The Big Sandy Mountaineer -

Thoughts with Zoe


November 30, 2022

You don’t know him. You don’t need to know him. His name is Dean Moen, my cousin. Dean was born with an intellectual disability, and when he was 15 years old, he was also in a car accident, which caused a brain stem bruise resulting in a coma for weeks. He was in the hospital for a month. He spent the rest of his life with both an intellectual and a physical disability.

This summer I was at his graveside service in Glasgow. I couldn’t help thinking of my brother Jim, who we lost to cancer, and Dean. He left three sisters, and Jim left three siblings. My brother “lived life deliberately” and was highly respected as a Doctor of History at the University of Washington. He was a lecturer in a new program called the Comparative History of Ideas, where he traveled the world, getting enemies to sit down together and learn how they got to the point they are now. He was given a lot of acknowledgments and praise in the academic world.

Dean lived and worked in Glasgow, Montana. And yet his life is so inspirational to me. When he was 16, his parents took him out of school and got him a job at Butterys. He worked there for 40 years. He first worked in the vegetable department, making great stacks of fruits and vegetables until someone wanted one under the top. He never understood why they couldn’t just take the top one. Then he worked restocking shelves and facing. He loved his job. He loved the people he worked with. Every day he ate a “Mabel” (maple) bar and real coke at break time.

He never drove but rode his bicycle all over Glasgow, even at 30 below. He lived alone in a small house with little decorations except for his beloved John Wayne posters. He collected John Wayne movies.

Why an inspiration! Because he lived life simply. He loved his work and loved his family and friends.

He was not driven to own more. He was content with his life, satisfied with his money. He once had a girlfriend, but he got rid of her because all she wanted was his money!

One of my favorite authors is Richard Foster. In his Freedom of Simplicity, he writes, “We can live with a steady attention to the voice of the true Shepherd. We can see first God’s Kingdom. We can enter into God’s righteousness. We can walk cheerfully over the earth. We can live simply and profoundly.” This is what my cousin did. This is what is so inspiring to me. Never the hectic rush, just the contentment to be.

“Models of simplicity are desperately needed today. Our task is urgent, and relevant. Our century thirsts for the authenticity of simplicity, the spirit of prayer, and the life of obedience. May we be the embodiment of that kind of authentic living.”


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