Posts tagged: Simplicity


Simple Joy

Teachers of both Western and Eastern spirituality concur that one path to Joy is Simplicity.

Isn’t there something universally attractive about those who value simplicity? Think of the Amish, St. Francis of Assisi, the pioneers who fit what they needed into a covered wagon, the Native American culture, the self-sufficient monastic abbeys, or Mother Theresa.

I value simplicity, but I don’t yet live it. My house is cluttered with meaningful things— that is— things that I have attached meaning to. I want flowers in my yard that were favorites of certain loved ones and souvenirs on my shelves to remind me of travels or my girls’ childhoods. I take photos to mark every occasion and think of my boxes of books as old friends.

It is fine to enjoy the memories which our items inspire, but if we give too much meaning to things, they can become too important. Global awareness forces us to realize our abundance causes others scarcity. One element of simplicity is remaining detached from our possessions so that we can share and give away to those in need. The less we own, the less time we must devote to the care of our possessions. That time would be better spent in a myriad of ways: prayer, our own refreshment, pursuit of our life passion, or enjoyment of our loved ones.

That leads me to another break with Simplicity that impedes our Joy, Busy-ness.

Today’s culture declares we must always be busy, always productive, always struggling to catch up with the best. Even though technology advances were expected to provide us with more time for enjoyment, in fact, men and women are working longer hours. A generation or two ago women generally spent their days focused on family life while men focused on financially supporting the family. Now we are all expected to balance and even excel at homemaking, family life, fitness, and volunteering, as well as a career.

Granted, most people need to keep working full time and in this economy we feel blessed to have work. Beyond work commitments, we all want to see our children learning extra-curricular skills like sports and music. And our communities and churches rely on our volunteering. So we are all exhausted. An annual two-week vacation (laptops at the ready) is not enough.

God knew that. He told us that. He said we need a day every week to rest, get refreshed, and have time with our families and friends and time to know Him better. It’s one of the 10 Commandments and yet we seem to think it isn’t an important one. He asks us to keep holy the Lord’s Day reminding us, “The Sabbath was made for man, and not man for the Sabbath.” Mark 2:27

Without rest, where is our balance? If your neighbor or good friend were sick and needed some help, would you have the time? Where is the time to be creative, to nourish ourselves, to play, and to pray? How can we grow in faith, or for that matter, closer to our loved ones without time to visit and share our experiences?

We need to incorporate respite into our lives. We need to retreat into the mountains or out to the desert to pray, like Jesus did. Nature and relaxation refresh our souls. But our spirits also require time every day in order to get our priorities straight. We need to live with a sense of mindfulness, not chaos, focused on what we are doing. The whole pattern of our day needs to center on God as an integral part of our lives. We NEED daily prayer.

What can we do today to simplify our lives and rededicate them to what is important? We’ll need to be brave enough to say, “No,” when careful consideration tells us that “no” is the right answer. Let’s finish the commitments we’ve made that are important but be very careful before making new ones. Unimportant commitments we can let go of right away. Does the yard really need more flowers or does the organization I belong to really need one more activity? Does the club reduce already scarce time with my family? Do my children really need to participate in sports they don’t like? How much TV is too much?

We could, if we were very brave, go further. Is this house more space than we really use? Do we need this many cars? What would happen if I cut back on my hours at work? Or the work I bring home from work? Can we change our lifestyle?

The path to Simplicity will be different for each of us but it will surely shorten the road to Joy.

Blessings on your week and on your reassessment of your lifestyle.

Betty Arrigotti

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