A lesson in humility

By | August 23, 2018 8:40 am

Playl’s Ponderings – By Steve Playl

My wife was first to notice the young family. They were on Main Street, in Berlin, Ohio. We had stopped at a traffic light where US 62 turns into Main, and they were in and around their buggy in front of Sommer’s General Store. Their rugs and aprons were displayed nearby.

After finding a parking place, we walked back to the corner to check out their goods. The rugs and aprons were all handmade, with material that used to be clothing. The older boy would be starting sixth grade, soon, he told us. Leather key chains, some cut in the shape of Ohio and others stamped with initials, were in the box he held. “Two dollars each” according to the sign on the box in which the boy displayed them.

The smaller boy would have to wait a couple years before starting school. He had not yet learned to speak English. The girl was about 12 and smiled at us, very shy-like, from behind the buggy shafts. Their one horsepower engine was behind the building – in the shade – enjoying grass and water until time for the journey home.

Price of the rugs was the initial topic of conversation. The rugs were beautiful. Some were fashioned to resemble the American flag. Of course there were a variety of designs. The one Sammie chose was orange, round, and had a green stem – a pumpkin.

Gradually, our conversation evolved, and we learned that Sam, the young Amish father, had six children at home, in addition to the three we met. The others were at home with their mother – nine children in all. Sam looked to be in his early 30s. Their clothes, all made completely by hand, and haircuts, a bit long for the males, plus the lack of headlights and taillights on the buggy – everything indicated they were very conservative Amish. Later, I learned that they were, indeed, from the Old Order Amish group known as Swartzentruber Amish.

Sam had left his farm, 17 miles from town, after daylight, in order to abide by state law, while observing religious custom, which forbad lights on his buggy – and made the two-hour journey to the spot on Main Street where he sold a few dollars-worth of goods. He planned to head home long before dark. In a “Pennsylvania Dutch” accent, he candidly spoke of his lifestyle and faith.

His smile was infectious. Ruben, the older boy, must have caught it. His grin was also very contagious. We spoke of the simple lifestyle the Amish have chosen to follow and their deep commitment to God. Sammie and I expressed our sincere respect for who they are and what they do.

Then Sammie said, “You folks truly live your faith. It is very obvious that you are close to God.”

Humbly, Sam responded, “I’m certainly not as close to Him as I would like to be. Often I feel that I fail Him.”

“Oh, my!” I said, “I fail Him miserably, all the time. I’m not nearly as close to Him as I should be. Brother, you have just taught me an enormous lesson in humility.”

I will never be Amish. I could not adhere to their way of life, and I don’t agree completely with their theology. Still, I respect their deep convictions and total dedication. We could all learn from their sacrificial commitment to their faith and their practice of “…serving the Lord with all humility…” (Acts 20:19)

Sam shared his address and invited us to visit, any time.

“In your vehicle, it won’t take two hours to get there from here.”

We didn’t take him up on the invite – yet. We still may drop in. A lesson in hospitality likely awaits us. Whether we visit their home or not, I feel sure we will buy more rugs next time we go to Ohio.

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