How does your faith help you in times of struggle, change, and new beginnings?
A deeply incarnational faith has been the driving force in my life. I believe we are called to engage fully in helping to hasten the in-breaking of the New Creation. That is life-giving, joyful, and hopeful work – even in the context of a broken world.
How does your faith describe the relationship between all living things, the Earth, and the Divine?
I believe that the gratuitous, cosmic gift of the Creator invites all beings into right relationship with each other in the fullness of life. We are all part of Earth Community and are thus brothers and sisters to each other. St. Francis expressed this in a beautiful and powerful way in his Canticle of Creation, and right relationships are at the heart of a nonviolent life.
What does your faith tradition teach about material consumption and simplicity?
My faith tradition values simplicity, even voluntary poverty – as an act of solidarity with those who are impoverished by structural or systemic injustice, and as a way of living nonviolently and more lightly on the earth.
How does your community approach examining and changing our lifestyles?
Assisi Community’s commitment to live simply is a constant topic of reflection in our community. It affects everything about our daily life – from what we eat, to how we use our financial resources, to the environmental sustainability of our lifestyle, to our engagement in action or advocacy in the public square. This commitment is strengthened by our daily morning prayer together.
In what ways does your community provide you with a guide to life?
The values I hold dear come from my faith and are expressed in the communities of which I am a part, especially my family and Assisi Community, an intentional community where I have lived for 30+ years. These include a commitment to work for social justice and peace, active nonviolence, hope, and an effort to live simply near the margins of society.
Which sacred texts most inspire you to act for change?
Two texts offer particular inspiration for me. Isaiah 65:17 proclaims: “For I am about to create new heavens and a new earth”. And 1 Peter 3:15 says: “Always be prepared to give an answer to everyone who asks you to give the reason for the hope that you have.
What have you done to improve the sustainability of your diet, transportation, and/or energy use?
Since the 1970s I have made an effort to live more simply and to share that journey with my six children, now adults. As a family we adopted a diet that was primarily plant-based, stopped using a dryer and air conditioning, and replaced grass in our yard with a vegetable garden. In 1976, we moved from an up-scale suburban neighborhood to a 65-acre organic farm where we lived and worked hard for 10 years in an effort to deepen our respect for nature, including the animals and food we raised. Later, we helped establish Assisi Community in an inner city neighborhood of Washington, DC, where shared space with 12 to 20 others has made simple living the “norm” for the past 30 years.
How would you describe the experience of making these lifestyle changes?
Every step of the way for the past 40+ years has been life-giving and has had an incredibly positive impact on my family. At times I expected the changes we were planning to make would be difficult (the move to the farm, the move to community, etc.), and the skepticism of others was sometimes challenging, but in fact, the changes were so clearly the right next step for us that each one felt “right.”What are others doing?