Last week, I started to write a Facebook status where I talked about the inconvenience of not yet having a microwave. How I had to put a pot on the stove to heat water for tea and how much that slowed my life down . . .
Sometimes I forget just how blessed I am.
On the drive home from my dad’s last night, I passed from one NPR station to the next – the first was talking about Constitution Day (which is today, all, so if you haven’t read the U.S. Constitution in a while, today’s a good day to pick it up again.) The conversation there pushed me to recognize the privilege it is to live in the most prosperous country in the world, that I was not born here by any choice of my own but by a design of which I had no part, that the privileges that come with being an American I did not earn but was given as total gifts.
As I crossed the mountain, the next NPR station was hosting a conversation with David Korten, author of Agenda for a New Economy. He suggested that our way of measuring wealth – the Gross Domestic Product – was backwards since it is a system that measures how many ways we can consume our earth’s resources, turn them into products, and then discard those products. He said that the true wealth of a nation should be measured in how it shrinks its GDP. Now, I’m not an economist, and I don’t really grasp fully the way that nations affect other nations or how GDP reflects on jobs and standards of living. But what Korten said resonated with me deeply – that we assume the measure of wealth is our ability to consume, is the number of things we own, the acres we shelter, the jewels on our fingers, the number of zeroes in the bank account figures.
What if I measured my wealth on the number of people I call friends or the block of sharp cheddar that smells like the mountains around me and waits for me to eat it? What if I counted myself rich by what I could give away, what little I could live on, what I could share with other people? What if I found myself blessed not by things but by having the esteemed privilege to live a life I love in a place where water flows down the mountain like the singing of a child? By the softness of the whisper in a page turned before I sleep in night?
I am actively working to change my thinking and actions around material things and money. Today, I am committing myself to three things: limited consumption, openness of home and hearth, and dedication to the community in which I live. This week on the blog, I’m going to explore ways to make this life real. I hope you’ll follow along while I share these ideas.
The basic premise of God’s Whisper is now this – In this place, we live small and love big.
Are there any ways you are trying to live small and love big? I’d so appreciate hearing about them.