Speaker Encourages Listeners to Simplify Their Lives
02/16/14 by Guest Writer
By Tonia Black-Gold
Environmental advocate, author, and managing director of the faith-based non-profit Blessed Earth, Nancy Sleeth visited Catawba College on February 11 sharing her journey toward simplicity and leaving behind a plan that students, faculty, staff and community members could use to simplify their lives.
Sleeth’s visit was co-sponsored by the Center for the Environment at Catawba and the Lilly Center for Vocation and Values.
Sleeth, who makes her home in Lexington, Ky., shared an abbreviated version of her metamorphic journey. She evolved from a Jewish girl who earned a journalism degree from Georgetown University and married a non-Jewish carpenter to her life today as a Christian who advocates simplifying one’s life and lessening one’s environmental footprint. She contends that those who follow her advice achieve happiness, meaning and balance in life while helping to save our dying Earth.
She shared how she and her husband came to reevaluate their lives after several “bad things” happened to them. These bad things included the drowning death of her brother in front of her children and the stalking of her husband, then an emergency room physician, by one of his patients.
“We realized we didn’t have a moral compass or an anchor,” Sleeth said.
Additionally, Sleeth’s husband, Matthew, also began seeing changes in diseases he was treating in the emergency room. The frequency of cancers showing up in younger patients was increasing dramatically. This led him to assert “the world is dying.”
“We decided ‘Don’t run for the cure, start looking for the cause,’” she explained.
Matthew Sleeth took a book he found in the waiting room at the hospital where he worked. It turned out to be a Bible. His subsequent reading of this book led to his and his family’s faith conversion.
“We started keeping the Sabbath as a family. We took an environmental footprint of ourselves and found we were dead average. We began downscaling. We moved to a house that was the size of our former garage. We cut back on fossil fuel. We cut our trash production. The more we gave up and away, the lighter we felt – the more joyful we felt,” Sleeth said.
Eventually Sleeth’s husband gave up his position and gave up his identity as a physician. He and his wife each authored several books and began getting invitations to speak to different groups about their life conversion.
Sleeth asked those in the audience to fill out a double-sided worksheet and consider in the process adopting one or more of the options outlined on this sheet to help them begin to simplify their lives. The options on the worksheet included keeping the Sabbath; reducing use of the Internet and technology; re-evaluating the use of money; purging stuff; getting involved in the local community; or exploring God’s created world. Sleeth noted that she has adopted all these options, and they have helped simplify her life.
Sleeth is the author of Go Green, Save Green: A Simple Guide to Saving Time, Money, and God’s Green Earth and Almost Amish: One Woman’s Quest for a Slower, Simpler, More Sustainable Life.