I mentioned earlier this week the discussion at Sunday’s worship sharing about simplicity. Afterwards, one of the members of the worship group shared the following quote (from Inward/Outward) and suggested that using the word “simplicity” in place of the word “poverty.”
“The true rule of poverty consists in giving up those things which enchain the spirit, divide its interests, and deflect it on its road to God–whether these things be riches, habits, religious observances, friends, interests, distastes, or desires–not in mere outward destitution for its own sake. It is attitude, not act, that matters; self-denudation would be unnecessary were it not for our inveterate tendency to attribute false value to things the moment they become our own.” –Evelyn Underhill
Simplicity does indeed involve giving up those things that ensnare us and get in our way in our spiritual lives rather than giving things up just for the sake of denying ourselves. In fact, self-denial for its own sake can be a snare in itself.
I attended a worship sharing gathering at a Friend’s house this evening. Worship sharing are Quaker meetings where we sit in silence until someone is led to speak, and then members of the group respond to that sharing and others that may have been voiced. This is a unique form of discourse in that each person simply shares their thoughts on the topic at hand without the usual requisite agreeing or disagreeing with those that have spoken before. Although previous comments obvious spark thoughts in the people who later share, it is not a conversation or debate as many discussions are in today’s world; it is just a sharing of your own thoughts on the topic as you feel led to share.
Tonight’s topic wound up being simplicity, and the thoughts that people shared on the subject ranged far and wide, from the story of the rich young ruler in the Gospels to end of life issues to dealing with downsizing to how our pride is wrapped up in our possessions to the challenges of knowing how to apply Jesus’ words to our lives today. As always, this conversation gave me much to ponder.