Koinonia Farm Part 3 (as written on June 13, 2009)

My Experience at Koinonia Farm
Volume 3
By Dan Truesdale
November 16, 2008 – June 13, 2009

Hmmm, by the looks of that range of dates, we’ve got a lot of ground to cover.  Lets get to it.

First of all, I’d like to say that my slacking off in the update letter writing department is in no way a reflection of not wanting to keep in touch with all of you.  It has really just been a really busy past 7 months.

My internship ended on December 19th so the next day I packed up my little red ford focus and hit the road.  I drove the whole 16 hours straight because I didn’t really feel like stopping anywhere and I actually only stopped once for a break and to get gas.  I’ll spare you the details of how I was able to not stop for potty breaks, haha.

I spent about 3 weeks back in the chicago area staying with my parents and I got to spend some time with a lot of you and that was great.  I realized while I was back in chicago that the thing that I miss most as I am here in SW Georgia is the people.  Developing new relationships with people has always been easy for me, but it gets tiring after a while.  I came to an interesting realization about this a couple of weeks ago at this weekend seminar type thing that was hosted here at Koinonia.  The seminar thing was called the School for Conversion and it was focused on the idea that we all need to be converted over and over again.  To explain things a little: for me a conversion experience applies to a lot of facets of my life as I develop new passions or new ways of seeing the world around me I am converted to a new way of thinking and acting.  A lot of the time after being converted to a new way of thinking and being invigorated with passion and a vision for the future or how I think things ought to be, the vision leaks.  Over time the vision and passion leak away and then I turn to something else and have a new vision and new passion.  I don’t think this is all bad, but there are some things that aren’t so good about it and I’ll get to those in a sec.  I think a major cause of this lack of perseverance and consistence is that I grew up in a culture that trained me to do just what I’ve been explaining.  I have been trained to drive hard at something for a little while and then when it ceases to be satisfying or starts to get too hard move on to something else and repeat the process, endlessly.  A result of this lifestyle, from my experience, is broken relationships or a lack of depth in relationships.  When I was into Facebook, a social networking website, I had something like 800 friends, 800!  That’s ludicrous, how could I ever expect to have any depth of friendship with that many people?  There are, of course, advantages to this type of lifestyle including being exposed to many different perspectives and world views, having a place to stay or people to spend time with in many areas of the country (maybe the world if one moved around that much), relative safety and comfort in knowing that very few people (if anyone) really knows those deep dark secrets, opportunities to learn new things and to do new things, a very long and impressive resume, the freedom to get up and go on a whim, etc., etc., etc.  The way I see it, the major disadvantages of this type of lifestyle are as follows: very little depth in relationships can lead to loneliness; a lack of commitment can lead to limiting ones potential influence; not being grounded somewhere can lead to a lack of understanding of one’s identity and purpose; and it leads to short-sighted decisions that are based on how they effect me in the short term instead of how they effect us in the long term.  Anyway, I’m starting to get tired of starting over with new friends and new places and I hope that sometime in the near future I will be able to establish lasting roots with lasting friends in a lasting place.

Another thing that I am realizing is that my description of what has lead me to Koinonia has been changing over time.  When I first got here I explained to people that I came to Koinonia basically because I felt called to transform my lifestyle from one that is destructive to the life around me to one that is beneficial to all life around me.  Lately, I have been explaining this a little differently.  I have been explaining my journey as seeking a life that glorifies God and that makes sense.  I think that my life makes more sense than it used to, but it still doesn’t make a lot of sense.  I feel that my impact on the world is less bad than it used to be, but it still isn’t good.  In some conversations that I’ve had about this lately, some people have been telling me that I’m an extremist and that I need balance and that it is unrealistic to live a life that is holistically good and that I need to look out for myself.  I think these people are exactly right in some ways and way off in others.  I think that I am an extremist and I think that that is good.  In Revelation 3:15-16 God says, “I know your deeds, that you are neither cold nor hot. I wish you were either one or the other! So, because you are lukewarm—neither hot nor cold—I am about to spit you out of my mouth.”  It can be dangerous to take Bible passages out of context, but I don’t think that I am doing that in this case.  This passage illustrates that God would rather have his people be hot (fully devoted to him) or cold (totally turned away from him).  This makes a lot of sense to me because it makes me angry when people only give half of their effort to something and it ends up failing.  It seems like a huge waste to be lukewarm.  I would much rather give myself fully to a couple of things than to do a half ass job of many things just as I would rather give myself fully to God than to give only part of myself to him and still do some things my way.  2 Peter 2:21-22 says, “It would have been better for them not to have known the way of righteousness, than to have known it and then to turn their backs on the sacred command that was passed on to them. Of them the proverbs are true: ‘A dog returns to its vomit,’ and, ‘A sow that is washed goes back to her wallowing in the mud.’”  In light of this passage, how can I go on with business as usual when it makes no sense?  Oh, and by the way, a sow is a mature female pig and a pig will return to its vomit just as a dog will.  I saw it the other day.  Anyway, I think I do need balance in my life, but not balance that causes harm to those around me.  It may be unrealistic to live a life that is holistically good and not just less bad and it may be impossible for me to achieve, but it is not impossible for God because nothing is impossible for God.  Only by his power and by his energy and by his grace will he be able to lead me to a life that is good.  I do not want to leave a sour taste in the world’s mouth when I leave this place so I will continue to strive to live a life that glorifies God and makes sense.

