19 April 2009

wE sEem 2 b "gOoD nEwS"..

Just before the permaculture course started, I had a call from a girl from Covilha (a city 30Km from here)... she was a journalist of a local newspaper and she read about us on a local blog ...
That was funny I thought...

(all photos by Lusa news agency/António José)

So she came and made us lots of questions... it was while Simone and her friends from Berlin were here...
Soon after she published her article...Maren and Emma went to buy vegetables in our neighbour Maria and her husband, Casimiro, was all excited showing them the newspaper... it was a first page new, with a big picture and a big letters title which said "Alternative Christians in Povoa de Atalaia"...inside there was a 2 page article...among other things, she mentioned our alternative lifestyle, our many visitors from all over the world, the story of the land and how I end up here, our aim to be a monastic community reaching a balance between prayer, fellowship, work and rest, our good relationships with the village people and the permaculture course... It was actually great, and it gave the credits to God and the way we try to live with and for God...

I also thought the title was funny (with a bit of drama I would say , eh, eh), even though I made it clear that we don't identify with any kind of labels... Oh well, I guess it's a human tendency to label others, either to divide or to distinguish one group from others... I don't think we're much more different than many other people... Anyway, it didn't bother me so much... I don't like to call this community a "Christian community", first because not all of us consider ourselves "christians", and then because of the misconception the word "christian" so often carries...
But if other people call us "christians" I hope it's because they see something of Christ in us... and that is the best compliment for me :-) ...
As for "liberals", she probably meant that we are open minded and not fundamentalists or traditionalists... that pleased me as well... the word itself might come from "liberty", or freedom (as in portuguese is the same word, "liberdade")... If that is so, it's nice to realise that others see us as followers of Christ (even though you wouldn't see that in few hours), who proclaim freedom...
Isn't that the "Good News" ?!!!

As Jesus said : " The Spirit of The Lord is on me,
because God has anointed me
to proclaim GOOD NEWS to the poor,
God has sent me to proclaim FREEDOM for the prisoners
and recovery of sight for the blind,
to set the oppressed free,
to proclaim the Year of the Lord's favour."

Later on, after Jesus resurrected from death, He said to His disciples:
"Go into all the world and speak about the GOOD NEWS to all Creation."
The Good News is not only about eternal life, but it often comes with a call to "repent", which literally means "change your way of thinking", or change the way you live your life, cuz there is life, even before death...
I hope this is what we're doing... proclaiming the Good News of Freedom to all Creation (with or without words)...and Creation includes not only humans, but animals, plants, the stars, the sea, the birds... I love brother Francis of Assisi and how he took these words literally... :-) ...
I love what the apostle Paul said to the Romans once :
"All Creation is waiting in eager expectation for the children of God to be revealed. For the Creation was subjected to frustration... in hope that the Creation itself will be LIBERATED from it's bondage to decay and brought into the FREEDOM and glory of the children of God."

Again, the GOOD NEWS that brings FREEDOM for all... when we live in freedom, we change those around us, we change all nature around us... that's something we heard in the permaculture course as well... if we care for people, they will care for the earth... it's interconnected...
...freedom is not about doing whatever we want, but about living free from all that entangles us... it is to be who we were created to be... this for me it's FREEDOM...

Sorry if I'm "preaching" too much here, but I woke up inspired :-)...
I was also reading a meditation from Henri Nouwen for today...curiously about FREEDOM:
"When you are interiorly free you call others to freedom, whether you know it or not. Freedom attracts wherever it appears. A free man or a free woman creates a space where others feel safe and want to dwell. Our world is so full of conditions, demands, requirements, and obligations that we often wonder what is expected of us. But when we meet a truly free person, there are no expectations, only an invitation to reach into ourselves and discover there our own freedom.
Where true inner freedom is, there is God. And where God is, there we want to be."

Maybe that's what attracted this journalist to come here and see... and maybe that's what people see as a "good new" about us...
Few days after she published her article, I got another phone call, this time from a guy from the Lusa agency (the main news agency in Portugal who distributes news to all the media)... he wanted to come as well...so he did, with 2 other photographers (who took these pictures), and now the news are spreading like crazy in all sorts of newspapers and internet...
Another journalist is coming next week from Porto, and a guy also called from Lisbon and came to visit... he only stayed a few hours cuz he couldn't speak with anyone else (all the others are english speakers at the moment), but he was trying to propose me to be part of a Tv program about "magical places"...he kept saying that this place is magic, and he couldn't understand why so many people would come here when we have so scarce conditions, and in his point of view, so little comfort... Of course that Tv thing was a bit too much, so I said no...

