Sunday, July 05, 2009

My Weekend and Related Thoughts

I spent this 4th of July weekend alone with lots of time for introspection, retrospection, and future-spection. Todd and Rebecka left for Washington D.C. early on Saturday morning and I returned to a quiet apartment (aside from an occasion outburst from Sophie when another dog passed by in the hallway).

One of my goals for the weekend was to bake some bread. Good, Swedish bread. I have tried it a couple of times since we moved here and it's never worked out quite right. This time I decided to read the instructions on the yeast packet carefully and follow the directions. Things were going pretty well until I tried to turn on my fancy, red Kitchen Aid mixer. It wouldn't turn on. I tried a different plug. I tried detaching and re-attaching the bowl. I tried detaching and re-attaching the dough hook. No luck. Well, I thought, people have been making bread for thousands of years without Kitchen Aid mixers (red or otherwise), so I'll just do it by hand. It was hard work, but the awesome thing is that the bread turned out just right! We think we're so dependent on our electronic gadgets that do everything from giving us driving directions to letting us know if our guitars are properly tuned. It was a great Saturday morning reminder.

After a delicious lunch consisting of fresh bread with sliced hard boiled eggs and dill, I decided to head over to a nearby mall (more specifically to Barnes & Noble). Since the morning, I had experienced a really strong desire to read the Bible (it had been a while...). I searched around for one at the apartment, but all I could find was an old KJV and the old Swedish version. I wasn't about to suffer through that... It was a nice day, so I decided to bike the three miles to the bookstore. People looked at me kind of funny as I biked through the mall parking lot. Not a common sight, I suppose. I didn't really care. I found the Bible shelf and couldn't find what I was looking for. I was tempted by "The Green Bible," but thought it was a bit expensive. Instead, I started browsing the "Inspirational" section. I wasn't hopeful that I would find anything worth reading, but as I was glancing through the rows of "devotionals," I spotted a book that stood out among the glossy, colorful majority. The front looked like it was make of cardboard. "Promising," I thought as I reached for it. The title said "The Irresistible Revolution: Living as an Ordinary Radical" by Shane Claiborne. That name rung a bell in my brain. I was associating the name with my brother, David. As I read the back cover, it clicked. This is the founder of an intentional community in Philadelphia called The Simple Way. Bingo! This was just what I needed. I bought a Chai Latte (soy milk, no water) and poured over the book for about 30 minutes. It drew me in like a magnet.

I had to interrupt my reading and ride home to get ready for an outing with a friend. We were bound for downtown Milwaukee for dinner and later a concert with The Fray at Summerfest. It was a good time, but when I got home (way past my bedtime) I couldn't help myself but to continue reading my new book. The intentional community concept is extremely intriguing to me. Sharing common spaces and possessions just makes sense. Why does everybody need their own lawnmower, car, washing machine, etc, etc? The answer is, we don't. The thought about belonging to a community like this where love of God and neighbor is the central "mission statement" is even more intriguing.

I woke up early with the chirping birds. It was another beautiful day, so I decided to forgo the treadmill and go for a walk around the neighborhood instead. As I walked past the big houses with their tennis courts and swimming pools, all I could see were prisons and barbed wire. I couldn't shake this vision. I started thinking about that image. We have created these neighborhoods with the over-sized houses and yards and they are really two-way prisons. They do not let people in (or at least not the people from the "bad part of town") and they imprison the people who live there. With a huge mortgage and maintenance costs, these families have to continue to work long hours at jobs they may or may not enjoy to keep up the lifestyle. We are prisoners in our grand homes.

It was a sobering thought. I thought about how many families could fit in each of those houses. Families who could share meals and enjoy that type of community. Sharing responsibilities such as cleaning, cooking, and washing the dishes. Raising each others kids. I've heard it takes a village.

Later on, I packed a lunch and biked over to the park we went to last Sunday. I found a quiet spot on the lake and enjoyed my simple meal and continued to read my book. It was pretty serene until a pesky mosquito (or two) bit me on both my feet. Ouch! However, it didn't deter me from staying a bit longer. Once a bee started buzzing around my head, I decided it was time to go.

I spent the afternoon playing guitar, reading, napping, playing the piano, taking Sophie for a nice, long walk (hopefully she'll sleep well tonight). Once I'm done with this post, I'll continue reading about The Simple Way. I'll leave you with a section from the book that ties in quite well with my morning vision:
"One of the things I think Jesus is doing is setting us free from the heavy yoke of an oppressive way of life. I know plenty of people, both rich and poor, who are suffocating from the weight of the American dream, who find themselves heavily burdened by the lifeless toil and consumption we put upon ourselves."

Note: Image by Miguel Saavedra at stock.xchng


katie said...

This resonates with far I've been a fairly good American (with my house and car and semi-annual shopping trips...) The one thing I haven't done is contribute to (or commit to) the community. Right now, it's really easy for me to live in my bubble, but I know it's not sustainable...

David Åhlén said...

Praise the Lord! Another world is possible!
love David