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Sunday, February 12, 2012

An Evening With An Amish Sage

I’ll long remember hearing David Kline, Holmes County, Ohio, Amish bishop and naturalist, speak at Eastern Mennonite University last week.

In response to a question about the Amish not sending their children to school beyond the eighth grade, he explained that he and his fellow Amish see education as a lifelong endeavor that really just begins after elementary school. As evidence of this, he said that the bookmobile that serves his community, dubbed “The Traveling Book Shelf,” has the largest circulation of any in the United States, in the part of Ohio that now has the largest concentration of Amish in the world.

Kline himself is an example of a truly self-educated man, a naturalist and author of three books that portray some of the simple everyday pleasures of living on their 120-acre organic farm. In his book “Scratching the Woodchuck, Nature on an Amish Farm,” he describes the many birds and other creatures he finds so fascinating, including  how he once discovered a sleeping woodchuck on a warm summer day which he carefully scratched with his walking stick, and how the dozing animal responded by arching its back with pleasure at the attention.

In "Great Possessions, An Amish Farmer's Journal," he describes how his entire family works together to grow and market food and take care of the land and the animals that are so vital to their way of life. Without the distractions of radio, television, computers, e-mail, or cell phones, something as ordinary as cleaning out their horse barn becomes an opportunity for Kline and his teenage son to experience healthy exercise while engaging in an extended man-to-man conversation, something that happens all too seldom between most fathers and sons in our faster paced urban society.

Hearing from this gentle saint helped me appreciate even more my own Amish upbringing and added to my desire to pass on the best of that legacy to my children and grandchildren.

P. S. Here's a link to my post "Going on the Amish Diet."
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