“By their fruits you shall know them”
Some years ago I gave up my discernment, I saw that my mind is not always right and that my capacities to know the truth are limited, especially as a woman I could see my proneness to be deceived, moreover in things of the spirit. Is in this light that I wear also a head covering, as my commitment to acknowledge this limitation that I have and also to protect from the spiritual world.
So then the guidelight that I could follow is a practical one, theories and doctrine may sound good, but I could be deceived, whereas how people walk in the spirit, the showing of the fruits of the spirit is very clear.
In my path I was attracted to the plain life long ago, but it was a romantic notion that I had about it, yet this year we found ourselves in the midst of plain people and this is part of what I have seen in them:
They are more ready to crucify their flesh daily, as a conscious act, not as a tradition “that is the way we do things” but as a conscious exertion of the will to put the flesh away, they wake up early 4:30 am, they have long morning devotionals, they work as a means to put their fleshly desires away, that is one reason why they do things more manually, the flesh wants to rest but the spirit can go onward.
They strive to really get to know the other person, they do not chat with you just for a politeness or for any other reason than to get to know you better, as it is a very difficult task to really show an eager interest in the other person. They ask questions and take time to get to know you. This summer we had an exchange student in our farm, and quietly I observed how people around us interacted with him, we had opportunities to see people from all walks in life and the ones that took more time and effort to know him were the Amish.
I think these two things weave together one feeding the other, as we put away our flesh, our spirit is more willing, and the fruits will show, starting for real love for each other.
On another hand their uniform also serves a very important function, that is to put away pride. Pride creeps in our lives so easily, but the vestment is an outside mark of our willingness to put away pride. I made the experiment of dressing plain for a while ( which by the way means the same dress for the whole week, unless it is soiled), and then going back to choosing dresses and attire for each day, what a difference!, my thoughts were so different, even if I was dressed modestly, the thought of a flowery pattern or a form or a lace was in my mind as a form of pride. I think that we modern people have been desensitized also, so if you do not do the experiment you may think I am not right, but then again, it may work different for everybody, I leave room for that.
The monks and nuns have their habits which are a form of what the Amish also wear, the important thing is that you submit your desires of outward appearance to the group, as means of your willingness to submit to Christ. It is not about being sameness or being annulled of your individuality, yet is bringing this individuality to serve the group, is about a conscious work of the will and mind life to serve Christ. For that reason I would uphold this kind of uniform instead of every family choosing their own, after all, if we choose our own, is still prideful. I know that in the past lay people did not have these uniforms, and there was a reason why: the peasant life was ordered by the spirit, and the families grew in the fear of the Lord in such a way, that their dresses were not interfering in their religious life. In city places you could see how these principles started to decay, and the dress was more a matter of show instead of a matter of service. On the other hand nowadays, the wordly mind set is so close to us, and the spirit so far, that I think it would be a good thing that lay people of a same parish or locality would dress with uniforms again, to combat the pride in a higher scale.
Finally, though not at all thoroughly, another thing I observed with the Amish is their joy, a joy that comes only when you give up your needs and work for the needs of the others. It is true that we are bestowed with responsibilities in life, some with families to raise, some with other endevours, but if you keep the focus on those responsibilities you may loose the whole point of it,” it is in loosing your life that you shall live”. I remember in Little Women how the mother did not hesitate to bring the breakfast to the poor family on Christmas day, if she had been thinking about her own children all along, the thought of sharing would not have had any opportunity to even come to her mind, and I think that is the problem with some of us, we have our focus on the wrong place, and then the spirit cannot talk to us. Just this past Christmas I had the opportunity to invite someone to our home, yet my fears of fleas made me do otherwise, since then I have been with remorse in my heart and asking God to help me overcome my fear of “ little creatures!”. Well, now we are dealing with lyce in my own children, and I hope this will make me strong to invite my neighbor in spite of fleas. Fear is lack of Love, and God is Love.
Obviously not all the Amish I have seen live up to this ideal, neither any group or church in the new testament was perfect, yet we all are called to perfection in Christ, so it is that I want to walk closer to the light and to people that show the fruits of the Spirit. If it was just for me I would start baptism instruction with the Amish this spring, yet it is not in my hands, so I have to surrender also this wish to God and know that he is perfect in his ways, I just need to follow.
But if we walk in the light, as he is in the light, we have fellowship one with another, and the Blood of Jesus Christ his son cleanseth us from all sin” I John 1-7