How do you cut your lawn? Most of us use a gas power mower of some sort – usually a walk-behind version. Maybe you have a self-propelled walk-behind mower. Many also use riding lawn mowers.
Amish woman mowing her lawn
Generally, the Amish use the old push mowers. You know, the reel mowers that do not have an engine. They are quiet, and they have less mechanics to break down. As one website describes them, they are “Fume-free, Noise-free, Hassle-free”. They are environmentally friendly – tree huggers love ‘em.
So do the Amish. That’s the kind of lawn mower you’ll usually see when you drive past an Amish home. Often it’s either the mother or one of the older children who have the responsibility for cutting the grass at an Amish home. (Notice this woman is cutting the lawn in her bare feet.)
Well, we have seen a new spin on Amish lawn mowers. This version combines modern technology (an engine) with old-world muscle power – it’s pulled by a horse. Now that’s a lawn mower with horsepower!
Horse-drawn Amish lawn mower
What creative innovations have you seen by the Amish? What questions does this raise? Tell us how we can help.
Thursday night the Lifetime Movie Network re-broadcast its new movie, “Amish Grace”, loosely based upon the 2006 Amish school shooting in Lancaster County, PA. (See our earlier post from March 30th.)
Since I am writing from Lancaster County, there were a few obvious production errors in this movie. The Amish buggies in the movie were not the same buggies used by the Lancaster County Amish. The Amish clothing styles were not correct for Lancaster County either. (Amish communities around the country often have their own unique distinctions from one region to another.) The Amish mens’ beards were too neatly trimmed and looked unnatural. And the Amish spoke like they were ‘English’ in Amish clothing.
Some of the details from the actual school shooting were changed in this script, and at times the plot seemed contrived. But that aside, the movie did convey the horror of this tragedy that gripped Lancaster County for weeks, and the emotional devastation that confronted the families of both the victims and the killer alike. The movie also explores what became the dominant story of this tragedy – the Amish forgiveness of the killer and the Amish grace toward his wife and children (see our account of this Amish forgiveness from 2006).
One scene in the movie shows three Amish men calling on Mrs. Roberts to comfort her after the loss of her husband (the killer). After quoting Matthew 6:14 (“For if you forgive men when they sin against you, your heavenly Father will also forgive you.”), one of the Amish men said to Mrs. Roberts, “We will not allow hatred into our hearts. We know you will be facing harsh judgments and we would like to offer our help. We are your neighbors. And if you or your children need anything, we hope you will let us know.”
The movie characters also remind us of the emotional turmoil that can result if we harbor bitterness and anger in our hearts. An Amish father talking to his surviving daughter about the killer said, “He did do an evil thing, and I don’t blame you for hating him. And you can hate him as long as you like. But tell me, this hate that’s inside of you, how does it feel? Does it feel good?”
His daughter replied, “Not very good.” The father continued, “No. Hate is a very big, very hungry thing with lots of sharp teeth and it will eat up your whole heart and leave no room left for love. We are lucky that God understands this. He is the one that will hand out the punishment so that we don’t have to carry this terrible hate around inside of us if we don’t want to, if we are willing to forgive.”
In agony, one of the Amish mothers whose daughter was killed exclaimed, “My daughter is dead, too, and I want to scream at the world. But more than that, I do not want to make my heart a battleground between hate and love. It hurts too much. We have suffered enough damage. We must do what God asks. We must choose love.”
And finally, when refering to the killer, an Amish man stated, “Our forgiveness isn’t about Charlie. Forgiving doesn’t mean forgetting. It doesn’t even mean a pardon. We know that Charlie will stand before a just God. But we also know that if we hold on to our anger and resentment, then it is only ourselves who are being punished.”
There is much we can all learn from this heart-warming story of love and forgiveness. Life is too short to let the burdens of anger and bitterness control our lives. We all need to learn to forgive and to love one another.
Evil exists in this world. Sooner or later we will all come face to face with it, and we’ll have to learn to live with its consequences. Life’s lessons can indeed be painful. But forgiveness and love can help us move on to a new day, a new life.
During this blessed Easter season, don’t forget the ultimate act of forgiveness when God sacrificed his own son Jesus on the cross. He did this to pay the penalty for our sins. By acknowledging our own need for forgiveness, we can each find peace with God and experience His great love firsthand. It is a free gift offered to us all.
