December 13, 2019

Incident on Romans Road…

Category: News — Ira @ 5:40 pm

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He roared like a lion and cooed like a dove.
Hellfire and brimstone. Come to Jesus.

–Ira Wagler: Broken Roads
_________________________

It was a nippy December day, last week. Outside, the cold winds whipped and swirled. Winter. It’s here, at the door. At work, we were a little short-handed. Deer season does that. Customers trickled in and out. Builders. A young couple looking for metal roofing. And then the bell rang again, as the front door opened. I got up from my desk to meet the man who walked in. A small-time contractor. English guy. I greeted him. It’s been a while. He walked up to the counter where I stood.

He needed some metal roofing delivered to his job site the next day, he told me as we talked. That’s doable, I said. How much and what color? And we got down to figuring out what he needed. That’s what I do. I knew the guy fairly well. He’d bought from me off and on for a few years. We chatted as I wrote up his order, until he mentioned, almost offhand like. He had been diagnosed recently with cancer. The bad kind. It was riddled all through his body. And he told me. He had less than six months to live.

Well, what do you do with that, when someone tells you such a thing? The man always was a salty talker, and he was talking salty that day. Every other word was a curse. Or it sure seemed like it. I flinched a little, not accustomed to or comfortable with such words. Still. I looked at him. No one is promised any kind of tomorrow. And it flashed through my mind. Here was a dead man walking, basically. The sword was hanging, suspended right over his head by the thinnest of threads. I mean, it’s hanging over us all. But he had a time frame. Six months or less. It was hard to grasp, at that moment. What do you say, what can you say?

He kept talking and swearing, telling me the story of how he had found out about the cancer. Only around a month ago, it was. And it came to my mind as I listened to him talk. What’s he gonna do, when death comes calling? Is he ready? I mean, no one is ready, as in eager to leave. But ready, spiritually, when it’s time to go. I try not to judge such things. I thought. Should I say something? Should I tell him about Jesus? It’s not like he never had the chance to hear about the gospel. It’s all around you, here in this area. At every corner, there is a church. That’s not far from the truth. Here, in Lancaster County, you can’t help but get exposed to the message in your daily walk through life. But what if he hadn’t been? What then?

I come from the Amish. The quiet in the land. They don’t verbalize their faith much, but hold it in their hearts with few words. I never got over that shyness when I left. Never went on the mission field, never went knocking door to door. Never handed out religious tracts on any street corner anywhere. I’ve never proclaimed the message of the gospel, other than maybe in my writings and in my life. Live your faith, is where I come from. Anyone can claim anything. It takes the real thing to live it. That’s where it really counts.

It’s not like that, in a lot of places. Some plain groups, like the Beachy Amish and certain Plain Mennonites, take the whole “witnessing” thing pretty seriously. I remember very well the Plain Mennonite man who stopped by at work one Saturday, years ago. I wrote a blog about him, he made such an impression on me. Not a positive impression, either, I will say. That man was mired in a bog of legalism, and he had no idea. One of the most important requirements of his church was that you had to clean up before you could join. He fancied himself a “watchman at the gate.” Watchmen like that, at least the ones of old, operated under a rather severe rule. If they failed to warn, the blood of those they failed was on their hands. It’s an awful burden of guilt and works, that whole thing is. You think about the freedom of the gospel, what it really is, and how pointless it is to get tangled up in all that drama. It makes me about half crazy to see people bogged down so hopelessly in bondage like that.

And yes, they are in bondage. The bondage of the law. Only the true gospel will ever make those people free.

Moving along, from that. Then there are the Bob Jones types, too. I saw them up close and personal in the two years I attended that school. The Preacher Boys. Near as I could tell, they believe that every person is called to be talking about Jesus, pretty much all the time, every day. It was part of their curriculum, for the Preacher Boys to get so many hours logged in every week, going door to door, confronting total strangers and force-feeding them the beautiful gospel of Jesus. I mean, they went looking for it, the chance to talk about salvation to the lost. And I’m sure they did some good, here and there, now and then. I’m sure some people were led to the Lord through such annoyances as the Preacher Boys going knocking on doors and confronting people with all kinds of scary talk of hell. They used fear, the Preacher Boys did, as a regular tool of persuasion. I looked at it going on around me and wasn’t impressed. And I never participated or emulated. Never.

