(This one got many more responses and got used in some other instances by people on campus)
There is simplicity…and then there is simplicity.
There is the simplicity of ‘us versus them’, the simplicity of ‘with us or against us’. There is the simplicity of right and wrong, of good and evil, of orthodox and heretical. This sort of simplicity comes naturally to us. It is a way of making the world about the categories we choose, so that we get to determine what is true and what is false. Our ideas of the world, our biases and petty bigotries, become the world. All of us do this, in one way or another. This is the kind of simplicity we practice.
There is another kind of simplicity, and it has to do with who you are, who you choose to be. It is simplicity of the self, paring down to what is essential and letting everything else fall away. It is the radical and countercultural act of saying “enough.” This kind of simplicity is a calling. The Dao De Ching says “for the Sage, every day another thing is put aside.” Jesus says “give all you have away to the poor and come follow me.”
Something in us truly fears to give up the things that insulate us. We don’t need the clutter that chokes our lives. Most of the time, we aren’t even sure we want it. For some reason, though, we fear to live without it. When we begin to give things up, when we begin to put things aside, what is left? Only our selves.
This shouldn’t frighten us, but it does. How can we face God if we cannot even face ourselves? How can we serve God if we are buried under our own lives?
Prayer: Singular God, we ask for new life while yet fearing it – give it to us anyway. Shock and surprise us with gifts of true value. Don’t listen when we say we can’t, or we won’t, or we aren’t worthy, or we aren’t ready. Just listen when we say “thy Kingdom come, they will be done…” Amen.