Spiritual disciplines have been a great avenue of life for me over the 15 or so years, ever since I first encountered the notion in Dallas Willard’s The Spirit of the Disciplines. Someday I will write up a little something on each of the classical disciplines, but today I am so aware of the blessings of simplicity that I can’t help but say a few words about it right away.
Perhaps my capacity is too small and my capabilities too few and weak, but I do not seem to be the only individual sometimes overwhelmed by the rush and push of 21st-century Western living. Between social media, the ease of acquiring things, and the accelerating pace of change on all fronts (technological, political, societal, etc.), it can feel as if a great wave is crashing on me with unrelenting force, pinning me to the ocean floor and crushing the life out of me. In the days when I worked as an IT professional, it seemed I was right in the worst part of the storm — 200 emails before lunch! dozens of client phone calls! constant technology glitches! another round of computer updates! — and sometimes I had to lie down on the floor and focus on my breathing until the feeling that I might literally explode passed.
I’m not sure why I am this way, but I have found a ready solution for it in simplifying. The spiritual rationale for the practice is to remove non-essentials from blocking the two-way communication between myself and God. And when it comes to interrupting the flow of that life — the only life there is! — nearly everything is a non-essential. Simplicity facilitates prioritizing, because there are fewer items about which a decision of any kind needs to be made. It has impacts in many facets of life: housing, maintenance of stuff, food, education, child-rearing, communication, and on and on.
Today, there is almost no area of my life that does not bear the marks of simplification. From our house to our budget to my one drawer of clothing to the kitchen cupboards to the (usual) serenity of my mind, I have reaped from the practice of simplicity a hundred-fold from what I have sown. This is how we were meant to live! This is a part of what life in the Kingdom of God is like.
“Ask, and it shall be given you; seek, and ye shall find; knock, and it shall be opened unto you…” – Matthew 7:7