The Lord preserves the simple; when I was brought low, he saved me.
(Psalm 116:6. ESV)
Much is contained in the name I have chosen to call this reflection. I chose the topic based on the society I inhabit. Research shows that the opined of having more is a longing in the minds of plenty in today’s society. Rushing toward fame and fortune, with no idea of the spirit of contentment! Therefore, I thought heavily about the significance of sharing on the topic I discuss this week. More so as a reminder that the contentment I feel each day in this quaint and comfortable space brings me peace. However, this is not to say that I do not continue to strive toward a different home in the deep country built with as many refurbished items that I can get my hands on. A home where many family members and friends can visit for respite, for gentle care, for tea, dinner and a movie, and perhaps sweet laughter. I’d held out on seriously moving toward this project because I was bombarded with that one goal. This is not to say that I don’t have academic writing before me still, but now I work in my stride.
Over the weekend, I designed the home I’ve envisioned, with a small conservatory, a fireplace stove and oven to cook in during the winter months, and more extensive gardens. This creation was such a pleasure to do. I smile, now thinking of the process. Classical music, warm tea, paper, pencil, and an eraser, were my companions last Friday night as I created, gave God glory, and prayed in thanksgiving and in, active hope.
Simplicity is a topic discussed in the Bible. The verse I have chosen to lead this discourse is one of individualized thanksgiving to a saving God. It focuses on the concept of having found a conserving God rather than a God called upon for immediate rescue and other needs. The entire chapter of Psalm 116, I find to be comforting. In meaningful exploration, we see notes of thanksgiving for God who is thoughtful (vv. 1-2), for God who is benevolent (vv.5-6), for God who is trusting (vv.7,9-11), for God who is praised (vv.12-19). The four themes of Psalm 116 consist of (a) idea of a relationship with Him (vv.1-4), (b) God who is always available, and how to respond to His actual availability (vv.5-8), (c) living as individuals who trust in His providence (vv.9-11), and (d) a resolve to live in daily thanksgiving (vv.12-19).
As I wrote the above paragraph, I thought of those who may not understand or even accept these beliefs. Grounded in thought that this group may have a melting pot of belief systems, with no judgment of choice, I’d say if this is you, try to deliver a ritual of thankfulness each day no matter your degree of Biblical wisdom, appreciation, or understanding. It was important to note this here because I know persons who fall into this category, and thought it wise to deliver upon this topic briefly.
I am a quinquagenarian. As such, my life experiences offer me many openings to a better understanding of the person I continue to grow into becoming. Even with this awareness, there are times I feel as though I am a seed planted many years ago, still trying to fight the soil of this earth to sprout into my being. Then so often, I have grown to great heights in knowledge, grace, and humility. And, then there are moments the seed has germinated and grown while bearing no fruit. I go through these stages in this life but find that I always return to the core of my personally crafted joy. A lot of my identity is rooted in the simplicity of life I create for myself in this town where I dwell. A ‘small town’, which is seemingly more like a big city at times. So much so, Trader Joe’s (TJ’s) is coming here real soon! Now don’t get me wrong, I like TJ’s, specifically for the bunches of fresh flowers I can often purchase for a great price. But I also think I’d appreciate fresh flowers so much more if I can grow them yearlong in a Colorado-approved greenhouse, way out in the deep country. Friends who know me have become acquainted with this exact language I often speak. They are aware that despite my growing experiences, nothing has changed here since the moment our friendships emerged. I remain the same person—the person who lingers to be simple, simply in Spirit.
My journey illustrates my daily existence. My struggles explain my idea of privacy as I fiddle with thoughts of posting videos I have created. Should I or should I not.? Questions such as “Do I want people in my life like that?” or maybe “Why is it important to me to get thoughts, ideas, and the workings of my daily life shown?” But I think of those who only know of a life forced to be kept up to match their neighbors or co-workers. Ingrained in their being that more brings happiness and that less is just dull. I also give great thoughts to the beautiful journals of my faith I eagerly await each month. Those that showcase this simple life I speak of. This simplicity as part of our daily testimony! And, just as the known bumper sticker states, “Live Simply So That Others May Simply Live.”
Yes, on such things, I discern, in the sense that a simple life is not one I address as a life of unswerving purity and poverty, but instead one where my longing to be good and rightly appreciative of what God gives to me is visible. To share a society “where it is easier for people to be good.” To find that balance to exist in the ordinary while serving God, extraordinarily. To move toward self-created alternatives of utter thanksgiving, and appreciating the ability to grow personally and spiritually beyond limitations. To grasp and experience the richness of enough!
Of course, this reflection is much longer than I thought it would be. Before I even began, I shared with my dear friend and consistent supporter that I had no inspiration this week. But encouragement arose, and now, this reflection must soon end. Bummer, as I have so much more I’d like to add. Perhaps this may lead you to view more in a forthcoming book. Perhaps? The very reason these writings must be copyrighted in every array. But hey! Reading more in book format is up to you. Yet, still I write.
In Gennaro Contaldo’s forthcoming book about the wonders of the lemon, he described this fruit as “Lemons cleanse, refresh, disinfect, preserve, and are absolutely essential in the home.” But lemons we know also offer such deliciousness to the most delectable desserts. My simplicity in spirit is kind of like both observations. A spirit sour at times, but through disciplined study, cleanses and refreshes my periodic worn-down self, which disinfects unwarranted thoughts, and preserves my soul (Proverbs 16:17). The One, essential for my daily practical living, supporting the sweetness generated from His written words. This as is, a fulfillment of the opulence of enough!
Heavenly Father, I thank you!
Live simply and be well!
Book: Contaldo, G. (2021). Gennaro’s limoni: Vibrant Italian recipes celebrating the lemon. Interlink
Photo: From the book, The Simple Home (2007). The Taunton Press (Pgs. 140-141). Photographer– Randy O’Rourke
Quote: “Where it is easier for people to be good.” by Peter Maurin, Co-founder of the Catholic Worker movement.