Archive for the ‘simplicity’ Category

Traveling Light, Agile, Flexible

May 26, 2017

It’s 7:30 am. I’m checking out of the hotel, but I’m not leaving the conference until about 3:00 pm. I ask the person at the desk if there’s a place to leave my baggage.

I hand her my backpack. “That’s all?” Yes, I replied. I’ve learned.

People all the time make travel much more difficult and anxiety ridden than they should. They wrestle with baggage through the airport. When you travel alone, you have to take it all into the restroom stall with you. Ever try that?

Then there’s the worry about overhead space. If you are not among the first 30 or so, will there be space for my baggage?

If weather is bad and you miss a connection, you’re on standby for later flights. Often you’ll be the last one on. No room for the “roll-aboard” luggage.

My backpack fits under the seat in front of me. Unless I’m in a bulkhead seat, I’m fine. Even then, it’s easier to stow a small backpack than a hard-edged suitcase.

“That’s smart,” she said.

How do I do it?

I ruthlessly evaluate everything I carry. I look at size, weight, and utility. After years of travel, you figure out that you’ve carried tons of clothes and other things that you never used. Stop carrying them.

I’m an old man, and I’ve experienced many troubles–most of which never happened.

The baggage analogy is often used in life. That’s because it’s true.

It’s the same in life.

Have too many things? Ruthlessly pare down to the essentials.

Too many people in your past that hurt or disappointed you? Put them behind you. They don’t care about you. Why carry the burden with you?

God has injured or disappointed you? Put that god behind you. Read what Jesus said again with new eyes, devoid of theologies you’ve been taught. What did he actually say. It’s really a simple faith and experience of the Spirit of God.

Like Noel Paul Stookey of the folk group Peter, Paul & Mary wrote in Hymn about attending a church service at offering time

I just had time to write a note, and all I said was I believe in you.

The Discipline of Simplicity–Letting Go

March 22, 2017

This story came to me through James Martin, The Jesuit Guide To (Almost) Everything. He got it from the Jesuit writer Anthony De Mello, who got it from India–where much spiritual writing originated.

The samnyasi (wise man) had reached the outskirts of the village and settled down under a tree for the night when a villager came running up to him and said, “The stone! The stone! Give me the precious stone>’

“What stone?” the samnyasi asked.

“Last night the Lord Shiva appeared to me in a dream,” said the villager, “and told me that if I went to the outskirts of the village at dusk I should find a samnyasi who would give me a precious stone that would make me rich forever.”

The samnyasi rummaged in his bag and pulled out a stone. “He probably meant this one,” he said, as he handed the stone to the villager. “I found it on a forest path some days ago. You can certainly have it.”

The man gazed at the stone in wonder. It was a diamond, probably the largest diamond in the whole world, for it was as large as a person’s head.

He took the diamond and walked away. All night he tossed about in bed, unable to sleep. Next day at the crack of dawn he woke the samnyasi and said, “Give me the wealth that makes it possible for you to give this diamond away so easily.”

Are we controlled by our possessions? What is holding us down?

Jesus talked about our inability to serve two masters: God or our money (stuff).

Let us do a check in with our soul and our possessions. What weight holds us back from trusting God?

What One Thing Have You Done

February 21, 2017

What one thing have you done this year to simplify your life?

I saw that question recently. The writer was really talking about New Years Resolutions. But it fits at any time.

We know that one of the spiritual disciplines is simplicity.

Too much stuff gets in our way toward spirituality. Jesus said that we cannot serve God and material things. He was, of course, right. Our car, it often gets in the way.

What about clothes?

Furniture?

Decorations?

Cars?

Tools (ouch)?

Gadgets?

Jewelry?

Social status?

What do we need to give up in order to get closer to God?

What have you already given up?

Let Us Lay Aside Every Weight

September 14, 2016

Let us lay aside every weight and the sin that clings so closely, and let us run with perseverance the race that is set before us . — Hebrews 12:1-3

Bill Hybels at Willow Creek Community Church often talks about having a “life verse”–a verse from the Bible that is a statement of your faith.

This is not a concept I had been taught. But if I had a life verse, this one might be it. It was the theme for the Emmaus team I was on once.

Let us take this verse in relation to the spiritual discipline of simplicity. Just think of all the “weights” we carry around.

Let’s think this way as I was taught by a co-worker once. He lost 16 lbs. once. He was a big guy, but you could really tell he was down some. He talked about how much better he felt. “It’s like I was carrying a bowling ball around with me all the time, and now it’s gone,” he explained.

Sometimes our weight (as in excess body weight) is the result of carrying other weights–anxiety, depression, worry, fear, low self-esteem.

Sometimes we carry the weight of a past sin–something we did or said that we wish we had not done or said. How it would be so great for that weight to be laid aside.

Some may be carrying an addiction–sex, food, porn, drugs.

Often the weight is just simply too much “stuff”. We accumulate more stuff. We need more money to get more stuff.

But there is forgiveness. God’s forgiveness through Jesus’ sacrifice. It is there for us.

As we experience that forgiveness deeply, we can shed some of those weights. We can live more simply. We do not need more stuff. We lay aside, true with much work, the weights of addiction or emotional illness. We begin to heal.

We learn that living simply is possible–and healthful–and spiritual. We are lighter, as if the bowling ball or two we were carrying around was gone. We have more energy.

We can now run that race that God set before us, doing what was intended for us from the beginning. And we take a step, and another step, and another, until God says Well done.