Sydney Avey

Dynamic Woman — Changing Times

Retrench and Redeem: a counterculture exercise

Jan 5, 2016 | Fun, Great Giveaway, Travel, Word study | 1 comment

Retrench and Redeem

Kilaue Point National Wildlife Refuge, Kauai

Retrench and redeem are my watchwords for 2016. In the past I’ve made resolutions to accomplish change, fashioned mantras to guide my daily spiritual practice, but 2016 wants watchfulness.

Because I want my life and my writing to make a difference, my actions to be redemptive, this year’s challenge is to actively counter culture, to take action to mitigate whatever opposes my purpose.

Having just spent a week sitting on the beaches of Kauai, snorkeling at her reefs, and racing past the rugged cliffs of Na Pali on a catamaran, my metaphors are oceanic. My ultimate goal is to live in the deep wide, but this year I will look for the narrow part for whatever strait, river, or ocean current feeds into that goal.


To have the time, space, and money for the life I want, retrenching is necessary. To retrench is to cut down, reduce, curtail, protect, cut off, remove, economize. A counterculture response to pressure doesn’t have to be reactionary and angry, it can be thoughtful and productive. To productively counter a culture requires a joyful sense of purpose, not a spirit of deprivation.

The Great Giveaway, my mindfulness exercise to rid myself of one thing a day, is a start. This time next year, I should have one refreshing list of 365 things I no longer possess. This activity isn’t housekeeping, it is life altering. When I throw away the pie weights and other baking tools, I let go of any pretension that I will ever bake again. I’ll say a prayer of thanks for parents who loved this activity and did it well. I’ll spend some time considering what might take the place of the loving act of offering up a plate of warm, spicy home baked cookies. I’d love your ideas on that one!


To redeem is to clear by payment, buy back, or recover; to exchange for money or goods, to fulfill a pledge or promise, to make amends, to restore by paying a ransom. When I let go of what is no longer useful, I recover the space it took on a shelf or in my life, the time it took to manage, or the expense it required to maintain. When I exchange multiple technical solutions to a problem for one well thought out plan that works, I buy back greater control over the outcome.

My Bible verse this year comes from Ephesians 5: 15-21, “redeeming the time, because the days are evil.” Many of us had a lousy 2015. Better than cursing the days is to redeem the time. It is “my bad” if I fail to use the gifts God has in-store.

1 Comment

  1. D Laurice

    Regarding the warm, spicy home baked cookies, you should take consolation in the fact that the greater act of love may be eating the cookies. If the cookies are bad, that goes without saying. If the cookies are great (I am sure that yours were to die for), with all that sugar and flour etc., some would say that you might as well just offer your loved ones a platter of arsenic-laced Oreos. I am neither a heath food fanatic nor one to withhold my love when offered cookies in these situations, but as a replacement I might suggest a platter of fresh, raw vegetables on a bed of kale and lemon wedges. A small platter will probably suffice. This will be a good exchange for the time and space it should free. Love a challenge. Hope this helps.


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