Nearly two decades ago, I was introduced to the concept of an “unhurried life” by a very wise spiritual director. The simple challenge to live in an unhurried way—actually, not theoretically—nearly melted my brain and stopped my neurons from firing. As a Strategic-Activator personality, unhurried seemed synonymous with unproductive. Lazy even.
Contemplation is a close friend of simplicity. In it’s tenderest meaning, contemplation is a loving gaze on Jesus. It is giving Him our long attention, allowing our hearts to be caught up in Him. The thoroughness of His beauty draws us close, no matter our state. Love pours out from Him upon us. Joy blooms in our hearts. Hardened, fearful places crack open. Peace comes. We realize hope is in Him alone.
When I was a kid, my dad used to say to me, “K-I-S-S, Jayne, KISS.” While some would like to believe that he was communicating love and affection for me, he was actually teaching me an important life lesson that I still need to hear: “Keep It Simple, Stupid.” While the name-calling is unnecessary and a bit politically incorrect, his instruction to me is indelibly marked in my mind.
It took the American Civil War to disillusion and dispirit young Oliver Wendell Holmes. As an idealist, Oliver wanted to make a difference and entered the war. Certain his Harvard education equipped him for everything, he entered the fight. He thought he knew what to do and what the issues were. So he charged forward, only to be severely wounded in battle and set to the side.
As a teen and young adult, I loved walking into a Christian bookstore. Having lots of books to choose from was exciting. But truth be told, I also loved the bookstore because I felt like it would supply something that was missing in my faith. I would skim the shelves for books, both new and old, looking for the one that would give me the secret I needed to better handle my hidden struggles and deepen my walk with God.
It has long been my practice to “clear the decks” each January. For me, that means going through the house and gathering up things I don’t use, don’t love, or have too much of. I don’t have to try hard to accumulate stuff! Inevitably in my sorting, I rediscover something I love, and also, inevitably, I find places where I have duplicated myself–clothes, cleaning supplies, books–all the everyday stuff, because I didn’t know what I already had.