Simple is defined as:
1. easy to understand, deal with, use, etc.: a simple matter; simple tools.
2. not elaborate or artificial; plain: a simple style.
3. not ornate or luxurious; unadorned: a simple gown.
4. unaffected; unassuming; modest: a simple manner.
5. not complicated: a simple design.
6. not complex or compound; single.
7. free of deceit or guile; sincere; unconditional: a frank, simple answer.
8. not grand or sophisticated; unpretentious: a simple way of life.
As simple as simple is, it is a word that at its’ core is much more complex.
Henry David Thoreau was a champion for simplicity and living in harmony with nature. How many times in our various lives have we wished for a Walden pond—a place where we can go to get our head cleared out and really feel at peace with God’s creation. A place where all the crowdy stuff of life falls away and what we are left with is that profound sense of well-being that clarity and an un cluttered mind brings with it.
I guess man’s tendancy is to complicate things. As I write these words the tower of Babel comes to mind. Seems like those people had it good but wanted just a little more—things got a little our of hand—and you know the rest.
Yet, within every simple thing or thought, there is a world or complexity.
I remember (back in the day) when my wife and I would take long walks in the woods that surrounded our 100 plus acre estate in Ashe County. It wasn’t really ours—we just rented—but the thought of ownership was supplanted with the joy of exploring the property we lived on and the adjoining land. There were old logging trails that would lead us to places that only the fox and deer and other wild animals had any interest in.
Talk about the rhythm of life—we had it all. Never a day would pass that we didn’t avail ourselves of some of the wood’s soothing balm. Up one path and down another—no sounds of cars or trucks or electric motors—just the sound the leaves make when swayed by the breeze coupled with the smell of pine needles and the sweet pungent aroma of leaf mold and other cosmic things happening all around us.
We may not have had much by the world’s standards but we had each other, the woods, and a faithful dog who went everywhere we did. Our electric bill was only $11 a month and the rent was about $45 so we didn’t have to bring in the big bucks to make it through the month.
That’s where Sandi and I began our habit of taking walks every day. There was also a man-made lake near where we lived that had roads and stuff all around it but for some reason had never been built up although the property had all been sold to Florida people many years before our daily hikes.
It was our little paradise—just what the doctor ordered—Ashe county meet the Clampetts—Clampetts meet Ashe County.
When we first moved into our honey-moon house, it had no electricty, running water or glass in any of the windows.
The husband and father had died several years prior and the house had been left with laundry in the washing machine that stood outside on a covered porch that connected the main house to the spring house. In between, a bathroom of sorts had been built with all the water flushing into the stream a hundred feet away.
During it’s lonely years, the house had become a party place until a small fire had been set in the living room. With all the doors and windows shut, the fire had gotten hot enough to bust all the windows out but not so out of control that the local volunteer fire department could save the structure.
We found it one day following geodesic survey maps I had purchased before coming to North Carolina. I thought it had potential—my wife was almost in tears. However, we ended up living there seven years and beginning what was to become a family of six. But that’s another story.
As this Sunday begins—a light rain freezing to everything it touches is what I see from my seat in front of the computer. I am a long way from Walden and even Ashe County if the truth be known. Somewhere inside me those memories still exist and the longing for simplicity is even more longed for that ever. Yet the world is ever the tyrant—pushing in on every side.
We are not quite out of the rut of yesterday—but are beginning to look for new places for our wheels to travel. We are out of the box of doing church one way for 20 some years and in the process of exploring what it will look like in the weeks and months to come.
Except for the ice storm and a warm cup of coffee.
I wish I would have bought more cream yesterday when I went to the store.