Grace & Peace to You!
I’m headed out of town this week, first to the Worship & Music Conference at Montreat, then to spend some time with family at the beach. I see from social media a friend is spending his sabbatical as a pilgrim on the Camino de Santiago. Still another friend spent last week tossing cabers and sword dancing at a clan reunion. These trips got me thinking about how we renew ourselves. Where do we find our energy reserves or the spark that will help us travel the coming miles on our journey.
That’s our word wall devotion for the week: “What renews you?” Responses so far include “Chiropractic Adjustment,” “Ocean breeze,” “Prayer,” “Live Music,” “The Beach,” “Massage.”
Recently I was struck by another form of renewal. A group of environmental activist friends asked themselves what it would be like to go through an entire year without purchasing anything new.
Eventually ten friends declared a sabbatical from consumerism. They titled their agreement The Compact, and it bound them by mutual agreement to abstain from shopping sprees. Other than food, essential toiletries, underwear and items for health and safety, the friends purchased virtually nothing for a year.
They learned much about themselves during the year. After going through a time of “retail withdrawal,” they were amazed at how the items they needed just “showed up” as they shared and interacted with others. Rachel, a twenty-six year old participant said, “I found a lot of times there were things I thought I needed that I didn’t need that much.” Rediscovering the library and paying down credit cards were two unexpected dividends. John, forty-two, said one of the by-products of The Compact is having a different relationship with things. “I appreciate the stuff I have more.” He went on to say that he developed a knack for fixing things rather than replacing them with new.
The folks involved in The Compact so enjoyed their freedom from “stuff,” that they unanimously chose to renew their pledge for a second year.
Critics have bemoaned consumerism for over a hundred years. Yet it remains pervasive in our culture. In fact it seems to spill over into relationships, when we are tempted to “throw away” a relationship that does not suit our current tastes, interests or desires. Perhaps the idea of a consumerism sabbatical could renew us in countless ways…