Something From Nothing

I don’t think I’ve ever explained some of my thinking re. poor folks and the depth of why I gravitate toward do-it-yourself (d.i.y.) stuff like making simple guitars out of junk and the like. Here’s the deal.

The deal often prices whatever it is clear out of sight for folks without much cash or means to get some, or enough loot to purchase the object/s in question.

When illness causing poverty hit our family divorce ensued and while my brother and I by law went with my mother to “the big city” my father had to fend for himself.

I learned so much from those years, watching how he and my Mom had to “make do” with what they had.

From hunting, fishing, bartering and creative imagination along with relationships to good-hearted people all of us survived. It wasn’t always comfortable but we did it.

With help from the government welfare program of the day, berry-picking, wild asparagus harvesting and small gardening, etc., in the countryside there were a load of lessons to be gained.

Years later I studied the origin of archery, then modern-day bow hunting and along with my earlier historical research dug deeper in to how Native Americans (First Nations people in Canada), Aboriginal people of Australia, Maori folks in New Zealand and other tribes and subsistence people gathered, hunted, gardened food as well as made a massively wide variety of tools and items needed in do-it-yourself fashion.

Note, they did (and do) so not merely on basis of a personal challenge or fashion, not always to impress anyone but to meet actual needs and sometimes wants.

Many of these folks had been hammered by whites wanting the land, huntable animals, other natural resources and space to colonize. In time a lot of people moved into urban areas looking for work, survival somehow, somewhere. A whole lot of white people ended up doing the same.

To discuss how the urban poor do all this would take another blog, but they do. Some of them do it legally and some illegally. Suffice to say I both respect and understand the ethics among the rural and urban poor. Yet for many, such is a mountain so high they neither know where nor how to begin the climb.

But this blog isn’t about class nor politics -read on.

Let’s take an example from education -unless you somehow come up with grants or scholarships. There are many “hoops to jump through” some which close the door before one barely gets started. But how many people end up in massive debt due to student loans and on top of that, often cannot seem to land a living wage job based on the degree if and as they actually finish?

If you are young, and jobs are available, if you are a single parent even with only one child and secure a day job, these are two scenarios that are often still untenable with regard to making enough money to get the education you need for longer term, living wage employment in a field you are prepared for and eager to take on.

Here’s an example close to home for me:

I have often researched chaplain’s degrees and certificates available as I do a fair bit of jail and prison visits/services as a volunteer chaplain. Now understand, I’ve been doing such work for many years but without any “authorized certification” though the responses and fruit has been super encouraging and so confirmed by both the incarcerated as well as various authorities where I’ve served.

I truly know how to do deep research via the internet and constantly study in this and many other areas of concern and interest.

So far all the educational resources have come up quite short in two ways: too little of value due to my years of experience in one set of what’s out there, or so expensive (and time-consuming) that I couldn’t afford either expense or time to begin and finish the course!

Now, I’m not a professional chaplain, I don’t require a degree or certificate to open doors and do the work and my needs are met as a missionary working with the local church/community so for me it’s not a major issue. Not so for others! They must eat and come up with basic health care, in some cases child care, transportation and all the essentials of food, housing, etc., taking both credited courses as well as at least a part-time job, juggling all of this to somehow “get ahead”, succeed, get a “seal of approval” that mainstream whatever-it-is-profession often requires for acceptance in a given post.

This is but one example -and from a guy (me) who doesn’t even have to worry about my or my  family’s basic needs being met which most folks certainly do!

The cost$ of capitalism and accreditation often keep marginal folks marginal.

This is where the creative, the risk-takers, the “I’m giving it a shot, I can only fail… and other’s may scoff at me, my life and/or my job and interest, but so be it!” comes in. It indeed calls for faith, a mental and emotional toughness, a willingness to color outside societal lines, norms and often foolish, condemning judgments.

This is faith, hope and love stuff.

John the Baptist was the forerunner announcing the Messiah -what a weirdo! Really. Read up on that ringer in the Gospels. Some would judge “A wasted life!” -surely.

The true wealth is not in gaining acceptance of the majority or minority, nor is it in keeping up with the Joneses (who often are far more messed-up than the inner-city homeless have ever been. Life doesn’t amount to whom we can impress nor how society (Christian or otherwise) judges you as a person. The core issues are love, relationships and using those means God gives you to meet basic needs and serve Him by serving OTHERS.

After my parents’ divorce I watched my beaten-down Dad design a little place for himself. He located a small trailer frame, the proper weight-bearing tires, scavenged the wood and etc., installed the electrical bits and created a little, livable home for himself parked at the end of a channel off of Fox Lake, Wisconsin that lead out to the lake itself. He had his core needs met. He had a LOT of friends. He ended up with a very small wooden skiff, oars and cane-pole fishing gear. He knew how to raise nightcrawlers (great worms for bait fishing).

It was a 3 minute walk to the boat, a 20 minute row out to where the fish were biting, and a whole lot of fish fry every time I visited him after the divorce.

The meals were simple, punctuated with free or super cheap greens and veggies… but as I look back at his life I see a freedom from “the world’s” sucking, life-choking systems on the one side of things, as well as a huge group of friends and friendships that saw him through until he passed at 84 years of age.

He had saved up money to pay for his funeral, burial and left exactly zero debt.

Back to me in finishing this- small homebrew guitars, a simple lifestyle that allows me to give what I have, share what I’m able to share, love and enjoy friendships (many that will prove literally eternal) are what I think of as we approach another Christmas.

It is ABSOLUTELY the grace of God in my life, I’m certain of that!

One of my all-time favorite verses relating to my Savior, His apostles and I hope you and I: “…as sorrowful yet always rejoicing, as poor yet making many rich, as having nothing yet possessing all things.” 2 Corinthians 6.10

That little Child in the manger continues to teach anyone willing to listen:

“HE HAS FILLED THE HUNGRY WITH GOOD THINGS; And sent away the rich empty-handed. -Luke 1.53

“Then He said to them, “Beware, and be on your guard against every form of greed; for not even when one has an abundance does his life consist of his possessions.” -Luke 12.15

Besides the grace of “ears to hear” from the Lord, James is likely a good finish to my thoughts here, and I am so grateful for his words!

“But if any of you lacks wisdom, let him ask of God, who gives to all generously and without reproach, and it will be given to him.”

The kingdom of God is not “the kingdom of wealth”. It is not the kingdom of capital. We are clearly and obviously not The King -but He DOES invite us into HIS kingdom!

May we move from ignorance to knowledge and knowledge to wisdom. May we be willing to “give ourselves to humble tasks/associate with the lowly”, and give thanks for the opportunity to love because “He first loved us!”

As always, thanks for stopping by. -Glenn

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