Synod Poet Laureate Rod Hugen, former Evangelist, former Ministry Associate, and newly Commissioned Pastor, entertained synod delegates with this poem at the retiree luncheon.
My Journey To Ancaster, Eh?
by Rodney J. Hugen
How does one get to Ancaster?
How does a poet find his way?
Why should I be in Canada?
It is not too hard to say.
Poets love to make things rhyme,
it makes their life okay,
and in Ancaster to rhyme a verse,
you simply end with ‘eh’.
I was born into the mother church,
in the state of Iowa.
My parents brought me to my home
on a farm just north of Pella.
I was baptized on the eighth day
in second CRC,
which broke off from the first church
to avoid apostasy.
I know folks think that babies
are innocent and kind,
but those folks have never had one,
or may have lost their minds.
When you are raised a Calvinist,
you know you’re born in sin.
My parents used to thank the Lord
I was not born a twin.
I lived the ‘t’ in tulip.
I was totally depraved,
and from that very early age
there was some doubt if I was saved.
My mother oft forbade me
to leave the farmhouse yard,
but unhindered by obedience,
I sinned without regard.
When I was six she caught me cussing,
so we had a teaching moment,
she washed my mouth with Lava soap
and I slid down the Great Escarpment.
In rage, I threw my tiny tractor,
so Dad put it way up high.
Then I handed him the wagon, too
and didn’t even cry.
I told him that the wagon
was no good without the tractor,
and suddenly I found my toys
were in the trash compactor.
But grace is grace, and God is good,
and though I’d surely erred,
I was convinced I was elect,
because my life was spared.
When the elders came to visit us,
they asked, “Do you like church?”
My parents sat and glared at me
as I sat there on my perch.
I thought the elders’ questions
deserved honest declarations,
but apparently my truthful answer
ignited serious conflagrations.
Who knew that elders hated truth,
and much preferred sweet lies?
They shook off dust because they knew,
I’d be hard to catechize.
They hoped before I came of age
and attended catechism,
that I might become a Baptist,
or leave because of schism.
I went to Pella Christian School
where I learned my ABCs.
Teachers thought me lazy
which we now call ADD.
I learned to read my Bible,
though I was easily distracted,
my best subject there was recess…
Hey, look! A squirrel!
Our family moved to Arizona.
I was really most delighted.
I thought I’d meet some cowboys
so I got quite excited.
I discovered that the Wild West
was highly overrated,
that cowboys weren’t as I had hoped,
so I was irritated.
They didn’t ride on ponies
or shoot six guns in the air.
They didn’t wear ten gallon hats.
it really wasn’t fair.
So, I gave up my boyhood dreams,
like Maple Leafs do playoff hockey,
and since I couldn’t be a cowpoke,
I hoped instead to be a jockey.
Discrimination slowly reared its head.
I know I’m being whiney,
but to be hired as a jockey,
they say you must be tiny.
That dream has never really died,
I know I tip the scales,
but I’ll be the perfect rider,
if they ever race Clydesdales.
Mom said that I should grow up,
as I made my way through school.
So I grew tall, then taller
and figured all was cool.
But, apparently, what mother meant
was I should be mature.
So I was stuck with being tall,
for which there is no cure.
I learned to do accounting,
got a bachelor’s degree,
found a wife and fathered children,
and lived in harmony.
Then I had my mid-life crisis
which turned into disaster,
and ended with a strong desire
that I should be a pastor.
I helped start a church in Phoenix,
was licensed to exhort,
though my kid told all his little friends,
I was licensed to extort.
I could have used the money
when I became ordained.
I was called Evangelist
which means your income’s down the drain.
I went to Tucson for Home Missions
with the hope I’d plant a church,
so my dreams of getting wealthy
were left there in the lurch.
I liked being an Evangelist,
but a change then came aboot.
Suddenly they were calling me
a ministry associoot.
The Arizona Classis
chose to send me here today,
to argue, fight, engage debate,
or maybe just to pray.
They think that I’ve been reading
and studying reports,
instead I’m writing blank verse poems
and dreaming up retorts.
I told my wife what I’d be doing
on our June 8th anniversary.
You could tell that she was pleased
by her vocabulary.
Eventually she took a breath,
I don’t mean to be a grouch,
but here I’m sleeping on a bunk bed
and at home I get the couch.
I rose before the crack of dawn,
I left my house at four,
flew from Tucson to Chicago
and then I flew some more.
Crammed into a tiny plane
to a place called Buffalo,
where Peter Borgdorff's sister
told us all where we could go.
We climbed aboard a shuttle
and were driven to the border.
The nice man swiped my passport,
told me I was in good order.
We were herded on a school bus,
I don’t mean to be a tattler,
but as for me I’d rather be
just bitten by a rattler.
I registered and got a key
and feeling nearly dead,
I hoped to take a shower
before I went to bed.
I know I should be grateful,
but one thing made me scowl,
it’s those little bity scraps of cloth
Redeemer calls a towel.
The sound of fireworks woke me
so I asked, “What’s that about?”
Folks said, “The War of 1812.”
which caused me lots of doubt.
You people know that’s over, right?
That battle has been won.
Unlike the wars we fight in church,
which never do get done.
I voted for Van Dalen
to be first or second clerk.
I hoped Derek would be elected,
and would have to do that work,
I didn’t care if he was qualified,
he might have been the dregs,
but, you see, he sat across from me
and I hoped to stretch my legs.
The executive director
told us he’s on shaky ground,
so I’ll try to walk more softly
whenever he’s around.
He said it might just be the Spirit,
or critical things we face,
but don’t let your hearts be troubled,
either way we’ll know God’s grace.
On Sunday we discovered
that God is great and florious!
We’re not so sure just what that means,
but it sounded mighty glorious.
It was so hot I couldn’t breathe,
I thought that I might die.
In Tucson we leave water in the ground,
instead of hanging in the sky.
I used to run a business,
and to do that work so vital,
I gave folks job descriptions,
and sometimes gave them titles.
So I have a little question,
to clear away my haze:
now that I’m a Commissioned Pastor,
does that come with a raise?
The daughter of Jon Huizenga
Should do real well in school.
She should hold out for a condo,
a hot tub, and a pool.
We heard Dr. LeRoy promise Jon,
that he’d take good care of her.
If the interview had gone much longer,
she’d have a limo and chauffeur.
Dr. Goheen was selected
to work at the seminary,
but he’ll be living elsewhere,
so he won’t actually be there.
Except for, as I understand it,
he’ll leave Phoenix in December,
to go back to Grand Rapids,
to serve as a faculty member.
We say thanks to Dr. Krygsman
and his staff we would applaud.
Redeemer’s done a great job
of hosting us at Synod.
They threw an awesome barbecue,
and we’ve enjoyed such bounty.
To keep us from stealing silverware,
they had to hire a Mountie.
All in all, we know God’s grace
I think the devil trembles,
when he watches what we do
in God’s church assembles.
We worship, pray, and love each other.
We fight against the schemer.
We know he’s been defeated
by our great Redeemer.
When we’re sad and when we struggle,
Jesus loves us, this we know.
This is not just what we hope for,
it’s the Bible tells us so.
He takes joy when we’re together,
when we strive to find his way,
in Ancaster, and elsewhere,
we declare his goodness, eh?