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Friday, August 15, 2008

Plain Truth

Plain Truth by Jodi Picoult is set in present day Lancaster, PA.  It's a story about Ellie, a high-profile attorney, who has taken on a murder case in which a newly-found Amish cousin has been accused of killing her newborn. As part of the bail agreement, Ellie has to live in the Amish community and never leave her cousin's side until the trial.  For a full review, click here.

I always love to see a mystery unravel, but I especially liked this book because it gave me a glimpse into the Amish way of life.  They call themselves "plain".  Individuality is idolized in our society.  But to be Plain, the last thing you do is call attention yourself or even give compliments to another, setting you or anyone else higher than the others.  It's hard to understand given all the reading I've done about building each other's self-esteem and having self-confidence.  

One little excerpt made me laugh and I even stopped to read it aloud to my husband.  The Amish family was eating dinner with their new "English" cousin at the table.  She observed:

The Fishers laughed and talked in their dialect, helping themselves to food when their plates were empty.  Finally, Aaron leaned back in his chair and let out a phenomenal belch.  My eyes widened at the breach of etiquette, but his wife beamed at him as if that was the grandest compliment he could ever give.

I can't tell you how much my family must enjoy my food.  (Especially Grandaddy!)

Over and over, I was reminded of the old adage that actions speak louder than words.  They should call themselves "Quiet," if you ask me.  Very few words, but a LOT of work.  At one point an Amish son, who was excommunicated for studying at an English college, comes to a realization that he's waited for years to hear his father say, "I'm sorry," but that's not how they communicate.  Apologies or forgiveness comes by way of returning to the routine, working side by side.  By moving ahead once a punishment has been dealt.  Confess your sin, repent, you are forgiven...now move on.  Sound familiar? No analyzing things to death or seeing a counselor for years.  Things were worked out by living them out, so to speak.  A lot of work and not so many words.  Is there a lesson in there for me?  Hhhhmmmm....

The author wraps it up like this:

In the English world, people sent condolences and wrote email and exchanged valentines.  In the Amish world, sympathy came in the form of a visit, love was a look of satisfaction cast across the dinner table, help was hands-on.

 Remember the movie Amadeus from the late 80s?  The king, an amateur musician at best, criticizes Mozart by saying, "There are too many notes."   Sometimes, I think in my life, there are too many words.  I could learn a thing or two from the Amish.

Do you ever fail to make contact in an awkward or difficult situation because you just don't know what on earth to say?
The Bible wraps it up like this:
Dear children, let us not love with words or tongue but with actions and in truth. 1 John 3:18

Is there a time when someone didn't have all the right words to say, but you knew their love because of something they DID?  Got any great examples of love in action?  Leave a comment and tell me about them. I have some examples I'll post soon.

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