Esther Emery spent far too little time in Boston, but we did go to Nicaragua together and did exchange manuscripts I got to do some babysitting. She is a wonderful writer because she has made incredible life choices, to give up the quest for money and security, and pursue an authentic life, homesteading in her home state of Idaho. We keep up this conversation in handwritten letters, but now make it a more public conversation. Thank you, Esther, for this initiative.
Last week, Newell Hendricks issued us a challenge.
“We must learn to have the spirit of the poor.”
We already knew this, didn’t we? Didn’t we? We knew perfectly well that our lifestyles make us complicit to injustice.
Then again, maybe we didn’t know. Maybe we forgot. Maybe we believed the comforting message about “developing” the “undeveloped” world. Maybe we believed that we’re doing good by introducing jobs to other places. Maybe we swallowed that strange but comforting notion that spreading our manic and environmentally destructive lifestyle to the far reaches of the globe is a kind of a mercy mission.
Most likely, we thought it didn’t matter what we knew, because for the love of God, what are we supposed to do about it?
What are we supposed to do about the issues with our food supply, when we need to eat?
What are we supposed to do about the issues with where our clothes come from, when we need to wear clothes?
What are we supposed to do about the source of all our manufactured goods, when we need to live, and we need these things to live?
This is what Newell wrote last week.
“We must learn to grow our own food, make our own clothes, and take care of our own children and elders.”
It rings true, doesn’t it?
But in truth it is tremendously difficult to do. In truth it is tremendously difficult to make ANY actual lifestyle change in opposition to cultural standards.
It is so difficult that we often shrug it off as impossible.
And yet…my recent life is a testament to the fact that it is not impossible. And Newell’s life is, too.
Newell and I share an understanding that even a little bit of real change in your life can also change you.
We share an understanding that when you change your habits, in a tangible way, to reflect your compassion and love of justice, you are blessed with a freedom of soul that simply can’t be found in any other way.
I want to share this message. I think it is a life-giving message. And yet, especially by myself, speaking in a lone voice against the hubbub of media and conflict and distractions, I find it exhausting to do so. I find it difficult to articulate the principles of lifestyle integrity and radical homemaking.
The general assumption is that more is better and rich is the goal. “A little less” just seems like a very weak choice. How can it be possible that this could lead to joy and spiritual healing?
I get quiet. I write about other things.
Friends, one voice can be frightened into silence. But two voices together is a powerful thing.
Three voices together is even more powerful.
How about a hundred voices?
Do you see where this is going?
I believe in this work. I wouldn’t be growing a homestead off the grid if I didn’t believe in this work. But still. It is a hundred times easier for me to talk about it when I know Newell is talking about it, too.
Newell and I are grabbing hands. And today we are reaching out to grab yours, too.
We are inviting any and all of you to join us – to raise your voices and explore the reaches of this truth, that injustice calls us to integrity living and integrity living calls us to spiritual healing. We invite you to join us in this upward/downward press, which is an aspect of God’s slow march to redemption.
Introducing a New Link-up and Hashtag: Spirit of the Poor
Once a month, on a Wednesday in the middle of the month, Newell and/or I will host a link-up and conversation called “Spirit of the Poor” on the relationship between lifestyle change, justice and personal redemption.
There are a bunch of ways you can participate.
- Link up your own posts. Our vision is that this is a place to share posts that we have written over the course of the month, as well as a reason to write new ones. Newell and I will read and comment.
- We also will be inviting guest writers to write anchor posts. Have you done some thinking on economic justice? Do you have a story to tell? Let’s talk about featuring it!
- If you don’t have a blog and still want to participate, you still can! Email your stories and thoughts to me at esthermstar(at)gmail and I will post them for you.
- Graphic designers, we would really love to have a button for this! Help, help, help!
- And finally…tweet-tweet-tweet about these issues, all you like, using the hashtag #spiritofthepoor.
Thanks for joining us! I can’t wait to see how this collaboration bears fruit in all our lives.