There have been times in my life when I have lived simply. Those times have been very freeing times for me. I felt somewhat detached from material goods.
The first time was when I lived in the mechanic shop at the Lord’s Ranch before homes were built. My bed was an army cot and all my personal possessions were in one medium size box under my bed. It was very hot and full of flies and bugs in the summer and very cold in the winter. However, I have fond memories of those times. Life was simple.
Another time was in 1985, when Mike and I and our three young children ages 4 1/2, 3, and 1 1/2 lived in Mexico in a small building that the community owned. It was called “Los Jardines de Dios.” The wife of the couple from Mexico that had lived there died from cancer. Her family moved out after that and so Fr. Thomas asked us to live there for a time to keep the building from being vandalized.
We moved immediately, and everything we took was in one van. It was not the first time we had been to Los Jardines. The kids and I had visited the family there for a week once. Mike had worked down there with his dad for several months. He would come home on weekends.
The life was primitive and rugged. There was only a kitchen and one bedroom. There was no electricity and no indoor plumbing. We used an outhouse and got our water from an outside pump. We had no shower, no refrigerator, no hot water, no gas or electric stove. The stove was a wood stove, so as I cooked we had to keep throwing wood in the stove. Mike was constantly chopping wood. The kids and I pumped pots of water and carry them in together. In fact, the children were a big part of all we did.
Mike and I would laugh how each day’s work was all about survival. Pump water (many times), wash clothes by hand and that included cloth diapers, hang the clothes out, chop wood, bathe with a bucket of water, use a lantern or candles at night, clean corrals, etc. It was hard work but there was lots of joy, and closeness to God and each other.
A cat had delivered three kittens a few weeks before we arrived which provided entertainment for the children. Isn’t God good. He thinks of everything.
Fr. Thomas would come out once a week and bring out some food, check on us, visit, and say Mass in the kitchen. It was a sacred time. Mike and I look back on those times with fondness.
We are grateful for that blessed time there. This was the first of several times that we would live at Los Jardines de Dios. I will tell you more about the other houses we later lived in there at another time.
I struggle now with the constant need to simplify. It is a uphill battle. We have lived in the same house on the ranch for some time now, and we tend to accumulate stuff. There’s always purging to do.
As I write this, my husband and a plumber are working on our water heater. We have not had hot water for two weeks, which really isn’t a huge deal since the weather is hot right now, but it has been good for us. It makes us more aware of those who live without it all the time.
You might consider once a month or so having a day with no electric lights at night (use candles or lantern), or not using hot water, or no devices, or no TV, etc. Be creative and and see what God does.
God bless you,
Mary Ann / Mother Hen