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Conspire Magazine

ON THE BORDERS OF SHALOM

September 18, 2013

by Erin Thomas

If ever I need to escape for a while, I’ll often drive the thirty-five minutes out of town to the eighty acres of forest and pond that Mom and Dad carefully steward. Mom and Dad take God’s creation care seriously and creatively. If there are ways to further reduce their carbon footprints, you can bet they have already done hours of research on them.

Mom names her roses, and Dad carefully shapes his willow-wood furniture. The compost toilet produces fertilizer for the flower garden, which draws in rapidly dwindling bee populations. These pollinators are replenished. Water is conserved. No need for flushing! Jugs are set beside the sinks and tub to catch normally wasted water. At night, phantom power is eliminated when the entire house powers down until dawn. Why take what is not needed? The garden is carefully tended without pesticides or herbicides so that both the earth and those of us eating what comes from the earth are cared for. Mom and Dad own one ATV (all-terrain vehicle) strictly for utilitarian purposes like hauling wood. Racing around the forest on noisy machines is not their idea of creation care or restoration. A walk hand-in-hand is just fine for them – no oil or petrol or noise pollution required.

“Living defiance” – the phrase has been rolling around in my brain staring out on this place of peace; people, places, actions of such immense quiet that they disturb the powers-that-be on unseen fundamental levels. We are addicted to the substance and to the system. Some activists see big demonstrations as ways of expressing discontent. Living defiance shows that life can thrive in a community, transforming family and friends and strangers. In their homestead and their lifestyle of shalom and hospitality, Mom and Dad have created an oasis, a living defiance.

Yes,  my parents still drive a car (requiring oil) and  they had to clear at least some forested land for a home to live in (requiring the sacrifice of trees). They don’t own llamas to harvest wool in order to make their own clothes. As in any kingdom transformation, we will all still live imperfectly – as reflections. Yet that in no way should deter us from being living defiantly into our deepest hopes.

Shalom flourishes because Mom and Dad choose to exalt the Creator first, creation second, and their needs within this creation third. It is a lifestyle choice. Yet in its quiet the spirit is restored, blurry vision clears, and people desire to return. Something quite mystical yet down-to-earth begins to awaken a long-since asleep force. Mom and Dad did not choose to invite the Holy Spirit into their defiance. The Spirit has been here all along, waiting for this expression of holy, brilliant defiance.

And the food is much tastier too.

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