Monday, March 21, 2011

The Call of Simplicity

Although my parents weren't born early enough to experience the challenges of the Great Depression, I guess their parents' forebearance was strong enough to press a deep imprint which carried through to their grandchildren.  At least, I've always attributed my frugal elementary tendencies at least in part to that period in my family's history.  My mother, raising six children born within a nine year span, and on a military salary, taught us to live by the tried and true maxim of 'waste not - want not,'  My father had grown up on a farm in South Dakota, and no doubt the hard scrapping that had to be done were experiences that indelibly marked him as a man and a father.  His years in the service added to the follow-up of sayings stamped upon my consciousness, 'shape up or ship out' and 'almost only counts in horseshoes and hand grenades.'

My list of books I am currently reading (and boy am I way in over my head, tackling at least a dozen right now), hold titles and subject matter that reflect my strident search and reach for finding simplicity within the hours of my days.  It isn't that my life is all that hectic and crazy; I consciously work at maintaining a balance and deliberately choosing what we add to our schedule.  So I'm not that classic overachiever who has so many plates spinning and falls into bed exhausted, only to get up and do it again the next day.  Mentally, I can hear my family laughing over that misperception that anyone might every have of me.  My search for simplicity is born of something else.

Recently a friend asked me what kind of simplicity it is I am drawn to.  I'm afraid I wasn't able to respond with a clear or, for lack of a better word, 'simple' answer.  I have since spent time considering just what is it that I am looking and longing for.

It is the color white?  Or cooking from scratch?  Canning my own food?  Throwing out what I haven't used in the past six months?  Or whatever I have double of?  Is it stockpiling up on deals with coupons? Meditating or finding my inner voice?  Is it an as yet undiscovered secret longing that will fulfill me?  Is it only buying classic clothes that can be easily mixed and matched?  Organic food, cosmetics, or home cleaning products? Hanging out laundry to dry on a clothesline?  Cutting out the junk?  Eliminating toxins?  Turning off the television, the computer, and even the radio?  Making time for me?  For others? Adding in gardening, subtracting driving? Routine visits to an isolated monastery?

The smile that is on my face as I've made this list reflects the humor I find in some of its items, and the pleasure that others evoke in considering... particularly that secluded monastery.

Simplicity is paring down to what is most honest, true, and glorifying.  It's holding on tenderly and thankfully to my blessings, yet with a loose grip.  It's fighting fiercely with noble and godly purity when called to, whether that is with my wayward self, the seduction of sin, or the one who seeks to devour. It's remembering that the days slide by as through an hourglass, and I cannot get them back.  It's turning back in repentance when I've blown it, and doing my best to make it right.  It's recognizing what is not mine.  It's giving up what does not matter.  It's pouring myself out over and over and over again. It's living fully as if this moment might be my last.  It's taking care of what I am given while I still have it.  
And it's being truly ready when I breathe my last breath.

Oh God, lead me in the paths of simple righteousness for Your name's sake.


  1. Great questions to ask myself as well. I too long for a simplified life but it is such a vague idea that I have a hard time wrapping my life around it. But, your last paragraph sums it up perfectly. "Simplicity is paring down to what is most honest, true, and glorifying." And I love your bicycle image!!

  2. Wonderful post, Shy! And yes, I am laughing over that misperception of you not filling your days to the brim!