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Saturday, August 23, 2008

A tub and trendy values

I'm finally caught up on laundry, but only because my husbands turned off the water to the washer. I'm done with dishes for the night, but only because we ate dinner on paper plates. And now as I prepare to unwind for the evening, my husband informs me that he's just going to redo all the plumbing to the downstairs bathroom and washer. No big deal. This is the bathroom renovation project that never ends. With a lot of luck and even more prayers, we just might be able to bathe in a tub by the end of the week. But, that's what I thought last week before I realized the entire underside of our quaint clawfoot tub was rusted and had to be stripped, primed with two coats of Rust Bullet and painted with two coats of latex. And the drywall installation took a bit longer as well. Last time my husband and I owned a home we could make our own we were newlyweds with lots of time (aka no children) but little funds. Now, although not rich, we've saved up money for home repairs but we've got no free time and the minutes we eek out here and there are constantly sabotaged by these four. Notice the quality rusted seating.

Oh a lighter note, country living is all I hoped it'd be. Lots of fresh air and open space for the kids and lots of wildlife to explore; outside and inside our home. Like bats. If you've watched 'The Great Outdoors' with John Candy and Dan Akroyd you can imagine how last night went in my house. Ah, the thrill of nature.
Despite the setbacks and surprises I wouldn't change a thing. In fact let me use the tub and the bats to illustrate some points I've been pondering lately. (In my usual round about way. If this gets diluted forgive me as I'm still very sleep deprived.)
Lately, the media is all about living 'green' and lessening your carbon footprint. There is also plenty of press about trying to save money. And there is no shortage of books out there on downsizing, organizing and in general, simplifying your life. Three separate lifestyle goals, 'green' living, frugal living and simple living, all supposedly better than the usual disposable, materialistic consumer culture the majority strives for. If you chose one of these lifestyles and followed it to a T you'd be doing pretty good for yourself because any of the above three would be better than what the general public does. But individually, each is incomplete because none have Christian values at their base. Take the tub for example. We're doing the 'green' thing because we're recycling a tub that otherwise would've made it into a landfill. We're doing the frugal thing because fixing up an old tub is much cheaper than buying a new reproduction claw tub. But we're not doing the simple thing because a person who embraces simple living would've hired out this job weeks ago and turned over their credit card number to the contractor and the designer and gone off to Vegas to avoid the stress that comes with tearing up a bathroom. So there are times when a person who practices simple living will throw money at a problem; a common mainstream solution in a society that underestimates the value of hard work. Likewise, a 'green' person would throw in the towel if he/she realized it might harm the bats nesting in his/her attic and outsource the work to a pricey eco-friendly contractor. The frugal person might just charge ahead and used the most toxic materials available to restore the tub, the fumes of which could kill all the bats in a 10 mile radius, just because they're the cheapest.
As a Catholic I was to save money on the project but not at the cost of the natural resources, like the frugal person. But unlike the 'green' person the health and well being of bats is not more important than that of my family so I'm not going to turn my attic into a bat sanctuary. And while living simply, and eliminating clutter and stress from our lives is important, spending money and relying on disposable conveniences and unnecessary indulgences is the wrong way to do so.
Catholics protect the planet and its resources because they're a gift from God. We live simply because Christ lived simply and to keep out focus on heavenly reward not earthly possessions. We spend less to avoid debt, usury and because fewer expenses means we need less income, therefore more time can be spent with our families serving Christ rather than working for the man. I bet you didn't know being a Catholic worker could be so trendy.
Every so often Catholic ideas become popular; just not the part where Christ is involved. Without Him, they morph into quasi religions of their own, fanatics and all. (St. Al Gore anyone?) Don't settle for the values society hands us when your Catholic faith offers you that and so much more. Living your faith ensures a healthy environment, a little money in your pocket and a simpler life, even when your bathroom is torn up and you've got four kids.


Veiled Glory said...

If you haven't visited already:

Catholic Worker in Oklahoma City. A veritable mountain of good stuff.

Kelly M. said...

Thank you veiled glory for all your comments and recommendations. Once I get a minute I will check them all out and maybe add some links. Glad to know someone is still reading this blog besides my husband.

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