Archive for the ‘simplicity’ Category

Throw Out The Bad

May 25, 2023

Do you catch yourself rummaging through drawers looking for your “good” knife? Or, patting your pockets searching for your “good” pen?

That means you have “bad” ones. Throw those out.

[Note: I picked up this idea from a new book from Kevin Kelly, Excellent Advice for Living: Wisdom I Wish I’d Known Earlier.]

This thought can extended. Do you find yourself sitting thinking bad thoughts about someone or something? Do you catch yourself in a bad habit? Are you associating with people who lead you into bad attitudes?

Throw also those out along with the knives and pens. Clean house of bad tools, thoughts, relationships, habits. Simplify life. Live cleanly.


May 1, 2023

Simplicity—we are approaching travel season. How do you travel?

When Jesus sent his followers out on a training mission, he told them to take nothing with them.

Thanks to laptop and digital files, anti-microbial marino wool T-shirts, water-(and red wine) shedding slacks, I’ve learned to take a 3-4 day business trip with only a backpack. I can do a week’s vacation to most places that way. The reduced load on my mind (and my back) by learning to get by with less is freeing.

This, of course, is a metaphor for living a simpler life in general. What can you reduce, throw out, unclutter? How much emotional crap are you carrying that should be disposed of? How many physical objects are getting in your way?

Enough Is A Feast

September 26, 2022

Enough is a feast.

Everywhere you look or listen, others tell us we Americans must pursue more. This is no doubt true in many other parts of the world. Messages from advertising, TikTok, YouTube, friends tell us we need more clothes, more cosmetics, more money, bigger house, new car. If you are not seeking a promotion at work, you are a failure.

A man came to Jesus and asked him to tell his brother to give him more of an inheritance. Jesus replied with a story. A farmer had a bountiful crop. He had so much that he planned to tear down his barns and build bigger ones to hold all the grain. Then God said to the farmer, “Fool, today your soul will be demanded of you. Now, of what use will the bigger barns be.”

Jesus offered the point of the story. “This is what happens when you fill your barn with Self rather than God.”

When we know where are true priorities are, then striving for more is a waste. Enough is a feast.


August 31, 2022

Enough is a feast–ancient proverb.

We go to a buffet dinner. We could take a smaller plate and add just enough tasty food to satisfy. Or we could take a large plate, pack it full of food piled high, eat most of it, and with stomachs distended and bloated feel lethargic and ill.

In America, we have so much stuff that we have no place in the house for the new stuff we just had delivered from Amazon. A thriving business of storage garages serves the need to keep stuff that we may never see again.

We can’t get enough. We must have a larger house. Another car. More money.

Yet, we are unfulfilled.


May 18, 2021

I sat with my bowl of oatmeal (porridge) this morning. Note: sorry keto or paleo people, but whole grains with their fiber is an excellent way of taming cholesterol and triglycerides. I thought about how I used to eat oatmeal what I would call American style–with a lump of brown sugar and raisons.

One day I considered that. Why add sugar? And raisons are not my favorite. I pitched the sugar and added fresh fruit instead of dried (less sugar there, too). I discovered I liked the flavor of the cereal itself.

When I was introduced to coffee, I added milk and sugar. I found I was drinking more coffee when I began working in manufacturing. I noticed the additives–powdered cream surely cannot be healthy. We add too much sugar to everything. So, one day I simplified. I drank just the coffee. It can have a wonderful flavor all by itself. Especially so when you get a direct trade coffee pour over or french press. But I digress.

Of course, then product development people (I was once one of those) began perfecting caffeine delivery systems adding foamed milk and shots of sugary syrup with the fancy Italian name of latte–but that’s another story.

Our lives often become complicated by the additives we accumulate. Possessions, activities, acquaintances who drag us down.

Sometimes, we need to metaphorically step back from ourselves and take a look at our lives. And strip away the unhealthy habits and possessions. Discover the true flavors of living in the present moment shorn of all the peripherals that distract.

Simplify. It doesn’t have to be boring. It can be liberating.

Be Kind, Simple, Humble

January 15, 2021

Contemplate upon these ancient words of wisdom

There are three treasures which I embrace and follow closely;

The first is to be kind;

The second is to be simple;

The third is to not put one’s own importance first in the world.

Lao Tzu

Let us think of people we have met who are kind. We love to be around those people. They are not weak. They have inner strength of awareness of the situation of others.

There are people we know, surely, who do not overly complicate things and situations. They grasp the essence without embellishment. They live without ornamentation. They cannot be tempted away by outlandish promises.

Who among us like to be around someone who thinks only of themselves? Those who, when in conversation, seem not to be even aware of our existence while listening for words of praise or criticism of themselves?

Perhaps we have been caught up in the events of the world, no matter where we live. Perhaps we need this reminder today of three treasures—kindness, simplicity, humility.

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?




Tools (ouch)?



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.