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Plain and Simple: A Journey to the Amish (Ohio)


Plain and Simple: A Journey to the Amish (Ohio) Cover

ISBN13: 9780062501868
ISBN10: 0062501860
Condition: Standard
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Chapter One

How It Began

Can an object go straight to your heart ?

Twenty years ago I walked into Latham's Men's Store in Sag Harbor, New York, and saw old quilts used as a background for men's tweeds. I had never seen quilts like that. Odd color combinations. Deep saturated solid colors: purple, mauve, green, brown, magenta, electric blue, red. Simple geometric forms: squares, diamonds, rectangles. A patina of use emanated from them. They spoke directly to me. They knew something. They went straight to my heart.

That was the beginning. Innocent enough.

"Who made these quilts?" I demanded.

"The Amish." The Amish used the same few patterns over and over--no need to change the pattern, no need to make an individual statement.

The basic forms were tempered by tiny, intricate black quilting stitches. The patterns-tulips, feathers, wreaths, pineapples, and stars--softened and complemented the hard lines, andthe contrast of simple pattern and complex stitchery gave the flat, austere surface an added dimension. I wondered if quilting was an acceptable way for a woman to express her passion?

The relationship of the individual parts to the whole, the proportion, the way the inner and outer borders reacted with each other was a balancing act between tension and harmony.

The quilts spoke to such a deep place inside me that I felt them reaching out, trying to tell me something, but my mind was thoroughly confused. How could pared-down and daring go together? How could a quilt be calm and intense at the same time? Can an object do that? Can an object know something?

•       •       •

How opposite my life was from an Amish quilt.

My life was like a CRAZY QUILT, a pattern I hated. Hundreds of scattered,unrelated, stimulating fragments, each going off in its own direction, creating a lot of frantic energy. There was no overall structure to hold the pieces together. The Crazy Quilt was a perfect metaphor for my life.

A tug-of-war was raging inside me.

In contrast to the muted colors of the Amish, I saw myself in extremes: a black-and-white person who made black-and-white ceramics and organized her life around a series of black-and-white judgments. The driven part didn't question or examine these values. It took them as real, and believed it was following the carrot "success" wholeheartedly. Didn't everyone believe in success? I never asked, "Success at what cost?"

A part of me is quiet. It knows about simplicity, about commitment, and the joy of doing what I do well. That part is the artist, the child--it is receptive and has infinite courage. But time and my busyness drowned the quiet voice.

In the world in which I grew up, more choices meant a better life.

It was true for both my parents and my grandparents. I was brought up to believethat the more choices I had, the better.

Never having enough time, I wanted it all, a glutton for new experience. Excited, attracted, distracted, tempted in all directions, I thought I was lucky to have so many choices and I naively believed I could live them all.

A tyranny of lists engulfed me. The lists created the illusion that my life was full.

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Average customer rating based on 2 comments:

tmpting, September 1, 2011 (view all comments by tmpting)
I love quilts. What's not to love about something so warm & cozy, and beautiful, too? Just looking at the cover & reading the title told me that here was a book by a kindred spirit. Sue Bender succeeds in writing simply about her longing for, and her journey toward community; that sense of belonging we all crave. What better metaphor for community than the quilt; an assembly of small individual pieces of fabric into one, large, utilitarian whole?
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cpnmom66, July 31, 2008 (view all comments by cpnmom66)
I loved this book. I was at a point in my life where this book really spoke to me. It was about how we can look at others and yet understand ourselves better. I highly recommend it is a quick read. I was able to read in just a couple of days.
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Product Details

A Journey to the Amish
Bender, Sue
by Sue Bender
San Francisco :
Spirituality - General
Christianity - Amish
Edition Description:
Trade PB
Series Volume:
no. 90-119
Publication Date:
Grade Level:
8.50x6.00x.38 in. .58 lbs.

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Related Subjects

Biography » Religious
History and Social Science » Americana » Amish and Shaker Communities
History and Social Science » Gender Studies » Womens Studies
Humanities » Mythology » Womens
Religion » Christianity » Amish, Mennonite, and Hutterite
Religion » Christianity » Miscellaneous Denominations
Religion » Comparative Religion » General
Religion » Western Religions » Denominations

Plain and Simple: A Journey to the Amish (Ohio) Used Trade Paper
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Product details 176 pages HarperSanFrancisco - English 9780062501868 Reviews:
"Synopsis" by , The story of a harried Californian who was moved to go and live with the Amish and learn to appreciate their quiet and simple ways has charmed thousands of readers and, two years after its publication, continues to be dicovered, shared, and celebrated. Illustrations.

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