Have you ever heard of a circle letter? In the Amish community a group of people will create a “circle.” This circle can be made up of family members or friends. Letters are written and put into a large envelope and sent around. When the envelope returns to you, your job is to remove your last letter, include a new one, and then send it on to the next person.
My friend Irene, who grew up Amish, was a part of many circle letters growing up. One group was made up of young women her same age, but years later Irene was part of another circle group: a grieving parents group.
Ora Jay and Irene were leading a typical Amish existence when their life was shattered one night when leaving an ice cream social. Both Ora Jay and Irene fell asleep as their buggy took them home, and they didn’t see the semi-truck heading their direction as their horse carried their buggy across the highway.
Months passed after the accident and Irene joined a new circle letter—one made up of couples who had also lost children. These parents wrote about everyday things, but there was always a deeper meaning to every word. They know only these other couples can understand both the joy and struggles of living after such a loss. This is a letter that Ora Jay and Irene when they started a new life out west.
Circle Letter, Grieving Parents Group
May 20, 1994
Greetings in Jesus’ holy name! “You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, with all your soul and with all your mind. This is the first and greatest commandment.”
In order to do this we will have to have Him constantly in our thoughts. Just turn to Him for every little thing just as a small child does to its mother. This is Thursday morning, and we had more rain again. We’ve been having quite a bit lately, which we appreciate greatly as it was getting very dusty and dry. So this took care of the irrigation that we thought we’d have to do soon. Praise the Lord!
About half an hour ago the well driller brought us a pump. We had the well drilled about two weeks ago but have been hauling water from the neighbor so far. Yes, we moved back here to our property two and a half weeks ago. We just live in the basement with a lot of makeshifts but is not so bad in the summer time. We have not even built on top of basement yet but would like to get started soon. We are going log.
We had (or are having) an experience with burns. Our five-year-old Gerald had some second- and third-degree burns on his legs. Somehow some diesel fuel was spilled on his pant leg, and he wanted to stomp out some fire that was creeping across some grass. And his pants caught fire. It happened two weeks ago. And the second-degree burns are already nicely healed, but the third are still painful at times. He doesn’t walk much yet so he gets kinda ungeduldich at times, but he’s been very patient.
The Lord has been very merciful in these trying times. Was sorry to hear of all the deaths again. Well, must go as boys are ready to go outwards (mailbox one mile away). Prayers needed.
Ora Jay Eash Family
There are times in our lives when everything changes. Aren’t we thankful for those who God brings into our lives to walk the journey with us. Who do you have to thank for walking your journey with you?
To read more about Ora Jay and Irene’s story check out Plain Faith: A True Story of Tragedy, Loss and Leaving the Amish.