Twinkle twinkle little star, how I wonder what you are?




The following text is adapted from a talk by Father Richard Rohr and includes thoughts from Edward Abbey about Warren Johnson’s book Muddling Towards Frugality.

Statue of Saint Francis in the snow at the lake - bruce witzel photo

Most of us know we are not heroes. Most of are not like St Francis who can dive into a life of voluntary simplicity, but most of us our muddlers . . .

We can try here and there . . .

Christams star over the lake & universal peace - bruce witzel photo

We are all encouraged and allowed to make choices and decision, to do our part, to live in the personal form instead of the commodity culture.


Kristen's subdivision @ Christmas 2013

About the commodity culture – it’s not all bad.

It’s given us so many good things – in the world of medicine, in the world of understandable needed comforts for many. But as we all know there seems to be no end to our need for more comfort, more convenience, and things that we thought were luxuries ten years ago have now become even necessities. This is not going to serve us well.


Oak Bay Village, B.C. - bruce witzel photo

After generations of extravagant and reckless industrial expansion we are clearly entering an age of economic scarcity. While human demands continue to rise natural resources do not, especially the non-renewable kind. These become harder to find and more expensive to extract, process, transport and distribute. This simple brute fact is the basic cause of inflation, despite the inability of most professional economists to see it.

The law of diminishing returns is coming into its full effect. Technological developments can delay the process but they cannot halt or reverse it – nor can we rely on government or big business to save us. Planning for further growth delays the adjustments that must be made. The best way to deal with the end of affluence is to accept it, not fight it, and to begin here and now the unavoidable adaption’s on an individual, family, and community basis – piecemeal, experimental, muddling toward frugality.

Montreal Canada (in spring) - bruce witzel photo

Jesus and so many spiritual teachers down to our time say that the only way to experience your own experiences, to experience your own depth, is to live in the personal mode – being present to what is, to what is right in front of you before you judge it, critique it, analyse it, explain it, or try to manipulate it.

It is what it is.

Artwork by Dan Hudson exhibited in the Whyte Museum of the Canadian Rockies

We all have to find very concrete practices, and practice it every day – maybe a bit of chosen solitude, maybe a walk in nature, maybe some silence where I don’t fill the moment with noise, or with any kind of entertainment . . . 

As Neil Postman once warned, we are going to “amuse ourselves to death” much more than “our freedoms are going to be taken away from us.”

Holiday In the Sun by Dan Hudson - 1984

(the above artwork is from the exhibit Theories of Entanglement by Dan Hudson)


Happy Christmas and peace - from Bruce Witzel

~ Bruce ~


… twinkle twinkle little star how i wonder what you are


    • Yes Rosalienne. More often than not I feel sick and quite unhappy in a mall. “Shop to you drop” is an addiction like any other, and no one of us caught in an addictive pattern can think about things with wisdom and be well.

    • Thank you Anarette. The forest stewardship program you are living is truly in the footsteps of Francis. The green building features you embrace is something each and every new home could and must adapt to. As a carpenter I know that with forethought and sustainable design principles, this doesn’t have to cost more or use more resources. At the planning stage if costs do happen to rise above a projected budget, they can be offset by lowering our swollen expectations and building smaller.

      I was so happy how you removed your traditional septic tank and it’s drainage field to protect the wetlands. This was a point I brought up with Rosalienne (Three Worlds, One Vision) in the comment section of my previous post (

      Reading about your life and wildlife sanctuary at “Francishoeve” truly made made my day. 🙂

      • Thanks Bruce for pointing me to your compost post, there is lots of great information there. Happy to read that you enjoyed reading about Franciscushoeve. You are so right about a sustainable design not having to cost more. And the best feature is that you can save for years to come by not building those “swollen expectations”. BTW I love that expression. We should get back down to earth with our expectations in this materialistic world. Happy writings; keep up your illuminating work!

  1. “Muddling toward frugality” is a great phrase. Our moms turn 80 this month; both moved out of homes into senior living communities this year. “Right-sizing” is a phrase they use. I went from a 4 bedroom house to sharing half a duplex rental after my husband died. These are actually joyful transitions to more manageable lifestyles, but there’s kind of an attitude of condolence surrounding them. I don’t have a homestead where adult children come together at holiday time. I go to their homes and sleep on the floor. It is what it is. It is “personal mode”. Thanks for sharing this!

    • Your welcome Priscilla. The phase “muddling toward frugality” seems so human, so possible. I like how you relate your own “personal mode” of your holiday time with kids, downsizing and sleeping on the floor. It is what it is! Amidst our losses, we are still able to find joy in the transition to manageable lifestyles… the planet and ourselves need this so dearly.

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