I’ve always been fascinated with the Amish life. Although i don’t want to give up my electricity (can you imagine washing clothes by hand for 7 children!?), I do like to glean some life habits from the Amish who have been able to avoid the rat race mentality of modern American culture. Constant noise makes me feel jittery. Constant entertainment leaves me feeling empty and depressed. And what is our culture made up of predominantly? Jittery depressed people. It’s no wonder.
The average Joe wakes up, checks his phone, browses facebook, turns on the tv, gets ready for work, listens to music or talk radio in the car, then works all day, drives back home in rush hour traffic with more music or talk radio, turns on the tv when they get home, browses the internet some more until it’s time to go to bed. Busy busy busy, Rush rush rush. Noise noise noise. No silence. No contemplation. No peacefulness.
The Amish? They wake up to a relatively quiet house. If they have to leave for work, they ride in a horse and buggy. Quiet, slow. They work with their hands. They spend time enjoying dinner around the table with their family. Slow and relaxed. No internet, no tv, no radio.
One habit or practice the Amish have is that they simply enjoy routine, mundane, quiet things. There’s something to be said for just being quiet. Now I’m not saying there’s no place for tv, radio, internet, but moderation is key.
One habit I like to do everyday is hang a load of laundry on the clothesline. It started years ago with trying to save money, and by drying on the line, we saved the electricity cost of the dryer running. Our financial situation is a little better now, to where the small amount I save in line drying doesn’t make a huge difference, and at first glance, it may seem like a waste of my time. After all, it takes me 10 minutes to hang it up, and 10 minutes to take it down in the afternoon, when I could just throw it in the dryer and save myself some time. But here’s the thing – while I’m hanging it up and taking it down, I can hear the birds sing, I feel the breeze in my hair, I see the clouds gently rolling over the sky. It’s quiet. It’s simple. I have time to think. I consider how huge the world is and how small I am. And about how women across all of time and in all places hang out the laundry. There’s a connectedness there with generations past.
I love to sit on the front porch, watching the leaves dance in the wind, listening to the music of the wind chime, seeing a butterfly float past. Rocking in my chair, oblivious at the moment to the world news or the latest viral video on facebook, because I left my phone in the house.
I work in the garden, digging in soil, planting something small that may one day grow big and feed my growing family. Seeing the way the little worm burrows deep in the soil. The way the bean tendrils wrap around the fence. The way the plump blackberries shine in the sun.
Stillness is a rare thing in today’s culture with the bombardment of media. But it is in the still, quiet moments that we can begin to understand who we are, who God is, and where we fit into His plan. When we develop quiet habits in our life, we regularly get to pause, unplug from this modern world, and enjoy the simple things.
Maybe hanging clothes outside sounds like drudgery to you. Or the thought of gardening sounds dull. But find something you can do during each day to “stop and smell the roses.” Maybe take a quiet walk. Notice the sky. Notice the sounds you hear. Or just really look at your child or spouse, concentrating on the small details. Notice the freckles on her face. See how his eyes twinkle when he smiles. At the very least, turn off your phone and tv for a time each day so you can clear your mind.
Be fruitful, happy, healthy. And be quiet, enjoying the simple things.