Reader comment on Thomas Berry's passage ...

  • link
    On Dec 16, 2010 Catherine Todd wrote:

    P.S. Regarding "the experience of Henry David Thoreau, an American naturalist the mid-nineteenth century who lived a very simple life with few personal possessions. At one time he was attracted to the idea of purchasing an especially beautiful bit of land with a pasture and a wooded area..."

    Sure, Thoreau didn't have to "own" that beautiful piece of land to "enjoy" it, at least until someone built something else on that piece of land that was NOT so beautiful, or destroyed the peace and quiet of the area, or poisoned the area, or I could go on and on...

    This kind of reference doesn't make sense anymore, especially since Walden's Pond has been PURCHASED to PRESERVE IT.

    What I have seen is that I don't have to own "that particular piece of land," as there are beautiful pieces of land everyone on God's good earth, and I can own a piece of land anywhere in the world and enjoy the trees and the dirt and the flowers and vegetables that grow anywhere in the soil anywhere in the world. But ask a homeless person or land-less person how much they "enjoy" looking at areas of "beauty" when they have no security of their own.

    Are we all to be begging wanderers with nowhere to call our own? Even monasteries own the land they sit on; St. Francis might not have wanted to "own" the land that was granted to him by the nobleman, but the rest of the congregation did and did so as soon as Francis died. Are we supposed to go find a cave to live in and sleep with the wolves and hide from the buzzards because we don't "own" anything?

    I would prefer to be a "steward" of the land and TAKE CARE of what I own and SHARE what I own so that ALL CAN BENEFIT. Ownership has it's price and it's rights and responsibilities. How else can we protect things, unless we are to live with nothing at all?

    I took a vow of poverty when I was a novitiate many years ago. I now own too many things and am downsizing and feeling free-er than I have in years, but that is due to my age (60) and is appropriate for now. I think having fewer possessions can be a good thing, but sharing and caring has more meaning to me than "owning nothing." I am also reminded of the wonderful film called "The Gods Must Be Crazy" and how finding a glass coca-cola bottle caused so much trouble, envy and more in the simple African village where it fell from the sky. But we don't live in a tribal community or in dirt huts and keep cows and drink blood. We live in modern day America or Europe or many other developed countries. What philosophy can help us in this day and age?

    It seems I don't understand this "detachment" philosophy any better now than when I was a little hippy girl back in the '60's, even after all these years. I'd like to read about real, modern day situations that would help the world, not just "give it up" or "remove oneself." If that is the case, I'd become a hermit living out in the woods like I also did many years ago. I like indoor plumbing and I like owning my own home and my own land so I can protect it and myself. Improve it and enjoy the benefits and the garden that is my church. It's peaceful here because it is MINE. I can fence out the noise and distractions of the neighbors and all the drama they enjoin. If I rented or squatted, that would surely not be the case.

    Perhaps this is too literal, but it's something that I've thought about for a long, long time.

    Now that I've thought about this statement ("moral to the story"):

             "Give me that which enabled you to give it to me."

    I'm still not sure. Hmmmmm.

Reply To This Reflection:

Search Awakin Readings

Or search by year, author, or category.

Subscribe to Weekly Email

Every week, we send out a digest with a reading and inspiring stories to our global community of 93,496 people. Subscribe below.


Contact Us

If you'd like to suggest a thought or want to drop us a suggestion, drop us a note.