The trip up north through Vermont was a perfect day — the sun was out bright, with fluffy clouds scattered across the sky. The cloud shadows cast on the Green Mountains made it all the more picturesque. Silly us, we forgot to take pictures, so all I have are “Amish pictures,” the kind that are indelibly inscribed in my mind. These scenes were new to Rebecca, so David and I felt like we were seeing them for the first time.
Every Labor Day weekend, Janel and Paul have a potluck get-together for a group of friends. We all sit on their back porch and pick soybeans from the plants Paul brings in from the garden. Then we gather in the kitchen and hold hands, singing the doxology (Praise God from Whom all Blessings Flow) for our grace before the feast begins. The fellowship with our friends was what we all needed. Rebecca felt right at home. She had brought baked goods to share, which everyone enjoyed very much.
Spending time with our friends made David and me realize how much we miss our long-time friends in Vermont. We love our home here in Western Massachusetts, but it is three hours away from where we called home for thirty-some years and where many of our established friends live.
That night, I stepped outside on the Gamms’ back porch and I saw what looked like the Northern Lights. It was in white, not in color as I’ve seen before. Others stepped outside to see it, but couldn’t. I may have imagined them. But I like to think that I had my own personal viewing of them.
The next day, we drove up to Isle La Motte where Paul and Janel bought an inn. Paul was going there to mow the lawn, and we tagged along. It has a beautiful view of Lake Champlain, not far from Saint Anne’s shrine. It is quite the project for them to undertake… the inn is old and needs many restorations. As we drove past the shrine, and saw the outdoor cathedral, I said to Rebecca that I’ve often wondered why the Amish don’t have their church services outdoors. She reminded me that the Amish believe that they should pray away from the eyes of the “outside world.” I had completely forgotten that belief. Our Anabaptist ancestors did meet in caves and barns and such during the Reformation Movement in Europe. They had to worship and pray away from the eyes of the public, for there were dire consequences if they were discovered by the authorities or the “outside world.” It is amazing some of the traditions that are kept down through all the generations since then, without really knowing why.
This kind of following of tradition reminds me of the story of a woman who would cut the ends of a roast before putting it in the oven. Her husband asked her one day why she did that. Her answer was, “Because my mother did it.” So the husband asked his wife’s mother why she did it, and she said, “Because my mother did it.” They decided to ask the grandmother why she did it, and she replied, “So it would fit in my roasting pan.”
This kind of following of tradition without knowing why is not just true of the Amish — rarely do I see an outdoor worship area. What seems like such a natural thing — worshipping God out in nature — is not done by any religions I know. I wonder why? Seeing that outdoor cathedral made me want to attend a service at Saint Anne’s shrine.
|Photo by Jim Millard
The conditions were perfect for our trip back through the islands. We could see the Green Mountains on our left and the Adirondacks on our right. The mountains looked blue, off in the distance, under a blue sky with cotton clouds. It was the kind of Beauty I wanted to drink in and keep with me forever. What a gift that we had such beautiful weather!
We decided to take the southern route back, through Middlebury and Rutland, then Route 103 that cuts through the mountains to Ludlow, the Okemo ski area. The views of the Bristol Valley between Vergennes and Middlebury are some of David’s and my favorites in all of Vermont.
In two days, we pretty much toured Vermont from one end to the other. The only part we missed is the Northeast Kingdom, another beautiful area.
When we arrived home, I said, “It’s so good to be home. I love this house.” Rebecca said, “But it was also a good trip.” David and I agreed. We had the best of both worlds this weekend — a restorative trip to Vermont, and a place we call home to come back to.
What was your weekend like? What restores your soul?