditions” are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the official doctrine and policy of the Grange. Information about the book “Exploring Traditions—Celebrating the Grange Way of Life” can be found at Abbot Village Press, on Amazon, or by contacting the author (walterboomsmaonlinecom) .