Sunday, February 6, 2011

My Amish journey (part 1)

Several years ago -- probably just before the turn of the century (how's that for dramatic and old???) -- I was reading books from my mother's library of Christian fiction.  I thought she had a BIG library -- probably enough to fill one decent-sized bookcase.  That was before I inherited several of her books and developed a serious addiction to building my own library, now numbering somewhere around 500 books.

Anyway, one of the books I read was an Amish story by an author named Beverly Lewis -- the first was probably The Shunning.  I'm not sure how, not sure why, but I was hooked!  When I finished the book, I remember going into the room where my husband was and telling him I wanted to go to Lancaster County, Pennsylvania.  Something about the Amish lifestyle, which I had really known nothing about before, just fascinated me. 

In the 12-14 or so years since then, my interest and fascination has grown.  The more I've read about the "Plain" way of life, the more intrigued I've become and the more I've wanted to know.  Although I don't agree with all their beliefs and practices, and I'm certainly too spoiled to willingly live without so many of my modern conveniences, I admire many things about the Amish way.  Their commitment to God, to family, and to community, their willingness to often put aside their own "rights" for the sake of peace and other people and to forgive when they are wronged -- these are examples a lot of us could benefit from.  Truth is, there is no reason for values such as those not to fit into any lifestyle, no matter how complex.

Meanwhile, my dream to visit Lancaster County remained just that, a dream that would likely never happen.  As the phrase, "bucket list," became popular, I always thought that such a visit would be close to the top of my bucket list.  Who knew that a tiny piece of misinformation would lead to my dream being realized!

In May of 2010, while traveling from Missouri to Arkansas for our daughter's wedding, --  I don't even remember how the subject came up -- my husband asked just how far away Lancaster County was from our home.  At some point in my dreaming I had looked it up on the internet, and what I remembered was about an 8- or 9-hour drive.  My husband made the "mistake" of mentioning that that was not so much farther than our trips to visit family in southern Arkansas.  The seed of hope was planted!  On our next stop, I bought a road atlas and started figuring up mileage and time.  Oops!  I had been mistaken; it appeared it was more like a 15- to 16-hour drive.  But by this time, my husband knew it was hopeless.  We had to go!

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