27 May 2008

Living more with Less--Do Justice

(Mrs. Pivec inspired me to find a photograph for my post too!)

He hath shewed thee, O man, what is good;
and what doth the Lord require of thee,
but to do justly,
and to love mercy,
and to walk humbly with thy God?
Micah 6.8

Longacre uses this verse as a guidepost in thinking about the principle of doing justice. and don't you just love verses like this? so simple and straight forward. God has shown us what is good. it is written on our hearts. and what is required? justice, mercy, humility. oh, is that all? these great big sweeping verses call out to me in a way that correct theology or a year's worth of sermons just can't. they call me to action, to step into their possibility, to find my footing in the vast current. and maybe that breathless feeling is a sign. a way forward. a way to act with courage in the face of the staggering injustice of our economic system.

i must admit that this was a hard chapter for me. i can get behind the idea that our foods and folkways matter in this world, that all our small choices do count. but influencing trade policy through voting or letter writing makes me sceptical. i am much more comfortable opting out of the system (in admittedly small ways) than trying to fix it. AP and i were talking this morning about using our woodstove for heat. Thoreau said that he liked wood heat because it warmed you twice--once when you were cutting it and once when you burned it! and the ways that it has forged bonds with our neighbors...John and Elizabeth and Rita and Curt and Dave and Marla and Kevin and the Open Meadow folks and Jessica (i keep thinking of more names to add to the list!). each of these people has helped keep our little house warm. even though i'm happy not to be using our oil heat, those connections are so much more real and important to me than any more abstract ideal about not using oil.

i'll be curious to see what ideas are offered throughout the book for ways of doing justice. stay tuned.

23 May 2008

a few of her favorite things

we were all out walking of an evening. Mabel was in the stroller with her hands full of treasures...flowers and rocks and a stick. then she spied a motorcycle! she showed it to us. Andy said, "it's like she has a list or something. she always sees the things she's interested in." and that made me laugh because i like lists and i like the image of my 19 month old already keeping a list. if she did have a list i bet it would look like this:
  • bikes
  • rocks
  • birds
  • helpers (emergency vehicles)
  • fish
  • dogs
  • trucks
  • balloons
  • babies
  • squirrels
  • people wearing hats
and one more unrelated Mabel story...she always has a hard time having her fingernails cut. so we started using the LLL trick to set a time limit--we'll only cut your nails while we're singing the ABC's. when we're done singing, we're done cutting. that way there's an end in sight and something fun to occupy us during the hard part.

it works brilliantly.

recently, she's started to prefer AP's cutting to mine. which is great because it offers her one more way to control the situation. if i say we need to cut her nails, she'll counter with "PAPA!" then we can happily wait till AP gets home. well, it was finally time to start cutting. AP turned on the bright light, i got the clippers, and Mabel got her baby. she took the clippers and carefully pretended to cut her baby's nails. all the while singing the ABC's! can you imagine?

19 May 2008

living more with less

a few of us scattered around the country are reading Doris Janzen Longacre's book called Living More with Less. i thought maybe the easiest way to join the conversation would be to post my thoughts here. i'll link to Mrs. Pivec's posts as well. so let's get started!

the subtitle of the book is "a pattern for living with less." already, i feel like this is so rich with meaning and instruction. i love the word pattern. when i lived in the jungle, i thought Pattern would be a great name for a zine and blog. (but it was already taken, so the zine became fieldwork instead...another good name!) i once heard Barry Lopez describe his stories as patterns, ways of living profitably in this world. that's not a very popular way of thinking about stories, but it rings true to me. and there's a line from a Wendell Berry poem that mentions "a pattern made in the light for the light to return to." he's writing about the ways that we structure our lives--in marriage, in our faith, in families--so that when the way gets dark, we won't get lost. i love the idea of picking up this thread of simplicity and weaving it into my life today.

the book begins with an author's preface, really selections from Doris' journal. she suffered for almost 4 years with cancer. it was during that time that she was working on this book. there is an urgency and breathlessness to her writing. time is fleeting. lay up your treasures in heaven. this book is a testimony to a life well lived.

in the introduction she talks about living by standards. another way of talking about patterns. one of the standards offered is "nurture people." that put me in mind of something we read when M was small. the author was talking about avoiding the use of pacifiers, and said that we want our children to find comfort in people not things. that sort of became a standard in the way we took care of Mabel. it led to more breastfeeding, more holding, more walking with her in the sling, more bouncing on the ball. all really good things. all very small choices that could have gone another way. but because we had the little jingle "people not things" rattling in our heads, we could choose in the direction of more connection. i'm interested to hear more about the other standards, the other patterns.

14 May 2008

the morning's books

some of what we were reading this morning. she also got down both the hymnal and Rise Up Singing and asked, "What's that?" even though i was fairly sure she knew what both books were. i answered her, but she kept turning pages and asking. then i realized that she wanted to sing. so she picked out songs, and i sung them. and she joined along as she was able.

11 May 2008

happiest of mother's days!

that's all. just a small wish that there's a small part of your day that makes you smile. a quiet cup of tea or a walk down to the water or a few minutes extra sleep. just something to remind you that this mama work that you're doing is important and hard and full of glory.

07 May 2008

reading circle

do you know this book? i have been reading and using the More With Less cookbook for years. the oatmeal cake is one of my standards for celebrating. it's not too sweet, and it's moist without loads of butter. well, come to find out the author, Doris Janzen Longacre, also wrote and edited this book about the ways in which people are actually living out the ideas hinted at in the cookbook. ideas about living within our means, living with the rest of the world in mind, living as if our personal choices mattered in this world.

i just got the book on interlibrary loan. which means i had to be finished with it in three short weeks. and really it's the sort of book that going to be doing it's work on you for a while. then Mrs. Pivec at Golightly Place wrote a lovely review of the book and invited her readers along for a study group. sounds like a great idea to me. would you like to join along? we're starting on Mother's Day, but i'm sure you could catch up. let me know, ok?