It would definitely be cool to compare notes between the Pennsylvania and Ohio Amish with FindTruth7 and to share with you, Barb, and the others on this thread.
To my mind, the more you come to know the Amish, the more you can identify and empathize with the grieving process that goes on when you have to leave … Even when things are going along just fine in your life, you feel that you’re leaving behind a people and a very special way of life that doesn’t exist just anywhere.
A former pastor of mine once mentioned the Amish in a homily and asked, “How come it’s just the Amish in our society who have a reputation for honesty? What about us Catholics? Shouldn’t we live in such a way that we earn the same reputation?”
There’s a tiny little Amish farm that sells produce in the middle of nowhere, just outside of Berlin, Ohio, I think it’s called something like “Blessing Acres” or “Providence Blessing Acres”. While you’re there, the farm boys bring in the corn and onions from the field out back, so fresh that the dirt is still hanging from the onions and needs to be cleaned by the boys before the onions are placed into the bins.
Once I bought a whole bagful of groceries and the lady asked me to please weigh them and tell her the price. I responded that I’m not good at math so she was welcome to charge me whatever she wanted because I trusted her. The total for peaches, beans, corn, onions, etc. came to the incredibly low price of $6.50 … such a low price, and the bag was so full that a small, polite Amish boy carried my watermelon to the car!
There was some slight distrust of me at first when I promised to return, all the way from up near Cleveland, with a supply of plastic grocery bags and recyclable jelly jars, which they advertise they are in need of. But when I returned several weeks later, I was personally and warmly invited to a special event on the farm featuring free lunch. Very sadly, I had to decline because my parents were going to be in town and I didn’t think their physical condition would allow them to make such a trip, but the lady at the farm assured me that my father would be most welcome to sit in his wheelchair and enjoy the day at her farm.
On another visit to this same farm, I was delighted to overhear a conversation between one of the customers and the Amish family, in which the family was quite willing to teach this “outsider” a few words of their internal “private” language, based on the customer’s interest.
It basically comes down to respecting each other’s cultures as well as each person as an individual.
And to tie this in further with the topic of this thread, it sure seems to me that if you spend time among the Amish, it’s harder to feel down and alone … Perhaps because without the distractions and noise of the tv set, people spend their time instead more focused on God and each other, leading to joy and community, and appreciation of nature and the simple pleasures in life.
A romanticized view … you can say that, because I’m not talking about the negative aspects of Amish life that I’ve heard of, and of course the Catholic Church has the fullness of Christianity. Still, the Amish strike me as maybe having a little something in common with the Francsican charism? (And maybe even, to consider things within the realm of Tolkien’s Middle Earth … something in common with the Hobbits of the Shire?)
~~ the phoenix