Witness: To Peace

Quaker, 1866

As we discussed Plain dress recently, I think a number of us offered all the usual reasons for it – conformity to Biblical precepts, practicality, denial of self. These are all good personal reasons for Plain dress; I say it is my Christian witness. When people look at me, they know they have seen a Christian. But couldn’t I do that with a cross necklace, a modest skirt and blouse, a kerchief instead of a prayer cap? I could wear a t-shirt even, with Bible verses and great fish graphics. Christian. I could wear my clerics – Christian.

But as I thought about it I was inspired: my Plain witness is a Witness to Peace. I am a Peacemaker.

The Quakers are, throughout their whole Plain history, notable Peacemakers. The Anabaptists who followed Menno Simons were pacifists. that white prayer kapp, apron and long blue dress say “Peace be with thee.”

My husband’s beard and long hair, as well as his Plain coat and hat, are symbols of Peace. The early priests in the apostolic church grew out their beards and hair as a way to disassociate themselves from the Roman Empire, whose male citizens were shaven and shorn, a symbol that they were eligible to join the army.

Most people know about the Amish mostly from popular fiction like the movie “Witness.” The witness is a young Amish boy, but the “Witness” is the Amish witness to Peace throughout the movie, over against the kill-or-be-killed ethic of the corrupt police force that the protagonist works within.

The white kapp and the black bonnet, the beard and the broad-brimmed hat, are symbols that we, Nicholas and I, are dedicated to that same Witness. We live that non-violence, and we let people know that. We are witnesses – and hostages – to Peace.

Quaker woman with bonnet, ca. 1890

13 thoughts on “Witness: To Peace

  1. Magdalena,

    This is an excellent article on the plain witness to peace. I pray, if it is God’s will, that I too will be able to don cap and bonnet in God’s time. For now, the little lace mantilla-style coverings and plain ‘Cessily’s’ with buncovers will have to do.

    You and Nicholas are a sign against this present age of agression – quiet, mindful, faithful ambassadors for Christ. May you continue to stand in the gap, deaer sister!



  2. Yes – all the Plain people have stood for peace, so I think that’s absolutely right. The nearest to Plain dress we have in England is the Salvation Army; though I believe most of them have given up the bonnet in recent years – maybe it will come back as society needs ever more desperately the witness of peace. The Salvation Army are respected and loved here as the Amish are in the US because of their practical love and the way they help people who are the poorest and lowest without question.
    It seems to me that the way you are called is all of a piece – its a simplicity witness as well as a peace witness; and indeed it’s also a witness to caring for the earth as the Creator calls us to. The Plain way is very beautiful.

  3. Yes it’s so true, and sometimes people who feel called to live plain sometimes see it only in such an individual kind of way – how does this benefit ME, how does this lifestyle serve ME and what is comfortable for MY natural inborn personality, etc. It can take some of us a number of years to really come around and see that this is not only about an individual calling or path, but a testimony of so, so much more. You really explain this well here, and in other things you’ve written. There is traditional or frugal living, there is simplicity, modesty, and all kinds of expressions of living this out, but there really is nothing quite like the plain witness and what this is in the world.

    • That is exactly what I wanted to address. I am Plain not because it my personal expression, but it is Christ’s expression to the world through me. WhenI left being Plain for a few weeks, although I still dressed modestly, I know that I was not making the authentic statement that had been begun in me. Plain is my sacrifice – but I mean that I willingly gave up my worldliness for the message of Peace in Christ.

  4. I was not raised to wear skirts/dresses and head coverings. But before I turned 13, I had a ” modesty conversion ” and began to don skirts/ dresses with head scarfs as my head covering. I would so like to wear a plain white veil, but I think I have to pay for it myself and I am REALLY bad about saving up, lol. Please pray for me as my dad is placing me in public school this year ( much to my mom’s disapproval ) and I know the headscarves and skirts/dresses are going to get a lot of attention.

    Also, please pray that my dance teacher gets us some modest performance costumes this year. Last term during the infancy of my modesty conversion, I had to wear shorts. This wouldn’t have been a problem if they weren’t so tight and…well…short! I would really like looser shorts this year, lol.

    • I find being “phoneaddikt” to be a contradiction to modest, Christian life. Modesty is more than appearance. It is also behaviour. Modesty also means governing our speech, our action, and our social contact.

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