"Preach the gospel at all times, if necessary use words." - St. Francis of Assisi

Thursday, August 12, 2010

Plainly speaking

I have always enjoyed genealogy and have done much research on my particular family line. One line is traced back to 1710, when the Herr family came to America from the Germany/Switzerland area. Their house built in Lancaster County, PA, is still standing as originally built for Hans Herr, a Mennonite Pastor, who was born near Zurich in 1639. For several generations, my family was of the Mennonite faith and eventually progressed to the Brethren Church by the early 1900s. Now we are of a more mainstream Protestant faith, the lifestyle and teachings of the Plain people have always fascinated me. How could people live so simply and content in 2010 without the use of so many modern conveniences? Is there a way for me (all of us) to live more Plain, more simply, than we do?

I live with a Blackberry in one hand, a remote control in the other; a Bluetooth sits one ear and an earbud to my iPod in the other. One of my eyes is glued to a television while the other eye is on a computer screen. There is a book that shares my lap with a laptop computer and the glare from all the lamps in the room gives me a headache as I take more pharmaceuticals to ease the pain, calm the nerves, and help to sleep. As I drive down the road, I must have music blasting from all speakers, a beverage in the cup holder and something to munch on while I steer with one knee and the remaining hand. At traffic lights, I’m changing CD tracks, scribbling notes in a notebook, even glancing at the next chapter in the open book sitting in the seat next to me. Is this a Plain and simple life? Did you hear much mention about God in there? Nope….you didn’t. I think this is the problem for many of us…..we get too caught up in the trappings of modern society and forget about the quiet voice of God trying to speak to us.

The Plain lifestyle begins with a time of quiet devotion and prayer before leaving the bedroom and beginning the day. How many of us bound from bed, racing through the house as we find ourselves already running late? Did we even stop to say “thanks” to God for allowing us to wake up to a new day that He created for us? Even five minutes of some quiet time would be a good start to a calmer morning. Even though many of the Plain orders do have electricity and some modern conveniences, they are never used to excess and never to take the place of human interaction. They don’t use an iPod to avoid talking to family, a televisions to tune out the kids, or texting instead of making a phone call.

One important element of the Plain lifestyle is the family. Extended families live together, eat together, play games together in the evenings (instead of gluing themselves to televisions or computers in various rooms), and actually have conversations with each other. When not working, they spent free time helping neighbors with their buildings, agriculture, quilting, and other projects. Their communities gather for games and food at homes where all ages are welcomed. At the end of day, the family had a time of devotion together before retiring for the evening.

Perhaps, modern society could benefit from their ways. Have quiet time each day with God, spend quality time with family and friends, don’t rush everywhere we go, lend a helping hand to those in need. In other words, simplify things in our day and take more time to breathe and enjoy God’s creation.

And for today my friends, this is the gospel according to Jimmy…..Plainly spoken.