We are an electric people. We don’t think about it much until we think of the Amish. Clark, Missouri, is known for its Amish community. I went with some friends this week to visit the shops for Amish goods.
It would be easy to romanticize their culture, as if this is how we used to be. We were more neighborly perhaps. Even today, if we lived amongst our own religious group with a set of common interests and goals, we would have a completely different outlook. Most of us live rather randomly today, picking a community in general and a house specifically.
In Amish country, we drove slowly. About half the traffic were horse and buggies. The road showed unusual wear: if you looked closely, you can see the worn strips from horse shoes. Nothing seemed to go to waste. Even the grass in the ditches next to the road went to use, populated with chickens and horses.
A small investment in the store brought me a basket filled with bulk spices. I stayed close to the wood stove that warmed the store. The spicy smell mixed with a scent of apples and burning wood. They sold potatoes and flour by the 50 lb. bags.
Outside the car window, I saw hay gathered in tied haystacks. It made me think of Van Gogh.
What stood out the most to me was the laundry. We were visiting on a Monday, traditionally laundry day. When we drove through, it was mid-morning and 40 degrees. They must have been washing while it was still dark to have it already hung. I would like to think it was a weekly load that hung out on the lines that often stretched more than 50 feet. If what I saw hanging out was the daily load, then God bless them.
I respect that the Amish have been intentional and made decisions about technology as a community. Amish society 100 years ago probably looked different than Amish society today. But they got together to plan how to change and why. We decide as individuals how much we want technology to intrude but it’s difficult to resist the tide of faster, better, more. Distractions have always existed, but now they are expertly targeted to distract us: Play more! Buy more! You deserve it! Bright colors, flashy lights, doesn’t this thing look good? Click click click!
Electronic screens made a fence between us
Kids moved independently throughout the community. A dark, lanky horse moved out in a quick trot. A boy of around 10 held the reins of a two-wheeled cart. We saw sisters walking to the store, hand in hand. They waved in friendly greeting to us when we passed.
Tonight I watched the news. They talked about the problem of teenagers using Snapchat with untraceable messages. Parents can’t know what photo was taken or what was said. “Your parents don’t know, your girlfriend doesn’t know.” They discussed the lack of accountability.
After our trip to the Amish country, I got home with my electricity. They installed our new dishwasher. I had two loads of dishes waiting. I put them in and the washer was so quiet, I could hardly hear it.
I filled up my washing machine with our clothes. I took a moment to watch them twirl and fall.
With my machines, I have time to write, walk the dogs and crochet for fun instead of income. As I wrote this blog post, I wondered if I’m too dependent on machines. Have I lost my appreciation? I looked up from my laptop to ask someone but my husband was focused on Candy Crush and my son was texting.
We are an electric people.
Lord, let me remember I can survive without
Things of the world are nice but not necessary.
What matters is a birthday meal shared with friends.
Help us see another birthday as a blessing. Because each
Let me pull my attention away from
electronic devices and back to people
who thrive with our eye contact, our hugs and
Lord, help me be an emissary of your love.
Tell me your thoughts!
Have you ever visited Amish country? How did it affect you? What do you depend on that wouldn’t work without electricity? What kind of simplicity attracts you? What do you think the world will look like when the teenagers of today are grandparents?