2014: goals

About 6 weeks ago I wrote post asking the question, “What does 2014 mean for me” especially considering it may be my last year.  Since then I have reviewed a 5 year plan I made 5 years ago, and looked at the essay I wrote 3 years ago which gave my analysis of our world situation and my complicity in that situation.   From the review of the 5 year plan, there are two points that seem most urgent:

–        Build Community

– Live simply

From the analysis portion: 

–        Promoting individual achievement is not a worthy goal.

–        My health care this past year has far exceeded a justifiable treatment. 

My Current Health Situation

I go to my Oncologist every month.  The woman who does the blood work is from Honduras.  We speak some in Spanish and some in English.  At the last visit she asked me when I would be done.  “Done?”  I said.  That is the question, but I will keep coming back until I am “done.”  We had a good laugh.  But I assume I will continue on this Chemo Therapy until it doesn’t work, then switch to another, etc.  The idea seems to balance the bad effects of Chemo with the disease until I am “done.”  But until that time I still have some mental capacity and enough energy to spend mornings at a local café writing in my notebook.   I usually need an afternoon nap, but have enough energy and physical capacity to do 15 minutes of work twice a day or so.  I have more time than I have comfort sitting at the computer, or doing anything other than lying down.  So those are my limitations.

When I joined my church there was another woman who joined at the same time, Carla Johnston.  She went on to do big things in her life, including running for Congress against Joe Kennedy.  When she died, her son, a member of the church, sent an email with an attachment which was a letter from his mother titled “Why I have refused treatment for my cancer.”  I never opened the attachment.  I knew the arguments and I agreed with them.  I cannot really justify all of the hospital expenses I have incurred this past year.  But I have come to realize that my life is not mine to dispose of.  It belongs to my family as much as, if not more than, me.  So I have to balance the family value with the social value of what kind of medical care can be universally available to all people on the earth and not consume all of our resources trying to prolong the inevitable ending of life.  The treatment I am on now seems like a moderate treatment and I will try to avoid extreme measures beyond what I am now receiving.

So with the time and ability I have, how can I best promote community and live simply?


Invest in Community


I believe that investing in family is the start of promoting community.  I need to use what physical and mental ability I have toward this end.


 I have to make sure that Barbara, my wife, is not overly burdened by me.  That means at the present, cooking and cleaning, and in the long term, putting my life in order so that when I die she is not left with piles of music and stacks of papers to sort through.

Daughters and their families

At present Barbara and/or I take care of Vita, Anna’s daughter, one day each week, and Barbara takes care of Bridget, Clara’s daughter, one day a week with a little relief from me.  I need to keep these commitments as a priority.  In addition, I should use my writing skills to create stories for my grandchildren.  At the present I am writing stories for Vita but should consider stories for Bridget as well.

Extended family

It is my hope that Barbara and I will be able to take another road trip across the country to visit family next June/July.   By that time I will have my book, Normal: Stories from my life in print, and I can leave a copy with each family member I visit.




I will commit to sing in the choir as long as I have voice.  Singing in a choir is the epitome of building community.


I will remain on the Deacons, contributing to discussions and taking on what roles I can fulfill

Nica Companions

I will continue to attend Nica Companions meetings and contribute where I can 

Friends not in Boston

Personal friends

I intend to continue correspondence with friends I have made with whom I now correspond.  These connections are mini communities that I value greatly.  It is my hope to visit them as well on the road trip.

Internet connections  

I hope to use my internet time to develop relationships more than to create a presence of “ideas”.  As for this blog, I will continue my First thoughts on the Lectionary, and with Esther Emery continue the conversation about simplicity or “The Spirit of the Poor” on the last Wednesday of each month.  I am in process of thinking about another thread that will replace this (2014) series.

Dulce Nombre de Jesus

The community of Dulce Nombre de Jesus in Nicaragua has a special place in my heart.  They continue to embrace me and pray for me and let me know they are thinking of me.  I owe them one more visit, perhaps with family members.  I have a vision of bringing my whole family, but that is a vision


Live Simply 


It is my hope to continue doing many of the same things I have done the past years, including growing food, conserving electricity and water, and heating with wood.  I have already started some seedlings and will start using my greenhouse for seedlings next month.  If I conserve my strength I will be able to locate local wood supplies when the snow melts and bring them home and use the chain saw. 


It is my hope to spend some time in Cummington in May to prepare some of the garden and orchard for planting of squash, potatoes and corn.  I also hope to find enough smaller down trees that I can cut up for firewood that won’t require splitting.



