This is the last post in 7. If you are late in joining me for it, the first post is 7 x 7 x 7 and all 7 posts can be found by clicking “Seven” in the word cloud on my home page.
Seven is over.
And I’m a little sad.
I feel like there has been a paradigm shift in my life once again. In some ways, I can’t really put my finger on it but yet I know it’s been seismic. Eldest seems to grow inches at a time. As a result, Youngest often feels like he doesn’t grow at all. But I tell him to look at his pants! The old pants are way too short, so he must be growing. That’s how I feel about 7 – my old pants are now too short. There’s too much that has happened and continues to happen to name everything from 7, but here’s a few.
The feeling of being hungry. I’m not in any way setting my experience of Food week alongside those who are truly hungry or live their lives food insecure. However, I haven’t had an experience of being hungry most of the day. I realize that I was hungry just because I didn’t want to eat any of my 7 choices, but most nights I went to sleep with an empty stomach. How many parents put their children to bed each night with an empty stomach?
Besides trying to make sustainable choices about my food, I am also trying to be more thoughtful as I eat. Last week, I was enjoying a toasted bagel with melted butter. It was really delicious – but I ate it while I was driving. Before I realized it, the bagel was gone. Why didn’t I wait and eat it when I had time to enjoy it (and why was I in such a hurry during Stress week)? It’s hard to be thankful for the quality, variety and reliability of my food when I eat mindlessly.
The overabundance of my clothing and possessions. I’m still struggling with this on pretty much a daily basis. Last week, I went to Goodwill to get some shorts. I found two pairs and a pair of capri pants for a total of $12. To be honest, this felt really good. I liked only spending $12. I liked reusing rather than fueling the buy-new, buy-often consumer cycle. The shorts aren’t my favorite, but they’ll serve their purpose just fine. If I really decide I don’t like them, I can donate them back at the end of the summer. Note: For full disclosure, this weekend I also bought two new t-shirts for $35.
I couldn’t decide whether I was worthy or content.
As I’ve been wearing my clothes more days, I find that most days I don’t really care that much about what I wear. I’m actually fine wearing something for three days (and my family hasn’t complained). But then I want a couple of fun and cute options for the times I do care. My wardrobe should reflect this. I also think the 7 ladies and I should arrange another clothing swap this summer. It was fun to do, everyone left with something “new” they were excited about and most of it went to various agencies to people who could really use it.
The reduction of things from our house continues. Dave completely cleaned out and reorganized the garage. Most of this made it to the church garage sale, but some is now on my porch.
We’ve also added some furniture to the “this, too, should go” list. I’m thinking a lot more about what we actually use in our house and what we just have. My hope is to be more aware of the needs of others, so my overabundance can be used by others.
The awareness of my waste. Really, it is pretty staggering. One thing I haven’t been good at recycling is toilet paper rolls and office paper. I think Dave is probably wondering why I leave the toilet paper rolls on the floor or the counter. (Of course, why do I do that? Is it really too far to walk to the kitchen and recycle it immediately?) I usually recycle paper to print on again, but a lot goes into the garbage in my office. What just came to mind is that I probably could put another receptacle in my office and recycle the paper, just like we do at work. (Genius! I just got up and did it!)
I’m also continuing the three-minute showers. I don’t know if I’ll be able to keep it up in the winter because shaving with goose bumps is always a bad idea. I also wash my hair less. This is win-win because I hate blow-drying (I like to groom in five minutes or less). If I haven’t worked out, my hair doesn’t really need washed, so why use the extra resources? I also “repurpose” water from the tap. In other words, I don’t just throw it down the drain but try to find another use for it in the house. Yes, I’m still watering plants with drinking water, but every small step counts.
We are composting like pros (although yet to see if it yields soil). I’m wondering whether I will continue to do this in the winter, since I will have to shelter the compost pile or it will be buried in snow. But the thought of throwing away food waste seems inconceivable now. The garden is up and planted and hopefully the seeds will grow. I’ll post an update on the garden and CSA later this summer when, hopefully, both are bearing well.
The beauty of community. I miss the mindfulness of 7 in my daily life but I also miss the community it created with my 7 friends. Some weeks had more email chatter than others, but every Saturday brought a fun and sacred time of sharing. As one 7 friend reflected, this time of intentional meeting brought an intimacy and vulnerability that I don’t think any of us expected. What was the crucible of 7 freed us from the excess boundaries we put up around ourselves. I love the picture of the Church in Acts, and I am so thankful that we experienced it together as part of 7.
The believers devoted themselves to the apostles’ teaching, to the community, to their shared meals, and to their prayers. A sense of awe came over everyone. God performed many wonders and signs through the apostles. All the believers were united and shared everything. They would sell pieces of property and possessions and distribute the proceeds to everyone who needed them. Every day, they met together in the temple and ate in their homes. They shared food with gladness and simplicity. – Acts 2:42-46 (CEB)
I love my 7 ladies and am so thankful to have journeyed with them these last two months. Our experience (and I think I can speak for all of us) has been another example of God’s love and faithfulness. We didn’t do 7 for seven months, but we were committed to it each week. And in the weeks when we couldn’t, we were still mindful of 7 in our lives.
In our conversations each week, we often came back to abundance and mindfulness. Have you thought about how counter-cultural these are? Everything around us screams scarcity – that we need to have and be more. It turns your world upside down to choose to look and see abundance first. It is so easy to go through a day without ever being present. We all know life is busy, but what’s the point if we aren’t ever present and mindful of what we are doing and with whom we are doing it?
Seven is over. And I’m a little bit sad.
But it’s not really over. Just like every experience we have and person we meet shapes who we have become, 7 will be the same way. I don’t know what I thought I’d get when I started, but I realize that God has once again shown me that if I’m willing to be led, God will teach me what I need to know rather than what I think I need to learn. Praise be to God!
Postscript: Last week, I saw on Jen’s Facebook page that she was preparing for her last spring engagement in Illinois. I immediately clicked to see it and found out it was only a couple of hours away. Really, how wonderful, that two of my 7 friends were able to join me so we could hear Jen speak in person – and in our last week of 7! Just like our 7 experience, we laughed hard and also fought back tears.