This blog post is long overdue. At the beginning of December the other YAVs and I went on an Advent retreat to the Agape religious community in the middle of nowhere in central Mass.
Saturday night we showed up to this large cabin in the dark woods that was overflowing with people we didn’t know. We got there right as mass was starting– the atmosphere was relaxed but sacred and the homily was about Nelson Mandela and nonviolence. After the service all 60 of us there shared the potluck meal and later people gathered around the wood stove in the living room to sing folk songs into the night.
We knew right away this was an interesting and unique place.
Agape is a progressive social justice Catholic community committed to nonviolence and sustainable living. We had no idea what to expect when we got there, but had a wonderful and moving experience. We had time to connect with other people of faith interested in the same social justice issues, hiked out to the Quabbin Reservoir, had time for devotion, discussion, and silence, and learned a whole awful lot about renewable energy sources, splitting wood, composting toilets, and Catholic mysticism.
We had a great weekend and talked a lot with Brayton and Suzanne (the couple who leads/runs Agape) about their commitment to sustainable and simple living– they live off donations so they don’t have to pay taxes as conscientious objectors to war, are vegetarian and eat organically and from their garden as much as possible, use used fry oil in their car instead of gas, have solar panels on their house for electricity, and (my personal favorite) use a wood stove to heat the cabin.
What really impressed me about the Agape is that every choice about how they live is incredibly well-thought out, intentional, and in accordance with their beliefs. Every part of their life stems from and is part of their faith, something I greatly admire. Instead of shaping their faith to fit in with our culture and expected lifestyle, they shape their lives in and through their relationship with God.
In Freedom of Simplicity Richard Foster calls this life at the divine Center. This is a way to love God with not just our whole hearts but our whole lives– the profound moments along with daily mundane details– by bringing them and all of ourselves into Christ. Foster challenges each of us to “live out your day so that you fill each moment with the thought of God” and to “bring God into each activity, infusing it with the divine Light.”
The Food Justice League with Brayton at the Agape Community