Convenience & Community

January 21, 2013 — Leave a comment

This is a guest post by my friend, Breanne Marie. I’ve had the privilege of knowing Bre for several years.  She is a gifted writer and has a wonderful ability to see the beauty and life in music, fashion, art, and food. I’d encourage you to check out her personal blog & follow @breannemarie on Twitter.

Our society craves convenience. We build, invent, sell, and consume in the end to provide ourselves with comfort. I don’t know anyone, including myself, that isn’t yearning to live a life of leisure.

I’ll never forget the first time I unwrapped the packaging that unfolded my first, shiny, new iPhone. “This will make my life SO much easier!” I exclaimed as I clutched the device close to my chest. “This is going to save my life!”

Talking on Phone

No…if I’m honest I’ll tell you that I actively pursue things that I’ve been told would make life easier. Every day that goes by I am realizing how much this ideology has cost me.

My favorite author Wendell Berry has much to say about this. If you don’t know who Wendell Berry is, please familiarize yourself with his work. He often beckons his readers to live simply, invest in their local community, and work with their hands. He says:

“Even in the much-publicized rebellion of the young against the materialism of the affluent society, the consumer mentality is too often still intact: the standards of behavior are still those of kind and quantity, the security sought is still the security of numbers, and the chief motive is still the consumer’s anxiety that he is missing out on what is “in.” In this state of total consumerism – which is to say a state of helpless dependence on things and services and ideas and motives that we have forgotten how to provide ourselves – all meaningful contact between ourselves and the earth is broken. We do not understand the earth in terms either of what it offers us or of what it requires of us, and I think it is the rule that people inevitably destroy what they do not understand.”

I’ve been exploring the different ways to experience what Wendell describes “meaningful contact between ourselves and the earth”, and have found some great answers with his ideas on Community.

“A community is the mental and spiritual condition of knowing that the place is shared,” Wendell states “and that the people who share the place define and limit the possibilities of each other’s lives. It is the knowledge that people have of each other, their concern for each other, their trust in each other, the freedom with which they come and go among themselves.”

Every week on a Wednesday night my home becomes a haven for 15 other individuals that have fast become an integral part of my life. We cook, we laugh, we confess, we cry. We share our lives with each other. We invest into each other and find ways serve each other and the community at large that surrounds us. Together we have committed to explore this idea of Community and have found how meaningful this time has become for each of us.

Yes, Community can be inconvenient at times.  I would be lying if I didn’t tell you that some weeks I wish I could lock the door and be alone. It would be too easy if I turned complacent and canceled our time together in favor of a restful night or two in front of the T.V…but I’ve realized that true Community isn’t convenient. It takes work, sacrifice, and commitment.

Like Community, there are things out there that reel us in and remind us that we are human beings rather than machines. Things that bring us life, healing, and true satisfaction…things that Wendell refers to as “meaningful contact between ourselves and the earth.”  It has challenged me to refocus myself and continue pursuing things not conveniently found online or on T.V.

Africans on phonesYou have to wonder where we’re headed if we completely lose sight of tangible, genuine moments with others that you can’t experience through a screen. Let’s all take a lesson from my friend Andrew Arndt whom actually downgraded from his iPhone to a simple prepaid phone {with no internet} in an effort to remain present and more focused on the things that really mattered to him.

Gutsy.

As Winston Churchill once remarked, “This is no time for ease and comfort. It is time to dare and endure.”

Unlike Andrew, my efforts to disconnect have been more like “baby steps” in an endeavor to rid myself of the pursuit of convenience.

My plans include “fasting” for a season from Facebook, Pinterest, Twitter, and Instagram. I’m going to buy more books and read them, I’m going to send an old friend a handwritten letter.  I am going to go hiking, I am going to plant a garden. I will spend more time living life with friends, family, and new faces.

Would you join me?

I truly believe the future of our generation and the next hangs in the balance if we do not learn how to live inconveniently, and value community and the earth as we should.

Believe me, you wouldn’t want to end up like this guy, would you?

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