Putting Down Roots

November 12, 2010, 6:47 pm
Filed under: Uncategorized

(a little disclaimer: I’ve been feeling that little tug at my heart lately that says “there’s something you ought to be doing,” and what keeps coming up is that I need to be writing. I’ve been thinking about the Promised Land lately: this place that we’re always moving towards. Jesus tells us that the kingdom of heaven is within us and all around us, and as I look at how people are living their lives, I’m seeing exciting glimpses all over the place, whether its in an urban farm in Ypsilanti, Michigan, a group of folks doing anti-racism work in Tallahassee, a Christian college in New York trying to be more about faith than religion, or neighbors riding their bikes and organizing potlucks and stopping to talk right in our front yard.

For a while, I’ve been wanting to work on telling the stories of what it looks like to live in community, to take care of each other and the earth, and to yearn towards a better world, and I think I’m starting to do that. We’ll call the piece below the first part of what is hopefully a long and growing work.

Thanks for your interest in who I am and what I write!)


The Possible World: Notes Towards the Promised Land (Part 1)


I have a room of my own now, which hasn’t happened in years, between living in dorms at college and cabins or cramped staff housing at summer camp. I have a twin bed, two dresser drawers, and part of a closet. I have a few surfaces for piles of things (I haven’t managed to really get myself organized). I keep my library books tucked between my bedframe and my mattress.

Last week I was in a discussion where we were talking–among other things–about living simply. Most of the people in the group had their own homes, living alone or with a spouse. As a recent college graduate living in a spare bedroom in a house with people who aren’t my family, you would think I would top the list of simplicity. But still, I came back and looked around, and it floors me how much I have.

When I go to work planting gardens, I have three pairs of overalls to choose from, and when I come home I have a big handful of skirts and dresses that I can change into. I have seven pairs of footwear–two pairs of boots, two pairs of sandals, three pairs of various other nice shoes. I have a camera and a cellphone and a computer. I have a small box of jewelry, a large bag of yarn for knitting, and various sewing and art supplies. I have a bike with a basket.

When it gets cold at night I have a quilt and a blanket and a comforter. I have a window to close to keep the cold out, and a woodstove to stoke when the temperature really drops. I have a porch to sit on and a garden to tend and neighbors to greet. I have chickens and bees to look after, and I get to eat of their eggs and honey.

I am hardly making money with the work I’m doing, but I live with a family that lets me eat freely from their cabinets and fridge without having to pay for groceries.

If I sat and made a list of all I didn’t have, it would be long, and a simple walk through a place like Walgreens leaves me thinking of everything I could use. At the end of the day, though, I have far more than I need.

When Jesus sent his disciples out, he told them to take nothing for the journey, and he reminds us again and again not to worry about clothes and food and houses. If we stop worrying about all that stuff, and start seeking a world where everyone is taken care of (that’s the kingdom of God, for the Bible-readers out there), we’ll all get what we need. And in the meantime, if we look around, we’ll see that we have more than we thought.


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