Terry Mattingly has written this moving piece about the recent shooting in an Amish school house in PA. It reminds me of a family story–I apologize beforehand if I get some of the details wrong. My great, great grandmother was a very religious woman, though I have no idea what denomination she saw herself as part of. I know she never cut her hair, instead wearing it in a bun, from which she would unroll it and use a fine-tooth comb to comb it out. My dad can remember sitting in the floor when he was a child and she was very old, and watching her comb and comb her hair. Well, my great-great grandmother, named Nancy, was married to a man, nicknamed “Squire” who, as I understand it, worked as a blacksmith as well as a Sherriff’s deputy.
One day Squire was killed by a shot-gun blast through the window as he sat down to eat breakfast, shot by a drunk nephew-in-law, angry that his wife had left him and was staying with Squire and Nancy. Well, Nancy was an interesting woman… my grandma tells me that people used to ask her why she never cried when some of her (many) children died in infancy… she used to say that “we should weep when someone comes into this world and rejoice when they go out. I know where my babies are, it’s these
ones still alive that I don’t know about…” Now, I may not agree completely with that theological viewpoint, but she had a point. And she had a point later, when members of the community were petitioning to get her nephew-in-law out of prison after he’d served something like seven years or so. Nancy signed the petition, and in so doing angered her sons a great deal. You see, she said that no amount of prison time would bring Squire back and this man had children he needed to take responsibility
for. God would judge him for what he did to Squire and no one else’s judgement would do.
It’s something to consider as you read this article:
“The Amish are our cousins so I know some of what they must be
feeling,” said Arnold, in his thick German accent. “I know these
parents are hurting, I know they are asking questions, but I know that
they know the answer is forgiveness. Tragedy and pain can soften our
hearts until they break.
“But if we trust God this will help us to feel compassion.”
The gunman’s stunned wife released a media statement that showed her
understanding of her Amish neighbors and their beliefs. She knew she
could appeal for prayers and forgiveness, even though outsiders might
find her words hard to fathom.
“Our hearts are broken, our lives
are shattered and we grieve for the innocence and lives that were lost
today,” said Marie Roberts. “Above all, please, pray for the families
who lost children and, please, pray, too, for our family and children.”
Some of the Amish went even further. One woman told the Los Angeles
Times: “I am very thankful that I was raised to believe you don’t fight
back. You should forgive.”
To grasp the Amish point of view,
it’s crucial to understand that they truly believe God desires justice,
but also shows mercy and “they believe that these are not contradictory
things,” said Arnold. “They know that God said, ‘Vengeance is mine, I
will repay.’ The Amish certainly believe that this killer will not go
without punishment, but they also believe that his punishment is in
Hat tip to Kendall