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Thursday, August 23, 2007

Failure, the future and perserverance

As The Next Worker prepares to turn one, I've been going through early entries and replaying in my mind all the reasons I started this blog. I wanted to document my journey down the path less travelled and capture in words my new life as a Worker. I started with pretty high hopes. And while I wouldn't say I'm discouraged by my lack of progress, I've come to realize how hard it is to leave the comforts and security of suburbia for a radical life. Even creating a plan to get from here to there has been hard. On a 1 to 10 scale of impulsiveness, my husband and I are probably a 6 or 7. However, how impulsive can you be with three small children under 5? Do you haul them all to downtown Camden to feed the poor? Do you move them hundreds of miles from friends and family to set up a homestead on affordable land? Part of me says, "Go for it, let's follow this through hard core! Let's buy and RV, traveling the country and stopping at Worker Houses and farms from coast to coast!" And then a voice says (is it my conscience?) "But if I'm wrong, what lasting negative impact will I leave with my kids?" My husband's long hours at work and the little bit of homeschooling I do, consume so much time I feel we haven't even made baby steps in our charity towards others. It's still something we're planning for, something in the future we can barely wrap our heads around. If it's this hard for us, a family with a goal of become agrarian Workers, how hard will it be for us to change society at large; to even convince friends of ours to come along on our journey? We're working against such a larger system. I sometimes wonder if we'll ever reach our goals or if we'll be stuck here forever reading books, writing fiery articles and bitterly sipping Starbucks.
But a year is only a year. And since last August I've become much more familiar with Day, distibutism and the back to the land movement. While my faith is nothing to boast about, it keeps me going and never once have I doubted the truth of my mission here. In fact I am usually encouraged by what I do read (encyclicals, articles, Church documents, etc.) Through the Internet I've developed a circle of blog acquaintances struggling along the same path, trying to fit their square pegs in the world's round holes. We're doing the best we can with what we have here and now and that's nothing to scoff at.
So my goals for the coming year are more realistic, maybe? If one can be realistic and radical at the same time. Best case, we have a small homestead and my husband goes down to part-time: worst case, we're still in an apartment and my husband is working overtime. Obviously, with the first case, the added time will allow us opportunities to garden, volunteer and write. Time will tell. Just finding affordable housing in Jersey with enough land to garden will be a miracle. I hope the last year has made you wiser with more wisdom, and grace, in the year to come for us all.
"About all the above failures, I must say that I am not much concerned. I think that such failures are inseparable to a work of this kind, and necessary for our growth in holiness. Such failure, for those of us who have dedicated our lives to this work, is our cross. As a matter of fact, our failure is so continuous that we never think of it, we just go on working, without judging ourselves, as St. Paul tells us to. We can list our accomplishments as glorious examples of God's providence, and of our faith in it. We grow in faith in it and in our very persistence, we are growing in hope and charity. God grant that we persevere." [snip]
"But in this happy season, and even while writing of failure, I am filled with a sense of great joy that God has entrusted to us a mission, that we have been given a work to do. In twenty years we seem to have accomplished little. The same long breadlines continue at our houses. Throughout the land many a Catholic Worker family struggles and seems to get nowhere. But meanwhile the children are born, and are fed and launched into life with a more vital sense, let us pray, of God and their place in the body of Christ."

By Dorothy Day
"Have We Failed Peter Maurin's Program?"
The Catholic Worker, January 1954