Today, I thought I’d continue with examining this series by talking about The Hope Chest.
Many Amish women receive a hope chest when they turn sixteen, the age when they are allowed to go on rumschpringe and explore the world. Parents look the other way when their daughters (and sons) go to the movies, ride in cars, wear different clothing, maybe even makeup (the girls, not the boys). But the idea is that, after experiencing the non-Amish world, they will return to the Amish way of life and start their instructional for baptism.
The hope chest is the gift that reminds the Amish youth of all that awaits them as they move toward that big decision.
What goes into a hope chest? Well, eventually a wedding quilt and then, after the wedding, their wedding dress…the very dress they will be buried in one day. Besides those two things, a young woman might put in towels or linens that she makes during the winter months. She might embroider a table cloth or napkins. She might put in family recipes or an apron that she’s made. Any little treasures that will help her transition into life as a new wife when the time comes.
The Amish hope chest is filled with more than things, however. It is filled with hope. Hope for a righteous life focused on God. Hope for a long, happy marriage and house filled with children. Hope for doing good during our short time on earth before we join our Father in heaven.
I think that hope chests are an idea that needs to be revisited by the non-Amish. Too many young people are growing up way too fast and not appreciating the idea that dreams have to be partnered with hope, not just expectations of instant fulfillment which, unfortunately, is often followed by disappointments. In our world, so many young people just assume that life will work out their way—often without considering that they must work hard for the reward. By giving our young people a hope chest, we can help them fill it with the items that symbolize their future, giving them time to reflect on what is important and how there is a long journey—one that needs to be full of giving and not just taking—to get there.
Yes, a hope chest is more than just a place to store items. It’s a place to store our hope for a good future and good life.
The Hope Chest is available in paperback and ebook format. You can learn more about the book, including purchase links, by clicking HERE.
Sarah Price is the author of the Plain Fame series and the Amish of Ephrata series, among other books. She comes from a long line of devout Mennonites, and her writing reflects accurate and authentic stories based upon her own experiences with several Amish communities. Visit her at sarahpriceauthor.com and on Facebook.