When Betsey Kenworthy’s adult son suggested that she and her husband downsize from their large home, maybe he thought they’d get an apartment in town. But Betsey wasn’t ready to settle down—so they put the house up for sale, bought an RV trailer, and were on the road in three months.
“I knew that it was the right thing to do,” she says. “The Spirit was clear that this was time, the season to do this… You ask if it was a spiritual decision. Maybe all our decisions are spiritual.”
Laying down all her material and emotional attachments was much harder than Betsey had anticipated, but life on the road has taught her how to be present in each day as it comes. “No matter what I plan or don’t plan, or what we intend or don’t,” she advises, “the Holy Spirit can see you through it. And lots of times, what happens is way better than what we planned.”
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As we go, we see so many people in trauma. From health, from the climate, homeless. It’s tragic, and I wrote once of going to the woods and weeping but not being paralyzed because there’s still laughter to share, there’s courage, there’s joy. No matter what I plan or don’t plan or what we intend or don’t, the Holy Spirit can see you through it. And lots of times what happens is way better than what we planned.
I’m Betsey Gray Kenworthy. Pronouns she/her, or any pronouns. And my home meeting is Multnomah Friends Meeting in Portland, Oregon.
Our true speaking son said he didn’t exactly say “You’re getting old”, but just about. “You do realize that this is too much for you, this acre and this old house. And you really need to downsize.” I think we were expected to get an apartment in town, but my husband and I had spent two years way earlier sailing and adventuring, and we thought not quite through with that yet. So I said, careful what you say, maybe we should get a trailer because I don’t want to camp on the ground anymore.
So within a very short day, we had decided to sell everything. We told them in February, we bought the trailer in March, the house was on the market in April, and we moved in started moving about in May. I knew the that it was the right thing to do. The spirit was clear that this was time, the season to do this.
For me spiritually, you ask if it was a spiritual decision, maybe all our decisions are spiritual. But yes, this is a season for me to lay down all these attachments. And it was much harder than I thought. The attachments to my mother’s desk, to my early teddy bear, to my dear home and garden and fruit trees, to being able to have anybody come anytime and be welcome, and to be part of that community and to have our grandson come. I didn’t have that anymore. I needed to lay those things down and just be present each day.
Last April, we had a month planned to visit New Mexico, Grand Canyon, all these beautiful places, Albuquerque. And my dear cousin died suddenly. We turned around. We spent some time at this beautiful desert spot that we found to get centered, and then we spent a month with her family because we can. So having the opportunity to move where we’re called to move.
For me, one of the richest things is having the time to listen, to listen to what the spirit has to say. So in the morning, I’ll take an hour to just be present with my husband or with and then I’ll go off. And over the years I’ve developed an hour of meditative exercise and song and blessing, and I’ll do the yoga and the Tai chi and then walking and singing. How can we keep from singing? Lots of places where we are, there’s nobody else. So I can sing at the top of my lungs and bless you to the four directions. So that I will bless those to the east and those to the south and the West and the North with this song and with actual movement of blessing.
I have no fear. I guess that’s one thing I want to say. People say “Aren’t you afraid?” No. Sorrow? Concern? Sure. God, the presence, the sacredness is here everywhere. And if I’ve learned anything in these five years, particularly, it’s that I my security is not in my home and my place, as it kind of was in some ways. This land where I am, this place where I am, is imbued with sacred presence.
So I need to take that time each morning to be present where I am and be grateful for that. I mean, I’ve done it on parking lots and I’ve just decided that if I’m in an RV park with these big fancy coaches, so what? Maybe they’ll think I’m doing Tai chi when I’m doing my four direction blessing. Because I need to center, I need to know that here is part of the blessed planet and the blessed community. And that daily presence is a huge joy. And I want to tell people you can do that no matter what’s going on. That Gift of presence is yours.
- How has living in an RV for five year affected you spiritually?
The views expressed in this video are of the speakers and do not necessarily reflect the views of Friends Journal or its collaborators.