thoughts from oak park community

Archive for November, 2011

the simplicity of the present

Right now as a community we are trying to focus on simplicity. It’s not an easy practice in this day and age, in this society and culture. We are constantly being told in one way or another about all the things that we do not yet have, all the things that we are missing, all the things that we need to be protected against going wrong. Our lives are framed around the journey to succeed at life–which means getting to a place where you have all you need and you don’t have to worry any more, or something like that.

And yet despite all those voices, there is something so appealing about the idea of simplicity. The word itself just sounds nice. It speaks of a freedom from the ridiculous amount of choices that are supposed to represent freedom. It speaks of a freedom from the constant pressure of acquiring more and more, of replacing item after item. It offers a way out of judging our self worth by getting more, doing more, and climbing higher.

Of course the idea of simplicity is a lot easier than the actual practice of it. And that’s just the thing of it. We our entrapped by exactly what we seem to think we want. And it is very contrary to our culture to realize that we will find freedom in denying ourselves and letting go of what we want.

What stands out to me now, what seems still so early in this journey, is a simple line from a book on simplicity that just says, “the present isn’t enough for them.” I think that’s a good place to start, to learn to be satisfied with the present. to realize in a very concrete way that it is enough. And to accept that.

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dirty jobs

We’ve had an exciting last couple of weeks here at the community. All the dry weather and then sudden rain did seem to agree very well with our plumbing. Our sewer line backed up and it wasn’t long before we knew that it hat broken somewhere underground. This is a major problem. The first major issue you face is where the break is–whether it’s under the building or outside, or if you’re really lucky, in the street (then it’s a city problem). The problem was only about 30 feet out though, so we knew that wasn’t going to be the case.

A.B. May really helped us out a lot with this, sending out someone to send a snake down the pipe with a camera and locator. We were extremely fortunate the the break was not under the building, and that it was only 3 feet deep (it can be as far down as 8-10 feet I believe). It was also just under a sidewalk, so we didn’t have to tear up any garden space or any of the pergolas or peach trees out back. Also extremely fortunately, we have a concrete saw because of the work we are doing for the farm out on the parking lots behind the church. In fact the giant saw (it’s like the size of a shopping cart–but WAY heavier) was only a few feet away. Also extremely fortunately, Bobby’s father is a contract plumber, so he was able to tell us all the things that we needed to get. I think it’s safe to say we were being watched over during this whole ordeal.

After locating the break, Bobby and I set to work digging down to find the pipe. After removing the concrete and a couple feet of dirt/clay, we got to the invested section. I’m not sure how long the pipe had been broken, but it had been at least awhile, because there were lots of goodies waiting for us mixed in with the clay. Side note: did you know that pee can crystalize? It also turned out the the pipe was fitted into a groove of a giant limestone boulder, making access to it somewhat difficult (it was also made to go around the rock, and it was at this joint that it broke). It was a messy job, but we got it done (Bobby did most of it) and saved thousands of dollars doing it ourselves. Thank God! Even though it’s fixed we are still strongly considering compost toilets!

Here are a few pictures from the whole ordeal (click for larger images):


St. John of the Cross

To come to the pleasure you have not
you must go by a way in which you enjoy not.
To come by the knowledge you have not
you must go by a way in which you know not.
To come by the possession you have not
you must go by a way in which you possess not.
To come to be what you are not
you must go by a way in which you are not.

--St. John of the Cross