Autumn colors, winding roads, the clip-clop of horses hooves, black silhouetted buggies on the horizon, the smell of fresh baked...everything--Amish country. I spent the weekend in Berlin, Ohio last weekend. My husband and I stepped back in time and out of the rhythm of our normal lives to spend a few days exploring another world.
As we stood outside the door in a long line waiting to eat at one of the local establishments, I watched an Amish man and his wife finish up their work for the day. Their small stand of handmade baskets for sale had no walls, no showcases, no signs of a big sale. They worked silently taking one beautifully crafted basket after another off the tables and loaded them in the buggy as sunset approached. I wondered about this couple. What was their life like? I wondered how they would spend the evening--preparing dinner, reading, taking care of children, perhaps making a few more baskets by the glow of the kerosene lantern.
Living simply is not necessarily easy. A slower pace doesn't necessarily change the speed of life moving past us. Time marches on. The question wandered through my head, "I wonder how they use the moments of their day? How do I use the moments of my day? We're all given the same amount of "moments" in a day.
The trip to Amish Country was on the calendar in honor of my birthday. Another year has come and gone. How did I use the moments of the year now in the past? How often was I present in the moment to love someone in front of me? How many times did I take in the beauty of God's creation? How many times did I cuddle a newborn and experience the awe of new life? How many times did I work beyond my limits to exhaustion? How many times did I worry myself to death over something that never happened? How many times did I laugh and enjoy the company of friends?
While those I encountered in Amish Country may live a slower lifestyle and prioritize their lives differently than I, we have something in common. We both have the same amount of minutes in a day, the same amount of days in a year. Perhaps the take-away from the weekend in Amish Country wasn't about slowing down or changing priorities. Perhaps it was about the reality that every moment is given as a precious gift. I received several cards and gifts for my birthday, but perhaps the most precious gift was the reality that every moment is a gift, not to be taken for granted and not to be wasted on things that will not bring hope to the world. My prayer is this year, as long as God gives me moments, that I will spend each one on loving others well, living presently for the opportunity to serve another, laughing with joy in the company of those who are of like purpose, awestruck by the miracle of birth, humbled by the opportunity to lead and open to the experiences that bring growth.
Next Autumn, as the leaves change color and the world gets ready for its winter hibernation, I want to know that each moment was spent to the fullest, nothing wasted--simply participating in God's journey and experiencing it to the fullest.
Good Father, thank you for another year of life. Help me not to lose sight of the fact that each year, each day, each moment is a gift from you to use for the good of all. Thank you for loving me through another year, teaching me, growing me, challenging me. May we walk with hearts full of gratitude and hope for each moment you give us, never losing sight of the gift of life.
Shelley Lopez, Executive Director
Shelley has been a member of the Springfield community for 29 years. As she lives and works and worships in the city, she uses the metaphor of an old Victorian house restoration to keep her focused on the work she is called to do. Inspired by the words of the prophet Isaiah, she pours herself into "restoring old ruins, rebuilding and renovating, making the community livable again" (Is. 58:12 MSG)