It is so easy for me to point out the things in my life that don’t make sense, but its difficult to see how to change so that it does make sense.  For example, it doesn’t make any sense to put gasoline in my car and drive it around when I know that everything about that process is harmful to life on earth.  On the other hand, it makes a lot of sense to me to go to my friends wedding in Indiana, but if I choose to drive there then I choose to put gasoline in my car and in that I choose to do harm to life on this earth.  Lets see, maybe if I put ethanol in my car and then drive up for my friends wedding, maybe then I won’t be doing any harm.  Oh wait, any ethanol that I can get right now was made from corn that took at least 10 calories of oil to get 1 calorie of corn so even in that I would be doing harm.  Maybe if I sold my car and got a car with a diesel engine and put used vegetable oil in it, maybe then I won’t be doing any harm.  Oh wait, I would still need to use diesel fuel to start the engine or I would need to add harmful chemicals to the vegetable oil and use more energy to process it into bio-diesel so even in that I would be doing harm.   Maybe I could use public transportation, oh wait, that runs on oil.  Maybe I could ride my bike, oh wait when I get the inevitable flat tire, I need a replacement tube and that tube was made using energy from oil.  Maybe I could walk, hmm, that might actually be an option that makes sense, but then it would take me a couple of months; I might be able to swing that… maybe.  I guess what I’m trying to say here is that until we transform our lives in such a way that we aren’t polluting the planet, our lives don’t make any sense.

So, here’s a list of things that I’ve been doing down here in the past 8 months: harvesting pecans, sorting pecans, eating pecans (mmmm they’re really good), planting vegetables, mulching the vegetables, harvesting vegetables, pulling out weeds in those same vegetables, installing rainwater catchment systems, designing and installing passive irrigation systems, designing and building poultry forage areas, protecting poultry from predators, raising chicks, goslings and ducklings, bee-keeping, designing and installing ponds, designing and building fences, taking care of goats, cattle, pigs, fowl and bunnies, slaughtering and butchering goats, fowl and bunnies, preserving and tanning animal skins, planting trees, propagating trees, mulching trees, pruning trees, pruning blueberry bushes, mulching blueberry bushes, marketing blueberries, picking blueberries, eating blueberries (they are sooooooo good and they are native perennials so pretty much all that needs to be done to produce crops every year for many years to come is prune, mulch, weed and harvest), working on the Permaculture team budget for the next fiscal year (the farm is split up into several areas and each area has a team of people responsible for that area and the budget for that area), researching fence standards and specifications for our grass-fed cattle project, designing and laying out the cattle pasture and associated infrastructure (fences, water, future buildings), planning Permaculture Design Courses for next year, building an outdoor wood fired cook stove, reading a lot, journaling a lot, praying a lot, thinking and reflecting a lot, sleeping enough (most of the time), having a lot of fun, talking to lots of different people, and probably a bunch of other stuff that I can’t remember right now.

Thank you for reading this.  I hope that it challenges you to a new way of thinking.  I hope that it encourages further correspondence.  I hope that we can work together to figure out how to live our lives in a way that makes sense.  I hope that we can have fun while doing it.  I hope that love will persevere. I hope.

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