045  “Modern Western culture is largely shorn of attentiveness to both habitat and habitus [way or habit of living].  Where we live–to what we are rooted–no longer defines who we are.  We have learned to distrust all disciplines of formative spiritual tradition, with their communal ways of perceiving the world.  We have realized, in the end, the ‘free individual’ at the expense of a network of interrelated meanings.”  – B.C. Lane, The Solace of Fierce Landscapes

Among the reasons for choosing to live in a tiny village in France, such as Limeuil, from which we returned recently,  might be to reside in a place that still pays attention to where it is, as well as the long-woven patterns of a way of life.  But you don’t have to go to France, or to a quiet medieval village–or to a village in Indonesia or Cameroon– to live in this way (though elsewhere the food, and especially the fruits and vegetables,  may not be as good!)  We all can live in relation to the habitats in which we find ourselves, and with the ways of living we have received and with which we wrestle.

I’m thinking about this in part because we are surrounded by so many people who are living un-rooted lives, with no care for our environment, with no sense of obligation to the communities on which they in fact depend, with disdain for history and little or no concern for the future.  We are tempted to do the same.  And we all live–at least here in the United States–in a media environment that promotes sensation, the latest trend, and variations on the idea that you can reach out and get for yourself everything you need without the hassles of dealing with other people, governments, laws, seasons, etc.  Even our National Public Radio station trumpets the claim that “every story begins with you.”   To my mind this avid embrace of self as all-sufficient, and the discarding of our need for rooting ourselves, are dangerous and profoundly unrealistic.

But I am also struck by how much is to be gained if we were to practice this sort of attentiveness with one another.  Understanding begins when I am invited to enter into your life, and allow myself to spend time in your environment and context, and take time to experience your habitus –your ways of thinking, your community, your practices of living.  When you ask me to cross over for a time into your habitat and habitus, and I do, I enter a little way into your world, your vision, your life.  When I invite you in, the same is true.  As long as we enter with respect, and without crashing around in each other’s “house”, we are both enlarged and blessed.

We can abide with one another, formed by and forming our traditions, taking up our places on the earth.