Power’s Out [part 4 of 4]
By Christian and Christie Skoorsmith of Seattle, WA, USA
Then Jesus was led up by the Spirit into the wilderness to be tempted by the devil. He fasted forty days and forty nights, and afterwards he was famished. -Matthew 4:1-2 NRSV
A couple years ago we bought some rural acreage with friends. No electricity. No plumbing. No water. Half an acre was cleared; the rest was dense forest. Two sheds with few amenities, an outhouse, a campfire pit. Trees. Quiet. Calm.
When we spent time there, we’d feel relaxed and secluded. Of course! We were on vacation. But we also felt like we got more done there than we did at home. Christian would break a sweat cutting back Scotch broom or chopping firewood. Christie would clean the whole place and still have time for projects and play with the kids. Thoreau would have loved it! There was no whining about not watching a Dora the Explorer episode. It was the life we wanted, if a little rougher around the edges than we’d imagined.
So, why not make the leap? Rethink our tools and retool our thinking. Make a home largely without electricity, plumbing, running water, or a lot of possessions. In exchange we had lots of time outdoors, rewarding labor, time with our family, and time to ourselves. We taught our kids applied math (how many bulbs to plant in how many rows to get so many onions), natural science (identifying all the plants on a walk and show which parts are edible), biology (dissecting fresh-caught fish for dinner), old-fashioned chores (carrying wood and water into the cabin).
When we were children, one of our favorite stories was The Swiss Family Robinson, the adventure of a family marooned on an island and how they carved out a rough-hewn and simple life. They came to prefer this to the “civilization” they had pinned their original hopes on. The story speaks to us (and planted a life-long dream of living in a treehouse…still on the to-do list!).
“Power’s out” is a motto for us. It is a phrase you usually say when a storm knocks out the grid near your home-a lament of inconvenience, frustration, and being held by a force beyond your control. For us, though, it is a cry to freedom. More than just “non-electric,” we’re trying to live outside the “powers that be.” Get the “powers” out of our house. Out of our family. Out of our lives. Out of our heads. What could the world look like, feel like, if we were connected to a grid of a very different kind?
Sadly, our experiment lasted only one (glorious) year. When the paying job was downsized, we had to rethink our plans again. We bought a small condo unit (which, after living in a Tiny House seems enormous) near work. Now acclimated to reduced consumption, we’re able to work far less than full time and continue doing things we love. It is a struggle, though. When we are surrounded by so much opulence and temptation-so many restaurants, gadgets, technology, events, luxuries, it is easy to lose sight of our values.
But we’re not done yet. At this point, we don’t really know what that means. But we do know even one candle drives out the dark.
God, may my deep hope align with your deep vision. Release in me anything that keeps me from freely following your Spirit. Amen.
Invitation to Spiritual Practice
Breathe deeply as you enter a time of silence. Become gently attentive to what may be restricting you from faithfully responding to the divine invitation in your life. Are there priorities, attachments, tasks, or motivations competing for your response? What does freedom for God look or feel like in you this day?
Today’s Prayer for Peace
Engage in a daily practice of praying for peace in our world. Click here to read today’s prayer and be part of this practice of peace.