Thursday, October 24, 2013

dancing naked in the road

I'm not working this week and have spent it at home, going outside only to get the mail, and only leaving our property to take one dog to the vet's on Monday and today to get a few groceries. My wife's residency requires her to sleep at the hospital once a week while she's on-call, and it was Tuesday night and Wednesday morning. Because we have a sick dog we haven't even attended dog classes this week. I have seen few people this week at all since Sunday.

Normally, seclusion like this drives me crazy, and if it was summer and sunny I would be dancing naked in the center of the road just to find someone to talk with. Perhaps it's the early cold weather we're having--most days have hovered around freezing during the day, dipping into the 20s overnight--and the general grayness of the sky that has kept me inside. I can't say I'm happy this way, but I would call it a strange contenment. Strange because my usual method for recharging my batteries involves talking with friends (and there really is no shortage of friends nearby who would like my popping in on them but they are just far enough away to make seeing them an all-afternoon affair and I feel just enough inertia to override or more passively to avoid making that move) and this week has been in fact a time when I hadn't thought of recharging my batteries but I simply haven't felt the draw to visit friends or even to be in public and seeing strangers.

I know four days with forays into public every other day does not a hermitage make but I wonder if this is what it feels like to purposefully be alone. I have gotten a lot of reading done, including in the Shane Claiborne book I find so troubling. He writes of this impetus, "Community is what we are created for. We are made in the image of a God who is community, a plurality of oneness. When the first human was made, things were not good until there were two, helping one another." But Claiborne connects his Simple Way with something called a New Monasticism and this appeals to some part of me. I have always wanted to live in community with other people in a cloister or an intentional community as I did for short periods with the Hare Krishnas and the Rainbow Family and other friends. Claiborne talks about how the members of the Simple Way pool together $150 each month (this was in 2006 so it's bound to have gone up by now, maybe to $250) with which they pay the costs of x number of people living in the poorest neighborhood of Philiadelphia. I can't deny that notion is attractive to me.

But my wife and I have tried living with other people before and that hasn't worked out at all. I would argue we lived with the wrong people but I know her wish to pare down the number of people she deals with on a daily basis. The truth is we come from very different backgrounds--my small family consisting of just my sister and me, her larger one with several siblings--and I suspect it's like the old saying of the homeowner dreaming of many houses and the hobo dreaming of only one. But I look around at the things I do around this house, making many comfortable places--the 3-season porch, the southwest corner of our property, the front yard labyrinth, the upstairs study and the huge picture window facing the fields--and contemplating changes to some of the buildings--boarding them against the elements and making them little oases of calm and retreat--and I wonder who I'm doing it for.

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