This is just an idea I am trying out here.  My friend Esther Emery, on her blog, has a series called Homestead Journal.  I am in a bit of a “reverse homestead” faze, but nevertheless I think it might be interesting, and useful for me, to journal how I have been able to maintain a simple lifestyle given increasingly limited physical ability.  At least it would keep me accountable to the principle.


So these are my goals for 2014:


About Newell Hendricks

I have lived a good life. Maybe a counterculture life, maybe a normal life. I have written operas, built houses, been involved with cross-cultural education between Latin America and the U.S, and hardly ever had a job I have helped raise two wonderful children with my amazing wife. It's been a good ride. And I go to church. I've just finished a book of stories from my life, I am still connected to an organization in Nicaragua that promotes sister relationships between communities, faith communities, or schoold, and to the extent that my cancer doesn't pull me down, am attempting to share some of what I have learned, or at least tried out. Welcome, and let's share.
This entry was posted in Uncategorized. Bookmark the permalink.

15 Responses to 2014: goals

  1. Janice R says:

    You are one in a million. I smile and I tear and I smile.


  2. Elena says:

    Hi Newell: As always, I deeply appreciate your writing. This entry caught my attention in terms of building community as I’ve been thinking the same exact thing. I don’t if you know this, but in January I started a new job at Neighbor to Neighbor. The organization does amazing political and electoral organizing. They have scored several important wins since its founding. And I’ve been thinking that something we can do to complement such organizing is precisely the building of community. Through the hard work of knocking on doors, visiting legislators, endorsing candidates, mobilizing the vote, etc., so many of our members continue to live in painful isolation and their life conditions, really, have not changed much. So I’ve been thinking of MLK’s beloved community and grappling with the question of how do we take care of each other? So much of care, if not all, has been commodified….It takes money now to do for each other what I imagined some time ago family, friends and neighbors did for each other…..Who knows? Maybe it’s jus a fancy of mine…..But I do think that one of the most powerful acts of resistance is, indeed, building community. God bless, Newell! Elena


  3. Newell, you are so incredibly inspiring. I am already feeling blessed to have connected with you in the past few weeks. I can sense your truly authentic passion for others (particularly your family at home and your “extended family” in Nicaragua.) I am looking forward to continuing to learn from you and your beautiful insights and wisdom! You don’t come across many people who truly live out what Jesus really preached when he said to drop everything and “follow me.” Thank you for showing how this way of life is really possible!


  4. pastordt says:

    Wow. That is an impressive list of goals, Newell. And I love the way you have so carefully thought through each one, including your decision to continue moderate treatment for your cancer. You are right – this decision impacts every member of your family, not just you. What is Cummington? A second property? A Community garden?


    • Cummington is a small town in Western MA where we own 10 acres with two other families from my church. I was the primary builder of the main house and recently I built a small cabin on the property. I used to have a large gareden there plus a small orchard, but was not able to tend them last year. To see the houses, go to:
      If I make the road trip, I’ll be passing through Santa Barbara.Somewhere around July 1.


      • pastordt says:

        You are a fascinating person, Wendell. Definitely counter-cultural and prophetic. Really enjoyed seeing your ‘found’ residences. Thanks for the link. If you get this way, let me know. You won’t approve of how I live, but you will be more than welcome here.


      • Diana, Now we are even. I once called you Diane, and you called me Wendell. Not important. I know where you live and have seen your pictures on your site, and I am not in the business of disapproving anyone, so no concerns on that account. I hope I can make the trip and if so, will contact you so we can get together.


      • pastordt says:

        HA~ we just had dinner with our college friend named Wendell. That must be it!!! So sorry, NEWELL. Would love to see you if it all works out.


  5. Juliet says:

    I’ve been reading your posts for a while since I first came across them from Esther Emery’s blog. I didn’t know then that you were so ill. It’s inspiring and humbling to see your faith and your commitment to your beliefs shining strong. To hear how you are working out how to live by your principles within the constraints of diminishing strength and the awareness of your own mortality. I’m so glad I found your blog, so glad I can learn from your words. Thank you.


    • Juliet, Thank you for your warm response. We all do what we can with what we have. I cannot claim any special wisdom, but what I have learned from others and from living I will continue trying to share. I hope you will read the posts this Thursday on our “Spirit of the Poor” series. Esther, Luke Harms, and I will be participating along with others.


  6. Pingback: Economics in the Bible | Newell Hendricks

  7. Pingback: Evaluation of 2014 goals posted in February | Newell Hendricks

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )


Connecting to %s