Friday, October 06, 2006

"We will send them flowers."

The above was not spoken about one of the Amish families affected by this week's murders, but rather spoken by one of them. He was speaking of how they will reach out to the family of the man who shot ten Amish schoolgirls this week. While the rest of us are stunned, wondering how in the world we might possibly reach out to such a separate, private community, they are planning on reaching out themselves during a time of such unspeakable grief.

What an example of forgiveness! Another quote from someone in their community (given in the MSNBC article here) said that they "don't want to be trapped by bitterness."

To me, the Amish (or even the Mennonites I've seen at homeschool conventions) dressed in their layered, long clothing with long, never-been-cut hair in braids or buns, living such a separate, deliberate lifestyles devoid of electricity or cars, look and seem... trapped. Trapped in another time. Trapped in a world where they can't quickly get information, travel, or switch on the lights. No Starbucks, fast food, or cute shoes. How stifling. How... trapped. But that's not so! In many ways, they are free. They have put themselves in a position to be free in so many areas. Free from bitterness. Free from worry about power outages due to storms, black-outs, or even war. Their lives of self-denial and simplicity leave them free from being in bondage to comfort, convenience and leisure. And, lest we think that they are forced into this lifestyle/ culture for life, their teenagers have a time where they leave to live among the "English," tasting life on the outside, and anyone is free to leave.

To be sure, our theology is quite different, and certainly our lifestyles are very different. But as I've read a bit about the Amish culture these last few days, I think I can learn a few things from them:
  • Humility
  • Forgiveness
  • Simplicity
  • Home as a place of worship. (Churches meet in homes. Each family takes turns hosting the congregation.)
  • Involving my children as much as possible in the work of their parents. (Amish children work alongside their parents and thus are well-acquainted with the work involved in daily life, how to manage a farm or a household, how to do a particular vocation.)
  • Non-dependence on "the world." (Even connecting to electricity, to them, is connecting to the world. What am I “connected to” in this world that wouldn’t survive a shake up? Romans 12:2)
  • Sing more. (They sing for hours each day- while they work, garden, tend to their children- as a form of worship but also as a way to teach their children. What joy there must be in that!)
  • Contentment in a life of work and family, in living spiritually, committed to worship and praise of God.

May God's blessings be upon all of them during this time of mourning, and of getting on with life. May God comfort the victims' families as well as the family of the man who committed this unthinkable act. May our sovereign God be glorified in the sending and receiving of that bouquet of flowers. And may the floral fragrance of forgiveness be a pleasing aroma to Him.

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