Tuesday, December 11, 2007

The Loss of German Devotional Ways

The relation of Pennsylvania Germans to decoration greater than tulips, hearts, stars and crowns, or Mennonites turning flowers into bookmarks to bring paradise indoors, or linens, furniture and pottery of communal tulips that migrate from paper to linen to wood, or even letters filled with swirls and stipples that whirl under signatures in descending spirals has as much to do with the absence of these things as with their presence, the plainness of a board, the cut of a lapel, whether cap or bonnet or hat, Christmas cookies at play and glee, but in a life capable of belief, an inner spiritual form and force from which the outward material surface of reality proceeds, the greater decoration is the less.

"Are there also men who are not conscious of possessing a higher spirit than brutes, and yet maintain, that they can keep their minds in a good state of rest in this life?"  This question is in one of the books. Plain folk wear black suit and dress, but what do they hide? Is it something you can't see anyway or is it just covered up, wood handled tools hid in a rough brown cabinet , embroidered linens in trunks on metal trolleys, pottery in wardrobes, unknown, unsigned  hand painted china, hand made dress? They hide the higher spirit and pretend.

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