They had their formulas, to get to where they wanted to go. I heard their talk, laughed at their humor, and generally accepted the Preacher Boys I got to know. Nice enough guys, they had their little inside jokes, spoke a language all their own. And one of their formulas, I heard the name different times, spoken always in hushed tones of respect. Romans Road. I never asked much, but I just figured Romans Road must be a map of the letter Paul wrote to the Romans. A map with step by step instructions on how to get sinners saved. That’s what I figured Romans Road was.

The Preacher Boys would sure have jumped at the chance to ask this man all about whether he knows for sure where he’s going after he dies. Heaven? Or the awful long eternal flaming torment of hell? Where teeth will chatter because of the heat. They would have told me and told me hard. Now. Here’s your chance to tell a lost soul about Jesus. He’ll listen. He’s dying. He’ll be vulnerable. Go for it. Tell him, tell him. Tell him, now.

I heard their voices in my head. And I didn’t discount what they said, necessarily. Because there was another whisper of a voice, out there on the edge of things, persistent in its strength. A voice I have heard consistently for ten years, now. And that was Pastor Mark Potter, preaching the gospel at Chestnut Church. A man with a message on a mission, Pastor Mark was, when he became the leader of the little flock there at Chestnut. I remember that he started in slow with his Reformed teachings. Gave a little taste, way at first. Led us along like a shepherd leads his sheep. After our appetites had been properly whetted, the man swung the hammer hard. He’s been swinging hard ever since.

All of Pastor Mark’s preaching points to Jesus. And Jesus is Love. So all the pastor talks about, pretty much, is love. Love others as Christ has loved you. It all gets a lot clearer, when you hear someone talking about it like he does. You hear that stuff week in and week out, and you listen and learn. Or you don’t. You grow, or you don’t. I don’t know. I think the stuff just permeates in you, when you’re not even quite aware what’s going on. That’s how it went for me, anyway.

Eventually, the realization sank in. It was true, as Pastor Mark claimed. The Great God of the universe wants to have a relationship with me. I mean, you always hear that said. But hearing it and actually realizing it are two different things. And when it gets told like Pastor Mark speaks it, you respond in awe and gratitude and reverence. Or I did. Seemed like the right thing and still does.

And I looked at the man standing before me, across the counter. Looked at him as he swore and used the Lord’s name in vain in a jagged string of profanities. I looked at him, a common man in shabby work clothes, a man who had just told me he didn’t have long to live. Or love. He didn’t have long to do that, either. And I could hear Pastor Mark asking. “How can you best love such a person as that? You owe him nothing. Except love. You owe him that, because of how you have been loved.” That’s what I heard in my head, standing right there on that spot. “You owe him love.”

But what does that look like? What is love? I wasn’t sure. I can’t save anyone. It’s not my job to. It’s God’s. Salvation belongs to Him alone, to do with as He sees fit. But still. It is my job to love. This is the kind of thing that jumbled in my head. Not necessarily that logical or in that order. I knew from having heard Pastor Mark proclaim a certain truth a hundred times through the years. The church is a hospital, not a country club. Care for the wounded, the sick, the broken. That’s what we’re called to do. That’s what Jesus did.

I looked at the man, talking to me, waving his hands as he spoke. And I asked him gently, when the question could be worked in. Then another. How does it feel? Are you afraid?

He swore again. His face looked haggard and tired. “I’m in bleeping pain, here,” he said. “Of course, I’m scared.” I nodded. I hear that, I said. We went back to filling out his order. And still, I could not shake it. I asked him. Are you at peace with God? Do you have anyone you can talk to?

He spoke a string of salty words and nodded. “Yeah, I got my priest,” he said. “I trust him. He’s a good man.” That’s good, I said. You gotta have someone you can talk to.

And we finished his order, then. I didn’t know quite what to say. I offered him my hand as he turned to leave. He shook it. I wish you the best, I said. Now, and later. He nodded. “I may see you again,” he said. “And I may not.”

He walked out. I watched him go and felt for him. Sometimes life is hard, like that.
*************************************************************

Well, that came whooshing in. The end of one more year, a year like no other. I guess every year is unique in its own way, in some way. And now, 2019 stumbles to a close. There were things that went on, and there were things that went on. Some were remarkable, and some were not.

