Wednesday, August 09, 2006


I have been again plunged back into the thick of Amish-Mennonite culture of late—pleasant recollections, stark realizations of things I have forgotten, things I now appreciate that I once railed against and the things I forgot I hated. (For those who don’t know, the TC, where I’ve lived, is quite thin for A-M culture.) It’s like coming home. Or actually more like detox but in a liberating sort of way.

I’ve been in Virginia visiting my sister.

. . . I forgot to bring socks and everyone wears dark socks for church. I watched people start, do a double take and then a quick avert—the culprit, my white legs.

. . . I marveled at the level of clean. Every morning I looked for hair, dirt—anything—in the most readily dirty place I could think of, the corner behind the toilet and the part of the sink behind the faucet. But nada! For 4 days I lived in a dorm-like situation with 16 girls and a common kitchen. It was like dorm room living, except it was like living with 16 girls trained to be cooks and cleaning ladies. I never thought the lack of slime and grime would give me such culture shock.

. . . My hair is as long but trimmed—yet ridiculously short compared to the never-cut hair of some that hangs to the backs of some girls’ knees.

. . . The sermons are great! No intellectual treatises on some concept five shades removed from practical reality. Those are great too—but I like to hold intellect and practicality in sway. Nope, here we’ve got for you here, true practical instruction for daily living given like pistols, shooting strait from the hip. It’s actually quite refreshing. “Tithing isn’t optional,” the preacher said. “God tells us we are to give generously.” I needed to be told my diet coke habit wastes my money and is unhealthy. I was even at a wedding where the pastor all but gave personal marriage counseling—delivered quite tactfully, with lots of humor. Here dude, step on my other toes too.

My sister, my cousin and I biked DC along the Potomac. It was a great activity for those cut from the same cloth. We’ve all inherited my grandma’s full throttle energy level, it seems. It was also a pleasant freedom to be wearing a more in your face barrier for the English—billowing skirts and large white headcoverings. People sure looked at us. One guy even bothered to tell us he had just seen some Amish and pointed us in their direction. And yes, billowing skirts and bikes work just fine together.

The humor and the creative entertainment was enough to make my sides ache. I had forgotten about the antics—the constant “war” of trickery and pranks Mennonite youth played on each other. I was shocked at how often everyone used the f word or engaged in it, given our recent debate on modern parables. I suppose some things just don’t translate—one needs to experience them. Go here and scroll down to brothers and sisters

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