The Amish Connection
These three words are completely interconnected and are the foundation pillars of the intentional lifestyle we are striving to build here at Candleberry Cottage. If you’re not familiar with the term “intentional lifestyle” it is a conscious attempt to live according to an individuals or groups values and beliefs. I am not an expert on the Amish, but I have spent many years learning everything I could about old order Amish and other Anabaptist groups. From what I have learned and observed, I believe the Amish are a wonderful example of what an intentional lifestyle built around simplicity, self-sufficiency, and community can look like.
When we look at the Amish we see the Horse and buggies, simple clothing, no electricity and it creates an image of a people frozen in a simpler time. The truth is the Amish aren’t frozen in the past. The Amish are just moving forward at a slower more intentional pace. Many people believe that the Amish shun modern conveniences because they believe them sinful. However, the Amish believe anything that separates them from God and their church is what is sinful. The Amish church members constantly have to evaluate what they will allow into their lifestyle and what they won’t. Let’s use a car as an example. A car in and of itself is not considered evil to the Amish. It is the independence that a car brings to a person and their family that is the problem. Owning a car would allow the Amish families to live further apart from their church family than a horse and buggy does. Being further apart creates an unhealthy self-sufficiency from the community. Though we see the Amish as being very self-sufficient because the fact most of them make their own clothes, quilts, raise and can a lot of their own food, the Amish realize how interconnected they are. It is as a community that their true self-sufficiency becomes evident. While we let our politicians argue over things like health care, the Amish just take care of each other. From barn raisings to work frolics, to caring for the sick and elderly they work together in times of need.
I’m not advocating that if people go buy a horse and buggy they will magically have simplicity, self-sufficiency, and community in their lives. Nor, am I glossing over the faults of the Amish lifestyle. I know not all is perfect, even in an Amish paradise. However, I believe we can learn three key lessons from the Amish. First, I believe we can learn from the Amish’s strong work ethic. This work ethic helps them develop personal self-sufficiency skills and ensures they are always ready to pitch in to help the community. Second, we need to look closely at how the Amish build community by putting others first. Last, but maybe most importantly we need to learn from how they simplify their lives by constantly evaluating what they allow into their lives and what they do not.
Starting with the Amish work ethic, we will over the next few blog posts take a look at these three key lessons. Then from there this we will look at other communities and movements that can also teach us something about the three pillars of simplicity, self-sufficiency, and community. I would love to get constructive feedback from all of you about this series and ideas on how all of us can live our lives more intentionally. *Shawn