Wide is the gate, and broad is the way, that leadeth to destruction and many there be which go in thereat.
I like this quote from the Bible. In Martyrs Mirror, a common book to all Amish households, there is a section that explores this passage (750-751). It seems applicable these days. How many wide gates face people in this world?
We have to strive to be more like the Amish and Mennonites. Steady in our faith and willing to turn the other cheek from wide gates. Earthly suffering comes from lies, malicious behavior, self-serving actions, and greed. When we suffer these hardships, we have to realize that we must have compassion for the wrong-doers, even if that wrong-doer is ourselves. However, typically, we find that, as people, we must navigate the waters around other people and their actions.
I think that is where the Amish practice of Meidung (otherwise known as shunning) comes into play. Meidung is the practice of exclusion from the community. I have yet to see this happen among the Amish people that I know and love (thankfully). However, I have noticed that they practice Meidung in a different way…by removing themselves from unpleasant topics and situations that threaten to widen the gate.
When my friend Katie’s husband died, the pain she felt was tremendous. But, rather than lament her lose, she grieved then moved along. If someone mentioned her husband, she would change the subject. Rather than talk about it, she found it easier to deal with the pain internally. It was as if she didn’t want to burden others with her feelings. This struck me as odd at the time but, in hindsight, I sense the wisdom in this. My other friend Katie (there are so many Katie’s in the Amish community!) has cancer and, every time she mentions it, she quickly laughs and apologizes with a “you don’t come to visit to hear my troubles.” Even though I want to support her and help her, she realizes that she needs to focus on the positive and not the negative. This is so different than people in my world who will spend days lamenting a wrong done to them or something that is bothering them.
I find this Amish practice humbling.
Isn’t it true that when something bad happens, we often wallow in it? We often let our grief or hurt or anger get the best of us?
I recently had this happen to me. But a good friend of mine told me “put Satan behind you.” She’s right. There is a time for grief and hurt and anger but then we must move along and focus on the good. Otherwise, we are standing at a wide gate and, once we pass through it, it becomes very hard to return.
So, for today, I’m avoiding that wide gate…no, I will shun that wide gate. I bet I’ll be a lot happier because of it.