Amish wedding season came rolling along, like it always does after Big Church in the fall. Usually it gets here in the last part of October, goes full swing during the whole month of November, then trickles to a stop sometime in December. This year the Roasht harvest was particularly bountiful. I always pester a handful of Amish builders there at work. And a few other social Amish friends. It’s an annual quest I take seriously and pursue with great vigor. Bring me some Roasht. Almost every year, I get a good feast or two. This year, I think I got more than half a dozen servings. I will concede, like I have before. When it comes to delicious home-cooked food, the Lancaster County blue bloods got the rest of the Amish world beat. Roasht takes the prize, as it will every time.

As Thanksgiving approached a few weeks ago, the memory came knocking like it always does. Seems like I don’t always quite remember the exact date. And as the years slide by, the whole incident recedes ever more distant into the fog of the past. Four years ago, back in 2015, in the week leading up to that holiday, I was flat on my back in intensive care at Lancaster General. From complications from A-fib that degenerated into congestive heart failure. It was as close as I ever came to leaving. I looked over to the other side. Can’t say I saw much, but I looked over.

Each year, as that time rolls around, I stop and reflect on the fact that life is a beautiful thing. Every day, every moment, is simply a gift. I’m trying more to live it like that.

The most notable thing that happened this year, in a year of many notable things, was the book. It got finished. A miracle, really. I can’t tell you how stuck I was. And how discouraged. My wheels were sunk in the mud all the way down to the axle. It was not a good place to be. And then Dad got sick, about this time a year ago. Before Christmas. I went up the day after, arriving a few hours before the man took his leave. We buried him in solemn ceremony. The writing came roaring out after I got back home.

This was the first year without Dad. We were ready for it, we thought. Still. When your parents are both gone, what does that make you? I remember years ago, what my friend Alan Stanley told me. One of my closest friends, he passed away after complications from a nonmalignant brain tumor. I met Alan in the early 90s, when he was known as Ralph. We hung out a lot together. Alan came from a poor area in rural Ohio. His father had passed away years before. I met his Mom a few times when she came around to visit.

At some point, then, the mother got sick out there in Ohio. Alan kept me updated as she slowly sank, then died. The next time I saw him, I told him. Sorry about your loss. I guess it wasn’t unexpected. Alan looked at me. Then he spoke half dramatically, as only he could. “You know what I am, Ira? I’m an orphan.” His statement startled me a little bit, but I thought about it. It was true. We all get to be orphans after our parents pass on. So that’s what I am, since Dad left. An orphan. Lost and alone and cold and hungry and tired and destitute on the streets. That’s how we think of orphans. It’s not like that for me, as it isn’t for most of us. I’m comfortable being parentless.

So, anyway, looking out ahead. I’m sure the new year will bring surprises. They always do. I am quietly optimistic and excited. The journey beckons over broken roads. I am ready to move forward, to walk the path that will rise up. The Lord knows what’s coming. I don’t. I’m good with that, though.

It’s a different journey, from the first book. Different terrain, different people. I don’t guess it could be any other way. Nor would I wish it to be. I raise my hand and lift my glass (of water, not whiskey) in salute.

Merry Christmas and Happy New Year to all my readers.

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November 15, 2019

Vagabond Traveler; Songs of Autumn…

Category: News — Ira @ 5:00 pm

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All things belonging to the earth will never change — the leaf,
the blade, the flower, the wind that cries and sleeps and wakes
again, the trees whose stiff arms clash and tremble in the dark,
and the dust of lovers long since buried in the earth…

—Thomas Wolfe
_______________

It’s that time of year again. Fall, drifting into winter. The clocks turned back an hour the other Sunday. I don’t know where it all goes, the days, the weeks, and then the months. The circle of the seasons. And every year it comes sweeping in at this time, a deep and abiding sense of foreboding and loss. Fall is the season of death, as the earth settles in and prepares for winter. In the spring comes new life. But not now. Now comes the darkness, the fruits of harvest on the farm, and the plow.

It always takes me back, this time of year does. Back to the escapes of time and memory, as Thomas Wolfe would say. Back to my days of childhood on my father’s farm. All things come from the earth, and all things must return to the earth again. The first frosts came sweeping in, cold and biting. The nights chilling down, the brown leaves raining from the maple trees, the first thin ice forming over the puddles and then the pond. The sun rising, clear and brilliant, in the east.

