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Wednesday, March 21, 2012

Lancaster County Is An Inspiration

Quilts Fly In an Amish Barnyard

March found me on vacation in Amish and Mennonite country.  As a quilter, I appreciated an international show then went on to explore the local Amish communities.
            Although tour buses pull into the commercial areas of major Amish communities, these areas have been designed to be collective points to market local arts, crafts, and foods as well as to be a market center for the locals.  By design, this allows the public access to the product, but not the people, who can withdraw and enjoy their privacy.
            In admiring the exquisitely tended farms, I noted the relatively large size of buildings as compared to most in the Midwest and couldn’t help but wonder how such success could be achieved free of the commercial world.   After some exploration and reading, I found the present Amish community used some of the same practices as those of my own farming family just a generation ago, although my own family was fiscally conservative as a result of learning to live in a depression rather than by religious conviction.
            So how do the Amish succeed in owning those big farms?  Like my ancestors, they use the pay-as-you-go policy – that is, they don’t use credit and go into debt.  If that means driving an older buggy (or old farm equipment in our case), so be it.
            Another practice used, and one I always hated, was the “use-it-up, wear-it-out, make-do or do-without” one.  It probably helps the Amish to eliminate peer pressure for young people; for them simplicity is the norm, but it wasn’t much fun as a kid when you knew that the time of “wear-it-out” was long past and “do-without” was here.  People do tend to stare when you get to obsessive about things, although I believe as an adult it would be a good time to review that one.
            Finally, saving-up-to-buy paralleled the first two practices and what drove the make-do” habit.  The Amish seem to have managed a disciplined life style in their community and that is a major contributor to their success.  As young adults, I would admit we were so relieved to be able to buy a few things we became attached to the jobs of the world.  Farming might have sustained one of the children, but never all.  Nevertheless, saving became one of our values.
            A current recession has framed a new way of thinking that brings us back to a simple way of life and many are realizing the wisdom of those sometimes painful practices of fiscal restraint.  Thousands of tourists are drawn to Amish country every year, and they see happy people.  I hope that others are as inspired as I was to slip away from the desires of our consumer culture and consider living on less.
            There are many scriptures that tell us the Lord will provide.  I think it is time to trust that promise and stop believing that credit companies do a better job.  Happiness is, after all, loving what you have already been given.     

1 comment:

  1. You're so right, Joan. I love your observations, and the beautiful photo you led off with. I have one question: did your mom save tinfoil under the silverware drawer, as mine did? Or, maybe I should say, as I still do? : )