All this triggered my mind to think about all that I'm writing now...
- what is it that these people see in this place that makes a good new, or a place to come and see ?
- what is that they are really looking for ?

At least, among so many other things published in the normal media, which mainly bring fear and hopelessness (like the "crisis" that everyone speaks about now), there is a search for something that is good and positive...
If we'd be more aware, and maybe getting information from other sources than the normal media, we'd realise that there are many good things in this world, that there's hope, and true Love does exist among people (which has nothing to do with corny Hollywood movies or soap operas) ...
maybe people are hungry and thirsty for something that connects with their hearts, something that their souls long for... Maybe places like this are oasis for people's souls... it shows to people that it is possible to live a different life, that it is possible to be content, satisfied and happy with little... that comfort is not only about material things...
Jesus also said ( he actually said pretty cool things, didn't He?) :
" look at the birds of the air, they don't sow or reap or store in barns, and yet God feeds them... see how the flowers of the fields grow. They do not labor or spin. Yet I tell you that not even Solomon in all his splendour was dressed like one of these... seek first God's kingdom and God's righteousness, and all these things will be given to you as well."
Have you noticed the birds ? They don't seem stressed nor worried... I often see them playing and singing... Even their nests, even though wonderfully made, they are not to last long... and they don't seem to care about that either...
Maybe the problem for many people is that we never get satisfied, nor content, nor thankful for what we have...we are bombarded by all sorts of advertisement which tell us " you need this, you need that, go and buy, you are a looser, go and buy, you are ugly, go and buy, you are miserable, go and buy, your neighbour has a nicer car, go and get a better one, you are out of fashion, go and buy..."
Truth is that we don't need most of the stuff we buy to be happy ...
After the 9/11, the message of president Bush to the Americans was " Go and buy stuff"...Great !!!

I recently watched a dvd during the permaculture course about
the power of community , how Cuba survived peak oil... I was amazed how they changed the whole country lifestyle after realising they couldn't keep up living as they used to anymore...mainly because of the USA embargo and after the Soviet Union collapsed in 1990...
" Cuba's economy went into a tailspin. With imports of oil cut by more than half – and food by 80 percent – people were desperate. This film tells of the hardships and struggles as well as the community and creativity of the Cuban people during this difficult time. Cubans share how they transitioned from a highly mechanized, industrial agricultural system to one using organic methods of farming and local, urban gardens. "
Every plot of land was turned into food gardens...doctors, lawyers, engineers were learning how to farm...there was no more chemical pesticides or fertilizers (thankfully), so they had to plant all things organically and without machinery... And what happened ?!!
They end up producing 80% of all they consume...everything is produced locally cuz transport was scarce... cars were replaced by bikes and health improved considerably... universities multiplied, from 8 (I guess) to 50, cuz it needed to be local... every neighbourhood has a local market with local food...

What an example !!!
So, lets stop and think when we hear about "crisis" ... it might be a good thing... maybe the best thing we need at the moment... to wake us all up !!! To make us think more globally and act more locally... to see the power of community restored... to see our values being reshaped ... to stop living in fear and start to live life as it should be lived ... it is possible for all humankind to have their basic needs met... and those who tell you this is utopia, are the same who wants you to live in fear... there is much in the world for everyone, but some want it all for themselves...

The rural areas in Portugal are being deserted of people, as most young people go to the main cities or abroad to work for money... Land is not more expensive than a flat in the city, but still, people get hooked on credits to buy a cement box...
the old people of today will eventually die, and the land will be sold by their heirs...
Portuguese government and the EU has no interest to support or encourage farming in Portugal, as their only interest is to fill our country with eucalyptus for the paper industry (even knowing that this monoculture will dry our soil in the near future)... Our Government gives subsidies for those who don't cultivate their land (strange...Hmm), it gives subsidies for those who uproot fruit trees...Hmmm...They invest loads of money to advertise things like "Come, join the army !!!" , but I never saw so much effort in what comes to encourage young people to come to the countryside and farm...Hmmm...
Where are we going ?!! where do we want to go ?!!
What kind of life do we want to live ?!!! What kind of future do we want our children and grandchildren to have ?!!! Do we think diplomas will feed their stomachs?!! Or do we want them to spend their lives in and out the universities, cuz when they come out there are no jobs...Hmmm...

