One of my Amish friends (I’ll call her Violet) is a homeschooling mother of seven. I asked her once why she home-schooled when she had so much work to do and had the option of sending her children down the road to an excellent one-room Amish school.
“For the opportunity to spend more time with my children,” she said. She didn’t elaborate, but the tone in her voice said, “Such a silly question. Why else would I home-school except for the sheer joy of it.”
At the time, we had just driven to a private home where a local family makes a modest living selling Amish-friendly home-schooling materials out of a small garage. There is no sign indicating that this building is housing anything more than a buggy or workshop–and yet it appeared to be a flourishing business. There were several customers.
I followed along behind Violet while she and two of her daughters selected the materials they needed for the coming year. The girls were as excited about their new schoolbooks as Englisch girls their age would be over a new I-pod.
Later, we stopped and did some shopping at a scratch-n-dent Amish grocery store made up of soon-to-go-out-of-date canned goods and damaged boxes.All were neatly displayed on shelves with great prices. It was a relatively large place by Amish store standards–and it was packed with locals filling their grocery carts.
After coming home, Violet and I chored together. Or, rather, she chored and I kept her entertained by being way too worried about getting too close to the business end of the huge Holstein milk cow Violet was milking.
Violet is a gracious, dignified, beautiful woman whom I admire very much. But I discovered that she has kept a secret from me. Her husband told me that Violet is a poet.
Quietly, and privately, she has composed reams of poetry over the years. In between scalding milk, and making butter, and baking bread, and giving birth, and making raspberry jam, and she has been writing poetry. She blushed when her husband told me this. This is the only time I’ve ever seen this stalwart woman get embarrassed about anything.
The next time I went to visit, I asked permission to see her poetry. She brought out a lovely briefcase-like basket woven of straw, and inside, there were dozens of hand-written poems on loose pieces of paper as well as various notebooks. I had expected her poems to be written about her children, or her favorite milk cow, or her love for her husband, but instead, each poem was praise straight from her heart to God. Every last one had a Biblical basis. Like David, and Deborah, and Mary, and so many others in the scriptures–Violet uses her gift of poetry to praise God.
I’m a professional writer. That is how I make my living. I can, and have, written some fairly good poetry. About birds. And building our house. And my sons. And life. Not once have I written a poem in praise of our Lord.
Yet once again, I found myself spiritually humbled by my Amish friends.
I’m in the process of writing Hidden Mercies, the book that will follow An Uncommon Grace–and I will be including a few of Violet’s poems. She is Amish to the core, and not a prideful woman–but I did see a tell-tale leap of excitement in her eyes when I asked if she would like to see some of her poetry in print.
Writers are writers–even when one of us is wearing a bonnet:-)