Sunday, September 22, 2013

My visit with Amish friends

Over the course of the past couple of years, my husband and I have enjoyed the embrace of Lancaster County, Pennsylvania. In this warm setting, we have opened our hearts as the people of this beautiful country have opened theirs. Our time and journey in this wondrous place have led to new friendships including that of a young Amish woman who worked at a favored market.

It was a Saturday when we went to our favorite market on an extended, if not spontaneous, day trip. We wanted to let our friend know that we would be back in August for a longer stay and hope to get together then. When we arrived, we saw another woman working in her place which was unusual. I approached the stand to ask about our friend and to my surprise, this woman already knew through her daughter.

"Oh yes, you are Tina Loveless," she said, "my daughter has told me all about you. Please do come over, we would enjoy having you."

We exchanged telephone numbers and let her know that would be in touch when we were back in town.

When August arrived, and not a moment too soon, my husband and I set off to Lancaster for 6 days. Excited to spend some time with our new Amish friends, with a bit of anticipation and excitement,  I phoned and left a message. When I finally got the call back I was so excited we set up a time to meet and said our goodbyes until then.

My husband and I headed out to our friends home, as we take the turn down the lone road to their farm, carved among the fields of tall corn, we turned into the crushed stone land. The alabaster path gave the moment such serenity that the rest of the world seemed to melt away. 

Once we arrived, my husband and I were greeted with open arms and sat on their patio and just talked with the family for several hours. It felt as if we had known each other for years and that we were just catching up.

Many things come to my mind when I was reflecting on this trip. First and foremost was being able to share this experience with my husband that made it all the more special. Second was the joy of visiting an Amish family in their home and getting to know them on a more personal basis.

During this wonderful stay, I was reminded that the Amish are much more like you and me than we tend to recognize.  They face many of the same problems that we do in our daily lives and remembering this draws the bonds between our very different communities much closer. This experience continues to help me live a better life by seeing past the distractions and shedding some of the unnecessary burdens of English life.

Looking at my family's life through the lens given to me through a growing relationship with the Amish, it has become easier to see how many things I stuff into my life. Material and spiritual baggage that serves little purpose in me nurturing a better life for my own family. There are many things that I will continue to keep in my life that the Amish generally don't have, but that's the beauty in our differences. In the end, it is through those differences that I gain a better view of the important things upon which I must focus.

The lesson from this recent experience is to embrace those who have embraced me and to learn from the things we share as much as the different things that we bring to each other.