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Bearing Witness

“To be a witness does not consist in engaging in propaganda or even in stirring people up, but in being a living mystery; it means to live in such a way that one’s life would not make sense if God did not exist.”–Cardinal Suhard

As you may have noticed, I have plenty of ideas and opinions about how people ought to live, and I’m fairly comfortable putting them into words. I know some other folks in the Christian and prepper communities who share these traits. It can be helpful to remind people that we are our brothers’ keepers and members one of another, or that we can’t keep consuming the world at this rate and expect to leave a habitable planet to our children, or that since we are what we eat we ought to pay some attention to how our food is raised … or any number of other important points.

But in the end it isn’t our words that matter most. If I keep reiterating my views people are as apt to feel pushed or manipulated as inspired or helped. If I can get a group of like-minded people together to shout my views, the hearers are likely to feel daunted or defensive. If I want my convictions to be taken seriously, I may state them from time to time, but I must work them thoroughly into the substance of my daily life, so that people could infer them from watching how I work, how I eat, how I interact with my family and my neighbors. Such a witness demonstrates that a different way of life, centered on God’s call and not on the consumer vision, is both possible and satisfying.

I also need to maintain quietness in my space, in my mind, in my attitude, in my conversations, so that those who work and speak with me can consider the possibilities that open before them and listen carefully for God’s voice in their own hearts. Such silence is rare in our vocal and polarized culture, but I believe that it is necessary. As Søren Kierkegaard wrote,”All genuine instruction ends in a kind of silence, for when I live it, it is no longer necessary for my speaking to be audible.”

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