Faith, not Fear

Just as I was ready to start writing this "message," the terrible World Trade Center tragedy began to unfold. Only about a year ago, some friends from Costa Rica were visiting me and we went to New York City. It was a glorious summer day, and the views from the rooftop of the tower were spectacular. We looked south to see the ferries heading to the Statue of Liberty and Ellis Island, which we had just visited, and then north toward Times Square, our next destination. It was surely the highlight of our visit. The day of the attack, I received an email from my Costa Rican friend who recalled that trip and lamented this "tragedy for your country, which is also one for ours." He called me the next evening to make sure I was OK.

Like most of you reading this, I watched in disbelief, over and over, the towers crashing to the street and disappearing from the skyline. I listened to a reporter on his way to the site of the fourth airline crash in Pennsylvania, describing his drive through the peaceful Pennsylvania countryside populated by Amish and Mennonites. Here, as well, the peaceful scene around my office, where Amish farmers were busy cutting corn and filling silos, added to what has so aptly been described as a "surreal" day.

That Saturday, I went with my parents to the benefit auction for the Clinic for Special Children. Founded by Dr. Holmes Morton, it helps Plain people and others whose children have inherited disorders, "including over 80 different biochemical disorders or genetic syndromes." There are now children who have grown to adulthood, alive today because of the unique work done by the Clinic.

This was the 11th annual auction. Each year an amazing gathering of many Plain religious groups, mainly Amish, and plenty of non-Amish people like me come to eat and bid on everything from quilts to potted plants. Everyone volunteers their time, ingredients and products. Amish are busy making donuts, sandwiches, pretzels, etc. A horse walks in circles turning a homemade ice cream maker. The baked goods table is covered with all kinds of pies, cakes, breads, and cookies. Old and young alike gossip, enjoy meeting people they haven’t seen, catching up on news. There is a palpable positive, upbeat energy in the air, a joy in their labors and the intended result.

This year, with a new building and an additional doctor, there was special cause for celebration. In his brief remarks, Dr. Morton noted that the "children are teachers of how to get a community to work together." And already, signs with the date for next year’s auction were posted --- September 21, 2002.

After the shocking events of that week, we need to remind ourselves of the good people in the world, from the heroes in New York to the people who gave their lives, money, supplies, and blood to the cause. After a day among all these peaceful, humble people at the auction doing such an amazing in this labor of love, I felt some of my faith in humanity restored.

During the dark days of the disaster, I heard a reporter say that the power these events hold over us is determined only by the power that we permit them to have. Faith, family, and community are the hallmark of Lancaster’s religious communities, a power stronger than any evil forces let loose in our world. As a minister recently said, the goal is to lead a life by faith, not by fear. And for many, these events serve to remind them that the trials and suffering of this world are but a passage on the way to a better world yet to come.

 

Amish Country News Publisher's Message by Brad Igou (2001)

 


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