By Sister Nancy Linenkugel, OSF
Lehman’s Hardware Store in Kidron, Ohio specializes in products designed for the Amish who use non-electric goods. A friend and I happened to visit back in 1999 when the world was in a furor about the “Y2K” problem, or “Year 2000” problem. The fear then was that computers couldn’t format or wouldn’t recognize the last two digits of a year ending in “00” because that could mean either 1900 or 2000. Anything computerized was predicted to go berserk.
There’s a cartoon showing a chubby husband ready to step on the bathroom scale and telling his wife, “Honey, I hope you get me a digital scale for Christmas. When the millennium changes to the year 2000, my weight will go to zero!”
Fortunately, that potential disaster was recognized early enough, the majority of computer programs got fixed in time, and the world entered January 1, 2000 without a glitch.
Lehman’s is a fascinating store and is the worldwide source for non-electric goods. I couldn’t believe the variety of items there, such as lanterns, gas lights, kerosene refrigerators and stoves, cast iron skillets, and everything imaginable that doesn’t need electricity. Lehman’s sells non-electric and other products whether there’s a Y2K problem or not.
Most of us Sylvania Franciscans have visited Assisi, Italy. The quaint stone and tiled roof structures are lovely in sunny, pleasant weather, but with only candle light and meager heating, the stone buildings become cold and dark very quickly. Neither St. Francis nor St. Clare had the benefit of electricity since that wasn’t developed until 1646 and it didn’t come into household use until after Thomas Edison invented the filament light bulb in 1878, over 140 years ago. There must have been a Lehman’s-like shop in Assisi to purchase candles and heating items.
So here we are in the year 2020. If you have 20/20 vision, that’s normal vision, meaning that you can see at 20 feet what you should be able to see at 20 feet. If you have 20/200 vision, in contrast, you can see at 20 feet what others see at 200 feet. With that score your vision is challenged because you can see only 1/10 of the norm.
Using the 20/20 reference, the New Year 2020 ahead comes with its own expectation that maybe we’ll see things with more clarity. Perhaps we just need to pay attention in a critical thinking manner to what’s going on around us with an emphasis on how we can be an influence for good.
We are a special congregation for many reasons, but one fact is particularly inspiring: our foundress, Mother Adelaide, was a contemporary to many Sisters still living. Our foundress isn’t just a dour face glaring from a yellow-edged photograph from the 1800’s. No—Mother Adelaide is known. She passed away relatively recently in 1964, just 56 years ago. Many of our Sisters knew her, shook her hand, and talked with her. She’s very real.
How would Mother Adelaide approach this 2020 year with her own 20/20 vision? She was our General Superior for 38 years (1916-1954), which ended only 66 years ago. She’s very much with us still in memory and spirit.
So all of that “Y2K” hype was already 20 years ago now. Can you believe it’s been a full 20 years since that was on our minds? We’ve settled just fine into this “new” millennium that’s no longer new. Mother Adelaide continues to inspire us. And Lehman’s is still doing a brisk business.