It's Not About Giving Up Something...It's About Getting More Out of Life
01.04.2013 - 22.04.2013
So for the last three weeks, we’ve spend our time at two different Christian intentional living communities here in Georgia, Koinonia Farm and Jubilee Partners. The founders of Jubilee actually came from Koinonia, so the structures of the two communities are very similar. Both are doing really great things for the greater communities around them in terms of service and both are slowly growing in ways of sustainability; however, neither one of us felt called by God to live there. We’ve learned that we are definitely looking for a community committed to living as sustainable as possible; we are looking to grow most of our own food (and its got to be organic!), build our own dwellings (out of local and earth-based or reused materials, and reduce the amount of stuff we buy and use on a daily basis. We have noticed that both Koinonia and Jubilee faced a divide among members about food. Its one of those topics that is very personal and ignites passion in most people; parenting is another one, haha. Some people don’t care what is in or on their food and just want to spend the least amount of money or effort to get food to the table, while others are extremely passionate about growing and eating organically and sustainably and others fall somewhere in between. We’ve learned that we’re on that far end; we know that we will have to end up in a community committed to organic and sustainable production and consumption of food. We believe that what you ingest, what you feed your body, mind and soul, is just too important. I guess food will be a “deal breaker” for us as we search for community.
Here's some pictures from Koinonia:
And some from Jubilee, with the cute refugee children:
Anyway, with that said, Jessica had been having trouble figuring out what to write about for the blog for weeks now. Being in a spiritual community setting, she thought it should have been easy, but it wasn’t until now (sitting in a motel room in Atlanta, GA) that we’ve felt God guiding us again. Maybe that’s because when we struggle, we learn and grow, and this journey is about learning and growing for our family.
We enjoyed our time at Koinonia and Jubilee. It was so nice to be outdoors, to farm, to commune with others, and to enjoy ourselves. We were starting to see what living in community is all about and we were also learning what little things about community life we like and some things we don’t like. We were excited to start camping using our new pop-up camper; we had heard back from three other communities, so our itinerary was full, and it was going to be easy sailing for the next couple months of traveling…….right?
No. That’s not at all what God had in store for us! Instead, we ended up only making it two hours from Jubilee when our van started overheating very fast and we had to pull over. On top of that, Elijah had gotten a fever the night before (102) and was still running one all day. So with an overheated baby and an overheating van, we finally made it to the next exit off the interstate (after stopping every half mile for 20 minutes at a time). Luckily, God didn’t make it to difficult for us. The nearest exit had 5 different options for motels, an auto repair shop, a Walmart and a Target, all within walking distance, and many options for food (even organic!). Well, as we got settled into our motel, Elijah’s fever began to spike at 105. So with faith that God knew what he was doing, we took Elijah to the hospital. After some children’s Motrin and a look-over, the doctor concluded that it is probably a virus and the only thing to do was treat the fever and wait it out. His fever broke before leaving and we hailed a cab back to our motel for an exhausted night’s rest. The next day was better as his fever stabilized, and eventually went away all together. He’s really a great baby and was only a little extra whiny throughout the whole thing.
We’re still not sure why God decided that we needed to stay awhile in Atlanta. Maybe it was to remind us how much we can’t stand the city, haha? Just in case we needed extra motivation to find a community. Or maybe it was to experience an all-Black church; it was like being at a concert for God! Whatever the reason, at this point, we are sooooo ready to live simply and sustainably (traveling is not the life for us), we might just stop at the next community we like, hehe (Jessica is having daydreams of raising chickens and planting seeds). Maybe we’ll never know quite what God had in mind for us, but a couple good lessons were learned while we’ve been here. So since we can’t really decide on one topic for this blog entry, here’s a little bit about a few different topics. Feel free to give us any feedback too!! We’d love to hear others insights on what we’re doing or experiences you’re having!
Topic 1: Community Life
Can Americans really live together in community? Are we too territorial? Too independent? Has our sense of community been bred out or our culture? Watching a living, breathing, functioning community is very interesting. You get all these individuals with different personalities and ideas of how things should be done, but somehow they are making it work, ever so slowly. It seems that there needs to be a common goal, a way of life that is shared by the group to make it work, whether that is stewardship to the Earth or service to God, there’s got to be a common thread to bring people back together when there is disagreement. It also requires a reprogramming of the mind, body and spirit to a state that is truly communal and sees that we are all one. It’s really hard to fathom, this concept of oneness. We know its true with our heads, but can only see fleeting glimpses of it within our hearts. It’s this concept that we feel is lacking in most Americans, ourselves included. We’ve been trained to be independent and think with our minds, not our hearts. And because of this, it is really hard to see the oneness, the connectedness, between us all. You can get a glimpse of it after a tragedy, but what would happen if we channeled that energy each day to celebrate wellness and cheer on our fellow person?
