Weekly Thought – November 28, 2023
Fred highly regarded authenticity while highly disparaging “phonies.” During his life giving up the rat race and choosing the simple life became the rage numerous times. He watched the cycles and offered his insights in a Sunday School lesson at Highland Park Presbyterian Church’s Elliott class. This week we excerpt his thoughts.
Living a simple life means we come to the point of defining a lifestyle to which we can apply common sense organization.
Richard Foster says, “Contemporary culture lacks both the inward reality and the outward lifestyle of simplicity. Inwardly, modern man is fractured and fragmented. He is trapped in a maze of competing attachments. One moment he makes decision on the basis of sound reason, the next moment out of fear of what others will think of him. He has no unity or focus around which life is oriented.”
We can see evidences of a simple life around us. What are they? Where do we see them? I think the Quakers have done a better job than any other group I know in fully understanding the dynamics, the beauty, and the elegance of the simple life. Therefore let me quote: “Experiencing the inward reality liberates us outwardly. Speech becomes truthful and honest. The lust for status and position is gone, because we no longer need status or position. We cease from showy extravagance, not on the grounds of being unable to afford it, but on the grounds of principle. Our goods become available to others, we join the experience that Richard E. Byrd recorded in his journal after months alone in the barren arctic, ‘I am learning that a man can live profoundly without masses of things. ’” (Note: no reference included)
The simple life is more than “simply living.” It takes consideration, evaluation, formulation, and action. When we take the true measure of what really counts we can move toward simplicity. We define our lifestyle and shut out all other voices that would distract and draw us away from our intentional purpose. Mary Alice and I had friends who established a lifestyle which was not one of the “rising tide.” As the family income rose, they didn’t change their way of life, but maintained the original bar which they had prayerfully established. Everything above was used to help Christian work.
Joseph Brackett, the Shaker hymnist gave us these memorable words: “’Tis the gift to be simple, ‘tis the gift to be free; ‘Tis the gift to come down where I ought to be.
My friend Fenelon says, “when we live in interior simplicity… we see it near to and continually with pure eyes – oh how amiable this simplicity is.”
This week think carefully about: 1) How often do I think a “simple life” would be so much easier? 2) What does a simple life mean for me, my work, my family, my community? 3) What can I do to live in this cultural moment as a positive influence?
Words of Wisdom: “The simple life is more than ‘simply living.’”
Wisdom from the Word: “Yet when I reflected on everything I had accomplished and on all the effort that I had expended to accomplish it, I concluded: ‘All these achievements and possessions are ultimately profitless – like chasing the wind!’” (Ecclesiastes 2:11 NET Bible)