After chores, and after breakfast, we trundled off to school, swinging our plastic lunch boxes, hunched against the bitter northwestern winds. Above us in the cloven skies, great rafts of geese and ducks flew south in gigantic Vs, the geese sprawling sideways in the wind. Their high wild calls stirred a longing deep inside, an intense and quiet desire for a thing I could not speak. It was a yearning undefined that pulsed strong through my blood.

We had a mile to the west school. Half a mile to the east school, where all the children went through third grade. And one cold fall morning, we were walking along to school. Me and my little sister Rhoda and little brother Nathan. I’m thinking Nathan would have been attending the east school, the closer one. Anyway, it was fall, and it was cold. The ice had frozen over the mud puddles along the road. Rhoda, ever energetic and adventurous, decided to check the strength of the ice over a little puddle. She stomped on it, to see if it would hold her. And just that quick, the ice broke. It was a deep puddle, and her foot plunged in, all the way down. Her shoe was completely submerged and soaked with freezing water. Startled from the shock of it, she burst into tears.

Ah, Rhoda, I groaned gently. Not too harsh, she was upset. What to do? What to do? I was the older brother. I needed to look after my sister. Rhoda sobbed and sobbed and shivered. If I sent her back home to change socks, she’d be late for school. Plus, she’d be walking alone. After a few seconds of quick calculating, I told her to sit down on the side of the road and take off her shoe and sock. I sat down beside her and did the same. And right there in that bitterly cold morning, we switched. I pulled on the sopping freezing wet sock she had worn and gave her my dry one. And we got up and walked on toward school. That day, the cold wet sock dried in the warm schoolhouse. I thought about it, now and then, since that long-ago morning. I was the big brother. I was responsible to look out for my younger siblings. I didn’t always get that done later, in my running around years. That morning, I reckon I did.

This year, the brooding days of fall brought death. Just last month, it hit pretty close there at work. I’ve worked with Rosita Martin ever since I came to Graber. Almost twenty years. She’s actually the one who runs things there. And last month, one Monday evening, here came a text. About her father, Kenneth Beiler. A well-respected man in the Beachy Amish circles, he had not been feeling well. That evening, they went in to the hospital to get him checked out, he and his wife. The news came, brutal and shocking. He was filled with a highly aggressive form of cancer. He didn’t have long.

I didn’t know the man well. Met him probably a few dozen times over the years when he stopped in to see his daughter, there at work. We usually smiled and chatted briefly. The family brought him home and prepared to walk with him through the final months. Except there weren’t months. Three weeks later, Kenneth Beiler passed away in hospice, where he had been taken the night before because of intense and unbearable pain. The funeral was at Mine Road Beachy Amish Church, which Mr. Beiler had helped found many years ago when he was a young man. And so he was respectfully laid to rest. The extended family grieves the loss of its patriarch.

And last week, death came calling fairly close to me. Well, it was close at one time, years ago. My ex-wife Ellen’s older sister Sue Brunk. She was married to a Plain Mennonite man, Tony. I never knew Sue that well. She was always kind, back when I was married to her sister, the few times I was around her. She never made any fuss, when our world exploded later. I’m sure she felt for us deeply, because that’s the kind of heart she had. Anyway, she was diagnosed some years ago with cancer, too. What kind, I don’t know. She gradually declined and wasted away, clinging on, getting better, then worse, then better, then worse. Like a roller coaster. It got so I almost forgot she was sick. Last Friday morning, I got the message on my phone. Sue passed away. The family gathered in the little Ohio community where she had lived and buried her. Grieved the loss of the first sibling to go, like my family did with Joseph last March. I sent my condolences.

Death came knocking, for those two families. It will come knocking again, for others. Soon. That’s just a fact of life.

And off on a little bunny trail, here, about the whiskey. Or the lack thereof, might be more accurate. I don’t talk about it all the time, but I’m still walking dry through life. It’s the norm, now. I can’t accurately express what a difference it has made in my life. How good I feel. I think it was mentioned before. There’s a whole chapter in the book about it. Whiskey and Me. Unplanned, that little narrative had been. It just came on its own. The dry life is a good life, I can say. I feel free, which is saying a lot for me.

So, anyway. The other Saturday morning, I stopped at the local bank to make a deposit and pick up some cash for pocket money. I strolled in. A beautiful, sunny day. I do most of my banking in the Christiana branch, there close to work. This was New Holland. I smiled at the teller and presented my signed checks to cash and deposit. She was real nice, she smiled back at me. And she was a little apologetic. She didn’t know me. Could she see some ID? Of course, I said. I dug into my wallet and extracted my driver’s license. Here you go.

