Setting out on this 31 day challenge I hope to suggest small practices—mundane even--that even I can do on harried, frenzied days to participate in the greater good, beyond this house. For me, there is tremendous significance in knowing that even one thing that I did during the day, had value beyond my own basic survival or that of my children (because there are a blur of days in which I can forget what I did, or admit that nothing I’d hoped to do, actually happened). Making a handful of intentional decisions within my day is probably the single greatest contributor to balance in my house and in my head.
In no way do I hope to put together a shiny list of things that I do to portray a lifestyle free from chaos or apathy. I am familiar with many of these practices, but could do a better job engaging all of them and I honestly hope to change that by at least re-thinking a few habits within my routine. This project is an effort to keep me tuned-in, to prevent the apathy that creeps in when I feel myself becoming focused on my little, suburban life, disconnected from the rest of this wide world…If it gives anyone else some encouragement in the meantime, so much the better.
Another motivating factor is that living with ‘the other’ in mind is a practice laid out firmly and extensively in the Church’s collection of Catholic Social Teachings. These are the core principals upon which the Church strives to carry itself and the advocacy it does on behalf of people living on the margins. Very few things get me as excited as being a part of a body that sees its lived mission in the following tenants:
-The life and dignity of the human person
-The call to family, community & participation
-Rights and responsibilities of the human person
-Preferential Option for the poor and vulnerable
-The dignity of work and the rights of workers
-Care for God’s creation
That said, I find that there a few directions that conversations around sustainability generally go—things you might already be thinking as you decide whether or not this string of ideas is worth following:
“I wish I felt like I lived more sustainably, but I’m overwhelmed by where to start.”
“That’s nice, but it doesn’t sound realistic for my stage of life.”
“That’s a lifestyle that’s just too expensive for me.”
All of these responses are compelling because there is a grain of truth in all of them.
Choosing what and whom you want to support takes either time (to learn about) or resources. In my experience, this is not overly limiting because money talks both in where you spend it, and where you choose not to spend it. Often those who have resources tend to be able to invest in the practices that are important to them by selecting organizations/brands/growers that they believe in. Those of us who run on a tighter budget, tend to be pretty accustomed to the creativity required for looking around, reading up on, and taking projects on themselves. This is not to say that there isn’t a great deal of crossover between each method, but these are the two camps I’ve observed.
Investing our time and energy in intentional living forces a person to take stock of their priorities, and to acknowledge some of the practices (good and bad) that we knowingly or unknowingly support. Once we do that, we can prioritize the products/issues that we most value, or ensure that we are not supporting. This step toward intentionality does not imply selling everything we own and sewing burlap tunics lest we accidentally support something harmful. Instead it is an invitation to examine our own habits and how even small alterations to these habits can have a tremendous impact for the greater good. I hope you’ll join me.
This page will serve as my primary link as I'll add daily entries to this page via a link. I'll also be posting on Instagram (@unexpectedhoney). To find a list of the thousands of other participants working on their own #write31days projects, click here.
“Do little things with great love.” –St. Teresa of Calcutta