I’ve never been one to read much Amish fiction. I’m more of a Jane Austen lover, an avid underliner of the poetic Ann Voskamp and a new fan of historical romance.
But apparently I am in the minority. Every Christian bookstore seems to have shelves and shelves dedicated to the genre.
Tricia Goyer, who has written a half-dozen Amish books, says they sell because our lives are busy and overwhelming – that these books are an escape.
I believe her. It seems we’ve come to glorify busyness and question stillness, often mislabeling it for laziness.
And we don’t even know where to start on living a more simple life.
“There is noise everywhere,” says Goyer, adding that when she writes for Websites it’s topics like Seven Ways to Slow Down and How to Get Out of Debt that are the most popular. “People may not want to do away with their cell phones but they can take one little step toward simplifying.”
That one step could be cooking more meals at home or decluttering, she says. For someone else, maybe it’s starting a garden, trimming TV time or limiting the number of activities for the family. Or maybe, just maybe, that one step is reading more Amish fiction.
What we read and watch, what we surround ourselves with, has some power to shape us.
One of Goyer’s faithful readers bakes homemade bread after finishing each novel. After I read “The Promise Box,” I took my family to pick cherries and we spent the whole day outside with our boys running almost wild. Not once did I worry about the thick dust on my mantel or about mopping the kitchen floor. At least for that one day, life was simple and joyful and in the moment.
To make a lasting change, though, requires real work because so much of simplifying is about choices – about giving up in order to gain. And sometimes it’s hard to sacrifice what you can see for a peace that you can only feel.
In the moment, the chocolate mint iced cappuccino tastes better than paying down debt. Sending the email is faster than scheduling a face-to-face meeting. That’s the great irony, that simple isn’t easy.
I suspect the Amish have known this all along.