She looked at the picture. My face is bloated like a fatted hog. And then she looked at me. “My,” she said. “You’ve lost a little weight.” Well. What do you do with that? Yep, I told her. I quit drinking two years ago. The weight just washed off, after that. She smiled. “And all that sugar you’re not taking in anymore,” she said. “Alcohol is loaded with sugar.” Yep, that too, I said. Whatever it was, I’m in a good place now.

It made me smile, that little incident. I hope to smile again, like that. The blessings of life flow strong.

Four or five years ago, I used to meet with a little group at Vinola’s every Tuesday after Bible Study. We took a break from those Tuesday night meetings this summer, still haven’t started back up. I’d like to again. Anyway, there was this eclectic group that got together at the pub. Had a few drinks. Sometimes someone ordered food. Greasy, late night stuff, there. A few of the guys who met us there at Vinola’s never made it to the Bible Study. They had an aversion to such things. They’d socialize with us later, though.

One of those regulars who would only come to Vinola’s was an atheist. Nice enough guy, a little younger than me. He wore his atheism on his sleeve. I took to calling him the atheist evangelist. If I talked to others about Jesus as much as he talked about his atheism, well, I’d be an irritating pest. Which is exactly what he turned into. A tiresome bore. He’d get all vitriolic and sneering at how stupid Christians are. I mean, a little bit of that is fine, if that’s how you feel. A steady dose of such poison gets old, though. Real old. Back in those days, my drinking days, I got all hot at the guy more than a few times. He was hard to like.

In time, the little Vinola’s group disbanded. The atheist went his way, and I went mine. At some point in there, we got disconnected on Facebook, too. I think he unfriended me about the time Trump got elected president. Which I was fine with. I got tired of seeing tirade after tirade with link after link, scorning and mocking all things Christian.

I was fine with not being friends. I mean, at some point, you just accept it like it is. The atheist was not a pleasant person, and I didn’t particularly like him much. What do you owe a person like that? Do you have to pretend to like someone who is so deliberately obnoxious? Why? We are commanded to love the unloveable. What is love, in this situation? To me, it was disconnecting and walking away.

The atheist stayed out of sight and out of mind. Until very recently. I got a private message from the man. I was startled to see his name. This could not possibly bode well. And in his message, he had a very explicit thing to tell me. It was about Kanye West, the singer. I know very little about Kanye and have never been a particular fan of his singing. He made a huge splash recently when he came out as a full bore Christian. His runaway hit album is titled, “Jesus is King.” I was glad to see Kanye’s conversion. The power of the gospel can reach anyone at any level. That’s what the atheist was writing to me about. He sneered about how stupid Kanye is, to pretend to be a Christian. Obviously a fraud. All for the money.

Back in the old days, I would have risen to the bait and responded in rage. The whiskey always triggered a strong reaction. The atheist knew that. He expected the old me to get riled up. It didn’t happen. I messaged back. What’s it to you? It’s absolutely none of your business, what Kanye does. And he came back with a string of sneering vitriol directed at Kanye. He’s a mental case who produces bad art. I don’t know what he was expecting me to say. I do know it wasn’t even tempting, to reply in kind. I shrugged and asked again. What’s it to you? Why do you care?

In other words, go away, and stop wasting my time with your silliness. I got better things to do. That’s how you can respond if you’re dry, and it’s real. I’m good, here.

Not long ago, I got a call from a young Amish man, a foreman in a local shed-building shop. I’ve worked with this guy for a few years. He’s young-married, with a young family. Three children, I think. So far. He and I have had many interesting and in-depth conversations about what it is to be Amish. I’ve wondered sometimes if he stays because he wants to, or because he’s scared to leave. It didn’t matter. I mean, I didn’t try to change him. He read my book and told me he enjoyed it a lot.

So anyway, that day he was calling to check on some invoices, and he had something else he wanted to tell me. Today was his last day at this job. Ah, I said. Sorry to hear that. I’ve really enjoyed working with you, and I have enjoyed our little chats. What are you going to be doing? He told me he was moving to a farm halfway across the county. That’s the traditional but increasingly rare dream for young Amish couples in Lancaster County. Farming. Most of them can’t. Price of land is too high. I’m happy for you, I said. I’m sure your children are going to love having their Daddy home more. Still, it’s gonna be different here, not talking to you now and then.

