Saloma Miller Furlong
Author and Speaker

About Amish

Saloma Miller Furlong's Blog


It's about Time

I love the sound of a nice ticking and chiming clock. It reminds me of all those Amish homes that I was in as a child and young person. Nearly every family had a chiming clock on a shelf in their living room. Even during church services, there was often a clock chiming out the quarter hour, the half hour, and the hour. There is something about this that gives me a feeling of inner calm. The chiming every fifteen minutes reminds me that there is a time for everything, and that life has its natural cycle, as the hands of the clock continue to go around and around the face of the clock. 

Right now it's time to organize and clean my house from top to bottom. Is there anyone else out there who has the urge to clean out, cull, and organize the stuff in their lives after the long, dark, and harsh winter that kept us feeling like Spring would never show her lovely face? The urge for me is so strong right now. I started with a closet that really needed to be organized, and that led to organizing photos, a whole big project in itself. Then when I had those all organized, I moved up into the attic. I've learned something about attic spaces… the bigger the attic, the more temptation there is to fill it. I was amazed at how many bins of STUFF we'd stuck in behind the knee walls. I sorted and culled the contents of every bin we had. Except for three or four that were David's things, and he sorted those today. Tomorrow I will clean the windows and sweep down the cobwebs and the floor in the attic and one story of our house will be spring cleaned. 

I find that time and memory are closely related. I normally associate my memories to a particular time and place in the course of my life. Some things trigger memory recall from several points in my life.

Such is the clock that David and I rediscovered in our attic. We had stored it there because it wasn't working. The back door had come off, and so David took it to his desk and put the door back on. If ever I want someone to figure out how to fix something, David comes to the rescue. While he was at it, he fiddled with it, to see if he could get it working. I was in the attic, not paying much attention, until the first sweet sound of the chimes wafted up the stairway. David said he thought it was wound too tightly, and the tension had to be unwound with it's ticking and chiming.

Long story short, with persistence, David got the clock working again. There was only one problem. The hour chime was one hour behind. So David figured out how to fix that, too. Now I have it here in my office on an extra desk, where I can hear it ticking, and every fifteen minutes, chiming. The sound of it reminds me of being in my maternal grandmother's house. This clock sounds just like hers did. 

I had another reminder of my Amish days this week, when I was poking around on the internet and found a recording of singing at an Amish wedding. It raises the hair on the back of my neck, as I listen. I sense that there is something sacred and profound about an Amish community of people getting together and singing these age-old songs. It takes me right back to an Amish wedding, when the singing was usually more spirited than at a church service. 

You can find the original recording, done by Ed Yoder, a former Amish person. I have also posted it permanently on the Amish Customs page of my website.

So, while I've been culling and organizing the stuff in my life, I've also revived memories through what some people call "material culture." The photos reminded me of all different phases in my life, and the clock reminds me that time keeps moving forward. Only in recalling our memories can we go back in time. 

The clock also reminds me of my sister, Lizzie, from whom I inherited it. I knew the clock wasn't working when I packed it to fly back home after her funeral. I checked into getting it fixed by a professional clockmaker, but I was advised by one of them that it was not worth the money. And so I stored it away, to be decided later. And then I forgot all about it.

Thanks to David, I now have a daily reminder of Lizzie.

It is coming up on five years in June since Lizzie lost her battle with cancer. I feel her presence when I listen to her clock ticking and chiming. I hope she knows she is remembered, and I hope her soul rests in peace. Someday I, too, will discover what lies beyond the sunset.

Which brings me to one of my favorite bluegrass hymns, this one sung by Doyle Lawson and Quicksilver.

Have you ever rediscovered a "treasure" you forgot you had? What was it? 


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