There are two ways to get enough. One is to continue to accumulate more and more. The other is to desire less.
— G.K. Chesterton
Last night I went to the last in a series of Lenten events on simplicity at my church. The series covered everything from dealing with clutter and finances to our spiritual lives. Last night’s was on soulfulness and simplicity.
The faciliatator really got the group thinking about what we experience as “soulful” moments in our lives. One person simply said seeing bark, as in on a tree. I can totally identify.
Others said great art, quiet moments, a small taste of special food experienced in a special place, an austere poem, or sunshine through a window on a quiet afternoon.
But most of all we looked at what a luxury it is to even contemplate creating simplicity in our lives.
Think about it.
If you’re imagining what it means to do with less, to give things up, to clear the clutter, your concern is not one of want, but of abundance.
In most of the world today, and throughout time, just reflecting on creating more simplicity is itself an act implying great luxury—the luxury to sit back and contemplate. The luxury to imagine doing it all differently. The luxury to figure out what to give away and what to keep while still having more than enough to live on.
It was a powerful session for this holy time in the Christian calendar.
Luxury amidst want
We already know that there’s lots of poverty and hunger in the world. The UN says that about 25,000 people die every day of hunger. That’s one person every three and a half seconds, and most of them are kids. The problem is not supply. There’s plenty of food in the world. It’s just that those who really need it can’t afford it.
In today’s economy, more folks in America are going hungry too. One in six Americans can’t afford the food they need every day.
“These are often hard-working adults, children and seniors who simply cannot make ends meet and are forced to go without food for several meals, or even days,” say the folks at Feeding America.
Meantime, too many of the rest of us who don’t have to worry about food don’t bother to worry about it either.
Slow food, love food
Do we really appreciate the bounty that we can provide for our families?
Are we as careful as we can be about not wasting food? Or about choosing more local foods and foods with less packaging?
Do we serve and eat our meals with love or do we wolf them down like pigs at a trough, just to get the feeding over as quickly as possible so we can return to what we think is really important — work, or computer games or going shopping?
On the other side, many people today are seeking to reduce the stress of getting and spending through voluntary simplicity.
This is both sensible and admirable. Not only can we make our own lives better by cutting back and slowing down. But by using less, we can also help leave more for others.
The luxury of simplicity
At the same time, we should never forget that voluntary simplicity is a luxury, as much as a 36-month lease on a Lexus LS or ten days at a timeshare in Boca.
Many of our neighbors who have lost their jobs, whose homes have been foreclosed and who’ve had to move in with family or resort to a shelter don’t have the luxury to simplify their lives voluntarily.
So as we think about ways that we can enjoy more peace and contentment by cutting back, let’s not forget those whose cutting back has already been done for them, whether they like it or not.
Why not invite a friend over, especially if it’s one out of work or going through a tough time. Share the bounty.
But don’t stress. Make it a simple act of giving. Maybe soup and bread. And slowing down.
— Lindsay Curren, Lindsay’s List