Thursday, May 29, 2014

Simplicity in a Complex World

Our lives are complex, and some of that complexity is not something we can change -- it is built in to the complex way we have collectively organized society.  And we actually value some of the complexity in our lives: having lots of friends and relatives, lots of interests, and even lots of responsibilities can enrich our lives.  

But if we get so overly busy and burdened by all that we have to do, and begin to lose touch with God, then it may be time to reflect anew on simplicity.  

One day in Meeting for Worship, a definition for simplicity emerged for me:  if all that you are doing in life is connected by an underlying unity that is grounded in God's love, then you have found true simplicity, no matter how complex your life may appear.  

This understanding of simplicity has become a touchstone for me.  When something new asks to be let in to my life, I consider whether I can draw a clear straight line between this new opportunity and that underlying unity that defines my vocation.  If the answer is "yes," then I can say "yes" to this opportunity if I feel so led.  But if the only way I can connect the new opportunity to that underlying unity is through a complex bending line that connects first with other responsibilities (especially those responsibilities that tend to weigh down my spirit) before only eventually reaching the underlying unity, then I can, and perhaps even must, let it go.


  1. Wonderful insight. I'm going to try it out.

  2. Very well put. There is a lot more to say about 'busy'. Like, NOT being SO busy. Busy seems to embody Western values such as action:work:progress but there are too many assumptions in that. Being un-busy is very important for the human as well.