(Center yourself in a quiet place. Light a candle or ring a bell to signal the beginning of your mini-retreat.)
Open my heart and my mind
to be receptive to the beauties
and the bounties of simplicity.
Read and Reflect
(Read these short passages aloud. Choose one or more of them to copy into your journal. Reflect upon and write about how you can apply the thought(s) to your own experiences.)
"Simple living is about freedom. It's about a freedom to choose open and generous living rather than a secure and sheltered way. . . . Simple living is about moving through life rather lightly, delighting in the plain and the subtle."
— Jose Hobday in Simple Living
"Our lives are filled with a million things to do and consume that distract us from simple living. When I pay attention and become mindful, I marvel at the simple things in life that I once passed over. Consuming less and living simply are the true conditions of happiness."
— Barbara Ann Kipfer in 201 Little Buddhist Reminders
"Living simply entails clearing our lives and our houses of spiritual and material clutter so as to create more space for faithful living."
— Catherine Whitmire in Plain Living
"Simple living is about living deliberately. . . . It's about being fully aware of why you are living your particular life, and knowing that life is the one you have chosen thoughtfully."
— Janet Luhrs in Simple Living Guide
"The older I grow the more clearly I perceive the dignity and winning being of simplicity in thought, conduct, and speech: a desire to simplify all that is complicated and to treat everything with the greatest naturalness and clarify."
— Pope John XXIII in Freedom of Simplicity by Richard J. Foster
"Simplicity is the seedbed for sane, free, and illumined holy living."
— Tilden Edwards in Living Simply Through the Day
"Voluntary simplicity has the additional feature that it tends to position sharing rather than growth as the centerpiece of justice."
— Mark A. Burch in Stepping Lightly
The first step in embracing simplicity is discernment – discerning how much is enough for you. Take a few minutes to reflect on what you really need in your life. Do you have enough already? What is lacking? What is excess?
Then reflect on the larger implications of your choice to live simply. As Mark A. Burch writes in Stepping Lightly: "Discerning how much is enough also involves placing our personal consumption of things in the context of environmental sustainability, social justice, and inter-generational equity. In this realm, we move beyond considerations of what may be expedient or comfortable in terms of our individual lives and consider ourselves to be part of a much larger whole."
Record your thoughts in your journal or draw a picture of yourself living a simple life.
A Prayer for Simplicity
by Edward Hays in Pray All Ways
Lord of True Liberty,
You who commissioned Moses
to lead Your chosen children from bondage in Egypt
to the freedom of a new land,
help me to find a real freedom in simplicity.
Cure me, Lord, of "buyer’s itch";
heal me of the consumer’s consumption
that keeps me constantly discontent
and continuously craving more and more.
Show to me the joys of a simple lifestyle
whereby in my “freedom from things”
I shall have more time and energy
to invest in my relationships with those I love,
with myself, and with You, my God. . . .
May my efforts at simplicity not cease
with looking into my closet and counting clothes,
but may they take on their greatest energy and zeal
when looking into my heart
and removing all that is not in the fashion
of Your divine heart,
all that blocks my loving others.
May I be reminded frequently that whatever form
my attempts at simplicity may take
that it is a simple heart
which You first and foremost desire.
(Blow out the candle or ring the bell to signal the end of your mini-retreat.)