Lessons on simple living

In Kansas City, Mo., a small group of Jesuit High School students and faculty worked with Jerusalem Farm, an organization that practices simple, sustainable living with a focus on human relationships and the seven points of Catholic social teaching.

Beyond Jerusalem Farm, we also went out into the surrounding community, Pendleton Heights, and helped neighbors who fell victim to strict housing codes and were in danger of expensive fines. 

Those we helped were unable to complete home repairs because of financial constraints or physical restrictions. We assisted residents by performing tasks such as scraping paint from home exteriors, painting homes, flipping and collecting compost, and performing other general housekeeping chores.

For me, this immersion challenged what physical objects I believed to be necessary in my life. It was almost like backpacking for a week without any electricity beyond a flashlight. I learned that it is possible to live a simple, sustainable lifestyle in the company of others and not just when you are traipsing through the woods.

One of the days I was at Jerusalem Farm, my small group and I drove around Kansas City to different grocery stores collecting food they could not sell. The farm uses the food for themselves and any extra they give away to those in need. By collecting the surplus of food from grocery stores, we still ate some great meals, but we did it all while reducing waste and in a less expensive way!

Another great example of this is the community night that we hosted at the farm. Everyone in the area is invited for community night regardless of their economic background or status, and they get to know each other and congregate over a meal. We didn’t watch a movie or do anything fancy. We all just enjoyed each other’s company while having some really good food!

I always thought simple living at the level seen at Jerusalem Farm was only possible in the wilderness, but this experience changed my view. Looking into the future, I am trying to live my life in a more simplistic way in order to have more time for the people I love and care about.