Sunday, March 02, 2008

Sunday Afternoon Tea

I know the calendar says March and we truly are having a (very brief) return of 50 degree temperatures. However, there is still snow on the ground and the possibility of snow in the forecast. So, pour yourself a cup of hot tea and join me for a chat... I truly enjoy reading your comments, even if you travel a different road than I do. :)

As you know, my ponderings have been about our lure to a materialistic way of thinking, especially for those of us in North America. So I was quite interested a few nights ago when the NRB station had a documentary on Amish life. Now, I am not one to romanticize the Amish. I have lived very close to Amish communities in two states (and there are a lot of Mennonites in my area where I now live) so I'm aware they have many of the same problems I do. Well, they don't mess up their computers but otherwise...

Having said that... this documentary helped me focus on the challenges I have in my own life. The Amish center their life around their religious beliefs, everything they do is filtered through their Christian worldview and they take it very... very... seriously. They may lean toward a harsh way of dealing with those who will not walk the walk... but then again they have been able to keep most of their values intact for hundreds of years. (I'm not condoning shunning and what it brings, I only say it seems to work for its' intended purpose.)

The Amish value Community and because they live within (what some would call the confines) of such Community, then it makes it easier for them to walk the walk... talk the talk... of their faith and how it is lived out. To them, confinement brings... freedom. While watching the documentary, I thought back to the small town community in which I was raised. Not everyone would call themselves a Christian (my own parents did not go near a church), however... and this is what makes the difference between now and then... we lived in a society in which Christian values were the norm.

It was much more difficult to live in flagrant "sin" at that time just because society looked down upon it. One could tell it from the language at the time. For instance, if two unmarried people were living together it was actually called "living in sin". I no longer live in such a society. The Amish, by their own decisions... do.

Another life lesson I learned from that documentary... they have less options and they seem to like it that way. My life is full of options, so many that it can make my head spin at times. This is from a person who decided long ago to "live life on purpose"... to at least make an attempt to walk down a simpler and less materialistic road.

In the Amish community, once women marry they almost always become full time homemakers. However, they do not lack for interaction with other women for with the Amish today (as it was as close as close as the WWII generation for most of us), women work together and form close bonds of friendship with each other. Today's full time homemaker may be the only woman left on the block in the daytime (been there...).

So, Brenda... are you suggesting we all convert and do away with electricity and modern conveniences... buy a farm... go live with the Amish? Hmmm.... perhaps not a bad idea. Oh, no... wait... stop... then we would have to give up our computers! Never mind!

Of course that is not my intent but spending some time praying about what we can do to bring peace and simplicity... less value on things... in our own life would not be a bad idea. Building our own sense of community may be wise, too.

We all have different paths in our life and God provides for that calling. I have known Christians who are quite wealthy and live in beautiful homes but who are great givers and show the love of Christ in all they do. I've also known Christians who do not have much of this world's goods who are also great givers and show hospitality to all who enter their humble homes.

On the other hand, I've known the rich who find their wealth to be a stumbling block and poor Christians who are eaten up with bitterness at their lot in life. The balance on our checkbook does not show our level of spirituality.

What does this mean to me in the days and weeks ahead? I'm going to continue to live a thankful life for that which God has given me. I'm going to make even more of an attempt to not let what I possess (or do not possess) decide whether I am content or not. One can covet at Goodwill just as much as Macy's. If I had been angry at the book sale because I couldn't afford an extra $20.00 for the books I had to put back on the table then I would never have enjoyed the books I brought home... attitude... being thankful instead of pouting for what one doesn't have.

God has been working with me for years to have a thankful attitude in all things. I can't tell you how many times I have thanked him for this house, our "new" used car, "my" camera, a book given to me, a Starbucks card (hallelujah!), Tresor, the gift of vintage linens or teacups, flowers, chocolate (can we have another hallelujah?), music, tickets to an event (like the guy's going to the basketball game), a grocery store gift card when we had no income... ditto for McDonald's or Wendy's, a feast when one has nothing... gifts... given by Christ but through another human walking in love and compassion. Gifts that would not be appreciated if one is bitter by their present circumstances.

I also need to build more Community... that goes on my prayer list. I'm not certain just "how" at the moment but I can ask for wisdom. Most of all, like St. Paul, I need to become content in all circumstances. If I can trust that God is going to supply all my needs, wants, desires, etc. after I die... why can't I trust Him now?

Lots to continue pondering but I have a feeling this is a process that will take from now until I enter eternity.


ukrainiac said...

Ah, contentment. Seems to be the topic of the week -- I also posted some thoughts about it. I enjoy having tea with you on Sundays!

GrammaGrits said...

Thanks for sharing from this area of your life. It's one I continue to work on, sometimes doing well and others times not. God bless!

Kelly said...

For sure a place I need to work on...great post, you keep it all real.


Anonymous said...

I have always admired the Amish and Mennonites who still follow the old ways. How tempting it would be for them to give it all up for more modern conveniences but they don't. I wish I'd seen the documentary.

I also admire their sense of community of which you speak. So many families today are scattered around the country and don't even know their neighbors. Seems to me we need more "community" in our lives like the Amish and Mennonites. These folks rely on their faith and they all come together to help each other, and sometimes people they don't even know, in a time of need. There is much to like and learn from about their society.

freddie said...

Dear Brenda, wow... time you've finished writing your post your tea must had become cold... anyhow; it's really interesting what you'd said. I simply believe there's no society where we cannot be good Christians as where there is a "person" there there's God too.
Ciao from Rome