Spirituality for Today – July 2012 – Volume 16, Issue 12

The Value Of Simplicity

By Rev. Mark Connolly

Simplicity is the sign of greatness. In all the studies being made today in the line of comparative religions, one theme comes across loud and clear - that the founders of these religions were made of great simplicity. When you analyze the writings of Confucius with his marvelous insight into humanity, you find that his last will and testimony consisted of thirty seven or thirty eight words. Buddha, who reached a high degree of spirituality, left no will at all. Christ himself left only seven last words at the end of his life.

Why is this quality of simplicity so important to people? The vast majority of people 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 you allowed your personalities to be twisted and misshaped to such a degree that simplicity plays very little part in your life?

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 one's self, one's God, one's 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.

Simplicity is often lacking in a personality because of a desire for status and a desire for prestige.

To make sure that our desire for status is in moderation, there must be a definite degree of sincerity. Lack of sincerity is what we called infidelity to one's self. 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, 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. It was then I saw this small girl shattered not only by her father's disobedience to the law, but his lying because the law had caught him. A man with simplicity is always sincere, even when it comes to admitting he made a mistake. I think this is what Christ had in mind when he said, "unless you become as little children..."

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 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. 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 commission, the prestige of the professional or executive titles and category - all of these thoughts are associated with the destruction of the quality of simplicity in our own personalities.

To find simplicity in a complicated world is like searching for the pearl of great price that Christ talked about in the gospel. But simplicity is achievable if we direct our minds and thoughts to the teachings of Christ. He said, by this shall all men know that you are my disciples: if you have love for one another and a new commandment I give you that you love one another as I have loved you. He gave us a beautiful blue print for simplicity. Simplicity is imitating the love of Christ. Simplicity is bringing that Christlike love to others.

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 confusions 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 me to know the magical
and restoring power of sleep.
Teach me the art of taking minute 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.