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I want to leave you with an original post by Christiana Peterson here on this blog so you can get a sampling of her lovely writing.Mid-way between Christmas and New Year’s Eve, an ice storm knocks out our power. With an unseasonably warm season, this blast of icy weather has reminded me that we live in the Midwest and it is indeed winter. Our apartment, in a building we share with two other families on a farm, sits only yards from our pigs, chickens, cows, and a large community garden. The well that supplies our drinking and flushing water and the water for all the animals depends on electricity to run. As I get cozy with my three children on the couch, we have no idea that we are only at the beginning of two and a half days without water, heat, a stove, or, gasp, the internet. My two older children and I make a fun afternoon of it, reading and swapping books. When evening comes and the power is still out, my husband grabs his camping stove from the basement. We have a dinner of reheated turkey soup by candlelight and headlamp. As we enjoy the momentary romance of a simpler evening, our parent-child conversations are predictable. Did you know that when my grandparents grew up on a farm, they didn't have any electricity? They didn't even have indoor toilets. Or washing machines. Or movies! They had to make their own music. Won’t we be thankful when the power comes on tomorrow? But the next morning, the lights are still off. The house is 50 degrees. The unflushed toilet has begun to stink. The downstairs wood floors are cold. There is no internet for the kids to watch movies, and I can’t wash the mounting piles of dishes or work on my dead laptop. The lesson-learning on this, Day 2 without power, feels cliché. But oddly enough, I’m not thinking about how thankful I will be when the lights come back. I’m not thinking about how grateful I am to have modern conveniences. I am thinking about St. Francis. Before my fascination with the Saints began, I believed that Catholics prayed to and venerated the Saints because they were holier versions of us. But I’m learning that the wisdom of studying the Saints is because of their humanness. The Saints give us examples, which though exemplary, are still fully fleshly attempts to follow Christ. I need those human examples. When the lights go out and the lessons we teach our children don't seem to change anything, I need to hear what the Saints have to teach about following a different way, a way that took them out of the clutches of their homes, possessions, and the things that made them feel secure. What the Saints, and St. Francis in particular, repeatedly live out is that abundance comes from a smaller life, not a larger one. The less wealth, material possessions and success there are to depend on, the wider a heart can become. When the lights finally come on again, I am having tea with an older woman with whom I haven’t visited in over a year. We are talking about the way things were when she was a child. We are having the same conversations I had with my children. But somehow they take on more meaning when they come from her. Just as St. Francis’ story moves me, so her story, her truth, her life shapes and encourages my faith. I clean up the mess of my thawed and stagnant house. I make no big changes in my lifestyle because of our break from electricity. But I read Richard Rohr’s words as a call to something terribly small but also immeasurably large: “You can now let Francis and Clare show you how to die into your one and only life, the life that you must learn to love.” I long to love my life. To die into it. To be fully present in it. To not wish for more power. I long for the courage to stay with the discomforts, living into the freedom of the duties of life. Accepting that living in a small, old, house on a farm means we will lose our power sometimes. Accepting that being in community will be joyful and painful. Accepting that difficult relationships will bring out the worst in me, and therefore allow God to shine through my brokenness. Maybe dying into my life and loving it are the same. I cannot be a Saint, but I will be a mother, a wife, a writer, a woman. And my efforts in every small human moment will add up to life, death, and love all at once.
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