Last week I read Seven: An Experimental Mutiny Against Excess by Jen Hatmaker, and thinking about this book is taking up the better part of my brain. The book is the storytelling of her efforts to do a fast of sorts for seven months, from seven different things.
One month she eats seven foods. One month she wears seven articles of clothing. One month she gives seven things away every day. One month she adopts seven new earth-friendly habits. You get the idea.
I have resisted reading this book because I sort of had a feeling that it was going to (to steal the author’s own phrasing) mess with me.
But I finally borrowed Sarabeth’s copy to read while she is in Kenya. But before I opened it up I asked my Saturday morning small group if they would read it with me, because I knew I was going to feel the need to do something once I had read it.
And of course, I was right. I am coming unglued with the need to DO SOMETHING RIGHT NOW.
But never fear, I am not going to preach to you about this book or about being a consumer American or about why we should all do the projects in this book right this very minute. At least, not yet.
(But beware, because in January, my small group is going to do something.)
For now, just so you will not worry, as I did, that this book is no fun, I just want to share with you this little bit. I may have actually woken members of my family up laughing out loud at this in the middle of the night.
I was amazed to learn that in Austin, TX, where the Hatmakers live, there is a group of people who will come and plant a garden in your backyard and then they get to harvest half of the produce and sell it at farmers’ markets. They even come back and help you maintain your garden. Are you kidding me?? I was all ready to pack up and move to Austin solely on the basis of this piece of information, but then I remembered that Austin is in Texas.
So the setting for this excerpt is that the Hatmakers are beginning the garden project in the backyard,
Hearing a low hum, I looked for a swarm of locusts or approaching tractor. The hum grew louder, picking up volume and definition. Our heads popped up as we attempted to identify the crescendo and conceal our alarm. The sound became chattery and high-pitched, causing a fight-or-flight response in me, left over from ten years in student ministry. Then they descended:
Twenty-five teenagers on a mission trip from Arlington.
Steven failed to mention they were coming to “help.”
Evidently, ours was the third garden install of the day, and this church group was assigned the heavy labor to provide a superior spring break option other than starring roles in Girls Gone Wild South Padre.
Let me sum up their involvement: Twenty-three of them flirted while the other two sporadically tossed grass clods aside (which I retrieved and put in trash bags). The event also included: water poured on heads, cheerleading moves practiced on trampoline, and one girl who sat in my living room with sweet tea because she was “overcome.”
I fully remember why we quit youth ministry.
I literally shed tears laughing through this bit. I love students so much, but I have definitely had my share of experiences like this on “mission trips.”
I laughed a LOT while reading Jen’s book, which is helpful. If I wrote a book about fasting from seven things for seven months, I would be in danger of increasing the suicide rate of readers. (Or perhaps I just wouldn’t ever find a publisher.)
Jen’s power to make you laugh and her willingness to laugh at herself along the way make you want to throw your hat in with her.
She has me thinking that it might actually be fun, and that the life change it will work in my heart will just be a side benefit.