Amish Funeral

I had a nice experience on a 3-day ride just completed. On the second day I was on a dirt road in northeastern New York when I saw a distant automobile moving very slowly toward me, followed by a large number of horse-drawn buggies. As I approached I saw that the auto was a hearse, so I moved to the far right, shut down, and removed my helmet. For the next 10 minutes or so, the procession moved slowly past me. I assume the occupants were Amish — severe black-and-white dress, men with clean-shaven faces but bearded chins — but if you are more conversant with such communities I welcome correction. I did not stare but frankly looked at the horses and the occupants as they passed. Many of the horses had what I think are called "blinders", shields to prevent the horse from seeing to the sides, and those horses all turned their heads to watch me as they passed. Most of the men made eye contact and nodded or waved; many said "thanks" or a variation. The small children were very curious and I gave a little-kid wave to each. I was struck by the hair of the men: Either jet black or gray-white, no blonds. I wondered whether their dress was always colorless, but later in the day I passed several buggies with occupants wearing the usual dress of working men and women, jeans and flannel shirts for the men, so this appears to be true only of their formal attire.

After the last buggy passed I paused to reflect that most of us will follow the lead in that procession, and we will all take the lead in due time — if not actually, then in the hearts of those we leave behind. I myself scattered the ashes of my brother less than two months ago. I hope that my presence on the side of that road was seen by the others not as respect for the dead — the dead have no use for respect, being dead — but as a gesture of community for the living.

And then I moved on, west for a little longer, then south into the Adirondacks. It was a beautiful ride through the colorful forest on the narrow and twisty roads as the sky slowly darkened and the first drops of rain began to fall.