Within the respite of our sabbatical visit, we eat well, laugh and tell stories. My friends and I, on this girlfriend weekend in Yoder, Kansas – we catch up on twenty years of lifetimes with each other and without.
Once we lived in the same town, worshipped together, hurt each other unintentionally and built a relationship that still lives today. We have grown older, forgiven each other and ourselves, learned to be women of God.
I wonder if my friends realize all they mean to me. Have I told them so? Do these friends of sabbatical know how much I need their hugs and laughter, their friendship and joy as we walk among the Amish shops and eat in quaint restaurants – the harvest of natural products and the joy of companionship?
We browse through a hardware store that is equipped with Radio Flyer wagons, butter crocks and filaments for kerosene lanterns – all the things an Amish family might need. A man stands at the counter, his long white beard and black hat pegging him as unique to the world and special to God. An Amish farmer. He leaves the store and walks toward his tractor.
This particular brand of Amish drive tractors, but not cars. They ride in buggies behind horses. Their women wear no makeup yet I would love to have their fresh, clear skin. Their children dress alike in the colors of nature: blue, pale green and brown. No accessories. Their quiet life and the peace on their faces the only accessory needed.
I envy their lives in this tiny village. No one here seems to struggle with Alzheimer’s, yet I have not seen an older person. Perhaps back home, in the white farmhouses that hide behind cedar brush, a woman like my mother struggles to remember her children. Maybe even here, families grieve through 36-hour days as they care for loved ones who sometimes forget.
A horse and buggy parks downtown next to a tractor, driven by a bearded father. The mother and children bundle into the cubby van, a small horse trailer in back. A traffic caution sign is pasted in full view, warning those of us who are the “English” and drive fast cars.
Slow down. Breathe. Take time to enjoy the living.
Sheep and cows stand like furry dots against the growing green of wheat fields. Fresh butter and hormone-free milk leads us in a discussion with a local businessman about the importance of what we eat – what we force into our bodies.
Is our food from a plant created by God? This is good. Eat it with joy. Is it manufactured in a processing plant? Danger. Avoid it.
Fresh applesauce and fruity preserves. A young mother with three little girls – all dressed alike in grey coats, blue dresses and white scarves. Worry-free faces – all of them – no worldly masks. Surely they also bear pure hearts.
And I wonder – what have we missed in the busy city with all its traffic and noisy consumption? If the city is so wonderful, then why does my soul long for another sabbatical even as I finish this one?
Surely there is purpose in both lives and both places of living.
In the city with its opportunities to serve God by helping others – so many nonprofits and churches reaching out to the teeming thousands and their hungry hearts.
In the country with its beauty and sincerity, preserving a way of life so many of us have forgotten, harvesting from the land to share its goodness with others.
Somewhere in the middle of both lives, a balance cries out and refuses to be ignored.
Learn to be still and know that He is God. Learn to serve and reach out to the harried and hurting.
But most of all, learn the difference and when the pendulum swings to the extreme, gently nudge it back toward the center.
For only when we are centered in Christ are we most effective and most content.
Only when we are “being” with Him can we share and maintain hope.