Sunday, May 19, 2013

Amish Peace

I exercised this morning while everybody was at church (and last night, when everybody went to dinner with my in-laws).  I behaved--I took breaks.

This afternoon my father took us all to see Star Trek:  Into Darkness.  It was really good.  The moral of the story--don't make Mr. Spock angry.  You wouldn't like him when he's angry.

I finished a book this week (I mentioned it on this blog a few days ago):  Amish Peace, by Suzanne Woods Fisher.  Even though I'm no longer practicing Christianity--well, I'm not really practicing anything in particular, so I may as well find wisdom among the Amish as anywhere else.  I guess most faiths have a little bit of wisdom.  (The only thing I'm not reading up on is atheism.  My sister liked what I said this morning, so I'll repeat it here--I can't really consider atheism, because nobody can point to a god-shaped hole in the universe somewhere and say, "He (She?  It?  They?) isn't there, so He doesn't exist".  Agnosticism makes a certain amount of sense to me some days.)

Anyway....I've often thought I'd like to be Amish, but only for a couple of weeks.  I'd like to take a horse and buggy ride.  I like colorful the colorful quilts.  I like the idea of living closer to nature (the Amish are good at that).  But I like the internet.  I like reading what I want to and listening to what I want to and playing the piano and wearing comfortable clothes.  I'm also not at all sure I'd like quilting and canning for the rest of my life.  To each her own.  But this book brought up some good points, after outlining the origins of the Amish culture.  For most of the book, Ms. Fisher talked about different aspects of being Amish that one could emulate, without having to actually be Amish.  Which fits in very well with my practice of "Eclecticism".  So here are the main facets of the "Amishness" (it should be a word) that Ms. Fisher considers worthy of trying to incorporate into our lives:

Simplicity.  The Amish don't believe in having a bigger house than they need, or more stuff than they need.  They also don't have to worry about interior decorating, or fashion.  This allows them to focus on what's important to them.  Our lives out here in the modern world are so complicated that it's hard to focus on anything for very long.

Time.  The Amish have a different view of time.  I've tried to resist the 'hurry-hurry-faster-faster' attitude that seems to be everywhere, but it's not easy.  It's not that I don't want to be productive.  But it's stressful.  There has been a lot of pressure on me to hurry over the years, maybe partly because sometimes I am slow--having crummy visual processing and memory sometimes does slow me down.  Sometimes being sick slows me down, too.  But I wonder why we all have to hurry so fast.

Community.  I have to wonder what it would be like to be surrounded by siblings and cousins and aunts and uncles.  The only thing that would disturb me would be the lack of independence.  I would love to have a community, but I'd hope it would be a tolerant one.  Our society does seem to focus more on competitiveness than community.  A lot of people are very isolated.  I've been sick alone, taken care of young children alone a lot of the time, or both.  I've gotten some help with the poverty that results from being disabled, but that burden has fallen on only a couple of people instead of the entire community.  I don't know what I'd do if I didn't have them.  And I've raised my children practically alone--they should have had more community.  I'm glad they have church.

Forgiveness.  This is a good one.  Nobody's perfect.  Anyway, the whole human race needs to grow up.  There is so much we don't know.  People are born with physical problems, or neurological problems, or they grow up in horrifically abusive families, or abject poverty, and then it's so easy for us to blame them for how they turn out.  And the judgmentalism (judgmentalness?) does seem to be contagious.  It brings peace to forgive others.  I think it was  Beth Moore who said something about failure to forgive a person being like having to carry them around with you everywhere you go.  It's a burden.  And it's not just others--I'm still working on forgiving myself.  I don't only want other people to be perfect, I would like to be perfect, too.

The Sovereignty of God.  How easy it is to fail to put spirituality anywhere on the to-do list on any given day.  I'm improving on this one, too. (At least I don't feel I'm a worse person than I was a few years ago--I'm heading in a direction I like, even if I'm not moving as fast as I want to.)  I've also worked at trying to accept that things are the way they are.  I don't control the universe.  Serenity prayer and all that. 

I like the lack of competitiveness among the Amish.  I don't have a problem with a bit of pride in a job well done, or a bit of competitiveness.  But we carry it too far.  Among the Amish, nobody has a bigger wedding, or a bigger buggy, or better clothes.  Everyone is equally valued.  I like the humility--the other side of forgiveness, perhaps.

Some things to aspire to.

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