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Give Me the Simple Life: Two-Minute Barn-Raising

Suzanne Simple Living

 

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Chipotle takes food for thought to the next level with their Cultivating Thought: Author Series. Check out this insightful perspective on the Amish by Malcolm Gladwell.

I grew up in Canada, in an area of Ontario where there is a large community of Old-Order Mennonites. “Old Orders,” as they are known, are a religious group who live as if the 20th century never happened. They avoid electricity, drive horses and buggies, leave school at 16, and bale hay by hand. They dress in plain black and white, with straw hats over clean-shaven faces, and when a neighbor’s barn burns down, they gather as a community to put it back up. When I was little, not long after we moved to Ontario, my father heard about a barn-raising down the road. He decided to join in. If people of different colors and creeds are to get along, we think we need to practice approval and agreement and acceptance.

My father is an Englishman, a mathematician with a long bushy beard. He drove an imported Peugeot station wagon. He wore a tie — always. We were skinny book-worms, in knee-socks and ironed short-sleeved shirts. You can imagine what I thought, on the way to the barn-raising: How on earth would a group of Old Orders accept us? This is what we always worry about, of course. If people of different colors and creeds are to get along, we think we need to practice approval and agreement and acceptance. But my father didn’t accept the Mennonite way of life that day. Nor did the Old Orders come to some kind of epiphany about the virtues of European cars, and electricity and advanced degrees in mathematics. There was a barn to raise, and so long as there was work to be done, it didn’t much matter that reading Narnia books in the car, belonged to one century and the rest of the crew to another.

The world could use more of that attitude, couldn’t it? My father joined the line of men passing lumber to the workers on the roof. Midway through the day, they fed us all bologna sandwiches and mounds of sauerkraut. And in the evening, when the last nail was hammered in, we got into our Peugeot and drove away.

Have you ever been in a situation where a common goal transcended different backgrounds? Share in the comment section for the chance to win a copy of Amish Values for Your Family!

The winner of last Tuesday’s giveaway is Sandra Zettle-Trimmer. Please email info {at} suzannewoodsfisher {dot} com to claim your prize.


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