The Year of Simplicity

As I wrote earlier this month, I wanted to try choosing a word to focus on and guide me through the year. I loved the idea of having a word that would serve as my intention through 2015. It provided a nice alternative to setting resolutions that I might otherwise ignore, and a practice that would be grounded in “paying attention.”

And so, for the past three weeks I have listened for the word that would be given to me. As I wrote, I believe it is important that the word be given to me – that it come from some place outside myself, from the Spirit – because, if left to my own devices, I would choose the word chocolate. Thus, I listened, and prayed, and paid attention to the words I was hearing. At first I thought my word might be well. It was a word that had come up several times and offered a variety of meanings for my life. But just before deciding on it, something happened: I was given my word for 2015.

It happened at the Monastery of the Holy Spirit in Conyers, GA. My good friend, Reverend Cyndi McDonald, and I meet there every other Friday to talk, join in accountability, attend midday prayer, share the Eucharist, and laugh. It is always the highlight of my week. Following midday prayer we sit in the balcony of the Abbey Church for 20 minutes of silence. I always sit so that I am at eye level with the stained glass window, a gorgeous image of the Holy Spirit. This is my view:

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My view from the balcony.
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A vision of simplicity.

Two weeks ago, as we were sitting in silence and solitude, I became fixated on the altar area, which was still decorated for Christmas. I noticed how different the decorations were from many other churches, where greenery hangs on anything that does not move. This was simple, some would say austere: just two Christmas trees and a few poinsettias. But therein lay its beauty. And its power. The simplicity of the decor invited me to relax. My eyes didn’t have to work overtime to take in the scene, my attention wasn’t divided. I was thus able to focus on what was most important: the stained glass window, the altar, the cross. In other words, on God.

And that’s when I realized I had been given my word: simplicity. It felt exactly right. Because what I want most in life is to focus on God. I want it. I need it. I was created for it. Yet, it is so easy for me to muck that up and make it complicated. I fill up my time with impossible to do lists. My attention is diverted to Facebook or the television. My time is spent organizing and reorganizing more possessions than I need. I lose focus. And I lose touch with the One who spoke me into being.

As soon as I got home from the Monastery that day, I picked up my Blessing Upon Blessing book and read the entry on simplicity. Here is what it said:

May the God of SIMPLICITY be with you, leading you to a clear vision of all that is real and true and of God, leading you deeply into the mystery of childhood, of newness and awe. May your transparent presence to others reveal the authenticity and integrity that is the hallmark of a simple life. May the God of SIMPLICITY bless you.

Exactly. Simplicity has a lot to do with vision. In order to live into simplicity, I need to have a clear vision of my goal, which is to glorify God. That vision will help me figure out what fits and what doesn’t fit. There I will find simplicity. And if living simply leads to a life of authenticity and integrity, then, my friends, I will count this a life well-lived.

This will all take time and practice. There will be steps forward and steps backward. It will not always be simple. But that’s the beauty and grace of the journey. Along the way, I will experience the many gifts and nuances that simplicity has to offer.

Many of you have shared your words for 2015: awareness, peace, open, financial peace, present, and others. I celebrate these words and pray they will lead you to to the One who spoke you into being. Keep me posted on your journeys and I’ll do the same. Should be a great year.

15 Responses to The Year of Simplicity

    • What a strong and inspiring word! And I love that you have a scripture passage to go with it. May you discover the many nuances of CAPABLE in your life this year!

  1. WOW. This is great. I am going to share your story with our bible study. We are each to get a word for the year. I believe my word is”light”. Thank you for sharing

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  2. My word for 2015 is trust. Having just come through a trip to the ER and a diagnosis of Afib, I was in a panic. Through concentrating on God’s love for me and concentrating my thoughts and prayers on trusting Him in all things, I have found peace and job in the midst of the uncertainties of this diagnosis.

    • Sounds like “trust” is the perfect word for you at this time in your life. I love that it is leading you to peace and joy as you navigate this process. I pray for your strength, comfort, and healing. Kristen

  3. I love your story of receiving your word. The photos are beautiful. Your posts have inspired me to pull out my bead collection and make myself a set of prayer beads. I made sets for many friends when your article in the Upper Room first came out, but never felt called to have a set for myself. I decided if I was truly going to work at being present (my word) to and with God, prayer beads would be helpful. I even made a “mini” set to keep in the pocket of my labcoat at work. It has a centering bead, the four beads for adoration, confession, thanksgiving and supplication (ACTS I call it so I can remember 🙂 ) and a prayer bead for each of them. It feels right to have a physical connection in my pocket, and even more so to have a reminder of the importance of praying for the patients I work with as well as my co-workers. Thank you for being a channel for God’s love!

    • Thanks for reading my blog! And I loved hearing how you are using prayer beads to stay “present!” Keeping a set in your lab coat is such a great way to stay present for yourself and the people you serve. May God bless you!