by Allegra Johnson
“Welcome Home” were the first words I heard walking into Jerusalem Farm this summer, and that hospitality transformed how I try to live my life. This summer, thanks to the Valder Social Justice Award I spent nine weeks living at Jerusalem Farm in Kansas City. Its mission is built on the four cornerstones of prayer, community, service, and simplicity. We offered blankets to those on the street, a place to stay, food, a glass of water, and, above all, hospitality. Hospitality is the welcome and connection between people. These acts enriched the lives of people in our Kansas City neighborhood, and wouldn’t have been possible without the practice of simplicity.
Novelist Amelia Barr put it this way: “It is always the simple that produces the marvelous.” Simplicity at Jerusalem Farm had many dimensions. We took bucket showers, and practiced “if it’s yellow let it mellow” to practice sustainability. These simple acts can be practiced right here at Loras.
Other acts of simplicity included walking and biking instead of driving. Simplicity allowed true freedom, by minimizing places I could go, but encouraging true exploration of the neighborhood. Being dedicated to simplicity means only buying sustainable and necessary objects. I brought this practice back to campus by shopping for clothes and furniture at Goodwill, Mission Thrift, and Plato’s Closet. I encourage you to try shopping at these great places, or walking to your favorite local coffee shop. With each of these little actions, we open ourselves up to consciousness and the present moment. Finally, simplicity meant no television for the summer.
And this is how simplicity produces the marvelous. By taking consumption and even just an hour of Netflix watching from our weekly schedule, we open ourselves up to being radically hospitable. With this free time you could catch up with a friend, stop on your way to class, or really ask someone how they are. Invite someone over and make them dinner. Take your time, and welcome the present moment, and every person you encounter, in simplicity.
And so, welcome home Duhawks! I invite you this year to practice simplicity, and free yourselves to offer true hospitality.