When I was growing up, we learned a poem in school entitled, "What God hath not Promised." One of the lines is "God hath not promised joy without sorrow." This is so true. Life is often about struggles. But as I have discovered this week, the reverse is also true. We do not have to endure our sorrows without joy in our lives. Thank goodness!
I would like to thank all of you who have been so supportive through my process of letting go of Anna. I especially like the suggestion of sending occasional cards, to let Anna know I've not forgotten her. So thank you, Elin, for that suggestion and to others for supporting that idea.
I've been writing quite a lot lately. It seems that the loss I'm feeling about Anna is somehow stimulating my muse. Before Anna went back, I asked her if I may write about her in my second book. She seemed quite eager to have me do so. I think there was a part of Anna that wanted her story told. This part of her is obviously in conflict with her desire to return to her community and be separate from the world. However, I am going to remember and honor that part of Anna that wants to be recognized for who she is.
I realize something as I am writing about Anna. My memory of what happened while she was here is actually very much sharpened by missing her. If she was still living with us, I may not have the clarity I do now.
Here is a vignette I will share:
While we were out shopping for ingredients to get Anna's baking business started, we got to talking about the Ordnung (set of church rules) in her community. We were in the parking lot of Target and neither one of us wanted to end the conversation, so we sat in the car. Dusk was falling around us. Anna spoke in a matter-of-fact voice, as if she’d never before reflected on or judged these rules she’d lived under all her life. The women have to wear homemade underpants that are basically old-fashioned cotton bloomers, the size of long shorts in the “English” world. And then as if that isn’t enough, they are not allowed to have elastic at the waist. Instead, they use a button. They also have to sew their own “underdresses” that they have to wear all year long. And they cannot wear bras.“You have got to be kidding me! So does the bishop actually go over the stuff that women can and cannot wear under their dresses at Ordnungs church?”“Yes. He does. He says it really fast, and then he moves on to women’s stockings, but I heard it every time.”"Even he must be embarrassed."In the semi-darkness, I could see Anna’s expressions, especially when car lights lit up her features. She got a mischievous grin on her face and she said, “But you know, I was a naughty girl.” She giggled.“Why? What did you do?”“I sometimes wore a bra.”“Oh no, you don’t say!” I said as I laughed in mock surprise. “That makes me a naughty girl right from the start!”“Yeah, but you were from the ‘SotAmish’ so that doesn’t count.”“The what Amish?”“People in my community called your kind of Amish the ‘sort of’ Amish.”
“Oh really? Are they saying that they are the ‘real Amish?’’’
“Yes, I think that is what they are trying to say.”
So, it's a comforting reminder that even though life is often about struggle, it is also about finding joy in the midst of it all. And that gives me hope. Maybe I have done all I can for Anna, but that will not stop me from trying to make a difference in others' lives. I have a feeling Anna's story can do that.
And then there is the feeling of empowerment that comes of helping Amish descendants find their way to college. And the appreciation for the goodness in people as they share of their resources to help this happen. What a joy!