-Jesus of Nazareth (Matt 6:24-34)
I went on the first of my October Twin Tours this past weekend. It did not go exactly as well as I had hoped for. I was counting on earning a significant amount of my rent by busking; to my great dismay, it rained all of Thursday in Philly.
That night I was trying to find my way to a Christian small group in the rain. I hitched a ride with a guy who took pity on me and drove me near to where the Circle of Hope meeting was to be held. I met with the group leader shortly before it was to begin and partook in amazing cupcakes. That night, we were to write original psalms, with Psalms 13, 22, and 42 as our models. I wrote:
God, it does feel as though you've abandoned me from time to time. I don't really know what to expect - how are you going to provide? And sometimes I cower in fear. I'm afraid, just as mom is... is this sustainable? How long can I continue to live this way? If I am truly seeking your will for my life, then why haven't you provided for me all that has been promised? But then I'm humbled when I see your provisions for me. Everything I need and with perfect timing! Why did it rain all day today? Perhaps so you could demonstrate your goodness and provision in a whole 'nother way - something that would allow you to keep your mystique. Heaven forbid I put you away in a box! You've shown me that you can be most creative in how you provide for my needs! Lord, give me the strength and faith to persevere. Let not my worries get the best of me! If you provide for the lilies and sparrows, will you not also provide for me? Thank you for your promises. I know you are faithful. Let my work and my life be pleasing to you, to bring you utmost glory!
Allow me to bear my heart a bit: I'm frustrated and beat down. Chewed up by the city - though not spit out! - and hardly having earned any money since my move, I sometimes struggle with doubt, fear, and insecurity.I don't really have any money and apparently money is what makes the world go round. So I suppose you could say I suffer from existential vertigo every once in a while.
Still, I have found over the past year that God has provided for all my needs in truly remarkable ways. I joined the NYC freegans last December and began eating near 100% freegan in June. That is to say: my grocery bills no longer exist. And since my move to NYC, I have also been gifted a laptop computer, iPod, cell phone, camera, computer speakers, clothes, even a metro card!
In the mean time, I have increasingly offered myself - my music, time, effort, gifts, and passions - for free to anyone who should ask or desire it. For my VVOT Tour, I played donations-based shows in 20 cities along the eastern US; in return I received free rides via hitchhiking and free lodging via couch surfing. Of course, the people I played for were not always the people offering rides and lodging. I could not afford to return the favors that so many did me, just as many others did not pay to see me perform my music. So how does this free economy work?
I have found that in the free economy, there is a different kind of "invisible hand" at work. Rather than being moved by principles of supply and demand - as the hand of the free market is believed to be - the hand of the free economy is moved by compassion, generosity, "asset mapping." So I can give all of me - literally, everything that I am, say, and do - to my community, to my city, to the Church; and I can expect that the invisible hand of the free economy (what I call the goodness and provision of God), will meet every last one of my needs.
Bearing this in mind, I am declaring my official incorporation in the free economy! What does this look like? Well, rather than making financial transactions with people, such as offering a music lesson for a certain sum of money, I will be making existential transactions with God. When I give a free guitar lesson, it is not necessarily for my own benefit or even the benefit of the pupil; but rather for the glory of God and His Kingdom! I believe that God will honor my generosity and provide all my needs, as promised in Matt 6:33.
Is this foolproof?
At this point, there's no way to tell. I can only trust God, experiment with it, and see what happens! I've had this idea brewing in my mind for a couple months and I will begin to implement it this week, my first absolutely intentional activity in the free economy. You can witness its manifestation over the next few days as I head out to Central Park to teach free guitar lessons. That's right, FREE guitar lessons at Columbus Circle! Please feel free to come and join me between 1 and 6p on Thursday, Friday, or Saturday. I'll definitely report how it goes. In the mean time, I hope to see you there!
If you'd like to follow me along or meet me out there, please check out my calendar page for more details! Thanks =)