For the last 10 years, I've been keeping quotes I love in a journal. I have quotes from great thinkers like Henri Nouwen, Brennan Manning, Philip Yancey, John Claypool, and Kathleen Norris. Authors whose thoughts about God and grace have kept me going in hard times. Only three novelists have made the cut so far, and by far the best is Wendell Berry.
Wendell Berry is an economist, a poet, a novelist, a lover of God's green earth, and a Kentuckian. He rocks. Even his name is awesome.
Ever since we started The Summer of 7, I've been thinking about his novel, Jayber Crow. Jayber lives along the river in Kentucky, around the time of the Second World War. He's a barber. He's in love. He watches his little town fall apart in the post-war boom. And as Jayber ruminates on his changed world, he says this:
"After the Depression and the war and the years of work that they were now beginning to think of as slow and too hard, the country people were trying to get away from demanding circumstances... We couldn't quite see it at the time, or didn't want to know, that it was the demanding circumstances that had kept us together."
Too slow and too hard. That stomps right over my toes. I like things fast and fun and easy. No blood, no sweat, no tears.
Now. Hear me clearly. I don't think all conveniences are bad. I myself am the happy owner of many labor-saving devices. Speaking as someone who has actually had to pound her clothes on a rock to get them clean, NOBODY is a bigger appreciator of the washing machine than yours truly.
But it's like Bill Cosby used to say in that sketch about tonsils: "yours have turned against you."
When the constant pursuit of more-more-more and work-work-work leaves us with crazy stress and no time for one another? That's when it's turned against us.
Living like our family does, on-budget, debt-free, blahblahblah, I would never have said that we have too much.
But during food week, what happened? Way more than we need.
During possessions week, what happened? Way more than we need.
And here's what happened during spending week: all those times when I would have "just stopped in here" or "just checked in there"--I couldn't. So I went home instead.
A tiny little bit of a demanding circumstance (don't spend any money this week) gave us more time together.
My two older kids have already flown the nest. I have a rising senior and sophomore in my house on summer vacation. These hours and moments are precious. Priceless.
Do I really want to spend them at Target? Really? Really? (Well, most weeks, I guess the answer is yes.)
So, thank you, tiny little demanding circumstance.
And Wendell Berry. The man's a genius.
Next week is Media Fast. So, starting Wednesday, I won't be blogging, checking Facebook or *gulp* pinning anything. From those who have gone before, I hear it's terrible. And wonderful. I don't anticipate missing media all that much. I don't own a smart phone. Also, my husband and I are going to be on a driving/hiking trip in Canada, to celebrate our 25th anniversary...but I will let you know when it's over!