Wednesday, December 15, 2004

Keeping it Plain and Simple

I seem to find great quotes everywhere. I usually copy them down, dissect them, slice them into barely recognizable slivers, and then put them back together in some personally relevant way. Today - and only today - I’m putting the scalpel down and leaving this one whole. This quote comes from Sue Bender’s book entitled Plain and Simple which I’ve been reading for what feels like a long time. On two separate occasions, Sue left her successful, busy, demanding bicoastal life for a few months and went to live with the Amish for weeks at a time, hoping that the simplicity of their quilts and the simplicity of their lives would change her in some simply miraculous way. This quote comes from the epilogue of her book. It’s both an insightful ending and a remarkable beginning.

“This isn’t a story about miracles, instant transformations, or happy endings. My journey to the Amish did not deliver a big truth. I’m not radically different. No one stopped me on the street and said, ‘Sue, I don’t recognize you. What happened?’

“I had hoped for a clean slate, imagined the old me magically disappearing and a totally new me in its place. That didn’t happen. Nothing of the old me disappeared. I found an old me, a new me, an imperfect me, and the beginning of a new acceptance of all the me’s.

“What I was learning was never what I expected. What I am learning doesn’t stay with me all the time; but I have glimpses, then it slips away. When I started this journey, I had a picture of the right way to be and the right things to do. Living with the Amish changed all that. Now this quilt, this book, this life is teaching me to trust, no matter what life turns out to be – even if it is not what I expected or what I thought I wanted.

“And I am not wise. Not knowing, and learning to be comfortable with not knowing, is a great discovery.

“Miracles come after a lot of hard work."

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