Sunday, May 18, 2008

Plain and Simple

(Photo by Bill Coleman. See his amish photo gallery here.)

For Mother's Day (I know, I'm a little behind in posting...) my husband gave me a book titled, "Traces Of Wisdom, Amish Women and the Pursuit of Life's Simple Pleasures." He knows me well. It's an enjoyable read. Warning: it may cause you to reflect on your life and passions. It has certainly reminded me of a few of my own life passions that had become foggy in this steam room I call motherhood. I'm currently living in Chapter 47, "Chasing Around A 16-Month Old Until Your Own Legs May Fall Off." Trust me, it's better than Chapter 22, "'I'm so tired.. Who Am I? Where Am I?"

On the surface, I may seem a little bit, um, absorbed by amish things. It's more of a keen interest. Yes, I watched "Amish In The City" a few years back... more than half of a dozen easy-reading Beverly Lewis books have graced my bookshelves... I've been to amish country because my family is from the great state of Pennsylvania... and I've read this book to learn more about their history and beliefs. But, I'm not planning to become amish.

I have a healthy respect for various aspects of their culture. Examples include: simplicity, looking after one another, slower pacing in life and... (I'll just throw in here a bonus point for the amish) they do not observe Daylight Savings Time. God bless 'em. They are a no fuss, no muss kind of folk. Certainly, there are drawbacks within the amish community, but what sub-culture of people are perfect? My focus shall remain on the positive facets as I further tell you about my little gift book.

The author, Loiuse Stoltzfus, is formerly amish. She grew up amish, remains close with the community, but now lives "in the world". She talks about our (us non-amish folks) need for escape on weekends and vacations. To the amish, "pleasure is not about escape," she writes, "it's about pleasantness and togetherness." In essence, they take time to "vacation" each day by enjoying each day for what it is. Less frazzle.

I'm reminded to increase my awareness of those around me. What do others need? Ms. Stoltzfus asks, "Do we know when the person sitting next to us suffers? Do we take the opportunity to reach out? We can still give... even when we receive few thank yous and no reward." If we're giving to get, is that really giving? Have you experienced the great joy in anonymous giving?

And one final little gem: laughter. Too much time passes between hearty chuckles. (And my daughter is very entertaining!) But, the author reminds us to laugh at ourselves. Gloss over your shortcomings with a snicker. (Not the candy bar because then you'll have TWO problems.) She writes that laughter, "moves us from an obsession with the absence of perfection to higher levels of personal acceptance." -- This perfectionist needs a t-shirt emblazoned with those words.


marychild said...

Wow Diane, great insights from the Amish way of life. I could definitely benefit from less hassle, less stress, more simplicity.

I agree that the statement, "laughter moves us from an obsession with the absence of perfection to higher levels of personal acceptance" is VERY profound. I am definitely one who dwells on my shortcomings rather than celebrates my strengths... thanks for the insights.

Anonymous said...

I too, respect the Amish. They are peaceful people who are satisfied with the "simple" things in life. Family, friends and good clean living.

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