Topic 2: Faith
What does it mean to have faith? We mean real faith in God’s plan for you? We were at a local church a week ago and in a small group discussion after the service. We were talking about “change” and how that makes us feel. What if God called you to make a change in your life that you were uncomfortable with? Would you do it? Or would you resist the feeling? It was interesting hearing other people speak about it because they mentioned things like “mergers happening at work” stressing them out, or about changing the field of work they were in and how that impacted their daily life. To us, these changes seemed superficial, but we realize to most people “jobs” are extremely real and dictate everything in their lives. Once in Peru, someone said you can pick out the Americans because they always ask the question “What do you do?” in conversations. We, Americans, seem to define our life, our life’s importance, by the work we do. So we got to wondering, do we really have faith in God or do we have faith in our jobs? Do we really let God decide what we do each day or do we let our boss or our schedule decide that? Unfortunately, it seems to be the latter. So what would you do if you felt called to do something that meant giving up your job? Do you have faith that God would provide for you?
Topic 3: The Meditation Effect
So back to a topic regarding oneness. Some people (more and more every day) believe that there is this universal consciousness that connects us all. There’s actually a lot of scientific research out there that supports this. Look up the "100th Monkey" or check out David Wilcock’s site for more info: divinecosmos.com. So the theory behind the meditation effect is that if enough people focus their attention on one thing (whether it be happiness, peace or fear), it will enter the minds of even more people, with the potential of reaching the entire human race. Have you ever felt the difference between a bustling city and the quiet of nature? Why is one calmer than the other? Why do certain places emanate a different vibe than others, some positive, some negative? We think that in many cities, a lot of people are stressed, rushed, and generally have negative feelings; you can see it in their driving (especially in Tampa, FL, man, that was an angry city). It seems to get into your mind, these same feelings, even when your day didn’t start bad or negative. How is this so? Maybe it’s the universal consciousness. This is one reason we feel called to live a more simple and sustainable life; we think that if we do it, naturally others will follow too via this universal consciousness that we all tap into, even unconsciously, every day. If we start having wonderful feelings of loving the Earth, being thankful to God, and being mindful of what we consume, maybe others will too. We can only hope!
Finally, Topic 4: No Impact Man
So this past weekend, we watched the documentary film, "No Impact Man," a tale of one man (and his wife and daughter) who decided to live one year with no environmental impact on the Earth. Please, please check this out FOR FREE on Hulu.com (Top left, click Browse, then Documentaries, then scroll right and look for it!). What intrigued us the most was why some people in the film had such a negative reaction to someone doing something seemingly so positive? We’ve had similar reactions, we believe, to what we’re doing (and exposing) on this journey. So we began pondering why people don’t want to hear about all the awful things that are happening in our country. We think it makes people feel guilty about the way they’re living; they simply don’t want to hear about it because then if you know it, you might have to do something about it.
So with that, why don’t people want to do something about it? Americans are very passionate people, about certain topics, so why aren’t they up in arms about statements such as this: Did you know that an average Georgia peach can be found with 62 different chemicals on/in it? 25 are known honeybee toxins, 11 are developmental/reproductive toxins, 12 are neurotoxins, 10 are known carcingens, and an astounding 29 are hormone disruptors (and we wonder why girls are reaching puberty earlier and earlier?). More info can be found at whatsonmyfood.org. (Data comes from the USDA and the EPA) To us, this is ridiculous, that we would allow companies to knowingly poison us and our children!! But you all already know that about us So back to everyone else in America, why aren’t we upset?!? Why don’t we demand change? We think it’s because then Americans would have to change others part of their live, and most feel that means giving up things they like.
So back to the film. The wife in the film was a perfect example of your average American. She loved her TV shows, her quad espresso-whatever drink from Starbucks, and her daily eating-out at restaurants. She felt that if she gave up those things that made her happy, she’d be miserable. And at first, she was. She resisted her husband’s efforts to live more simply, secretly sneaking a coffee every now and then. But then something started to change, within her. She began to see that after giving up those material things she thought she loved, she first felt an emptiness, a hole--a longing--that slowly began to be filled with things like love, connection, and true appreciation. The end result was that after stripping away all this “stuff” we have in America what you find is that we’re really just filling a hole in our souls that really longs to be filled with deeper things, like God and Spirit, a connection to the Earth and the food we eat, a connection to others around us that doesn’t involve Facebook, and a sincere desire to love ourselves and others around us by forming real relationships in community. So basically what we’re trying to say is before you feel guilty, before you get judgmental or defensive, look within, to what you really want in life and what can really fill that hole in each one of us. We think you can make that change; we believe that all of humanity is capable of living harmoniously with each other and with the planet, and it doesn’t involve giving up anything, it really means getting the most out of our lives here on Earth.
So now for an update on our travels! We plan to leave Atlanta tomorrow for Summertown, TN where The “infamous” Farm is located. It’s an intentional community which started back in the 70s by a bunch of hippies from California. They are probably most known for their birthing center with Ina May Gaskin, a midwife who has birthed over a thousand babies and written countless books on birthing. Check out thefarmcommunity.com for more information about them! Till next time!!