Goal of Simplicity

One of the Quaker testimonies is Simplicity. In musing about the frantic holiday season, Liz Opp blogs about the practice.

One topic I hear about at this time of year, almost as a surrogate for the larger topic, is that of simplifying. Simplifying is not the same as practicing simplicity, but it seems as if the former has also nearly become a surrogate for the latter.

Simplifying does not address the same question as What distractions might I remove, especially at this time of year, so that I might better hear God and God’s guidance for me?

In the Pendle Hill pamphlet 194, Quakerism of the Future, John Yungblut writes about how simplicity can open the door to mystical encounters with the divine.

The mystical experience comes by grace. But we can at least engage in that first classic step on the steep ascent, the process of purging. We can, bay an effort of the will, resolve to move toward the simple life in which we are not encumbered with possessions nor driven by an over-scheduled daily program.

With the rapid close of 2005 I think about the ways that I seek to practice simplicity and how this practice has enriched my life.

I do not have a TV or Internet access at home. Also, this summer I got rid of my car and now live without one. I am not better than anyone else for doing these things, but my pace has changed significantly.

I can be more intentional about when I go on-line, what I watch on TV, where I go and how I get there. Surprisingly my relationships with others have opened up along with my openness to God (and to my work). I have hewn out a space for myself to create, commune and center.

As I go into 2006 and set my goals for the new year (resolutions never work for me!), I will consider other ways that I can practice simplicity–not so that I can be a better person or a super Christian, (Betty Bowers is already the world’s best Christian) but so that I have more space to live and love.

This post has 2 Comments

  1. Jonathan on December 21, 2005 at 1:05 am Reply

    There’s an old Appalachian folk song that goes…

    ‘Tis a gift to be simple, ’tis a gift to be free.
    ‘Tis a gift to come round to where we ought to be.
    And when we find a place that feels just right,
    We will be in the valley of love and delight.

  2. Bruce Garrett on December 22, 2005 at 5:35 pm Reply

    There’s an old Appalachian folk song…

    I’m told that it’s of Shaker origin. from around the mid 1800s. It is a beautiful little melody. Aaron Copland included it in his piece Appalachian Spring.

    I’m…um…listening to it now on my iPod…

    Yeah…I guess my life could stand to be a little simpler. But I think what Peterson said about being more intentional about how you use the technology in your life is an important thought. Maybe one of the things we can do at the end of the year is take a step back and look at all the things we have and ask ourselves “Do I really need this? What is it doing for me? Does it draw me closer to others, to the world around me, or is it separating me from life, from the human experience?”

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