Tuesday, October 03, 2006

Plain People, Peaceful People


Everything changed yesterday for the Amish people of Lancaster County. Their world and the world of the "English" intersected in a most horrible way. A heavily armed man burst into a tiny Amish schoolhouse, where he shot little girls. I won't go into details; they are everywhere -- on the television, on the radio, on the CNN website.
. . . .
Like many people, I find the Amish people fascinating. I've hoped it to be a respectful fascination. This is a people many of us perceive -- rightly or wrongly -- to be much closer to God than the rest of us. We admire their principles and their integrity, we puzzle at how they manage to live without things the rest of us deem essential, and we wonder what it means, really, to be "in" but not "of" the world.
. . . .
It was five years ago, actually, right after September 11, that Sue first invited Bonnie and me to spend a quilting weekend at a bed and breakfast in Amish country. The closest neighbors are all Amish families, and over the years that we've been going out to Strasburg to sew, we've loved hearing Carol and Rob share stories about these neighbors. We've come to feel vicariously connected to Rachel, to Amos, to the others Rob speaks of with such fondness.
. . . .
And so yesterday, when the CNN banner showed a shooting in Nickel Mines, Lancaster County, I went right away to Mapquest and was horrified to see how close the school is to Strasburg. It dawned on me that these children might be daughters of the neighbor women who -- one Saturday afternoon -- honored us by walking down the hill to look at the quilts that we were making. As if they couldn't quilt us under the table, in a manner of speaking.
. . . .
I talked with Rob this morning. He spoke of having driven right past that school just a few minutes before the news broke, seeing ambulances and emergency vehicles in the oncoming traffic lanes. He wondered if this would be the incident that would drive the Amish people out of Lancaster County. He sounded so sad and so shocked. He was waiting for the next news briefing, waiting to hear if the names of the little girls were familiar to him. I ached for him, I ached for the nameless girls, for their families.
. . . .
Amish people don't like attention drawn to them. They don't like to be photographed. The barrage of media attention invading their lives at such a private time must be excruciating for them.
. . . .
There's a sadness today. It is a deep down sadness, much like the sadness of September 11. Violence and killing are terrible any time. But there's a particular offensiveness -- again, rightfully or wrongfully -- that it has been directed at the innocent daughters of such a peaceful people.

4 comments:

Ms. Jan said...

Your post brought me to tears,knowing how fond Rob and Carol are of their neighbors and must be sharing their pain. God help us all.

frank said...

our prayers are with all those affected by this tragedy. may the god they served welcome them home.

Dave Clapper said...

I'm so glad you visited Myfanwy's blog and left behind your comments there. Otherwise, I'd never have known to read this. And I'm glad I did. Here's hoping that they're allowed the peace they deserve as soon as possible.

Susan said...

Why anybody would do something like this is beyond me. It's tragic, and these families are in my prayers.