Saturday, July 23, 2011

Amish in Smicksburg, PA Make Hay While the Sun Shines

Yesterday it was over 100 degrees in Smicksburg, a small town sixty miles NE of Pittsburgh. While I was comfortable in my air conditioned Jeep sipping a cold frappuccino, I passed by men out in the fields, making hay. There was a weather warning not to be outside. Should I stop the car and tell them?  I thought for half a second and drove on. I know by now what my Amish friends would do – laugh. These Amish men are the ones who put a new roof on my house, built our barn and addition, sometimes during a major heat wave.
While visiting a friend in Lancaster, we passed Amish who used John Deer tractors pulled by a team of horses. Their hay machines shot out cubes of hay. They were shocked when I told them my Amish friends in Smicksburg use the old-fashion hay rakes and stack their own hay by hand. When I told them they dam up a creek and make their own ice for their iceboxes, their mouths gaped. "They don't have refrigerators? You're joking." They have natural gas or propane refrigerators. They were Old Order Amish, but were constantly challenged by modern technology, what to allow and what to ban.  
I came home having more appreciation for my Amish friends. They’re similar to the Amish in Western New York where I used to live. They face the same challenges technology throws at them, but they stick to their old ways. I wish people didn't feel they need to drive to Lancaster to see the Amish. The Amish live in over 28 states now and their population is a quarter-million strong. If you do your research, you may find you have a in your own backyard.

Hope you enjoy these pictures I took, once the men looked the other way. Taking a photo of Amish faces will always be banned....I think.

Saturday, July 16, 2011

Learning to Grieve the Amish Way

Writing words help me heal, so I’m writing today.   My Uncle Jim passed away yesterday. I’ll always remember him as that handsome man that looked like a Ken Doll. My aunt was his brown haired Barbie.  He wore Boss Cologne and I loved giving him a hug because he smelled good. A chiropractor by day and a good husband and father by night.
I didn’t know what to do when I got word of his death. A family member told me my aunt needed time alone with her immediate family to make plans. Numbly I went to see the new Winnie the Pooh movie with my husband and daughter.  I kept thinking, I need to be with my aunt. I want to be with my aunt. Then I thought of how the Amish grieve, and became clear to me what to do.
 We went and sat with my aunt while she reminisced about her high school sweetheart. How sad she was that two of her daughter and now her husband are gone. We didn’t say much. Just hugged and listened.  I was told today our visit helped so much. This is the Amish way, and they learned it from Jesus. Jesus wept with those who wept. He took time to be with people.
When someone in the Amish community dies, they come and sit with the person, much like Job’s friends in the Bible. They came and sat for seven days and didn’t speak. It comforted Job to know they were there. The presence of someone next to you that loves you has great healing power.
The Amish don’t have drive through grief either. They take their time. They have suffered a great loss. The immediate family wears black for a year and they make sure the widow isn’t alone. The community schedules weekly visitors who bring food. A notice will be put in the Die Botschaft, a national Amish newspaper. Cards are sent from across the country from complete strangers. 
Time and thought given to someone shows love, and love, in time, brings healing. Below is a picture of my Uncle Jim and my Aunt Virginia. I will miss this gentle man...Please pray for my aunt....

Thursday, July 14, 2011

Amish as Busy as Bees in the Summer

     I'm taking knitting classes in the small town of Smicksburg, PA where many of my Amish friends live. My teacher owns the shop, SuzyBKnits, and we lazily put up our feet as she teaches me to knit and purl. What a different summer I'm having than my Amish friends.
     The men are out making hay when the sun shines. I love watching them pull their primitive hay rakes by one tired horse. They stop to take off their straw hats and wipe their brow. Then you see teams of men stacking the hay in tee pee formation for it to dry. It's 90 degrees out. They are working hard.
     Then I see women in huge gardens, bent over weeding or carrying bushels to their homes to "put up" the harvest.  This means hot water is boiling, ready to seal all the hot jars of fruits and vegetables. I think of my own garden. My husband and I do it together as a hobby, not a necessity. We have a rototiller that's self-propelled. It clears out all the weeds in between rows. No hoeing required. Then I think of my Food Saver and freezer. I don't have to can everything, only spaghetti sauce. Everything else gets put in the freezer.
     As I sit and knit, I don't know if I'm blessed or lazy. The Amish always make me reevaluate my life.