Sunday, September 12, 2010

Wandering Off the Road

     A week ago my husband and I were in the middle of a trip to the Washington DC area.  The purpose of this was to attend a Memorial Open House for my niece, but we decided to take extra time for a much needed break.  As it turned out, our experiences added sweetness to the sorrow surrounding the reason for our journey.
     Among our explorations was a brief tour of  Amish country in northern Indiana.  We drove through the countryside and towns, visited shops and roadside stands, and checked out a few garage sales.  The latter brought local color to our trip.  One sale was at an Amish farm, complete with close-ups of turkeys, cats and dogs running free, Amish clothing, too much homemade bread and noodles (not on our food plan!), and an excess of flies and "fresh farm air".  Smelly but fun!
     We indulged in samples of almost every cheese at a cheese shop (lo-carb is on our plan....).  As we nibbled  we noticed the clean-cut appearance of most of the people, but my husband particularly noticed one family.  They were beautiful.  Each seemed to have a glow, both healthy and spiritual.  They were not Amish....maybe Mennonite.  My husband struck up a conversation with the father, who then asked "Do you know Jesus?".  At this point I left because I was overcome with emotion (it was an emotional trip and it didn't take much to trigger it....) so I do not know the extent of their conversation.  What impressed me was their integrity.  They were "the real thing"; people who seem to really live their beliefs.  It was refreshing to meet people  like this in our world today.
     A choice experience was watching Amish school children play softball.  I am guessing they were having school recess. Children of all ages were in the game; it appeared very inclusive (our culture often seems exclusive....).  The dominant colors were black and blue, and the girls played in their dresses.  I did not take any seemed like an invasion of privacy ( I later found out that taking pics is a no-no).
     We visited Yoder's Department store in Shipshewana. This store caters to Amish and sells many supplies they use.  Hitching posts for carriages line the front.  It is very interesting...worth the stop.
     Many years ago my aunts would drive into Shipshewana once a week during my visits to their lake cottage.  We always stopped at Yoder's so I could choose an early birthday present of fabric. I was pleasantly surprized to find that the store has not changed much in the past 30 years!  The store is not fancy but clean, and Christian music is piped in....a very nice experience.
     When I returned home I reflected on these experiences and made two lists contrasting the lifestyles of Amish and "us".  One of my conclusions was that our culture today has a very different paradigm than that of the Amish.  We are ego-focused; the Amish seem focused on others.  We are busy getting; they are busy giving.  We like to be exclusive; they are inclusive. We try to overcome and control nature; they flex and live with it.  We value stuff, jobs, competition and small families; they value simplicity, work, and large families.  We are in a hurry and lack patience; their pace is slow.  I could go on.  We perpetuate our own man-made dreams; the Amish are more in tune with reality.  I suppose many of us think we have it right and they are way behind, but I think it is the opposite in many ways (one exception being education).
     This part of our trip was very rich and stood in stark contrast to the hustle and bustle of DC.  I hope to remember it and learn from it.


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In addition to being a violist, I am a wife and mother (three sons). I dabble in writing, handwork, sewing and photography.