Ok, so I’m not one who reads a large amount of Amish fiction (I didn’t even really know it was an established genre until I got to the end of this book and found an advert for the Kauffman Amish Bakery Series!) But I was browsing on eden.co.uk (a website I happily and heartily recommend) and stumbled across this.
So, the storyline is borderline absurd … Man runs for president, drops out, crashes car on way home, is helped out of ditch by Amish man, stays with Amish family while his car is repaired, puts Amish man forward for election as president (I’ll let you read the book for yourself to find out what happens in the end).
And yet, despite the apparent absurdity of the premise, it unearths a certain yearning. It paints a picture of an America that has lost its way in the hustle and haste and is beginning to search for a way back to the simple things. And in that, I suspect there may be a grain of truth. Although I don’t live in America, I suspect there must be a number of people for whom the American dream has become a bit of a nightmare, and who long for change. A willingness to step out of the accumulation race. There’s something appealing about that. I’m sitting in a room with:
2 desks, 2 computers, a sewing machine, 3 chairs, 1 bed, 3 bookcases, over 500 books, 2 CD racks, over 150 CDs, a filing cabinet, a printer, a set of speakers, over 50 ornaments, 2 bedside tables, 2 bins, and an assorted collection of other things in the drawers, in the built-in wardrobe, under the bed, on the desk and scattered across the floor. Occasionally, the appeal to ‘declutter’ is overwhelming.
And so, I think this book stirs that longing up a little. But other than that, I’m not going to do a book review as such (though I did enjoy the read!). I’m just going to comment on three things from the book.
The first comes in a conversation between Mark, the ex-presidential candidate and Josiah, the Amish man. Mark has just been told that Josiah’s eldest child was killed in an accident the previous summer. Mark says, “But how in the world did you get through a loss like that?” Josiah responds
By believing the same things I did before it.
It struck me that this is a powerful statement. A belief that overrides life’s storms. A belief that ‘trumps’ tragedy. What a challenge. (I know, I know, it’s a novel. But that doesn’t mean there’s no truth to be found in it!)
The second is found in a discussion between the two men about community. Josiah says,
‘Here in our community, our elders are our compass’
And that’s a challenge, too. In our communities today, our elders are often invisible. Or if they’re visible, they’re likely to be inaudible (or, at least, unheard). Fine, they might struggle with technology, but when it comes to life, they’ve got more experience than I have! I think I need to listen better. Not that they’ll always be right, but they might save me from making the same mistakes they’ve made.
And finally, there’s a comment about Harley, another presidential candidate. He’s about to sign proposed budget legislation: “He’d been putting off reading it for weeks now, but the final deadline was here. He figured he’d … glance through its thirteen hundred typed pages. If he couldn’t finish reading it, he’d go ahead and sign it, then read it later, as he often did with lengthy bills. But to be honest, he wouldn’t read the budget later either. Harley liked to promise things to himself like that. He enjoyed trying to see if he could pull the wool over his own eyes.”
It was that last phrase that jumped out at me:
“He enjoyed trying to see if he could pull the wool over his own eyes.”
How true that is. I do it all too often. I kid myself that something’s a priority, when actually the time I devote to it shows that it’s not a priority at all. Sometimes, I need to stop kidding myself and either accept it’s not a priority or, if it really should be a priority, make it one. Make it something that is done prior to other things.
Over to you:
How do you develop a belief that stands through trial?
Do you look to elders for wisdom?
Do you pull the wool over your own eyes all too often?