Tag Archives: simplicity

A Lesson in Simplicity…

     Late last year I chose three words to guide me through 2020.




     I then selected one of my husband’s photos to represent each word. This lone sandpiper wading on a Pacific Ocean seashore spoke to me of simplicity.

     Most days, it feels like the world in which we live is pretty complex, and complexity doesn’t seem to cohabitate well with simplicity.

     I have no profound insight to offer on the matter of simplicity, but the past few days, a little wounded chickadee in our backyard is teaching me a thing or two.

Meet Abby. (This is what our granddaughter named the bird, although ‘she’ may be a ‘he’ more aptly named Abe!)

     Over the years, I’ve grown fond of chickadees, loving the sweet tune they whistle. They are skittish little birds, flitting from tree to tree, never landing for long. Even though my husband takes plenty of bird pictures, he rarely captures a chickadee.

     When Ron first told me about Abby, I said, “God cares about that little bird.” This thought was based on words spoken by Jesus:

Are not five sparrows sold for two pennies? Yet not one of them is forgotten by God….Don’t be afraid; you are worth more than many sparrows.
(Luke 12:6 & 7 NIV)

     For over a week now, we’ve been watching Abby hop around. Ron scattered seeds on the ground since she’s unable to cling to the birdfeeder. We’ve seen her fly short distances, but just in case she’s unable to fly to the bird bath, we’ve set out a shallow dish of water.

     We speak gently to our little feathered friend. Sometimes, she squawks in protest at Ron’s deep voice, but my softer granny tone doesn’t seem to frighten her.

     Simple acts. Simple caring.

     Each evening before going to bed, I follow an Ignatian prayer practice called The Examen. There are many different interpretations, but this is my favorite:

Prayer of Examen
1) Give Thanks.
2) Ask God to reveal your sins.
3) Examine how you lived this day (thoughts, words, deeds).
4) Ask forgiveness.
5) Ask God for the grace to amend your ways.

Ask these 2 Key Questions:
Where did I experience God’s love today?
How did God’s love impact the way I lived my life?

     I appreciate the simplicity of The Examen. For the past few evenings, one of my thanks has been that little Abby made it through another day.

Abby’s injured wing is evident in this photo.

     As I said earlier, I have no profound insights concerning simplicity, but one I’m learning from Abby is:

simplicity is not complex.

And, perhaps that’s the point Jesus was trying to make!

Jesus, Teacher on our Journey,
You used the simple story of a little bird to illustrate the certainty of God’s love
Enable me, despite life’s complexities, to welcome and walk into the simplicity of this profound truth.

Blessings as we consider complexity and step into simplicity,

Sue Reeve

The Soul Longs for Simplicity

Photo by Ron Reeve, taken while we walked along Coronado Beach in California

     Simplicity—along with Serenity and Stillness—are theme words I’ve chosen to define the first year of this new decade. I explored Serenity in Monday’s post.

     Several years ago, I attended a one-hour organizational workshop. The lovely presenter told her audience if they hadn’t used an item in a year or didn’t love it “70 percent,” to get rid of it. I really took the “70 percent” rule to heart until one day my exasperated husband said, “Sue, if you don’t stop it, I’m going to start wondering if I love you 70 percent!”

     More recently, the popular guru of tidying up, Marie Kondo, suggests assessing an item’s worth by the joy it sparks within you. I haven’t read Kondo’s book. I’m not sure my marriage would survive the reading!

     Something in the human psyche longs for simplicity. A few months ago, my husband and I entered a Walgreens in Albany, New York. A gentleman—perfect stranger to us—walked in at the same time and began lamenting about all the problems modern technology creates, telling us he longed for the good old days of the 1960’s when life was simpler. Ron’s glance matched my thought. We didn’t recall the 60’s being especially simple.

     A little over two years ago I was completing my final session with a life coach, a woman who had been very helpful when I was transitioning from a long government career into a meaning-filled retirement. I told Jodi, “I feel like God is trying to say something to me and can’t figure out what.” She referred me to a spiritual director, Dr. Debbie, a brilliant seminary professor, who introduced me to ancient contemplative spirituality, practices which often stress simplicity. I describe this profound discovery as “finding my soul’s true home.”

     The Apostle Paul urged simplicity, telling early Christians to aspire to lead a quiet life. (1 Thessalonians 4:11).

     François Fénelon, a 17th Century theologian, exclaimed, “O, how amiable this simplicity is!”

     St. Ignatius, a 16th Century mystic and founder of the Jesuits, prayed, “Give me only your grace and love…”

     A.W. Tozer, a 20th Century Christian pastor, in his book, The Pursuit of God, claimed even the modern church, mired in an age of religious complexity, has lost the simplicity, which is in Christ…

     The greater the culture’s complexity, the greater seems the yearning for simplicity. Once upon a time, contemplative spirituality was found in only Orthodox or Catholic faith traditions. Today, many others, including Evangelical Christians, are drawn to ancient Christian traditions.

     One woman I met had been active in a parachurch organization that strongly promoted the study of scripture. She told me she and several friends agreed they longed at a deep spiritual level to know not only the Word of God but the God of the Word. These sincere seekers do not want to throw the proverbial baby out with the bathwater, but they recognize cognitive pursuit does not necessarily satisfy intrinsic longings of the soul.

     I’m expecting my 2020 theme of Simplicity will reveal ways to enjoy more fully the meaningful journey with which I’ve been blessed. I anticipate it will also provide awareness of environmental, relational, or cultural issues that cause me to become distracted or entangled in ‘stuff,’ perceptions, and emotions which encumber and complicate this journey called life.

Blessings as you listen to your soul’s longing for greater simplicity…

Sue Reeve

Simplicity is….

Simplicity is…
Discovering the exquisite in the everyday

“When we crave simplicity, we are not after an easier life, we are after life.”

David M. Bruno


Simplicity is…
Finding the extraordinary in the ordinary

“And why do you worry…? See how the flowers of the field grow. They do not labor or spin.

      Matthew 6:28 (NIV)

Simplicity is…
Discovering the exquisite in the everyday

Be happy with those who are happy, and weep with those who weep. Live in harmony with each other. Romans 12: 15 & 16(NLT)