I’m not sure what I expected exactly…something primitive perhaps? I felt shy and awkward as we entered the quaint yet beautiful home. Lingering in the doorway I stared back at the colorful array of flowers in the well manicured yard.
My dear friend greeted them as dear friends; smiling, embracing and laughing all at the same time. I stood back tentatively feeling a little awkward; a stranger in an unfamiliar place concerned I was going to do or say something out of place.
Formal introductions were made. I was “Tanya, the girl from Virginia who is fascinated by the Amish.” The room erupted in giggles emerging from the five very Amish women before me. Every bit of shy within me took over causing my face to fill with color. Genuine Smiles were coupled with their quiet and confident gentle presence.
It was true- I was fascinated by the Amish culture. Fascinated that they chose to live so very different than the “rest” of us. Fascinated that in a world full of conveniences they chose to live without them. Fascinated that they would purposely forgo that which was modern, current and easy for the beauty and simplicity that their lifestyle seemed to represent.
I had spent the week visiting heart friends who just happened to live in the heart of Amish Country. Knowing of my particular fondness of all things Amish, they had gone out of their way to give me the full tourist treatment. Red barns nestled among beautiful rolling green hills, clear blue skies, fresh country air and a town so small that there seemed to be no strangers.
Around every corner there was a surprise that delighted my soul. To my friends, the clip clopping of horse hooves was nothing to get excited about yet I would stop just to listen and watch in anticipation of the soon to be approaching buggy . Beautiful Amish children clad head to toe in their well known garb walking to church behind their parents was a splendid sight to me, but simply commonplace to them.
Not only had a real Amish buggy ride been arranged by two sweet sisters earlier in the week, but now this very special traditional Amish luncheon had been planned in my honor. I was simply overwhelmed not only by the kindness of my friends, but by the kindness of strangers who would go out of their way to bless me with both their time and hospitality.
Sitting around the table for five hours-which felt like 5 minutes- we enjoyed sweet fellowship. We ate, talked and laughed. My hosts were so very gracious opening up conversation with the invitation to ask anything I cared to or was curious about. What an education I received! Marriage, family, church and everyday life were among our topics of discussion. Answers were offered in a down to earth and honest manner. At times we laughed till we cried.
Later, thinking of each sweet woman of God I had had the pleasure to meet, I marveled at our likeness… wives, mothers, women. We faced so many similar life experiences. And yet, clearly, those places where we differed were profound.
Summing it all up however I decided that never had I seen a more tangible example of being “in the world but not of it” as these women’s lives offered. There was something beautiful in that to me.
I pray too that my life can speak beauty to others as I demonstrate this characteristic. That the way I live will speak of difference in the places that matter.
Father help me to live a life that is set apart for you.