Being a farmer these days is the same as being a looser, but everyone likes to eat...
Being a doctor gives someone a good status, but no one really wants to get sick...
Hmmm, it doesn't make sense to me...
I don't mean we don't need doctors, but we need them as much as we need farmers... If we look at a tribal group, probably there is one doctor and maybe one apprentice while the rest of the tribe are farmers or shepherds...
Anyway, I don't know if I'm too much off track now ...and I definitely made this post way too long... sorry about that !!!
I will finish with one more thought :
Sometimes what we need, is not that our circumstances change, but maybe we need to look at them in a different way...
the problem sometimes can be the solution !!! (one more permaculture principle)

Let us think and meditate about this...
if you think it's worth it ...

As I was typing this post, Debbie came to me saying that there was a portuguese family who wanted to see me...they read in a newspaper about the land and just came to visit... I had to laugh !!! On the way to the kitchen I was telling Debbie what I was writing about ... this family, Manuela, Antonio and Hugo ( their younger son), came all the way from Marco de Canavezes, up in the north, probably more than 3 hours drive...
People are attracted by Good News... like many went to John the Baptist, a lunatic of the time, living by the river Jordan, dressed in camel clothes, whose food was nothing more than locusts and honey...
I'm far from comparing myself with John the Baptist, but I wonder if the same Spirit is upon this place and in many other places throughout the world... the same Spirit that calls out people to change the way they are living and follow God in their hearts...the same Spirit who was upon Jesus to proclaim Good News of freedom... The same Spirit who descended upon Jesus' disciples to able them to do the same works He did on earth, and glorify God in Heaven...
The same Spirit who says "Come! All who are tired, thirsty, hungry... Come, and I will give you rest...Come and I will quench your thirst...you'll not feel hungry anymore... Come, and you will be satisfied !!! "

For those who have ears to hear, and eyes to read... Come !!!
Not necessarily to this place, or any other place, but to The Spirit that calls you...

10 comments:

Anonymous said...

Estou muito contente por saber que todos continuam bem.
Vou lendo os posts para saber como é o vosso dia a dia.


God Bless you.

See you soon.

Anonymous said...

Estou muito contente por saber que todos continuam bem.
Vou lendo os posts para saber como é o vosso dia a dia.


God Bless you.

See you soon.

Neno

Edna Matos said...

AMEN !

andarilho-monge said...

Continuo em espírito convosco... ainda não tive muito tempo para falarmos mais um pouco mas logo que possa escreverei algo mais sobre os caminhos que trilho...

E já agora, essa questão de nos chamarmos cristãos traz com ela muita poeira que levanta e encobre o essencial....basta-nos ser filhos ou avezinhas rebeldes do Pai como dizia S. Francisco de Assis..risadas..abraços na alma...

Baba said...

eh, eh, eh, gostei essa das avezinhas do Pai... ou da Mãe... :-)
Paz no coração irmão andarilho :-)
baba

andarilho said...

The Spring awakened
sleeping in the winter bed’s
hoped the dawn of a new human dream
warming on a shy sun
seeking the children’s smile
that exist in all dreams
whom never leaves and die…

E quanto mais os homens escrevem as ideias tentando lançar redes aos desejos, maior se tornam as risadas dos que já passaram para lá das outras margens da vida, porque esses já sabem e experimentaram nesse novo renascer, que o sonho apenas se realizará, quando se deixar o coração solto das amarras da lei humana que mata a Palavra…
por isso tantos a ocultarmos o rosto de Deus em nós....

Andy in Germany said...

I've just found you via Tall Skinny Kiwi's blog: It seems you're doing what we want to do, but we aren't getting very far and we seem to get blank looks whenever we talk to people.
Thanks for the encouragement. Is there some kind of network of believers doing this sort of thing?

Baba said...

Hi Andy , are you in the country side too?
Most of people I know living monastically are in cities, but not so much of a network..
what are you guys doing?
I'm simply living life as I like... God does all the rest... I don't have a plan really.. if that helps :-)
you can write to my e.mail shantii4all at gmail.com

Andy in Germany said...

Hello Baba...

At the monment we're on the edge of Stuttgart, so not quite in the countryside, yet. Our long term goal is to be further out though, doing the same as you. I've noticed that a lot of missional activity is in cities but I think we need to start reaching rural areas as well. I reckon that in years to come simple living and permaculture will become very important in rural areas as people move more to the cities: we're already seeing this process begin in Germany.
The 'dream' is a missional-type (I don't like labels either) community, living simply, looking after our local environment and working in the arts, very much in the style of the Celtic Church in the UK.
I'm enjoying the blog- do you have a subscribe button I've missed?

Anonymous said...

Olá Baba è a xanda outra vez esqueci-me de dizer o nome do meu marido è josé e é de Coimbra, beijos e fica na paz.