Saturday, September 20, 2008

Simple Living

What is Simple Living? A lot of us are talking about it ... but what does it mean to each of us? Is it going back to basics? Appreciating the simple things ... like the peace of hanging my clothing outside on a late summer day (if you haven't tried it recently, get some line, tie it between two trees and enjoy! And save money on your electric bill.)? Is it rejecting obscene materialism where mall shopping is a sport or a form of entertainment? The funny thing is, if living simply is going back to basics -- it's not what some would consider simple. For example, it's a simple trip to Walmart (eeek) to buy two loaves of bread (with a lot more than flour, water, yeast and salt in it ... is this where simple comes in?) for the week rather than cooking your own. It's "simple" to send your child to school with a Lunchable (eegads). It's simple to sit your children in front of video games instead of reading to them. I think the bottom line is ... "simple" isn't the same as "easy". If "simple" is appreciating and re-embracing life in it's basic form -- I love it. The joy of work that provides and fulfills. Appreciating the fruit of cooking from scratch, growing your own food, hanging out your laundry and reading to your children. Somewhere our society got off track in our desire to make things easier, "simpler". This was a major factor in Victor's family's decision to move to the United States from the mountains of Northeastern Portugal. It was a hard life there at that time with little opportunity to "make it" like there was in the United States. Victor has often pondered if that was a "better" choice. I am thankful that women fought for the right to work in the work place and to be rewarded equally for it. But, at some point we started to hold this opportunity up higher than all that women have accomplished for centuries. Interesting isn't it? Of course this is not just a "woman thing", it's a family thing. As a family, what do we value? What are we teaching our children through our actions and choices? Is living simply agreeing to live with less, rejecting the insatiable thirst for more that sucks you in the moment you step into the mall? Maybe it's the years I spent watching Little House on the Prairie as a child. For my entire life I've thought to myself that it was better then -- but with the knowledge of some modern medicine like penicillin. I think I enjoyed reading My Side of the Mountain to Benjamin better than he enjoyed listening to it (and he loved it). Surviving in the wilderness as a boy -- grinding his own flour from acorns! How cool is that?! When traveling through Amish Country in High School -- I was captivated by what they uphold as "important". Maybe it was the value and admiration I had for my mother staying at home with us, cooking from scratch for us (my father never understood why we would want to go OUT to eat.), making rhubarb jam, sending us out at 6:30am to pick raspberries in the yard for pancakes on a Sunday morning.
Although this verse makes so many of us feel incapable, it's inspiring -- and I love it.
Psalm 31:10-30
"A wife of noble character who can find? She is worth far more than rubies. Her husband has full confidence in her and lacks nothing of value. She brings him good, not harm, all the days of her life. She selects wool and flax and works with eager hands. She is like the merchant ships, bringing her food from afar. She gets up while it is still dark; she provides food for her family and portions for her servant girls. She considers a field and buys it; out of her earnings she plants a vineyard. She sets about her work vigorously; her arms are strong for her tasks. She sees that her trading is profitable, and her lamp does not go out at night. In her hand she holds the distaff and grasps the spindle with her fingers. She opens her arms to the poor and extends her hands to the needy. When it snows, she has no fear for her household; for all of them are clothed in scarlet. She makes coverings for her bed; she is clothed in fine linen and purple. Her husband is respected at the city gate, where he takes his seat among the elders of the land. She makes linen garments and sells them, and supplies the merchants with sashes. She is clothed with strength and dignity; she can laugh at the days to come. She speaks with wisdom, and faithful instruction is on her tongue. She watches over the affairs of her household and does not eat the bread of idleness. Her children arise and call her blessed; her husband also, and he praises her: "Many women do noble things, but you surpass them all." Charm is deceptive, and beauty is fleeting; but a woman who fears the LORD is to be praised."
(Scarlet refers to a mark of prosperity. Purple here refers to the garments of the wealthy)

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