Over the the past two weekends I have had visits from my family. (My mom and dad are divorced, so I see them at separate times: Dad and Ginny one weekend, Mom the next. My siblings are also able to come if they are able, but they had schedule conflicts this time.) Both weekends were wonderful, good times to visit and share.
This past weekend, while I was waiting for my mom to arrive on the Badger car ferry, which is actually more like a ship, I had a delightful conversation with an Amish family (except the husband/father was not with them). We talked about our shared love for simplicity, our hobbies, our daily prayer, the importance of community/family life, and the misunderstandings of the world about our way of life. I learned a great deal about Amish community, or at least the community of the people I met, as all communities are different.
I asked what book they'd recommend for further study of Amish life. They said that they couldn't think of a single book, actually. Most of them are written by people who used to be Amish and therefore have had unhappy experiences with being Amish. For instance, many have written about domineering fathers, which has left society with an impression that the Amish have rigid, domineering fathers. In actuality, personalities differ within the Amish community just as they differ within the rest of society. The family I was talking with said that they have a gentle, loving, and playful husband/father. Just like some Christians give ALL other Christians a bad name, and some Muslims give ALL other Muslims a bad name, it is also true that some Amish give ALL other Amish a bad name.
Other things they shared:
-They use modern machinery for milking their cows.
-Even though they don't watch TV, they read the newspaper daily and are well aware of what is going on in the world.
-They hire a driver when they have to travel further than a horse and buggy will take them.
-The men grow a beard when they get married. They don't wear wedding rings, because there is already an invisible bond.
-They enjoy singing together.
-They want the commitment to be Amish to be a voluntary one, so they don't have infant baptism, and people are free to leave.
******Every Amish community is different, so it's important not to assume that all Amish do these things.
Please pray for this family. They are trying to sell their house so they can live closer to other Amish families. The son is temporarily in Michigan working to help support the family back in Wisconsin. (He is home for a visit.)
Of course, this was a dialogue, and I also shared with them about what it is like to be a sister. Interestingly, the mom had the same concern that I had had about the Amish. She wanted to know if I am free to leave, because she thought that once I entered I was roped in. I shared with her that I am in a time of discernment and am free to leave at any point for the next 5 to 9 years, when I will take final vows. After final vows, if I would want to leave, I would have to go through the pope. I told the mom that I had thought the same about the Amish.
What a lovely family! It was a fascinating dialogue!
Some other excitement this weekend was the Feast of Saint Francis. We had a beautiful Transitus ceremony on the evening of Sunday, October 3rd. You can read more about it here and see pictures from it.
Then on October 4th, his feast day, we had a fun social where we had a community art project. We were divided into 9 groups to make collages for the Canticle of the Creatures, by St. Francis of Assisi. (One group did a collage of Brother Sun, another of Sister Water, another of Mother Earth, and so forth...) These collages were on large puzzle pieces. that we fit together in a prayer service. The St. Rita's (infirmary) Sisters were there as well, and it was nice to visit with them.
Here is our completed Canticle of the Creatures puzzle:
(The date on the picture is wrong.)
I hope you all had a blessed Saint Francis Day!