Saturday, June 14, 2014

Give me the Simple Life...Maybe

Recently I watched, eyes very wide, as four yards of triple-mix soil was expertly dropped on my driveway. I had put together raised bed frames for a vegetable garden in our backyard and we needed soil to fill them. Four yards may not sound like much, but it is, and I wondered how my ancient wheelbarrow would respond to the task, not to mention my ancient back. My back held up, but around the twenty-fifth load the wheelbarrow packed it in.

Enter my friendly and helpful neighbour who brought over his equally aged wheelbarrow. Fortunately it was up to the task of transporting the next twenty loads. It makes sense to share what we have, doesn't it? Why do we all need the full complement of tools and toys we figure we must have to carry out work and play? Of course I bought a new wheelbarrow. Hey is was on sale and advertised as "landscaper grade."

I will put my landscaping career on hold long enough to mention an article in the latest United Church Observer called The Communitarians. It's about a countercultural community called Twin Oaks located on 185 hectares of land in Virginia. It's been there for decades and its residents --about 100 now-- have been car-sharing, using solar energy, producing their own food, since long before any of these movements were trendy. Actually, that may not be entirely true. The community was founded in 1967, the year I entered my teens. Back then there were a fair number of back-to-the-land hippy communes scattered across the continent. It seemed as though the majority were gone by the mid-seventies as the young and idealistic residents joined the Rat Race.

One of the Twin Oaks residents is a Canadian who grew up in the United Church. Valerie Resnick moved there in her early twenties and has stayed for more than two decades now. She is a spokesperson for the community. Her take on their life together is that "in many ways we are a seamless extension of the United Church's call for living in a more economically and socially just relationship to the rest of the world around us, and being responsible stewards of Creation."

I like all of that, although my cynical thought is that it does sound remarkably United Church in that there is no mention of Jesus. And the Twin Oaks community is quite a mixture of various Christian backgrounds, other religions, pagan and what we once called New Age.

The article is thought-provoking and worthwhile. Do we need to find alternatives to our "my stuff, is my stuff, and I want more" mindsets? Is communal living more consistent with the gospel than what most of us Christians choose to do?

No comments: