Friday, November 27, 2015

Must I really have this? ~ Richard Proenneke

“Needs? I guess that is what bothers so many folks. They keep expanding their needs until they are dependent on too many things and too many other people... I wonder how many things in the average American home could be eliminated if the question were asked, "Must I really have this?" I guess most of the extras are chalked up to comfort or saving time...Funny thing about comfort - one man's comfort is another man's misery. Most people don't work hard enough physically any more, and comfort is not easy to find. It is surprising how comfortable a hard bunk can be after you come down off a mountain.”

~ Richard Proenneke

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Artwork from unknown artist 19th century (if you can tell more please let me know).

Friday, November 20, 2015

Quiet Joy ~ Willis D. Nutting

"The opportunity for real, soul-satisfying work, so rare in our day, is found abundantly in rural living. Here a man can make long-range plans and can carry them out without exploiting his fellow man; for the things that he uses are things that exist to be used: soil, plants, animals, building materials, etc. he can live a whole life of work without once using another man as a mere means for carrying out his plans. And neither does he become a tool of someone else. With the materials at hand he can employ the splendid coordination of mind and hand to create something of value for his family. He can fulfill his real nature in real work. And this work is much more joyful than any mere recreation. As a matter of fact this work carries with it its own recreation, so that the man who works does not have to worry about how he is going to have his good times. The work itself is a good time even though it be hard. There is a joy in toil which the football player knows not. It is a quiet joy that comes from the knowledge that one has accomplished something, something of real value, and that the accomplishment is his own."

~ Willis D. Nutting

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Artwork from Adrian Feint

Thursday, November 19, 2015

Bearfoot on the Grass ~ Kristen Boye

"Throughout history, humans have always had regular unfiltered contact with the earth. We walked barefoot, slept on the ground, wore animal skins for warmth, tilled fields, hunted and foraged, fetched water and spent the majority of our lives outdoors.....It wasn’t until recently we adopted a mostly indoor lifestyle. We work in tall buildings with windows that don’t open, wear protective footwear, drive around in cars with WiFi, buy our groceries from the store, live in air-tight homes, sleep on mattresses above ground and constantly “pound the pavement,” so to speak...Have you ever noticed how your quality of sleep improves during a trip to the beach? How about the natural relaxation, ease and decompression that comes from walking barefoot on the grass? Or how time spent digging around in the dirt or making mud pies creates a natural calm in children?"

~ Kristen Boye

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Artwork from Ed Wade

Monday, November 16, 2015

Work ~ Tom Walsh

“It seems that the more we learn about our work, the easier and the more interesting it becomes to us. Tasks that used to be tedious now make sense, and we see how they're related to other elements of our jobs. Plus, they're easier to take care of now, so they don't bother us nearly as much when we need to do them. When we know more about our work and its ramifications, we can see the connections between what we do and the effects that those things have on other people.” 

 ~ Tom Walsh

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Artwork from Margarethe Havemann

Friday, November 13, 2015

How are You? ~ Hannah Heinzekehr

"There are a myriad of ways someone can answer the simple question: How are you? Often this question is sort of asked as part of a basic exchange of pleasantries or as an aside while two aquaintances pass in the hall. Sometimes I even find myself asking the question without even really listening and/or waiting to hear the answer, which is perhaps part of the problem in and of itself..... Ask someone how they are and 95% of the time (I’m not being scientific here, but you get the point) they’ll reply with some variation on the theme of, “I’m good! Busy, but good,” or “Crazy busy! But it’s all good stuff."...Somehow busyness has become a middle class marker of a good life. It means that your time is put to good use, you are in demand and you are by no means underworked. If it’s your boss asking, it makes it clear that you are working hard for the money. Or perhaps it shores up our sense of self and helps us to feel popular and in the know...

But what happens when we are busy, even with good things, and we lose our sense of connectedness to this very core of our being? What happens when we simply become what we do and our whole sense of self-worth is wrapped up in those things rather than the core of who we are? What happens then when there is nothing left to do? Or maybe the very idea of there being nothing left to do is far-fetched enough that it’s not even worth considering. So I commit myself to two things:

  • No longer asking “How are you?” as a throw away question. When I ask, I want to be have the time and energy to invest in listening to and fleshing out the answer that comes.
  • No longer answering that question with “busy” as my default answer. I want to stop making busyness a mark of prestige, popularity and/or personhood."
~ Hannah Heinzekehr

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Artwork from Richard Scarry (You knew that didn't you?) 

Out of Context ~ Miriam Toews

“Mennonites formed themselves in Holland five hundred years ago after a man named Menno Simons became so moved by hearing Anabaptist prisoners singing hymns before being executed by the Spanish Inquisition that he joined their cause and became their leader. Then they started to move all around the world in colonies looking for freedom and isolation and peace and opportunities to sell cheese. Different countries give us shelter if we agree to stay out of trouble and help with the economy by farming in obscurity. We live like ghosts. Then, sometimes, those countries decide they want us to be real citizens after all and start to force us to do things like join the army or pay taxes or respect laws and then we pack our stuff up in the middle of the night and move to another country where we can live purely but somewhat out of context.”

~ Miriam Toews

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Artwork from the Goshen College exhibition of Mennonite and Amish quilts

Thursday, November 12, 2015

Natural Paradise ~ Edward Abbey

“Wilderness is not a luxury but a necessity of the human spirit, and as vital to our lives as water and good bread. A civilization which destroys what little remains of the wild, the spare, the original, is cutting itself off from its origins and betraying the principle of civilization itself.....Original sin, the true original sin, is the blind destruction for the sake of greed of this natural paradise which lies all around us--if only we were worthy of it.”

~ Edward Abbey

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Artwork from Alexandra Buckle

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