Go mbeannai Dia duit.

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Quaker by conviction, mother by default, Celticst through love, Christ follower because I once was lost but now am found...

Sunday, January 2, 2011

An introduction...

I said, “Answer me this one question.” Now keep in mind, I’m planning on witnessing to him. “If there was a God and he had a church, what would it be like?” He sat there for awhile making up his mind to play or not. Finally he sighed and said, “Well, if there was a God and he had a church—they would care for the poor, heal the sick, and they wouldn’t charge you money to teach you the Book.” I turned around and it was like an explosion in my chest. “Oh, God.” I just cried, I couldn’t help it. I thought, “Oh Lord, they know. The world knows what it’s supposed to be like. The only ones that don’t know are the Church.”

I began a love affair with simplicity when I was very little, &  it began with a story.  The story was about a little girl who lived on a farm.  Her name was Lydia & she was Amish.  Amish was a word I had never heard before.  Amish, Mennonite, Hutterite, Shaker, Quaker.  I fell into a different world & it was a world that fascinated me.  Who were these people & why did they dress like that?

Peter Weir had yet to bring his magic way with light to the big screen via Witness. The world had yet to bear witness to the grace of forgiveness at Nickel Mines. Even the encyclopedia had barely a paragraph on these hidden people who had indeed chosen a different path, one not only less travelled but hardly known by the outside world at all.

Marguerite di Angeli's pictures of capped women & bearded men lingered in my imagination along with the unarticulated idea that one could get along perfectly well in this life without adhering to all the trappings of the 2oth century.  It was an idea that I returned to again & again, turning it over in my mind like  a polished pebble, rolling it between my fingers feeling for imperfections, carrying it like a talisman.

I flirted with the idea of self~sufficiency & read Foster's Freedom of Simplicity but I was studying & then I had small children ~ lots of small children ~ & the simplicity I dreamed of seemed an impractical solution in an increasingly harried existence.  Yet there were things I did because they were fundamental things for who I was at my core. After we built our house we let the land rejuvenate naturally & built our garden through the regrowth. For every soul on this earth you need 3 trees to supply their oxygen.  We have that ~ & then some. Most years we have planted a vegetable garden & when we had a very full house of growing children we ran chooks as well.  We limited our clothing.  Honestly I abhorre shopping & shopping with 5 children in tow who could never agree on who got which coloured T was more than I could face most days. We chose to live somewhere where the pace of life was slower & a sense of community predominated & over the years we ditched toys in favour of the practical things our children preferred: fishing rods & tackle, soccer balls, cricket bats, art supplies, musical instruments.

One of the things that has surprised & pleasured me because it was so very unexpected was the on~line friendships that have happened, the people in far away places who have travelled a similar path, made a similar journey & reached a similar conclusion & whom I have bumped into only because of the internet.  Ember is one of these.  We have chatted about simplicity in all it's various shades & forms  ~ & had been doing so for some time before I realise Ember was a real live author [swoon] & actually had books published.  Ones I could buy in the bookstore. A whole one on simplicity. Which Liddy gave me for Christmas.

I want to chat about that more fully in another post but in one of Ember's book's side bars I found the opening quote & I have found myself returning to this thought over & over again. In a jaded world the ability to say, "No, I have sufficient for all my need" speaks loudly.  The world knows the Truth when it sees it.  Gospel simplicity speaks in ways that all our words fail to address.  It does something Jesus understood very well. When his disciples first gathered around him they were curious about where he lived.  Jesus did not tell them about his home.  He said, " Come & see".  When we so live our lives that we can invite others to "Come & see" we are standing on holy ground.  We find ourselves walking in The Way Jesus set out & it makes a difference.  Only a dimple of the surface of the water perhaps but the ripples can have far reaching effects.


Sandra said...

Lovely thinks.

I have always been aware of the Amish, as they are settled in MN. The boys go out into the world for a year to decide whether to live Amish or not. Many end up working on horse farms, especially working with draft horses.

seekingmyLord said...

You have one of Ember's books? I am jealous!

I know this is off the main topic, but the Amish are interesting. My aunt, uncle, cousin and his wife hired Amish men to build their house. Their families became close and they still drive them to places. The Amish will not own a car, but will pay people to drive them; they are generous. Some Amish have generators for electricity in their barns. I like their choice of life as to not being dependent on government, but their simplicity is not always the way people, who are not around them, envision it.

Actually, I read recently that one state is now trying to offer the Amish subsidies for changing the way they handle manure, because the state claims that it is polluting lakes and rivers. I cannot see the program working, but it was seen as a better alternative to fining them, which would likely meet with resistance.

Ganeida said...

Sandra: That makes sense to me. We get the occasional Hutterite out here but no Amish though several people think they are because they have chosen an Amish style lifestyle.

Seeking: You would love this book. Am about to finish blogging about it. And the state is worrying about manure when big companies regularly pour toxic waste into our rivers?! How odd of them.

seekingmyLord said...

The difference, I suppose, is that companies are regulated and can be fined, but the Amish community is hemmed inside a country whose laws they reject and are made irrelevant, yet are protective of them. It is a very strange and fragile relationship between the two when you think about it.

That I would love the book I have absolutely no doubt, I already love the author.

Finding Joy said...

I have heard of the movie "Witness" but never the book, will need to hunt it down. Loved Amish Grace but cried my way though it.

We all need simplicity as our lives are far to cluttered. Ever 6 months I de-clutter my house and always feel great. I did the kitchen last week.

I am learning to make bread and made my first loaves a week ago. About to give it another go tomorrow! I find bread making scary as it can all go wrong, it is the only cooking that I stress over.I'm not good at not succeeding so perhaps bread making is a good thing for me to try my hand at as failing is healthy and good!! I might have to look at your blogging friend and see what she has to say.

Ganeida said...

Seeking: Made more fragile after the educational fracas when children were forcibly rounded up & removed to government schools. The Amish are feeling the stress of the times too. Rumspringa has landed several in jail for dealing coke. Simplicity alone is no panacea.

Jo: lovely to see you! ☺ I am still detoxing & working my way round other people's blogs ~ plus I have to share my computer! I have pretty much given up making bread. I got a form of Ross River & my wrists are hopeless now. I really can't manage the necessary kneading. I declutter but most of my children still live here & apparently need their *stuff*!!!