He agreed, he enjoyed our chats, too. I thought about something, then. And I told him. I know I promised you a copy of the new book when it gets published next spring. And I’ll still give you one. But I ain’t hunting you down. You have to come over here and pick it up yourself. Maybe we can catch up, then. He chuckled and allowed that he could probably do that. We said good-bye, and I wished him well on the farm. And I thought about it. People come and people go. Everyone keeps moving on. That’s life, I guess.

The other day, I did something at work that I had not done in quite a few years. I ordered a guy to leave and never come back. The man was basically a fringe lunatic. Last time he was there, several years ago, we had a knock-down, drag-out fight to get him to pay taxes on his purchases. He fought me for twenty minutes and kept waving a little card around, claiming he’s not a US citizen, and the Constitution entitles him not to pay taxes. He wasn’t convincing. His spiel fell on deaf ears. He paid.

I mean, the man was absolutely right about the foundational issue of his gripe. Taxes are immoral and they are theft. One hundred percent of the time, that is true. But I told the man back then, and I told him again that day. I do what it takes to stay out of a cage. That’s the extent of my respect for any human law. I obey, but I seethe, doing it. The state is a vile monstrosity of an idol that gorges on innocent blood. But if I gotta pay tax on what you buy, you are going to pay that tax. Period.

I was on the phone when he walked in this time. I recognized him and wondered. Did he remember how it went the last time? Apparently not. He laid his little card on the counter and was starting down that same tired old road with Mark, my coworker. I got off the phone and inserted myself. We got things to do, I told him. We don’t have time to argue. You will pay the tax. If you want the trim, pay Mark and go out and load. We ain’t going to fight you. Not this time. Take it or leave it.

Somehow, he got the idea I was being disrespectful. He got pretty livid. Launched into me. Verbally, I mean. Wagging his finger and talking real loud. “Don’t you dare disrespect me,” he hollered. I listened for a few seconds, then interrupted. Get out, I said flatly, pointing to the door. Now. Don’t ever come back. He wasn’t expecting that. He fussed and groaned and got all pissy. I was firm. Go. Get out. Now. Don’t ever walk into this place again, or I’ll call the cops. (I would have to be half dead before I’d ever call the cops for any reason, shades of my father. But he didn’t know that.) He muttered and grumbled. Then he left.

It wasn’t fun. And I never got angry at him. Wasn’t worth it. I don’t go looking for trouble. It usually takes a little time to get me worked up. But when I get yanked around like that, I just figure a man’s gotta do what a man’s gotta do.

A while ago, I sent an advance copy of Broken Roads to Dr. Donald Kraybill, the eminent and respected historian of all things Amish. I’ve always said. If Dr. Kraybill says that such and such a community has this many districts and that many families, you can take that information to the bank. I’ve always respected his research. He knows what he’s talking about. He retired a few years back, although he’s still active as a Senior Fellow at E-Town College.

I’m not all that tuned in to the hallowed halls of higher learning, but lately I’ve heard some mutterings that Dr. Kraybill’s work is under assault from at least one other professor in the Midwest. It looks to me like the classic scene, where the young lion attacks the old lion to make a name for himself. I don’t pretend to understand the insular world of academia. I met the main man attacking Dr. Kraybill a few years ago and wasn’t impressed. To be fair, he didn’t like me much, either.

Whatever criticisms one might have for Dr. Kraybill, he has always treated me fairly and with respect. I consider him a friend. A few weeks ago, he sent his feedback in a little blurb, with full permission to use his words anywhere I want to, verbatim or edited. I don’t know if the blurb will be on the back cover of the book, but I am grateful for his kindness and support. He didn’t have to do that. It’s a big deal to me.

“In this wonderful sequel to Growing up Amish, Wagler repairs the broken roads—the endless rifts with his father and others.

With audacious candor, Wagler reveals the darkest crevice of his heart, the sensitive soul of his people, the yearning of the human spirit. He fearlessly tells the unfettered truth. Raw truth about love, empathy, sin, salvation and reconciliation. His honesty refreshes. His brilliance informs. His courage offers hope.”

—Donald B. Kraybill, author The Riddle of Amish Culture

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