Monday, February 25, 2008

The Simple Life

I just finished reading God and Country, an essay by Wendell Berry, about organized religion and the fractured idea of stewardiship. Because organized religion is so dependent upon the economy of our nation, it feels, if you are a member of a church, imperative to give to the building fund instead of funding research to stop, for instance, global warming. Is the American church really about truth, beauty, righteousness and the desire to serve? Or are we more concerned with the maintenance of our building? Coffee breaks during the worship service? God in Genesis commanded Adam and Eve to be fruitful and multiply, replenish the earth and subdue it. Many Christians use this as their justifier for being meat-eaters as well as destroyers of the environment. Berry quotes God's clarifying instructions on how to treat the earth (in case you were confused) from Revelations: "Be watchful, and strengthen the things which remain, that are ready to die." 

I have been very confused lately about what exactly I am 'called' to as a believer. Is it evangelism? Is it simple workmanship...being faithful in the menial tasks of the everyday? Is it social justice? Is it parenting? Community? Family? The Church? As Dave and I leave the full-time 'ministry' of being on staff at a church, its difficult wrestling with these questions. I am driven to be closer to home, the one with my extended family and well as my life-long tribe of friends. Is that being faithful to God and his call on our lives? 

Though, I am always drawn back to the simple wisdom of Papa Joe, "Its not about right or wrong; Its about life," I still wrestle with what it looks like to be Kingdom-minded. I don't want to live for my own little kingdom. But, there is a sense that God has made things like family, community, work, traditions, stories and art and they are all good. Do I over-spiritualize 'kingdom-living' to be about living in the most oppressed, most needy place on earth and church planting? Though, again, the command in revelations is to be about those things that are dying. I suppose you can do that anywhere. Strengthen the things that remain that are ready to die...the black family, the Sudan, the environment, hope, community, the Church, my libido. :) 

The simple life is so appealing except that I don't really like doing laundry or the dishes. There is very little peace in my home (but, glory of glories, I cleaned all day today and Atticus occupied himself with legos and his scooter for most of the day! Dave made chicken nachos while Ellie did her homework. I was savoring this rare peace. Was it because I vacuumed, I wonder? ) 

Whatever the answer, I will be encouraged today to live as Wendell Berry is calling me to: Ally yourself with what is worthy. On that note, I think I'll go watch the latest episode of Lost.


  1. Sarah, great thoughts....I know I ask myself these questions all the time. I know there is a call for all different people with all different strengths to do all different things, but what does that mean for me? I think there is something in our personalities that feels a little guilty about our contributions to the if we aren't in the worst place doing the hardest most menial work, then we aren't really of use or service. I'd love to talk to you about it all sometime...

  2. Hey, its Sarah-Jane. I loved reading this entry (my first on Juniper Tree). I battle with these thoughts all the time. Is moving back near family "leaving" where God has called us here, how do we know his "calling" and how the heck do we make decisions. I've decided most of the decisions I suffer over are things that I want done perfectly. I want Eli in the perfect school, I want to live in the perfect neighborhood (and leave the one where we have made great friends). I want to be near my family and especially Gillian, but that means leaving a community where we've been for 10 years.
    so....let me know when you find the perfect answers for me.
    maybe I should start a blog and people would give me all the answers:)
    speaking of Wendell Berry. Eli is at his publisher's house today playing with his publishers son. My only claim to WB.
    hope one day we might be all together and I can join that tribe of friends.