Brother Sun

18 January 1992

A couple years after my born-again experience, some friends and I went to see a movie called "Brother Sun Sister Moon." This modern day recreation of the early life of St. Francis de Assisi powerfully moved me in my early Christian life. The wonderful revelation he felt, his background in a well-to-do family, and his ouster by the religious establishment all hit close to home.

Two friends came to understand my craving for simplicity after viewing the movie. Jeff and Joyce wee my companions as I began to explore simplicity. I looked at life and tried to decide what could be left out to help me feel more at peace with the natural world around me.

One of the first things I did was to remove the watch from my wrist. I found myself paying much less attention to how long it took to get jobs accomplished and felt much less pressured in everything I needed to do. I woke when the sun came up and went to bed when I got tired. When school started back up, I found that I had to have some idea of time, so I ought a pocket watch. Having to et it out to see what time it was helped me to discipline myself into not looking any more than I really needed to.

I stopped watching TB and got more and more into books. The freedom from television schedules did more for me than anything in this period. I found that I had time to walk for hours along a river or creek, stopping to look at every flower I saw. I would sit on a rock in the middle of a creek and look at the constantly moving shadows and ripples as they formed. I'd look at the birds coming down to get a drink from the water's edge and realize that all this had been happening all along, but that I had never looked for it before.

Because I was looking for ways to discipline myself and simplify life, I liked at my clothes to see what might be done without. I took off my shoes and found that I could still walk, so I left them home. I started going everywhere without them. I discovered how cool the grass is and how hot an asphalt road is. Gravel parking lots drove me crazy until my feet were somewhat toughened. I learned the real meaning of winter as I walked through the snow back and forth from my car to class with no shoes. I learned how good mud felt oozing between the toes on a warm summer day and how nice it is to wash them off in a stream.

I couldn't take off my clothes without causing offense, but I did stop wearing underwear. I saw no reason to add another layer of soft clothe between me and the world. It was my responsibility to keep my clothes clean, and I didn't see any reason to wash more than necessary.

I grew a beard and let my friends cut my hair. I learned how to change my own oil and tune my own car. I learned to cook over an open fire and how to move from place to place by using the wind and my own muscles. I experimented with meatless diets and ways of cutting my expense for food to just cents per day.

And then, after about 18 months, I began to come out of this state of primitivism. I had learned a lot, and would never be the same. I found a lot of God in the natural world and learned that without much support I could be very happy. But I also learned that relentless questing after anything could be a god in itself. In the end, I learned something about moderation and balance. And I began to look more toward easy, natural ways of doing things instead of working quite so hard to be natural.

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