Lately, I’ve been feeling overwhelmed with stuff. We recently donated a box of clothes and other miscellany to a charity and had a garage sale to get rid of a few more things. It still doesn’t feel like enough. Like most Americans, we just have too much stuff in our house. Most of which we either don’t need or are saving for some future, as of yet to be determined, event. Christmas will be here before we know it and more things will come into our home (I have 3 small children and lots of relatives who love them). It was in this context that I read Marcus Grodi’s newest book Life from our Land: The Search for a Simpler Life in a Complex World.
I really enjoyed this book, and not because of any desire on my part to move to a farm or even out to the country. Anyone that knows me knows that I wouldn’t survive for very long in either situation. I am a city girl through and through. But what I most liked about this book was the emphasis on living a simpler life right where we are. That may be the country for some of us, but for many we don’t have to change our physical location to grow spiritually and in simplicity. The plethora of scripture quotes throughout the book was also a great bonus!
I’m also a fan of memoirs. While this is not intended to be a memoir, plenty of Grodi’s story is sprinkled throughout to satisfy my love of hearing people’s personal stories. I enjoyed hearing about his adventures learning to farm, taking on new challenges, and his reflections on what he learned in the process. Most importantly, how God played into everything.
It is God’s hand in all aspects of creation that leads to many of Grodi’s reflections in this book. An overabundance of berries covered in thorns teaches him that God’s bounty often comes with suffering; a sick cow that needs to be put down is a reminder that our plans are not always God’s plans. These are only two of many examples.
What I especially liked was that his reflections went far beyond the farm and land he has been working for many years. He is clear from the start of this book that these are not his thoughts “on” the land, but his thoughts “from” the land. That one word in the title makes all the difference. And I found it to be true. As someone who is quite happy in my city life, I got a lot out of this book. Grodi’s reflections on modern life, all our conveniences that often draw us away from human interaction and even further away from God’s creation, and taking a serious look at the overabundance of material wealth in the western world all hit home for me. I desire to bring more simplicity into my life and am struggling with just how to approach that. As Grodi says, “When all is done, and we stand before God, when the Book of Life is opened, when the fruit of our lives is examined, what will be important?” (p. 179) There is a lot to ponder in that one question.
In some ways the chapters in this book could stand alone, but I think it is worth reading it from end to end at least once. Now that I have read it through one time I think I could easily go back and choose a chapter to read just to spend time reflecting more on the thoughts and ideas presented in that one individual chapter.
If you are looking for a book about bringing more simplicity into your life, especially one that reflects Christian values of humility, holiness, and detachment in an effort to continue growing closer to God, this is a must read. Whether you see yourself retreating to the country to escape the fast-paced city life or not, the lessons in this book are worth considering regardless of where in life you currently find yourself.
And now I need to go figure out what other stuff in my life I can detach from.
Disclaimer: I received a copy of this book to review and no other compensation. All thoughts and opinions expressed here are entirely mine.
Kerri Baunach is a Catholic wife and mother of three boys (plus three in heaven). She and her family live in beautiful central Kentucky where she is active in her church, a member of Cursillo, and a Benedictine Oblate. Kerri often writes on her Catholic faith, pregnancy loss, her kids, and pro-life issues. Kerri is a former music librarian (16 years) now stay-at-home mom, was a musician for over 20 years, loves taking her kids to the library (and loves that they love it), is passionately pro-life, can’t cook, and has lived in six states. In additional to writing at Catholic Sistas you can also find Kerri on her own blog at Journal of a Nobody.