|NASA image of light pollution on earth. Everything lit up is "on-the-grid."|
There is something appealing to the rustic man in all of us about living off-the-grid. Today, that phrase indicates a lifestyle of not being hooked up to modern amenities, a freedom from reliance on the system, a DIY attitude with maverick style. I don't fully intend to live that kind of off-the-grid life, though, believe me, I'm tempted.
What I do want to do is to live, in some ways, spiritually off-the-grid. Now, don't get me wrong. I'm not a spiritual isolationist. We are all a part of the Church, apart from which we cannot function as or even be Christian. I don't want to be off that grid. What I want to be, spiritually, is off the worldly grid.
I've always had a fascination with two particular religious orders: the Franciscans and the Carmelites. Both take very seriously the way of detachment. St. Francis desired no wealth, and yet frequently was surrounded by it. His detachment allowed him to take ordinate pleasure in the goods of the world, but not to be seduced by them. The Carmelites, likewise, desire nothing more than total attachment to God, and that requires that nothing, even the greatest of the world's goods, stands in their way. Attracted though I may be to the Dominican goal of understanding the Christian Mysteries, I would rather be in love with them than understand them (yes, I realize my Dominican friends will correct me here). To love them so to understand them, and to understand them so to love them, these are our spiritual goals, and ultimately, to love God.
So what does it mean to be spiritually off-the-grid, detached from the world? This is one of the things I hope country wisdom will teach me. Although I am a teacher, when I come home, I will be too far from civilization to bother with it. The country will be my daily retreat, my place of refuge from the storm of hurried city life.
I suspect that it includes not relying so much on the world, being able to go peacefully about one's life even if the world is crashing down around us, not taking our cues from the world, and being self-sufficient.