As Sadie King herded her children—all four talking at once—into the buggy, she said, “Silent and listen are spelled with the same letters.” The children quieted down as they tried to puzzle that out, which was exactly what Sadie had hoped for. She smiled to herself as she slapped the horse’s reins to get him trotting. She had promised a neighbor who just had a baby that she would bring dinner to her, and she was running late.
The Amish thread proverbial sayings into everyday speech to teach their children moral lessons. Easy to remember, based in everyday life, proverbs are an ancient and powerful teaching tool, an oral tradition passed through the centuries from times when few were literate.
These time-tested proverbs—such as “God has two dwellings, one in heaven and the other in a meek and thankful heart” or “You can’t keep trouble from coming, but you needn’t give it a chair to sit on” or “Many things have been opened by mistake, but none so frequently as the mouth”—become like small lights along a path, guiding a child (adults too) toward wise behavior and choices. They have a way of clearing away the gray fog, distilling an issue down to black or white clarity, simplifying the decision. And helping a child remember simple but piercing wisdom.
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And merry Christmas to you and your loved ones!