30 October 2006

'Tis a Gift to Be Simple

Lately, the concept of simplicity has been on my mind.
I tread water in the ocean that lies between the shores of Complexity and Simplicity. Tossed about by the waves, I drift nearer to one country, then the tide pulls me back toward the other. I'm not sure I understand exactly what either one means for me. But here's the view from my patch of ocean:

- As an American, materialism and consumption pervades my everyday.

- As a human, desire to understand my existence to the nth degree drives me.

- As a woman, someone's short reply can never be JUST a short reply. There's always something behind it. (Why did he answer like that- is he mad at me? Does she think I'm boring? Am I irritating? Was that stupid of me?)

- As a Western thinker, saying, "I don't have the answer for that" is just plain unacceptable to most folks.

- As a mother, I feel the onus of knowing, rearing, teaching, training, understanding and leading my children.

- As a citizen of the Information Age, the vast composite of documentation and links-within-links-within-links seems to rule out any need to shrug my shoulders and get on with life that contains a question mark. The answers are merely a click away and I can follow my bunny trails ad nauseum.

- As a homeschooler, I stash away odds and ends thinking of the future. Perhaps we'll have occassion to drag out the Navajo rug when we study Native Americans, I better save this. All these tin can lids will make a great suit of armor one day. I just need 2,394 more!

- As an artist, that same squirreling overtakes my senses when I clean house. Glittery scraps, baubles and bangles, find their way from the wastebasket to the "someday" project bin(s).

- As a Christian, I'm caught between the simple fact of grace
(I am given a gift I do not deserve. The end.)
and the unfathomably complex weave of grace.
(I am given a gift I do not deserve. Come again?)

Over the next few posts, I'll be hashing out some of these themes in a blogversation. (I word I think I might go try to patent.) If you feel so inclined to ponder these with me, please write a note in my comments section. Or write about it on your own blog and make sure you direct me there. I want to read how other people tread this water.

Let's start at the very beginning. A very good place to start.

The Christian life:
this is a story that trips my mind before I even get past the first page.

The simplicity of Christ's sacrifice.

That is precisely the thing that is so complex to me.

I needed to be saved. Jesus saved me. End of story.

Erin: But wait, that can't be the end of it. Surely there's more to it.

The Trinity: Well, really, there's not. But yeah, actually there is. However, you don't need to worry about it, it's been done for you. Finis. There are a few things going on here that you can't possibly grasp, so don't sweat it. We give you what you need. In total.
It's not about you, it's about Me. But it is about you. And about me. And about us. All of us. Really, it's mainly about Us. You're just blessed to be invited along for the ride. Fasten your seatbelt.

Truly, these mysteries are too wonderful for me. I am an ant. Dust. A squalling babe. Lower than the grass. A mere mist.

I've always liked the old Shaker song, Simple Gifts. The message to me is this: simplicity truly is a gift. All our striving to understand, to accumulate, to complexify... it strains our ant-ish souls. It frazzles us.
We were made to search and seek, to question and wonder; but not to become overwhelmed with the search. Wondering is meant to drive us to worship that which we do not, can not, understand. To rest in His all-knowing, all-powerful, all-over-the-place gentle grip. To cease striving and know that He is God. To marvel at His grace, to honor His otherness. Because He is beyond us. Plain and simple.

* Click here; press the Play button; lean back; close your eyes; and enjoy a stirring version of Simple Gifts. Brought to you by: Yo Yo Ma and Alison Krauss


Blogger gretalynn said...

Hi Erin. I'm willing to give it a shot. I need to stop and reflect some--thanks for the invitation!

8:48 PM  
Blogger rhon said...

We are dealing with this issue of simplicity in regards to doing church.

The church we are going to has great passion and heart. But it is so complex that, at times, it's like stepping into a tornado when you walk through the doors. When you come out you're tired and have very little to show for all the time and energy you spent there.

Our small group is working on idea that stems from the simple idea that I am the church. Church is where I am. Where I am there is worship, there is prayer, there is service, there is fellowship. We want to maximize our efforts. If we're going to put in this much energy and time, we want to have more of an impact.

I'm going to be writing about our adventure over on my blog. This is not a new concept. It's being experimented with all over so there are no patterns or plans. Thank God.

10:21 AM  

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