What is something we search for in Amish country?
Why do people weave their way through the winding country roads and crowded streets of Holmes County, Ohio and Lancaster County, Pennsylvania?
Perhaps it’s because modern life has many of us frazzled. We feel disconnected. Overwhelmed with all the choices and all the noise and all the busyness.
We come to Amish country, and we see our roots. Who our people used to be.
Maybe even who we were meant to be: a people connected to each other and to the earth.
Farm after farm after farm dots the countryside. Barns are as abundant as houses. There are more cows than people.
Horses cut through the loamy soil, and the rich smell of dirt hangs heavy in the air.
The fragrance of fresh cut hay rides on the breeze, the odor of hot summer sun and blessed winter provision.
The green leaves of field crops rustle in the wind, as beans and melons and squash rise out of the earth from carefully tended gardens.
In Amish country, we sense a connectedness that is inborn in all of us. Even if we’ve been gone so long, we don’t recognize it anymore.
For in a perfect world, on a perfect day, thousands of years ago, God reached His hand into the dirt.
From this humble mixture of minerals, organic matter, water and air, he formed a man.
Shaped him right from the earth.
Then He planted the man in a garden.
Told him to go tend it, and have dominion over it.
That was the perfect job, folks.
Then weeds and torrential rain and scorching heat and withered crops entered the picture.
Modern man escapes the elements and the hardships of soil-tending by working in climate-controlled buildings. Buys food packaged and ready to eat at the supermarket.
But we’ve lost something in the process. Lost our value of dirt. Lost our connectedness to the soil, the womb that sustains our lives.
Without dirt beneath our feet, we don’t exist.
Without farmers producing food from the soil, we don’t exist.
But many times, the people who farm the soil, who raise the animals and the crops that nourish us all, are seen as less-than. People who couldn’t get a better job. Who just never escaped the stagnant rural areas for bright lights and better pay.
We must all remember that farmers feed us. The dirt worn into their hands is a badge of honor, not a mark of lower skills or lesser intellectual power.
The Amish may be the last culture in America that highly prizes farm life and rural living. Cherishes a connectedness to the land that in turn unites a people.
Generation after generation, they keep working the soil.
They have kept their roots in the ground. The Amish culture hasn’t uprooted itself for more money, more conveniences, an easier life. They recognize man was made from the earth and made to work it.
Now, not every Amish man is a farmer. It’s not possible for everyone to be a farmer.
But every Amish family esteems the cultivation of the soil. Respects those who work in the bitter cold of winter and scorching heat of summer, day in and day out. Year after year after year.
That is something the English can learn from the Amish. To place importance on rural communities and the farmers that are the lifeblood of that community. Our lifeblood.
To remember that work-worn hands keep our refrigerators full, our bellies satisfied and this modern world turning.
Maybe, when we visit Amish country, we’re looking for a lost piece of ourselves. A lost piece that can be discovered next to the ground, in all things green and growing.
For when God made the world, He made a farmer.