Saturday, July 17, 2010

I Am Hutterite

The pain is still wiping me out today, but I am content. Jesse is four-wheeling with his family, and Mia and I are spending the day together. I am so grateful that God has shown me how to be grateful in my time of pain and to find peace in it. It's a beautiful day. I have some great books to read. My daughter wants to play a card game with her, and my pain can't take a single one of those things away from me. I'm good.

I Am Hutterite by Mary Ann Kirkby is a stunningly beautiful story of a woman's retracing her family's history to make sense of her life. The author spent the first ten years of her life living in a Hutterite community in Manitoba, Canada, like three generations of her family before her. The Hutterites are a religious group that live communal life with no personal property. With the motto: work makes life sweet, labor is a natural part of life for all ages. All money earned is contributed to the group and they even eat their meals together. They wear plain and simple clothing, and the women have distinctive headgear of polka-dotted handkerchiefs. Their life sounds intriguing and idyllic. Children are schooled from the age of 2-1/2 through eighth grade, and life has a strict order. When someone turns seventeen they begin working in the community and will do so until they are forty-five and then retire (!). Women who have given birth have another woman from the community come into the home and take care of them for several weeks, then a young girl is chosen to be the child's caretaker while the mother cares for the home, her responsibilities on the farm, and her family. It all sounds like a beautiful way to live, but as Mary Ann learned, if the leader of the group is a dictator, it can make life miserable. After repeated clashes with their leader, her father decided to uproot his family of seven children from the only life they'd ever known and try life in the real world. She and her siblings were forced to adapt to living without neighbors within shouting distance and going from feast-like meals three times to a day to scrounging for the necessities and eating cast-off produce. Her difficulties fitting in with her classmates  eventually caused her to turn her back completely on her heritage until having a child made her re-evaluate. Kirkby has a stellar voice, and the reader is completely pulled into her world until in the end it feels like a terrible loss to have to say good-bye to the characters.

Thank you to A. Larry Ross Communications for providing me with a copy of this book for review.