Seth and I are buying a house today. I mean, we've been in the process of buying a house, but today we close, it will be ours, and we can finally "settle down." This of course has not been an easy choice--it hasn't come without its fair share of fear, uncertainty and hesitation. It took a lot of counsel and "back and forths" to realize that we probably should do this. Things are going to be really tight and as we looked at our expenses and income(s?) and we had to face the reality that we are not where are parents are. We have been blessed with families and parents who have provided for our every need. I don't want to say we were spoiled. But we were, we are. We still are. We are able to buy a house, albeit we will be scraping the bottom of the pan so to speak ;) Anyways, it goes without saying that, looking at Seth and my chosen careers/educations (philosophy and art, respectively) we may very well never be able to secure the futures for our children that we have been given. This is a weird weird thing to realize. I don't know if I feel bad, or ashamed or worried. I'm just uncomfortable with it. I mean, not comfortable.
But again, Seth always steps in and reassures me. With something more than, "we'll be fine" or this is only how it will be now.....He says something like how he tells his residents how poverty is a blessing. A virtue. What?!
And then he leaves a note for me on the kitchen table, "read from page 53" in a book called, God Christ and Us by Herbert McCabe. On page 53, the chapter, "Poverty and God" profoundly challenges our very realities. Put quite simply it says, "In a way, the success story for Christians is from riches to rags." I know most have heard that we're supposed to sell what we own and give to the poor. And I feel, since I do it all the time, the idea of giving and living simply is often looked over. It's another Christian mantra that everyone hears but don't really care about doing. ( how does that fit in with American living/reality!?) It's just normal and accepted that we must eventually progress and succeed to build a huge place (house or, worse, church) to sit idle and to sit in complacency. I am so guilty of it of thinking in the same way: first I have to get this so I can give that. And what do i give really? I don't know. But I know what I should be doing, and what I shouldn't. That is, aiming for riches.
McCabe makes the claim that "there is something godlike about being able to live in poverty; so we shall have to think about the poverty of God." And then! he brilliantly starts talking about the distinction between possessing and being! "Taking is essential to possessions. Being or life, on the other hand, cannot, in this sense, be taken. It can only be sheer gift." He argues that no one can talk about the riches of God. What can he take? If he is. "He can only use one creature for the sake of another, for the benefit of another. Nothing is or acts for the benefit of God." woh.
He goes on to write that though we can't talk about the riches of God, we can talk about the poverty of God. (he includes that God's poverty is different than our poverty, just as "his wisdom is not the same as ours") He says though that "He only has life and being. And, if you want to press the point, he does not even have life, as he does not have wisdom or have goodness." [i have to admit I love this kind of writing, i get so excited] Wait. What? oh right, "In God, being alive or being wise or being good are just simply being God and nothing more, nothing extra he has."
McCabe says that creation is an example of God's poverty, He "gains nothing by it." We have been created by a "purely gratuitous act of love, that characteristic act of love which is life giving." And that we can aim for riches or aim at poverty, that is, "growing up in our being." And this is where that verse from Mark comes in, we can only live when we "throw ourselves away." This is what we're to aim at. And this is where Seth and I get our purpose or maybe you could call it our world views and goals, etc.....We won't try/aim to live comfortably. Because how Christian is that? Sure, we want to give to our [future ;)]children, as we've been given, but our culture has so many temptations to slip into comfort, complacency and you know, that thing i always complain about, independence....
After writing all this I am aware that I still am a hypocrite. I want things for the house, I want to improve aesthetics, I always want new clothes, I want that good makeup. I wish I had whiter teeth. But where does all this come from? Perhaps the national religion--materialism/spending money!!!! So that's why I went shopping in Lacey's abandoned closet (sorry Lacey, you'll see them when you get back), why there are twigs framing the map that is trying to cover the wood paneling and why i should cut back on the coffee. We just don't want to be pawns in the the little game of consuming. I don't want to be as disposable as the money, commodities, and life that this culture encourages. And I don't even think it's a matter of what "we want to do;" rather, we MUST seperate ourselves from the "American dream" (read: terrible life of sorrow), and we MUSTNT seperate ourselves from our neighbors, family, from Creation.....our friends. For, by being, as McCabe encourages, we are able to be friends, and thus we are reflect "God's creative poverty."
So, welcome to the Forwoods, God help us make our home into a place where all are welcome. Really, I make cookies. Please "intrude."