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Remembering Lancaster County a Year Later

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Even though a year has passed, I still feel a profound sadness for the Amish in Lancaster County, Pennsylvania; not only for the way they lost their little girls, because that in itself is incomprehensible, but also for the way the world suddenly invaded their simplistic way of life.

To most of us, the Amish lifestyle seems forbidding and stark; comparatively, no doubt it is. However, after witnessing how the Amish forgave the murderer of their children, it's a forgiving way of life that most of us cannot fathom.

Originally, when news reports hit the airwaves, I assumed that it had been one of their own who'd snapped. That was not the case. Thankfully, with the arrival of police, the murderer was stopped from doing further damage to those little girls. For a place where violence doesn't exist, where there is no television, video games or access to movies, one can only imagine what was going on through the minds of the children -- not to mention their parents.

The Amish are a pacifist group of people. I'd like to think of myself as a pacifist, but if someone broke into my home and tried to hurt my children, I would do what I needed to first fight them off, and then later, much later, perhaps forgive them.

However, the burden that was placed on the murderer's widow is difficult to consider. The wife and children of the violent, misguided man responsible for shaking up this community had to live with the fact that association will forever connect them to his actions. I thought about that and wondered what I would do if someone close to me did the same kind of damage this man did. Besides trying to remember if I was given a clue as to what was about to occur, how would I be able to go on in life without apologizing on his behalf on a daily basis? I would want to get as far away from the Amish as possible so as not to be a constant reminder. The Amish apparently don't see it this way, since they started a charity fund to help both the victims' families and the murderer's widow.

Wow. Talk about embracing forgiveness and walking in light.

I don't understand a whole lot about the Amish beliefs. Apparently, they are less a cult and more a culture. Perhaps that is why they do not feel a need to proselytize their faith to the outside world, even though this may be in direct conflict with the Bible instruction to "Go into all the world and preach the gospel to every creature." --Mark 16:15

They are such a private people, but I'm still curious about their internal struggles. Do the youth of this community often try to break from it in their adolescent aggression? Do the elders allow questions with difficult answers to be asked? My curiosity isn't for any reason other than wanting to know more about these peacekeepers appearing to have found a way to live simply in a very complicated world. And even after a year later from when this world first came crashing into their quiet lifestyle, they seem to have dusted themselves off and shown that they can walk their talk while embracing those who do not.

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