Saturday, July 14, 2007


About every two weeks, some nice Amish folks set up a little farmer's market in the plaza next to the building where I work. Seeing them among the super-tall skyscrapers and business people in the middle of Chicago always strikes me as a juxtaposition.

Occasionally, I'll see the Amish on buses or trains in the city. The women, never wearing any makeup, always look so happy, healthy and radiant. There's always a peaceful countenance on their faces that's very apparent. (The men, not so much. I don't know why.)

The Amish women who operate the farmer's market are the same way. Always ready to engage in happy pleasantries, there's just something about them that's appealing to be around.

I bought two pounds of homemade egg noodles and a pint of apple-butter. Apple-butter isn't something I ever shop for, but it just seemed appropriate to buy apple-butter from these people for some reason. Perhaps it was the fact that Amish apple-butter is the absolute epitome of American food, so I bought it. (It's wonderful, by the way). The egg noodles were even better. I'm going to buy a lot more next time they're here.

I was having an incredibly stressful week at work. I had just hired eight new employees and was conducting two days of training and orientation for them. My boss was supposed to be there to conduct it with me, but she got called away to Washington DC and I had to do it all myself. Then the I.T. people totally dropped the ball with the eight new laptops. Now I'm referred to by the I.T. people as "that tall guy that was cursing." That's the kind of week I was having.

So when the nice Amish woman asked me how I liked to prepare egg noodles, I wanted to grab her by the shoulders, shake her back-'n-forth, and say, "Take me back with you. Please!!"

Living the simple life, quietly making noodles and apple-butter seemed awfully appealing to me at the moment.
I'd probably be shunned within 24 hours or the minute I installed air conditioning in a barn.

I wonder what their lives are really like, not using the things we're so used to?
Imagine that. . . .

No internet, no blogging, no emails or Excel spreadsheets or I.T. people who screw everything up.
No Tivo or paying bills online or loving the possibility of an i-Phone.
Only fifty years ago, everyone lived without these things. A long-distance call was quite an event. Men wore suits to church and baseball games.

I'm sure it's very easy to idealize Amish life. Sure, we see them looking all radiant and happy and it's easy to be attracted to a simpler life.

But I've lived in a monastic life and I've also lived "in the world." I'm sure the same human dysfunction exists in an Amish community as it does as anywhere else.
I'm sure that Rebecca Beiler has cursed at her husband using similarly inappropriate words (cursing a blue streak) the the same way I did at the I.T. guy. I've no doubt of that!
I'm sure some of them sneak away to the local library and surf the net, perusing questionable materials. Like I said, I've lived in religious life.
We humans are like that.
We have an incredible ability to pretty much sully anything that's intended to be simple and pure.

I dropped the jar of apple-butter on the floor this morning.
Shattered glass and apple-butter is a bitch to clean.



At 12:53 PM , Blogger Citymouse said...

simple and pure are so subjective!!!
sorry about the apple butter

At 11:32 PM , Blogger Lorraine said...

I'm sorry about the apple butter, too. It's those hard tiles in your kitchen.

And I think the mere fact that you can appreciate the beauty behind what the Amish try to represent is in itself a blessing sort of thing. But trust me, you don't want to live without email.


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