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Plain and Simple
A Woman's Journey to the Amish
By Sue Bender
Illustrations by Sue & Richard Bender
Harper & Row Publishers, San Francisco [HarperSanFrancisco]
ISBN 0-06-250058-9


I had an obsession with the Amish. Plain and simple. Objectively it made no sense. I, who worked hard at being special, fell in love with a people who valued being ordinary.

When I told people I wanted to live with an Amish family everybody laughed. "Impossible," they said. "No Amish family will take you in."

I didn't know when I first looked at an Amish quilt and felt my heart pounding that my soul was starving, that an inner voice was trying to make sense of my life.

I didn't know that I was beginning a journey of the spirit, what Carlos Castaneda calls following "a path that has heart."

I thought I was going to learn more about their quilts, but the quilts were only guides, leading me to what I really needed to learn, to answer a question I hadn't formed yet:

"Is there another way to lead a good life?"

I went searching in a foreign land and found my way home.

Perhaps each of us has a starved place, and each of us knows deep down what we need to fill that place. To find the courage to trust and honor the search, to follow the voice that tells us what we need to do, even when it doesn't seem to make sense, is a worthy pursuit. This story is about that search.

Maybe you have a dream, incubating, not fully formed. Maybe you are on a similar quest. I hope you will listen to my story and at the same time hear yours. That way it will be our journey.

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