Friday, August 7, 2009

do the amish blog?

Sometimes I have reservations about blogging, about sharing stories about my family with (potentially) any computer user. Will Martin someday wonder why I felt the need to write about his toilet habits for all the world to see? More than that, I've always been a private person. I consider myself friendly. I'm not stand-offish. But it can take me awhile to disclose more of myself in friendships. So what am I doing broadcasting my inner life throughout cyberspace?

Last night, I was reading part two of "Amish Grace." It's a book about the Amish capacity to offer forgiveness after a school shooting in Nickel Mines, PA almost two years ago. ( The book is emotionally wrenching and a wonderful introduction to Amish culture through the events following the violence. Last night, though, something else in the book caught my attention. In their discussion of how the Amish coped with the loss of their daughters, the authors mentioned Amish circle letters. This practice involves a family or person undergoing a certain experience writing a letter and sending it to another family undergoing a similar experience. That family writes more and sends it on until, eventually, it gets back to the original family. For instance, women who have lost husbands might start a widows' circle letter. The authors noted that Amish circle letters exist for families raising children with disabilities.

Somehow it was comforting to me that even the Amish - a people with so much communal support and so many structures to assist people who struggle - even the parents of special needs children in that community have to reach out a little bit further to find the support and encouragement they need. It says to me that no matter who you are and what kind of community you're in, it's OK to acknowledge that having a kid with disabilities is hard. And that every parent in that situation needs others to remind them of all the joys that are to be had in the midst of difficulty.


  1. My mom's side of the family still does a circle letter that goes to the oldest living member of each family -- mostly now that's people in my mom's generation (she and her cousins). I didn't realize the Amish did this kind of thing too. It's a wonderful idea.

    Glad you're doing this, Jen, and hopefully it's a positive experience. We are certainly enriched to be reading it.

    We'd love to see you in Durham this fall, by the way.

    - Rebecca

  2. I also read this famous book "Amish Grace" it's really an informative article.I can learn lots of thing about Amish culture from this book. I don't have any idea about Amish culture earlier but through this book I can learn lots of thing about Amish.So a greats thanks to the author of this book.