What Lies Beneath
Yesterday was my first tour since Annie's birth. I took a group of 45 up to the Pennsylvania Grand Canyon (and other exotic stops along the way. Fry Brother's Turkey Farm was just one of them. I would tell you more, but it would overwhelm you, and perhaps my glamorous, jet-set lifestyle would intimidate you and we wouldn't want that! I do not want any walls between us in this "cottage"!). It was a rainy day, and perhaps in light that it was a tour centered around scenic fall foliage, it was not picture perfect. Yet...it was beautiful, and it is because it turned out to be the people inside the bus that provided the most striking array of color and surprise rather than the trees that dotted the landscape outside. There were quite a few who distinguished themselves among the 'forest' of travelers, among them-two women who I would have never guess from their somber exterior, just how brilliant they actually where.
Lydia and Mary Jane. Plain Amish ladies. As I greet them in the line outside the bus first thing in the morning, my first thought is "Shew! I'm glad I wore black" and then "I'm glad I didn't wear those flashy silver earrings" and finally, "I'll have to tone it down, keep it ultra-conservative and nix the country music CD I brought along for background music". It was this succession of thoughts that could not have been more irrelevant if they had tried.
Their black cape dresses, snowy white coverings and perfectly divided hair parts deceptively hid their colorful & spunky personalities. These women were live wires!!!! Let me tell you, wherever they sat, there was hootin' and hollerin' and everyone else in the group secretly (and a few outright) wished they were near them to join in on all the fun. I knew I was in for a surprising treat when I heard Lydia prod the "English" (as they call the non-Amish in their midst) friend of hers sitting across the aisle to tell his litany of Amish jokes (including the one where several tourist are on a tour of Amish country and the tour guide is giving them a synopsis of the Amish lifestyle and opens it up for questions. The one tourist raises her hand and says "Do Amish men sleep with their beards inside or outside of their bedsheets?", to which the Tour Guide replied "I don't know. I never slept with one". Lydia about split her sides laughing so hard). In another instance I heard Mary Jane say to the passenger next to her after I had turned the lights out on the way home, "Now keep your hands to yourself!" I knew then what lied beneath was drastically different than the exterior view.
At one point, knowing that these ladies hailed from the Strasburg area, I timidly asked Lydia if she had known any of those precious girls that had gone through that unthinkable occurrence at the Amish School House in Nickel Mines. Indeed, she did. The little girl was a granddaughter of her dear friend, and now she sits in a wheelchair "only able to talk with her smile" as Lydia put it (what a postive way to look at it). When it happened, Lydia was about to leave for a much needed vacation, but was in angst, but her friend (who was the grandmother of one of these girls) said "Now Lydia, what's done is done. You must go and enjoy the time away that you've been given". Lydia looked at me and said, "So, I went. And I really needed to let loose, you know. Just let loose."
Spoken from a plain woman with a heart scattered with prisms.
I need to learn to "let loose". Let loose unrealistic expectations. Let loose the fears of tomorrow. Loose is so much better than tight in terms of the heart and mind.
It was Lydia and Mary Jane and others (like Marilyn, a lovely woman with a story all her own) that made a dreary sight-seeing trip so delightful. They provided more vibrant color than a forest full of trees ever could.