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DOCTOR'S VISIT

I visited the Coblentzes this past week, leaving behind the busy 21st century world for a more agrarian existence, if only for several hours. When I arrived, Elizabeth was preparing for an appointment with Alvin Lambright, a local Amish herb doctor who specializes in homeopathic cures. While the Amish give modern medicine a mixed response, natural and organic remedies are held in high esteem. I have conflicting views about treatments by the herb doctor, but my basic belief is: if someone believes the cures work, who am I to say otherwise?

I drove Elizabeth and her two daughters to Lambright's office for a routine "foot treatment." The Coblentzes tell me that the relaxing foot massages ease tension and soothe pains. Lambright's office is in a barn-type structure near his house. In many ways the waiting room looks like any other doctor's office . A few metal folding chairs sit on opposite sides of a small, boxy waiting room. Patients are taken into a private room separate from the waiting room. A young Amish woman assists the bearded learned-looking doctor with the patients. One man relaxes so much during the foot treatment that he falls asleep the young Amish assistant comes into the waiting room to summon his wife:

"You can come in here and wake him up, he really relaxed during the treatment," she said.

There are no flashy People Weekly or Cosmopolitan magazines, but there are a few copies of German language family magazines, and I was relieved to find an old, ragged English copy of Reader's Digest that I could devour while waiting for the Coblentzes to finish their appointments.

Signs urging respect of the Amish conservative customs are placed clearly on the walls: a hand-letter "dress appropriate for treatment, no shorts or Minnie skirts." The Amish doctor works four days a week, from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. His services are sought out by Amish and non-Amish patients alike, as evidenced by his appointment calendar being booked solid for months.

As evening approaches, darkness settles over the doctor's office. With no electric lights, my Reader's Digest becomes impossible to decipher. An hour and a half later, Elizabeth and her daughters are done with their treatments and we head back to her home for a delicious dinner of homemade chili soup and from-scratch bread. Once again, I feel as if I'm living in two worlds, one a chaotic carnival of noise, lights, jangling telephones, email and faxes, the other a more soothing, serene setting of faith, family, and fellowship. I think we could learn a lot from the Amish and their savoring of simplicity.


Kevin Williams
Executive Editor
Oasis Newsfeatures