It is the subject of simplicity. No matter who we are, no matter how young or old we are, many of us have complicated our lives simply because we have never let simplicity be a way of life the way Christ intended it should be.
Simplicity, if you analyze it, is a sign of greatness. In all the studies being made today in the line of comparative religions one thing comes across loud and clear. The founders of these religions were men of great simplicity. When you analyze the writings of Confucius, with his marvelous insight into humanity, you find that his last will and testament consisted of no more than 38 words. Most lawyers would not like that kind of a will. Buddha, who reached a high degree of spirituality, left no will at all. Christ himself left only seven last words in his life.
Why is this quality of simplicity so important in this complicated age in which God has placed us? We have got to ask ourselves many, many questions about our priorities and our values. The vast majority of people are people who have worked hard for the success they now have, the material possessions that they so justly deserve. Have you paid too great a price for what you now have. Have we allowed our personalities to be twisted and misshaped to such a degree that simplicity plays very little part in our life. Remember the life of Christ and Buddha and Confucius, great religious people who had a tremendous kind of simplicity in their every day life-style. So we ask ourselves - can you be a successful, integrated personality without simplicity? The answer is no. Simplicity is the origin of freedom. Simplicity is that which gives charm to a personality. Simplicity is that which makes us authentic. Simplicity is authenticity with oneself, ones God and ones neighbor.
St. Thomas, when writing about God, made the statement that because God has such simplicity he is that lovable. It was simplicity that endeared children as part of the following of Christ. We are going to get into some of the psychological ramifications of simplicity. Simplicity is often lacking in a personality, first, because of a desire of status and, secondly, for a desire of prestige. Simplicity in our homes, in our relationship with our families, this has to be a goal of all of us. To make sure that our desire for status is in moderation there must be a definitive degree of sincerity. Lack of sincerity is what is called infidelity to oneself. Simplicity should say to everyone with whom you work and live, I am a fragile human being whom you have to take for better or worse. Without this personal sincerity there is no such thing as simplicity.
When you look at a child, one of the most beautiful traits is the child's simplicity. The child's feeling that my mom is the greatest; that my dad is the best. In this quest for status of a man away from his family, the family suffers. I remember one time when I went to St. Agnes Hospital in Baltimore, many years ago, driving back from the hospital with the doctor and his eight year old child, the doctor was speeding when it was unnecessary to do so. A policeman stopped him. The doctor said it was an emergency trip to a sick person. There I saw this small girl shattered. Not only by her father's disobedience to the law, but by his lying because the law had caught him.
A man with simplicity is always sincere even when it comes to admitting when he has made a mistake. I think this is what Christ had in mind when he said, unless you become as little children you shall not enter the kingdom of God. The desire for prestige is another enemy of simplicity. All of us admit that we are working for our families, working to provide the best in education for our children and our families. All of the success we have whether it is material or educational success, should keep us unaffected and genuine in our relationship with all the people, no matter how poorly educated they are or how poor they are in a material fashion.
I often think that for many people to be the champions of a minority cause is done more out of prestige than true charity. We are grateful for those who are constantly committed to the poor and in the gospel word the honor wing, the unwanted. The prestige involved whenever we are asked for our opinion on a complicated project, the prestige that is there when we are asked to be part of a committee or a commission, the prestige of the professional or executive titles and categories, all of these thoughts are associated with the destruction of the quality of simplicity in our own personality.
Lack of sincerity is called being unfaithful to one's self. In any form of psychological counseling the psychologists often times has one goal, to take all the evidence that has been gathered to marshall all the facts about one's life and then to say here is your naked personality as I see it. Accept all your limitations and your life will not be that complicated. The overwhelming desire for prestige adds to the complications of daily living. It prevents us from being authentic. It prevents us from developing the quality we call simplicity. Somewhere along the course of our lives when we start analyzing how much God has given us in the line of material blessings we have to ask are we paying too much of a price for that which is so unnecessary. Status and prestige all have to be analyzed by us if we are going to cultivate the simplicity of the gospel of Christ. We all are in these hectic, frantic lifestyles. We run and we run and we have all sorts of commitments and obligations. All of this frantic activity oftentimes prevents us from developing the beautiful quality of simplicity.
I would like you to read a little prayer of simplicity that I think is a special thought that all of us should consider.
Slow me down Lord.
Ease the pounding of my heart by the quieting of my mind.
Steady my hurried pace with a vision of the eternal reach of time.
Give me, amidst the confusion of the day,
the calmness of the everlasting hills.
Break the tensions of my nerves and muscles
with the soothing music of the singing streams
that live in my memory.
Help us to know the magical and the restoring power of sleep.
Teach me the art of taking small vacations,
of slowing down to look at a flower,
to chat with a friend,
to pat a dog,
to read a few lines from a good book.
Slow me down Lord
and inspire me to send my roots
into the soil of life's enduring values
that I may grow toward the start of my greater destiny.
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