Folk Artist: Poverty

It’s good to revisit one of the vows I made many years past… and still practice today. I am reflecting on how my vow of poverty affects me. It means “to live simply so others can simply live.” I am a connector for people who want others to use the many things they no longer need and want a Sister to give them to those in need. I agree with simplifying “stuff” that we no longer use. In fact, the room where I do much of my living is filled with “gently used” things from someone else. I like to think of the previous owner using the room accessories and hope they brought more value when I received them.

Some days when I load my car to take to those who need such items, I become impatient with the time and energy it takes! That is actually when I pause to think about poverty and riches — the ability to have a car, to know a variety of people, and feel gratitude for those who generously contribute “stuff.”

I have made a practice, when I am complimented on a blouse or slacks I am wearing, not to respond, “I got a good deal at the thrift shop!” It feels like I am flaunting a bargain when I was just lucky — and thrilled— to find my size in apparel that looks good on me. Who needs to know, unless I’m bent on bragging about my poverty? When I find books that are perfectly suited to my reading interests I am most grateful. Unless the previous owner tore off the corner inside cover, I realize I am holding a book by an author I value at a price of $15.00 and I paid $1.50! It leads me to the abundance the world holds and is giving to me. These are a few thoughts, and I also believe writing thank-you notes has a place in my practice of poverty. Thanking others is a joy shared, and it may even renew the sense of abundance for others and me. The adage, “Reduce, re-use, recycle” is today’s agreement to living simply.

By Sr. Karlyn Cauley, SDS

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