Table at the New Year: "Lady Poverty"and the Magic of Life

Hope everyone is enjoying the holiday. I had wanted to do a Good Shabbas post but the internet has been out for some days now, it does that a lot. So a belated good Shabbas! And just in case its down again soon, an early Happy New Year,: )

My fiance has had me laughing alot lately, so that's just gotta spill over here. To preface, we saw a bunch of folks nearby getting together for the holidays, and something about them reminded him of what many folks see as "rednecks"...the image of folks walking around with a beer in one hand like it grew there, big 'ol bonfires in the backyard, in the background the radio or tv's blaring, definitely not our kind of thing. "Well", i said, "we arent that kind of redneck, but you gotta admit, we're some kind of redneck". "Oh yeah" laughed my finace, and spun out this little snapshot of our life right now:

Do you live in a travel trailer?
Do you decorate your garden with crab bouyes? (my partner's collection hobby lol)
Do think running water in the sink (our newest addition) is the hieght of luxury?
Does your cupboard boast a treasured collection of yogurt containers?
Do you predict storms by watching what the seagulls outside the window do?
Did you listen to the Jeff Foxworthy Christmas countdown over the holidays?
Do you find it torture to go a day without cornbread?
Did you just five minutes ago talk about black eyed peas and colllard greens for new years dinner?

Then you just might be a redneck...

Darn good synopsis he gave there, lol.

In a way the redneck thing is misleading, since i live a pretty quiet life here in this little "abbey" really. But it is quite redneck in its lack of up-with-the jone's-ness and with its being low (hey let's face it very low) on the stack of little green bills. And the thing is, i've been coming to terms more lately with that being unlikely to change. It may change, i'm not shutting the door, just being realistic. My physical limits are pretty unlikely to suddenly disappear, and my partner's arm just isnt healing like we had hoped. Nor are either of us getting any younger with me at midlife and him older still. More and more, it just doesnt seem like God is leading either of us into a life likely to be "profitable". Frugality is perhaps not a season in this life but a way of life that needs to be deepened and embraced as life, accepted and refined and made beautiful somehow. Kind of slowly here, i've been feeling more okay with that. Becuase things are not as they seem...

I wish i had a link for it, but does anyone remember this story?: A man visits a small fishing village and befriends a poor fisherman there. Vistor tries to "help" the fisherman by telling him to earn more and to advance, however stressful that may be, so someday he can save up and do what the visitor wants to do, which is move to some little quiet village and have a peaceful life and fish. The fisherman looks at him in confusion, and says..."But thats exactly what i have now". And it was true. He was poor, but his life was a peaceful one...and his visitor friend was trying to save enough, under great stress, to somehow have a peaceful life later. Maybe it just doesnt work that way. At least i am admitting this feels the case for me. God has given me the partner i have for a good reason, and he is someone who puts peace as the priority in how we live. More and more i am coming to cherish that. Poverty in itself can be very stressful indeed, not what i'd like. But now poverty as part of a peaceful life...maybe that's not so bad after all. Better than not so bad, maybe it can be beautiful. I like the Franciscans and their idea of
"holy poverty", (here), and the Carmelites (here) have some very good stuff on this too. When i say i view my home as a little abbey here i'm not kidding, and i long for a life of abbey-ness deep down. So maybe its time to make that "vow of poverty" official and stop fighting it.

What this means exactlly, well i don't know. It may mean this little vintage trailer i've turned into an abbey is home for good, not just home for now. It may mean finding peaceful land to live on in some way other than buying land, because i just dont see how buying land is going to happen. It definitely means frugality not as a sidenote but as a true way of life. Which is feeling surprisingly okay lately. It seems God's been leading us there step by step so when we've gotten to this point its not a shock. And it definitely means knowing we are rich in God's providence and meant to deepen our trust in Him, meant to deepen that childlike joy of knowing that as He cares for the birds in the fields he WILL care for us somehow, and will lead us to the places we need to walk through to do what He wants us to do.

I keep feeling more and more that this "holy poverty" is a gift if we'll let it be, a needed opening. That is IF we do our best to actually live a peaceful and sacred life. Without that, its not holy povery anymore its just poverty. The line there reminds me again of this poem:

The Lady Poverty

I MET her on the Umbrian hills,
Her hair unbound, her feet unshod:
As one whom secret glory fills
She walked, alone with God.
I met her in the city street:
Oh, changed was all her aspect then!
With heavy eyes and weary feet
She walked alone, with men.

--Evelyn Underhill

Anyway, these are some thoughts as the year closes. Looking back they were echoed back
here, but are deepening now it seems. I guess i'm just slowly seeing this life likely isnt going to be the place for "abundance" as many define it. But it will God willing be a place of comfort and of peace, which means far more to me. And this home here will likely never be big or fancy, but God willing it will be a fruitful training ground for this apsiring "angel in the home". I've been thinking on that a lot lately. An angel in the home has a peaceful home and family as the goal, not a life that brings public "honor" and wows the neighbors. So many see an angel in the home as materialistic and flighty and this just baffles me to no end. For i don't think holy poverty is counter to being an angel in the home at all. And in my own life here, more and more it feels they are somehow linked...

Blessed Sabbath all, and a Joyful and Peaceful New Year : )

(Image is from the movie The Tale of Roan Inish, though i'm not sure the source)

PS Since if the net goes out days again this may be my new year's post, wanted to share now that there's a wonderful new year's challenge going on just found (hat tip to Carol for pointing it out) over at
Plainsong. Love this!:

Strive for these Goals

1. Invite the Blessed Mother to my home. . .daily, with a Memorare for the intention of asking her to visit me as she did her cousin, and to help me keep my eyes toward heaven.
2. Begin my day with a Morning Offering-to offer my all to God
2. Follow a simple organizational routine
3. Take on little things to help our household stay beautiful and joyful.
4. Write about household topics and link others' blogs who are motivational

The Rules:

1. Remember People are more important than things
2. Remember that messes look bigger than they are
3. Small things done in the home can add beauty
4. Stay real: we will never be perfect, especially with children around us
5. Keep a sense of humor
6. Forgive myself for imperfection and limitations, focusing on those things I do accomplish
7. Persevere

Blessed New Year Everyone!

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