Hollywood has once again taken on story-telling within Lancaster’s Amish community. The Lifetime Movie Network has produced the movie “Amish Grace”, which first aired over the Lifetime Network last Sunday evening to over four million viewers.
The film is based on the book, “The Amish Grace: How
Scene from “Amish Grace” movie
Forgiveness Transcended Tragedy,” by Donald Kraybill, Steven Nolt, and David Weaver-Zercher. The book described the details of the Amish school shooting of 10 young Amish girls at the Nickel Mines Amish School in Lancaster County in October 2006. Five girls died in that tragedy.
The Lancaster Amish community was the center of international attention as media from all over the world swarmed to Lancaster County to cover the event and its aftermath. The resulting depiction of Amish grace and forgiveness received worldwide attention and amazement.
According to the Associated Press, the authors did not want movie rights sold for this book out of respect for the Amish community affected by the shooting. However, the book publisher, Jossey-Bass, sold the rights over the authors’ objections. The authors will donate their proceeds to charity.
In the movie, Kimberly Williams-Paisley (According to Jim, and Father of the Bride 1 and 2) portrays an Amish mother whose daughter is one of the victims killed in the school tragedy.
The movie is scheduled to air again this Thursday evening, April 1st, at 8:00 pm EDST on the Lifetime Movie network. Or, watch it anytime at www.mylifetime.com/movies-amish-grace. Let us know what you think!
It’s snow! Lancaster County is being hit by the same snow storm that’s blasting the rest of the east coast. 5-6″ so far where we are, and more on the way. This is the kind of snow that might bring out the horse drawn sleighs. Look for them in the Amish farmlands along our back country roads. Very picturesque!
But, since snow doesn’t stay on the ground very long here, they may not be around for long.
An Amish barn north of Lancaster, PA burned to the ground on Friday, September 25th. Construction on the new barn began almost immediately. We showed pictures of the construction progress three days ago.
Here is what the new barn looked like yesterday, only one week after the original barn burned down:
And here is what it looked like today, only 8 days after the fire:
It was three years ago today that gunman Charles Roberts entered the Nickel Mines Amish School in rural Lancaster County. In this tragic Amish school shooting, he shot to death five young girls and wounded others before killing himself.
Some of the families who lost a daughter that morning have since given birth to new children.
The school was subsequently torn down and the ground plowed under to do away with the visual reminder of the tragedy. A new Amish schoolhouse, the New Hope School, was built at a different location a few months later to serve the children in that district.
While this tragedy received national coverage, it was the subsequent story of Amish forgiveness toward the killer and his family that amazed so many people.
You’ve probably heard about the Amish and their work ethic. How hard working they are. How they pull together as a community to help one another during times of need.
Amish Barn Raising - Lancaster County, PA
There was a barn fire in Lancaster County last Friday, September 25, 2009. Local volunteer fire companies arrived quickly to battle the blaze, but there was no way to save the barn. They were able to save the farmhouse and the other farm buildings and silos.
Well, as I said, the Amish are hard working. And fast! These pictures were taken Thursday, October 1st, only six days after the fire. As you can see, the new barn has already been framed and the roof is half finished. Amazing! (How long do you think it would take government bureaucracy to accomplish what these Amish did in six days?)
On October 2nd, 2006, Charles Roberts broke into the Nickel Mines Amish schoolhouse in Lancaster County, PA and killed a number of school girls. The story of that tragic Amish school shooting made national news. But the resulting Amish forgiveness displayed in the lives of the entire Amish community made international headlines.
The events at Nickel Mines and the story that followed have now been described in three fascinating books. These books describe the faith and love that brought healing three years ago and can still bring healing to our society today:
“Amish Grace: How Forgiveness Transcended Tragedy” by Donald Kraybill, Steven Nolt, and David Weaver-Zercher (Sept. 2007)
“The Happening – Nickel Mines School Tragedy” by Harvey Yoder (Sept. 2007)
“Think No Evil: Inside the Story of the Amish Schoolhouse Shooting… and Beyond” by Jonas Beiler and Shawn Smucker (Sept. 2009)